Tag: national book award

Top Picks: YA Novels For All Ages

Each week, Bookstr gives you a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list.

Today, we’ll be recommending five YA novels that go from historical fiction to highly personal drama to an Alice in Wonderland-esqe novel to high fantasy.



5-The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett


Jenn Bennett

Image Via Goodreads


Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of young adult books, including Alex, Approximately, Starry Eyes, and Serious Moonlight. What’s she got next for us? Well, her September 10th release is certainly something.


The Lady Rogue by [Bennett, Jenn]

Image Via Amazon


In 1937, seventeen-year-old Theodora’s dreams of traveling with her treasure-hunting father have been crushed. Her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, is going on a trip with him while Theodora must sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

But then Huck Gallagher comes back alone and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing her father. Armed with her impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics and her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler, a magical ring that just might to the key to finding him.

This YA novel brings us from Istanbul to Romania and toe-to-toe with a secret cult lurking in the shadows. The novel came out this September 10th and this “captivating caper” just might leave you breathless.



4-Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson


Jacqueline Woodson

Image Via Penguin Random House


Her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming won the 2014 National Book Award, her novel, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist,  and she’s written nearly thirty books including Each Kindness, If You Come Softly, Locomotion and I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This. She’s got guts, she’s got the chops, and on September 17th she came out with a new book you ought to check out.


Red at the Bone: A Novel by [Woodson, Jacqueline]

Image Via Amazon


In 2001, sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony is held her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone where she wears a special custom-made dress.

Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for someone else: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Moving forward and backward in time, this story shows the role that history and community play in the experiences, decisions, relationships and even the life of a new child.

Kirkus Reviews writes that “Woodson, at the height of her powers, readers hear the blues: ‘beneath that joy, such a sadness’,” and we here at Bookstr encourage here to check out this poignant read.



3-A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney


L L McKinney

Image Via Fierce Reads


A Blade So Black was L.L. McKinney’s debut, and it’s already making headway with a TV adaptation. It came out nearly a year ago, so what more could you want? Well, how about the sequel that came out September 24th?


A Dream So Dark (The Nightmare-Verse Book 2) by [McKinney, L.L.]

Image Via Amazon


Going deeper into this twisted version of Wonderland, Alice is not only still reeling from her recent battle, but also grounded until she graduates high school. How could things get worse? Well, she’s gotta cross the Veil to rescue her friends and stop the Black Knight once and for all. But the deeper she ventures into Wonderland, the more topsy-turvy everything becomes. Why? Because, believe it or not, Wonderland is trying to save her.

Alice might not know this, but a certain poet does, a poet who is capable of using Nightmares to not only influence the living but raise the dead, a poet who wants to claim the Black Queen’s power—and Alice’s budding abilities—as their own…

Kirkus Reviews said the “[r]ousing, nonstop twists help make this sophomore entry a success.” What are these twists and turns? Is it anything like the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass?

Check it out to find out!



2-The Grace Year by Kim Liggett


Kim Liggett 

Image Via Twitter


The author of Blood and Salt, Heart of Ash, The Last Harvest, and The Unfortunates, Kim Liggett has brought us a new book. Want to check it out? Here’s what it’s about.


The Grace Year by [Liggett, Kim]

Image Via Amazon


In Garner County, girls are told their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, and thus they have the power to lure grown men from their beds and drive other women mad with jealousy.

That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But the wild is home to animals and poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that their greatest threat may very well be each other.

This novel shows how twisted some relationships can get. It’ll get under your skin not only because it’s visceral and haunting, but it’s, in the words of Kirkus Reviews, “all too timely.” The book came out October 8th; do you dare check it out?

1-Fireborne Book by Rosaria Munda


Rosaria Munda

Image Via Penguin Random House


Another debut, this one is something to behold…


Fireborne (THE AURELIAN CYCLE Book 1) by [Munda, Rosaria]

Image Via Amazon


They were only children when a brutal revolution changed their world, but now Annie and Lee have a chance to get into the governing class of Dragonriders.

But they couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by Dragonfire, the rulers before the revolution, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Their backgrounds converge when they met at the orphanage and become friends.

Seven years later they’re rivals, both eager for the top position in the Dragonriding fleet.

To add fuel to the fire, survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

Kirkus Reviews says this book is “[f]ull of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes,” but barely scratches the surface. The book is a gripping adventure that calls into question what matters more—friends, or family?

The book hit shelves October 15th.




Featured Images Via Amazon

YA National Book Award Longlist has been Announced!

