Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Someone is Always Watching by Kelley Armstrong

  • Someone is Always Watching
  • by Kelley Armstrong
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House
  • Imprint: Tundra
  • Release date: April 11, 2023 
  • ISBN: 9780735270923

Blythe’s tight-knit group of friends have started to be plagued by nightmares, hallucinations, and what seem to be repressed memories. The stakes are raised when her best friend Gabrielle has a series of psychotic breaks at school, and is whisked away to a mental health facility following a suspicious death of a school official. Blythe and her friends must work together to find out what really happened to Gabrielle and how this relates to their own nightmares and visions. But can they trust anyone, even one another?

Someone is Always Watching is a fast-paced, plot driven thriller. Although some parts of the plot feel a bit underdeveloped, especially in the second half of the book, the twists and turns will likely keep readers turning the pages until the end. The book is just about 350 pages, but reads as quickly as a book half its length.

Also try books by Karen McManus or These Deadly Games by Diana Urban.

– Julianne Novetsky

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 18, 2023
Release Date: January 3, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Amazing Audiobooks (#AA2024) Featured Review: Rubi Ramo’s Recipe for Success by Jessica Parra, Narrated by Karla Serrato

  • Rubi Ramos’s Recipe for Success
  • by Jessica Parra
  • Narrated by Karla Serrato
  • Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Publication Date: May 16, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781666633634

Senior Rubi Ramos has a plan. 1. Get accepted to Alma University and 2. Become a successful lawyer, just as her bakery owner, Cuban-American parents expect of her. But when Rubi is waitlisted, she’s determined to fix that by finding a math tutor and leading her debate team to the championship, all while keeping the waitlist and baking beyond her work at the bakery a secret. What could go wrong? It turns out Rubi’s passion for baking and competing in the bake off could help with being accepted to Alma and also help with realizing her dream. 

Jessica Parra’s debut into YA features topics she is familiar with as a lawyer and the daughter of Guatemalan and Cuban bakers. Parra’s characters are both entertaining and believable and Serrato’s narration gives personality to each. The cover gives romance, yet overall the story is more coming-of-age with Rubi’s relationship with her parents, her friends, and her teammates as well as the decisions she ultimately has to make.  

For readers who enjoyed  A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey; reading about the expectations of traditional family values in When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon or the strong-willed protagonist in Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy.

-Lysha Thompson  

Other Nominated Titles

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt

  • Aces Wild: A Heist
  • by Amanda DeWitt
  • Publisher: Peachtree Teen
  • Imprint: Holiday House
  • Release date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781682634660

Jack attends a private school in Massachusetts and runs an underground, literally in the basement, blackjack ring where he uses his card counting tricks learned from his life in Las Vegas where his family owns and runs a casino.  Things seem to be running smoothly until he sees his mother arrested on TV and has to race back to Las Vegas.

Jack is ace and has a group of internet friends that have found each other as allies who are also ace that live around the country. When Jack’s mom is arrested, he makes an impulsive decision to fly his friends to Vegas to help him figure out what happened. Many bad decisions are made, but they have each other to rely on.

Readers who love the idea of taking risks in casinos and banding together with friends on a mission will enjoy Jack and his friend gang. Similar reads are The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass, Overturned by Lamar Giles.

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: April 4, 2023
Release Date: January 31, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Featured Review: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

  • The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
  • by Issac Blum
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Imprint: Philomel Books
  • Release Date: September 13, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780593525821

Hoodie moves to a small Philly suburb with his family and members of their Orthodox Jewish community. It’s culture shock for the residents and for Hoodie, who has never had close contact with non-Jewish people. With the mayor leading the charge against her newest neighbors, Hoodie befriends her daughter, Anna-Marie, much to the horror of his family and community. As they try to maintain their rocky friendship, the tension in town boils over leading to horrifying outcomes.

Hoodie’s amusing inner and outer dialogue bring levity and laughs to a serious story. The ripped from the headlines events are understandable to readers and perfectly portray how situations can quickly become volatile in the age of social media. Hoodie and Anna-Marie are polar opposites yet they both struggle with the confines placed on them by their parents and seek to find a balance that works for them.

Hand this to readers interested in issues-oriented stories and fans of In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton and Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

-Cathy DeCampli

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8, 2022

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.