Romance, humor, kindhearted characters, and a touch of painful reality make this another sure bet for Dessen fans.

ONCE AND FOR ALL

Louna finds her cynicism about romance challenged when her family’s wedding business hires Ambrose.

After years facing brides with cold feet and badly behaved wedding guests, Louna has become skeptical about romance and plans on remaining single during her last summer before college. Luckily, the busy wedding schedule provides plenty of legitimate excuses for Louna to avoid opportunities to meet potential dates. That changes when satisfying a particularly fussy bridal party requires hiring the bride’s brother, Ambrose. He’s a lady’s man who typically charms more than one potential date during every social gathering. But he professes honesty about his dating motivations, expresses genuine interest in his dates, and displays a sort of oddly enchanting “aw, shucks” dismissal of his ability to reel in girls. Louna’s outwardly dismayed by his antics, but his clichéd (but adorable) gestures, such as impulsively adopting a rescue dog, begin to win her over. However, Louna’s still tormented by the unexpected death of her first love. Flashbacks to their relationship combined with the way she reluctantly accepts the need to move forward too provide a bittersweet counterpoint to the traditional rom-com storyline. Louna’s lovingly depicted gay godfather provides a bit of diversity in the otherwise apparently straight, white cast.

Romance, humor, kindhearted characters, and a touch of painful reality make this another sure bet for Dessen fans. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-425-29033-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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