JESSE'S GIRL

From the Hundred Oaks series

Maya lives for rock music, so when she gets the chance to shadow a country music star for career day, she isn’t impressed.

At 17, Maya is already certain that she wants to become a professional musician, but she has serious stage fright. Although she has by far the most talent, she sings backup in the band she started. When she first meets Jesse, only 18 but already a three-time Grammy winner, she finds him obnoxious. Still, she realizes that spending a day with a professional can help her learn about the music business, and Jesse actually does know a great deal about his craft. When he talks her into playing guitar for him, he spots Maya’s real talent but also sees where she can improve. Once their career day starts, they manage to break the ice and ditch the schedule and, by the end of the day, find a real attraction for one another. They appear to be heading for romance, until Maya gets the chance to compete on the television show that started Jesse’s career. All may not go as planned. Kenneally displays a reasonable expertise with popular music but an even better hand at writing an absorbing story. Although the plot at first seems clichéd with its poor-girl–meets-star theme, she creates two characters who come across as real individuals, making the plot seem plausible.

Highly enjoyable. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8482-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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