Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of That Weekend by Kara Thomas

That Weekend Cover Art

That Weekend by Kara Thomas
Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 29, 2021
ISBN: 978-1524718367

Claire wakes up in a hospital with no memory and is shocked to learn that her two best friends are missing. They had all gone camping that past weekend and Claire quickly becomes a suspect as the only surviving member of said trip. As she begins to piece together clues and other suspects, will she be able to solve the mystery before she is the next one to disappear? 

With a cannot stop until the end pacing as new twists and turns are revealed, this is a thriller that will have readers racing to try more books. Thomas weaves the creepy camp setting, friend and romantic drama, and a solid mystery with a mind blowing ending that will be passed along by word of mouth alone.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Hunting By Stars by Cherie Dimaline

Hunting by Stars Cover Art

Hunting By Stars: A Marrow Thieves Novel by Cherie Dimaline
ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
ISBN: 978-1419753473 

In a near future ravaged by climate and disease, some people have stopped dreaming. These people go mad or waste away, so the government has done the unthinkable: Set up residential “schools” where the bone marrow of Indigenous people is harvested for the dreams they still carry. Métis teen Francis “French” Dusome has been on the run for most of his life, ever since the day his brother sacrificed himself so French could get away. French survives in the wilderness with a close knit group whose members–including Rose, Miig, Wab, and Chi-Boy–are from tribal nations all over North America; together, they are family. So when French is captured, there’s no question that he will be looked for. But new threats bring new danger, and the group is forced to separate. Now Rose is desperately searching for French–and running right into the deceptively open arms of a strange new group. Miig is leading the others south–crossing the U.S. border where the line between friends and those pretending to be friends is very thin. And French is imprisoned in a place where so many of his people have gone to die–and about to face terrible choices that will harm those he loves no matter what he decides. Reuniting will require sacrifices, betrayals, and desperate bids for a survival that is anything but assured. 

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of A Girl Called Echo, v.4: Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk

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A Girl Called Echo, v.4: Road Allowance Era by Katherena Vermette, Scott B. Henderson, and Donovan Yaciuk
HighWater Press
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
ISBN: 9781553799306

Echo, a Métis teenager, embarks on one more trip to the past of her family and heritage. Her mother has returned, and she shares the family tree when Echo realizes she has been seeing her family members in the trips to the past. Echo travels first to 1885 during the trial and execution of Louis Riel after the Northwest Resistance, and she sees how the Métis’ rights to land are not honored by the Canadian government. She continues to travel to several parts of the past to meet her family members. She sees promises reneged on, and Echo wonders what that means for the future. As she heads toward graduation, Echo considers what she can do to stay strong and keep on fighting injustice with support from family and friends. 

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West

The Bitterwine Oath cover art

The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West; narrated by Reba Buhr
Tantor Media, Inc.
Released: February 16, 2021
ISBN: 9781705222904

San Solano, Texas is a quaint little town with a sordid and violent history.  That violent history is its greatest appeal. Decades ago twelve men were murdered as they took Holy Communion, and town residents are sure the minister’s daughter, Malachi, was responsible. Fast forward to present day San Solano, and as the anniversary of the massacre approaches, fear grows that another 12 men will meet their gory demise. Nat has assiduously avoided both the hoopla surrounding the anniversary and the Wardens, a cult of women famously connected to the slaughter, in service to a promise she made to her grandmother. That is a promise sorely tested when her father and the boy she falls in love with are marked for death.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hard Wood by Sugar Rodgers

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They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hard Wood by Sugar Rodgers
Black Sheep/Akashic Books
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
ISBN: 978-1617759710

WNBA All-Star Sugar Rodgers shares her story of growing up, poverty, family life, school, sports, friends, and how she eventually shaped a successful career as a professional basketball player for herself. 

