Suspenseful, exciting and endlessly entertaining.

THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL

From the Sunshine Girl series , Vol. 1

Paranormal activity threatens to consume the life of a not-so-average teenage girl.

In the wake of her 16th birthday, Sunshine and her mother move to the Pacific Northwest to start fresh. Spooky doings begin in the pair's new house almost immediately, but only Sunshine is able to truly feel the spirit's presence. With the help of her cute and artsy school chum, Nolan, Sunshine works to unravel the specter's mysteries before it’s too late. In doing so, Sunshine discovers some things about her past that set her on a path she could never have imagined. The author's adaptation of her popular YouTube series successfully translates the bumps and thrills fans will be looking for. The tone of the novel is neither grotesque horror nor cheap thrills but the sweet spot in between. It's important for a horror novel to be equal parts scary and fun, and the author achieves an excellent balance here. The book's final pages plant seeds for sequels, but if readers were to stop here, they would find themselves feeling quite satisfied, though further reading will be hard to resist. Sunshine's adventure is filled with bumps in the night and shadowy figures, alluding to a larger mystery and larger world that has plenty to offer imaginative readers who grew up on Goosebumps and the like. 

Suspenseful, exciting and endlessly entertaining. (Paranormal suspense. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60286-272-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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