Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

You’ll Be The Death of Me
by Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: November 30, 2021
ISBN: 9780593175866

Ivy, Mateo, and Cal used to be best friends in middle school. Now estranged 11th graders, they come across each other and decide to skip school to relive ‘the best day ever’ from middle school. However, what began as a fun ditch day, quickly turns into real life danger – far beyond the walls of high school – and with real life consequences.

This mystery  begins with the cover itself and the plot is dramatic and includes a gossipy nature.  While the immediate mystery of the day deepens, so does the backstory of family relationships and secrets among these former friends. Chapters are short with alternating voices and the pace stays fast and intensifies as more secrets are uncovered.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow

You’d Be Home Now
by Kathleen Glasgow
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 9780525708049

Emory is lucky. She survived the car crash that killed the super popular Candy MontClair and provided the impetus for Emory’s older brother, Joey, to be shipped off to a rehab program in Colorado. Now left with physical and emotional scars from the trauma, Emory is trying to recover even as her mother places more responsibility on her to regulate the newly returned Joey’s behavior. Feeling unseen leaves Emory vulnerable to manipulation by her crush while weighing her down by the fear that her failures could be the cause of Joey’s relapse.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Nominations Round-Up, Winter

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Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.

A-Okay. By Jarad Greene. HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley, $12.99 (9780063032859). 

Jay deals with acne, acne medicine side effects, friend drama, and figuring out romantic feelings, during a tumultuous eighth grade year.

Blackout. By Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books, $19.99 (9780063088092). 

Six distinct but connected stories highlight black resilience and love in the midst of a New York City-wide blackout.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath

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The Missing Passenger by Jack Heath
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
ISBN: 978-1534449893

A plane with no passengers crashes in his hometown and Jarli quickly finds himself in the middle of a mystery. When he gets suspicious of the police working the case and learns that no one can be trusted, Jarli allies himself with his best option: his former bully, Doug. Together they attempt to track down the pilot and outwit a secretive criminal mastermind known as Viper.

The action grabs the reader right away with a plane crash on page one. The pacing is reminiscent of an action movie, with lots of high-risk situations, daring escapes, and chase scenes happening frequently throughout the plot. Short chapters and frequent dialogue help make this an easy read.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Hide and Don’t Seek and Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi

Hide and Don’t Seek and Other Very Scary Stories by Anica Mrose Rissi. Art by Carolina Godina
Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
ISBN: 978-0063026957 

This collection of “all types of” short stories includes twenty short texts ranging from one to eighteen pages in length. Text message exchanges, letters, a script, poetry, and traditional prose comprise this eclectic collection of scary stories geared towards younger teens, but enjoyed by all readers.    

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam

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Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam
Orca Soundings/Orca Book Publishers 
Publication Date: August 17, 2021
ISBN: 978-1459828513

Bass and his adventurous new girlfriend Rosie skip school for a joyride on a boat. As a storm rolls in and their boat becomes damaged, the pair must find their way to a deserted island and fend for themselves. Bess is transgender and working on self-confiedence, so when he bravely chooses to swim for help, the story evolves from adventure to romance to self-discovery. 

Tash McAdam writes in simple sentences using only the present tense and packs a big punch into a short book. Bass’s point of view is well-established, and readers will connect emotionally with his worries that range from whether Rosie actually likes him to how to survive. The plot moves quickly and ends with a hopeful future.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick, Art by Juliana Moon

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Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick, Art by Juliana Moon
Etch/Clarion Books  
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-0358299523

After her mom gets a new job, thirteen-year-old Karen moves to Greece to live with her dad Zed. Her new home and school, Mt. Olympus Junior High, seems a little strange, but fun, until people mysteriously start turning into stone statues.  With her new friends Athena, Artemis, and Apollo she decides to investigate before the finger can be pointed at her. Can Karen figure out the mystery of why her classmates are turning to stone and the secrets of her new home? 

Fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan will be interested in this fun graphic novel. With its simple and clear storyline, readers will enjoy the mythology as well as the mystery plot. In addition, the story of fitting in at a new school and making new friends (even if those friends happen to be Greek gods and goddesses) will be familiar for readers. 

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Sunkissed by Kasie West

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Sunkissed by Kasie West
Delacorte/Penguin Random House 
Publication Date: May 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-0593176269

Avery is spending the summer at a camping resort with her family, which isn’t quite the “adventure” her dad promised but does give her some much-needed space from drama at home. It also allows her to focus on discovering who she is and what she really wants, as opposed to what she thinks she’s supposed to want. Enter Brooks, the good-looking and slightly infuriating camp musician, who is also completely off-limits. They seem to have perfect chemistry, but Avery needs to remember that a relationship between the two of them would get Brooks fired, which would be devastating for him and his family.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen

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Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen
Scholastic Press 
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
ISBN: 978-1338665857 

Yared Heywat lives a lonely, meagre life with his Uncle Moti and his bionic lioness Besa as his only companions. But when Yared’s forced to sign into his favorite augmented reality game with his real name, he finds himself at the center of a galaxy-spanning conflict. During the attack on his city, Addis Prime, his uncle goes missing. With the help of Besa and the Ibis, an in-game rival turned ally, Yared must track down Uncle Moti and find his place in the galaxy.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of A-Okay by Jarad Greene

A-Okay Cover Art

A-Okay by Jarad Greene
HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley
Publication Date: 11/2/2021
ISBN: 978-0063032842

Jay is in eighth grade and suddenly he has acne. He doesn’t really think anything of it until there are pimples all over his face. In consultation with a couple doctors, Jay tries various treatments (which don’t really work) until he’s finally put on a stronger medication which has some odd side effects. Everything else seems to spiral from there – his good friend is being distant, he’s not sure where to sit at lunch, and he doesn’t seem to have romantic feelings of any kind for anyone. What’s a teen to do when they don’t know where they fit in and life is just so confusing?

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