Fast-paced, well-plotted, frequently hilarious—as delicious as the finest French pastry.

MY CONTRARY MARY

From the Lady Janies series

Following the success of their Lady Janies books, the trio of Hand, Ashton, and Meadows enter the world of early modern shape-shifters.

It’s 1560 Paris, the royal court of King Henry and his queen, Catherine de Medici (described by the modern authorial narrators, who use the royal we, as “a playful sort of evil”). Seventeen-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, has lived there for 12 years, is betrothed to Francis, the French dauphin; is supervised by her powerful French uncles; and is attended by four devoted ladies-in-waiting, all also named Mary. But the religious wars in this version of history aren’t Protestant versus Catholic—they’re between Verities, humans who cannot shape shift, and Eðians, who can. In Scotland, John Knox is publishing pamphlets denouncing Verities and casting doubts on Mary’s fitness to rule while in France, King Henry threatens to persecute all Eðians. Francis knows his beloved can change into a mouse—but so does his mother—and when King Henry dies in a jousting “accident,” Catherine threatens the new queen with a mousetrap. Meanwhile, Ari, daughter of the prophet Nostradamus, has visions that strongly resemble blockbuster movies, and Francis and Mary satisfy the too-curious court on their wedding night by enthusiastically jumping up and down on their bed. Three narrators seamlessly tell the tale, which includes a gentle queer romance. Everybody’s White.

Fast-paced, well-plotted, frequently hilarious—as delicious as the finest French pastry. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-293004-0

Page Count: 512

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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