THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE

A spunky, modern take on A Christmas Carol

A huge perk of having a wealthy, movie-director father who lives in Malibu, California, and a fashionable yet recently deceased stepmother? Raiding your stepmother’s closet, of course. And after Holly Chase goes on a power trip on the family maid on Christmas Eve, it’s no surprise that she’s visited by Christmas ghosts, all warning her of her selfish ways. Unlike Ebenezer, who heeded the ghosts, the white 16-year-old promptly dies but awakens in New York City, where she becomes part of Project Scrooge, serving as the Ghost of Christmas Past. The story then fast-forwards five years as the diverse Project Scrooge team is preparing for Scrooge 173. Hand’s detailed descriptions of their secret processes, from surveillance to time-traveling tunnels, are amusing and clever. But Holly is still self-absorbed and lonely until Stephanie (who’s alive and can fetch coffee!) arrives to assist her. When Holly discovers that the next Scrooge is Ethan Jonathan Winters III, WASP-y heir to one of the biggest real estate dynasties in New York (and hot!), Holly takes an interest in her job and her past for the first time. Both enjoyment and soul-searching ensue as the teen develops friendship and a covert romance. While it’s clear where the story is headed, Hand leaves several avenues open to keep readers guessing until the very end.

A spirited tale, indeed. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-231850-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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