Following on the heels (or maybe wings) of The Sweet Dead Life (2013), Jenna, now 15, is hoping for a little calm in her...

THE A-WORD

From the Sweet Dead Life series , Vol. 2

Sassy, smart-mouthed, cowboy-boot fan Jenna Samuels is back once again, fighting evildoers with the aid of her angelic cohorts.

Following on the heels (or maybe wings) of The Sweet Dead Life (2013), Jenna, now 15, is hoping for a little calm in her life—but wherever Jenna goes, trouble seems to follow. Her newly deceased-cum-angel brother, Casey, and his equally angelic mentor, Amber Velasco, are still earthbound. Jenna decides to try to help figure out exactly what caused Amber’s untimely demise; could that be what’s keeping her and Casey from moving along? Together with a roguish angel named Bo Shivers, they soon find themselves embroiled in yet another nefarious plot, related by Jenna with her signature angst in journal entries. While this sequel has many of the elements that made its predecessor so much fun, the mystery feels contrived, and it unravels at a glacial pace. The big reveal—which follows a surfeit of vague, portentous remarks—is too similar to the last installment’s to satisfy. Those who enjoyed the previous paranormal-without-romance aspect, be warned: Jenna now finds love, and while her new beau is quite the character, much of her narrative revolves dizzyingly around her romance. This series seems to be in a bit of a sophomore slump; here’s hoping subsequent volumes will again take flight. (Paranormal fiction. 13-16) .

This series seems to be in a bit of a sophomore slump; here’s hoping subsequent volumes will again take flight(Paranormal fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61695-290-7

Page Count: 259

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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