Monday, March 25, 2019

AudioFile Magazine’s Picks of the Best New Young Adult Audiobooks for Spring Listening

Spring is finally here and whether you are hitting the road for Spring break or hunkering down for  Spring cleaning you will want to check out AudioFile Magazine's Picks of the Best New Young Adult Audiobooks for Spring to keep you company chosen by Aureila C. Scott !

Finding one’s own true way is full of challenge and reward. Here are our picks of five great new audiobooks about making your own rules and being yourself no matter what. Some edgy, some sweet, some joyful, some weepers. All awesome. [The linked] titles below to reveal AudioFile’s full review and a soundclip. Here’s to having an audiobook in your ear

- Aurelia C. Scott, AudioFile Magazine blogger.

by Jaye Robin Brown | Read by Amanda Dolen

Tantor Media | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

Amanda Dolen totally channels high school senior Jo Dolan, a devout Christian who moves in with her dad and step-mom in an evangelical small town.  What could go wrong?  Well, Jo is gay and when she finds love, her new girlfriend can’t understand why Jo won’t go public.  Dolen captures Jo’s vulnerability, humor, and determination perfectly.

by In This Together Media, Foreward by Amy Klobuchar | Read by Amy Klobuchar [Fore.], Vikas Adam, Jonathan Davis, Ari Fliakos, Sullivan Jones, January LaVoy, Soneela Nankani, Adenrele Ojo, Nancy Wu, Gabra Zackman

Listening Library | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

Forty-eight stirring short essays about speaking truth to power and standing up for oneself are terrifically read by some of the best narrators around.  They bring vibrancy and understanding to a huge range of remarkable stories, from former NFL player Wade Davis’s bullying of gay classmates in an effort to hide his own sexuality to Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr remembering what it was like to lose her friends and family one by one in Auschwitz.


by Courtney Summers | Read by Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman, and a Full Cast

Macmillan Audio | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner, Audie Award Winner

Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner, and supporting actors keep listeners glued to this podcast-like in-the-moment account of a teen on the trail of a killer.  The daughter of a drug addict, Sadie has been left to care for her younger sister.  When her sister is murdered, Sadie sets out to discover the truth in a tense and unforgettable tale about love and revenge.

by Arwen Elys Dayton | Read by Michael Crouch, Karissa Vacker, Brittany Pressley, Christopher Gebauer, Ari Fliakos, Rebecca Lowman

Listening Library | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

A fine cast of narrators drop us into the middle of a twilight zone tomorrow where you can do so many things to change yourself genetically and surgically.  What would you do for yourself or your kids?  How far would you go?  The interconnected stories in this right-now book are addicting.

by April Genevieve Tucholke | Read by Saskia Maarleveld

Recorded Books | Unabridged | Earphones Award Winner

Saskia Maarleveld beautifully expresses the disparate personalities of the three unusual young women in this enveloping fantasy.  They sell death, you see.  Kind death to those who are ill.  With witchy backgrounds, they have the power to end your life just the way you want.  But what’s really for sale?  And what exactly are they earning?

For more audiobook reviews, features and interviews check out AudioFile Magazine!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Kat's Crooked Kingdom Review (in Gifs)

I finished Crooked Kingdom so it's time for a GIF review! 

Monday, March 18, 2019

2019 YA Books for Black Mirror Fans

One of my favorite shows on Netflix is the science fiction anthology series Black Mirror. It's like The Twilight Zone for the Millennial / Gen Z generation and I've noticed quite a few 2019 YA titles are giving me serious Black Mirror vibes.

"Black Museum" 

The Obsoletes by Simeon Mills
Black Museum and many other episodes of Black Mirror examine what it means to be human and what is considered deserving of humanity. In this debut YA novel, a pair of teenage brothers hide that they are robots from the humans in their small Michigan town for fear of being disassembled.

"Be Right Back"

No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett
This is the book that inspired this list. The Black Mirror episode Be Right Back follows a woman who uses a service to recreate a digital and then lifelike version of her dead boyfriend. In this sophomore book from author Sarah Everett, a teen girl falls in love with a digital version of her dead crush.

"Shut Up and Dance"

Swipe Right For Murder by Derek Milman
While I love the more science-fiction Black Mirror episodes, the show is really about how technology affects our lives. In Shut Up and Dance, a teenage boy's bad choices online send him on a blackmail fueled wild goose chase. In Swipe Right For Murder a 17-year-old in New York swipes right on the wrong person and finds himself labeled a cyber-terrorist and on the run from the government.


Rated by Melissa Grey
In Nosedive we enter a world where ratings on an app mean everything and watch a woman slowly lose everything as she tries to get more points. In this new book from Girl At Midnight author, the Rating system is everything to the students of the prestigious Maplethorpe Academy.

Bonus Picks!

When Zan moves away from her best friend she starts to suspect something isn't quite right with her best friend's suddenly sunny, vapid social media posts. This sort of sounds like a Marina Joyce situation.

Okay, so I'm not sure this is technically YA but Veronica Roth has a lot of YA appeal. This new release from Roth is a collection of novella-length stories set in the future.

