A fast-paced caper, with plenty to offer fans of both the Games and the less savory “games.” (Mystery. 10-14)

RUSH FOR THE GOLD

MYSTERY AT THE OLYMPICS

Feinstein’s latest tale of chicanery in big-time sports sends teen journalist Stevie Thomas to London to cover the Olympics, where his usual partner Susan Carol is swimming for gold.

A win at the Worlds has turned Susan Carol into a national celebrity and brought a whirl of lucrative marketing deals her way. It has also put her at odds with her father, who has fallen thoroughly under the influence of pushy agent J.P. Scott. Stevie covers the progress of his beautiful, brilliant, talented girlfriend for a Washington paper as she makes her way through the Olympics Trials and then the early heats in London. He begins to smell a rat when he spots an associate of J.P.’s meeting with a hot-looking Russian swimmer who is competing against her. A slimy marketer’s careless comment later, Stevie knows the fix is in. As is his wont, Feinstein salts the cast with real athletes and other figures from Michael Phelps to Bob Costas. He folds plenty of dramatic sports action as well as behind-the-scenes banter and personal and family conflict into a plot that moves smoothly to a suspenseful climax. Though the evidence fingering a bribed Olympics judge is rather conveniently obtained, both the crime and the marketing pressures behind it are thoroughly believable.

A fast-paced caper, with plenty to offer fans of both the Games and the less savory “games.” (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86963-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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AKATA WITCH

Who can't love a story about a Nigerian-American 12-year-old with albinism who discovers latent magical abilities and saves the world? Sunny lives in Nigeria after spending the first nine years of her life in New York. She can't play soccer with the boys because, as she says, "being albino made the sun my enemy," and she has only enemies at school. When a boy in her class, Orlu, rescues her from a beating, Sunny is drawn in to a magical world she's never known existed. Sunny, it seems, is a Leopard person, one of the magical folk who live in a world mostly populated by ignorant Lambs. Now she spends the day in mundane Lamb school and sneaks out at night to learn magic with her cadre of Leopard friends: a handsome American bad boy, an arrogant girl who is Orlu’s childhood friend and Orlu himself. Though Sunny's initiative is thin—she is pushed into most of her choices by her friends and by Leopard adults—the worldbuilding for Leopard society is stellar, packed with details that will enthrall readers bored with the same old magical worlds. Meanwhile, those looking for a touch of the familiar will find it in Sunny's biggest victories, which are entirely non-magical (the detailed dynamism of Sunny's soccer match is more thrilling than her magical world saving). Ebulliently original. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 14, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01196-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced.

THE ALWAYS WAR

For the past 75 years, Tessa’s nation has been at war—a war that has no end in sight.

Tessa lives in a community of weary people, visibly crushed by endless years of combat. They are numb; war is commonplace. But when a local boy receives an award for bravery—the nation’s highest—it lifts the city. Everyone, especially Tessa, desperately needs a hero. But Gideon shocks the town by refusing the honor. He declares himself a coward and runs away. He has killed more than 1,000 people; there is no honor in that. But that’s what war is, isn’t it? Killing the enemy is necessary. Gideon infuriates Tessa, but she is inexplicably curious as well. She follows him and ends up on a plane, with Gideon steering it straight toward the enemy line. He hopes to apologize, to atone for his mistakes, but what he and Tessa (along with a stowaway orphan named Dek) find when they open the plane’s door changes the plan dramatically. This dystopian drama examines the human aspect of war, and also how technology may redefine war in the future. In line with that tension, it is difficult to pinpoint which character grows the most in the narrative—Tessa or the computer.

If hoping to grab a heartfelt connection, readers may feel sidelined, but plot turns will certainly keep them entranced. (Dystopia. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-9526-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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