Readers will be cheering for the underdogs and begging for the second volume.

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NAMELESS

Beware wolves in bears’ clothing.

Four clans have been at war for ages: the powerful and destructive Ram, the Wolf, the Kodiak, and the Raven. The last three, in order to survive, have banded together to form the Allied Clan. As part of a move to infiltrate and destroy, Zo—a 17-year-old Wolf and healer—volunteers herself for the sake of the cause. She arrives at Ram’s Gate pretending to be Kodiak and throwing herself at the mercy of the Rams—with, unbeknownst to her, her younger sister right behind. Thus begins Zo’s journey to save her people and keep herself and her sister alive in the process. Along the way, she gains the friendship of a young Ram, becomes tangled in an unpredicted romance with a Ram soldier, and discovers plans for a Nameless uprising. Solid worldbuilding draws readers into the clans and makes them, unlike Zo, regretful to leave the walls of the Rams. The love stories are both touching and perfectly tied in with the major story arc of an impending war between the clans. The intricacy of the relationships among characters and between them and their society makes even the most antagonistic of the Rams sympathetic. Readers will feel the absence of back story, but Jenkins’ complex characterizations mitigate this creative sin.

Readers will be cheering for the underdogs and begging for the second volume. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942664-42-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Month9Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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