A delicious supernatural mystery that spans centuries.

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STONE HEART

From the The Stone Witch Series series , Vol. 2

Secrets, lies, and teenage angst abound in Hotes’ (Josie Jameson and the Fourth Tombstone, 2015, etc.) second installment of a supernatural YA series.

Josie Jameson is not your typical 14-year-old. After losing her mother at 8, she grows up fast, shouldering most of the household burden while her father drowns in grief. The loss hardens and matures her but also leaves many unanswered questions. Surrounded by a group of childhood friends, Josie searches for the truth about her mother and finds more than she expected. After a fainting spell lands her in the hospital, she wakes up with a pacemaker implanted, and Josie begins to experience strange, vivid dreams. Asleep, Josie is transported to 1800s London through the eyes of Agatha, an Irish missionary. Upon realizing that Agatha’s adventures are strikingly similar to actual historical events—like the push for women to take more active roles in the church—Josie plans to learn the truth behind the dreams. Fresh, modern, and inventive, the novel alternates between Josie’s and Agatha’s worlds. Each chapter reveals pieces to the overall puzzle of how and why Agatha and Josie are connected. Agatha’s chapters unveil a world where a secret sisterhood works to glorify God by clinging to the ideas in the “lost Book of Mary.” They yearn to be martyrs and leaders in a patriarchal religion. Josie’s narrative includes hashtags and relationship drama, making her seem authentic and contemporary. Hotes carefully layers Agatha’s tale and hints provocatively at what makes Josie so special. Certain key moments, however, such as a character’s struggle with depression and the ultimate big reveal, resolve without the same care and attention given in the novel’s ascent. But Josie—loyal, determined, and vulnerable—is a character readers will want to know better.

A delicious supernatural mystery that spans centuries. 

Pub Date: July 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9987199-1-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Booktrope

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2015

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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