Whether Kontis tells the tales of other Woodcutter children or not, readers will await her next with joyful anticipation.

HERO

The cover is terribly wrong—again—but Kontis’ return to the Woodcutter family is still mightily entertaining.

This story focuses on Saturday Woodcutter, whose sister Sunday from Enchanted (2012) is now queen. Saturday is a big, strong girl who has not figured out her magic, except that the ax she was given as an infant has turned into a sword that strengthens and heals. Tossing away a magic mirror endangers her whole family, especially her changeling brother, Trix, and she goes off to find and save him. She’s mistaken for her lost brother, Jack Woodcutter, by a blind witch whose eyes he stole and who imprisons Saturday. The witch also keeps captive a man named Peregrine, magicked by the witch’s daughter into taking her place. Peregrine does his best to keep busy and sane, while dressing as a woman and trying to both serve and outwit the witch. Peregrine and Saturday are a wonderful couple, as they spar, miss signals and exchange roles, aided by Betwixt, a chimera also held by the witch. There is hardly a fairy-tale or gender trope that Kontis doesn’t turn on its head, and readers don’t need to know about Hercules cleaning out the Augean Stables to find Saturday’s impossible task of cleaning the witch’s bird’s nest both hilarious and revolting.

Whether Kontis tells the tales of other Woodcutter children or not, readers will await her next with joyful anticipation. (Fantasy. 11-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-544-05677-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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