Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Spells for Lost Things by Jenna Evans Welch

  • Spells for Lost Things
  • by Jenna Evans Welch
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR
  • Release Date: September 27, 2022
  • ISBN: 9781534448872

White-coded teenagers Willow and Mason meet during their first days in Salem, MA. Willow is there to help her mother tend to a relative’s death; Mason is there to join a new foster family. When Willow learns that her mother has been hiding details of her past, Mason jumps at the chance to help Willow find answers. In turn, Willow wants to help Mason find his birth mother. The two have instant chemistry, a charming first relationship, and a ton of humor. Weaving Willow and Mason’s mysteries throughout the novel leaves readers rooting for the pair. Dual narration audiobook.

This title is a good candidate for QPRR because many different readers can enjoy this novel given that it is a blend of genres (romance, cultural lore, paranormal, mystery, fairytale). Welch’s class critique that financial stability does not circumvent anyone from feeling neglected by their family is powerful. Set during the summer, the tiny seaside town adds to both the romance and intrigue of the story, and Welch names actual locations in Salem creating a travel guide of the town. Both of the protagonists and many of the secondary characters are developed sufficiently to leave readers wanting more, while the three plot lines contribute to a robust story building. 

The teen reader who would appreciate this title is someone who likes adventures and/ or cozy mysteries. This novel incorporates light fantasy elements perfect for people who enjoy Sabrina the Teenage Witch; Jackpot by Nic Stone (2019); The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2016)

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.

Introducing Your 2022 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Team

Hello! My name is Molly Dettmann, and I am currently serving as the Coordinator for the 2022 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team. I’ve served on several YALSA committees in the past. During the day, I work as a high school librarian at Norman North High School in Norman, OK (Follow us on IG and FB @normannorthlibrary). I live in Norman with my husband, who teaches at the rival high school in town, and our dog Coco.

The 2022 Quick Picks team has a goal to curate a worthy list of titles that will reignite reluctant readers, young adults (ages 12-18) that, for whatever reasons, do not like to read. We read young adult fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels, looking for works that meet criteria such as having a high interest hook, catchy titles and covers, clear writing, and sufficient plot to sustain interest.

Anyone can nominate titles for committee review by filling out this form. To be eligible, titles must be published from September 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021.(Please note: publishers and authors cannot nominate their own books, although they are free to submit titles to the committee for evaluation).

To become an officially nominated Quick Pick title, two QP blogging team members have to read and vote yes for its inclusion. In our work to produce the final list, team members read and nominate titles, read field nominations, create blog posts, and attend monthly virtual meetings to discuss titles. In December, the team will meet to vote on the final list. To make the list, a title must be read and approved by a majority of team members. We also compile a top ten list. Quick Picks typically considers upwards of 100-150 titles a year with about 50-75% making the final list.

Book talking a 2021 QP Top Ten

The #QP2022 team  is made up of 12 YALSA members from different types of library settings and backgrounds all over the country. They are:

  • Megan Baird, AZ
  • Diana Ford, MD
  • Laura Indick, NY
  • Jayna Ramsey, CO
  • Ness Shortley, NC
  • Sarah Sullivan, NH
  • Jennifer Sutton, IL
  • Carolyn Vidmar, MD
  • Emily Williams, OK
  • Molly Moore, Admin Assistant, GA

We are excited to get started in our work and again, we welcome field nominations from all! If you have a title you think would make a great fit for this list, please fill out this form.

-Molly Dettmann (she/her)

2022 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team

2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers

2021 Quick Picks Top Ten

The 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list is now available!

The list of 64 titles is drawn from 81 official nominations, which were posted and discussed in blog posts on The Hub. The list identifies titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens who dislike to read. Criteria for these titles include those with a high interest “hook”, a catchy title/cover, sufficient plot to sustain interest, humor when appropriate, and more. View the full list.

