Despite the fact that the third part of the book pales in comparison to the first two, the honest and humorously...

JEPP, WHO DEFIED THE STARS

Part coming-of-age novel and part paternity quest, this late-16th-century tale earns its distinction by virtue of its narrator: a dwarf.

Edgar Award–winning author Marsh (The Twilight Prisoner, 2009, etc.) has written a fast-paced adventure, abundant with period details, that comprises about two years of the diminutive Jepp’s life. Jepp’s account begins at a perilous point in his story—“imprisoned in [a] star-crossed coach, bumping up and down bone-rattling roads”—which leads to an exposition of the events that have brought him to this fate. Eventually his tale moves to a time beyond the hazardous coach journey and on to a satisfying, if overly contrived, ending. The book has three parts, loosely linked to three crucial northern European settings: the rural inn where Jepp was raised by a loving mother; the kingdom of Coudenberg, where he endures the luxurious but humiliating life of a court dwarf and is involved in a horrible tragedy; and the palace of Uraniborg, renowned for astronomical research, where Jepp’s status rises almost miraculously from pet dog to that of a respected scholar as well as a favored suitor for his beloved.

Despite the fact that the third part of the book pales in comparison to the first two, the honest and humorously self-deprecating voice of Jepp moves readers to rejoice with him as he seeks and manipulates his destiny. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3500-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A must-read reminder that transformation is made possible through community.

THE AWAKENING OF MALCOLM X

Explores historical threads of race, faith, and family as they weave together in the transformation of youthful, imprisoned Malcolm Little into empowered, purpose-driven Malcolm X.

Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, partners with rising literary star Jackson to explore 20-something Malcolm’s growth through reading, debate, and dialogue. This dedication and rediscovery of purpose, made manifest through newfound faith, would catapult him to the global stage as the chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam under the tutelage of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Refusing to establish his transformation as the marker of an unjust prison system’s rehabilitation strategy, this fictionalized retelling spotlights the relationships, perspectives, lessons, and questions delivered by Black men imprisoned around him and the critical embrace of a family that never abandoned him. “Wake up, Malcolm” is a cue that resounds throughout, linking the familial legacy of Malcolm’s parents, who held ties to ministry and served roles in the racial uplift mission of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Readers will make connections to persistent injustices faced by Black communities—and the beautiful ways which, despite that terror, Black families have found to craft visions of freedom and lives of dignity and love. This novel showcases the ways that becoming is a social process requiring care, commitment, and community but is ultimately world-changing work.

A must-read reminder that transformation is made possible through community. (more information, timeline, Malcolm X’s reading list, authors’ note) (Biographical novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-31329-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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