An imaginative adventure yarn with a few rough spots, but one that clearly benefits from the great amount of thought that...

Brainwalker

Debut authors Mundell and Lacast team up to present a YA science-fantasy epic set in a strange, allegorical universe that exists within a human brain, complete with its own residents, creatures, and laws.

Bernard Knifton is almost 14 and in dire need of a new idea for a science project. Unfortunately, his dad, Floyd, is no help, as he has even less time for his son since Bernard’s mother died. Floyd works at a lab with its own particle accelerator, however, which is perfect, because Bernard’s new project idea aims to prove that wormholes exist. The teenager gets more than he bargains for, though, when he slips into the accelerator. A stray wormhole sucks him up and deposits him in a strange, alien universe inside his father’s brain—a place that its residents call the “Brainiverse.” One of the residents, Basilides, a young member of the Holon species, initially rescues Bernard from the creature that brought him to his world. Together, the two boys must investigate the loss of a life force called Energeia, which is causing widespread deaths of neurons, the city-states of the Brainiverse. If they don’t figure out the cause, Bernard might not get home, or if he does, the father he remembers might not be waiting there for him. This story is full of high-stakes adventure, and it often excels in its imaginative and allegorical exploration of real-world issues. The descriptions of the various locations, creatures, and residents of the Brainiverse are both fun and intelligent. Bernard is an engaging protagonist, and although he’s less convincing in scenes set outside the Brainiverse, he really comes to life within it. Other, secondary characters in the outside world, however, don’t get this chance and often come across as stereotypes, such as an unimaginative teacher, a hard-case boss, and a know-it-all classmate. Fortunately, that world is very soon left behind for the phantasmagoria that is the Brainiverse.

An imaginative adventure yarn with a few rough spots, but one that clearly benefits from the great amount of thought that its authors put into it.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence.

WATCH OVER ME

After a horrific domestic violence incident, Zoey Ward and her family finally find their footing in Las Vegas only to have their lives overturned by a house fire.

Learning that her father has been recently released from prison, Zoey suspects he had something to do with the blaze. After their lives go up in flames, literally, Zoey along with her mom and her younger siblings, Kate and Cole, flee Las Vegas with the help of her older brother, Will, and his best friend, Tristan. They take refuge in California, where Tristan and his sister welcome them into a world where things seem hopeful and more stable than anything they have ever known. Yet the fear of being hunted down by her father consumes Zoey. The story is narrated from Zoey’s and Tristan’s first-person perspectives, and Gray (Run Away With Me, 2017, etc.) has masterfully captured the uncertainty and terror that come from domestic violence. Tristan and Zoey share a budding romance in which Zoey slowly but surely learns to love and be loved in a nondestructive, healthy way despite her fears and reservations. With everything she has been through, Zoey is the underdog readers will find themselves rooting for. Gray spares no detail in this intense tale. All characters are assumed to be white; Tristan is dyslexic, and there are several queer characters.

An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4281-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body.

MY EYES ARE UP HERE

Greer Walsh wishes she were one person...unfortunately, with her large breasts, she feels like she’s actually three.

High school sophomore and math whiz Greer is self-conscious about her body. Maude and Mavis, as she’s named her large breasts, are causing problems for her. When Greer meets new kid Jackson Oates, she wishes even more that she had a body that she didn’t feel a need to hide underneath XXL T-shirts. While trying to impress Jackson, who has moved to the Chicago suburbs from Cleveland, Greer decides to try out for her school’s volleyball team. When she makes JV, Greer is forced to come to terms with how her body looks and feels in a uniform and in motion as well as with being physically close with her teammates. The story is told in the first person from Greer’s point of view. Inconsistent storytelling as well as Greer’s (somewhat distracting) personified inner butterfly make this realistic novel a slow but overall enjoyable read. The story contains elements of light romance as well as strong female friendships. Greer is white with a Christian mom and Jewish dad; Jackson seems to be white by default, and there is diversity among the secondary characters.

A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1524-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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