A mindful dissection of how allied strength can combat hate.

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AESOP LAKE

A hate crime thrusts two high school acquaintances in rural Vermont into a quandary of loyalty and moral responsibility.

To subdue the temper of handsome, jealous boyfriend David, Leda suggests a skinny dip. When they arrive at the reservoir, gay couple Jonathan and Ricky are already there. David cites religion and biology to support his disgust and summons a cohort to “scare” the boys. Leda pleads for David to leave them alone but is sequestered in the car, frozen. The attack escalates into gunfire, and while Jonathan escapes, Ricky is beaten into a catatonic state. Meanwhile, Leda is blackmailed by David into being his alibi. Wishing to escape the highly publicized hate-crime trial, Leda and Jonathan unwittingly end up at the same wealthy family’s remote lakeside resort (Leda as nanny, Jonathan as family guest). Knowing her alibi is false, Jonathan aggressively confronts Leda. Emphasizing that there’s no shame in recovering at your own pace but no refuge from responsibility either, three illustrated Aesop fables punctuate the well-paced novel, reinforcing the messages imparted. David and his macho cohorts demonstrate that despite progress, retaliation fueled by misguided zealotry is still a real threat. The reprehensibility of not being an ally is communicated without proselytizing, and a discussion guide serves as a conversation starter for this difficult subject. All main characters are white.

A mindful dissection of how allied strength can combat hate. (discussion guide, resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9994995-2-8

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Green Writers Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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