Readers, like Mia herself, will find her birthright, human and supernatural—from risotto alla Milanese to the roof of the...

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THE HALCYON BIRD

From the Demon Catchers of Milan series , Vol. 2

Volume 2 of this classy series finds Mia still living in Italy under the protection and guidance of her extended family, learning the family trade (Della Torres have been trapping Milan’s demons for centuries) while she gathers strength to confront the demon that once possessed her.

Mia’s secret infatuation with distant cousin Emilio is history after she meets Bernardo, a family friend. He is equally smitten, and with both families’ approval, the two embark on a romance. But as their connection grows, so does Mia’s equivocal bond with her demon. Like their human counterparts, demons vary widely; they change and evolve. Interacting with them sets up a kind of symbiosis between demon and human host. Mia discovers that demons can simultaneously instigate and reflect family tragedies that may play out over many generations. (She’s still not sure what to make of the two friendly spirits haunting her bedroom.) With Bernardo an intoxicating distraction, Mia’s guard slips with calamitous results. These humans and demons are vividly multidimensional; Mia’s happily free of most teen-literature tropes and clichés. Often portrayed as a dour banking center, rainy Milan shines as well, dressed up in centuries of rich history and tradition, especially culinary.

Readers, like Mia herself, will find her birthright, human and supernatural—from risotto alla Milanese to the roof of the Duomo—as delicious as it is scary. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60684-316-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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