Required reading if you own the first title.

BECAUSE IT IS MY BLOOD

From the Birthright series

In this sequel to All These Things I’ve Done (2011), 17-year-old Anya Balanchine, heir apparent to the illegal chocolate trade in 2083 New York City, attempts to leave her criminal past behind with mixed results.

After doing time for shooting her cousin after his attempt on her ex-boyfriend Win’s life, Anya tries to distance herself from her deceased father’s black-market business. But when her fragile relationship with Win threatens the campaign of the incumbent district attorney, who also happens to be Win’s father, Anya finds herself fleeing the country to escape further imprisonment. She hides out on a Mexican cacao farm, where she discovers the roots of Balanchine Chocolate and gathers the strength to go back and face the remaining members of her treacherous family. After a sluggish start, the last third of the novel takes off when Anya is confronted with several surprising betrayals and confessions. Zevin’s stilted, formal dialogue and arid prose doesn’t do her hot-blooded mafia story any favors. Still, fans of the first will enjoy the author’s inventive combination of chocolate, crime and politics, as well as finding out Anya’s post-prison fate. Casual browsers should be warned that this is a true sequel that entails a read of the initial installment to make all the necessary connections.

Required reading if you own the first title. (Thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-374-38074-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more.

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THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS

A monster spreads madness through the streets of Shanghai.

It is the autumn of 1926, and Shanghai is poised at the brink of transformation. Foreign powers have carved out portions of the city for themselves; what remains is divided between two feuding gangs, the Chinese Scarlet Gang and the Russian White Flowers. Eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai has returned home from New York City, wreathed in a reputation for ruthlessness and ready to step into her role as heir to the Scarlet Gang. Four years ago, a betrayal by the White Flowers heir, Roma Montagov, a young man of 19, led to the deaths of countless Scarlets, and Juliette is determined to avenge her gang. But when a lethal contagion strikes the city, targeting Scarlets and White Flowers alike, Juliette and Roma grudgingly agree to cooperate on an investigation in order to save their city. The slow-burning romance in this book takes a back seat to the gripping mystery grounded in immersive historical detail. Allusions to Romeo and Juliet are evident in names and specific scenes, but familiar themes of family, loyalty, and identity bear new significance in Gong’s inventive adaptation. Language is a tool wielded deftly by the multilingual characters, who switch easily among English, French, Shanghainese, Russian, and more, with Mandarin as the primary dialect for Chinese phrases. A strong supporting cast that includes a trans girl completes this striking debut.

A must-read with a conclusion that will leave readers craving more. (Historical fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5769-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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