A heartfelt, three-hankie exploration of a topic all too many teens must confront.

POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL

High school junior Erin Bailey’s whole life changes when her mother is diagnosed with late stage breast cancer.

In an even more unkind twist of fate, Erin finds out that she has inherited a BRCA gene mutation, which means she has a significant risk of contracting reproductive cancer herself. This discovery, along with the loss of her beloved daredevil father in a flying accident a few years before and a less-than-stellar social life, puts Erin at the top of the list of teens facing tough, real-life dilemmas. Help comes in the form of friendly advice she receives from a girl on the BRCA gene website who offers Erin sanctuary on a remote island in Florida. A newly fledged pilot, Erin heads for Florida, hoping to meet up with her new friend. Although what she discovers there will surprise both Erin and readers, she finds support as well, enabling her to weather the further storms of college applications, more teen drama and the inevitable decline of her mother. Although some might look askance at Erin’s unconventional decision to take the genetic test at such a young age, mature teens will appreciate this carefully researched and authentic exposé of a difficult subject. Erin’s first-person, present-tense narration isn’t flashy, but it does get readers effectively in her groove.

A heartfelt, three-hankie exploration of a topic all too many teens must confront. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-341-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy.

THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT

From the Temple of Doubt series , Vol. 1

A fantasy series opener pits adolescent angst against an all-powerful religion.

Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost-16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. Since Hadara and her mother continue the passed-down-in-the-female-line family business of concocting healing potions from plants, the two are regarded with suspicion even as their services are sought out by townspeople. When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. Although Hadara is a delightfully pert narrator, the story’s foremost tension—her subversive doubt of Nihil’s tenets—fails to reach its full potential because the religious concepts are not convincingly clear enough to weave themselves inextricably into the story. Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes. Continuity, however, is a recurring problem. Among other lapses, the first two chapters seem to be two separate beginnings.

It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63220-427-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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