Despite the author’s obvious love of Shakespeare, this offering achieves only inanity.

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KISSING SHAKESPEARE

The only thing that’s not predictable about this time-travel romance is its exceptionally silly premise.

Stephen Langford, a 16th-century time traveler, has a vision that the 17-year-old William Shakespeare may opt to join the priesthood instead of going on to write his plays and sonnets. So he travels to 21st-century Boston, where he plucks Miranda Graham, scion of a Shakespearean acting family, to go back to 1581 Lancashire with him to seduce Shakespeare. Mm-hmmm. Posing as Stephen’s sister Olivia, Miranda infiltrates the household of Stephen’s uncle, a closet Catholic who is housing both fledgling schoolmaster Shakespeare and enemy of the state Edmund Campion, leader of a Jesuit mission to convert England’s Protestants. Miranda/Olivia adjusts to 16th-century life with ludicrous ease, despite its hygienic idiosyncrasies (public use of toothpicks) and her frequent lapses into 21st-century diction. Though she finds the idea of losing her virginity to Shakespeare titillating (and enjoys helping him write The Taming of the Shrew), it will surprise no one that she falls in love with the hunky Stephen instead. The tepid mystery revolving around the Privy Court investigation of Campion’s whereabouts is likewise underwhelming in its suspense. Vague waves of the authorial hand attempt to “explain” Stephen’s visions and time-traveling ability, but only the astonishingly incurious Miranda will accept them.

Despite the author’s obvious love of Shakespeare, this offering achieves only inanity. (Fantasy romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74196-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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