Here’s hoping the second volume will prove a lighter hand and a truer heart.

BROKEN HEARTS, FENCES, AND OTHER THINGS TO MEND

In this first book of a series, a 16-year-old tries to repair a friendship she destroyed five years before.

Gemma’s summer begins with her sweet, steady boyfriend’s sudden decision to break up. Then circumstances require Gemma to leave her BFF and stay with her dad—in the Hamptons, a place that holds awful memories. It was here that 11-year-old Gemma, devastated by the possibility of her parents’ divorce, broke up her father and his new girlfriend, Karen, by doing horrendously mean things to her and her daughter, Hallie. Karen and her family return for vacation, and Gemma first runs into Josh, Hallie’s handsome brother, but due to her massive makeover, she goes unrecognized. It is then she decides to make it up to Hallie by doing a multitude of kind things for her. But soon Gemma’s falling for Josh, and the complex plot thickens. There is much for teen readers to like here: snappy and snippy dialogue, embarrassing situations, blossoming romance, pool parties and the constant tension of maintaining a secret. But the plot threads strain the moorings of credibility, and readers will have to be willing to suspend truckloads of disbelief to stay engaged. And due to the hefty infusion of mean-girl morality, it’s a challenge to stick by the main characters.

Here’s hoping the second volume will prove a lighter hand and a truer heart. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04524-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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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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