Adventure-loving fantasy readers will eat it up.

ROYAL BASTARDS

From the Royal Bastards series , Vol. 1

In this book readers follow a troupe of bastards, some royal and some not, on an epic adventure to save their lives and attempt to stop another great war.

White, illegitimate half siblings Tillandra, 16, and Jax, 17, are looking forward to the black princess Lyriana’s visit to the castle, Tilla’s noble father’s, which coincides with a visit from white Lady Hempstedt and her by-blow, Miles, and the Zitochi leader and his brown-skinned bastard son, Zell. The excitement fizzles when they witness Tilla’s, Miles’ and Zell’s parents kill the princess’s uncle and escort. Fleeing for their lives, the bastards, plus Lyriana, must now outrun their parents (who wish them dead), protect the princess of their realm, and try to prevent further loss of life on both sides. It’s a promising setup. Readers may find themselves jolted out of Shvarts’ medieval-feeling fantasy world by the characters’ use of modern slang, as well as by Tilla’s modern mindset. Regardless, Shvarts brings readers along on a daring adventure with this motley crew, who become as one over its course. Tilla also grows throughout the book, and readers learn more about the other characters that adds dimension. Being a bastard means people expect the worst, but only one of them will be willing to betray the group of friends. Shvarts creates a diverse world with distinct geography and subcultures for this series opener, though tired tropes of the “savage” creep into the depiction of the Zitochi.

Adventure-loving fantasy readers will eat it up. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-6765-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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