A twisty and ultimately satisfying romantic whodunit.

READ REVIEW

THE AMATEURS

From the Amateurs series , Vol. 1

This mystery brings online friends together in their attempt to solve a murder, sparking more than one possible romance.

Aerin’s 17-year old sister, Helena, disappeared five years earlier, and the white girl’s remains were found much later. Although the police investigated and the story was big news at the time, the murderer was never found. Now 16, Aerin, also white, sends out a plea for help to an online forum wherein amateur sleuths try to solve old murders. In response, Seneca, a biracial (black/white) college student whose mother also had been murdered, decides to travel to Aerin’s snooty Connecticut town to see if she can make any progress on the case. There she meets her online buddy Maddox, who she thought was an Asian girl but turns out to be a white boy. Brett, another white online forum participant, rounds out the team. Varying levels of trust and disclosure amp up the tension and complicate the investigation. Shepard at first seems unable to decide whether she’s writing a mystery or a romance, as she teams up Seneca and Maddox, who might have another girlfriend, and Aerin with a local police officer. Eventually, however, the story begins to weave all the characters together into a solution to the mystery, with appropriate red herrings and veiled clues.

A twisty and ultimately satisfying romantic whodunit. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-4227-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more