A mixed bag of magic and romance.

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GLASS HEART

Exploring new magical abilities that include the power to resurrect the dead is a game to Wren, but when she meets Fiona and Bay, suddenly magic turns deadly serious.

Desperate to learn more about the power she began to use in series opener Cold Kiss (2011), Wren presses her mother for help. Unfortunately, secrecy, shame and pain keep her from teaching Wren or her younger sister, Robin, about the possibilities and responsibilities inherent in their newfound magic. Frustrated, Wren pushes everyone away, including Gabriel, the boy who knows everything about her. Looking to her new friends, who have abilities of their own, Wren begins leading a secret life full of spells and excitement. But while Fiona seems mostly fun and frivolous, Bay is dark and dangerous. Wren discovers just how bad it is when Bay begins threatening the ones she loves most. Tropes and clichés abound in this sequel. Readers will quickly grow tired of Robin’s temper tantrums and their mother’s ineffective parenting. The twin mysteries surrounding Wren’s and Gabriel’s fathers fail to pay off when revealed. The one saving grace is Wren. She manages to be at once a simple teenage girl in love and the wielder of immense magical power. Despite the overly familiar storylines, Wren is completely believable and endearing.

A mixed bag of magic and romance. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199624-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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