This twisty, fast-paced sequel will leave readers hungering for more.

SCAMMED

From the Vale Hall series , Vol. 2

Brynn’s life as a young con intensifies in this Norse mythology–themed sequel to The Deceivers (2018).

After successfully surviving her first big mission, senior Brynn Hilder begins to relax at secretive Vale Hall, giving in to her feelings for swoony classmate Caleb Matsuki and enjoying her new friendships with fellow trained con artists. When controlling school founder Dr. Odin announces that her former mark, the corrupt senator’s troubled son Grayson Sterling, is moving into Vale Hall and is again her primary assignment, Brynn’s short-lived sense of peace begins to crumble. Simmons keeps the pace taut and the romantic tension high, but readers may quibble at how often Brynn second-guesses what’s truth and what’s deception in every comment, gesture, or action—even a kiss. As her doubts mount, Brynn holds on to one constant: She cannot allow her single mother (or herself) to go back to a life of poverty (or, in her mom's case, a controlling relationship). Despite posing more questions than it answers, this installment delves deeper into the compelling main characters and sets the stage for what’s likely to be a chaotic, life-or-death next volume. Most characters are white, but there’s scattered inclusion in the story: Brynn is Colombian and white American, Caleb is Japanese American, and there is some racial and sexual orientation diversity in minor characters.

This twisty, fast-paced sequel will leave readers hungering for more. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-17583-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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