Fans of the first book and lovers of Norse legend may enjoy, but there’s better for fantasy-adventure lovers.


From the United States of Asgard series , Vol. 2

Can Signy solve the riddle that stands between her and her rightful place among the Valkyrie?

Ten years ago, when she was 7, Signy’s parents died in an accident. In her grief, during a visit to the New World Tree, she climbed the Tree and met Odin Alfather; he renamed her Signy Valborn, handing her her destiny: to become the next Valkyrie of the Tree, one of nine Valkyries who help run the United States of Asgard. The day after her 15th birthday, a riddle appeared on the trunk of the New World Tree; since she couldn’t solve it, Signy set out to find her answer. Two years of sometimes-homeless living later, she’s still looking…until she meets Ned Unferth, who says he can provide her the answer. He says that “The Valkyrie of the Tree will prove herself with a stone heart” means she must kill a troll and take its heart, which becomes stone in daylight. She trusts the truth rune she sees in his eye, and they set off to train and find a troll. Gratton’s follow-up to The Lost Sun (2013) is more entertaining and engaging than its predecessor, but the tale’s padded with so many complications it’s easy to put down. There’s such a surfeit of navel-gazing that Signy should be able to map her own spinal column.

Fans of the first book and lovers of Norse legend may enjoy, but there’s better for fantasy-adventure lovers. (Fantasy. 14-17)

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-97751-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.


From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Several yards short of a touchdown.


A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?