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Feel-Good Reads



From the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series , Vol. 2

Readers were first introduced to Georgia’s diary in Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (A Printz Honor, 2001, not reviewed). Her saga continues here as her mother announces that Georgia’s father has found work in New Zealand and they’ll be moving in a week. While Georgia tries to make her mother realize that she’ll have to be left behind, further disaster strikes: her new boyfriend the SG (Sex God) decides he’s too old for her and suggests she might try his younger brother’s friend Harry. Thus is launched Operation Elastic Band, in which Harry the Laugh becomes the red-herring with which she’ll win back the SG. And does she? Readers will fall right in step with Georgia’s up-and-down 14-year-old monologue. “I didn’t take any chances with the nipple department; I wore a bra and a vest. Let them get out of that if they could. I must be calm. Om. Om. OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod.” The glossary at the end will help with the British slang, though most of it is understandable from context. Readers don’t need to have read the first book to be caught right up in the engaging melodrama, but they’ll probably want to read it after they’ve finished this one. It ends, as did its predecessor, abruptly and on a leading tone, suggesting a third. This fun romp will give young-teenage readers someone to laugh at and cheer for, and should make adults cry for joy . . . at not being 14 anymore. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028813-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

Heartwarming, empathetic, and often hilarious—a delightful read.

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A clash of perspectives sparks this romantic comedy about two first-generation Indian-American teens whose parents set an arranged-marriage plan in motion, but it backfires big time—or maybe not?

In the alternating voices of her two protagonists, Menon explores themes of culture and identity with insight and warmth. Seamlessly integrating Hindi language, she deftly captures the personalities of two seemingly opposite 18-year-olds from different parts of California and also from very different places regarding life choices and expectations. Insomnia Con, a competitive six-week summer program at San Francisco State focused on app development, is where this compelling, cinematic, and sometimes-madcap narrative unfolds. Dimple Shah lives and breathes coding and has what she thinks is a winning and potentially lifesaving concept. She chafes under her mother’s preoccupation with the Ideal Indian Husband and wants to be respected for her intellect and talent. Rishi Patel believes in destiny, tradition, and the “rich fabric of history,” arriving in San Francisco with his great-grandmother’s ring in his pocket. He plans to study computer science and engineering at MIT. But what about his passion for comic-book art? They are assigned to work together and sparks fly, but Dimple holds back. Readers will be caught up as Rishi and Dimple navigate their ever changing, swoonworthy connection, which plays out as the app competition and complicated social scene intensify.

Heartwarming, empathetic, and often hilarious—a delightful read. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7868-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017


From the Tiffany Aching series , Vol. 1

There will be upheavals in the human and fantasy worlds of elves and witches, with drastic consequences, and Tiffany, with only a frying pan for a weapon, is caught in the middle. In an effort to rescue her spoiled, candy-loving baby brother whom the Elf Queen has stolen with the temptation of endless sweets, Tiffany enlists the aid of the Wee Free Men. The baby’s rescue is accomplished with unrelenting drama, large servings of Pratchett’s ironic humor, and a unique cast of characters. This includes an imperfect heroine who has inherited “First Sight and Second Thoughts” and who feels guilty because she did not truly love her whiney brother. The Wee Free Men are six-inch-tall blue men with a robust enthusiasm for stealing, fighting, and drinking. Set in a chillingly unrecognizable “fairyland,” this ingenious mélange of fantasy, action, humor, and sly bits of social commentary contains complex underlying themes of the nature of love, reality, and dreams. The Carnegie Medal–winner’s fans will not be disappointed. (Fantasy. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-001236-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003


From the My Life Uploaded series , Vol. 1

Move over Georgia and Angus—there’s a new girl-and-cat comedy duo in town!

Millie Porter and her mum used to have fun together, but then Mum’s boyfriend, Gary, aka the Neat Freak, moved in with his robot vacuum cleaner (which he calls McWhirter), bringing his ongoing feud with the crumb-hoarding toaster into the family. Now, Mum is in a happy, gooey love haze, and Millie is in a “coma of really fed-up.” The usually sensible English teen may be about to make her most senseless decision since naming her (female) cat Dave when she was 3: Perhaps the best thing for now is to live with Dad, who shares a home with her sexist Grandad and quirky Aunty Teresa. Millie’s best friend, Lauren, reminds Mills that “YOLO,” so she should live it up—and start a vlog. The big question: What should the topic be? Dave cuddling vegetables and surfing the robot-hoover? Household uses for castoff exercise equipment? Maybe Millie and Lozza should just improvise? The sky’s the limit; how far will cautious, play-it-safe Millie go to live in the now? Millie’s hysterical first-person narration directly addresses readers, pulling them into the moment. Briticisms firmly establish the setting, and hashtag chapter headings set up the forthcoming antics. Whiteness is assumed for most characters, including all the main ones; Millie’s crush is a part Chinese, part French Canadian boy.

Quite excellent. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-13378-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Plot-driven as the K dramas Goo’s protagonist seeks to emulate, her funny, engaging narrative also delivers powerful...


A talented overachiever resorts to lessons gleaned from Korean pop culture in hopes of finding love.

