Only for those with spare funds or spare time.

THE GLASS SPARE

From the Glass Spare series

A princess struggles to cope with newfound powers in DeStefano’s most recent venture.

Fifteen-year-old Wil, the white fourth child and only daughter of Arrod’s royal family, has always known her place within her family. As the final spare in her family’s lineage, she knows she doesn’t serve a great purpose for her family—unlike Owen, the heir, or Gerdie, the sickly alchemist/inventor. But everything changes for Wil when, in a moment of self-defense, she discovers a power she didn’t know she had: with any adrenaline rush, she’s able, with a Midas-like touch, to fatally turn any living thing into a gemstone. Realizing that she, like Gerdie, could become a pawn in her power-hungry father’s war games, she keeps her powers a secret—until she accidentally kills one of her brothers in front of their father and is promptly banished. But soon she’s kidnapped by a pair of rebels, including the enemy kingdom’s banished prince Loom, and they rope her into their assassination plot, while brown-skinned Loom worms his way into her heart. While the finale clearly leads to a sequel, uneven pacing and a distant third-person narration make investment in these fairly generic characters difficult. A choppy mix of fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk (curses and “paralysis bullets,” newfangled “electric carriages” and solar panels, dirigibles and “data goggles”) leaves the worldbuilding hazy, while classic themes of monstrosity and humanity, science versus magic go underexplored.

Only for those with spare funds or spare time. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249128-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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