For the past three years, I’ve been a Round 2 judge for the Cybils, first for YA SFF, then graphic novels, then YA SFF again (renamed speculative fiction). This year, I decided to challenge myself by indicating in my application that while I’d prefer Round 2, I’d be open to Round 1 as well.
And the universe (well, Sheila Ruth, category chair extraordinaire) answered. This year, I’m a Round 1 judge for YA speculative fiction.
I certainly read more than your average person, but the number of books I read per year usually hovers around 100, and that includes graphic novels. This number pales in comparison to a lot of other bloggers. Round 1 judges will often read that amount of books just during the judging phase itself, a space of 2-3 months (this category received over 200 nominations last year). So I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up.
Now that I’ve passed my first weekend of intensive Cybils reading (nominations officially opened Oct. 1), I can say my fears were unfounded. I’ve read five books in five days and am partway through three others. While I could always read whenever I liked during my leisure time before, I’ve found that holing myself up in my reading room at home with the excuse that this reading is required gives me a special kind of pleasure. It’s also great fun to see how many books and pages I’ve read compared to other Round 1 judges across all categories, which the Cybils database tracks. It’s not a competition (I keep telling myself), but it does help give me the kick in the pants I might need.
As always, the Cybils awards get me reading books I never would have picked up otherwise (like Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine, a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet from Benvolio’s point of view. I hadn’t even heard of this one, but it was cleverly done and well-written). Knowing this, I’m excited to give new things a try, even – gasp – paranormal romance. The nominations are rolling in and my to be read list grows daily (or perhaps hourly), but there are still many worthy books that haven’t been nominated yet. I’ve created a list of titles – some I have read, some I haven’t – that I think should be considered by us Round 1 judges. Perhaps you have read some of the books below and think they deserve a shot? If so, all you have to do is visit this page, read the instructions, and nominate! You can only nominate one book per category, so pick your favorite.
- Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
- Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini
- Avalon by Mindee Arnett
- Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
- Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
- Circle of Stones by Catherine Fisher
- Half Bad by Sally Green
- The Klaatu Terminus by Pete Hautman
- While We Run by Karen Healey
- Vitro by Jessica Khoury
- Defy by Sara B. Larson
- Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis
- The Young Elites by Marie Lu
- Firebug by Lish McBride
- Infinite by Jodi Meadows
- V is for Villain by Peter Moore
- The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O’Brien
- Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
- Sekret by Lindsay Smith
- Stray by Elissa Sussman
- The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
- Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
- Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh
- In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo