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Oct 30 2012

A Bad Day for Voodoo, by Jeff Strand


Jeff Strand's YA novel A Bad Day for Voodoo is logic-free, character growth-free, and a solid 94% ridiculous, but it still makes for a cheerfully weird good time—particularly for its self-described target audience: “[Readers] old enough to think that people losing body parts is funny, because that's basically the whole book...

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Jun 25 2018

A Barrel of Laughs, a Vale of Tears, by Jules Feiffer


In a world bursting with children's stories that feel like they were designed by an algorithm to appeal to the widest possible audience, Jules Fieffer's A Barrel of Laughs, a Vale of Tears stands out. It's a genuinely weird book, and I'd bet cash money it never would have found a publisher had it been written by a less well-known author...

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Mar 20 2010

A Brief History of Montmaray, by Michelle Cooper


I have never learned to love Dodie Smith's novel I Capture the Castle. I don't care how classic it is: if I spend 99% of a novel thinking wistfully of giving all of the characters a swift ki...

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Apr 18 2008

A Church of Her Own: What Happens When a Woman Takes the Pulpit, by Sarah Sentilles


While women have been ordained by the Episcopal Church for decades, female clergy still struggle to achieve equality with their male counterparts. Armed with a master of divinity degree from Harva...

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Feb 11 2005

A Civil Contract, by Georgette Heyer


Georgette Heyer's A Civil Contract is quite possibly the world's most prosaic romance novel. If bodice-ripping paperback covers make your eyes twitch, if soppy love stories leave you feeling fain...

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Jun 26 2017

A Conjuring of Light, by V. E. Schwab


A Conjuring of Light is the third and final book in V.E. Schwab's bestselling Shades of Magic series. At this point in the story, the relative safety of Red London has shattered. Kell, Lila, and their allies are confronted with the seemingly limitless powers of Osaron, a being of pure magic determined to bend the world of Red London to his will...

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Jun 26 2023

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas


I admit it: I have resisted reading Sarah J. Maas's enormously popular A Court of Thorns and Roses, despite recommendations from several friends. I have tried a few of her books before, and—while they were undeniably readable—they felt vaguely generic, like she'd been handed an AI-generated list of hot literature trends for young women aged 16 to 21 and told to do her damnedest to fit them all into 400 pages...

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Feb 1 2016

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab


V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic is plastered with encomiums that make it sound like the second coming of Dune—it's described as “compulsively readable”, “ingeniously clever”, and “an exhilarating adventure”. This breathless enthusiasm struck me as distinctly overblown, but Schwab's story is undeniably thoughtful, imaginative, and action-packed...

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Jul 23 2018

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness


Nine times out of ten, a book is better than its movie or television adaptation. No matter how talented the filmmaker, the literary medium—which has no need to worry about production schedules or actors' salaries—is usually best. That isn't always true, however, and Deborah Harkness's novel A Discovery of Witches is a prime example...

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Jul 17 2008

A Geisha's Journey, by Komomo


We don’t review much nonfiction here at Wordcandy, but once in a while we encounter a nonfiction title that absolutely fascinates us, even when the subject is one in which we had no previous inter...

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Feb 8 2008

A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton Porter


I am very disappointed. I recently went on a quest to find an attractive, non-battered copy of Gene Stratton-Porter's deliciously over-the-top novel A Girl of the Limberlost, and this was m...

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May 22 2009

A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy, by Charlotte Greig


Charlotte Greig’s thoughtful, beautifully-written debut novel A Girl’s Guide to Modern European Philosophy hovers somewhere between the general fiction and YA shelves: the story’s heroine is very—...

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Dec 12 2022

A Magic Steeped in Poison, by Judy I. Lin


Judy I. Lin's A Magic Steeped in Poison is a fun novel by any standard, and a really impressive debut. In Lin's Chinese- and Taiwanese-inspired historical fantasy, a girl named Ning is desperate to cure her dying sister. Ning's only hope is winning the shennong-shi trials—a high-court competition of magical tea-brewing, with a royal boon as the grand prize. Armed with her late mother's tea knowledge, Ning...

