Despite the potential whimsy of a circus adventure narrated by a shape-shifting mare, this more closely resembles a brutal,...

THE WANDERERS

Flo and her friends are but poor, lost circus performers—who shape-shift into animals and try to evade governmental capture.

Newly turned 16, orphaned shifter Flo is dreading her first circus performance. Alas for her, it's not optional; all of the shifter children who live with the circus must perform regularly as soon as they reach that age. Flo must take a turn like all the others, so after a false start, she takes the stage—not as a girl but as a magnificent mare. Like her boyfriend, Jett the bear, or her nemesis, Pru the tiger, Flo becomes an animal at will. In a modern world of cars and DVD players, the circus shifters live almost medievally, bound under the unkind leadership of the elders, three middle-aged lion shifters. Flo knows that if she leaves, she'll be vulnerable to hunters, government-funded paramilitary forces that are the modern legacy of sworn enemies who have been murdering shifters since time immemorial. So she tolerates the cruelty of her peers, learns to jump through a flaming hoop, and almost has hope for the future when disaster strikes. In a spare first-person, present-tense narration, Flo takes readers through a swoony romance with a massive body count.

Despite the potential whimsy of a circus adventure narrated by a shape-shifting mare, this more closely resembles a brutal, angst-drenched dystopia à la Veronica Roth's Divergent (2011) than anything else . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63450-201-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping

EVERY SECOND COUNTS

Two teens framed as terrorists need to save England from a terrorist attack and political takeover.

Charlie and Nat have been on the run since they were tricked into aiding a kidnapping and bombing (In a Split Second, 2015). Charlie, furious after the attack that killed her mother and left Nat's older brother in a coma, tried to do good by training as a soldier for the vigilante English Freedom Army. Nat and Charlie were told the EFA existed to fight terrorists like the racist League of Iron, but it turns out they were terrorists, fomenting chaos to support the political aspirations of charismatic politician Roman Riley. Now the teens, distracted by both their romance and Charlie's family secrets, must stop Riley from creating a far worse atrocity. Their single-minded focus on each other even as they learn of potentially horrific casualties can be read as either romantic or utterly lacking in empathy, but at least they prioritize the mission. Chapters that alternate their perspectives, most only about three pages, maintain endless urgency in the style of the television series 24. Though some lulls might have improved the flow, the nonstop action distracts from plot holes and flat secondary characters. U.S. readers may be bemused at the U.K. revolutionaries’ discussions of bombings but shock at the use of guns.

This breathless political thriller isn't always coherent, but it keeps the adrenaline pumping . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3926-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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The mystery is tense and nerve-wracking, and the acrobatics are gorgeously hair-raising; they will help readers get past...

GIRL ON A WIRE

Family secrets and sinister superstitions threaten 16-year-old wire walker Jules Maroni’s chance at a big break.

Jules doesn’t understand why her family lets some old rivalry with the Flying Garcias keep them from the glamorous Cirque American. Something bad happened between Jules’ grandmother and the legendary trapeze artists when Nan was young, but now the Amazing Maronis have a chance—possibly the last—to leave obscurity and gain the recognition their talent deserves! When the Maronis finally join the Cirque American, Jules is dismayed that everyone in this new circus seems to hold the same grudge as Nan. Worse, the dreamy boy she meets is none other than Remy Garcia, scion of her family’s archrivals. Jules is determined to gain the admiration of her fellow performers, so she performs a series of increasingly dangerous wire acts. While Jules’ perspective of her daredevilry is not in the slightest bit frightening, the narration is nonetheless heart-stopping; readers might find themselves checking their own footing. A mysterious stalker leaves Jules a series of increasingly disturbing artifacts—a flower, a peacock feather, a circus trunk—and Nan is convinced the objects are cursed, leaving Jules and Remy determined to get to the bottom of their grandparents’ possibly mystical rivalry. When tragedy inevitably strikes, the impact is blunted, as the secondary characters (or Jules’ feelings for them) are little more than the barest sketches.

The mystery is tense and nerve-wracking, and the acrobatics are gorgeously hair-raising; they will help readers get past thinly developed characters and setting . (Thriller. 13-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4782-4

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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