For readers who like their historical romance with a touch of second sight.

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MAID OF WONDER

From the Maids of Honor series , Vol. 3

It is the turn of shy Sophia to tell her story in the third of a series about the Maids of Honor, a privileged cadre of five young women assigned to spy for Elizabeth I.

Sophia’s signature quality is that she has the gift of Sight. This enables her to enter a mystical plane in which she sees and hears angels who give her clues about events at court, allowing her to foretell the future. Sophia’s gift is tested to the limit when the queen orders her to find out the truth behind a sinister prophecy that someone will die at Windsor. In this assignment she is competing with the best astrologers of the age, including the venerable Nostradamus. Inexperienced in romance, Sophia is unprepared for the effect that Marcus Quinn, young courtier who also has prophetic gifts, has on her. Quinn, who is spying for her uncle, astrologer John Dee, sweeps her off her feet and sometimes clouds her better judgment. All works out for the best, of course. The queen is saved, plot details are hastily tied together, and order is restored in the court. Delving into the fascinating superstitions of the Elizabethan court, McGowan has created another reasonably authentic, fast-paced page-turner that will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

For readers who like their historical romance with a touch of second sight. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1826-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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Awardworthy. Soul-stirring. A must-read.

PUNCHING THE AIR

Reviving a friendship that goes back almost 20 years, Zoboi writes with Exonerated Five member Salaam, exploring racial tensions, criminal injustice, and radical hope for a new day.

Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed When They See Us tells the story of Salaam’s wrongful conviction as a boy, a story that found its way back into the national conversation when, after nearly 7 years in prison, DNA evidence cleared his name. Although it highlights many of the same unjust systemic problems Salaam faced, this story is not a biographical rendering of his experiences. Rather, Zoboi offers readers her brilliance and precision within this novel in verse that centers on the fictional account of 16-year-old Amal Shahid. He’s an art student and poet whose life dramatically shifts after he is accused of assaulting a White boy one intense night, drawing out serious questions around the treatment of Black youth and the harsh limitations of America’s investment in punitive forms of justice. The writing allows many readers to see their internal voices affirmed as it uplifts street slang, Muslim faith, and hip-hop cadences, showcasing poetry’s power in language rarely seen in YA literature. The physical forms of the first-person poems add depth to the text, providing a necessary calling-in to issues central to the national discourse in reimagining our relationship to police and prisons. Readers will ask: Where do we go from here?

Awardworthy. Soul-stirring. A must-read. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299648-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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