The author’s writing style is clear and direct, and events happen chronologically. Tough issues are covered with a matter-of-fact tone. The book is less than 200 pages and Sugar’s voice is engaging and relatable. Basketball is central to Sugar’s story but she also talks about golf, meeting Tiger Woods, and the integral role of coaches in her life.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

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How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534448667 

Mexican American Moon Fuentez lives in the shadow of her sister Star’s social media fame and her mother’s disdain, so when she is cajoled into accompanying Star on an influencer tour to take her sister’s pictures and sell merch, Moon is prepared for a disappointing summer. But over the course of the tour, a slow-growing relationship with perpetually grumpy, impossibly attractive Santiago gives Moon the courage to embrace her art and her life, and face her family’s abuse.

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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of My Body in Pieces by Marie Noëlle Hébert

My Body in Pieces Cover Art

My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noëlle Hébert
Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press
Publication Date: April 6, 2021
ISBN: 9781773064840

My Body in Pieces by Marie-Noëlle Hébert is a book that allows many to feel heard. Teenagers today are challenged with taboo issues that our society has finally come to address. This memoir allows one to feel connected by means of learning the importance of self-confidence. Through graphite images, the author shares her journey with low self-esteem along with her desire to have a “perfect” body.  

This book is ideal for a library’s graphic novel collection for young adults because any young adult can relate to the many messages that the author shares that center around loving yourself. While the story is intense and indirectly discusses suicide, this book can be read and discussed in the home, during support groups, or in therapy sessions as well. It is a great book to open up a conversation with teens about self-esteem and body image through the challenges of the author. Teens will be able to relate via the black-and-white drawings, and they will also be able to use this as a time to reflect about their own personal self-esteem challenges. 

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Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2022) Featured Review of In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner

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In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner; narrated by Michael Crouch
Listening Library
Release date: August 8, 2021
ISBN: 9780593399040

Cash and his friend Delaney are barely surviving in their small Appalachian town. Cash is being raised by his grandparents after his mother succumbed to opioid addiction, and Delaney is running from drug dealers and an unstable home while working at Dairy Queen.  A small but profound scientific discovery by Delaney gives her leverage to earn them both places at a prestigious boarding school.  Cash is torn between going and leaving behind the grandparents who have raised him and grabbing the otherwise unattainable opportunities the scholarship would give him.  Convinced by Delaney to go to the new school, he discovers his inner poet, and goes through many coming of age experiences.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

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The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers  
Publication Date: July 13, 2021
ISBN: 978-1984812537 

Seeing ghosts is just a fact of life for Jake Livingston. He is stuck seeing people in their last moments of life, their deaths looping over and over. So far life has been weird and somewhat complicated, but bearable. That is until the ghost of Sawyer, a school shooter from a neighboring high school, breaks free from his death loop and starts stalking Jake. Sawyer wants something from Jake and figuring out what exactly that is will put Jake in more danger than he has ever experienced. 

This is a short and fast paced read with a definite creepiness that horror and thriller lovers will like. The story is told from the dual perspectives of Jake in present time and Sawyer’s journal from before the shooting event, which adds more depth to the story and the characters’ motivations.

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Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson

The Misewa Saga Cover Art

The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson
Penguin Random House Canada/Puffin Books
The Barren Grounds (vol. 1)
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
ISBN: 978-0735266100

The Great Bear (vol. 2)
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 978-0735266131

Indigenous foster kids Morgan and Eli have been separated from their families and placed with a white foster couple in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Both children feel alone and different from everyone around them at their new home and school, but Morgan and Eli have a secret. They can cross into another world — the land of Askí, where across the Barren Grounds they’ve befriended the talking animal villagers of Misewa. All Eli has to do is draw a picture, staple it to the wall of the attic, and he and Morgan can step into a fantasy land. During their first adventure in Askí, the two meet and befriend a fisher named Ochek, the sole remaining hunter of his starving village. Together, they embark on a weeks-long voyage to discover what has happened to the summer birds that are meant to keep the land alive. As they travel, Morgan begins to learn how to live on the land as her people do, and Eli flourishes with opportunities to share his knowledge. Many dangers await, and even if Morgan and Eli do return home, they must figure out how to explain their long absence. 

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