Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2021) Nominees Round Up, December 29 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Quick Picks nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Book Cover
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Hachette / Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1368052405

Shocked and confused, Avery Kylie Grambs is pulled from class and whisked away to the reading of billionaire Tobias Hawthorne’s will-a man whom she’s never met-and inherits his fortune. Abruptly moving into his mansion filled with secret passageways and disinherited family members, Avery tries to solve the puzzle of why she is Tobias’ heir rather than his four brilliant, handsome teen grandsons and their families. 

The Inheritance Games is built on short, dialogue-driven chapters and the promise of puzzles, passageways, and mysteries to uncover in every page turn. Avery is clever, likeable, and well-developed as she navigates the treacherous waters of her newfound fame and fortune after a lifetime of financial struggle. Equally likeable (albeit each in their own ways) are the competitive Hawthorne grandsons, who set aside their discontent at disinheritance to work with (and sometimes against) Avery to try and solve the riddle of her inheritance. While there are many characters to follow throughout, each is distinct and developed enough that they are not difficult to track. In true Barnes fashion, clues are interwoven throughout the story and, if the reader is clever enough, they might be able to take a guess at the final big reveal, which both solves the question of Avery’s inheritance and sets up neatly for an upcoming sequel reluctant readers can look forward to devouring.

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Get to Know Some YA Authors From Across the Pond

Photo Sep 28, 6 06 08 PMI spent a few weeks in London, then Edinburgh in August on vacation, and, being the librarian and book lover that I am, found myself frequently stopping in bookstores. I wondered whether the same books that teens are reading in the U.S. would be available to British & Scottish teens.

As I wandered the teen sections in Waterstones and WHSmith in London and Blackwell’s in Edinburgh, I found that many of the same YA books that are published here are also popular across the pond in London and Scotland. In Waterstones there was a special display with a sign saying “Everything’s turning green!” promoting John Green’s books. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars were also included in another book display.

Photo Sep 28, 4 06 04 PM Photo Sep 28, 4 11 48 PMAs I scanned the shelves in the bookstores, I also saw a few authors that I wasn’t as familiar with, or that I hadn’t heard of at all. One, author, Malorie Blackman, current Children’s Laureate for Great Britain for 2013 – 2015, is a British author I had read years ago. Her book Naughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses in the UK) was nominated, but didn’t make the 2006 Best Books for Young Adults list.

It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet story of teens Sephy and Callum who’ve been in love their whole lives, but their romance is forbidden because they have different skin colors. Sephy is a Cross: black-skinned, wealthy and daughter of an important politician. White-skinned Callum is a Naught, devastatingly poor and powerless. The law now allows Naughts to enter Cross schools, and Sephy is thrilled that Callum will attend her school. But the seemingly positive desegregation degenerates into a nightmarish tangle of events ranging from expulsions, to bombings by the Naught Liberation Militia, to hangings. Callum’s older brother, denied schooling, has joined the Naught Liberation Militia. Caught up in escalating violence, Callum’s family disintegrates, and there seems little for him to do but join the terrorists as well. The teens’ romance against overwhelming odds is very powerful and moving.

Naughts & Crosses was published in the UK in 2001. In a Wikipedia article on Blackman, The Times interviewer Amanda Craig speculated about why the Noughts & Crosses series was not published in the United States the same year, “though there was considerable interest, 9/11 killed off the possibility of publishing any book describing what might drive someone to become a terrorist.” Naughts and Crosses was published in the U.S. in 2005, and the paperback published in 2007 under the title Black & White.

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