A frothy tale that mixes a whodunit and a teen romance with knights and prophecies.


Holding Court

A reluctant psychic stumbles across a murder most foul in this debut YA novel.

The aptly named Jules Verity comes from a family of “gifted” women. Her grandmother reads auras, her mother reads objects, and Jules makes psychic predictions. Unfortunately, she blurts out prophecies that are often ill-timed and difficult to understand (for example, “the Hepplewhite hides the boogers”). Jules needs a summer job and winds up playing the Mad Maid of Kent at Tudor Times, a local Renaissance-themed, dinner-theater experience. Jules’ random predictions align perfectly with her role as a crazy psychic nun, and she gets to work in proximity to her longtime crush, the swoon-worthy Grayson Chandler. The good news: Grayson is handsome and loves The Princess Bride. The bad news: he thinks Jules is nuts, and he already has the perfect girlfriend, Bree Blair. Yet Jules’ concerns about her love life take a back seat when she stumbles across a body in a secret passageway. The body quickly disappears, and no one believes her until another one is discovered and Jules becomes a target and suspect. Grayson, a Tudor Times knight-in-training, gets the task of guarding Jules, although it turns out it may be her heart that needs protection. The novel is a sweet and entertaining concoction despite the presence of murder and intrigue. Jules is a funny, often cringeworthy heroine who believes her tendency to let loose bizarre prophecies makes her a freak. Swap out Jules’ supernatural talents for body issues or acne and the reader has a relatable and archetypal teen. Held does an admirable job of crossing genres; the budding romance between Grayson and Jules is enjoyable to watch unfold, while Held’s murder mystery is a satisfying whodunit. The setting at a Medieval Times-like destination in a town called Lunevale adds another dose of humor. Held incorporates a quirky cast of characters, such as Floyd the Keeper and King Henry VIII, re-enactors who spend their lives in character and provide subtle foils to Jules, who may not be the crazy one after all.

A frothy tale that mixes a whodunit and a teen romance with knights and prophecies. 

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63375-227-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing.


For the second time in her life, Leo must choose between her family and true love.

Nineteen-year-old Princess Leonie Kolburg’s royal family is bankrupt. In order to salvage the fortune they accrued before humans fled the frozen Earth 170 years ago, Leonie’s father is forcing her to participate in the Valg Season, an elaborate set of matchmaking events held to facilitate the marriages of rich and royal teens. Leo grudgingly joins in even though she has other ideas: She’s invented a water filtration system that, if patented, could provide a steady income—that is if Leo’s calculating Aunt Freja, the Captain of the ship hosting the festivities, stops blocking her at every turn. Just as Leo is about to give up hope, her long-lost love, Elliot, suddenly appears onboard three years after Leo’s family forced her to break off their engagement. Donne (Brightly Burning, 2018) returns to space, this time examining the fascinatingly twisted world of the rich and famous. Leo and her peers are nuanced, deeply felt, and diverse in terms of sexuality but not race, which may be a function of the realities of wealth and power. The plot is fast paced although somewhat uneven: Most of the action resolves in the last quarter of the book, which makes the resolutions to drawn-out conflicts feel rushed.

A thrilling romance that could use more even pacing. (Science fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-94894-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Garrett’s failure to produce any sympathetic characters makes her debut tough going.


Burglaries turn deadly for a group of spoiled teenagers.

Harper, Alex, Sarah, Paisley, Benji, and Gin come from similarly privileged homes. Their parents make up for a lack of commitment to their high school offspring by providing unfettered access to life’s material benefits: cars, clothes, and costly vacations. When getting drunk on booze filched from their folks’ well-stocked liquor cabinets palls, they invent an exciting new game. Each time one of the teens’ families goes skiing in Vail or snorkeling in the Bahamas, a designated member of the pack breaks into the unattended house and collects an assortment of trophies to be pawned for ready cash. The rules of the looting are strict. Only one member breaks into each house, nothing is to be stolen that can’t be replaced with insurance money, and nothing stolen from other members of the group. Harper adds one more rule: no stealing from her deaf sister, Maggie. After one full round of felonious fun, the wheels start to come off the crime spree. Sarah dies from a drug overdose. The police can’t decide if it’s an accident or suicide, but Harper is sure it’s neither. She thinks Sarah is too smart to overdose on her own and too conceited to kill herself. And since no one outside her little group exists for Harper, one of her fellow thieves must have killed her. Going to the authorities is a no-go because it would reveal the group’s role in the burglaries and spoil their chances of admission to an Ivy League college. So Harper and her chums sit around and wait to see if anything else bad happens. It does. Unfortunately, even Harper’s protectiveness toward her sister carries its own whiff of smugness.

Garrett’s failure to produce any sympathetic characters makes her debut tough going.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-929345-30-4

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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