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WAIT FOR ME

Sweet romance at its (nearly) best.

With a workforce decimated by World War II, farms throughout the United Kingdom begin relying on Land Girls and prisoners of war for help, but when a German soldier arrives at Lorna’s family farm, he ends up being both an answer to prayer and a source of trouble for the Anderson family.

Seventeen-year-old Lorna dreams of seeing the world, but until the war is over and her brothers return, she is stuck working at Craigielaw. Her prospects for romance look equally bleak. At least until the army truck arrives delivering Paul, the quiet son of a German clockmaker. The two begin an uneasy friendship, which slowly morphs into something more. However, even if her father grudgingly approves of their relationship, the same cannot be said of the local villagers. Clandestine meetings and stolen kisses will satisfy die-hard romantics, while history buffs will be drawn in by the details of war-torn (and unsurprisingly largely white) Scotland. Further, the themes of prejudice, anger, and violence will resonate with readers familiar with current events. A few missteps, such as one-dimensional characters and a simplistic resolution, are not enough to destroy the magic of first love.

Sweet romance at its (nearly) best. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245988-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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LEGENDARY

From the Caraval series , Vol. 2

Dark, seductive, but over-the-top: Characters and book alike will enthrall those who choose to play.

Garber returns to the world of bestseller Caraval (2017), this time with the focus on younger, more daring sister Donatella.

Valenda, capital of the empire, is host to the second of Legend’s magical games in a single year, and while Scarlett doesn’t want to play again, blonde Tella is eager for a chance to prove herself. She is haunted by the memory of her death in the last game and by the cursed Deck of Destiny she used as a child which foretold her loveless future. Garber has changed many of the rules of her expanding world, which now appears to be infused with magic and evil Fates. Despite a weak plot and ultraviolet prose (“He tasted like exquisite nightmares and stolen dreams, like the wings of fallen angels, and bottles of fresh moonlight.”), this is a tour de force of imagination. Themes of love, betrayal, and the price of magic (and desire) swirl like Caraval’s enchantments, and Dante’s sensuous kisses will thrill readers as much as they do Tella. The convoluted machinations of the Prince of Hearts (one of the Fates), Legend, and even the empress serve as the impetus for Tella’s story and set up future volumes which promise to go bigger. With descriptions focusing primarily on clothing, characters’ ethnicities are often indeterminate.

Dark, seductive, but over-the-top: Characters and book alike will enthrall those who choose to play. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09531-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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SALT TO THE SEA

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful.

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January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens’ lives converge in hopes of escape.

Returning to the successful formula of her highly lauded debut, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys combines research (described in extensive backmatter) with well-crafted fiction to bring to life another little-known story: the sinking (from Soviet torpedoes) of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff. Told in four alternating voices—Lithuanian nurse Joana, Polish Emilia, Prussian forger Florian, and German soldier Alfred—with often contemporary cadences, this stints on neither history nor fiction. The three sympathetic refugees and their motley companions (especially an orphaned boy and an elderly shoemaker) make it clear that while the Gustloff was a German ship full of German civilians and soldiers during World War II, its sinking was still a tragedy. Only Alfred, stationed on the Gustloff, lacks sympathy; almost a caricature, he is self-delusional, unlikable, a Hitler worshiper. As a vehicle for exposition, however, and a reminder of Germany’s role in the war, he serves an invaluable purpose that almost makes up for the mustache-twirling quality of his petty villainy. The inevitability of the ending (including the loss of several characters) doesn’t change its poignancy, and the short chapters and slowly revealed back stories for each character guarantee the pages keep turning.

Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author’s note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16030-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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