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An illuminating look at Sikh history.

A sweeping tale about a legendary 18th-century female Sikh warrior who went to war against the Mughal empire.

Now known to generations of Sikhs as Mai Bhago, the young woman born Bhag Bhari is a teen at a crossroads when the novel opens. Growing up in a traditional Sikh family in Jhabal Kalan near Amritsar, Bhag Bhari resists prescribed feminine tasks like cooking and sewing. Rather than dreaming of settling down and raising a family, she yearns to study martial arts like the men in her family—and displays striking talents when she does so. She also yearns to use her skills to protect her people. When her uncle and cousin are sent to war, she both worries about them and longs to be part of the fight. But Bhag Bhari’s parents urge her to focus more on finding a respectable husband and being a good bride. Kharbanda’s novel is at its strongest when it describes Bhag Bhari’s struggle to push back against the often sexist environment around her. While many parts of this legend’s fictionalized story are fascinating, the pacing feels uneven—often quite slow but too rushed when it comes to the main character’s evolving relationship with Nidhan Singh, her husband. Still, readers will likely be drawn to the rich historical details, and Bhag Bhari’s strong Sikh faith and courage shine throughout.

An illuminating look at Sikh history. (author’s note, sources) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-949528-71-8

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Yali Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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From the Today Tonight Tomorrow series , Vol. 1

A dizzying, intimate romance.

Rowan teams up with her academic nemesis to win a citywide scavenger hunt.

Rowan Roth and Neil McNair have been rivals in a never-ending game of one-upmanship since freshman year. Now, on the last day of senior year, Rowan hopes to best Neil once and for all as valedictorian, then win Howl, a scavenger hunt with a $5,000 cash prize. She also hopes to sneak away to her favorite romance author’s book signing; no one’s ever respected her passion for the genre, not even her children’s book author/illustrator parents. But Rowan’s named salutatorian, and vengeful classmates plot to end her and Neil’s reign. At first their partnership is purely strategic, but as the pair traverse the city, they begin to open up. Rowan learns that Neil is Jewish too and can relate to both significant cultural touchstones and experiences of casual anti-Semitism. As much as Rowan tries to deny it, real feelings begin to bloom. Set against a lovingly evoked Seattle backdrop, Rowan and Neil’s relationship develops in an absorbing slow burn, with clever banter and the delicious tension of first love. Issues of class, anti-Semitism, and sex are discussed frankly. Readers will emerge just as obsessed with this love story as Rowan is with her beloved romance novels. Rowan’s mother is Russian Jewish and Mexican, and her father is American Jewish and presumably White; most other characters are White.

A dizzying, intimate romance. (author’s note) (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4024-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 3

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage.

Adrian, the youngest of the Montague siblings, sails into tumultuous waters in search of answers about himself, the sudden death of his mother, and her mysterious, cracked spyglass.

On the summer solstice less than a year ago, Caroline Montague fell off a cliff in Aberdeen into the sea. When the Scottish hostel where she was staying sends a box of her left-behind belongings to London, Adrian—an anxious, White nobleman on the cusp of joining Parliament—discovers one of his mother’s most treasured possessions, an antique spyglass. She acquired it when she was the sole survivor of a shipwreck many years earlier. His mother always carried that spyglass with her, but on the day of her death, she had left it behind in her room. Although he never knew its full significance, Adrian is haunted by new questions and is certain the spyglass will lead him to the truth. Once again, Lee crafts an absorbing adventure with dangerous stakes, dynamic character growth, sharp social and political commentary, and a storm of emotion. Inseparable from his external search for answers about his mother, Adrian seeks a solution for himself, an end to his struggle with mental illness—a journey handled with hopeful, gentle honesty that validates the experiences of both good and bad days. Characters from the first two books play significant secondary roles, and the resolution ties up their loose ends. Humorous antics provide a well-measured balance with the heavier themes.

An enticing, turbulent, and satisfying final voyage. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291601-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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