High-fantasy series rarely attract serious literary scrutiny, yet when done well—as here—no genre is better fitted to trace...

BURIED HEART

From the Court of Fives series , Vol. 3

As infighting grips Efea’s Saroese royalty, its neighbors move to invade their weakened adversary; unable to dissuade her Patron father and sweetheart Kal from defending the corrupt regime, Jes sides with her mother’s people, native Efeans now reclaiming their land.

The rift between her parents has widened, but both disapprove of Jes’ relationship with Kal, and their fears are heightened when he reluctantly takes the throne. In this rigid ethnocracy, biracial Jes is considered a “mule” by contemptuous Patrons, a traitor by resentful Commoners. Kal’s go-slow plans to raise Commoner standing anger Jes—she knows it’s too late for small steps. Leaving Kal, she’s kidnapped, badly injured, and sent to the desert, where Efeans and criminals of both castes mine ore under brutal conditions. Plotting their escape keeps her alive. Their Saroese overlords won’t voluntarily abandon caste and privilege; to reclaim their decentralized, matriarchal society, Efeans must fight. Gifted with her mother’s patience and father’s military prowess, Jes proves an exceptional leader. Sustaining the Patron aristocracy exacts a high price—but so do the sacrifice and compromises required to overthrow it. Magic and religion, patriarchy versus matriarchy, hierarchical versus decentralized government; these themes are all seamlessly integrated into the action-packed plot.

High-fantasy series rarely attract serious literary scrutiny, yet when done well—as here—no genre is better fitted to trace the threads of history from past to present and explore the fascinating patterns they weave. (Fantasy. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-34441-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2017

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries.

THE BETRAYED

Lady Hollis flees her country after her new husband is killed.

In The Betrothed (2020), Hollis fell in love with Silas, the son of an Isolten family who sought asylum from their cruel king, and chose him over her intended match, King Jameson. Since Silas, his father, his brothers, and her parents have been killed, she decides to travel to Isolte with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Formerly primarily interested in dresses, dancing, and romance, Hollis now proves her mettle. Etan, Silas’ cousin, arrives to escort the family, and he clashes with Hollis from the moment they meet. The society they live in, modeled after medieval Europe, with castles, tournaments, kings, queens, and nobles, generally follows traditional gender roles, but Hollis sometimes breaks through the accepted boundaries. When Etan wants to lead a revolt against his own King Quinten, who is just one of the novel’s major betrayers, Hollis uses her wits to get the evidence needed to convince others that he is guilty of crimes against his own people. She bravely returns to Coroa to confront King Jameson when she finds out that he, too, has carried out unspeakable crimes. Hollis and Etan’s verbal wars are fun, predictably leading to love, but the political intrigue sometimes drags the novel down. Characters default to White.

Fans of the previous entry will enjoy following the story of a young woman who changes the fates of two countries. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-229166-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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