Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam
Orca Soundings/Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: August 17, 2021
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.
Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam
Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick, Art by Juliana Moon
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
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.
Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick, Art by Juliana Moon
Sunkissed by Kasie West
Delacorte/Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 5, 2021
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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Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
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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A-Okay by Jarad Greene
HarperCollins Children’s Books/Harper Alley
Publication Date: 11/2/2021
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?
Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of A-Okay by Jarad Greene
That Weekend by Kara Thomas
Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 29, 2021
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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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
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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The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 13, 2021
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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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.
Amari and the Night Brothers. By B.B. Alston. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (9781725418295).
Amari knows her brother isn’t dead. A briefcase in his closet leads her to a magical world—and the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, the place Quinton was working when he disappeared. Amari must use all her smarts and her heart to find out what really happened.
Artie and the Wolf Moon. By Olivia Stephens. Lerner Publishing Group/Graphic Universe, $16.99 (9781728420202).
After Artie finds out her mother is a werewolf and that she lost her father to vampires, she must then battle vampires to save her friends and new wolf family while trying to practice her own potential wolf abilities.
Before the Ever After. By Jacqueline Woodson. 2020. Penguin Random House/Nancy Paulsen Books, $17.99 (9780399545436).
Being the son of Zachariah 44, football star, has always felt like a dream to ZJ. But recently it’s been more like a nightmare, with his dad’s headaches, memory problems, and dramatic mood changes defining life in their house.
Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Nominations Round-Up, Fall
Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
After venturing out into the woods alone against her mother’s instructions, Artie discovers her mom is a werewolf–which means, of course, that Artie is a werewolf, too. As Artie grapples with her new identity, she also learns that she’s part of a werewolf community with a major enemy: vampires. Epic battles ensue as Artie fights to unite her community and conquer the vampires.
Continue reading Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2022) Featured Review of Artie and the Wolf Moon by Olivia Stephens