A heartwarming fantasy adventure featuring winning characters.

DRAGON'S SHADOW

In this YA novel, Morse (The Sweetheart Deal, 2015, etc.) tells the story of two teenagers in different worlds whose fates are connected by an ominous prophecy.

More than anything, 14-year-old Kylie wants to lead a normal life. She loves science, has a crush on an older student, and is devoted to her dog, Newton. However, she struggles with moments of overwhelming and violent anger as well as inexplicable visions, which have previously landed her in a residential treatment center. Her problems appear to be connected to a mysterious amulet, given to her shortly before her mother’s death. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Prince Jarlon lives in Hamadriad, a land in a magical realm where humans exist alongside other fantasy races, such as the furry “cortali” and fierce “shinwar.” Born and raised to take the throne, Jarlon enjoys sword fighting and is steadfast in his loyalty to his country. After his home is attacked by the forces of an evil dragon, he attempts to mount a counterattack and avenge his fallen relatives; soon, he’s embroiled in local politics and coming to terms with his role as a leader. The two worlds collide when Kylie witnesses her stepfather open a portal to the magical realm and begins her own confrontation with the insidious influences of the dragon. Although the plot is fairly straightforward, Morse maintains suspense by alternating the perspectives of the two main characters, transporting the reader from cliffhanger to cliffhanger. She has an impressive ability to quickly establish likable characters and create sincere connections between them. For example, the relationship between Jarlon and Tryffin, a cortalis who becomes indentured to the palace as a punishment for stealing, is both entertaining and fraught with emotion. Thematically, the novel emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions and frequently calls into question the idea of destiny versus free will.

A heartwarming fantasy adventure featuring winning characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5092-2238-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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