Us and Books: We Ship It…A CYBILS WINNER UPDATE!

And now for THE WINNERS of the 2015 Cybils Awards! We listed Speculative Fiction books from both age categories, since they are of particular interest to us, and then the YA categories:

MG Speculative Fiction

The Fog Diver
by Joel Ross
Nominated by: PLCarpenter

The Fog Diver is a fun, exciting adventure set in a dystopian
future where remnants of humanity live on the highest mountaintops and
in airships above a deadly fog of microscopic robots covering the
planet. The nannites were created to clean up Earth’s pollution, but got
out of control and the fog they created killed billions of humans. A
boy named Chess is lowered into the fog each day by his crewmates on a
salvage ship flying above the clouds to scavenge on the earth’s surface.
He is the best fog diver there is—the fog mysteriously energizes him.
The secrets behind his fog-diving ability put a target on his back and
will impact the survival of his family, and the fate of humankind.

The strong cast of multi-cultural,
under-privileged kids who make up the salvage crew are fiercely loyal to
each other, and to the one adult who’s cared about them, Mrs. E. But
Mrs. E is dying from fogsickness, and the kids set off on a dangerous
quest to save her, while struggling to keep Chess and his secret safe.

The Fog Diver is filled with action, drama,
and mystery (with bonus steampunk air pirates). The author addresses
the exploitation of others, poverty, the conflict between the haves and
have-nots, and the dangers of messing with technology and Mother Nature.
The tension created by the conflict in the plot is lightened by the
author’s use of word play, as characters try to make sense of stories
they’ve heard about the past. “May the horse be with you,” a
constellation called Oprah, and a red-caped hero named Superbowl are a
few mixed-up historical references. In this culture, cash is worthless
except when used as toilet paper. The book moves with brisk assurance
toward a thrilling conclusion, with plenty of intrigue left for the

Young Adult Fiction

Every Last Word
by Tamara Ireland Stone
Nominated by: Jennifer Donovan
Samantha McAllister, a “normal” teen
in almost every way, hides a secret from her closest friends: she lives
with Purely-Obsessional OCD. For better and for worse, Tamara Ireland
Stone asks us to step into the shoes of our leading lady, navigating
through the murky waters of high school cliques, bullying, weekly
therapy sessions, and a new passion that she has to keep secret from her
friends. When Sam’s new friend, Caroline, introduces her to the
clandestine meeting of Poet’s Corner, her life changes forever.
Every Last Word stands out
because of its honest, moving portrayal of mental illness. But it also
stands out because of Sam’s hard-earned character growth. After being a
bully just to fit in with her toxic friends, becoming a member of Poet’s
Corner allows her to right some past wrongs and learn that finding your
unique voice is more important than blending in with your friends.
Along the way, we experience the highs and lows of high school cliques,
show how there are always ways to redeem yourself even if they aren’t
easy, and feel the emotions of all involved from every angle. The poetry
included helps break the ice on what can be a difficult topic, making
it more accessible, while the “feels” you succumb to will make and break
your heart. It’s not always pretty, but it’s real and fair, making it a
story that Young Adult readers can connect with on many levels.

Graphic Novels

by Noelle Stevenson
Nominated by: Liviania
Nimona is the snarky, shape-shifting sidekick to a
supervillain. Her unwilling employer, Lord Ballister Blackheart, plays
his part promoting evil and clashing against the hero Sir Ambrosius
Goldenloin. Pulling Blackheart along with her overenthusiasm for
wrongdoing, Nimona forces everyone to look deeply into questions of good
and evil. She reopens old wounds between villain and hero, and tears
into her own enemies with a vengeance, regardless of the consequences.
But she also foils a nefarious government plot and is a fierce
protector. Who is good? Who is evil? And who decides, anyway? In NIMONA,
the answers keep shifting, and the results are awesome. We loved the
way Noelle Stevenson created complex, sympathetic characters who subvert
traditional understandings of beauty, power, and morality. And NIMONA
is riotously funny to boot!


Using historical data and interviews, Sheinkin sets a
vivid, you-are-there scene, allowing readers to see Daniel Ellsberg move
from enthusiastic Department of Defense political analyst to anti-war
activist as he realizes that the President would continue sending
American soldiers into this unwinnable war. Although Ellsberg is the
title character, Most Dangerous is much more than a biography. It covers
nearly three decades of US defense and political history, giving
readers a front-row seat into the complexity of national security and
decision making.  
Compelling, thought-provoking and timeless, Most Dangerous
delivers readers not only an historical account of a time period in our
history often confusing, but offers readers a critical eye towards the
future as well.

Speculative Fiction

The Walls Around Us
by Nova Ren Suma
Algonquin Young Readers
Nominated by: Esther Braithwaite
Maybe, long ago, we used to be good. Maybe all little girls are good in the beginning.”

The concept of good came up frequently among the judges in the Cybils
Speculative Fiction list, as the Round One crew offered up seven novels
which were very good indeed, and left to the Finalist judges the
struggle to elevate one above the shining host. Intriguingly, the
concept of “good” and “good enough,”  repeated within the narratives as
well. Whether any of the protagonists in SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER
BOYS, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke, can be considered “good” is
debatable unless you’re a fan of horror, as many of our judges are.
Ultimate good is at issue in THE SIX by Mark Alpert, as characters
sacrificed their bodies to become mechanized weapons.

And then, there was “good enough;” Hallie struggled to be good enough
to be loved by her sister in AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES by Leah Bobet; In
MORTAL HEART by Robin LaFevers, Annith longed to be good enough to leave
the convent of St. Mortain to do real work. Sierra Santiago must fight
monsters AND patriarchy to prove she’s good enough to own her own
magical heritage in SHADOWSHAPER, by Daniel José Older. In the novel by
Laura Ruby, Finn O’Sullivan has to fight the belief of the town of BONE
GAP that he and his brother aren’t good enough for the people they love
not to just leave. There were a lot of “good” reasons to choose any one
of these books, because they all have skillful writing and teen appeal.
But, eventually, we realized that few books could be more appealing than
what some of us referred to as “the killer ballerina book.”

Ballerinas, normally the artistic apex of beauty and grace, were
shown as something violent and unfamiliar, underscoring themes of
innocence and its loss.  Nova Ren Suma’s THE WALLS AROUND US provides an
unhinged look into the competitive, obsessive world through the eyes of
Amber and Violet, two girls with vastly different futures: one in a
Juvenile Detention Center; the other on her way to a promising career at
Julliard. A challenging narrative with definite speculative, creepy
supernatural elements, the novel’s shadowy, edgy setting with its
distinctive voices, together with the atmospheric beauty of the writing
convinced even the dubious to embrace this psychological thriller. We
cordially invite you to weigh the good in these selected books, and do the

May you have a lovely, lazy Sunday with the beau of your choice: a book, or a friend.

 Visit the Cybils website to read about the winners in Poetry, Picture Books, and more.

About the author

tanita s. davis is a writer and avid reader who prefers books to most things in the world, including people. That's ...pretty much it, she's very boring and she can't even tell jokes. She is, however, the author of nine books, including Serena Says, Partly Cloudy, Go Figure, Henri Weldon, and the Coretta Scott King honored Mare's War. Look for her new MG, The Science of Friendship in 1/2024 from Katherine Tegen Books.


  1. YAY! Thanks for posting this. I'm in SoCal this weekend, and my schedule was thrown off for various other reasons.

    I'm excited about the big reveal!! Of course, as the co-blog-editor I have insider information, but it's still exciting. 🙂

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