Tag: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Sunday Spotlight: Better Than the Movies by Lynn Painter

Posted April 18, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Better Than the Movies by Lynn PainterBetter Than the Movies by Lynn Painter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 4, 2021
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 368
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In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.

Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.

The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.

But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.



“A woman friend. This is amazing.
You may be the first attractive woman I have not wanted to sleep with in my entire life.”
—When Harry Met Sally

Michael was back.

I propped my feet up on the kitchen table and dug my spoon into the container of Americone Dream, still beside myself with giddiness. In my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have imagined the return of Michael Young.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again.

After he moved, I daydreamed for years about him coming back. I used to imagine I was out taking a walk on one of those gloriously cold autumn days that whispered of winter, the air smelling like snow. I’d be wearing my favorite outfit—which changed with each imagining, of course, because this fantasy started back in grade school—and when I’d turn the corner at the end of the block, there he’d be, walking toward me. I think there was even romantic running involved. I mean, why wouldn’t there be?

There were also no less than a hundred brokenhearted entries in my childhood diaries about his exit from my life. I’d found them a few years ago when we were cleaning out the garage, and the entries were surprisingly dark for a little kid.

Probably because his absence in my life was timed so closely with my mother’s death.

Eventually I’d accepted that neither of them were coming back. But now he’d returned.

And it felt like getting a little piece of happiness back.

I didn’t have any classes with him, so fate couldn’t intervene by throwing us together, which sucked so badly. I mean, what were the odds that we’d have zero occasions for forced interaction? Joss had a class with him, and clearly Wes did as well. Why not me? How was I supposed to show him we were meant to go to prom and fall in love and live happily ever after when I didn’t ever see him? I hummed along to Anna of the North in my headphones— the sexy hot tub song from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before—and stared out the window at the rain.

The one thing in my favor was that I was kind of a love expert. I didn’t have a degree and I hadn’t taken any classes, but I’d watched thousands of hours of romantic comedies in my life. And I hadn’t just watched. I’d analyzed them with the observational acuity of a clinical psychologist.

Not only that, but love was in my genes. My mother had been a screenwriter who’d churned out a lot of great small-screen romantic comedies. My dad was 100 percent certain that she would’ve been the next Nora Ephron if she’d just had a little more time.

So even though I had zero practical experience, between my inherited knowledge and my extensive research, I knew a lot about love. And everything I knew made me certain that in order for Michael and me to happen, I would need to be at Ryno’s party.

Which wasn’t going to be easy, because not only did I have no idea who Ryno even was but I had zero interest in attending a party filled with the jocks’ sweaty armpits and the populars’ stinky beer breath.

But I needed to get reacquainted with Michael before some awful blonde who shall remain nameless beat me to him, so I’d have to find a way to make it work.

Lightning shot across the sky and illuminated Wes’s big car, all snuggled up against the curb in front of my house, rain bouncing hard off of its hood. That assbag had been right behind me all the way home from school, and when I’d pulled forward to properly parallel park, he’d slid right into The Spot.

What kind of monster parked nose-first in a street spot?

As I honked and yelled at him through the torrential down- pour, he waved to me and ran inside his house. I ended up having to park around the corner, in front of Mrs. Scarapelli’s duplex, and my hair and dress had been drenched by the time I burst through my front door.

Don’t even ask about the new shoes.

I licked off the spoon and wished Michael lived next door instead of Wes.

Then it hit me. “Holy God.”

Wes was my in. Wes, who had invited Michael to the party in the first place, would obviously be attending. What if he could get me in?

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: April 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lynn Painter

Lynn Painter Headshot

Lynn Painter lives with her husband and pack of wild children in Nebraska, where she is a weekly contributor to the Omaha World-Herald and an avid fan of napping. When working on a new book, she can often be found sound asleep on her office floor. Some might say she should grow up and stop randomly dozing off like she's a toddler, but Lynn considers it part of her writing "process."

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Guest Review: Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Posted January 26, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Impostor Queen by Sarah FineReviewer: Whitley
The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

Publication Date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 432
Add It: Goodreads
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Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

I absolutely loved this book. It was such an engaging fantasy. The world was fascinating, the magic was awesome, the characters were great, the plot was engaging. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the main character, and she was more ‘eh’ than actual ‘dislike.’

The story follows Elli as she moves from (forcibly) pampered princess to outcast, and it’s very well handled. Probably because Elli was kicked out after they discovered she didn’t have magic, rather than her running away. That allowed to her to have this genuine, deep-seated devotion to her country and a desire to do best, and when she found herself living in a shack in a cave and working hard for the first time in her life (or working at all for the first time!) she had that drive and motivation to prove/improve herself to keep her going. I really liked that about her. What I didn’t like was the way she seemed really, really young in some parts. Honestly, when the book started, I thought she was supposed to be eight or so. (She got better. Sorta.) I also didn’t like how, when she did discover her unique powers, instead of doing literally anything with them she just sort of flailed around and let them control her. She had most of winter to experiment, and she didn’t get proactive until the last few chapters. It didn’t seem to fit with the rest of personality, which was very intent on learning how to be ‘useful’ in every single other way except magic.

