An interesting perspective on a well-trod era.

PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG

In 1930s Munich, a young German girl learns to question her learned hatred for Jewish people.  

Seventeen-year-old Gretchen Müller has grown up knowing Adolf Hitler as “Uncle Dolf,” the great National Socialist leader whose life her father had died saving in 1923. This bedrock truth is challenged when a Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen reaches out to her suggesting that her father actually had been murdered by a fellow National Socialist party member. Together, they work to unravel the mystery of why her father was killed. Gretchen finds herself doubting everything she has been taught to hate and fear about Jews and ultimately must decide where her honor and loyalty lie. In her debut, Blankman weaves into Gretchen’s story the details of Hitler’s historically documented rise to power (and psychopathic nature), and her fictional characters talk and live among some of Nazi Germany’s most notorious figures. At times, the dialogue is unwieldy, and the historical details consume the narrative, which may cause some readers to become bored by slower sections of the story (though a sexually charged scene with Hitler himself will open their eyes wide). Here’s hoping the author will find a better balance between description and action in the proposed sequel, as the relationship between Gretchen and Daniel is what sets this apart.

An interesting perspective on a well-trod era. (author’s note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: April 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-227881-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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