Fans of The Dolls will be quite satisfied with this installment and eager to see what’s next.

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MIDNIGHT DOLLS

From the Dolls series , Vol. 2

Sullivan’s sequel to The Dolls (2014) finds fledgling voodoo queen Eveny Cheval fighting to save the lives of those she loves.

Brand new to the magic scene, Eveny finds herself pulled in different directions, claimed and courted by both her mother’s magical community and her father’s. She also can’t decide between Caleb, whose role as her protector makes their union forbidden, and Bram, with whom she feels an intense, inexplicable (at least at first) connection. As a queen of two magical traditions, Eveny finds herself in an unprecedented position. She must boldly chart her own course, and she has to do it fast, because practitioners of magic are being hunted down, and everyone close to Eveny is a target. Indeed, the mothers of her sister queens are murdered in a grisly scene that confirms that the threat is real and the stakes are high. Although elements of the plot still feel a bit forced, the storyline hangs together and the tension builds more successfully here than in the debut volume. The biggest change, though, is that Eveny’s glamorous, superficial sister queens show some heart, and Eveny grows in empathy and confidence, making it easier to root for all of them.

Fans of The Dolls will be quite satisfied with this installment and eager to see what’s next. (Supernatural thriller. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-228150-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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