This one is strictly for history buffs.

READ REVIEW

THE GAME OF HOPE

Gulland (The Shadow Queen, 2014, etc.) writes about Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte and stepdaughter of Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte.

Four years after the Reign of Terror, Hortense is 15 and on the brink of adulthood. She is smart, beautiful, musically talented, and seemingly has it all. Hortense lives in a boarding school for aristocrats with her close friend Adèle Auguié and her cousin Émilie de Beauharnais. The girls work diligently under the guidance of the strict but kind headmistress, Maîtresse Campan. Despite Hortense’s outward calm, she struggles to come to terms with her father’s death by beheading and constantly worries about losing her beloved brother Eugène as well, as a result of his military posting in Egypt. To complicate matters further, Hortense is torn as to whether or not to believe the rumors circulating about her mother’s extramarital affair with a family friend, Hippolyte Charles. Despite the initially slow-moving plot, Gulland’s attention to minor details—such as Josephine’s interactions with her in-laws and visiting fortunetellers—brings to life the essence of living as a young noblewoman in the year 1798 amid newfound political peace. The largely underdeveloped characters and choppy plot, however, force readers to work hard to remain invested in the narrative.

This one is strictly for history buffs. (afterword, historical information, cast of characters, glossary, map) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29101-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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