Readers will want to zoom in on this story featuring a strong, sexually confident, disabled female character.

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THIS IS NOT A LOVE SCENE

A humorous, hearty novel about the realities (and fantasies) of being a teenager with a disability.

Maeve is a Fredericksburg, Virginia, 18-year-old looking for love, feeding her passion for film, and texting her friends. She also has “a form of muscular dystrophy,” and while she may be perceived as asexual, that doesn’t stop her from positively expressing her sexuality and flirting with any hot guy she sets her sights on, especially Cole Stone, an actor in a film she’s shooting. Maeve is fully aware that her disability does not diminish her worth, and while it does sometimes create insecurity, it never holds her back for long. Maeve fights a variety of ableist ideas and situations, yet, strangely, she doesn’t seem to consider certain events problematic, such as when a priest interrupts a parade to bless her. Unfortunately, Maeve’s best friend, Mags, isn’t always supportive—she is continually negative about Maeve’s romantic pursuits—and seems to be more of a tool for plot development than a fully formed character. Megale’s #ownvoices debut is narrated by Maeve with strings of fast-paced and memorable text messages interspersed throughout the text. The structure of the novel, with multiple points of tension and resolution, creatively maintains reader interest. The book assumes a white default for most characters; one of Maeve’s friends is black.

Readers will want to zoom in on this story featuring a strong, sexually confident, disabled female character. (Fiction. 16-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19049-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.

THE STARS WE STEAL

For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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