A little patience pays ample dividends in a suspenseful tale wrought from power chords, creeping darkness, and disquieting...

LAST THINGS

A secret war comes to a small Minnesota town as teenagers fight both literal and figurative demons.

Lit up by the inspired writing and axe work of frontman Anders Thorson, the metal band Last Things has begun to draw more than local notice even though its members aren’t yet out of high school. But along with uneasy memories of a conversation with a strange visitor who left him with a guitar and a promise that all his dreams of rock stardom would be coming true, Anders is increasingly weighed down with a feeling that his wild talents came out of nowhere and could just as easily disappear. There’s something to that insight, it turns out—as in alternating chapters Thea, a peculiarly inconspicuous recent arrival, sees the seemingly ordinary town hemmed in by dark forces and Anders in imminent danger of surrendering to them out of ignorance. West (The Collectors, 2018, etc.) goes for a slow build while framing her two narrators as one music-smitten teen approaching a realistic stay-or-go crossroads in his life and another who could well be just an oddball….Anders eventually finds not only his music, but the very lives of everyone he cares about threatened. Fortunately, come the wild, scary climax, Thea turns out to be much more than she appears. The cast is evidently all white.

A little patience pays ample dividends in a suspenseful tale wrought from power chords, creeping darkness, and disquieting twists. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-287506-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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