Also, she was thoroughly bisexual, so that was awesome.

I liked the world in this book, which had magic, culture, and geography all intertwined into one awesome whole. Secret sects! Wars! HISTORY! Bizarre inheritance rituals! I loved how well it all came together. The plot was rather introspective and focused a lot on the characters and the world, until the action at the very end, but I was interested enough in said characters and world that I didn’t really care. Mostly because the world was the unique part of the book, and when the action did happen it was kind of predictable. (I have a theory, one which I’m pretty sure is correct, there were some glaring hints, but I’m going to have to wait until the sequel to be proven right. Sigh.)

All in all, a solid YA fantasy that I would recommend to any fan of the genre.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reading Order

Impostor Queen


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Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Posted August 19, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny HanReviewer: Rowena
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2

Publication Date: May 26th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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Series Rating: four-stars

Given the way love turned her heart in the New York Times bestselling To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which SLJ called a “lovely, lighthearted romance,” it’s no surprise that Lara Jean still has letters to write.

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.

This is the follow up book to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han and it was another cute story.

This story picks up right where the first book ends and it starts with the one thing that Lara Jean is best at. Letters. A letter to Peter. Ahhhh, this book.

I adored it to pieces. Lara Jean is probably one of my favorite YA protagonists of the year. She is so much fun to get to know and her thought processes and just everything that comes out of her mouth makes me laugh and laugh. She’s such a fun character and seeing her fall in love, get mad and learn some life lessons is a whole lot of great. I love reading about her life. Jenny Han handles writing the life of a young Asian protagonist really well. I love that her culture is a part of who she is, how it’s a part of her reactions to the things that happen to her.

This book introduces a new boy in Lara Jean’s life and while I was bummed that this was going to be a love triangle thing, Han told me to calm my ass down and keep reading so I did. I liked the way that the other boy was handled and I love that when all was said and done, Lara Jean knew where her heart belonged.

Peter, freaking Peter. I loved him. I loved how different he was from Lara Jean and even when he was being a complete dumbass, I loved him. The whole thing with Gen made me want to smack the shit out of her and kick Peter in the balls but as with Lara Jean, he knew where his heart belonged and I enjoyed seeing them come together in the end.

This book was a fun story about memorable characters from the first book. I liked that Lara Jean went through some real life problems and handled them like a real person would. I loved that she figured her shit out and fixed the things in her life that needed fixing (including friendships that used to mean the world to her). She was a better and stronger person for all the things she went through in this book and I adored her and Peter together.

This book is filled with cuteness and I definitely recommend this to lovers of Jenny Han’s books but also to fans of contemporary YA romances. This is one of the good ones.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. You can purchase it here and here in e-format.


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Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Posted December 15, 2014 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

boys ive ever lovedRowena’s review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

I haven’t read very many things from Jenny Han but this book is one that I’ve wanted to read for a while because the premise sounded great.

After Lara Jean’s mother died, it was just the three Song sisters and their Dad. Margot, the oldest sister was the boss. She took care of everyone and was the fill in Mom that their youngest sister Kitty needed but when Margot went away to college in Scotland, it was Lara Jean’s turn to step up and handle business. Too bad once Margot left, Lara Jean, the good sister who stayed home and never got into any trouble, got a life that kept getting more and more complicated as the pages turned.

You see, Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend but she’s had a lot of crushes. She’s never told any of her crushes that she liked them but she did write them each letters telling them how she felt and then hid those letters away in a box. When somehow, those letters get sent out and her old crushes (and one crush that never quite went away) start confronting her about what was in their letters, Lara Jean freaks the hell out but over the course of the book, you really see Lara Jean come into her own. She becomes a lot more confident in herself and in life.

I really liked this book. I think the only gripe that I had with this book was the ending. It wasn’t a romance novel kind of ending but it wasn’t the worst ending either, but still…more would have been appreciated.

Lara Jean was the perfect protagonist. I thought she was so normal and loved her quirky personality. My heart hurt for her when I read her letter to Josh, her sister’s ex-boyfriend and one of her best friends.  She made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion and I loved seeing her relationship with her younger sister, Kitty grow. They were such normal sisters and I liked the team they made once Margot left the nest.

Also? I knew right from the jump who sent those letters out. I couldn’t believe Lara Jean didn’t know.

Jenny Han tricked me because I thought the love interest was going to be one person and then PLOT TWIST, turns out, he’s someone else. The whole time we’re getting to know the love interest, I’m thinking, “Why are we getting so much of this guy? He’s great but what about the other guy?” and then as the story progressed, I started thinking, “Sorry other guy, you don’t stand a chance against this guy.”  I see what you did there, Ms. Han. Good job. The love interest was great. Just fanfreakingtastic. I came to adore the heck out of him. He was much more suited for the person that Lara Jean was now than the other guy.

This book really had it all. I laughed, I got teary eyed and I sighed all over the place. It was great fun and I’m definitely going to be reading more by Jenny Han. This was a great book, even if I wanted a bit more in the end. It was worth the price and the time that I spent on it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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