REVENGE OF THE EVIL LIBRARIAN

From the Evil Librarian series , Vol. 2

Campy, from the setting to the humor to the horror, and all the better for it.

Take one part humor, add an equal part horror, and spice with teenage drama (musical and romantical) for a (slightly grim) laugh.

After the events of Evil Librarian (2014), Cyn thought all would be smooth sailing. But she’s still got problems: boyfriend Ryan has a very possessive best girl friend at musical-theater camp. Oh, and Cyn hasn’t told him that she promised the demoness two more visits. And that’s just the start. The (adorable) teen author of Cyn’s show is a demon, even if he is the nice kind—and he may have accidentally led Mr. Gabriel, who isn’t dead after all, right to Cyn. Campers and counselors start to disappear, Mr. Gabriel’s many-legged brother is lurking around, and they still want Cyn’s friend as their child bride. What’s a “super-roach” (demon-resistant human) to do? Snarky and witty, filled with some steamy dreams, bloody battles, and plenty of musical-theater references, this may not be quite as fizzy as the first book—but it’s still a hell of a ride. Levelheaded, confident, ambitious, highhanded Cyn may be imperfect, but she’s also perfectly believable. Even the love quadrangle manages to be unexpected and not without flashes of humor. One secondary character is described as dark-skinned, which, combined with the absence of ethnic cues, points to Cyn and Ryan as being white.

Campy, from the setting to the humor to the horror, and all the better for it. (Humorous horror. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8828-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

A TEMPEST OF TEA

From the Blood and Tea series , Vol. 1

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner.

Bestselling author Faizal returns to the universe of We Hunt the Flame (2019) with a stand-alone duology opener.

Orphaned Arthie, brown-skinned with mauve hair, has created a criminal empire out of sheer pluck despite being Ceylani in Ettenia, where laws favor white people. She pulled legendary pistol Calibore from a stone plinth (though the prophecy that doing so would make her the nation’s leader turned out to be a hoax). She’s also built Spindrift, a teahouse-cum-bloodhouse, where she gathers secrets from wealthy humans and vampires, amassing power and security. Now Arthie has her sights set on vengeance—and the Ram, Ettenia’s masked monarch. When she and Jin, her brother-by-choice (who’s cued East Asian), are drawn into a heist, they assemble a diverse crew of immigrants whose roles riff on genre archetypes. The lush prose pulses with feeling as revelations are dropped and the tension ratchets up, keeping the pages turning as the motley gang plans to infiltrate a vampire society, retrieve a stolen ledger, and double-cross one of the Ram’s guards (who might be planning to double-cross them). Their ultimate goal: taking down the colonizing Ettenians and the exploitative East Jeevant Company. It’s all very exciting right up to the action-packed finale, which promises more conspiracy and (hopefully) justice to come. This compelling read offers interesting commentary on our society while feeling entirely real within the context of its own worldbuilding.

Crowd-pleasing fun laced with political fire: a winner. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2024

ISBN: 9780374389406

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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