I think we can all agree that the YALSA Best of the Best Challenge has been great fun so far.  I personally love having the challenge focus what I’m reading and, given that I’m heading to ALA in June, making sure I’ve read a number of the big award winners before I end up standing in front of the authors.  Here’s our update on our progress here at No Flying No Tights.

Titles read so far

  • Robin: 10 of 25 titles
  • Emma: 25 of 25 titles (kudos!)
  • Snow: 3 of 25 titles
  • Abby: 9 of 25
  • Sarah: 20 of 25


Number of titles read: 10 (of 25)

Titles read:

Comments: I had to take a bit of a break in the past few weeks to read books for my book clubs (Fight Club, awesome to re-read, and Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? for TCAF, and then Bitterblue arrived…), but I’m back in the swing of things!

I thoroughly enjoyed (and learned from) The Influencing Machine, as I expected to.  Josh Neufeld’s art was a perfect fit with Brooke Gladstone’s voice, and as with the best nonfiction titles the art clarified the tricky points.

I just finished Why We Broke Up and enjoyed it far more than I was expecting to, to be honest.  I loved the art, and I loved the writing.  I was also struck by how well Daniel Handler wrote in a teenage girl’s voice — fairly rarely so well done by a male author.

Beauty Queens was a book I couldn’t get into at all in print (although I still think it has the BEST cover). I adored Bray’s Going Bovine, so I was sad that Beauty Queens wasn’t working for me.  Somehow, the prose felt too precious on the page. But, as many folks told me, the audiobook was fantastic.  It’s read by Bray herself and has all kinds of audio flourishes to highlight the way the book is presented (commercials, footnotes).  I grew to understand why everyone else really loved the book, and especially why sometimes, audiobooks really help a book come to life.  Although, it does beg the question: when a book works so much better as an audiobook, what does that say about its success as a book?

Not for me: I didn’t love Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, and only really finished it through force of will.  I wanted the plot to be up to the idea, and it just wasn’t.  Give me the Griffin and Sabine series any day over that book.

I also found that I really didn’t love Scarlet, and I was hoping to because I generally like Bendis as a writer, and the art was fantastic.  I think I’ve simply gotten tired of the kick-ass female action hero just for the sake of a kick-ass female action hero.  I found I wasn’t involved enough in the revolution story, and the corruption of the cops fell flat for me.  It somehow…wasn’t enough plot to justify the epic, heroic tone.  I didn’t CARE, which is bad.

I also didn’t adore Daybreak, though I appreciated the clever point of view to second person and the general style.  I chalk it up to the fact that I don’t really like zombie stories, and this year I’ve read my allotment of zombie fiction in reading Colson Whitehead’s Zone One.

Up next: Rotters (listening to this now), Infinite Kung Fu, Sidescrollers, Where Things Come Back, and hopefully Daughter of Smoke and Bone


Number of titles read: 25 (of 25)

Titles read:

Comments: I have been just plowing along, reading like a fiend to get through the YALSA book challenge because all the other books I should be reading are piling up. And May 7th I finished!

I mean, I only did the 25, not the whole 80 (Im not crazy you know).  Check out my comments on Goodreads if you’re curious.

The Girl of Fire and ThornsCarter’s Big Break and Tripping were my top three.

Not for me: Shattered GlassAxe Cop

Ed. note: CONGRATS to Emma to being the first of us to finish!  Well done, madam, well done.


Number of titles read: 3 (of 25)

Titles read:

Comments: I’ve read The Notorious Benedict Arnold. It was fascinating. Frankly, after reading it, I’m kind of amazed that we ever won that war.

I just finished Enclave which I enjoyed. It was a fast, fun read. Technically it is a post-apocalyptic novel and a dystopic novel, but I enjoyed it more for its survival fiction qualities. (I read a lot of Gary Paulsen once upon a time and still have a fascination for survival stories.) The author’s note at the end of Enclave was interesting as well, since she goes into the research process and what sources she used.

Up next: I’m half-way through the audio of The Scorpio Races and will have it finished tonight. I’m enjoying it now, though it was slow at first.


Number of titles read: 9 (of 25)

Titles read:

Comments: I finished How They Croaked on audio, which was fun.  A little over-the-top in places, but it was a really fun look at historical figures.

I also read Scarlet and was surprised by how much I liked it.  I normally don’t really like Brian Michael Bendis’ style, but this book was awesome.  It was dark and had a kick ass, normal girl as the heroine.  I’m excited for volume two.  My only problem was how often she was pictured in her underpants, but I’m guessing teen boys had no problem with this.

I also read Thor the Mighty Avenger, vols. 1 and 2 and loved it.  Thor is my favorite Avenger (although after the movie Hulk is a close second) and I really enjoyed this comic reboot.  I only wish there were more volumes.

Not for me: none so far.

Up next:  I will get back to Over Sea, Under Stone and Carter’s Big Break on audio.  I need to get moving.


Number of titles read: 20 (of 25)

Titles read:

Comments: I’ve got all my reactions on Goodreads.  I really liked most of them, so this has been a lot fun!
Not for me: None so far.

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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