Google+ YA Romantics: YA Royalty: Review of Princesses of Iowa and Queen of Kentucky

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

YA Royalty: Review of Princesses of Iowa and Queen of Kentucky

Review of Princesses of Iowa and Queen of Kentucky

We're talking royalty today -- I'm reviewing Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes and Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker.

Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes
Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

Published by Candlewick Press

on May 8, 2012

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.

Content: more language that a typical YA and some drunken hook up scenes


My summary: Paige always looked forward to her senior year, to being a  homecoming princess with her best friends Nikki and Lacey. But after the girls are involved in a drunk driving accident at the end of their junior year, Paige is shipped off to Paris to toil as an au pair -- more Cinderella than princess. When she returns, nothing is quite what she expects. Her friends have changed, her boyfriend seems different, the new creative writing teacher  wants her to dig deep and write about her life, and there's a new kid in class who seems to think that she's way more than just a pretty girl on a float.

My take:  There's a lot going on in this book. It begins with a stream-of consciousness monologue about how easy it is to find yourself drunk behind the wheel of a car. Then we're with Paige as she arrives at the airport from her summer in Paris.

It took me a while to warm up to Paige. Initially self-centered and a little snobby, she wants to put the drunk driving incident behind her and have a picture-perfect senior year. That's not going to happen. Her friend Lacey has spent the summer in surgery and physical therapy after the accident. Paige's boyfriend Jake seems to have spent a lot of time "being there" for Lacey while Paige was away.

Paige ends up in a creative writing class taught by the handsome and dynamic Mr. Tremont, who is one part John Keating from Dead Poet's Society and one part Ms. Finney from The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger.

There are a LOT of issues crammed into this book: drunk driving, homophobia, small town prejudice, near date rape, parental pressure. All important issues, but just when I'd get invested in one, the book would veer off in a different direction. I did like the way that change wasn't easy for Paige. And by the end, I was rooting for her to sort everything out.


Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker

Published by: Poppy/Little Brown Books for Young Readers

On: January 2, 2012

Source: swapped

My summary: Ricki Jo can't wait to start her freshman year of high school. She knows she can be popular, if only she can get her family and best friend Luke to remember to call her Ericka. Then she just has to find friends, make the cheerleading squad, and be sure no one at school thinks she's a hick.

My take: This book was absolutely adorable! You could call it borderline middle grade, as the main character is only fourteen and hasn't hit puberty. But I fell completely in love with Ricki Jo. Debut author Alecia Whitaker is a twenty-first century Beverly Cleary. Queen of Kentucky is simple, touching, funny, heartfelt, and true to life.

I think just about every reader will recognize themselves in Ricki Jo. She studies Seventeen magazine as religiously as the Bible. She's worried that the country club girls at her school will think a farm girl like her is a hick. She has two normal, overprotective parents, plus a Mamaw and Papaw who shamelessly embarrass her in public. She makes friends who disappoint her at times. She falls for the absolute wrong boy and doesn't realize it. She has the absolute right boy under her nose and doesn't realize it.

Queen of Kentucky was an absolute pleasure to read -- I'm putting it on the stack of books that I'm saving for my daughter.

Readathon update: I finished Insurgent and am 45% done with Dead Time by Anne Cassidy.
Tell me in comments: what are you reading right now?


19 comments:

  1. Those both sound like good books. Queen of Kentucky sounds more like a book I would enjoy. Great reviews hon!! ANd doing great with the bout of books!!

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    1. I'm so happy that you're jumping on the Contemps train with PrissyCrissy and me!

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  2. Awesome! Queen of Kentucky has been on my TBR list. I need to read it! Thanks for the tip.

    Kathryn
    Clean Teen Fiction
    Clean Adult Fiction

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    1. You will LOVE it!!!!
      Let me know after you read it!

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  3. Okay that crown has my name written all over it! hehe LOVE it! For some reason I am a in HUGE contemp mood lately! hehe I need to read both of these. But especially Queen of Kentucky! They sound great! And you are doing FANTASTIC on Bout of Books 4.0! Keep it up! I'm 45% done with Lies Beneath. And its GOOD!

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  4. Sounds like The Princesses of Iowa didn't do it for you in the end:( But Queen of Kentucky looks awesome, and gosh, probably will take more than one of us back to that period of life when dressing like a model from Seventeen magazine was the most important thing EVER! I still remember getting my August issue and taking it to the mall with me when I went back to school shopping!

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    1. Yes! That back to school Seventeen magazine! I pored over it for hours.

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  5. I have heard good things about Queen of Kentucky. It sounds cute.

    I read Insurgent also and now I'm reading Of Poseidon. It's good but typical YA it seems. Nothing really original but I'm still enjoying it so far.

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  6. I totally love that you have a stack of books that you are saving for you daughter. The Queen of Kentucky looks totally adorable!

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    1. Also, I don't know why or when I started talking like a valley girl in all of my comments, but I think I say totally too much in real life, too.

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    2. I like the Valley-speak.
      And my daughter's first word was "no!" So we shall see if she likes my book choices....

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  7. I'm reading Deadly Addiction by Kristine Cayne and 80% into. very nice book. Definitely not YA though but not erotica either.

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    1. Sounds great -- your blog has been introducing me to a lot of new authors lately!

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  8. I'm reading the Butterfly Clues, or something like that. All I know is that I really REALLY want to be reading Insurgent but I need to get through a couple other books I have had on hold first and they have all BEEN DUDS (hello MARA DYER). Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. These two books you reviewed sound cute, though. The Princesses of Iowa might end up on my TBR list.

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    1. I have an ARC of Butterfly Clues -- let me know what you think!

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  9. The books look great, but I have to say I am LOVING the crown. I'd wear it everywhere.

    I'm reading BORN WICKED by Jennifer Spotswood - thanks to you!!

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    1. Ooooh!!! Hope you like Born Wicked.
      Yes, the crown is quite lovely, isn't it?

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