Overall, an enchanting fantasy treat.

THE KEEPER OF THE MIST

When a land concealed by blood magic can choose its own ruler, sometimes it selects a well-bred guy—and sometimes it anoints an unassuming working-class girl able to walk the line of diplomacy and defense while whipping up one mean layer cake.

Keri is a baker in Glassforge, a lovely town in the fecund land of Nimmira. Measuring, mixing, and making ends meet are her quotidian ingredients, until the magic of Nimmira decides that Keri, illegitimate child of the deceased lord, is next in line to rule. Nimmira is protected by a mist that keeps the land concealed from two bordering domains, but with Keri’s father’s death, the mist begins to fail, and for the first time, representatives from the neighboring lands cross the magic border. Under this neophyte Lady, will Nimmira be taken by the Bear soldiers of Tor Carron or absorbed by the malicious sorcery of Eschalion? And why is everyone in a tizzy when the Lady just needs to bake an indulgent cake to de-stress? Neumeier explores the importance of understanding the true talent, weakness, and intent of friend, foe, and self as Keri perseveres as Lady. The only blights in the delicious details of this horn of plenty are the frequency of malleable descriptives (“not exactly mist, and not exactly shadow”) and the failure to populate the book's medieval-esque setting with a notably diverse cast.

Overall, an enchanting fantasy treat. (Fantasy. 12-17)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-50928-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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