A charming, geeky love story filled with all the con drama readers could wish for.

BE DAZZLED

Raphael Odom is a nerd: a cosplaying, con-going, card-carrying nerd—and he is in love.

Raffy is so entrenched in pop culture that he even has his own cosplay streaming channel with almost 10,000 followers. Last year Striker9, one of his followers, became his secret admirer. When Striker9 turned out to be a soccer player at his school whom Raffy always thought was straight, he was taken by surprise—Luca was bisexual, and, even better, he was interested in Raffy. He even showed a willingness to try cosplay. When the boys broke up several months later, Raffy, heartbroken, thought he could avoid Luca at school forever. He certainly didn’t think he’d run into him in full cosplay at the biggest convention of the year. Told in alternating chapters labeled “Then” and “Now,” the story will absorb readers in Raffy and Luca’s epic love story. While he is not the warmest protagonist to root for, Raffy with his Type A personality will grow on readers as he navigates the ups and downs of relationships with his close friends, famous art gallery director mother, and even himself. The adorkable romance between Raffy and Luca keeps the occasionally dense narrative moving forward quickly, making this book an enjoyable read. Raffy and Luca are presumed White; there is diversity in the supporting cast.

A charming, geeky love story filled with all the con drama readers could wish for. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8269-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Bound to be popular.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

From the Ember in the Ashes series , Vol. 1

A suddenly trendy trope—conflict and romance between members of conquering and enslaved races—enlivened by fantasy elements loosely drawn from Arabic tradition (another trend!).

In an original, well-constructed fantasy world (barring some lazy naming), the Scholars have lived under Martial rule for 500 years, downtrodden and in many cases enslaved. Scholar Laia has spent a lifetime hiding her connection to the Resistance—her parents were its leaders—but when her grandparents are killed and her brother’s captured by Masks, the eerie, silver-faced elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, Laia must go undercover as a slave to the terrifying Commandant of Blackcliff Military Academy, where Martials are trained for battle. Meanwhile, Elias, the Commandant’s not-at-all-beloved son, wants to run away from Blackcliff, until he is named an Aspirant for the throne by the mysterious red-eyed Augurs. Predictably, action, intrigue, bloodshed and some pounding pulses follow; there’s betrayal and a potential love triangle or two as well. Sometimes-lackluster prose and a slight overreliance on certain kinds of sexual violence as a threat only slightly diminish the appeal created by familiar (but not predictable) characters and a truly engaging if not fully fleshed-out fantasy world.

Bound to be popular. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59514-803-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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