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GOING BICOASTAL

A sweet and joyful romance times two.

Natalya Fox is ready for change but afraid of making the wrong decision; luckily she doesn’t have to choose in this parallel-timelines rom-com à la Sliding Doors.

Seventeen-year-old Natalya Fox has been given the choice of spending the summer at home with her father in New York City or moving in with her mother in Los Angeles. Manhattan is the safer option and would keep Natalya in her all-too-familiar comfort zone, but it does come with the possibility of romance with the girl Natalya has been crushing on for ages, known to her only as the Redhead due to Natalya’s inability to introduce herself. Los Angeles offers an internship and a chance to reconnect with her mother, and the other new intern, a boy her mom describes as cute, could be an unexpected perk. So Natalya makes her choice—and then she makes her other choice. Split between two parallel timelines, the novel shows readers Natalya falling in love, exploring her post-graduation plans, and finding new ways of connecting with her parents in both cities. Each of the timelines is exciting and heartwarming, although the Los Angeles love interest reads as more complex than the one back East, and the New York storyline lacks significant conflict, giving the West Coast one more depth overall. Bisexual Natalya is Jewish, and subjects such as keeping kosher, being queer and Jewish, and observing Shabbat are thoughtfully woven in.

A sweet and joyful romance times two. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9781250871640

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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