Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer

Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 208
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads:

Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!


Swapping charms

I read the first chapter, closed the book, and thought to myself, "Kristina Springer, will you be my BFF?" Or do I mean Jamie? I think I mean both because both Kristina Springer's writing style and the character she has created in Jamie are totally ME.

There are some characters I want to swap BFF charms with because they're so kick butt, or kind, or entertaining, or otherwise awesome. Jamie is that rare character I want to invite over for a sleepover party because she's so the type of friend who will finish my sentences or know exactly what I'm thinking without my having to utter a single word.

When she remarked on how a compliment about her hair from her crush (who she's too shy to actually talk to) would totally warrant a diary entry, I knew Jamie was a kindred spirit.

But what does that mean? Jamie isn't snarky like the characters I usually gravitate toward. She's sweet, kind, and innocent. She's the kind of girl who would give her mom a hug in front of the whole school.

With all that sweetness you might be thinking, "Oh gag me now" and maybe I would have too, but Jamie's first person narration is so open and genuine that I couldn't help but love and relate to her. With the over-abundance of jaded, tough-as-nails girls populating YA books lately, it was also nice to read from the perspective of someone as nice, family-oriented, and "clean" as Jamie.

You know this story...or do you?

Just Your Average Princess is pretty much just your average story. Girl with secret troubles moves from her glamorous city life to a small town. At first she's totally grossed out by the "quaintness" of it all, but she comes around and everything ends with character growth and a group hug.

Except the main character of Just Your Average Princess is not just your average main character. Jamie is not the girl who moves and adjusts and typically stars in this story (that would be her cousin). Jamie is the nice family member who the usual MC clashes with and eventually embraces.

I liked seeing the story from this new perspective. The twist in character focus helped take a been-there-done-that story and turn it into something a little different. The plot is still pretty predictable (I had Mean Cousin's secret pretty much pegged from the start), but I liked Jamie so much that I didn't mind traveling down this well-worn road with her.

Bonus points for

The two best friends who support Jamie and warmed my heart. Yummy sounding candy apples and pumpkin lattes (thank goodness I read this during Dunkin' Donuts' pumpkin season). The cute guy (sweet MG-level swoon). The emphasis on family (THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE PARENTS MATTER!)

Also points for the pumpkin farm Jamie lives on. I know, pumpkin farm?? But I was actually totally into seeing what it was like to live on a farm like Jamie and watch everything that went into that type of business.

Plus, she has a catapult that they use to chuck pumpkins at things. Tell me that's not cool?

Where did the star and a half go?

The too-quick personality change of Mean Cousin. I think I let this slide mostly because I've read so many books from the mean cousin's POV that I felt like her motivations were made more gradual and apparent than they actually were. But really, I wish it had been less of a switch flip and more of a slow turn around.

As much as I love Jamie and as much as I really did enjoy the story, I didn't connect with it in that Special Shelf way. Not much actually happened, there weren't any scenes that made it stand out for me, and I don't see it sticking with me for long. It also wasn't as funny as I was hoping it would be.

Bottom line

Just Your Average Princess was a totally wholesome read that I would give to both my YA and MG library girls. It wasn't fast-paced (or slow), but it was the perfect amount of pages to tell the story. Jamie was someone I immediately liked and I wish there were more characters like her in YA.

I was reminded a lot of Janette Rallison's books, with the similar moral messages, light and clean events, convincing character growth (Jamie's), and sweet romance. This was my first introduction to Kristina Springer, but I'll be sure to check out more of her books in the future.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Just Your Average Princess?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the covers to go to my reviews and/or Goodreads.


  1. Awesome review Small (happy to see your back - I missed you)! This is definitely a book I should look into because I adore Janette Rallison's books :) I think the fast turn around of the cousin would bother me also... but the main character sounds like someone I would invite for a sleepover too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

  2. Oh, I want to read this one even more! and I'm on an unofficial buying ban until Xmas!

    *iz a sad puppy*

    Le sigh.

    I like that you say she's no snarky, though I like a bit of snarky myself, I think it's one of those things that can be easily over done into annoying me. I like the idea of a wholesome book.

    Thanks for the heads up about the one and a half stars, I keep that in mind.

    Awesome review!! I missed reading your reviews, dear!

  3. You are back! Haha!

    Thanks for the review. I had in mind this book but i wasn't sure. I think i might try it at some point :)

  4. Lulu, Thank you! I missed you too! I didn't think this was as funny as Janette Rallison's books (at least the ones I've read), but it had a similar feel to it. I hope you like Jamie as much as I do!

