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CHASING STARLIGHT

A captivating crowd pleaser.

In 1938 Hollywood, an aspiring astronomer with a tragic past finds herself at the center of a murder mystery.

Kate Hildebrand was only 13 when a highly publicized crime took her parents’ lives, leaving her in the care of her Aunt Lorna. After her aunt’s marriage to a wealthy mining magnate, Kate, now 17, is shipped off to live with her eccentric grandfather Oliver Banks, a once-celebrated silent movie star who shares his crumbling, cluttered Pasadena mansion with a handful of boarders, all down-and-out aspiring actors. It’s not an ideal arrangement, but Kate’s plan to make a quick exit is thwarted when she meets Ollie’s neighbors: 15-year-old film ingénue Bonnie Fairchild and her glamorous mother, Dorothy. In short order, Kate snags a job as a production assistant on Bonnie’s new film and finds herself undeniably attracted to the dashing Hugo Quick, one of her new housemates. When Kate discovers another housemate dead in Ollie’s kitchen, Kate and Hugo team up to find a killer. But everyone seems to be hiding secrets, including Kate. Black delivers an atmospheric mystery with cinematic flair that’s chock full of period detail, highlighting women’s roles in front of, and behind, the camera during Hollywood’s golden age. And the brainy Kate, determined to control her own destiny, is no wilting flower. Most characters are assumed white, but there are two supporting characters of color.

A captivating crowd pleaser. (Mystery. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7653-9951-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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

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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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