Clever machines, well-drawn relationships of varying constellations, literal death traps and world-threatening intrigue,...

SHADOW OF THE WAR MACHINE

From the Secret Order series , Vol. 3

The high-stakes conclusion of Meg’s quest to become an Amusementist and find her missing grandfather.

Resourceful Meg overcame her low station in The Legacy of the Clockwork Key (2013) and defeated naysayers as an Academy apprentice in Rise of the Arcane Fire (2014), but her possible future—be it in the Order or marriage—won’t matter if the mysterious man with the clockwork mask gets her first. Meg’s classmates rally to help; they find a lead not just to her longtime antagonist, but also potentially to her grandfather. Two obstacles would prevent her from chasing the lead. First, there are matters of propriety and the potentially irreparable damage that can be done to a young lady’s reputation through misadventure. The second challenge is temporal. To follow that critical lead, she must travel from London to France—but just six days hence, the man with the clockwork mask sails for America from England and she must attend the New Year’s Eve Amusementist meeting to swear her oath to the Academy or risk losing her spot as an apprentice (and future as an Amusementist). Meg’s personal ambitions and yearnings for freedom prevent the romantic storyline from devolving into a love triangle, and her frustrations with societal conventions make her sympathetic while adding drama and upping the stakes.

Clever machines, well-drawn relationships of varying constellations, literal death traps and world-threatening intrigue, headlined by an aspirational heroine, make this a winner. (Steampunk. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6805-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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