In addition to the full list, the blogging team chose the following titles as its top ten:

  • Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis. Katherine Tegen Books. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9780062561626.
  • Found by Joseph Bruchac. 7th Generation. 2020. $9.95. ISBN: 9781939053237.
  • Golden Arm by Carl Deuker. HMH Books for Young Readers. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9780358012429.
  • Heartstopper Vol. 1. by Alice Oseman. Graphix. 2020. $14.00. ISBN: 9781338617443.
  • Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds. Illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. 2020. $19.99. ISBN: 9781534444959.
  • The Loop by Ben Oliver. Chicken House. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9781338589306.
  • #NoEscape by Gretchen McNeil. Freeform. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9781368026260.
  • Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Blazer + Bray. 2020. $18.99. ISBN: 9780062996480.
  • Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. First Second Books. 2020. $12.99. ISBN: 9781250171115. ISBN: 9781250171115.
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson. Scholastic. 2020. $17.99. ISBN: 9781338503265.

The suggestion form for the 2022 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list is open. If you’d like to suggest a title to the blogging team for consideration as a nominee, please fill out the form.

YALSA’s portfolio of book and media awards helps strengthen library services for and with teens by identifying quality, age-appropriate resources for librarians and library workers to share with the teens in their communities. Learn more about YALSA’s other book and media lists here.

A huge thank you goes out to the members of the 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team for all the great work they put into curating this list. The members are:

Coordinator Molly Dettmann, Norman North High School, Norman, OK
Megan Baird, Main Library-Yuma County Library District, Yuma, AZ
Kathleen J. Barker, History UnErased, Plymouth, MI
Sarah Carnahan, Pulaski Academy, Little Rock, AR
Barbara Dinan, Plymouth District Library, Plymouth, MI
Elizabeth Giles, Kansas City Public Library, MO
Aimee Haslam, Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, VA
Marie LeJeune, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR
Jessica Levy, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA
Kat Reynolds, University of Southern California, South Pasadena, CA
Maryjean Riou, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, NJ 
Lorraine Roussin, San Antonio ISD, San Antonio, TX
Jennifer Sutton, Lake Park High School-East Campus, Roselle, IL
Jade Valenzuela, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque, NM
Emily Williams, Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma City, OK
Administrative assistant Dana Hutchins, Jackson Middle School, San Antonio, TX

YALSA announces 2020 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

The 2020 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list has been announced.

The list of  64 titles is drawn from 133 official nominations, which were posted and discussed in blog posts on The Hub. The list identifies titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens who dislike to read.

In addition to the full list, the blogging team chose the following titles as its top ten:

  • 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston.  Disney: Hyperion. 2019.  $17.99.  ISBN:9781368027496. 
  • Belly Up by Eva Darrows. HarperCollins Inkyard Press. 2019. $18.99. ISBN:9781335012357.
  • The Haunted by Danielle Vega. Razorbill. 2019. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0451481467.
  • Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. Katherine Tegen Books. 2019. $17.99. ISBN: 9780062847195.
  • Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable. Macmillan Roaring Brook Press/First Second. 2019. $17.99 ISBN:9781596437098.          
  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell. Art by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second. 2019. $21.99. ISBN: 9781250312853.
  • Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus. Delacorte Press. 2019. $19.99. ISBN: 978-1524714727.
  • The Unfortunates by Kim Liggett. Tor Teen. 2018. $17.99 ISBN: 9780765381002.
  • UNpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan. Harper Collins. 2019. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0062876249.
  • We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories From Refugee Girls Around the World  by Malala Yousafzai. Hachette Book Group. 2018. $18.99. ISBN: 978-0316523646.

“For the 2020 list, team bloggers read a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction titles, in multiple formats, to establish a diverse list that reflects student interest,” said Coordinator Lorrie Roussin. “Our blogging team read hundreds of books and discussed all of the nominated titles in a virtual setting. A blog post was written for each nominated title and published to YALSA’s The Hub.”

The suggestion form for the 2021 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list is open. If you’d like to suggest a title to the blogging team for consideration as a nominee, please fill out the form.

YALSA would like to extend a huge thank you to the members of the Quick Picks blogging team for all the hard work they put into selecting the titles for the 2020 list. Thank you again for everything!

