SUMMER LOVIN BOOK REVIEW: Hot Dog Girl 💭 Magic Castle Playland turns into Magic Castle OMG the Main Character Did WHAT


Title: Hot Dog Girl
Author: Jennifer Dugan
Pages: 320

Release Date: April 30th 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQIA+
Goodreads Rating: 3.65 (of 1049 ratings)


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Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places.


This book would have been far better without the main character. It was super easy to read; Magic Castle Playland was a super fun setting; and there was a fun mission involved. But then this main character walked right in, and all of the promising aspects of this novel were thrown to the side and I was left with all dreams crushed like a melting ice cream cone on the theme park’s floor.

Lou is one of the most selfish characters that I’ve ever read – she honestly might be the most selfish one. Honestly, the toxicity that she brought to so many of the situations that I didn’t understand how people continuously kept letting her off. She was so self-centered, and she constantly focused on things that was what she wanted and no one else. I CANNOT. Here is a list of just a few things that her selfish self did:

  • Forces her friend on a date even when friend is a) getting out of a bad breakup and b) says that she is NOT interested in dating repeatedly
  • Lusting hard for a man in a committed relationship and actively trying to scheme up ways to break them up
  • Hates gf of man she is pining for for literally NO reason other than she is dating him (but don’t worry – the “true” characterization is found out just so we can prove the MC is right all along)
  • Refuses to focus on anything else besides the theme park closing even when her best friend’s grandmother is literally DYING
  • Forces her best friend into a fake dating relationship to…make Diving Pirate Man jealous/allow her into his life more while she is in the “safety” of a relationship DESPITE her friend’s constant non-enjoyment, thoughts of its absurdity, and general dislike of it/saying how it will negatively impact both of them
    • Also seemingly refuses to care how this negatively impacts the friend’s reputation. Since the reveal of Lou and Seeley comes out a DAY after the fact that Seeley was on that forced date, the person she was on the date with gets super angry and goes OFF in front of everyone about what a terrible person Seeley is for being in a relationship and going out on that date. What does Lou do? Literally in the same breath, she talks about something that she cares about and cares NOTHING for the position she put Seeley in.
  • Forces a mission upon others to save the theme park that the owner does not even want
  • Steals tax information from her father in order to find out more information all in the name of “saving the park”
  • Confronts the owner after people repeatedly tell her that he doesn’t want the park to stay open and makes him confess a personal reason for closing the park done
  • !!SPOILER!! Once Seeley officially says she’s done, that’s when Lou finally realizes it was Seeley all along. She’s so upset that Seeley has left her that she tells Diving Pirate Swoonboat that his princess gf is cheating on him just because she’s angry and needs someone else to be in pain. So, she has her opp with the Pirate, but finally recognizes that is a disaster. She gonna win Seeley back, and is like, I’mma write a letter! She even writes in the letter, “I could have kissed Nick. Could have had my shot!!!” Like WHY.

These are just a few things that she did, but literally, this was a constant. Every few pages, I would be like, WHAT. SHE DID WHAT? I just…there was no connection because none of her choices were motivated by things other than pushing her agenda. I just???? I mean, at least it was consistent?

There were some things that did keep me reading. The writing really was super easy to read, and it was so easy to binge read despite my issues with it. The setting was cool, but I mean, I could always have used more since I love my theme parks. I liked Seeley – she was a great friend and I enjoyed her character arc. These were definitely the main reasons to keep me reading, but I really fell apart with this novel because of the main character.



rating: Merida – enjoyed the setting but THIS MAIN CHARACTER
representation: f/f romance (bi and lesbian characters)
content warnings: cheating

What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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14 thoughts on “SUMMER LOVIN BOOK REVIEW: Hot Dog Girl 💭 Magic Castle Playland turns into Magic Castle OMG the Main Character Did WHAT

  1. This setting does seem really fun and quite unique for a book setting so that’s fun. But wow the main character does seem really selfish which can be frustrating to read about especially if she never acknowledges and decides to improve!! It’s a shame about that but I’m glad you enjoyed some aspects to this book!! And I still love the title of this book 😂 Great review 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was so devastated honestly. It had some really amazing potential. I really thought it would be my fav book of the year. I just. It went completely off the rails. That MC was one of the most loathsome people I have ever read. BUT I still might pick up something else that author puts out because I did like her ideas, I just can’t with the MC lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. YESSSSSSSSSss. I totally agree. I had it on my most anticipated for ages. But I think it could have been there for us if that main character. And super true, lol. All the setup was good so maybe with a change of MC it will be better. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooooof! I read this one a few months back and while the character annoyed me at some points I didn’t realize how truly toxic she was until you pointed this out. I will say that I still really loved how active her father was in her life. I felt like he was more present than most YA parents. Great review, but I’m sorry it wasn’t a positive reading experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg, yes, I totally agree with you about the father. I did really like their relationship. He definitely had a far better starring role than what most YA parents do as you said. It definitely made me surprised too when I laid the list out like this. Thank you, Malka! ❤


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