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HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH

From the Once Upon a Crime Family series , Vol. 1

A decent girl-power twist on an old fairy tale for thriller lovers.

Many parents are overprotective, but perhaps none more so than the Landlows with their daughter, Penelope, whom they forbid anyone even to touch.

They do have good reason for this rule. Penelope suffers from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a disease that can result in horrific internal bleeding at even the lightest touch. Complicating matters, the family profession is human-organ trafficking, which, though it can help those in need (and who can pay), is highly illegal and dangerous. When this danger culminates in horrific tragedy, Penelope suddenly finds herself alone in a world she's ill-equipped to deal with. Will she be able to handle real life and even save the man she loves from death? Schmidt offers a modern-day retelling of the “The Princess and the Pea” that attempts to cast the princess in a more proactive, less victimized role than is traditional. Penelope does manage to break free of her delicate-flower mode (with a little motivation from some bad guys), but she suffers so many setbacks and moments of doubt that readers will be forgiven for wanting to hurry up the process. The romance at the heart of the book is a sweet one, if slightly convenient, and offers a pleasant break from Penelope's primary struggle between her past and present selves.

A decent girl-power twist on an old fairy tale for thriller lovers. (Thriller. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-80273-782-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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THE REAPPEARANCE OF RACHEL PRICE

Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist.

The mother Annabel Price thought was dead returns with a story about where she’s been—but 18-year-old Bel knows she’s lying.

Ever since Rachel Price’s unexplained disappearance 16 years ago, true-crime fans have come up with plentiful theories about what happened. Bel and her family members, who are white, cobbled together lives for themselves after a jury found Bel’s father, Charlie, not guilty of murdering his wife. Beset with medical bills for his elderly father, Charlie recently agreed to participate in a documentary about the unsolved mystery. Black British filmmaker Ramsey Lee is well into the process of interviewing the Prices when his project gets an unanticipated boost after an exhausted, disheveled Rachel staggers back into town. Rachel is eager to resume her role in the family, but the inconsistencies in her accounts raise alarms for Bel. With the help of the youngest member of the filmmaking team, Bel sets out to learn what really happened. Along the way, someone else disappears, and Bel uncovers a tangle of lies that make it impossible for her to trust people she thought she knew. When things come to a head the night of her grandfather’s 85th birthday party, Bel ends up in a race for her life. The last quarter of the novel tears along at a breakneck pace before arriving at a satisfying and unexpected conclusion.

Readers will be captivated by this twisty thriller and its uncompromising protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593374207

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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