A thrilling alternative history that sparkles with wit and charm.

MY CALAMITY JANE

From the Lady Janies series

A posse of werewolf hunters disguised as a traveling troupe of sharpshooters roam the Old West in search of a particularly vicious werewolf known as the Alpha.

Under the watchful eyes of the paternal Wild Bill Hickok, protagonists Calamity Jane, Frank Butler, and Annie Oakley track the Alpha, all while navigating budding romances and family quarrels. While each teen is dedicated to the collective, they are each driven by their own motivations. Frank, for example, hopes to one day give up werewolf hunting and be a full-time entertainer. Annie—who must convince the group to hire her as a sharpshooter in the show—flees a family that wants to force her into marriage. All Jane wants is to settle down on a plot of land somewhere, far away from prying eyes. As the plot unfolds, readers learn each of the characters’ origin stories—including their deepest secrets. The book’s thrilling plot is driven by a brilliantly clever, collective narratorial voice that frequently intercedes with historical tidbits, witty asides, and political statements ranging from critiquing America’s lack of gun control laws to the shameful genocide and violent displacement of Native Americans. While most of the characters are white, the story does include two Lakota characters and a protagonist who comes out as queer. Full of twists, turns, and laugh-out-loud humor, this tongue-in-cheek feminist alternative history is impossible to put down.

A thrilling alternative history that sparkles with wit and charm. (further reading) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265281-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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