An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance.

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PAPER HEARTS

From the Heartbreakers Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Another fluffy romance between a girl and a boy-band member, following The Heartbreakers (2015).

Four years ago, after her rebellious older sister, Rose, ran away, Felicity came up with a plan for her future, one designed to make her single mom happy: going to Harvard and becoming a lawyer—just like her absentee dad. It also means working, studying hard, and volunteering as much as she can, leaving little time for enjoying her summer with her best friends, Asha and Boomer. Then, volunteering at a charity ball, she meets the very cute, very reserved Alec, a member of the Heartbreakers. Sparks fly, but right before their first date, Felicity discovers a life-altering secret her mother has been keeping: Rose has been writing Felicity letters since she left. This sends Felicity on a quest to find Rose, accompanied by Alec, Asha, and Boomer. Along the way, she’ll have to come to grips with questions about lies, the truth, and whether her plans for the future will make her happy—can her happiness include Alec? The romance between Felicity and Alec is standard, from the meet-cute to the inevitable misunderstanding. There’s not really anything that elevates the characters or plot beyond the conventional, yet Novak handles it all with a light, deft touch. Save mixed-race Asha, whose mother is Indian and whose father is white, the cast of principals is an all-white one.

An undemanding, wish-fulfillment romance. (Romance. 14-16)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-5336-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy.

THE TEMPLE OF DOUBT

From the Temple of Doubt series , Vol. 1

A fantasy series opener pits adolescent angst against an all-powerful religion.

Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost-16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. Since Hadara and her mother continue the passed-down-in-the-female-line family business of concocting healing potions from plants, the two are regarded with suspicion even as their services are sought out by townspeople. When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. Although Hadara is a delightfully pert narrator, the story’s foremost tension—her subversive doubt of Nihil’s tenets—fails to reach its full potential because the religious concepts are not convincingly clear enough to weave themselves inextricably into the story. Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes. Continuity, however, is a recurring problem. Among other lapses, the first two chapters seem to be two separate beginnings.

It’s imaginative enough, but it lacks the convincing philosophical worldbuilding essential to successful fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63220-427-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

HIT

A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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