Teenage mage Channie Kerns struggles to overcome two curses—one cast by her parents to change her power-name and another keeping her from being with the nonmagical boy she has come to love.

In Abel’s world, mages live among magically disabled people (or “Empties”), mostly in hiding, and each has a power-name that denotes what kind of magic the individual wields. In Channie’s case, her father’s unfortunate power-name is Money, and his gambling addiction drives his family away from their hometown when he incurs the wrath of the powerful mage queen by casting a spell on her horse during a race. Channie’s troubles don’t end there, though; not only does she now have to blend in with the Empties at a new school in suburban Colorado, but her parents grossly overreact to her flirtation with some boys and cast a curse to change her power-name from Enchantment to Chastity. This plan only serves to increase Channie’s desire—for one boy in particular: Josh Abrim, a BMX racer who, despite being “zapped” by Channie’s new chaste powers any time lustful feelings surge, is unwaveringly drawn to her. From their first meeting on, the novel’s storyline descends into the overly familiar push-pull of confused teenage emotions regarding sex and love. Conflicts such as Channie’s runaway sister and her father’s gambling debt fall by the wayside as Channie’s main concern becomes how to overcome her new power-name and other curses thrown her way that keep her from physical intimacy with Josh. After Channie uncovers a secret Josh has been hiding from her, she hitchhikes back to her hometown with the hopes of freeing herself from a curse she had unwittingly enacted. The consequences of this journey lead to the novel’s fairly predictable conclusion. Although Abel adeptly describes the all-consuming, tangled feelings of teenage passion, readers hoping for magic and adventure will find the back-and-forth, melodramatic teenage jealousy wearisome. Plotlines and character development are sacrificed for pages of seductive glances, self-imposed restrictive cuddling and arguments about how appropriate it is to act on their desires. But these situations will undoubtedly appeal to fans looking for another Twilight-influenced teen paranormal romance. Abel’s novel starts imaginatively, but in the end magic mostly serves to add further fuel to the flames of teenage lust in an overly familiar story of young, fervent first love.


Pub Date: June 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463632090

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2011

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...


Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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