Breezy tales of first crushes and kisses.

READ REVIEW

SHORT STUFF

Happiness and hope weave four stories into a feel-good collection.

These authors skip teen troubles and tropes and, instead of heartaches, deliver four tales of romance where flirtations go right. Only happy endings are found in this set of unrelated shorts. Mixed messages and miscommunications launch the first tale, “I Ate the Whole World To Find You,” by Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick, as two teen boys, an Olympic hopeful and an aspiring chef find stability with each other. Next, in “The August Sands” by Jude Sierra, two young men on the verge of college have life-defining beach encounters. Kate Fierro’s “Love in the Time of Coffee” involves two girls sipping their way toward intimacy in a series of coffee dates. The final story, Julia Ember’s fantasy “Gilded Scales,” has no distressed damsels but rather a defiant, would-be warrior who questions rigid gender roles and befriends a dragon girl. Light on complexity and barely addressing aspects of identity beyond sexual orientation, these optimistic stories center on finding love and awakening desire and on characters learning to follow and trust their hearts. While social differences are present, racial and other identity issues are not strong textual elements. Throughout, characters face coming-of-age challenges like worry about leaving home, risking friendships for love, and struggles to fit in. The collection goes well beyond LGBTQ problem stories and handily centers budding relationships.

Breezy tales of first crushes and kisses. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945053-89-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Duet

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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