The novel isn’t a treatise about queer identities, so it doesn’t offer an answer on what this complicated concept means. But...

FEMME

From the Lorimer SideStreets series

So, is femme a sexual orientation or a gender presentation?

Author Bach wraps this complicated question around the affable protagonist, Sofie, a “C-student” high schooler living in the real town of Surrey, located near Vancouver, British Columbia. What she looks forward to after high school is life with her star-athlete boyfriend, Paul, who pledges to take care of her by working at the family auto dealership even as she vaguely wishes to become a chef. Sofie’s aspirations—and life—change when her English teacher pairs her with Clea Thompson, whom Sofie describes as a “totally straight-A student” intent on winning a scholarship. Clea is also a mixed-race, out lesbian who leads the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Refreshingly, the author takes their racial difference as a matter of course, not a literary public-service announcement about interracial relationships. Nor does she frame Sofie’s changing views on her shifting relationships with Paul, Clea, and even her mom with heavy-handedness: Sofie’s shift regarding her present love and future life come from a healing touch, a clarifying word, and some tough conversations.

The novel isn’t a treatise about queer identities, so it doesn’t offer an answer on what this complicated concept means. But it’s a great introduction to how gender identity can be a segue for a love that, even in 2015, cannot speak its name. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4594-0768-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: James Lorimer

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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