A remarkable, irresistible love story that will linger long after readers turn the final page.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING

A girl’s views on love and heartbreak are full of confusion—and then a dance book leads her to romance.

High school senior Evie Thomas thought she had the perfect family until she caught her dad with another woman. Formerly a genuine romantic, she is devastated. Even as her mother and sister appear to move on, she leaves her romance novels at a Little Free Library, where she meets a mysterious woman who insists she take the book Instructions for Dancing. It leads her to a dance studio run by an elegant older couple who have an attractive grandson, Xavier, who goes by X. Evie and X start practicing to represent the studio in a dance contest—as well as spending time together off the dance floor building a connection that will improve their performance. Meantime, Evie has been having visions that show her when and how people’s relationships will end. Despite herself, she falls for X and allows herself to reconcile with her father. Evie is guarded and careful while X is passionate and intrepid; both are likable characters whom readers will instantly love. Main characters in this richly textured novel featuring clever dialogue and expert pacing are Black; it includes diverse secondary characters who are interesting and fully realized. The elements of fabulism deliver an unexpected twist, presenting the question of whether love is worth the pain of loss.

A remarkable, irresistible love story that will linger long after readers turn the final page. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1896-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre.

THE BEAUTIFUL

From the Beautiful series , Vol. 1

Forbidden love is tested by suspicion and murder in this latest addition to YA vampire lore.

Celine Rousseau, a French and Asian (mother’s exact origins unknown) seamstress, sails from Europe to America in hopes of leaving her shadowy past behind. En route, she bonds with Pippa, a white English émigrée, and both girls find refuge in an Ursuline convent. Celine’s talent as a couturier leads to a commission from Odette, a beautiful member of the opulent-yet-mysterious Cour des Lions, where students of the occult practice their craft unmolested. Before long, Celine is swept up in a world of mystical forces centering around Sébastien Saint Germain, an enigmatic aristocrat to whom she is irresistibly attracted. When a fellow convent member is found murdered, Celine suspects all her acquaintances, including Sébastien. The novel, wading into the waters of forbidden romance between teenage girl and hunky immortal vampire previously navigated by Buffy Summers and Bella Swan, feels less magical than it should despite the lush Victorian-era New Orleans setting. At times the mounting attraction between Bastien and Celine is told rather than shown, which makes the central relationship feel forced rather than organic and passion filled. Ahdieh (Smoke in the Sun, 2018, etc.) brings New Orleans vibrantly to life, particularly when exploring the complicated racial and gender restrictions of high society through main and supporting characters of mixed-race origin.

Sure to please fans of the author and of the vampire-romance genre. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3817-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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