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AURORA RISING

From the Aurora Cycle series , Vol. 1

This intergalactic space opera has it all: action, thrills, suspense, laughs, and all the feels.

When Legionnaire Tyler Jones follows a distress call to rescue a cryogenically frozen girl from a 220-year-old lost transport ship the night before the squad Draft, he ends up with much less—and much more—than he expected.

Having missed the Draft, overachieving Tyler is stuck with a squad of leftover misfits that now represent the Aurora Legion, an interplanetary peacekeeping coalition. The six teammates, each with an area of expertise, include four men and women of varying skin tones as well as two members of alien species. On the motley crew’s first mission, however, they discover a stowaway: biracial (Chinese/white) human Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, recently rescued girl out of time. Trouble follows immediately. This first installment of Kaufman and Kristoff’s (Obsidio, 2018, etc.) second series is a high-octane, thrilling, snarky adventure through space, combining the best elements of the heist genre with space opera. Nonstop action, intrigue, and drama will keep readers turning pages as the squad seeks answers to questions about Aurora’s past, her superhuman powers, and why the entire Terran Defense Force is after her. Meanwhile, the seven shipmates blossom into a true cohort as their pasts are revealed and their bonds (romantic or otherwise) grow. A satisfying ending reveals the truth, both terrible and beautiful, with the promise of many more adventures ahead.

This intergalactic space opera has it all: action, thrills, suspense, laughs, and all the feels. (Science fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2096-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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