It’s far from a must-read, but it's not without some appeal for readers looking for a romance with slightly higher stakes...

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RECKLESS HEARTS

From the Wicked Games series , Vol. 2

When friendship turns into love, the path is rarely smooth—especially when there's a third party involved.

Best friends Jake and Elena are facing big changes. Thanks to the remarriage of Jake's mom, he's moving into the mansion of his stepfather, Cameron. He's also realized he's fallen in love with Elena. Using advice offered by his stepbrother, the reckless Nathaniel, Jake confesses how he feels to Elena. But Elena doesn't want to ruin their friendship—and she thinks of Jake like a brother. On the anime Web forum she visits, Elena meets Harlow, a bad boy who sweeps her off her feet. Jake has a bad feeling about this guy, but Elena refuses to listen. Even when Harlow convinces Elena to help him strike against his enemies, she doesn't realize the consequences of her action. And Jake, who knows the truth about Harlow, will get everything he wants but potentially could lose it all. While Jake and Elena are well-rounded characters, Nathaniel is all mustache-twirling evil. Too much time is spent setting the stage, which leads to a rushed plot resolution and an open ending that feels unnecessary. Olin’s prose style is flat, which doesn’t help matters.

It’s far from a must-read, but it's not without some appeal for readers looking for a romance with slightly higher stakes than the usual. (Romantic thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-219241-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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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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A riveting tour de force.

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SADIE

Sadie is seeking her sister’s killer; months later, podcast producer West McCray seeks to learn why Sadie abandoned her car and vanished.

When Mattie was born to Claire, a white, drug-addicted, single mother, Sadie, 6, became her de facto parent. Her baby sister’s love filled a hole in Sadie’s fiercely protective heart. Claire favored Mattie, who remained attached to her long after Claire disappeared from their grim, trailer-park home in rural Colorado. Sadie believes that Mattie’s determination to find Claire—which Sadie opposed—led to her brutal murder at age 13. Now 19, Sadie sets out to find and kill the man she holds responsible for her sister’s murder. Interwoven with Sadie’s first-person account is the transcript of McCray’s podcast series, The Girls, tracking his efforts to learn what’s happened to Sadie, prompted and partly guided by the sisters’ sympathetic neighbor. West’s off-the-record conversations are also included. Sadie is smart, observant, tough, and at times heartbreakingly vulnerable, her interactions mediated by a profound stutter. In the podcast, characters first seen through Sadie’s ruthless eyes further reveal (or conceal) their interactions and motives. Like Salla Simukka’s Lumikki Andersson, Sadie’s a powerful avatar: the justice-seeking loner incarnated as a teenage girl. Sadie exempts no one—including herself—from her unsparing judgment. Conveyed indirectly through its effect on victims, child sexual abuse permeates the novel as does poverty’s intergenerational legacy.

A riveting tour de force. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10571-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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