Deep worldbuilding offering little magic to keep the pages turning.


From the Omte Origins series , Vol. 1

Growing up ignorant of her true parentage, a troll makes it her mission to discover her origins.

Ulla Tulin was abandoned as a baby, left behind by Orra, an Omte troll warrior. Growing up in Iskyla, a frigid village in central Canada, surrounded by Inuit villagers and brown-skinned, good-looking Kanin trolls, tall, pale, sturdily built Ulla stood out. As a teen she ends up in Förening, Minnesota, the Trylle tribe’s capital, where she finds work as a nanny. Though she loves her employers, she yearns for more. An internship in the Mimirin, the troll world’s research and history center in the city of Merellä, means she can research Orra. Immediately, there are hiccups, however: 12-year-old Hanna, one of the children she nannied, stows away, and a runaway with rainbow-colored hair crash-lands on her Jeep. Flirtation blooms between Ulla and fellow researcher Pan as well as with a mysterious stranger she keeps running into. Information about Orra is redacted, and higher-ups in the Mimirin discourage her from digging deeper; the more Ulla learns, the more the mystery expands. Though the world and its lore are impressively expansive, the weight of detailing them often causes Ulla’s journey to drag. A side character’s mysterious past offers more tension than Ulla’s, heralding a much needed but ultimately flat flash of action at the climax. Pan is part Kanin troll and part Inuit.

Deep worldbuilding offering little magic to keep the pages turning. (tribal facts, glossary) (Fantasy. 16-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20426-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.


For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence.


After a horrific domestic violence incident, Zoey Ward and her family finally find their footing in Las Vegas only to have their lives overturned by a house fire.

Learning that her father has been recently released from prison, Zoey suspects he had something to do with the blaze. After their lives go up in flames, literally, Zoey along with her mom and her younger siblings, Kate and Cole, flee Las Vegas with the help of her older brother, Will, and his best friend, Tristan. They take refuge in California, where Tristan and his sister welcome them into a world where things seem hopeful and more stable than anything they have ever known. Yet the fear of being hunted down by her father consumes Zoey. The story is narrated from Zoey’s and Tristan’s first-person perspectives, and Gray (Run Away With Me, 2017, etc.) has masterfully captured the uncertainty and terror that come from domestic violence. Tristan and Zoey share a budding romance in which Zoey slowly but surely learns to love and be loved in a nondestructive, healthy way despite her fears and reservations. With everything she has been through, Zoey is the underdog readers will find themselves rooting for. Gray spares no detail in this intense tale. All characters are assumed to be white; Tristan is dyslexic, and there are several queer characters.

An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4281-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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