Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Not Even Bones (Market of Monsters #1) by Rebecca Schaeffer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published September 4th, 2018
Only Ashes Remain (Market of Monsters #2) by Rebecca Schaeffer
HMH Books for Young Readers
Published September 3rd, 2019
Nita is an expert at dissection. She dissects the dead bodies of “unnaturals” that her mother brings to her to sell the pieces on the dark web parts market. But when her mother brings a live specimen home with the intent to sell fresh parts piece by piece, Nita reaches her limit and frees the captive boy. Within hours she finds herself, with her secret unnatural abilities, in a cage and under threat of torture and the death that her subjects once endured. Now she must find an escape, while still maintaining the fine line of morality she has always tread upon.
In Only Ashes Remain, Nita’s story continues. After burning the Market of the Dead to the ground, Nita is on the run, and who she is running from changes from day to day but is an ever looming nightmare. While she runs from the monsters around her, she has to determine what kind of monster she is herself. Dark horror thrillers with much ambiguous morality, these two novels twist the reader’s thoughts of right, wrong, and the gray area in between.
With an exciting beginning, and quick thrust into grave peril, the action is non-stop, and for those who enjoy horror, there is plenty of gore and blood as well. Only Ashes Remain is a great sequel with more creepy monsters and gore, and much introspection on just who a monster is and what they might do.
Readers who enjoy gory T.V. such as Dexter or I, Zombie and those who like high stakes thrillers will love these books.
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Lena, the seasoned neighborhood black girl, doesn’t know Campbell, the new from-out-of-state white girl, but when a violent outburst at their high school football game throws them together, they become a team focused on their own well-being, and survival. As a series of unexpected, but all too believable, mostly racially motivated, nightmares block their way home, they learn a lot about themselves and each other.
This book picks up quick with very little back story, throwing the two girls together under the worst kind of circumstances. The entire story occurs during one night, with fast-paced action and suspense through to the end. It touches on many issues of today without being preachy or tying anything up in neat little packages, but leaves the reader with lots of open-ended questions to think about after the story is through.
Readers who enjoyed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and reading about racial issues, as well as those who enjoy suspenseful stories like The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig with like this book.
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Delacorte Press / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Annaleigh Thaumas lives with her family on the remote seaside estate of Highmoor. Once a family of twelve beautiful daughters, four of Annaleigh’s older sisters have recently died in tragic or strange accidents. Haunted by ghostly visions, and rumors that her family is cursed, Annaleigh begins to suspect that her sisters might have been murdered.
Inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Craig’s story of the Annaleigh and her sisters combines mystery, horror, and romance. As the girls seek a respite from their constant mourning, they discover a hidden passageway created for the gods that whisks them to enchanting parties every night. Are these parties too good to be true? Craig is a master world builder, and her vivid descriptions of Highmoor, glittering ballrooms and party dresses, and wind-swept seas will pull readers deeper into the story. Annaleigh is the most well-developed character, leaving readers to guess at most other characters’ motives. As Annaleigh becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator, however, readers will have to question each character’s every move in order to discover who–or what–is haunting the Thaumas sisters.
Perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings, such as Jennifer Donnelly’s Stepsister, and Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely.
–Kathleen J. Barker
The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets by Gayle E. Pitman
Abrams Books for Young Readers / Abrams
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Explore the history of Stonewall through 50 objects including protest signs, artifacts from the riots, photographs of participants, and newspaper articles describing the events of June 1969. This overview of LGBTQ+ activism prior to Stonewall culminates in a detailed account of the riots and their aftermath.
This is an engaging historical account of an important moment in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Pitman has divided this the text into 50 bite-sized stories, ranging from the site’s early history as a stable to the establishment of gay and lesbian social clubs and publications. The format makes it easy for readers to jump into the narrative at the points they find most interesting, and the language is accessible to tweens as well as young adults. The book is filled with images of primary-source objects and documents, and quotes from Pitman’s interviews with riot participants and witnesses. The backmatter Includes a detailed timeline and notes as well as an extensive bibliography.
This is a good choice for readers interested in social activism and issues related to self identity discussed in books like Kathy Belge’s Queer: the Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens or Juno Dawson’s This Book Is Gay. Pitman’s work also provides good context for recent historical fiction such as Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian or Brandon James’s Ziggy, Stardust & Me.
–Kathleen J. Barker