The YA Book Prize Award (UK) goes to...

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neil won the YA Book Prize given in the UK for British and Irish writers of teen/YA fiction.

Only Ever Yours is O'Neil's first foray into teen fiction but don't let that make you think it's not excellent. The book follows 2 girls Freida and Isabel as they enter their final year "School" but of course this school is not the kind of school that we might go to, it is where all girls go to be trained to be perfect "companions" for powerful men. Frieda and Isabel have to stay in the top 10 most beautiful girls in their class to make sure that they are chosen by a powerful man and that they don't end up teaching more girls how to be "perfect" by being teachers in the school they grew up in.

This book really hits the subject of feminine beauty hard. It takes it apart, looks at it and puts it on display for all to see. It is a great book for anyone interested in dystopian stories that will keep you guessing where it's going. It has received much praise, and some criticism, for the subject of the book and it definitely deserves the praise it's been getting.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #539

Exquisite Corpse *, marks the first US release for Paris-born bestselling graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu. This is the English translation of her Cadavre Exquis, originally published in French, and a prize-winner at the 2010 Angoulême International Comics Festival, the second largest comics festival in Europe.

Down-trodden twenty-something Zoe is a "booth babe", hawking luxury goods at trade shows by day and dreading the evenings with the unemployed Neanderthal of a boyfriend at home. On a lunch break, she meets Thomas Rocher, a recluse who happens to be a world-famous author, and soon becomes his girlfriend/muse. Everything is fabulous until Thomas' wife shows up, and that's just the first secrets that put into play an expected yet satisfying ending.

"(An) absorbing, fast-paced erotic literary drama... (this) funny and fresh exploration of authorship and a writer's relationship to fame is utterly charming."

An immensely fun and quick read.

* = starred review

2015 Morris Award Winner and finalists!

Every year the Young Adult Library Services Association (YASLA) awards the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award for first time authors writing for teens.

This year the winner of the Morris Award was Gabi, a girl in pieces by Isabel Quintero. It is a story about a girl, Gabi, who is having a complicated senior year. From her best friend getting pregnant to another friend coming out, to looking for her own romance and trying to get into college. All while writing poetry and trying to forge her identity. There's a good reason this book won the award, it's great. The characters don't fall flat as can happen sometimes and the struggles that Gabi faces are ones that are easily identifiable (even if you've never experienced them yourself).

The other finalists in the award were

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley a story about Maggie Lynch who is moved from Chicago to Ireland when her mother gets suddenly married. The story follows Maggie as she deals with life and death, love and loss.

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by C.K Johnston is a story about an alternate world where dragons abound and cause massive destruction. The story follows Owen a slayer in training, his bard Siobhan (pronounced She-vaughn) as they face a dragon in Canada.

The Scar Boys by Len. Vlahos is a story about Harry Jones who in a college admission essay reveals a childhood defined by his physical and psychological scars and the solace that he found in friendship and punk music.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a story about a girl who is born with wings, to a family that is unwise in love. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel it is uncertain if she will survive this strange obsession.

To see previous years winners check out These lists

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #535 - “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” ~ C.S. Lewis

The Royal We * * by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, (co-creators of one of the wittiest celebrity fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself and 2 teen novels - Spoiled and Messy), are charming readers with this modern-day Cinderella tale for adults.

Des Moines native Rebecca "Bex" Porter unlike her twin Lacey, is never one for fairy tales. As an exchange (Cornell) student at Oxford, she looks forward to "art, antiquities and history" and thus pays no attention to the "sandy-haired guy" who answers the porter's bell and who happens to be the heir to the British throne, Prince Nicholas. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

The novel opens on the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex reflects on what she's sacrificed for love -- and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break.

"Parallels to the love story of Prince William and Kate Middleton are obvious, but the authors create their own unique and endearing characters with Bex and Nick along with an entertaining cast of characters including lovable rogue Prince Freddie, Nick's younger brother; Bex's twin, Lacey; and a bunch of colorful school chums. Royal watchers and chick-lit fans alike will delight in this sparkling tale. Pure fun." If you enjoy this debut, I bet you won't be disappointed with (the latest in the Princess Diaries series) Meg Cabot's Royal Wedding.

Minnow * *, the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Prize winner, by James McTeer II is "a memorable coming-of-age story brimming with unexpected encounters with man, beast, and nature, and some magic thrown in for good measure."

Young Minnow's father is dying of a mysterious illness. The local pharmacist points him to a local hoodoo healer Dr. Crow, thus launching him on an increasingly strange and dangerous quest that will take him deep into the South Carolina Sea Islands. There Minnow is to take soil from the grave of Sorry George, an infamous practitioner of black magic, as payment for a cure.

This compellingly dark debut full of Southern mystery and lore is inspired by the author's (a school librarian) grandfather - a sheriff of the Low Country for decades as well as a local witch doctor. A captivating crossover for teens and especially for fans of Karen Russell's beloved Ava Bigtree in Swamplandia!

* * = 2 starred reviews

Stonewall Award 2015 Winner and Honor's for Children's and Young Adult Literature

The Stonewall Award is an annual award handed out by the ALA for books that recognizes exceptional merit relating to the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender (GLBT) experience. The award has different winners for adults, young adults, and non-fiction.

This years winner for the Youth award (the Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award) was This Day in June a picture book that illustrates a pride parade. It also includes some wonderful end matter that explains GLBT history and some of the references made in the book.

