Based on true events in Mali in 2012, Davies’ novel offers villains to hate, protagonists to feel for, and a nuanced glimpse...

BLOOD AND INK

Ali and Kadija have nearly opposite views of how to live their faiths and cultures, but as their worlds collide, they are drawn to each other in this ambitious novel narrated by both teens in alternating chapters.

Ali, a native of Mali, is a soldier with the Defenders of Faith when they take over Timbuktu, using AK-47s to control the locals, who resist with marches, cunning, and song. Kadija sings in a musical band and is in line to inherit a position as a Guardian of Timbuktu’s priceless treasure: thousands of ancient manuscripts revered by the local Sufi population. When Ali is stationed on Kadi’s street as a guard, the ideological battle over the soul of Timbuktu becomes personal. Ali attempts to guide Kadi, while Kadi seeks to lure him out from under the influence of Redbeard, the real-life Arab leader of the Defenders. After Ali discovers the secret vault that houses the manuscripts, Kadi must save the manuscripts from destruction by the Defenders. While the chemistry between Ali and Kadi feels somewhat forced, the high-stakes action and believable setting details will likely keep readers tuned in. Their present-tense narrations alternate, interspersed with transcripts from the manuscripts.

Based on true events in Mali in 2012, Davies’ novel offers villains to hate, protagonists to feel for, and a nuanced glimpse into a rich Muslim culture and society. (glossary, afterword) (Historical fiction/thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-790-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun.

STARSIGHT

From the Skyward series , Vol. 2

As if the threat of huge, raging monsters from hyperspace isn’t scary enough, hotshot fighter pilot Spensa Nightshade becomes embroiled in an alien empire’s politics.

On a desperate mission to steal hyperdrive technology from the crablike invading Krell who are threatening to destroy her beleaguered home colony on Detritus, Spensa, who is white, holographically disguises herself as a violet-skinned UrDail and slips into a Krell pilot training program for “lesser species.” The discovery that she’s being secretly trained not to fight planet-destroying delvers but to exterminate humans, who are (with some justification, having kindled three interstellar wars in past centuries) regarded in certain quarters as an irrationally aggressive species, is just one in a string of revelations as, in between numerous near-death experiences on practice flights, she struggles to understand both her own eerie abilities and the strange multispecies society in which she finds herself. There are so many characters besides Spensa searching for self-identity—notably her comic-relief sidekick AI M-Bot, troubled human friend Jorgen back on Detritus, and Morriumur, member of a species whose color-marked sexes create trial offspring—that even with a plot that defaults to hot action and escalating intrigue the pacing has a stop and start quality. Still, Spensa’s habitual over-the-top recklessness adds a rousing spark, and the author folds in plenty of banter as well as a colorful supporting cast.

Not quite the wild ride of Skyward (2018) but still great fun. (Science fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-55581-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales.

COLD HEARTED

A TALE OF THE WICKED STEPMOTHER

From the Villains series

How did Cinderella’s stepmother come to be so wicked?

She may have been self-focused, but at least she wasn’t always so cruel. Lady Tremaine, mother of two spoiled daughters, is a lonely widow hoping for a bit of happiness. Unfortunately, when Sir Richard appears at her friend’s house party, she’s swept off her feet and fails to heed the frantic warnings of her dedicated, elderly lady’s maid. Had she ever bothered to read the book of fairy tales her late husband purchased years before, she might have recognized the perils of assuming the role of stepmother. Entranced by Sir Richard, she agrees to a hasty marriage and a move to the Many Kingdoms, where he reverts to his true, domineering nature and she and her daughters become virtual prisoners in his home. Although the Odd Sisters—clever, manipulative witches—try to intervene on her behalf, it seems her fate is already written; she becomes as cruel and demented as the story described. However, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and her sister, Nanny, have plans to rescue Lady Tremaine’s daughters as they develop much-needed, rehabilitative insights into the family’s dynamics. Mostly told from the Lady’s shallow, self-centered perspective, this is an entertaining retelling of the Disney “Cinderella” story from a different viewpoint, with references to the rest of the series woven throughout. Characters follow a White default.

For princess fans and lovers of fairy tales. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-02528-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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