THE HENNA WARS

Bangladeshi Irish teen Nishat is obsessed with winning her school’s business competition—which entails outperforming the girl she has a crush on.

Nishat is tired of hiding the fact that she is lesbian. But when she comes out to her parents, they respond with cold silence. Devastated, Nishat struggles to cope by focusing on winning the entrepreneurial challenge and by trying to ignore her romantic feelings for Flávia, a biracial (Black Brazilian/White Irish) girl Nishat hasn’t seen since primary school. Nishat enters with a proposal for a business offering mehndi, or henna tattoos, a traditional Bangladeshi art form Nishat learned from her grandmother. Nishat is thrilled about showcasing her beloved Bengali culture—until Flávia decides to do a henna business as well, a choice that Nishat feels smacks of cultural appropriation. Worse, now Nishat isn’t sure if Flávia’s overtures are signs of genuine romantic interest or a tactic to sabotage Nishat’s business. With her ultrasupportive sister by her side, Nishat fights to be her truest, most visible self. Debut author Jaigirdar seamlessly weaves issues of racism and homophobia into a fast-moving plot peopled with richly drawn characters. Each conflict is resolved authentically and naturally, moving the story along at the perfect speed. The scenes between Flávia and Nishat simmer, and their mesmerizing relationship unfolds with just the right amount of complexity. Most satisfyingly, each character gets the ending she deserves.

Impossible to put down. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-9689

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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A resounding success.

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CONCRETE ROSE

This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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