Ambitious but doesn’t quite deliver.

CANARY CLUB

From the Canary Club Novels series , Vol. 1

In a slight twist on a well-trod theme, can a good boy change a bad girl?

In 1920s Manhattan, fair-haired, white mobster’s daughter Masie Schultz is the embodiment of a flapper: she’s reckless, fearless, and bold. Despite her brazen bravado, she’s treated as little more than a commodity to either be traded or displayed as needed. When her father hires Benny, a kindhearted and loyal young man, to be her bodyguard, the chemistry is undeniable. However, as the danger around Masie and her family intensifies, will Benny be able to keep her safe and ultimately help her escape her dangerous life? Ficklin’s offering paints a vivid picture of the Jazz Age, dropping details of glamorous flappers and raucous speak-easies, and it boasts cameos from Zelda Fitzgerald and Lucky Luciano. The role of women is explored, with a keen eye to their lack of choices; alongside these issues, there are also some rather intense scenes of physical abuse against women. However, Benny and Masie’s romance is formulaic and heavy on melodrama, weighed down with an abundance of platitudes. Although their struggles may be prosaic, however, most romance aficionados should find the starry-eyed glances and lush historical details swoonworthy. A cliffhanger ending hints at sequels, so hopefully subsequent volumes play to these strengths.

Ambitious but doesn’t quite deliver. (Historical romance. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63422-250-1

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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