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Jul 25 2007

A Nail Through the Heart, by Timothy Hallinan


Recently, we've been in something of rut here at Wordcandy. If it wasn't a book about a boy wizard (you wouldn't believe how many Harry Potter rip-offs we get), it was a YA romance. Don't get us w...

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Sep 3 2013

A Plague Year, by Edward Bloor


For a book about the devastating effect of methamphetamine on a small Pennsylvania town, Edward Bloor's novel A Plague Year is surprisingly readable. Bloor never shies away from the horror of his subject matter, but his overall message is one of courage—even if it's the kind of courage that only appears after people realize they have nothing left to lose...

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Jan 16 2014

A Rogue By Any Other Name, by Sarah MacLean


After hearing absolutely glowing reports of Sarah MacLean's romance novels, I picked up a copy of the first book in her most recent series, A Rogue By Any Other Name. It's been quite some time since I last read a straight-up romance, and my hopes that I had found an entertaining new author to follow were high...

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Sep 17 2006

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka


The original cover of Marina Lewycka’s novel A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was extremely tasteful. The background is a lovely grayish blue, and there’s a yellow border running down the edge, dec...

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Jan 9 2008

A Slave No More, by David W. Blight


We here at Wordcandy usually choose our books based on purely hedonistic impulses, but we have been known—very occasionally—to pick up the odd “improving” book. We frequently regret this impulse, ...

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May 23 2016

A Song For Ella Grey, by David Almond


David Almond's A Song For Ella Grey is a young adult re-telling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in modern-day Northumberland and starring a bunch of small-town emo kids. The story is told from the point of view of a girl named Claire. Claire is obsessively devoted to her friend Ella, but when a mysterious boy with a beautiful singing voice appears, Ella instantly falls in love with him...

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Nov 13 2017

A Spoonful of Magic, by Irene Radford


I frequently evaluate books like recipes, and it feels particularly appropriate in the case of Irene Radford's new novel A Spoonful of Magic, as it's a story filled to the brim with cooking. Unfortunately, while this particular literary recipe has some interesting ingredients, the finished product is a big ol' mess...

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Feb 2 2015

A Vintage Affair, by Isabel Wolff


I have some significant problems with Isabel Wolff's novel A Vintage Affair, but I want to do it justice: this would be a solid choice to bring on an airplane—briskly paced, densely plotted, and engrossing enough to distract you from the kid kicking the back of your seat...

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Jul 14 2011

Abandon, by Meg Cabot


I was thrilled when I heard that Meg Cabot was once again tossing her hat into the supernatural romance ring. After all, her The Mediator and 1-800-Where-R-You? series are some of my all-time fa...

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Mar 3 2016

The ABC's of Kissing Boys, by Tina Ferraro


If Beth Reekles's The Kissing Booth had been written by an actual adult, it probably would have resembled Tina Ferraro's The ABC's of Kissing Boys. The two books have a lot in common, but Ferraro's novel is smarter, more substantial, and infinitely less cheesy...

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Sep 9 2008

Acacia, by David Anthony Durham


As David Anthony Durham’s sprawling epic fantasy Acacia opens, Leodan Akaran, the ruler of Acacia, has begun to question the secret arrangement that ensures his empire’s prosperity: a horrify...

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Oct 21 2013

Across A Star-Swept Sea, by Diana Peterfreund


I seriously wanted to love Diana Peterfreund's 2012 novel For Darkness Shows the Stars—it's a post-apocalyptic YA reworking of Jane Austen's Persuasion, and who hasn't always longed for one of those? Unfortunately, the story suffered from the same problem I usually have with Peterfreund's writing: she has style, intelligence, and imagination, but...

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May 29 2018

Act Like It, by Lucy Parker


In a year when most of the romance novels I've read have been a mild disappointment—even those that came highly recommended or were written by old favorites—I was thrilled to discover Lucy Parker's Act Like It. This short, ridiculously cute read by a new-to-me author more than meets my #1 romance novel requirement...

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Jun 20 2023

Agaton Sax and the Diamond Thieves, by Nils-Olof Franzen


As a lifelong fan of detective stories written for children, from Nate the Great to Bad Machinery, I was excited to hear about the recent reprints of Nils-Olof Franzen's Agaton Sax novels, a beloved but long out-of-print Swedish pastiche of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I had heard of these books, but only found one vintage edition—Agaton Sax and the Diamond Thieves—that was both in decent shape and affordable...

