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BETTING GAME

From the Orca Sports series

Hard-hitting (if a little heavily reliant on suspension of belief) and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think...

O’Connor tackles a tough one: a high school soccer star caught in a web of gambling.

Jack and his brother, Alex, attend a soccer academy, the kind of institution that grooms students for professional-level play. Their team is a contender for the national championship, but they have just lost their best player to the professional leagues, and a new ringer isn’t fitting in with the team. O’Connor will keep the game’s fans close with plenty of in-the-know soccer patter, but she will also draw other readers with the story of Jack’s slow absorption into a gambling ring. Luka, a flashy Ukrainian with money to burn (a casting choice that falls perilously close to prejudicial stereotyping), befriends Jack, greasing the relationship with some valuable gifts. Readers may find it hard to believe that Jack doesn’t realize every word he drops in Luka’s ear about his senior-division team—who is hurting, who is away for a game—is fodder for Luka’s gambling operation. But Jack does know all about the operation, especially how easy it is to go into debt when the interest is compounded. Jack, Alex, and an unexpected compatriot set up a sting, but not before Luka makes some grisly threats.

Hard-hitting (if a little heavily reliant on suspension of belief) and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think crime is a sport and a joke. (Sports fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0930-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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LEGENDARY

From the Caraval series , Vol. 2

Dark, seductive, but over-the-top: Characters and book alike will enthrall those who choose to play.

Garber returns to the world of bestseller Caraval (2017), this time with the focus on younger, more daring sister Donatella.

Valenda, capital of the empire, is host to the second of Legend’s magical games in a single year, and while Scarlett doesn’t want to play again, blonde Tella is eager for a chance to prove herself. She is haunted by the memory of her death in the last game and by the cursed Deck of Destiny she used as a child which foretold her loveless future. Garber has changed many of the rules of her expanding world, which now appears to be infused with magic and evil Fates. Despite a weak plot and ultraviolet prose (“He tasted like exquisite nightmares and stolen dreams, like the wings of fallen angels, and bottles of fresh moonlight.”), this is a tour de force of imagination. Themes of love, betrayal, and the price of magic (and desire) swirl like Caraval’s enchantments, and Dante’s sensuous kisses will thrill readers as much as they do Tella. The convoluted machinations of the Prince of Hearts (one of the Fates), Legend, and even the empress serve as the impetus for Tella’s story and set up future volumes which promise to go bigger. With descriptions focusing primarily on clothing, characters’ ethnicities are often indeterminate.

Dark, seductive, but over-the-top: Characters and book alike will enthrall those who choose to play. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-09531-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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10 BLIND DATES

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

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 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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