A brave, wickedly funny novel about grief and finding a way to live with it, with sweetly realistic first sexual experiences.

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STAND-OFF

From the Winger series , Vol. 2

Fifteen-year-old Ryan Dean West, who skipped two grades in school, returns for his senior year at an Oregon boarding school in this follow-up to Winger (2013).

During his junior year, Ryan Dean started a relationship with kind, smart, beautiful Annie and endured the horrific loss of his rugby teammate and best friend, Joey, after he was murdered for being gay. Coming back to Pine Mountain Academy after the summer, he finds, much to his dismay, that he's been assigned to a tiny dorm room with a 12-year-old adorably earnest freshman, Sam, and the gradual, wonderfully weird (and grudging, on Ryan Dean's part) friendship that develops between the two is at once poignant and hilarious. He also grapples with shattering anxiety attacks, and though his love of drawing comics persists, a shadowy figure he calls Nate (an acronym for the Next Accidental Terrible Experience) continually rears his head in them now, which troubles Annie, who thinks he should talk to a psychologist. Intense rugby scenes transcend exposition, and Ryan Dean's brainy, self-deprecating wit shines, as when he muses after being jolted to the ground during practice about an imagined ice cream flavor called Failure-Pain Swirl. Bosma contributes Ryan Dean’s spot illustrations, comic strips, and charts, and occasional footnotes further add to the narrative fun

A brave, wickedly funny novel about grief and finding a way to live with it, with sweetly realistic first sexual experiences. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1829-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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