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After losing the election for editor, Mitch True, an overweight aspiring journalist, is assigned to be the sports reporter for his high-school paper. He’s initially disappointed with the assignment, but he soon discovers that the gig has its perks. Kimi, the sports photographer, is beautiful, bright and brave, and, remarkably, he may be sitting on a scorcher of a story. It seems that there’s a high-school football player, a recent transfer, who is huge and amazingly talented. Yet the player is seriously underutilized, and, oddly, the coach doesn’t want a word written about him. As Mitch begins to lose weight, gain confidence and, with Kimi’s help, ferret out the mystery, he finds that he has accidentally poked his pen into a hornet’s nest. Told in the first person, the story is initially funny, but the humor is soon eclipsed by the suspenseful plot and the copious play-by-play football action. These elements work together to create a rousing climax, which is then followed by a softer and more reflective denouement. Nicely played. (Mystery. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-27981-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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From the Boys of Tommen series , Vol. 1

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship.

A battered girl and an injured rugby star spark up an ill-advised romance at an Irish secondary school.

Beautiful, waiflike, 15-year-old Shannon has lived her entire life in Ballylaggin. Alternately bullied at school and beaten by her ne’er-do-well father, she’s hopeful for a fresh start at Tommen, a private school. Seventeen-year-old Johnny, who has a hair-trigger temper and a severe groin injury, is used to Dublin’s elite-level rugby but, since his family’s move to County Cork, is now stuck captaining Tommen’s middling team. When Johnny angrily kicks a ball and knocks Shannon unconscious (“a soft female groan came from her lips”), a tentative relationship is born. As the two grow closer, Johnny’s past and Shannon’s present become serious obstacles to their budding love, threatening Shannon’s safety. Shannon’s portrayal feels infantilized (“I looked down at the tiny little female under my arm”), while Johnny comes across as borderline obsessive (“I knew I shouldn’t be touching her, but how the hell could I not?”). Uneven pacing and choppy sentences lead to a sudden climax and an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending. Repetitive descriptions, abundant and misogynistic dialogue (Johnny, to his best friend: “who’s the bitch with a vagina now?”), and graphic violence also weigh down this lengthy tome (considerably trimmed down from its original, self-published length). The cast of lively, well-developed supporting characters, especially Johnny’s best friend and Shannon’s protective older brother, is a bright spot. Major characters read white.

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship. (author’s note, pronunciations, glossary, song moments, playlists) (Romance. 16-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781728299945

Page Count: 626

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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A sweet second-chance romance set against the backdrop of the Korean entertainment industry.

Eighteen-year-old Min Sori’s life is a far cry from that of the average girl her age. To start with, there are her parents: Her father is a politician with presidential aspirations, and her mother is CEO of Joah, the major record label who signed XOXO, the hottest boy group of the hour. Sori’s relationship with her ambitious, absentee parents isn’t the closest—in fact, it’s strained at best. Sori has her own career as a rising model and Joah trainee, although she’s lost her passion for music and doesn’t really want to be an idol anymore. She just needs to find the courage to tell her mom that. But Sori is exhausted, thanks to her stressful family situation and feelings for ex-boyfriend Nathaniel Lee, XOXO’s Korean American lead vocalist and dancer, who’s extremely off-limits. It doesn’t help that their chemistry is still sizzling or that his family feels more comforting to her than her own. When push comes to shove, she may have to confront her feelings all at once—for Nathaniel, her parents, and her future. This charming companion to XOXO (2021) features lived-in characters and a swoony love story. Romanized Korean is smoothly incorporated throughout the book, and the South Korean setting is richly developed.

Delightful. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780063299306

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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