From the Maven & Reeve Mystery series , Vol. 1

Smart, lively fun.

In this medieval mystery series opener, a missing gemstone and a murder spur two teenage sleuths into their first case.

Fledgling squire Reeve and lady’s companion Maven are initially at odds, as both see their noble principals being forced into an unwanted marriage—but after a bold scheme to get the wedding called off by staging the fake theft of a valuable heirloom goes badly awry, leaving a corpse in its wake, the two gradually discover that they make good, quick-witted, keenly observant partners. Both have secrets: Reeve faints at the sight of blood, which is not a good quality in a would-be knight, but Maven skates closer to the edge, as she not only knows how to read, but with her mistress, belongs to a secret society of women and girls, either of which would get her burned as a witch if ever found out. Tait lets an appealing chemistry develop between her dual narrators (who change person and even tense in the alternating chapters) as she pitches them into an investigation that is positively hung about with side challenges that range from nipping a scandal involving the local overlord’s spoiled daughter in the bud to helping that same overlord fend off an arrest for treason. Ultimately the killer is revealed, the gem recovered, and, as the reluctant bride and groom wind up falling for one another, the partnership looks destined to extend into sequels. Characters default to White.

Smart, lively fun. (Historical mystery. 10-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68464-437-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022


From the School for Good and Evil series , Vol. 1

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic.

Chainani works an elaborate sea change akin to Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (1995), though he leaves the waters muddied.

Every four years, two children, one regarded as particularly nice and the other particularly nasty, are snatched from the village of Gavaldon by the shadowy School Master to attend the divided titular school. Those who survive to graduate become major or minor characters in fairy tales. When it happens to sweet, Disney princess–like Sophie and  her friend Agatha, plain of features, sour of disposition and low of self-esteem, they are both horrified to discover that they’ve been dropped not where they expect but at Evil and at Good respectively. Gradually—too gradually, as the author strings out hundreds of pages of Hogwarts-style pranks, classroom mishaps and competitions both academic and romantic—it becomes clear that the placement wasn’t a mistake at all. Growing into their true natures amid revelations and marked physical changes, the two spark escalating rivalry between the wings of the school. This leads up to a vicious climactic fight that sees Good and Evil repeatedly switching sides. At this point, readers are likely to feel suddenly left behind, as, thanks to summary deus ex machina resolutions, everything turns out swell(ish).

Rich and strange (and kitted out with an eye-catching cover), but stronger in the set pieces than the internal logic. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-210489-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013


Time-travel hijinks and ’90s rap references abound in a fun and funny series starter.

In this entertaining novel centering Black tweens by noted musician and filmmaker Questlove and bestselling author Cosby, the gift of a supersmart phone is a godsend…until it’s very much not.

Philadelphia seventh grader Rahim Reynolds wants to be a rapper like Four the Hard Way, his favorite ’90s group, but if he’s not getting bullied at school, his history professor father’s strict anti-tech, all-books policies make things hard at home. Bestie and home-schooled neighbor Kasia Collins, in contrast, lives in a tech-filled wonderland and is the genius behind most of her home’s innovations. A space-time traveling phone that uses secret government satellites is just the latest invention she tests on her occasional guinea pig, Rahim. When he accidentally dials himself into 1997, Kasia never doubts her ability to get him back, but time is very literally working against them as Rahim disregards her warnings and interferes with almost everything. He quickly befriends his preteen father, sneaks into a Four the Hard Way concert, changes familial and global history, and causes a wormhole that wreaks havoc. Kasia, meanwhile, must deal with government agents and two sets of worried parents while figuring out how to get Rahim home. A semisuccessful return to the present quickly reminds Rahim of how good he had it before. The conclusion of this charming collaboration sets the stage for larger stakes in future adventures. Art not seen.

Time-travel hijinks and ’90s rap references abound in a fun and funny series starter. (Science fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 18, 2023

ISBN: 9780593354063

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023