As rich as quality chocolate.

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IN THE AGE OF LOVE AND CHOCOLATE

From the Birthright series , Vol. 3

Anya Balanchine comes into her own in business and in matters of the heart while circumventing the chocolate prohibition with her medicinal cacao nightclub in the multiple-year–spanning conclusion to the Birthright trilogy.

While her professional life is coming together as she and former enemy Charles Delacroix prepare for the grand opening of their cacao nightclub, the Dark Room, Anya’s personal relationships suffer. Win Delacroix can’t forgive her for working with his father, and he leaves New York to attend college away from Anya. Anya tries to do right by her sister, Natty, who’s going through a rough patch. Her cousin Mickey returns, looking for his missing wife, treacherous Sophia Bitter. And Anya’s mafiya Family actively disapproves of her attempts at legitimacy. A near-disaster on the eve of opening brings Anya’s cacao-supplying friend Theo from Mexico to the city, where he decides to stay on to help. There is less mob intrigue than in previous installments, as the primary focus is Anya’s coming-of-age. Her self-aware narrative, full of asides, foreshadows heavily, neutering some of the tension. Multiple suitors court Anya, and her responses demonstrate how she grapples with discovering what and who she wants in this most romance-focused book in the series. The sweet ending is tempered by Anya’s prickly personality, which stays true through all of her growth.

As rich as quality chocolate. (Thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-38075-5

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013

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A lackluster take on a well-worn trope.

THE TWIN

After a family tragedy, 16-year-old Ivy Mason hopes to reconnect with her aloof identical twin sister, Iris—but Iris has other plans.

When Ivy’s parents divorced 10 years ago, Ivy stayed with her father while Iris went to live with their mother. When their mother dies after falling off a bridge while jogging, Iris comes to live with Ivy and their father. Narrator Ivy is reeling (she even goes to therapy), but Iris seems strangely detached, only coming to life when Ivy introduces her to her best friends, Haley and Sophie, and her quarterback boyfriend, Ty. However, Ivy isn’t thrilled when Iris wants to change her class schedule to match hers, and it’s not long before Iris befriends Ivy’s besties and even makes plans with them that don’t include Ivy. Iris even joins the swim team where Ivy is a star swimmer. As Iris’ strange behavior escalates, Ivy starts to suspect that their mother’s death might not have been an accident. Is Iris up to no good, or is Ivy just paranoid? In the end, readers may not care. There are few surprises to be found in a narrative populated by paper-thin characters stuck fast in a derivative plot. Even a jarring final twist can’t save this one. Most characters seem to be white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters.

A lackluster take on a well-worn trope. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12496-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A probably harmless, entirely forgettable series opener.

THE SELECTION

From the Selection series , Vol. 1

It's a bad sign when you can figure out the elevator pitch for a novel from the get-go.

In this case, if it wasn't "The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games," it was pretty darn close. In a rigid, caste-based dystopian future, Illéa’s Prince Maxon has come of age and needs to marry. One girl will be chosen by lottery from each province to travel to the Capital and live in the palace so the prince can make his choice. The winning girl will become queen, and her family will all be elevated to Ones. America, a Five, doesn't want to join the Selection because she is in love with Aspen, a Six. But pressure from both her family and Aspen causes her to relent, and the rest is entirely predictable. She's chosen, she goes to the palace, she draws the ire of the other girls with her beauty and the interest of the prince with her spunky independence. Prince Maxon is much nicer than she expected, but she will remain loyal to Aspen. Maybe. Shabby worldbuilding complements the formulaic plot. Scant explanation is made for the ructions that have created the current political reality, and the palace is laughably vulnerable to rebels from both the North and the South, neither of whom are given any credible motives. But there's lots of descriptions of dresses.

A probably harmless, entirely forgettable series opener. (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-205993-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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