Though at times long-winded, this is a fitting conclusion to an inventive fantasy series.

RUIN OF STARS

From the Mask of Shadows series , Vol. 2

In this conclusion to a fantasy duology, genderfluid assassin Sal hunts down the five Erlend nobles on their hit list.

Sal is out for revenge on North Star, Deadfall, Riparian, Caldera, and Winter, the code names for those responsible for the decimation of Sal’s home country, Nacea. Designated the new Honorable Opal and afforded the resources of the queen of Igna’s elite assassins, Sal hunts down the Erlend nobles who now threaten Igna with war. While uncovering the dark plot that connects flayed corpses, severed ears, and missing children, Sal copes with PTSD and deepens their relationship with Elise de Farone. The bloody action is diluted by scene after scene of lengthy dialogue and repetitious narration. Despite technical issues, readers will appreciate the novel’s timely parallels to our world; Erlend’s “us first” mentality and adherence to heteronormative gender roles are particularly familiar. Miller (Mask of Shadows, 2017) remedies the previous book’s misstep of conflating expression and identity. This time, she more accurately represents genderfluidity by asserting that presentation does not equate gender identity and by introducing more transgender and nonbinary characters. The cast is also racially diverse; Sal is brown-skinned, with other characters ranging from white to dark brown.

Though at times long-winded, this is a fitting conclusion to an inventive fantasy series. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4752-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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