A flavorful mille-feuille with equally tasty layers of dark magic, light comedy and salty determination.

READ REVIEW

A BOX OF GARGOYLES

Receiving birthday well-wishes is a delight, unless one of those greetings is on creepy green stationery that obligates you to reanimate a supposed-to-be-dead wicked relative.

Demonstrating that Paris isn’t always baguettes and bicycles, Maya’s 13th-birthday happiness is challenged from every angle. Her mother falls ill, her best (and only) friend, Valko, is being sent to Bulgaria, and an off-putting ripple of something peculiar is gradually transforming Paris for the worse. Maya soon realizes that Henri de Fourcroy, the cousin she banished but didn’t exactly kill, is behind the dark wave of strangeness changing the city. With the use of some sinister stationery, Henri binds Maya to helping him rematerialize at the eventual cost of her own life. Thus the struggle to save herself and the world from the growing circle of mischievous magic commences as gargoyles, a madwoman and a purple-eyed shadow stalk her. A twist of the magic makes its transformative effects visible only to Maya and Valko, cementing this as a battle they must strategically fight without adult help. Stone monsters and spells aside, this is at its core a tale of summoning intellect, guts and logic to save the day. This sequel to The Cabinet of Earths (2012) has, like Maya, only become more refined, its vividly sensory third-person narration artful and immediate. And though reading the previous book is helpful, it can substantially stand on its own.

A flavorful mille-feuille with equally tasty layers of dark magic, light comedy and salty determination. (Suspense. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210425-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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THE LIGHTNING THIEF

From the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series , Vol. 1

Edgar Award–winning Riordan leaves the adult world of mystery to begin a fantasy series for younger readers. Twelve-year-old Percy (full name, Perseus) Jackson has attended six schools in six years. Officially diagnosed with ADHD, his lack of self-control gets him in trouble again and again. What if it isn’t his fault? What if all the outrageous incidents that get him kicked out of school are the result of his being a “half-blood,” the product of a relationship between a human and a Greek god? Could it be true that his math teacher Mrs. Dodds transformed into a shriveled hag with bat wings, a Fury, and was trying to kill him? Did he really vanquish her with a pen that turned into a sword? One need not be an expert in Greek mythology to enjoy Percy’s journey to retrieve Zeus’s master bolt from the Underworld, but those who are familiar with the deities and demi-gods will have many an ah-ha moment. Along the way, Percy and his cohort run into Medusa, Cerberus and Pan, among others. The sardonic tone of the narrator’s voice lends a refreshing air of realism to this riotously paced quest tale of heroism that questions the realities of our world, family, friendship and loyalty. (Fantasy. 12-15)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7868-5629-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read.

MOMENTOUS EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS

From the Life of a Cactus series

In the sequel to Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), Aven Green confronts her biggest challenge yet: surviving high school without arms.

Fourteen-year-old Aven has just settled into life at Stagecoach Pass with her adoptive parents when everything changes again. She’s entering high school, which means that 2,300 new kids will stare at her missing arms—and her feet, which do almost everything hands can (except, alas, air quotes). Aven resolves to be “blasé” and field her classmates’ pranks with aplomb, but a humiliating betrayal shakes her self-confidence. Even her friendships feel unsteady. Her friend Connor’s moved away and made a new friend who, like him, has Tourette’s syndrome: a girl. And is Lando, her friend Zion’s popular older brother, being sweet to Aven out of pity—or something more? Bowling keenly depicts the universal awkwardness of adolescence and the particular self-consciousness of navigating a disability. Aven’s “armless-girl problems” realistically grow thornier in this outing, touching on such tough topics as death and aging, but warm, quirky secondary characters lend support. A few preachy epiphanies notwithstanding, Aven’s honest, witty voice shines—whether out-of-reach vending-machine snacks are “taunting” her or she’s nursing heartaches. A subplot exploring Aven’s curiosity about her biological father resolves with a touching twist. Most characters, including Aven, appear white; Zion and Lando are black.

Those preparing to “slay the sucktastic beast known as high school” will particularly appreciate this spirited read. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4549-3329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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