The members of the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Blogging Team are: Coordinator Lorraine Roussin, San Antonio ISD, San Antonio, TX; Kathleen J. Barker, Rutgers University, Plymouth, MI; Allison Gray, Goleta Valley Library, Santa Barbara, CA; Aimee Haslam, E.B. Stanley Middle School, Abingdon, VA; Jessica Levy, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA; Elizabeth Nebeker, Jersey Village High School, Houston, TX; Catherine Outten, California State University, Long Beach, CA; Kathleen Reynolds, University of Southern California, South Pasadena, CA; Jessica Smith, Bend Senior High School, Bend, Oregon; Kelsey Socha, Ventress Memorial Library, Kingston, MA; and with the help of administrative assistant Dana Hutchins, Jackson Middle School, San Antonio, TX.

2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Joelle Charbonneau

The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year.

The votes are in for 2014, and the winners have been announced — and we’re featuring them here on The Hub. Today we bring you an interview with Joelle Charbonneau, who is on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list for The Testing (first book of The Testing trilogy). The Testing is also a 2014 Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.


Joelle CharbonneauI really loved The Testing and the way that you so vividly described your novel’s dystopian society, main character Cia’s life in it and her experience during the testing process for university student candidates.  I wanted to ask you first about why you chose a dystopian environment to relate your story/themes, and whether there are any aspects of this environment which you see reflected in present-day society?

Thanks for reading The Testing! You have no idea how much I appreciate that. As for choosing the dystopian setting – to be honest, I didn’t set out to write a dystopian book. I teach voice lessons and have helped a lot of my students go through the college admittance process. Because of that, I’ve seen first hand how stressful the process has become and wanted to explore the stress of modern day tests and our society’s expectations for the next generation. However, as much as I wanted to set it in today’s world, I couldn’t find a way to up the stakes of the tests in the way that I wanted. So, I had to look to the future and a time where there is only one university and the expectation that those who attend it will be able to fix what is wrong with the world. That’s when the world of The Testing was born.

While The United Commonwealth and its issues are fictional, there are a great number of things about the world that do reflect our current society, especially in regards to our current education system. In the last fifteen years, our educational system has become very dependent on high stakes testing. So much depends on tests – school funding, teachers’ careers, and our students’ beliefs in their own abilities and futures. These tests were designed to strengthen our education system, but most teachers, parents and students would argue that it has done the opposite. While most would agree that the system needs to be altered, no one seems to know exactly how to make those changes or has the courage to say that the things we’ve been implementing over the past fifteen years are wrong. Cia’s journey in The Testing trilogy deals with those issues and explores what happens when people allow a less than ideal system to stay in place because it on some level appears to be working. Continue reading 2014 Teens’ Top Ten: An Interview with Joelle Charbonneau

Bookish Brew: Summer Smoothie Edition

Image by Flickr user Pamela Bates
Image by Flickr user Pamela Bates

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but here in southern California we’ve had some pretty hot days recently.  So I thought that for this entry in my occasional Bookish Brew series, a cool summer smoothie would be more in order than a hot drink.  Make that two smoothies– one for each of the narrators of Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando’s wonderful and authentic Roomies (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Nominations List). 

When Roomies begins, teens Lauren and Elizabeth are a couple months away from starting their freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley.  They have just received each other’s names and email addresses from the campus housing office because they have been matched as dorm roommates.  Lauren lives in San Francisco, California, which is not far from the city of Berkeley.  In her loving two-parent family, she is the eldest of her siblings by several years.  Her responsible nature may stem partly from her heavy child-rearing responsibilities.  She is somewhat shy, concerned with honesty and aims to work in scientific research.  Elizabeth, also known as E.B., lives in suburban New Jersey near the Shore with her single divorced mom with whom she does not have a close relationship.  Elizabeth can be overly sensitive at times and is more impulsive than Lauren, as well as more outgoing.  She plans to study landscape architecture. 

roomies zarr altebrandoInitiated by Elizabeth of course, the two begin an email correspondence over the summer.  They share the details of their lives and soon after their feelings and frustrations about friends, family and boyfriends.  This is not an epistolary novel, however; these emails are one component of a traditional narrative.  The two girls alternate narrating chapters. 

