KISSING LESSONS

A steamy, straight-to-Netflix teen romance.

A teen with a promiscuous reputation is hired for lessons on seduction and falls for her client’s brother.

Independent 18-year-old Hayden Vargas looks forward to leaving behind her judgmental high school classmates and neglectful mother to pursue her dream of becoming a tattoo artist. Every penny counts toward her dream, and when Emmaline Martin offers her money to teach her how to attract boys, Hayden struggles to turn her down. Popular classmate Nolan Martin has made it his mission to care for his family since his father’s death, so when he notices his younger sister, Emmaline, hanging out with Travis High School’s bad girl, he becomes suspicious and overprotective. But his attempts at intervention only result in him growing fonder of Hayden, who surprises him as she opens up. Points of view mainly shift between Hayden and Nolan but also focus, less frequently, on Emmaline and Beau—Nolan’s best friend, whose reputation at school mirrors Hayden’s. Despite cookie-cutter characterization, Jordan’s handling of themes surrounding teen relationships, such as the double standard of girls being sluts versus boys being players, is honest. The only kissing lessons involve girls practicing on one another at a sleepover, which later leads two of them to explore their mutual attraction. The sweetness of the happy ending does not make up for its abruptness, unfortunately. Characters are assumed white except for Hayden, who is cued as Latinx.

A steamy, straight-to-Netflix teen romance. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-97707-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

STAY GOLD

Several yards short of a touchdown.

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

FIREBORNE

From the Aurelian Cycle series , Vol. 1

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes.

What happens to the world after the dust from a revolution has settled?

Friends Annie and Lee were children from very different circles when Atreus killed Lee’s father, dragonlord Leon Stormscourge, ending the uprising on the bloodiest day in Callipolis’ history. For too long the dragonriders held all the power while their people starved and lived in fear. Nine years later, a new generation of dragonriders is emerging, children selected and trained on merit, not bloodlines. Their dragons are finally mature enough for them to compete for Firstrider, a position of power that can give Lee back a small part of what his family lost. However, not only is Lee competing against Annie, but rumors are circulating that some of the royal family have survived and have dragons of their own. Everyone will have to make a choice: Restore the old regime, support the First Protector and the new caste system he created, or look for a new way, no matter what the cost. From the beginning, this book pulls readers in with political intrigue and action. What keeps them invested, however, are the complex relationships between many cast members. Choices are complex, and the consequences for all could be deadly. The world is well fleshed out and believable. Annie and Lee are light skinned; secondary characters are diverse, and race is a nonissue in this world.

Full of drama, emotional turmoil, and high stakes. (author’s note) (Fantasy.14-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51821-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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