Still, Elkeles’ ability to write deliciously steamy love scenes for those in the early stages of their own sexual journeys...

WILD CARDS

From the Wild Cards series , Vol. 1

Romance Lite in a new series from the author of Perfect Chemistry (2009).

When Derek gets kicked out of prep school in California for playing a prank, he has no choice but to move to suburban Chicago with his young stepmother, Brandi. There, he meets Brandi’s sister, Ashtyn, who’s just been voted captain of the football team, to the chagrin of the star quarterback, her boyfriend, Landon. Ashtyn takes an immediate dislike to Derek, although she’s charmed by his Southern drawl. Derek, a former quarterback himself, is impressed by Ashtyn’s unlikely combination of hot femininity and prowess on the gridiron. A thin plot, weak characterizations and poorly realized setting are beside the point in this fast-moving story. There’s plenty of sexually charged tension between Derek and Ashtyn as they go from beach parties and breakups to road trips and football camp. Alternating first-person chapters reveal the personal struggles of each as they fight the inevitability of falling in love. Unfortunately, the feminism implicit in Ashtyn’s being a football player is undermined by her apparently unironic conclusion that real power comes from squeezing into a cocktail dress and stilettos and imagining herself a princess.

Still, Elkeles’ ability to write deliciously steamy love scenes for those in the early stages of their own sexual journeys will keep her fans coming back for more. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3437-2

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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