Perhaps not the best in the series; but it’s hard to resist the Woodcutters’ fluffy, eager-to-please charm. Monday’s story...

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From the Enchanted series , Vol. 3

The Woodcutter sister with “a heart as big as the moon” meets her destiny in the third of the frothy fairy-tale series (Hero, 2013, etc.).

Empathetic Friday is as “loving and giving” as the old rhyme says, qualities desperately needed when an accidentally summoned ocean devastates the kingdom. She immediately puts her generous nature and enchanted needle at the service of the refugee children. Discovering that the seven swans on the palace grounds are actually enchanted royalty, she no sooner locks eyes with Prince Tristan than the pair fall instantly in love. Naturally, Friday devotes herself to helping their sister break the princes’ curse, and that’s when her troubles really begin….Once again, Kontis provides a sparkling mashup of familiar tales with a few original twists. Friday is an astonishingly sweet, optimistic and self-sacrificing heroine—the sort anyone would be lucky to know in real life—but unfortunately rather dull to read about. Since “[e]veryone loves” Friday, and she herself has a regrettable tendency toward serial crushes, it’s hard to understand what makes her predestined romance with generic Tristan particularly special. The narrative pace has an odd stop-and-start stutter, while the climactic turn toward the macabre with a (literal) deus ex machina conclusion feels over-the-top.

Perhaps not the best in the series; but it’s hard to resist the Woodcutters’ fluffy, eager-to-please charm. Monday’s story next, please? (Fantasy. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-07407-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell...

SIX OF CROWS

Adolescent criminals seek the haul of a lifetime in a fantasyland at the beginning of its industrial age.

The dangerous city of Ketterdam is governed by the Merchant Council, but in reality, large sectors of the city are given over to gangs who run the gambling dens and brothels. The underworld's rising star is 17-year-old Kaz Brekker, known as Dirtyhands for his brutal amorality. Kaz walks with chronic pain from an old injury, but that doesn't stop him from utterly destroying any rivals. When a councilman offers him an unimaginable reward to rescue a kidnapped foreign chemist—30 million kruge!—Kaz knows just the team he needs to assemble. There's Inej, an itinerant acrobat captured by slavers and sold to a brothel, now a spy for Kaz; the Grisha Nina, with the magical ability to calm and heal; Matthias the zealot, hunter of Grishas and caught in a hopeless spiral of love and vengeance with Nina; Wylan, the privileged boy with an engineer's skills; and Jesper, a sharpshooter who keeps flirting with Wylan. Bardugo broadens the universe she created in the Grisha Trilogy, sending her protagonists around countries that resemble post-Renaissance northern Europe, where technology develops in concert with the magic that's both coveted and despised. It’s a highly successful venture, leaving enough open questions to cause readers to eagerly await Volume 2.

Cracking page-turner with a multiethnic band of misfits with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly, believably jell into a family . (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-212-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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