Witty, romantic and filled with personality—after the slow start.

LET THE STORM BREAK

From the Sky Fall series

With Audra off dealing with fallout from revelations in Let the Sky Fall (2013), Vane is stuck by himself figuring out how to be a sylph king on the verge of war.

The sylph army known as the Gales desperately wants to use Vane and his Westerly winds as a weapon against power-hungry, one-note Raiden, but Vane knows the Westerly nature is too peaceful. Luckily, the Gales don’t know that Audra also speaks Westerly, a result of the forbidden romance and magical bond between the two—another secret. They still hope Vane will fall for the last of the previous royal family and would be furious to know that the reason Vane broke off that arranged engagement was Audra. Meanwhile, Audra learns the dark secret to Raiden’s strength. Conveying so much information causes the first act to progress slowly, resulting in weak tension until the vague stakes become specific and immediate. Tasked with many expository reveals, Audra’s narration doesn’t shine as brightly as Vane’s chapters. Vane is a bundle of charming contradictions—protective yet pacifistic, nobly loyal yet unable to hear “haboob” (a type of dust storm) without boob jokes. Once characters deal with the ends-justify-the-means idea of sinking to Raiden’s level to fight him and reach the fight scenes, the story becomes a page-turner right to a cliffhanger.

Witty, romantic and filled with personality—after the slow start. (Paranormal romance. 12-17)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5044-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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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Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli.

DEAD WEDNESDAY

For two teenagers, a small town’s annual cautionary ritual becomes both a life- and a death-changing experience.

On the second Wednesday in June, every eighth grader in Amber Springs, Pennsylvania, gets a black shirt, the name and picture of a teen killed the previous year through reckless behavior—and the silent treatment from everyone in town. Like many of his classmates, shy, self-conscious Robbie “Worm” Tarnauer has been looking forward to Dead Wed as a day for cutting loose rather than sober reflection…until he finds himself talking to a strange girl or, as she would have it, “spectral maiden,” only he can see or touch. Becca Finch is as surprised and confused as Worm, only remembering losing control of her car on an icy slope that past Christmas Eve. But being (or having been, anyway) a more outgoing sort, she sees their encounter as a sign that she’s got a mission. What follows, in a long conversational ramble through town and beyond, is a day at once ordinary yet rich in discovery and self-discovery—not just for Worm, but for Becca too, with a climactic twist that leaves both ready, or readier, for whatever may come next. Spinelli shines at setting a tongue-in-cheek tone for a tale with serious underpinnings, and as in Stargirl (2000), readers will be swept into the relationship that develops between this adolescent odd couple. Characters follow a White default.

Characters to love, quips to snort at, insights to ponder: typical Spinelli. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30667-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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