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HOW TO WIN A BREAKUP

A charming romance about gaming, baking, and finding yourself after heartbreak.

When Toronto gamer nerd Samaya meets hockey jock Daniel, sparks fly—but will Samaya’s desire for revenge ruin her happily-ever-after?

After Samaya Janmohammad’s boyfriend, Devin Kapadia, dumps her and sabotages her summer plans, she begins senior year unsure how to get back on track as a top student. When her guidance counselor suggests completing her community service hours by helping with a bake sale to support a family shelter, she meets Daniel Ramos, an athlete with a penchant for baking. When Samaya sees a chance to get back at Devin by proving she’s moved on, she and Daniel make a fake-dating pact: She’ll tutor him in calculus, and he’ll pretend to be her boyfriend. But as Samaya teaches Daniel to be the perfect gamer-nerd boyfriend, and he teaches her how to bake, their relationship begins to feel like it might not be so fake anymore. Heron keeps their sweet romance interesting—Samaya is a perfectly flawed character who eventually realizes her privilege and grows; Daniel, the always smiling loyal hunk with a heartbreaking past, feels a little too perfect, however. Samaya’s Indian grandparents emigrated from Nairobi and are Ismaili Muslim; Devin’s Hindu parents are from Mumbai, and Daniel is Filipino Canadian. Readers familiar with Heron’s 2021 novel, Tahira in Bloom, which centered Samaya’s older sister, will enjoy spending more time with the Janmohammad family.

A charming romance about gaming, baking, and finding yourself after heartbreak. (recipe) (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5420-3608-5

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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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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