Romantic, thrilling, hilarious, and just plain great fun.

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REBEL OF THE SANDS

From the Rebel of the Sands series , Vol. 1

A sassy desert sharpshooter swashbuckles through a six-gun Arabian Nights in this fantasy debut.

Once upon a time in Miraji, fiery Djinn bartered for wishes and heroes rode immortal steeds of wind and sand; now the hardscrabble folk of Dustwalk make weapons for the Sultan’s foreign allies and trade whispered rumors about the Rebel Prince. Orphaned, barely tolerated, and stifled in a culture that considers females worthless, Amani is so desperate to get out of the Last County that she dresses as a boy and enters a shooting contest. But that’s before she meets the charming foreign scoundrel Jin, and then the barn burns down, and the factory blows up, and the army arrives….From the irresistible opening paragraph, this rollicking caper expertly mashes up a gritty Middle East with a steampunk Old West, succeeding through the infectious voice of its heroine: brash, witty, cynical, and fierce, with an aching, vulnerable core and a suppressed streak of idealism. The secondary characters are just as memorable, from snarky, secretive Jin to their various foes, who range from cartoonish to terrifying to darkly tragic. Amani’s adventures through this immersive alternative landscape continually veer off into unpredictable detours, looping back to an almost overstuffed climax that manages to deliciously satisfy while dangling tempting hints for a sequel.

Romantic, thrilling, hilarious, and just plain great fun. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-451-47753-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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