Korean-American Desi Lee is a remarkably self-aware high school senior who finds that as long as she has “a plan—all’s well.” When she swoons for Luca Drakos, an alluring white transfer student, Desi doesn’t hesitate to share with him that she’s “school president, on varsity soccer and tennis, in five different clubs,” and “pretty much slated to be valedictorian.” Desi’s confidence knows no bounds, except when it comes to the opposite sex. Repeated attempts at wooing would-be suitors having backfired, Desi finds Luca too good to lose, so she turns to an unlikely mainstay of her home life for help: the Korean dramas her widower father has watched obsessively for years, where star-crossed lovers seem always to win in the end. (A starter guide is helpfully appended.) Previously dismissing the formulaic K dramas as the “white noise” of her life, Desi begins to study their plotlines intently, going so far as to craft 24 “K Drama Steps to True Love.” Desi’s implementation of measures such as “Be Caught in an Obviously Lopsided Love Triangle,” yields hilarious, at times unintended results, lending this teen rom-com a surprisingly thoughtful conclusion.

Plot-driven as the K dramas Goo’s protagonist seeks to emulate, her funny, engaging narrative also delivers powerful messages of inclusion and acceptance. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30404-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Hilariously necessary.


Teen boy gets hard lessons on dating, friendship, and toxic masculinity.

Delbert Rainey Jr. has never been great at dating. He’s been in love with the same girl since kindergarten—Kiera Westing—but has never made a move. And despite his legendary reputation, thanks to an infamous basement party, he is still a virgin. When Kiera and her boyfriend break up, Del seizes the opportunity, even if it means accidentally joining the First Missionary House of the Lord’s Purity Pledge, created after nine teens at Green Creek High School became pregnant, sparking pregnancy pact conspiracy theories. Additionally, the high school has changed its abstinence-only sex ed elective, and Del, enrolled by his parents, is surprised to see parallels—but with advice framed as polar opposites. Del’s naiveté and missteps are wonderful character flaws, and readers will laugh out loud as he plays spy in his high school class for his fellow Purity Pledgers. When a teen mom fights back at the Baby-Getters Club label they’ve been given and creates her own hashtag, members of the community, including Del, have to face up to the double standards and inappropriate behavior boys get away with and are even encouraged in. The novel takes on teen attitudes toward sex and relationships and gender power dynamics in a way that is appealing and thought provoking. Main characters are black.

Hilariously necessary. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-234919-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Austen, Wilde, and Indiana Jones converge in this deliciously anachronistic bonbon.

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From the Montague Siblings series , Vol. 1

An 18th-century Grand Tour goes exquisitely wrong.

Eighteen-year-old white viscount Henry “Monty” Montague is as known for his dashing looks as his penchant for booze—and boys. Before his abusive father grooms him to run the estate, he and his mixed-race best friend, Percy, orphan son of a British colonist and a Barbadian woman, are sent on a yearlong Grand Tour—after which he and Percy will likely be separated forever. Adding insult, their Tour begins under the proviso that, after Monty’s sister is delivered to school in Marseille, Monty will remain on the sober straight and narrow or else risk loss of title and fortune. Monty wastes no time in demolishing this agreement in Paris when he gets hammered, offends Percy, insults a duke, ends up naked at Versailles, and steals an objet from the palace in a fit of childish rage. The theft ignites an adventure that illuminates a side of life the trio wouldn’t have otherwise seen. Issues of same-sex romance walk in stride with those of race as Monty and Percy find their footing amorously, sexually, and socially. Their realized attraction could mean imprisonment or death, and their relationship is often misconstrued as lord and valet due to Percy’s brown skin. The book’s exquisite, bygone meter and vernacular sit comfortably on a contemporary shelf. And the friction of racism, tyrannical entitled politicians, and misguided disapproval of homosexuality also have a relevance rooted in current culture’s xeno- and homophobia.

Austen, Wilde, and Indiana Jones converge in this deliciously anachronistic bonbon. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238280-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Wacky characters, a farcical plot and a fledgling romance are all part of the fun in this novel that will appeal to fans of...


An unwilling accomplice to petty theft organized by his dim friends, English teen Ben Fletcher is annoyed that he was the one busted when he collided with a crossing guard.

Probation requires him to keep a journal using a template, which he considers beneath him, as he’s been keeping a diary for years. But he soldiers on, hilariously recounting the details of the “Great Martini Heist” and its aftermath. He’s also required to take a community college class. The pathetic choices include car maintenance, taught by his father, a mechanic who’s always trying to get Ben (not a sports fan) to go with him to soccer matches. Ben opts for knitting because he has a crush on the teacher. When it turns out she’s actually teaching pottery, he’s stuck with knitting and stuck in a lie, unable to admit to his father and friends what he’s up to. It turns out that he’s a natural at knitting, able to appreciate the mathematical precision of the patterns and create his own. When Ben’s coerced into entering a knitting contest, the jig is up. Despite some unnecessary Americanization of the text, this wonderfully funny novel is infused with British slang, including dozens of terms easily understood in context.

Wacky characters, a farcical plot and a fledgling romance are all part of the fun in this novel that will appeal to fans of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging . (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05331-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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