A romantic fantasy that will appeal to those who appreciate character-driven novels.

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OF FIRE AND STARS

From the Of Fire and Stars series , Vol. 1

Murder, mayhem, magic, romance—and horses, lots of horses!

Sixteen-year-old Princess Dennaleia departs for the kingdom of Mynaria, home of her betrothed, the blond, blue-eyed Thandilimon. Neither royal realizes that Denna’s secret, stigmatized ability to control various elements will soon spiral out of control, as do her feelings when she meets Mare, her bold, gray-eyed future sister-in-law. The plot unfolds slowly as the green-eyed, white-skinned Denna, with her scholarly ways, is at first unsure what to make of Mare, most comfortable in the simple stable clothes that cause her to be mistaken for a boy. Only two characters seem to be of color (one described as dark-skinned and one who hides shyly behind her glossy black hair). Homophobia is a nonissue, as heterosexuality is refreshingly not assumed to be the default, yet sexism is very much present. Denna is stymied by rigid gender roles in her efforts to help investigate two royal murders blamed on reviled, magic-using rebels. Risky undercover excursions with Mare and cozy evenings à deux heighten the tension between the young women. The pace of the final chapters builds to a galloping crescendo as Denna must decide whether and how to be true both to her magical nature and her powerful feelings for Mare. The political machinations are somewhat repetitive and less compelling than the romance, but touches of humor lighten the journey.

A romantic fantasy that will appeal to those who appreciate character-driven novels. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-243325-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional

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CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

From the Legacy of Orisha series , Vol. 1

Seventeen-year-old Zélie and companions journey to a mythic island seeking a chance to bring back magic to the land of Orïsha, in a fantasy world infused with the textures of West Africa.

Dark-skinned Zélie is a divîner—someone with latent magical abilities indicated by the distinctive white hair that sets them apart from their countrymen. She saves Princess Amari, who is on the run from her father, King Saran, after stealing the scroll that can transform divîners into magic-wielding maji, and the two flee along with Zélie’s brother. The scroll vanished 11 years ago during the king’s maji genocide, and Prince Inan, Amari’s brother, is sent in hot pursuit. When the trio learns that the impending solstice offers the only chance of restoring magic through a connection to Nana Baruku, the maternal creator deity, they race against time—and Inan—to obtain the final artifact needed for their ritual. Over the course of the book allegiances shift and characters grow, change, and confront traumas culminating in a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment. Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great.

Powerful, captivating, and raw—Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional . (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17097-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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