Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
The Girl in the White Van by April Henry
Henry Holt & Co. / Macmillan
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Savannah is tired of moving every time her mom finds a new boyfriend and she’s finally happy living in Portland where she attends Kung Fu classes and is making friends. After a fight with her mom’s boyfriend, Savannah is kidnapped from a parking lot and must rely on her wits and self defense skills to try to escape–and help the other girl her kidnapper has also abducted.
This thriller is fast paced and action packed; readers are pulled immediately into the conflicts in Savannah’s life and then the frightening events of her abduction. Although the book shifts points of view, including chapters from Savannah, Jenny (another kidnapped girl), family members, etc. the point of view changes only heighten the suspense of the book.
This gripping and suspenseful tale will appeal to readers of other teen thrillers including April Henry’s other titles such as The Body in the Woods, as well as survival stories such as Matt de la Peña’s The Living and I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall.
–Marie A. LeJeune
A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
G.P. Putnam’s Son
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Each generation requires two royal sisters to engage in a battle of magick. The winner becomes queen, the loser dies. Eva was born to the most powerful kind of magick, but she just can not figure out how to wield it. As the her seventeen birthday approaches, Eva must avoid assassination long enough to face her sister and almost certain death. If only she could find a way to unlock her magick in time, she might make it to her eighteenth birthday.
The high-stakes premise gets the story off to a quick start and the suspense builds from there. With each life-threatening situation, readers learn a bit more about the world of magick, Myre and it’s internecine conflicts. Much of this history is delivered with snark and droll wisdom by Bacca.
Teens who like fantasy series on the screen – Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Harry Potter, but are intimidated by the hefty page-count of the corresponding books, will enjoy the cinematic story-telling contained in a tightly-crafted 368 pages and will be eager to read the sequel in March 2021.