This imaginative and sweet coming-of-age tale is infused with the magic of first love.

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THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE

The daughter and apprentice of a famous magic-worker who helps others fall in love doesn’t know the feeling herself.

Bay Area residents Mimosa and her mother are the world’s last two aromateurs, “love witches” with senses of smell so precise they, like their ancestors, perceive individual scentprints the way most people can distinguish faces. They dedicate themselves to making pro-bono customized love elixirs for clients. But the cost of being an aromateur is high for 15-year-old Mim: she’s not supposed to fall in love herself, or she’ll lose her “nose” and the ancestral profession will die. When Mim accidentally gives her algebra teacher’s scentprint elixir to school soccer star Court’s newly divorced mother, she must figure out a way to undo the damage before her mother finds out. The cast of characters is refreshingly diverse, starting with the multicultural Mim, her Samoan best friend Kali (who’s also LGBTQ), white Court, his Latina ex-girlfriend, and other identifiably ethnic students. Lee is a synesthete, and her appreciation of natural fragrances and botanicals is evident. Although not as exceptional as the author’s previous historical novels (Under a Painted Sky, 2015; Outrun the Moon, 2016), this contemporary fantasy is charming and likely to resonate with readers who gravitate toward romance or mother-daughter stories.

This imaginative and sweet coming-of-age tale is infused with the magic of first love. (Magical realism. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-242832-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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