Do you have a favorite episode of Black Mirror ? Let me know of some books you would rec to Black Mirror fans in the comments below !

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi

I feel like there should be a category on this blog called "Books I Wish Existed When I Was A Teen" because this book would be first on this list.

Black Enough is a wonderful anthology that tells the varied experiences and stories of Black teens; from the suburbs to the hood to the country and even the inner sanctum of heavy metal rehearsals. It's just a masterful blend of experiences. These are not struggles stories, they are funny, poignant and some of them are emotional but they never "gut" you. One of my favorites was Jay Coles' Wild Horses, Wild Hearts which I felt was like "response" to Brokeback Mountain.

I think the book is best read straight through. I'm not a big contemporary reader, so I was glad to see there were two magical realism stories. The titular story, Black Enough, I think really sets the tone for the anthology and the last story is meant to be more reflective. I got snippets of black authors I've been meaning to read and right now Jay Cole is moving up on my TBR list.

I'm all in for these YA anthologies!

Audiobook Review

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Spin Launch Party

A few weekends ago Kat and I had the opportunity to go the launch party for  Lamar Giles's new novel Spin. Giles writes mystery/thriller YA fiction featuring black teens. He is an Edgar Award Finalist, fellow Virginian and most will know him as one of the We Need Diverse Book co-founders. I hadn't even known about the event and I was excited to go because I'd just finished Black Enough and I had questions -- Although now I am seriously wondering how long it will take to get each author in the anthology to sign the book. I also picked up a copy of Fresh Ink because YA Anthologies are a thing I want more of and Giles edited the collection.

The event was hosted by Chop Suey books and held at Hai Y'all, a local Japanese style restaurant. There was a live DJ,  tasty appetizers and an open, positive and upbeat atmosphere. Giles was very personable we talked about fantasy novels and that time he met Stephen King.

Kat and I sat for a while and chatted with the co-founder of Black Men Read, a non-profit that gets young black men reading and talking about books. This group is very impressive and looks to be doing amazing things.

Spin is a mystery/thriller about a Kya, a teen sleuth who teams up with her sworn enemy to solve the mysterious death of the famous DJ,  ParSec, who she used to call her best friend. #ParSecNation

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Five Modern Memoirs for Black History Month

February is Black History Month! To close out the month here are five of Books and Sensibility's favorite memoirs about African-Americans who are making history today.

I Can't Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux

Pop culture writer Michael Arceneaux often writes about the intersections of being Black and gay in America. In this debut essay collection, he offers something new to the pop culture essayist genre and I’m sure there will be many more books from him in the future.

We're Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

The memoir is set up as a  collection of the life stories the Hollywood actress tells after too many glasses of wine. Union's narration is full of charm and authenticity as she dishes about all the celebrity stuff you want; her career, marriages and sex life but also focuses on broad issues like colorism in Hollywood, police brutality and her rape at gunpoint as a teenager.

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Novelist and essayist Roxane Gay details her life story through the lens of her body, which at 6’3 and over 500 pounds is considered super-obese or as Gay calls it an “unruly body”. Gay intersperses essays of her personal experiences with essays about The Biggest Loser, Ina Garten, and the obesity epidemic.

Around The Way Girl by Taraji P Henson

 Around The Way Girl is an inspiring and insightful look into the making of some of Henson’s most memorable moments. Beginning with Henson’s childhood in Southeast DC during the crack epidemic, Henson shows the kind of hustle and hard work it took for her to get her Hollywood dream.

Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias

This is a fun instructive book by the girl who lead the #1000BlackGirlBooks hashtag. Marley created a movement and in her book, she encourages teens to start their own movements. A must-read for teen book bloggers and budding social activist.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Disasters by M.K. England

Rating: ★★★ | 8 hrs. 33 min. | Science-Fiction | Harper Audio | Release Date: 12/18/2018

Nasir “Nax” Hall dream of becoming a pilot and moving to one of Earth’s space colonies is quickly dashed when he washes out of flight school on the first day and is sent packing with three other failed students. But instead of going back to Earth, this unlikely group of strangers find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy and on a high flying journey around the galaxy to save the universe.

I don’t always think you should give a book extra points just for diversity but I’m honestly not sure a book like this would have existed pre-WNDB. It’s a space adventure story with teens of color across the LGBTQ spectrum that is not a struggle narrative. I think this book is perfect for those looking for that representation. England creates a set of characters who we meet are at their lowest points and shows them growing into more than their "failed student"label. On a character level, this book is really interesting.

However, on a plot level The Disasters didn’t work for me. The front cover blurb is from Mackenzi Lee so I was ready for that same fun epic adventure feeling of Gentlemen’s Guide but it never came. I couldn’t buy into in the storyline and I kept blanking out while listening to this and I think a lot has to do with the stakes. The stakes in this story are literally the entire universe and it felt too broad for me to really invest. I  also think the story would have benefited from having POVs from characters besides Nax to open the world up a little more.

The audiobook narrator, James Fouhey, is one of my favorite narrators but this was not my favorite performance of his. I don’t think he quite captured the rhythm of the dialogue and banter England was creating. Also...there is a British character and the accent work is not great.


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