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Aug 28 2007

Agnes and the Hitman, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer


Agnes and the Hitman, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer’s second romantic-comedy/action-adventure collaboration, is a much more successful effort than their first, 2006’s Don’t Look Down. Their love ...

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Apr 24 2017

Alice and Red Queen, by Christina Henry


I've read more than a dozen retellings of Alice in Wonderland, and they all too frequently rely on the same ideas: Alice as an amnesiac; Alice as a traumatized young adult; Alice in a madhouse; Alice and the Mad Hatter in a romantic relationship. Christina Henry's duology—Alice and Red Queen—checks off every cliché on this list, but Henry at least delivers her recycled material with style and energy...

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Mar 10 2010

Alice in Wonderland (film review), by Lewis Carroll


Well, dear readers, I saw Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland over the weekend, and the best thing I can say about it is that it's probably best that the horrors of the Percy Jackson movie are still so fresh in my mind. It's not that the Alice movie was good, but everything looks better in comparison...

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Oct 20 2014

Alice in Zombieland, Through the Zombie Glass, and The Queen of Zombie Hearts, by Gena Showalter


I am a huge Alice in Wonderland nerd, but I've had some bad experiences with Alice-inspired rewrites. (I'm looking at you, Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars. You were abysmal.) After years of buying—and regretting—these novels, I swore off them for good... until I saw a “specially priced” copy of Gena Showalter's Alice in Zombieland at my local Target, and that red-and-white 20% off sticker was enough to overcome my embargo....

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Aug 13 2006

Alice, I Think, by Susan Juby


Teen literature is full of dorky main characters. Meg Cabot’s entire career is based on stories about low-on-the-social-totem-pole heroines falling in love with hot-yet-geeky Stargate fans. Loui...

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Jan 26 2015

All Fall Down, by Ally Carter


It pains me to say this, but All Fall Down is one of Ally Carter's weaker efforts. I have no doubt things will improve as the series progresses, but so far things are only fair-to-middling on... well, almost every front.

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Feb 8 2010

All Unquiet Things, by Anna Jarzab


Anna Jarzab's intriguing debut novel All Unquiet Things centers around Neily and Audrey, two wealthy California teens haunted by the death of sixteen-year-old Carly—the beautiful, damaged girl who...

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Dec 3 2012

All You Never Wanted, by Adele Griffin


My only previous experience with popular YA author Adele Griffin was Tighter, her modern-day retelling of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. I was underwhelmed by Tighter, but I've always loved James's novella, so I had some residual goodwill for Griffin's story despite its disappointingly weak ending...

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Aug 7 2009

Alyzon Whitestarr, by Isobelle Carmody


The title of Isobelle Carmody's book Alyzon Whitestarr sounds like an eighties hair band, the cover model looks like Gossip Girl's Little J in a bad Goth wig, and the ...

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Jul 25 2008

The Amnesiac, by Sam Taylor


When construction worker James Purdew, the protagonist of Sam Taylor’s ambitious psychological thriller The Amnesiac, breaks his leg in an accident, he spends his convalescence obsessing over the ...

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Oct 22 2018

An Easy Death, by Charlaine Harris


Charlaine Harris knows what works for her. All of her books feature working-class protagonists, vividly imagined worlds, and a bizarre notion of romantic chemistry. Her latest effort, An Easy Death, takes those familiar elements in unexpected directions, but her basic formula is still present...

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Jan 29 2019

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler


As longtime readers know, while Wordcandy usually sticks to reviewing fiction, I make the occasional exception for nonfiction titles about stuff I consider to be of general interest—usually books about food, money, or the environment. Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal is touches on all three of those subjects, so it jumped to the top of my-to-be-read pile...

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Feb 12 2018

An Extraordinary Union, by Alyssa Cole


Alyssa Cole's An Extraordinary Union is ambitious: it's a Civil War-era action/romance featuring a biracial couple, both of whom were inspired by real historical figures. (The heroine is based on Mary Bowser, the hero on Timothy Webster.) Cole doesn't stick every landing, but her story succeeds on an impressive number of fronts...

