Romance, issue book and spy novel—as varied an offering as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

BELLE'S SONG

Burdened by guilt over her father’s accident and seeking adventure, Belle Bellfounder joins a band of medieval pilgrims on a journey to Canterbury Cathedral, finding romance and danger along the way.

After her mother’s death and father’s crippling injury, Belle takes refuge in fairy tales, compulsive counting and self-harm. With little fanfare or preparation, she decides to travel to Canterbury and pray for her father’s recovery, a move that embroils her in romantic triangles, espionage and cross-class flirting. On the road, Belle garners the courteous attentions of Squire Walter de Pleasance, a charming young man with a dark secret, and Luke, a bespectacled scribe (to Chaucer) and a future monk with a most unholy temper. When Belle runs afoul of the truly vile Summoner Seekum—whose nauseatingly described exterior matches his lecherous, kleptomaniac and blackmailing personality—she finds herself entangled in political plots surrounding King Richard II. Grant (Blue Flame, 2008, etc.) demonstrates an affectionate and thorough knowledge of the source material (as seen in an author’s note and timeline), but Belle’s good fortune, self-absorption and inexplicable attractiveness cannot fully compensate for plot holes and underdeveloped characters; she is neither the most reliable nor sympathetic of narrators.

Romance, issue book and spy novel—as varied an offering as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2275-1

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture.

THE LAST LEGACY

Since the moment Bryn was born, she was destined to take her place among the Roths.

Even after her parents died and she was taken to live with her great-aunt Sariah in Nimsmire, far away from the filth of the big city and the infamous Roth reputation, Bryn was destined to eventually become wrapped up in her family’s less-than-proper line of work—which was the cause of her parents’ deaths. When she returns to the city of Bastian on her 18th birthday, something she has eagerly anticipated after growing up in a small city under Sariah’s watchful eye, she is finally forced to come to terms with her identity and assume her rightful position in her family’s mysterious business. This feat would have been difficult enough on its own, for Bryn isn’t accustomed to her family members’ crude behavior, but she certainly isn’t prepared to meet the handsome, strong, brooding silversmith in her family’s employ; Ezra Finch definitely complicates things. This fast-paced tale with a Victorian feeling is filled with an abundance of scandal, high fashion, intrigue, and, of course, romance. While the large cast of characters is at times difficult to keep straight and the plot-driven prose would have benefited from more worldbuilding detail, the delightfully swoonworthy love story will keep readers engaged and the pages turning eagerly as they hurtle toward the book’s satisfying conclusion. Characters are White by default.

An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture. (family tree) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-82372-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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