An effective combination of traditional and modern YA elements.

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SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS

A hilarious, angst-ridden YA novel about a teenage girl acclimating to life at a new high school by Griffin (Beauty and the Wiener: A Rescue Dog Romance, 2017, etc.).

Adrianna Bottom was bullied relentlessly at her old school in Seattle, and she’s determined not to experience the same fate at Beverly Hills High. But she’s off to an inauspicious start. As if having the surname Bottom weren’t enough, her father is a self-proclaimed “Bathroom Baron” who made his fortune selling novelty bathroom accessories. Her parents are parlaying their newfound wealth into a reality TV series starring Adrianna—whom they call the “Porcelain Princess.” On her first day of school, she accidentally exposes her Wonder Woman–underwear-clad bottom to her entire biology class, a feat that’s also filmed for the reality show. She does manage to meet three new people, however: a beautiful girl named Harper; Harper’s ex, Lennox; and the geeky Kevin. Harper immediately warns Adrianna of the social suicide that would result from fraternizing with Kevin, who, among other nerdy pursuits, spends his weekends doing fantasy live-action role-playing with friends. Adrianna soon finds herself leading a dual existence—hanging out with Harper and other popular kids during weekdays and role-playing (behind a mask) with Kevin on weekends. Adding to her woes is reality show producer Corbin, who’s determined to do anything—no matter how humiliating or socially disastrous for Adrianna—to garner a larger viewing audience. This book embraces some traditional aspects of YA literature—including a romance and a quest to be popular—but it avoids trendy dystopian or paranormal aspects. Griffin perfectly captures the characters’ adolescent angst, and many readers will relate to Adrianna’s dilemma—she wants to do what’s right, but she’s so emotionally scarred by past bullying that she feels crippled by indecision. Indeed, the author’s characterizations of Adrianna, Kevin, Harper, and even Lennox make this YA novel transcendent. The addition of live-action role-playing and reality television keeps the story feeling contemporary, and there’s just enough bathroom humor to add laughs without being too heavy-handed.

An effective combination of traditional and modern YA elements.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63375-593-2

Page Count: 354

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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WOODSONG

A three-time Newbery Honor winner tells—in a memoir that is even more immediate and compelling than his novels—about his intimate relationship with Minnesota's north woods and the dog team he trained for Alaska's Iditarod.

Beginning with a violent natural incident (a doe killed by wolves) that spurred his own conversion from hunter and trapper to observing habitant of the forest, Paulsen draws a vivid picture of his wilderness life—where bears routinely help themselves to his dog's food and where his fiercely protective bantam adopts a nestful of quail chicks and then terrorizes the household for an entire summer. The incidents he recounts are marvelous. Built of concrete detail, often with a subtext of irony or mystery, they unite in a modest but telling self-portrait of a man who has learned by opening himself to nature—not to idyllic, sentimental nature, but to the harsh, bloody, life-giving real thing. Like nature, the dogs are uncontrollable: independent, wildly individual, yet loyal and dedicated to their task. It takes extraordinary flexibility, courage, and generosity to accept their difficult strengths and make them a team: Paulsen sees humor in their mischief and has learned (almost at the cost of his life) that rigid discipline is irrelevant, even dangerous. This wonderful book concludes with a mesmerizing, day-by-day account of Paulsen's first Iditarod—a thrilling, dangerous journey he was so reluctant to end that he almost turned back within sight of his goal. lt's almost as hard to come to the end of his journal.

This may be Paulsen's best book yet: it should delight and enthrall almost any reader.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-02-770221-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1990

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

ADORKABLE

In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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