Yesterday, the National Book Foundation released the longlist Young People’s Literature category of the 2019 National Book Awards!

For nearly 70 years, the National Book Foundation has recognized outstanding literary works every year. They are five categories in the National Book Awards: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. The Young People’s longlist was the first to be released this week, and other are scheduled to appear later on. The shortlist for the finalists in the will be released October 8, and the winners are going to be announced Nov. 20. So you’ve got plenty of time to read some of these incredible books!

The list of ten contenders, announced by The New Yorker, includes the following:


Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, The Undefeated

Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout



Akwaeke Emezi, Pet

Cynthia Kadohata, A Place to Belong

Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks



Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing

Laura Ruby, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Martin W. Sandler, 1919: The Year That Changed America



Hal Schrieve, Out of Salem

Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw, Kiss Number 8


These are absolute must-reads for any YA fan, so definitely check them out before the winner’s announced!




Featured image via Bustle.com

The NBA Finalists

Here Are the 2018 National Book Award Winners

A fixture of the literary world since 1950, the National Book award honors the strongest writing in America. Qualifications necessary to win the award are simple: the book has to have been published no earlier than December 1st of the previous year, and the author must be a U.S. citizen by any possible means. Then there’s the most important rule of all—it has to be the best. Judges have now announced this year’s five winners across five categories.


Fiction: The Friend


'The Friend' by Sigrid Nunez


Sigrid Nunez has always been a literary heavy-hitter. A winner of the Whiting Writer’s Award, Berlin Prize Fellowship, and the Rome Prize in literature, Nunez has also been a professor at a veritable collection of top institutions—Columbia, Princeton, and The New School. The Friend was one of the most-anticipated releases of 2018, topping Buzzfeed, Bustle, BookRiot, and PopSugar’s lists.


After a woman loses her closest friend, she’s left with only two things: the burden of her grief… and his massive, traumatized dog. In her self-imposed isolation, the woman spirals into obsession over the dog’s care—the one thing that she can still control. It’s possible this could heal her… it’s possible it could tear her apart. Enter the realm of magical thinking. Nunez writes: “what we miss – what we lose and what we mourn – isn’t it this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are? To say nothing of what we wanted in life but never got to have.”


Nonfiction: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke


'The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke' by Jeffrey C. Stewart


Jeffrey C. Stewart‘s groundbreaking biography chronicles the life and influence of black intellectual Alain Locke, the oft-cited originator of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke’s achievements are innumerable, but historians can list more than a few—he became the first black Rhodes Scholar in 1907, earned a PhD from Harvard University, and quickly became the philosophy chair at Howard University. As a member of the homosexual community, Locke also embraced the progressive and avant-garde.


His anthology The New Negro, a collection of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction, remains a landmark historical work. Biographer Stewart is also an impressive character—a Yale PhD recipient currently serving as a professor at University of California at Santa Barbara. He has also taught at Harvard University and Howard University. Stewart’s The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke uses newly-available primary sources and oral interviews to pay tribute to one of history’s greatest minds. Stewart also draws attention to thinkers academia often neglects—the gay and gender-nonconforming activists of the Harlem Renaissance. 


Poetry: Indecency


'Indecency' by Justin Phillip Reed


Justin Phillip Reed‘s collection, Indecency, is as intimate as it is confrontational. Reed blends the political and personal in his exploration of sexuality, masculinity, and the prison-industrial complex. A graduate of the top-10 MFA program at the Washington University in St. Louis, Reed considers “any kind of history—especially concerning Black folks—to always be on the edge of being obliterated” in cities like his own St. Louis, with ‘progress’ often dismantling already-thriving communities of color.


A “most indecent black queer poet” himself, he probes topics ranging from race to sex in poems titled “Performing a Warped Masculinity En Route to the Metro” and other biting things. According to Reed, the cover art is, in fact, a photo of bird sh!t.


Translation: The Emissary


'The Emissary' by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani


The first winner of the Book Award’s newest category of Translated Literature, American-born Margaret Mitsutani has been living in Japan since the late 1970s. Mitsutani won the National Book Award for her translation of Yoko Tadawa‘s The Emissarya satirical depiction of an isolationist Japan in the aftermath of unspecified nuclear catastrophe. Tokyo is a radioactive no-man’s-land, and society moves to outer cities like Osaka and Hokkaido, where the robust elderly occupy all government positions—a clear commentary on Japan’s declining birthrate.


