Despite some pacing hiccups, a series ender packed with action, scary enemies, and satisfying character arcs.

HEART OF THE STORM

From the Undertow Trilogy series , Vol. 3

Half-human, half-Sirena white teenager Lyric faces the biggest threat to the world yet in this trilogy closer.

The story jumps timelines by chapters that alternate between a present time and the three months between the present time and the end of Raging Sea (2016). In the present, a shell-shocked Lyric has clearly been through hell but has emerged again from the depths of the ocean, bearing terrible news of a new existential threat, far worse than the Rusalka or Undine. In the three-months-prior storyline, Lyric encounters an intelligent Rusalka who keeps her alive in the face of mad Minerva’s wrath and helps her learn more about Alpha mythology and the magic gloves that tether her to Husk. The alternating storylines don’t always work well together—the present one prevents surprises in the past storyline and unnecessarily prolongs the wait for details on the long-hinted-at threat. Once Lyric reunites with her cast of supporting characters and their land-based enemies start moving, the story picks up. The romantic storyline starts with the love triangle between Lyric and stoic Alpha warrior-prince Fathom and the sweet, hot geek hybrid Riley but then concludes in a way that’s as unexpected as it is satisfying, coinciding with character growth and development.

Despite some pacing hiccups, a series ender packed with action, scary enemies, and satisfying character arcs. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-34867-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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What should feel epic and romantic winds up dull and uninspired.

A THOUSAND HEARTBEATS

Star-crossed lovers are on opposing sides of an impending war.

Annika, the princess of Kadier, believes in the love of fairy tales but knows it’s not in her future since her father demanded she marry to secure a political alliance. Not too far from their kingdom, there is a growing army of those who believe Kadier rightfully belonged to their ancestors, and they plan to reclaim it. When stoic, hardened soldier Lennox is given the opportunity to prove himself, he makes a plan to sneak into the kingdom. Neither Annika nor Lennox is prepared for the ways their lives and those of everyone around them will forever be changed upon their meeting. They start as enemies, but their hearts have other ideas, and soon their love is impossible to ignore. This stand-alone fantasy romance shifts between the two protagonists’ points of view, giving readers access to the interior lives of both. Patience is required, as the tale is slow to start; it finds its footing eventually, but readers may find it to be too little, too late. Much of the narrative feels bloated with story yet hollow in characterization and emotional depth. Even moments meant to evoke big emotions, like important deaths or grand romantic gestures, wind up falling flat since there’s not enough substance to give them weight. Characters are assumed White.

What should feel epic and romantic winds up dull and uninspired. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-266578-2

Page Count: 576

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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A powerful tale of found family and first love.

SOME MISTAKES WERE MADE

After a year away, Ellis returns home to confront her past.

Graduating from high school far from everything familiar was not part of Ellis Truman’s original plans, but she nevertheless ended up spending her senior year with her aunt in California. In Indiana, Ellis practically grew up with the Albrey family and their three tightknit sons, Dixon, Tucker, and Easton. Now, Tucker wants her to return home for matriarch Sandry Albrey’s 50th birthday celebration on the Fourth of July—but Ellis is dreading seeing Easton, as they haven’t talked since she left. Chapters alternate between past and present, and much of the story unravels slowly: How did she come to live with the Albreys? What caused Ellis to then end up in San Diego? What happened in her relationship with Easton? Patient readers will find the heartfelt tension pays off. With her father in and out of jail and an absent mother, socio-economic differences separating Ellis from the middle-class Albreys don’t go unnoticed, and Ellis’ down-to-earth journey shows how she unpacks her feelings about her relationship with her parents. The slow-build romance is swoonworthy, and young adult fans of Colleen Hoover seeking emotional devastation and unforgettable characters will find much to enjoy here. Characters read as White.

A powerful tale of found family and first love. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308853-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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