Rife with atmosphere, adventure and romance, this is a fantasy world worth getting lost in for a while.

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RAVENCLIFFE

From the Blythewood series , Vol. 2

Half-breed Darkling Avaline Hall makes a triumphant return in the second installment of the Blythewood series.

Readers will be reunited with Ava a mere two months after her first, nearly fatal victory over the Shadow Master, Judicus van Drood. But when young girls begin to mysteriously disappear, it becomes clear that van Drood and his shadow demons are back and more determined than ever to see darkness prevail. Shrouded in mist and mystery, turn-of-the-20th-century New York again provides an atmospheric backdrop as Ava and her friends, both human and mystical, realize they must break down the walls of prejudice and join forces if they hope to win the battle against van Drood. That’s easier said than done, as secrets abound, and the desire to conceal them threatens to destroy the alliance before it’s even formed. Ava herself, having felt like an outcast for so long, struggles to conceal the undeniable truth of her half-breed blood and her love for the Darkling boy named Raven. Though the tale and its message are sometimes heavy-handed, readers will readily relate to Ava and the other characters who struggle to embrace their differences and to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

Rife with atmosphere, adventure and romance, this is a fantasy world worth getting lost in for a while. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-670-78477-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale.

LEGACY AND THE QUEEN

A 12-year-old girl living in a kingdom ruled by a mysterious queen dreams of attaining her sport’s highest prize.

Legacy Petrin lives and works in the financially strapped orphanage in the provinces run by her father and rises early every day to practice tennis with her old racket. After her best friend, Van, excitedly tells her about a scholarship competition for a spot at an esteemed academy and the opportunity to try out for the national championships, Legacy runs away to the city to compete. After winning, she learns there is still much she doesn’t know: The players are not just proficient in tennis, but also have magical skills that they use to their advantage. Legacy befriends Pippa, a knowledgeable girl from an elite tennis family, and acquires a builder, or coach, Javi. With Pippa and Javi at her side, Legacy makes her way through the competition, despite sabotage attempts, learning secrets about her own family along the way. Legacy is a strong character, and the secondary characters also have interesting backstories. The storyline is reminiscent of other dystopian stories, but centering tennis—with lively descriptions of matches that give a strong sense of the sport—is an unusual touch. Most characters are white, although Javi is brown-skinned, and some other characters of color are mentioned.

Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-03-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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