The honors books are
Beyond Magenta: transgender teens speak out a book where 6 transgendered or gender neutral young adults are interviewed and photographed in order to represent them before, during, and after their acknowledgement of gender preference.

I’ll Give You the Sun a story about Jude and Noah two twins. Noah keeps falling in love with the boy next door and Jude cliff-dives and wears red lipstick and does the talking for both of them, but three years later neither one of them talks much. Just what could have happened to cause this change?

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is a story about a boy who love to wear a tangerine dress, his adventures and how he deals with adversity.

If you are interested in past stonewall winners check out this list

Odyssey Award 2015 Winner- H.O.R.S.E.: A game of basketball and imagination by Christopher Myers

This year the winner of the ALA and YALSA's Odyssey Award is H.O.R.S.E.: A game of basketball and imaginationby Christopher Myers. H.O.R.S.E. is a story about two young children playing a game pick-up basketball and trying to outdo each other with absurd and imaginative plays.

The award is given to audiobooks that have great production values and this book is no exception with sound effects for hoop swishes and even horse whinnies!

If you are interested in the honors audiobooks for this years Odyssey Award check out this list.

Margaret A. Edwards Award 2015 Winner: Sharon M. Draper

Every year the Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes an individual author, and specific books from their many publications, for their significant and lasting contributions to young adult literature. The award is given out by YALSA This year the award was given to Sharon M. Draper and more specifically for her books November Blues, Darkness Before Dawn, Copper Sun, and Forged By Fire.

Each one of the books has had a significant impact on the genre of young adult literature and they are only some of the works that Sharon M. Draper has written. If you're interested in books by previous Edward's Award winners check out this public list

ALEX award winner Lock In

In February John Scalzi's book Lock In was one of 10 books to win the Alex award given out by the ALA and YALSA.

Lock In takes place in a world where 1.7 million people have contracted an illness that makes them unable to move or communicate. They are aware of their surrounding but unable to act, this syndrome is called "Locked In Syndrome" but in Scalzi's book they refer to the people who suffer from it as Haden's.
The world develops technology to let these Haden's move and be functional members of society. Now someone is killing them. Chris Shane is one of those and now he has to try and find out who is killing other Haden's and why.

This Sci Fi Mystery will grab you and make you want to finish.

If you are interested in reading more of John Scalzi's work you should out his Hugo award winners Old Man's War and Redshirts

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #528 - “A caregiver is changed by the culture of illness, just as one is changed by the dynamic era in which one lives." ~ Diane Ackerman

Shortlisted for the 2013 Costa First Novel Award, Meeting the English by award-winning Scottish poet Kate Clanchy brings to mind Maggie O'Farrell's Instructions for a Heatwave for the delectabe tragic/comic family drama, played out during one of London's sweltering heatwaves.

Having help nursed his single father through his final illness and worked part-time in an old people's home, 17 year-old Struan Robertson feels equipped to answer an ad for "Literary Giant seeks young man to push bathchair. Ideal 'gap year' opportunity." This brings the Cuik (Scotland) orphan south to London, into the chaotic household of Phillip Prys, playwright/novelist who recently suffered a massive stroke.

Arriving in London in the freakishly hot summer of 1989, smart but naïve Struan finds himself particularly unprepared to deal with the heat, with Phillip's two self-involved teenage children, two wives, and a literary agent who buzz about the house but too busy with their peculiar obsessions to lend a hand in Phillip's care. "As the city bakes, Struan finds himself tangled in a midsummer's dream of mistaken identity, giddying property prices, wild swimming, and overwhelming passions. For everyone, it is to be a life-changing summer."

In this "sharp-eyed satire of 1980s London...Clanchy brings to her portrait of Thatcher-era London an assured beauty of language and acid detail. The effect is that of a brilliant, multicolored fireworks display illuminating the antics of the residents of the London Zoo." Check out the full review in The Guardian, which praised this debut as "richly conceived, original and very entertaining."

For those who enjoyed The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison, and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

Award Winning Audiobook: The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. Originally published in 1994, recorded for audio in 2012. 12 hrs. 20 mins.

Awards: Audiofile Magazine's Earphones Award 2010; in print, the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 1995.

Author: Jonathan Weiner

Narrator: Victor Bevine

Peter and Rosemary Grant are evolutionary biologists that have observed and studied about 20 generations of the finches living on the island of Daphne Major since 1973. The subjects of their research are a few of the 15 species known as “Darwin’s Finches” - some of the many creatures gathered by Charles Darwin during his voyage on the HMS Beagle . Darwin’s finch specimens were instrumental in the development of his theory of evolution by natural selection, and he discussed the divergence of Galapagos bird species in his book, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Jonathan Weiner’s engaging writing reinforces the premise that change happens continually, and that evolution is ongoing and non-stop. Weiner’s interviews with the Grants fit seamlessly with his other examples of advancing evolution: insect and bacterial resistance to substances once used for control and the pressure of sexual selection and predation on colorful male guppies. The Beak of the Finch is a wonderful introduction for anyone curious about evolution, and Victor Bevine’s narration gives life to the Grant’s mission. I consider this audiobook a personal favorite!

For more information about evolution and natural selection, try these audiobook titles:
Biology: The Science of Life: Part 1 and Part 2 by Stephen Nowicki
On the Origin of Species (abridged) by Charles Darwin
The Joy of Science (Lecture 57) by Robert M. Hazen
Origins of Life: Part 2 of 2 (Lecture 23) by Robert M. Hazen
Evolutionary Biology: The Darwinian Revolution Part 1 by Allen MacNeill

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