Will have readers cheering for #MoreMillie.

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MY LIFE GONE VIRAL

From the My Life Uploaded series , Vol. 2

The incomparable Millie Porter is back in this follow-up to My Life Uploaded (2018).

Millie’s life is going well, but anxiety, that thief of time and happiness, won’t let her enjoy it. She just knows disaster is coming down the pike. To cope with the catastrophic thinking that chases all rational thought from her brain, Millie follows Mum’s advice to focus on the facts: Millie is moving back home now that she and Gary the Neat Freak (Mum’s boyfriend) have come to a compromise over biscuit crumbs; she and best friend Lauren have smoothed things over; Danny is her boyfriend after a great deal of confusion; and her vlog, Hashtag Help, has gone viral thanks to Dave the cat’s accidental on-camera shenanigans. Also a fact: Success is hard, what with the whole “being quite great all the time” thing and her new agent, who’s pushing for “maximum Dave.” And then there are the not-so-pleasant surprises that come her way. Millie’s confiding first-person direct address is punctuated with blog and vlog transcripts. Her anxiety-driven thought tangents will be familiar to readers who also suffer from anxiety, an oft-misunderstood and minimized mental health issue that is dealt here with honesty, gentle sarcasm, and a warm heart. The book assumes a white default; Danny has mixed Chinese and French Canadian heritage.

Will have readers cheering for #MoreMillie. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-13380-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles.

A MAP OF DAYS

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 4

The victory of Jacob and his fellow peculiars over the previous episode’s wights and hollowgasts turns out to be only one move in a larger game as Riggs (Tales of the Peculiar, 2016, etc.) shifts the scene to America.

Reading largely as a setup for a new (if not exactly original) story arc, the tale commences just after Jacob’s timely rescue from his decidedly hostile parents. Following aimless visits back to newly liberated Devil’s Acre and perfunctory normalling lessons for his magically talented friends, Jacob eventually sets out on a road trip to find and recruit Noor, a powerful but imperiled young peculiar of Asian Indian ancestry. Along the way he encounters a semilawless patchwork of peculiar gangs, syndicates, and isolated small communities—many at loggerheads, some in the midst of negotiating a tentative alliance with the Ymbryne Council, but all threatened by the shadowy Organization. The by-now-tangled skein of rivalries, romantic troubles, and family issues continues to ravel amid bursts of savage violence and low comedy (“I had never seen an invisible person throw up before,” Jacob writes, “and it was something I won’t soon forget”). A fresh set of found snapshots serves, as before, to add an eldritch atmosphere to each set of incidents. The cast defaults to white but includes several people of color with active roles.

Not much forward momentum but a tasty array of chills, thrills, and chortles. (Horror/Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3214-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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SALT TO THE SEA

January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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