Japan’s sealed borders further serve to comment on the sweeping populist and nationalist movements of recent years. Critics describe Mitsutani’s translation as “playful, powerful, and wise.”


Young Adult People’s Literature: The Poet X


'The Poet X' by Elizabeth Acevedo


Winning a National Book Award for her debut novel is hardly Elizabeth Acevedo‘s only significant accomplishment. As a National Poetry Slam Champion, Acevedo clearly conveys her passion and expert knowledge in prizewinning novel The Poet X. Xiomara Batista is an anomaly in her Harlem community, born to seriously advanced-in-years parents who tout her birth as the kind of miracle their religious devotion incurs—the kind of miracle Xiomara has never believed in. When the rules of religion silence Xiomara, she uses slam poetry to regain her voice.


The novel has a true poet’s touch: it contains three sections of verse, all with Biblical titles juxtaposing the structure of religion with Xiomara’s disbelief. Acevedo says that her experience as an eighth-grade teacher inspired her to write the novel. One Latina student said of contemporary literature: “These books aren’t about us. [These characters] don’t look like us… they don’t walk through the world like us. These ain’t our books.” Now, Acevedo has created a book that is.



Featured Image Via Vulture.com / Images Via Amazon.com

National Book Award statues

National Book Foundation Adds First New Award Category in Twenty-Two Years

The National Book Foundation has just announced a fifth National Book Award category: The National Book Award for Translated Literature. A new category hasn’t been added since 1996 when the foundation awarded the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature to Victor Martinez for Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida.


Because this marks a pretty major step for the National Book Foundation, a unanimous vote was needed from the Board of Directors. They got all the votes, and Chairman of the Board of Directors, David Steinberger, said in a statement “We could not be more pleased to take this step. We now have the opportunity to recognize exceptional books that are written anywhere in the world, and to encourage new voices and perspectives to become part of our national discourse.”


National Book Award gold stamp first place

Image Via the National Book Foundation


After twenty-two years, the question of “Why now?” arises. The political atmosphere is obviously very tense when it comes to immigration and xenophobia runs rampant in some parts of the country, so that seems to be part of the foundation’s mission. After all, they are an organization dedicated to enriching the country’s literature.


Some insight can be gleaned from the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas. In a statement, Lucas said:


As the Foundation further expands its purview and work, it’s important that we continue to promote reading habits that reach widely across genre, subject, and geography. We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us. We want American readers to deeply value an inclusive, big-picture point of view, and the National Book Award for Translated Literature is part of a commitment to that principle. The addition of this award lends crucial visibility to works that have the power to touch us as American readers in search of broadened perspective.


That sums everything up pretty nicely. Though it is a national organization, the literary world is, obviously, international. Personally, of my top favorite authors, I might include one American writer. However, if it weren’t for American translator Jay Rubin, for example, we wouldn’t be able to read many of Haruki Murakami’s works.


The work of translators is indispensable to a reader’s life. If you are reading a work in translation, then, though it may not seem it, about half the work is being done by the translator. Capturing an author’s voice and aesthetic in a new language is immensely challenging and is an artistic medium independent of writing. It’s extremely exciting that one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world is now awarding translators for their contributions to book life.


Submissions for the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be open on March 7th, the same time as the other categories (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature). The longlist will be announced on September 10th, and the finalists will be announced on October 10th. The inaugural winners (both writer and translator) of the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner on November 14th. Winners in each category receive a bronze sculpture and $10,000. Winners of the Translated Literature award will split the money evenly between them.


Who would you like to see win the National Book Award for Translated Literature? Think globally!


Feature Image Via the National Book Foundation

National Book Award

15 of 20 National Book Award Finalists Are Female!

Female authors are killing it at the moment, with all five of the recently announced Five Under Thirty Five also women. Now, the National Book Award finalists have been announced and among the twenty finalists, throughout four categories, are fifteen women. That is pretty incredible. 


The finalists in the fiction category are:


Elliot AckermanDark at the Crossing

Lisa KoThe Leavers

Min Jin LeePachinko 

Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

Jesmyn WardSing, Unburied, Sing


The finalists in the Young People’s Literature Category are: 


Elana K. ArnoldWhat Girls Are Made of

Robin BenwayFar from the Tree

Erika L. SánchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

Ibi ZoboiAmerican Street


Check out all the categories on the full list here


Annie Proulx, previously won a National Book Award for The Shipping News, will be honored this year with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters while the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community will be bestowed upon president and CEO of Scholastic, Dick Robinson.


The category winners will be announced on November 15th in New York City.


Featured Image Via NPR