Archive for In-Depth

My Favorite YA Books of 2016


And … we’re back!  To celebrate the start of the new year, here’s a new in-depth episode featuring a list of my favorite YA books of 2016.  Here you’ll find lots of titles that made many other top 10 lists, as well as other books that didn’t make as many lists but which I thought were awesome and which definitely deserve some love!

Here are the titles I selected as my favorites of 2016.  Listen to the episode to find out why!


Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Exit, Pursued By a Bear by E.K. Johnston

When We Collided by Emery Lord

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Breakfast With Neruda by Laura Moe

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace


How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman with adaptation & artwork by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki

Paper Girls 1 by Brian K Vaughan

I Hate Fairyland Vol 1 by Skottie Young


Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Travels to the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes by Christine Mari Inzer

Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes


My Favorite CR & YA Books of 2015

Baba Yagas Assistant coverThe Truth About Jellyfish coverDumplin cover


Hi again, patient listeners!  My apologies for the delay in this episode, but I was sick for over a week and it took a while for my voice to come out of “Marlene Dietrich mode” and get back to normal.

Here are the books I recommended in this episode:


Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff

Took: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin


The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks  [booktalk HERE]

Placebo Junkies by JC Carleson [booktalk HERE]

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Elena Vanishing: A Memoir by Elena Dunkle and Clare B. Dunkle

On Rebuilding, and Books With Booktalk Potential

Kidney Hypothetical coverSweet Madness coverThe Last Good Day of the Year cover

We’re back!!!

On today’s episode I talk about the past and future of Be a Better Booktalker, and I also share several books that I think have booktalk potential:

The Kidney Hypothetical, Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee

Sweet Madness by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

New Year’s Reading Resolutions

treeReading Bingo

I’ve never actually made a reading resolution before, but I had so much reading to do for YA book committees this year I thought I’d try it to make my workload easier in years to come.  In this episode, I discuss my own resolutions and discuss different reading challenges that you can follow and share with others.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

My Favorite Children’s and Teen Books of 2014

Brown Girl Dreaming coverGoodreads coverGrasshopper Jungle cover

Here are all of the books I mentioned in this episode:


Quest by Aaron Becker

My Teacher is a Monster! (No I am Not!) by Peter Brown

Sparky! by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans


Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret by Tim Kehoe

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Amity by Micol Ostow

Stronger Than You Know by Jolene Perry

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

BONUS CONTENT — I’ve read SO MANY teen books this year that I couldn’t fit all of them into this episode!  So make sure you check these out, too!

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Sekret by Lindsay Smith

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

Families in YA Fiction

Crossover CoverCrazy coverIll Give You the Sun cover

Family problems, family love, family drama, and more!  Here are the titles I mentioned in this episode:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Furious Jones and the Assassin’s Secret by Tim Kehoe

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

Hungry by H.A. Swain

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie Sarn

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Snapshots From Class Visit Season

Class Visiting the School Library

Class visit season is typically filled with highs and lows.  Here are a few of my recent peaks and valleys.  I can’t promise that you’ll laugh or cry, but you might recognize yourself or your students in some of these stories!

p.s. – Make sure you visit the Cybils Awards website by October 15th to vote for your favorite CR and YA books of the year!



Science Technology Engineering and Math

NDTSTEM LogoVulcan Salute

Learn how to find books and other resources that tie into STEM, aka Science Technology Engineering and Math!  Here are the books/websites listed in this episode:

The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson (booktalk HERE)

Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey (booktalk HERE)

Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World of Food by Andrew Zimmern (booktalk HERE)

Beta by Rachel Cohn (booktalk HERE)

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (booktalk HERE)

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (booktalk HERE)

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

STEM Education Coaltion

STEM Resources (YALSA)

Summer Reading 2014

Reading in a Hammock

Here are the books I recommended during this episode:




And if you’d like more summer reading suggestions and would like an overview of summer reading lists in general, please check out my summer reading episode from 2013!

A Few of My Favorite Dystopias, Part 2

Dystopian Fiction Display

We return with another look at one of our most popular genres!  For more dystopian goodness, check out last year’s episode: A Few of My Favorite Dystopias.

Books discussed in this episode:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Saturn Apartments by Hisae Iwaoka
Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
The Selection by Kiera Cass
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Slated by Teri Terry
A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer
Inhuman by Kat Falls
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
The 100 by Kass Morgan
Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston
Perfect Ruin by Lauren Destefano
Uninvited by Sophie Jordan