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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS THE GIRL NEXT DOOR

A gloriously sweet holiday read about expectations and reality.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

In this YA romance, a Christmas wish has life-changing consequences.

Graham Wallace wants two things: to get out of Christmas, Virginia, and Sarah Clarke. The former is his holiday-obsessed small town, which the high school junior finds cozy but stifling; the latter is his childhood pal and next-door neighbor, a dedicated ballerina who happens to be dating Graham’s best friend, Jeremy Davis. Time is running out before the school’s winter formal. Graham has just asked the new girl in town, Piper Hudson, who also happens to frequent the bookstore where he works, when he makes a private, late-night Christmas wish. The next morning, Graham has what he desired. In this alternate reality, Graham and Sarah have been dating for two years and are planning to move to New York City after graduation. Jeremy has transformed from skinny gamer to buff wrestler and is interested in Piper, still the new girl in town and now Graham’s co-worker at the bookstore. But as the holiday draws closer in Christmas, Virginia, Graham realizes he and Sarah may not be the perfect match he once fantasized about. Despite their long-term relationship, the couple struggle to connect, and her parents aren’t exactly crazy about him. In the meantime, Graham can’t get Piper off his mind—is she truly the one he’s meant to be with? Bobulski creates a Hallmark movie–esque setting in Christmas, with special traditions and quirky townsfolk, like bookstore owner Aunt Bee and Graham’s parents, who have a long-term love story of their own. Graham is a winning narrator, devoted to Sarah in a way that’s realistic for a teenage boy but without ever becoming obsessive or entitled about his dream girl. Sarah herself has realistic inner conflicts about the future she thinks she wants with Graham and her actual dreams; and Piper shines as a well-developed love interest—a cheerleader with a passion for reading to match Graham’s—who is always straightforward about her feelings in a way that’s truly refreshing.

A gloriously sweet holiday read about expectations and reality.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Wise Wolf Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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