Only for those with spare funds or spare time.

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THE GLASS SPARE

From the Glass Spare series

A princess struggles to cope with newfound powers in DeStefano’s most recent venture.

Fifteen-year-old Wil, the white fourth child and only daughter of Arrod’s royal family, has always known her place within her family. As the final spare in her family’s lineage, she knows she doesn’t serve a great purpose for her family—unlike Owen, the heir, or Gerdie, the sickly alchemist/inventor. But everything changes for Wil when, in a moment of self-defense, she discovers a power she didn’t know she had: with any adrenaline rush, she’s able, with a Midas-like touch, to fatally turn any living thing into a gemstone. Realizing that she, like Gerdie, could become a pawn in her power-hungry father’s war games, she keeps her powers a secret—until she accidentally kills one of her brothers in front of their father and is promptly banished. But soon she’s kidnapped by a pair of rebels, including the enemy kingdom’s banished prince Loom, and they rope her into their assassination plot, while brown-skinned Loom worms his way into her heart. While the finale clearly leads to a sequel, uneven pacing and a distant third-person narration make investment in these fairly generic characters difficult. A choppy mix of fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk (curses and “paralysis bullets,” newfangled “electric carriages” and solar panels, dirigibles and “data goggles”) leaves the worldbuilding hazy, while classic themes of monstrosity and humanity, science versus magic go underexplored.

Only for those with spare funds or spare time. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249128-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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