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Sep 11 2007

An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer


It's been decades since American audiences have seen decent editions of Georgette Heyer’s books. While British readers were enjoying the beautiful reprints Arrow Books released a few years ago, A...

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Apr 10 2009

An Offer You Can't Refuse, by Jill Mansell


Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse opens up with a plot device straight out of a cheesy fanfic: teenage lovers Lola and Doug are separated by Doug’s wealthy, manipulative mother, who bribes ...

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Sep 8 2012

Anastasia Forever, by Joy Preble


I rarely participate in blog tours, because I'm so disorganized I break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of having to meet a specific deadline. And Wordcandy typically only reviews series installments if we've already read all of the earlier books in the series, because we feel like we need to know the story's background in order to give the newest installment a fair shake...

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Jan 7 2015

Anata ni Hana o Sasagemasho, by Tomu Ohmi


I have a soft spot for Tomu Ohmi's 1970s-Harlequin-novel-meets-Twilight manga Midnight Secretary, so I was happy to hear a rumor that another of Ohmi's works, Anata ni Hana o Sasagemashō, will soon be licensed. Nobody seems to have confirmed this, but I decided to read and review the series anyway, just in case...

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Jun 13 2016

And I Darken, by Kiersten White


As one might expect from a story about a gender-swapped version of Vlad the Impaler, Kiersten White's And I Darken is heavy on angst and violence. On the other hand, it is also unexpectedly well-researched and thoughtfully constructed—despite the lurid nature of her subject matter, White has written a respectable alternate-history fiction, not the YA equivalent of Dracula Untold...

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Jun 22 2015

And Then Everything Unraveled, by Jennifer Sturman


I feel like I've been complaining about this a lot recently, but seriously, authors: if your book is a series installment, you need to make that clear from the start. I really liked Jennifer Sturman's debut YA novel And Then Everything Unraveled, but I was not best pleased to discover that it was only half of a story...

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Nov 10 2014

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie


The 75th anniversary edition of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None opens with a smug quote from Christie's autobiography. In it, she describes the book's premise as “perfectly reasonable”, mentions that it was well received by critics, and announces that she was the person who was most pleased with it, as she alone knew how difficult writing it had been. Having now re-read And Then There Were None for...

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Jan 8 2010

Angel Diary (Yen Press Extravaganza Part II), by KARA and Lee YunHee


So here's part two of our mini-review bonanza! By and large, we've been very impressed by the quality of these series—we don't mean to make them sound like vultures, but Yen Press has been cherry-...

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Jan 20 2015

Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer


Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation is simultaneously clever and pretentious, engaging and irritating as hell. I am by no means certain I actually liked it, but I'm definitely going to read the sequels...

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Nov 29 2004

The Annotated Brothers Grimm, edited by Maria Tatar


Relying on the Disney versions of Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast to give you a sense of the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales is about as effective as trying to pass a mythology class...

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May 19 2014

The Annotated Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen


Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is her earliest completed novel—she started writing it in 1798—but one of her last to be published. (It was released posthumously, along with Persuasion, in 1817.) Some critics lump it in with her juvenilia, but it's a remarkably ambitious and entertaining work, even if it isn't quite on par with her later books. Last fall, Anchor Books released a handsome paperback edition of Northanger Abbey featuring annotations by David M. Shapard...

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Sep 9 2019

Another Fine Myth, by Robert Asprin


I hunted down a copy of Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth after reading an absolutely glowing review of it on NPR. When I hear about a book described as a “joyous dad-joke fantasy”, I'm interested. Sadly, I found NPR's description to be a bit hyperbolic; Asprin's novel is more like a mildly amusing novelization of a D&D game.

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Oct 17 2016

Arabella, by Georgette Heyer


As a longtime Georgette Heyer fan, I was tantalized by the recent rumor that one of her books (The Grand Sophy) is being developed into a feature film. News on the project is scarce, but my hopes are high. The Grand Sophy would make a wonderful movie, but so would any number of Heyer's other books—not least her 1949 novel Arabella, one of her lightest and most beloved regency-era romances...

