An outstanding love story peopled by a wealth of memorable characters.


Their relationship is doomed from the start.

For 15-year-olds Céce and Mack, it’s nearly love at first sight—not an easy feat, since they’re so remarkably different. He’s a dyslexic dropout with a police record. She’s an excellent student, studying for an entrance exam to a gifted-and-talented program. Each comes from a hard-drinking, single-parent family, although Céce’s mother exudes heartfelt affection while Mack’s father is a misanthropic hate-monger. When provoked, Mack’s anger is nearly uncontrollable, yet his transcendent sensitivity toward Céce and the pit bulls he rescues and cares for is extraordinary. Pushed together by Céce’s brother, the heartbreaking depth of their relationship is vividly depicted through affecting prose and believable dialogue. After Mack gets into serious trouble, their resulting separation marks the end; each of them has to find a way to continue on, horribly damaged, but not destroyed. Remarkable characters abound: Vic, the wily fellow who employs them both in his quirky restaurant; Anthony, Céce’s brave older brother; Wash, a compassionate prison guard; Mr. Thompkins, an impatient, drill-sergeant on a mission; and, notably, a pair of slobbering, devoted pit bulls. Even a too-convenient climax doesn’t detract but rather gives readers and characters the relief they need. Achingly, authentically emotionally resonant, this sad, never-saccharine tale related in alternating voices will have absorbed readers reaching for the Kleenex.

 An outstanding love story peopled by a wealth of memorable characters. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3448-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.


A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

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Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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