Hello! Did you know that the nominations for the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards are happening NOW until this Friday, December 18th? Normally, I must admit, I don't pay much attention to book awards and lists (aside from Printz/NBA/Morris), but the Book Shimmy Awards are 100% determined by the community. We have agency in what we are going to be voting for, and I hope that you'll join me in nominating your favorites! (I hope that we have some common favorites as well...)
Award given to the best overall book published in 2015.
Award given to favorite YA author of the year. (Author must have published a book in 2015.)
The Walls Around Us and remembered a blog post I'd read from Nova Ren Suma about the surprises she'd had as an author. As someone who is trying to navigate different careers and expectations of life, I really resonated with that post. Nova's dedication in the Walls Around Us is also perfect for the YA community. She seems like an incredibly sweet author, and The Walls Around Us, as I said in my review andanother post, is like a tribute to girls in all our complexity. Yes to Nova Ren Suma.
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia. In some sense, this isn't fair of me because Chessie and I are good friends, but I really did enjoy Made You Up. I interviewed Chessie on this blog when her deal had recently been announced and when her book was soon to be released. I reviewed Made You Up and encouraged you all to pre-order the book when you could, because it was one of theawesome 2015 books that I'd read. I gave away an annotated ARC of Made You Up. There are only so many ways that someone can say this is an amazing debut novel and Francesca Zappia is an amazing author to watch.
Cover Lust Award
Award given to the YA book with the most gorgeous cover design.
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia. Made You Up has made Bustle's list for best YA book coversas well as the beautiful covers list from Epic Reads and some categories in the viewer-votedYoung Adult Book Cover Awards. It's actually a cover that also represents aspects of the book well. If I'm not mistaken, the eyes of a pivotal character in the book are described as something like, taking a bunch of blue crayons and melting them together. The umbrella is a great representation of the main character trying to shield herself from things beyond her control. Plus, the emphasis on her red hair, which plays its own role, and the fact that she's illustrated allows you to picture her however you want. Win, Greenwillow Designer. Win.
Award given to the best YA book of 2015 that explores the diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.
Serpentine by Cindy Pon. The interesting thing is, when I saw this award, my first thought was towards the excellent selection of diverse contemporary novels that I'd read, like Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. But contemporary generally seems to be where most diverse novels are; fantasy has a serious problem when it comes to including diversity because of some fallacious arguments. I enjoyed and reviewed Serpentine, and included Skybright in various lists about brave heroines. At its core, Serpentine is discussing what it means to be Other; with our patriarchal society marginalizing the voices of those who fit the aforementioned diverse label, well, Serpentine also seemed perfect for this category. Plus, y'know, the exploration of Chinese folklore, and a non Western-centric fantasy: that definitely fits the We Need Diverse Books Award criteria, no?
Award for the best book that shines a light on mental health.
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn. I considered adding Made You Up here as well, but I know that Francesca Zappia is planning on releasing books not focused on mental health, whereas all of Stephanie Kuehn's novels thus far have been about exploring mental health issues. I've reviewed and enjoyed Delicate Monsters, Complicit, and Charm and Strange. Basically, Stephanie Kuehn is a wordsmith, a masterful plotter exploring the complexities of the human mind, and I can't wait to see what she produces next. (The Smaller Evil looks so good!).
The Here and Now Award
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Undoubtedly, you've already heard of the awesomeness that is Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda; it was on the National Book Award longlist and has been making the rounds across various YA best-of lists. I reviewed Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and encouraged people to pre-order the book. Simon was also recently optioned for a book to movie adaptation. Simon is a great YA contemporary, and I can't wait for more from Becky Albertalli.
The Reality Bites Award
Award for the best fantasy / sci-fi YA novel published in 2015.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. This made me feel a little strange because I consider Bone Gap to be more like "magical realism" than SFF, but if there's no magical realism category, sure, Bone Gap, I'll mention you here. I can undoubtedly say that Bone Gap is one of the most unique YA books that I've read, which is probably why it was a National Book Award finalist and has been making the rounds across various YA best-of lists. I love Laura Ruby's writing style; I love her willingness to try something completely different; I love her exploration of perception and beauty. Laura Ruby really does a wonderful job developing the setting and making the people of Bone Gap feel unique to Bone Gap (but also familiar to us). 100% recommended.
Hot Under the Cover
Award for the best romance YA novel. (This also known as the Theo James Award for sexiest novel.)
Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. Well, this category was a little strange for me because none of my favorite YA novels are romance novels. They're romantic; the romance is frequently a side plot connected into the coming-of-age. But, ultimately, I still decided to nominate Dumplin'. I enjoyed and reviewed Dumplin', and discussed why people ought to anticipate its release. Willowdean made my list of favorite YA heroines, and I discussed more of the awesomeness of Dumplin' in aCinderella Book tag. I chose to nominate Dumplin' for romance because of all that and more. Julie Murphy has been getting reader emails suggesting that the romance is wish fulfillment because Willowdean is fat. No, ladies. Let's not play into this harmful societal narrative that fat girls deserve less. I enjoyed the romance in Dumplin', and my nominating Dumplin' for this category is also a statement against those reader emails.
World Series Champ
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. I was considering nominating The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (book 2 of The Bone Season, which I loved and have encouraged people to read), but it's technically considered adult and ineligible for the Book Shimmy Awards. I enjoyed and reviewed Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman; Seraphina is one of my favorite YA heroines. It's a shame that this inventive dragon duology has ended, but hopefully there will be more Rachel Hartman books to come!
The Blast from the Past Award
Award given to the best historical fiction book published in 2015.
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson. It was pretty awkward realizing that I hadn't read much historical YA this year; I had planned to read Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee but... haven't yet. Still, Walk on Earth a Stranger fits; its historical, Oregon-trail quest-like elements are more prominent than the fantastical gold hunting magic. Lee/Leah was one of my favorite YA heroines. Walk on Earth made my Cinderella Book Tag list, and I told people to anticipate its release. Of course, I also reviewed Walk on Earth a Stranger. Walk on Earth a Stranger was a great introduction to the Gold Seer trilogy, and I'm looking forward to more from Rae Carson.
The Retelling Award
Award for the best YA retelling published in 2015.
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. I considered nominating Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge -- I've loved every one of her dark spins on fairy tales, including her short stories and novellas, and I reviewed Crimson Bound, encouraged people to pre-order the awesome book -- but ultimately I want there to be more Middle Eastern books that actually feel Middle Eastern in the way that A Thousand Nights does. I also considered nominated Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which I reviewed here, but it's technically not a YA book (it's like Red Rising, both published by Del Rey as adult fiction but both frequently making YA book lists, which the publisher isn't going to complain about because it wants the crossover crowds). I reviewed A Thousand Nightsand have sung its praises whenever I could, including discussing my love for the main character. As someone with Middle Eastern heritage, I felt that A Thousand Nights was authentic. The atmosphere was wonderful. ATN is an epic fantasy that should not be missed.
The Most Anticipated Award
Award for the book you are most excited to read that publishes in 2016.
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I have a list of 2016 books and 2016 debuts that I need to write up, but I haven't done so yet. The Star-Touched Queen was "pitched as a Hades and Persephone-style romance infused with Indian mythology, about an unlikely princess who must overcome her sinister horoscope and embarks on a quest to unravel her true identity and find the one she loves." A.) We don't have enough YA fantasy that's actually diverse, and very little YA fantasy that aren't Western or European centric. B.) Indian mythology! C.) I don't even like Hades and Persephone that much, but I read The Star Maiden by Roshani Chokshi and her writing IS GORGEOUS. YES PLEASE to this book.
Book Nerd of the Year
Award given to your favorite contributer to the YA community. Nominate your favorite YA book blogger, vlogger, podcaster, Instagramer, Tumblr-er, ect. (Please list their handle and which platform! Example = @EpicReads on Instagram)
Ameriie at the booktube channel, Books Beauty Ameriie. If you're reading this, you might feel offended that I didn't nominate you. I can guarantee you that I considered you, especially if we're (close) friends. But unlike most of you, I've hung out with Ameriie in person several times, and we've been friends for over three years, so I know her book nerd ways intimately. This girl, when we first hung out, I can still remember feeling nervous in the way that you always are when you're hanging out with someone for the first time, but she made our interaction comfortable with her book nerd ways. Sniffing all those books, discussing our favorites, always driving to bookstores at the end of one of our writing days spent together... I mean, even if you forgo my personal experiences with Ameriie, all you need to do is check out her channel and here's a particular book nerd video: How She Reads. If you aren't one of her subscribers yet, you're seriously missing out on a wonderful perspective on both YA and adult books.
Those were my Book Shimmy Award nominations! Do we have any in common? What have you decided to nominate for each category?