In the end, readers will be left scratching their heads wondering what actually happened and, worse, whether they even care....

HALFLINGS

If this novel were a holiday, it would undoubtedly be New Year’s Eve—full of the promise of fun and romance, but a whopping disappointment in the end.

The first book of a planned trilogy begins with 17-year-old Nikki Youngblood running for her life, a pack of hellhounds gnashing at her heels. Luckily, three half-human, half-angel hunks are looking on and rush to her rescue. Though it is unclear why Nikki is the target of such nefarious forces (an issue that is never satisfactorily resolved), the Halflings assume responsibility for her protection and attempt to uncover the truth about dark and mysterious happenings in her Missouri town. Unfortunately, the balance between questions raised and answers given is maddeningly uneven. The narrative is riddled with clichés and clunky descriptions (hair “dancing in waves as if orchestrating a dance,” for example) that weigh the storytelling down. Even a good, old-fashioned love triangle can’t save the story from itself. Bad boy Raven’s lust for Nikki is at least in character, but it is nearly impossible to comprehend how the virtuous Mace could fall so hard, so fast and with so little explanation, especially when it could damn him.

In the end, readers will be left scratching their heads wondering what actually happened and, worse, whether they even care. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0310728184

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Zondervan

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A charming Jewish love story set against the bleak backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition.

THE POETRY OF SECRETS

In Trujillo, in the Spanish Kingdom of Castile in 1481, Isabel is a Crypto-Jew; she and her family maintain their Jewish faith in secret.

The Inquisition is gaining control, but 16-year-old Isabel, who has a passion for writing poetry, thinks that as New Christians her family is safe. The family converted to Christianity and were baptized in the hope of making their lives easier and more secure. However, like many other Jews in Spain at the time, they privately practice Judaism—attending church on Sundays but conducting Shabbat dinners every Friday night. They think their secret is safe, but the head Inquisitor, Fray Tomás Torquemada, is now targeting conversos for their private Judaizing. When Isabel is betrothed against her will to the powerful and ruthless alguacil, or sheriff, Don Sancho, Isabel’s parents believe that the upcoming marriage will save them from persecution. But when handsome aristocrat Diego warns Isabel that she is in grave danger from the Inquisition and especially from her husband-to-be, Isabel is determined to save her family, herself, and the man she loves—and live an openly Jewish life filled with poetry. This historical romance is a fast-paced, plot-driven tale with feminist main characters whom readers will root for from the very beginning.

A charming Jewish love story set against the bleak backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition. (author’s note, photos, research notes, poetry citations, further reading) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-63418-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A simply real story, devoid of clichés, that will leave an indelible mark.

AN EMOTION OF GREAT DELIGHT

Shadi’s life is slowly falling apart: Her best friend, Zahra, doesn’t talk to her anymore, and her parents are dealing with grief and depression in the aftermath of her brother Mehdi’s sudden death.

It’s 2003, and all of this is compounded by the hatred Shadi receives every day at school for being Iranian American and a hijabi. The lack of support leaves Shadi struggling to keep afloat. She’s behind in her classes and exhausted because she often stays up at night listening to her mother’s agonizing despair over losing Mehdi. Her father, once a healthy, fit man, recently had a second heart attack, and Shadi’s sister, Shayda, has taken over running the house. Everyone is so mired in their own trauma and pain that Shadi, the youngest, often finds herself forgotten, both literally and figuratively. The expectation of keeping one’s home life private and of separating the political from the personal are themes throughout the book. Woven through this story of trauma and resilience is a soft romance between Shadi and Zahra’s brother, Ali. Mafi confronts issues of mental health, suicidality, racism, and self-love in ways that will leave readers reacting viscerally and powerfully. Reading this novel is like being dropped straight into the everyday lives of a Muslim family in post–9/11 America.

A simply real story, devoid of clichés, that will leave an indelible mark. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-297241-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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