Dark, heavy, comfortably familiar reading for nonventuresome fans of the genre.


From the Falconer series , Vol. 2

Debutante-turned–savage fae-killer Aileana might finally get it on with her faery lover in this revelation-rich middle volume.

Though May cranks up the steam with a mix of increasingly passionate snogging and coyly interrupted words (“I’m quite fond of fu-”), it’s the gushes of blood and violence that keep her tale sliding along. With help from new ally Aithinne, smoldering fae Kiaran’s half-mad twin sister, Aileana escapes from her vampiric baobhan sìth captor, Lonnrach, and fights her way across now-ruined Scotland to join her human friends in hiding. Amid gore-spattered attacks, chases, and torture (someone is always bleeding), revelations about her lover’s dark past and encounters with the dying Cailleach, oldest fae of all, lead up to what would seem to be a decisive victory for Lonnrach and his monstrous hordes. But wait! There’s still a certain ancient lost book that might save the day. Though not as obviously derivative here as with trilogy opener Falconer (2014), the author continues to plug in familiar teen-fantasy tropes as she sets up a coming desperate struggle for the survival of both the fae and mundane realms. Thank goodness the scene-stealing pixie Derrick is still providing comic relief: “He left his scent all over you like piss on a tree.” A helpful “Bestiary” of the hard-to-pronounce fae cast is appended.

Dark, heavy, comfortably familiar reading for nonventuresome fans of the genre. (Fantasy. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2882-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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Bound to be popular.


From the Ember in the Ashes series , Vol. 1

A suddenly trendy trope—conflict and romance between members of conquering and enslaved races—enlivened by fantasy elements loosely drawn from Arabic tradition (another trend!).

In an original, well-constructed fantasy world (barring some lazy naming), the Scholars have lived under Martial rule for 500 years, downtrodden and in many cases enslaved. Scholar Laia has spent a lifetime hiding her connection to the Resistance—her parents were its leaders—but when her grandparents are killed and her brother’s captured by Masks, the eerie, silver-faced elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, Laia must go undercover as a slave to the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy, where Martials are trained for battle. Meanwhile, Elias, the Commandant’s not-at-all-beloved son, wants to run away from Blackcliff, until he is named an Aspirant for the throne by the mysterious red-eyed Augurs. Predictably, action, intrigue, bloodshed and some pounding pulses follow; there’s betrayal and a potential love triangle or two as well. Sometimes-lackluster prose and a slight overreliance on certain kinds of sexual violence as a threat only slightly diminish the appeal created by familiar (but not predictable) characters and a truly engaging if not fully fleshed-out fantasy world.

Bound to be popular. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-803-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)


From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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