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THE SELF-SUFFICIENT PRINCESS

A novel that’s sure to be a hit with everyday princesses who like junk food and video games.

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Addams presents a modern YA fairy tale in which a princess deals with suitors, dragons, and approaching adulthood.

Sometime before her 18th birthday, Princess Nightingale—“Gale” for short—of the land of This-and-That chose to move to a tower at the edge of the woods. She needed her own space to stay up late playing an online game called Scabs of Destiny and then sleep until noon—or whenever her magic mirror, Reflexa, awakens her. The idea of becoming a responsible adult was already daunting, and then Wrathnarok, Harbinger of Doom, shows up. The large dragon lets Gale know that she’s about to receive several suitors hoping to win her hand. Gale doesn’t take this news well: “You OK, kid?” asks Wrathnarok. “You look like a puppy trying to bite a football.” Traditionally, a princess presents her husband-to-be to the court at her 18th birthday celebration. Gale’s not sure if she wants to be a princess anymore, and she isn’t looking to get married any time soon—especially not to the sad specimens who show up at her tower. Dragons also make difficult roommates; they eat everything in sight—even, on occasion, people. Can Gale make choices about her life without letting her kingdom down? Addams delivers a delightful tale that subversively values the independence of its protagonist above all. Gale effectively learns to find her joy in self-reliance with the help of her support network; her friends and family prove to be so understanding, in fact, that it takes some of the conflict out of her decisions. However, the novel more than makes up for this slight drawback with its sharp humor, as expressed by an exhausted narrator trying their best. The fantasy world, which not only features dragons but also the social network Gracebook and royal pizza makers, is entertaining, but the banter between Gale and Wrathnarok—who agrees to be called Mittens and shrink down to the size of a dog when off-duty—is the highlight of the story.

A novel that’s sure to be a hit with everyday princesses who like junk food and video games.

Pub Date: May 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781961075344

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Amazon Book Marketing Pros

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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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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