An action-packed love story with even more twists and turns than its prequel.

REBELS DIVIDED

In Erlick’s sequel to The Rebel Within (2013), tensions mount even higher when a young girl and boy begin an illicit relationship in a female-ruled society.

Followers of the series will be more than happy to find Annabelle Scott just as feisty and zealous as she was when last they saw her. Before she’s sent on a high-priority mission to capture a boy dangerous to their female-dominated, sexist society, she learns in a surprise twist that she’s to be part of an arranged marriage with Thane Edwards in order for the region of Tenn-tucky to make an alliance with the Outland, Thane’s people. Disgusted by this, Annabelle goes on her mission along with her beloved sister, Janine, and her former nemesis, Dara. Everything takes a turn for the worse when Janine is captured by the Rangers, a brutal, hostile male force in the Outland. The Rangers leave Annabelle with no choice but to take off her mech suit, thus losing nearly all her power. She wakes up on Thane Edwards’ estate and narrowly escapes before finding refuge with Geo, her adopted mother’s biological son who’s also a freedom fighter against both the Rangers and Tenn-tucky’s sexist, militaristic rule. After Geo loses his father to the Rangers, he and Annabelle hesitantly come to trust and rely on each other, as Annabelle desperately searches for her sister and Geo wishes to avenge his father’s death. They come to realize that much more holds them together than they initially thought. Like its prequel, this engrossing YA novel keeps readers on their toes. In this volume, the magnetic love between Annabelle and Geo is especially intriguing. Both raised in a society where the other sex is not to be trusted, they’re initially surprised and somewhat horrified to find how attracted to one another they are. Although, as a whole, the novel reads well with a great sense of pace and excitement, in a few instances the plot points and emotions can be overstated. For example, Annabelle’s concerns—“She hoped [Geo] hadn’t misled her. She didn’t think so; he acted too sweet and smitten” —almost defuse the sparks between them. Rather than diving into both Annabelle’s and Geo’s perspectives, a bit more emotional mystery would have made the novel even stronger.

An action-packed love story with even more twists and turns than its prequel.

Pub Date: June 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988996830

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Finlee Augare Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2013

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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