An underdeveloped but entertaining read.

RIVER MERMAID

This novel in verse charts an aspiring sculptor’s life-changing year.

The only child of a world-renowned sculptor mom and art dealer dad, 16-year-old Mercedes has already charted her own artistic future. But, unexpectedly denied admission to Wildwood Fine Arts School, her mom’s alma mater and Vancouver’s premier high school for the arts, Mercedes’ confidence evaporates. She abandons her artistic career dreams and ignores school art assignments. Her art teacher warns her she’s failing but believes that if Mercedes reengages with her art, she might have a chance of getting into Wildwood next year. Remaining conflicted about her career choices, Mercedes lets Sandra, her extravert BFF, talk her into pursuing her secret crush on her classmate Ellis. Despite an embarrassing start, romance ensues. At home, Mercedes’ fears about her workaholic parents (who both discount her mom’s worsening headaches) prove justified after her mom has a terrifying seizure. Struggling to get her artistic groove back, Mercedes turns to her mom for inspiration. Gracefully written, the novel goes just deep enough to illuminate the depths it frustratingly declines to explore, such as Mercedes’ fraught relationship with her (underwritten) father; her mother’s counterculture affinities; and above all, art itself. Beyond the fact that it’s her affluent family’s business, what motivates Mercedes to make art is a mystery. Most characters present White; Ellis is biracial (Japanese and implied White).

An underdeveloped but entertaining read. (Verse novel. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-989724-10-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Crwth Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Swashbuckling with feminist overtones.

TIDES OF MUTINY

There be pirates on these seas...and they be closer than you think.

Lane Garrow is at home on the sea, enjoying the movement of the ship, climbing about the rigging, and battling with axes. With an established role as cabin’s boy and a father who is ship’s captain, Lane’s only problem is the huge secret that she is a girl. Lane, or Laney, grew up on her father’s ship, the Majesty, but one of the powerful island kings bans women from even stepping aboard a ship. If Laney were found out, she would be killed. Still, that threat doesn’t stifle Laney’s dreams of captaining the ship herself someday. As they are strapped for cash, Laney admits Aden, a new crew member who promises good payment for passage to another island nation. Obviously an inexperienced young man from a wealthy family, Aden learns the ins and outs of shipboard life from Laney—along with some less refined habits. He also sees right through Laney’s disguise, and she finds relief in the novelty of being honest. As their relationship develops, the crew of the Majesty faces stormy seas, threats of mutiny, pursuing pirates, brewing war, and even more revealed secrets. The high-seas setting, budding romance, and big dreams will sweep idealistic readers right into the narrative, although others may be dissatisfied with the lack of solid worldbuilding. Most characters read as White.

Swashbuckling with feminist overtones. (map) (Adventure. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-70575-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Comfortingly familiar page-turning suspense.

DON'T LET IN THE COLD

A Tahoe blizzard is the setting of Parrack’s debut.

Seventeen-year-old Lottie, a White English girl who’s been repeatedly let down by her flighty Mum, isn’t happy about spending the night alone in a remote cabin with her quiet, nature-loving new stepsister, 15-year-old Black American Jade, while their parents go on their honeymoon. They’ve only met three times before and haven’t exactly clicked. Then again, it’s only one night. How bad could it be? Then the power goes out and the stranger arrives. Alex, described generically as Asian, is tall and charming and claims to have lost his way—he’s just a boy walking his dog. However, his story is full of holes, and before long Lottie suspects he’s hiding something. Just as she confronts him, a fire breaks out in the cabin, and Lottie, Jade, and Alex are forced out into the cold and snow with only each other to rely on; one night on their own turns into a dayslong struggle for survival. It’s unfortunate that encounters with a bear, a mountain lion, and an avalanche are nothing compared to the human threat stalking them through the wild white wilderness. Lottie’s first-person narration is generic, but the action is fast-paced, with just enough romantic tension between Lottie and Alex to keep it interesting, while the tentative nature of Lottie and Jade’s new sister relationship fades quickly as they learn to rely on and appreciate each other.

Comfortingly familiar page-turning suspense. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-676-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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