A solid cast and heartfelt emotions lift this above its contrivances

CHASING THE SKIP

"Dad thinks if you have a kid, you should pay child support. Paying for them is the law, but spending time with them isn't."

That's what aspiring journalist Ricki writes her first day riding shotgun with her bounty-hunter father. It's the first time in her life she's spent appreciable time with him, so she writes from the heart. They are only together because her feckless mother has taken off—again—and her grandmother got tired of putting her up. She used to tell herself stories of the exciting life her father led, inventing a mythology to explain his absence, but it turns out, he's just been a jerk. Bail-bond enforcement is a lot duller than reality TV suggests, but the adrenaline starts flowing when Ricki strikes up a conversation with "skip" Ian, who has jumped bail on a grand theft auto count. In seemingly no time, the charismatic teen has slipped his cuffs and stolen Ricki's dad's truck. The ensuing caper is a gentle one, a road trip calculated to give Ricki time to get to know her dad and achieve an understanding of herself and her family. She is an appealingly vulnerable character, her anger at both parents and her love for her mother both genuine and leading to completely believable choices, however wrongheaded.

A solid cast and heartfelt emotions lift this above its contrivances . (Fiction. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9391-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Two teens framed as terrorists need to save England from a terrorist attack and political takeover.

Charlie and Nat have been on the run since they were tricked into aiding a kidnapping and bombing (In a Split Second, 2015). Charlie, furious after the attack that killed her mother and left Nat's older brother in a coma, tried to do good by training as a soldier for the vigilante English Freedom Army. Nat and Charlie were told the EFA existed to fight terrorists like the racist League of Iron, but it turns out they were terrorists, fomenting chaos to support the political aspirations of charismatic politician Roman Riley. Now the teens, distracted by both their romance and Charlie's family secrets, must stop Riley from creating a far worse atrocity. Their single-minded focus on each other even as they learn of potentially horrific casualties can be read as either romantic or utterly lacking in empathy, but at least they prioritize the mission. Chapters that alternate their perspectives, most only about three pages, maintain endless urgency in the style of the television series 24. Though some lulls might have improved the flow, the nonstop action distracts from plot holes and flat secondary characters. U.S. readers may be bemused at the U.K. revolutionaries’ discussions of bombings but shock at the use of guns.

This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3926-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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The mystery is tense and nerve-wracking, and the acrobatics are gorgeously hair-raising; they will help readers get past...

GIRL ON A WIRE

Family secrets and sinister superstitions threaten 16-year-old wire walker Jules Maroni’s chance at a big break.

Jules doesn’t understand why her family lets some old rivalry with the Flying Garcias keep them from the glamorous Cirque American. Something bad happened between Jules’ grandmother and the legendary trapeze artists when Nan was young, but now the Amazing Maronis have a chance—possibly the last—to leave obscurity and gain the recognition their talent deserves! When the Maronis finally join the Cirque American, Jules is dismayed that everyone in this new circus seems to hold the same grudge as Nan. Worse, the dreamy boy she meets is none other than Remy Garcia, scion of her family’s archrivals. Jules is determined to gain the admiration of her fellow performers, so she performs a series of increasingly dangerous wire acts. While Jules’ perspective of her daredevilry is not in the slightest bit frightening, the narration is nonetheless heart-stopping; readers might find themselves checking their own footing. A mysterious stalker leaves Jules a series of increasingly disturbing artifacts—a flower, a peacock feather, a circus trunk—and Nan is convinced the objects are cursed, leaving Jules and Remy determined to get to the bottom of their grandparents’ possibly mystical rivalry. When tragedy inevitably strikes, the impact is blunted, as the secondary characters (or Jules’ feelings for them) are little more than the barest sketches.

The mystery is tense and nerve-wracking, and the acrobatics are gorgeously hair-raising; they will help readers get past thinly developed characters and setting . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4782-4

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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