    Alex, Aw, it will still be waiting on the shelves for you on Christmas :) I like snarky characters too, but I really liked how genuine and sweet she was.

    Yiota, I am! :) I hope you like it.

  5. Jaime sounds really sweet and down to earth! This sounds just like a simply fun book to sit, read, and enjoy. I'm always on the lookout for wholesome books at the library, especially for upper elementary girls who are a bit too young to read the sometimes racy YA reads. Thanks for the recommendation, Small!

  6. Although I don't think I would read this book, I freaking LOVE your reviews!!!! So thought out, so incredibly insightful and I love subheadings and whatnot! Oh Small, I have missed you :)

    Lah @ LazyGirl Reads

  7. I don't want pumpkin latte (and pumpkin cheesecake) season to end! I better read this one before it does. You have me really admiring Jamie. Not only do I want to be best friends with her, but I kind of want to be her.

    If you could pull her character out of this book and put her in a better story, which would it be?

  8. SHE'S BAAAACK!! *jumps up and down and claps*

    I really dug Kristina Springer's book The Espressologist - kind of fluff plot, but well-done, sweet characters. It sounds like this is similar, but I will definitely be checking it out. I hadn't heard of this one yet, so thanks!

  9. Rummanah, Jamie is SO sweet and down to earth! I think this would be a good book for upper elementary girls. It's very wholesome and Jamie would make a great role model.

    Lah, Thank you sweetie! I've missed you too :D

    Missie, Mmmmm pumpkin cheesecake! Or, really, any cheesecake. My fiance doesn't like cheesecake so whenever I cave and buy one I get to eat the entire thing by myself (which I think is great, but I think my pants disagree).

    Great question! Hmmm...Waterfall. I think her values and personality would mean that she'd get along well with Gabi and Lia. All of her hard work on the pumpkin farm means she'd probably be able to hold her own with a sword or, at least, she could literally hold a sword. I don't know about wielding it!). I don't think she'd have the stomach to deal with Paratore though. She's too sweet.

    Logan, Yay! :D I kept thinking about your review for The Espressologist when I was reading Just Your Average Princess! I'm so happy to hear the characters in The Espressologist are sweet too.

  10. this one seems to be getting a lot of great reviews, i want to check it out. thanks for the honest review!

  11. Even if there's a missing half star, I'd really like to read this! The different perspective is definitely a bonus!

    Great review.

  12. Carrie, You're welcome!

    Dazzling Mage, I would still recommend it even with the missing star and a half. For my ratings, that's still an above average book and one I enjoyed.

  13. Haven't seen a review from you in a while! glad to have you back :) I added this one to my goodreads page a couple weeks ago based solemnly on the summary but Ms. Springer sounds like my type of author :) I will be sure to give this one a try ASAP! Thanks for posting.

    Diana @ The Lovely Getaway

  14. Great Review Small! I love it when you want to be BFF's and have a sleepover with the main character! Can I come too?


  15. I have to say, though, that this cover is awful. The spread legs? Mmmmmm not so much.

  16. This is one I want to pick up. I've wanted it for awhile. Ever since I saw you post the cover awhile back on a WoW post. Me love. It sounds like a nice contemp for a cool down day. Nothing too serious...just some fun. Excellent review, Small. I love the "Where did the star and a half go?" part!

  17. Diana, Thanks so much! I hope you like the book :)

    Heather, You always have a standing invitation :)

    Logan, Haha, ooh well, Jamie would probably never even think something that dirty. And if you pointed it out to her she would be mortified.

    Jen, It was very sweet, but a touch more serious than I was expecting. It doesn't deal with HEAVY issues, but Jamie spends a lot of the book feeling down and unloved. So it's not a funny pick-me-up kind of read, but it is very sweet. Hope you like it! :D

  18. This sounds cute. I like that you connected with it so much. I'm still on the fence about this one, but I might pick it up because you enjoyed it!

  19. A Backwards Story, It was cute! Jamie was such a refreshing change. I hope you like it! It's a fast read either way.

  20. Aww, I just love characters that I can picture myself being best friends with! And yeah, I get a little weary of all the tough, kick-ass girls that seem to be prevalent in YA - I mean, I love them too, it's just nice to read about a sweet girl as a change of pace.

    Love your all caps message about the importance of the family element! Parents are so rarely involved.


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