This fast-paced spy novel has just the right amount of international intrigue and danger; a touch of romance is a sweet...

OXBLOOD

Victoria Asher, 20, leads an uneventful life in Miami, working at a diner and celebrating her birthday eating pie and ice cream with her best friend—but when she receives an ominous package from her brother, Gil, her entire world shifts.

The young white woman immediately flies to Italy, where Gil was supposed to be on a research trip. In her search for him, Vic becomes embroiled in a mission with Rogue-14, a secret branch of INTERPOL led by the charming Ian Hale, a white Brit. Vic adapts to gunfights and espionage too quickly for credibility, and, for a group of elite secret agents, the team embraces her surprisingly quickly, welcoming her to the fold without many questions. Still, the characters’ skills and personalities play well against each other. Vic’s incredible talent for observation is invaluable as she helps R-14 catch the criminals her brother was investigating. The dialogue becomes quite expository when characters uncover clues or reveal back stories, but otherwise the pacing will pull readers along. An ill-conceived joke about gender reassignment mars the otherwise genial and quick-witted tone of the book.

This fast-paced spy novel has just the right amount of international intrigue and danger; a touch of romance is a sweet bonus. (Thriller. 16 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5040-1874-6

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

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.

WATCH OVER ME

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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