May appeal to teens who may be interested in—but not quite ready for—Nicholas Sparks.

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Beyond

From New Mexico to Canada to Scotland, Teachworth’s (Two Stones, 2008, etc.) YA short stories introduce readers to a variety of teenage protagonists whose lives have been touched by intangible forces.

In “Fireflies,” the opening story of the collection, the soccer-playing Tamia, a young girl of Navajo and Mexican-American descent, completes a science project about fireflies, but she draws community attention to problematic power lines in the neighborhood. “Callanish Stones” tells the tale of a young boy, a shipwreck, a daring rescue and a remarkable reunion. Nicho learns the extent of God’s healing powers in “Saving Grace.” A father passes down a chicken-bone necklace of potentially magical proportions in “All the Right Moves.” Each of Teachworth’s short stories addresses the forces of the natural or supernatural worlds and the power of faith. He gives characters detailed back stories. The tales are readable and may appeal to younger readers put off by long novels. Unfortunately, the voices of Teachworth’s teenagers don’t ring true. Dialogue tends to feel inflated and inauthentic. For example, in “Play,” Mila, who is coming to terms with the abhorrent behavior of her abusive father, replies to her mother’s apology with credulity-straining, mature language: “We need to support each other, stay strong, and plot out a future. There will be a lot to think about, like our livelihood.” Moreover, the exposition is so detailed, it occasionally makes the conclusion of each story feel abrupt in comparison. The resolutions often need additional explanation and support due to the supernatural elements of the plot. Readers who sympathize with these characters may want to know not just how the story ends, but how the main character fares at the conclusion of the journey.

May appeal to teens who may be interested in—but not quite ready for—Nicholas Sparks.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0970939203

Page Count: 244

Publisher: RST Productions

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2013

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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