Initially Lauren and Elizabeth experience a mainly positive interaction, getting a feel for each other’s personalities, leaning on each other throughout a couple situations in their personal lives and sharing the joys of their respective first loves.  A misunderstanding arises, however, connected to Elizabeth‘s estranged father, who lives and owns an art gallery in San Francisco.  Both girls are challenged to look at the situation through the other’s eyes and decide whether reconciliation is possible.  In an interview with Harvard Magazine (September-October 2014) Tara Altebrando describes how she and Sara Zarr wrote the book both separately and together over a period of three years and mentions that they are considering either a sequel or another collaborative project.

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of Roomies if you can, which is voiced by Becca Battoe and Emily Eiden.  These two readers do an amazing job of vocally capturing the distinct rhythms and personalities of Lauren and Elizabeth, not to mention the differences in regional accents. 

But now the time has come to blend!  When choosing the ingredients for a “bookish brew” I consider the setting and the essential traits or qualities of the main character of a novel.  As there are two quite distinct main characters in Roomies, I’ve created two smoothies.  Continue reading Bookish Brew: Summer Smoothie Edition

Get Inspired: Journaling in YA Literature

journaling_ya_lit_credit_Fredrik Rubensson_outlineI’ve kept a journal on and off for years.  Well, mostly off– but I would like to write more regularly.  I believe that the first key to journaling is to set aside a certain time each day to write and stick to it.  Sometimes that time is hard to find when you are working and/or in school full time.  But now that it’s summer, if you’re someone who has a couple months off and a little extra time, this may be the perfect time for you to start a journal.  And please tell me if you do, because that will inspire me to spend more time on mine!

With inspiration in mind, I wanted to recommend a few current and classic YA novels which are either written as journals or include journal entries.


ramsey beyer little fishLittle Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer (2014  Outstanding Books for the College Bound List, Arts and Humanities)

Just before and during her first year at undergraduate art school, Ramsey Beyer kept a record of her experiences, including a Livejournal blog and a series of zines which included her own lists and illustrations.

Ten years later she published Little Fish, a compulsively readable memoir that pulls together these materials, including many of her original journal entries, and combines them with reflections from her older self.  As Beyer writes in this memoir, it is her account of how she left the farming town of Paw Paw, Michigan and “…made the leap, packed up my life, and moved to Baltimore – mixed in with the awkward college freshman experience.” Continue reading Get Inspired: Journaling in YA Literature

Bookish Brew: Inspired by Lissa Price

starters-lissa-price-coverenders-lissa-price-coverIn December I first blogged about heightening your reading experience by concocting a “bookish brew,” a beverage inspired by the book that you’re into at the moment.  Today, in honor of yesterday’s release of Lissa Price’s Enders, I thought I’d share a drink recipe that I created in the spirit of her Starters (2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers), the first book in this duology and one of my favorite reads.

In Starters, sixteen-year-old Callie lives in a futuristic Los Angeles in which everyone is either under age 20 or over age 60.  A fatal spore illness has killed all those in the age range in between.  Callie, her ill young brother Tyler, and her friend Michael are attempting to survive together by living in abandoned buildings, trying to avoid being sent to a prison-like institution for parentless children.  Desperate to help Tyler, Callie decides to sign up to rent her body out to seniors who will take control of her mind, living as youth again for a short period.  In return Callie is promised a very large sum of money.  During Callie’s third “rental,” however, she experiences periods where she is back in her own mind, learning that her current renter may plan to use her body to kill someone.  This initiates an action-packed series of events in which Callie learns more about her renter’s motivations and the plans of Prime Destinations, the company which she’s allowed to loan out her body.  Fans of the Hunger Games trilogy will love Starters, another great dystopian read about a strong and compassionate female lead taking a stand in a society divided between haves and have-nots.

Continue reading Bookish Brew: Inspired by Lissa Price