A howling good time.

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FERAL

In the small town of Pine Hollow, stubborn 17-year-old Chloe Graham navigates werewolf pack politics and a budding connection with a mysterious wolf.

Chloe faces taunts from the other pack teens because she hasn’t yet been able to transform into a wolf. She’s worried the ability will never come and she’ll be kicked out of her pack. Compounding her stress is a strange wolf that’s started following her. He’s suspected to be a dangerous feral—trapped in animal form so long that he’s lost his humanity—but eventually reveals himself to be Marcus Jennings, her best friend’s brother, who was presumed dead in a plane crash that claimed the whole family. Chloe protects stoic Marcus while he emerges from his shell, and she must step up when the pack faces threats both internal and external, from infighting and a supernatural being. Mainly told in close third person following Chloe, the narrative occasionally alternates to the wolf’s intriguing point of view. Marcus’ position as Chloe’s adoring beta is refreshing, and Chloe shows impressive growth from timid high schooler to assertive alpha. Reminiscent of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, the plot is slightly derivative but still immensely entertaining as Luiken (In Truth and Ashes, 2017, etc.) combines sweet romance and riveting action to great effect. The book situates whiteness as the norm, using othering language to describe a biracial Chinese/white character.

A howling good time. (Paranormal romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77337-031-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Yellow Dog

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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