Lukewarm and unremarkable.

INNOCENT

From the Secrets series

A young woman loses everything and must plumb her past before she can build a new life for herself.

When a fire destroys the Ontario orphanage Betty has called home for most of her life, she is sent to Kingston to work for the city’s most wealthy and influential family. Shortly after taking up her new position, Betty discovers her mother was also a maid for the Remington household prior to her death at the hands of Betty’s father 14 years before. After a visit to her mother’s grave, a curious Betty faces her imprisoned father, who insists he’s innocent. Subsequently, Betty enlists her cop boyfriend, David, to help her dig up the facts about what really happened to her mother. Although Betty is slow to pick up the clues, readers will realize the truth before she does (see the book's title). The 1964 setting appears arbitrary, established by the book’s relationship to the others in the Secrets series rather than narrative needs; period details are few, and without consistent time-appropriate cultural references, the resulting story feels anachronistic to today’s readers. The plot moves quickly, but the conclusion is tidy and clichéd. The big reveal—who killed Betty’s mother and why—unfolds more like the unveiling of a vaudeville villain (sans twirling mustache) than a dramatic novel.

Lukewarm and unremarkable. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0665-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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