I hadn't realized that I'd been MIA for quite so long—the season change is killing me this year—BUT! I've written about a BUNCH of books over at Kirkus!
Here's the list:
Across the Solar System Through YA: A themed book list based around the planets of our solar system, and YES, I included Pluto, because Pluto.
The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste: As an adult reader, I found the idea of the jumbies more scary than the story itself, but another conference attendee told me that her tween daughter got so scared during the audiobook that she made her turn it off: “Mom, this is freaking me out. MOM, I AM SERIOUS.” I suspect that for some readers, that quote would be the best recommendation possible.
Velvet Undercover, by Teri Brown: It’s a spy thriller—and it offers up plenty of twists and turns, as any good espionage fiction should—but at its heart, it’s about the complexities of relationships, of family, of responsibilities, of war. It’s about how people can hold ties and loyalties to more than one country; how we can be torn between personal ideals and patriotism; between ties of the heart and responsibilities to the government; between making a choice between doing right by one person or doing right by the greater good.
Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman: If you go in cold, it’ll take some time to get your sea legs—sometimes Caden’s surroundings feel familiar and realistic (home, school, even the ward), and at others, we see the world as he interprets it through an internal filter (a pirate ship)—Shusterman switches between the two without warning, but at some point, they begin to blend. That blending—the two worlds together, both casts of characters, and then the near-solidity of the “real” world—feels seamless, in that I almost didn’t notice it as it was happening.
MARTians, by Blythe Woolston: The first line of Blythe Woolston’s MARTians—Sexual Responsibility is boring—made me laugh out loud. By the end of the book, I wanted to run screaming into the woods and never come out again.