A welcomingly awkward, offbeat journey for a “gay-girl gay” girl with many heartaches.

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FAT ANGIE

REBEL GIRL REVOLUTION

From the Fat Angie series , Vol. 2

When everything’s awful inside and out, how can you take the bull by the horns?

Angie’s girlfriend has moved away. Angie’s war-hero sister was killed by terrorists in Iraq (Fat Angie, 2013, etc.), and glossy local and national tributes leave Angie alone and confused in her grief. Angie’s mother mourns “the good one” of her children, restricts Angie’s food, and threatens Angie with gay conversion therapy. When Angie breaks a bully’s nose in self-defense, witnesses lie and Angie faces legal prosecution. Depression, anxiety, panic, betrayal—how can Angie get out from under? A road trip—emotionally messy and awkward, with an ex-friend who ghosted her, one of the lying witnesses, and someone who films everything. With legal prosecution and conversion therapy looming, Angie stumbles her way through a road trip itinerary left by her dead sister. Charlton-Trujillo’s mildly unorthodox prose style features extra hyphens (“surprising-not-surprising,” “loud-loud,” Angie’s “couldn’t-understand mother”). While less funny than Fat Angie, this has hilarious moments: If a sign says, “DO NOT FLUSH / FEMININE FEMALE PRODUCTS,” could you flush a “butch tampon”? Angie’s white; her fellow RV-ers are a racially diverse group. Fortunately and refreshingly, the text gives Angie no weight-loss arc; unfortunately, the use of fatness as a misery symbol throughout dilutes the explicit self-acceptance ending.

A welcomingly awkward, offbeat journey for a “gay-girl gay” girl with many heartaches. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9345-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues.

HOUSE OF DRAGONS

From the House of Dragons series , Vol. 1

In a world dominated by order, chaos threatens to upend tradition when unlikely competitors are chosen to fight for the throne.

Emperor Erasmus is dead, leaving the Great Dragon to decide the future of the Etrusian Empire. Traditionally, the oldest child from each of the five Houses and his or her dragon compete for the throne. However, this time outsiders are called to compete: Chara and her rider, Emilia, youngest daughter of House Aurun, who holds the magic of chaos; Tyche and her rider, Lucian, reformed warrior of House Sabel; Karina and her rider, Vespir, the lowborn, lesbian servant girl and dragon handler of House Pentri; Dog and his rider, Ajax, the wily illegitimate son of House Tiber; and Minerva and her rider, Julia, who are challenged by Hyperia, who believes the throne is her birthright, and her feral dragon, Aufidius. During the stages of the Emperor’s Trial—the Hunt, the Game, the Race, and the Truth—each competitor faces their own personal weaknesses. Multiple perspectives create depth in this complex fantasy world with flawed human characters who have murder, destruction, thievery, and cowardice in their backgrounds. Cluess’ dragons have unique personalities and voices of their own, becoming as central to the story as their human riders. Most characters are cued as white; blonde hair and blue eyes are valorized. Vespir’s lesbian identity is neatly and naturally woven into her character.

Witty and funny, with well-rounded characters who face complex inner moral issues. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-64815-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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