A high fantasy filled with adventure, espionage, and romance that envelops the reader in a world where the undead walk among...

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TWICE DEAD

From the Necromancer's Song series , Vol. 1

Naya Garth, apprentice to her wealthy merchant father, has been sent to prove herself by speaking with a supplier—but will it be the test she was expecting?

On her way from her father’s ship to the supplier’s home in Ceramor, 17-year-old Naya is killed. A necromancer brings her back to life as a wraith with the authority of Ambassador Valn from her home country of Talmir. He wants her to continue to be of service to Talmir by becoming a spy. Naya has great difficulty accepting her circumstances until she meets Corten, another wraith, who helps her learn about her new powers. Over time Naya begins to question whether she is on the right side of the conflict between Ceramor and Talmir. She also fears what she has inadvertently involved Corten in. Naya, Corten, and the inhabitants of Ceramor are described as being tan-skinned, and the inclusion of a lesbian couple makes for a pleasantly diverse cast. Debut author Seal’s characters aren’t particularly well-rounded, but the world they inhabit is richly detailed and the plotline is exciting, if at times predictable. This is a promising beginning to a series that makes us question what we think we know.

A high fantasy filled with adventure, espionage, and romance that envelops the reader in a world where the undead walk among the living. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58089-807-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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