A well-wrought sequel with more than a few excellent messages for young readers.




A peculiar family of cryptozoologists confronts the tides of change in this young-adult fantasy.

Shein and Gates (Being a Normal Family Is a State of Mind, 2014) deliver the second entry in their well-received Monsterjunkies saga set in Foggy Point, Maine. Cromwell “Crow” Monsterjunkie can’t stop looking over his shoulder, and for good reason: His nemesis, the bullying Ruth Grimes Jr., won’t live down the humiliation he suffered at Crow’s hands not long ago. But for Crow, whose family’s mission is “to find, protect, and study unusual, rare, and thought to be nonexistent species,” Ruth is the least of his worries. For instance, there’s Crow’s friend Beauregard—a highly intelligent sasquatch living under the Monsterjunkies’ care—who yearns to leave the family estate and seek his origins. Crow’s sister, Indigo, has grown petulant as college (and her future) looms. And Crow can’t find the words to tell his renowned professor father that inheriting the family legacy isn’t exactly on his to-do list. When they’re not caring for pterodactyls, sea serpents or shape-shifting gargoyles, the Monsterjunkies struggle with issues that are nearly universal among teenagers and young adults. Like all teens, Crow and Indigo learn—however unwillingly—that with time comes change. The animals they’ve nursed to health and loved like pets must eventually be reintegrated to the wild; their friend, Winter, crumbles before their eyes while attempting to cope with her mother’s death; and, perhaps most traumatically, they come to realize their parents aren’t infallible. As Crow’s fears mount, his father advises him: “It’s how you learn to know, to find out who you really are, what you feel, what you like and don’t like, what you need, what you believe. You may have to start by just listening.” Readers learn by listening, too—this tale of identity and self-approbation is accompanied by enough scientific facts and environmental philosophies to double as a high school textbook. Insightful but not overly self-righteous, it encourages compassion and a deference to the unknown.

A well-wrought sequel with more than a few excellent messages for young readers.

Pub Date: June 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500348328

Page Count: 190

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.


From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A humdinger of a cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for volume three.


From the Hunger Games series , Vol. 2

In the sequel to the hugely popular The Hunger Games (2008), Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, having won the annual Games, are now rich and famous—and trapped in the fiction that they are lovers. They are seen as a threat to the Capitol, their unusual manner of winning an act of rebellion that could inspire uprisings throughout Panem. Knowing her life is in danger, Katniss considers escaping with her family and friends but instead reluctantly assumes the role of a rebel, almost forced into it by threats from the insidious President Snow.

Beyond the expert world building, the acute social commentary and the large cast of fully realized characters, there’s action, intrigue, romance and some amount of hope in a story readers will find completely engrossing. Collins weaves in enough background for this novel to stand alone, but it will be a far richer experience for those who have read the first installment and come to love Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and the rest of the desperate residents of this dystopia.

A humdinger of a cliffhanger will leave readers clamoring for volume three. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-439-02349-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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