Read it for Taylor’s journey but not for anything deeper.

DEFENDING TAYLOR

From the Hundred Oaks series

When a Tennessee senator’s daughter is expelled from her posh prep school, she faces challenges at her new, public high school.

Seventeen-year-old Taylor, a white girl, has always been the perfect student. She’s an ace soccer player, maintains a 4.2 grade point average, and has an SAT score of 1520. She’s determined to follow family tradition by going to Yale and then working in its investment business—but now she has to do it without Dad’s help, and the classes at her new school don’t compare with those at her private school. Meanwhile, a possible romance looms with her childhood heartthrob Ezra, also white and well-to-do. But she can’t shake the stigma of expulsion. She was found with drugs, and she can tell no one that she was actually covering up for her boyfriend, Ben, so the white boy would not lose his scholarship. She carries on as best she can, but she finds herself wondering if she even knows what she really wants. Worse, will Taylor’s mistake have an impact on her father’s re-election? Kenneally effectively evokes the stress experienced by the college-bound, including drug use to enhance performance. She also explores class issues—but not racial ones—as Taylor adjusts to her new school, but this exploration is undercut by the way Ezra and Ben are played off each other.

Read it for Taylor’s journey but not for anything deeper. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3008-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume.

THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 2

Evangeline faces new dangers in her quest for happiness in this follow-up to 2021’s Once Upon a Broken Heart.

As Evangeline Fox seeks a cure for her poisoned husband, Prince Apollo, the enticing and infuriating Fate Jacks reappears, offering to save Apollo if she unlocks the Valory Arch. Remembering the long list of ills brought upon her by the Fate, Evangeline refuses. When the new heir arrives and Apollo wakes with a new curse and glowing red eyes, she is forced to delve into the mysteries of the Valors and find the arch’s four missing magical stones whose powers are luck, truth, mirth, and youth. The inclusion of expanded Valor lore alongside the preexisting blend of fairy-tale and paranormal creatures is intriguing and fits the overarching theme of storytelling as history. The ongoing use of emotions as a scale for displaying and determining one’s humanity, especially by Fates, is equally interesting. Unfortunately, the impact of Evangeline’s often amusing narration and numerous surprising plot twists is diluted by the meandering pacing, convoluted sensory descriptions, and close focus on Evangeline’s fluctuating attraction toward her potential love interests. Despite the positive emphasis on hope and happily-ever-afters, Evangeline’s romantic relationship with Jacks borders on manipulative and toxic. Evangeline reads White; side characters are fantasy diverse.

A disappointing delivery on a potentially gripping second volume. (map) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-26842-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.

THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE

The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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