These comic turns of phrase and the novel’s palpable warmth should win it some fans, particularly among readers who like...

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SO THE SIGN SAID

New York City girl goes to small-town Texas. Comedy and romance ensue.

When Jordan’s crazy uncle Jacob is arrested in China for smuggling Bibles, her divinity-professor father decides to fill in at his church for the summer, dragging Jordan and her corporate-lawyer mother along with him. The town of Ashworth has the usual collection of quirky eccentrics:  supertalented Latino youth-group leader and chef; little-old-lady bookkeeper and gambler; perky, blonde, hedgehog-toting wannabe superstar; hot, brooding boy librarian and bottle-washer; redneck bad boy; etc. While her father inflicts his university-level theology lectures (complete with PowerPoint) on his brother’s flock every week and her mother goes Stepford after losing her biggest client, Jordan slowly succumbs to the charms of Ashworth, particularly those of Knox, the brooding boy with tragedy in his past. While Osteen’s debut breaks no new ground in the plot department and at times struggles with characterization and language, it nevertheless has its fair share of good one-liners. As Jordan’s father lectures her about the proper use of “y’all,” she reflects that “now, rather than hanging out in Greenwich Village, I had to concern myself with incorrect country bumpkin grammar.”

These comic turns of phrase and the novel’s palpable warmth should win it some fans, particularly among readers who like their romance on the sweet, not steamy side . (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-937327-07-1

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Fishing, fighting and girls make this a real guy’s-guy story in which a fairly solid plot is marred by overwriting,...

FAST HANDS

A coming-of-age story set on an Alaskan fishing boat.

The title is a wordplay on “fast” as “quick” and the nautical use of “fast,” meaning to make secure—and a clever plot summation. Sixteen-year-old Augustus has fast hands. They can play percussion, and they can damage. Their ability to damage has given him a choice: go to juvenile detention or crew on his uncle’s commercial halibut-fishing boat in Alaska. Gus chooses the sea, ignorant of the fishing boat’s 19-hour workday. Eventually he acclimates and becomes proud of doing a man’s work. He also learns more about his scattered family and does some rethinking about a friend he betrayed back home. Gus’ narration is often inconsistent in both tone and storyline and relies heavily on telling rather than showing. The commercial fishing jargon will confuse any readers not completely familiar with that trade. Female characters are simply stereotypes. Gus’ mother cries. The restaurant owner is motherly, and the love interest is a lap-dancer (briefly) who wants to be a singer, knows self-defense and has no problem shedding her clothes for a hot-springs soak with the guys—an adolescent male fantasy if there ever was one.

Fishing, fighting and girls make this a real guy’s-guy story in which a fairly solid plot is marred by overwriting, confusing jargon and one-dimensional female characters. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-935347-31-6

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Epicenter Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Timely subject matter and an adequate romance, but nothing super.

BLAZE (OR LOVE IN THE TIME OF SUPERVILLAINS)

Geeky girl with absent father and quirky hobby meets unsuitable boy, then realizes Mr. Right has been under her nose all along.

Blaze's self-centered father, a caricature, left the family to become an actor, leaving her with only her name (from Ghost Rider's Johnny Blaze) and a love for classic Marvel Comics. Now, Blaze spends her time ferrying her 13-year-old brother Josh and his farting, breast-ogling, gay-joke–making friends to and from soccer practice. She has a crush on Mark, Josh's soccer coach, but their relationship fails to progress until Blaze's friend snaps a picture of Blaze trying on lingerie and sends it to Mark's phone. After a confusing and pressure-filled sexual encounter and Mark's subsequent brushoff, Mark posts the half-naked photo on clunkily named Facebook stand-in FriendsPlace, and it goes viral. The resultant bullying is harsh but believable, and it's satisfying to see Blaze channeling her hurt and anger into making comics and redecorating her Superturd of a minivan. Less impressive, however, are some of Blaze's asides to the reader (“Stuart is one of only three black students in our school....I feel somewhat hip and urban having him here at my house”) and the frequent subtle digs at girls being high-maintenance, stalkers, actual sluts and brainwashing feminists.

Timely subject matter and an adequate romance, but nothing super. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7348-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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