While the book holds an appeal for adult readers of teen books, it might be hard-pressed to find fans in its target audience.

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THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS

Shy, quiet, and content with the simple way of life in Rowan’s Glen—a back-to-the-land commune in the Missouri Ozarks— teen Ivy Templeton is the exact opposite of her cousin Heather, and Ivy resents the growing separation between herself and the girl she once called a sister and best friend.

When the Glen revives the May Day celebration after 20-plus years, Ivy, whose father is white and mother is Mexican, isn’t surprised when Heather is chosen to be the new May Queen. And some of the Glen’s elders are even less surprised when Heather vanishes after the celebration, which eerily echoes the disappearance and murder of the last May Queen. This present-day mystery is ripe with superstition and serves up an atmospheric, authentic-feeling setting, but it suffers in the characterization department. Too many of the villains have flat, uncomplicated motives, and teen readers might have difficulty relating to Ivy in particular. Her narrative voice doesn’t ring true, and her behavior is inconsistent: she is by turns a shy, stuttering girl and a swearing, blunt woman who is not bashful about sex and drug use. In the end, the book reads much more like an adult romance and/or mystery novel than a novel for teens.

While the book holds an appeal for adult readers of teen books, it might be hard-pressed to find fans in its target audience. (Mystery. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-64041-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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

SIX OF CROWS

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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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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