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Nov 19 2018

Archenemies, by Marissa Meyer


Archenemies, the second book in Marissa Meyer's Renegades series, picks up immediately after the events of the first. Heroine Nova Artino is still working as a double agent, torn between her loyalty to the villains who raised her and the morally-questionable “superheroes” who control her city...

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Mar 28 2016

Arena, by Holly Jennings


Holly Jennings's novel Arena looks and sounds like a sci-fi novel, but it's really more of a near-future sports story. I'd like to think that the idea of virtual gaming tournaments watched by millions of rabid fans is pure fantasy, but apparently the future is now...

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Jan 17 2017

Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne


First published in 1873, Around the World in Eighty Days is Jules Verne's most popular work. It's the story of Phileas Fogg, an enigmatic, unflappable Englishman who bets a group of his wealthy peers that he can circumnavigate the earth in eighty days. Accompanied by his bewildered valet Passepartout (and pursued by a detective who incorrectly believes Fogg to be a notorious bank robber), Fogg sets out...

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Aug 24 2010

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu


One of my goals for this summer was to read Sun Tzu's The Art of War. I'd like to say I had some noble purpose in mind, but the truth is I'm just a huge, huge nerd—I wanted to hone my war-mongering...

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Aug 28 2017

Ash and Quill, by Rachel Caine


Ash and Quill is the third installment in Rachel Caine's The Great Library series. In these books, the world's knowledge is jealously hoarded by the all-powerful Great Library. Caine's protagonist is a book smuggler-turned-Great Library soldier named Jess Brightwell. Jess and his small band of allies have recently escaped from the Library's clutches, but soon find themselves in an even worse situation...

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Mar 29 2017

Assassin's Masque, by Sarah Zettel


Assassin's Masque, the third book in Sarah Zettel's Palace of Spies series, is a fun, smart read with an eye-catching cover, but I suspect it lacks that special something that makes teen books fly off shelves. (It might look inadequately dramatic?) I'm sorry about this, because I've found all of Zettel's books solidly entertaining...

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Jan 14 2015

Autumn Falls, by Bella Thorne (and Elise Allen)


I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm giving Disney Channel actress Bella Thorne's debut novel Autumn Falls a glowing “Nowhere near as terrible as I thought it would be”. I'm not saying it's actually good, mind you, but I've read way worse...

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Jan 6 2016

Autumn's Kiss, by Bella Thorne (and Elise Allen)


Once again, I am staggered to find myself endorsing a novel “written” by teen actress Bella Thorne (along with co-author Elise Allen, whose name only appears in teeny-tiny font on the title page). This is totally damning with faint praise, but Autumn's Kiss, the sequel to...

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Jan 7 2006

Avalon High and Size 12 is Not Fat, by Meg Cabot


In the past two weeks Meg Cabot has released two brand-new standalone novels: the YA supernatural romance Avalon High and the mystery/suspense story Size 12 Is Not Fat. Both feature bright, funny...

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Jul 9 2007

Avalon High Coronation: The Merlin Prophecy, by Meg Cabot


Meg Cabot’s books are pure escapist fun. Shojo manga—well, some of it—is also pure escapist fun. So combining the two should create some kind of super pure escapist fun, right? TOKYOPOP ho...

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Jun 8 2009

The Awakening, by Kelley Armstrong


Kelley Armstrong’s 2008 novel The Summoning was her first attempt at writing teen fiction, and a rousing success. Set in the same world as her Women of the Underworld series, The Summoning...

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Aug 7 2023

The Awakening, by Nora Roberts


Nora Roberts's attempts at writing an epic fantasy have been hit-or-miss, in my opinion, but she keeps on trying. She has already made her fame and fortune twice over (as a conventional romance novelist under her own name, and as an author of futuristic romantic mystery as J.D. Robb), so at the very least I applaud her work ethic as she sets out to dominate yet another genre—no matter how mediocre the results...

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Mar 29 2010

Azumanga Daioh: Omnibus, by Kiyohiko Azuma


I have mixed feelings about the recent omnibus edition of Yotsuba&!'s Kiyohiko Azuma's Azumanga Daioh. I'm all for anything that exposes this wonderful series to a wider audience, but Yen Press's...

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