A fiery sequel that yearns for more.

HEART OF FLAMES

From the Crown of Feathers series , Vol. 2

As war threatens on the horizon, Phoenix Rider Veronyka fights to control her magic and learn the truth about her identity in this second installment of Pau Preto’s (Crown of Feathers, 2019) fantasy series.

Power hungry Lord Rolan sends soldiers into Pyra to provoke the Phoenix Riders into battle and force the Golden Empire’s Grand Council into declaring war. Now reunited with her phoenix and no longer in disguise, Veronyka hopes to prove herself a Master Rider and join the action. In the midst of her training, Veronyka strains to control her shadow magic, a secret power that gives her a mental link to Val, the reincarnation of the ruthless Ashfire queen. Shutting down her magic is the only way Veronyka knows to protect herself, but opening her mind may be the path to learning about her past. Slow-burning romance simmers between two pairings, one of which is a same-gender relationship between two boys. Historical documents between chapters expand on the world and create suspenseful foreshadowing. However, the continued cisnormativity throughout the book detracts from the otherwise high quality of the prose, deeply developed world, page-turning plot, and thrilling, cliffhanger ending. Veronyka has golden-brown skin, and Rolan is white.

A fiery sequel that yearns for more. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2465-4

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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