In the end, the narrative contrivances overpower whatever genuine moral growth Sara Jane might undergo. But there is lots of...



From the Cold Fury series , Vol. 3

In this conclusion to the Cold Fury series, teenage Mafiosa Sara Jane Rispoli continues her frantic search for her missing family even as the Chicago Outfit wages a bloody war against the Russian mob.

In the six months since her family’s disappearance, Sara Jane has become, if not actively comfortable with, at least accustomed to killing. Having dispatched the creepy “ice cream creatures” in Flicker & Burn (2013), Goeglein largely avoids extraneous paranormal elements, with the plot-driven exception of the scientifically ludicrous Rispoli “cold fury” gaze. Still, even this is kept in the background as the story does what the trilogy does best: explores the ins and outs of the Outfit’s secrets, particularly its fabulous network of hidden Capone doors that takes Sara Jane and her best friend, Doug, deep underneath Chicago in search of the Rispolis’ “ultimate power.” Plotting is rough; both the series’ key double cross and a laboriously laid red herring are revealed so late in the game and after so much mayhem that they feel anticlimactic. Formerly fat Doug’s emergence into his own as Sara Jane’s partner is both refreshing and troubling: Why is it only after he loses tons of weight that he can be taken seriously?

In the end, the narrative contrivances overpower whatever genuine moral growth Sara Jane might undergo. But there is lots of blood . (Paranormal thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-257223

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.


Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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