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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
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My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

40 / 52 books. 77% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

12 / 26.2 miles. 46% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

26 / 100 books. 26% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

64 / 104 books. 62% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

69 / 165 books. 42% done!
Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Quiet, Contemplative MG Novel an Ode to the Power of Imagination and Friendship

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone thinks 11-year-old Ware is a space cadet, but he's perfectly happy spending all his time in his own little world.  His grand imagination allows him to be anything he wants to be, including a heroic Medieval knight.  When his plans for a quiet summer being left pretty much to his own devices goes awry, Ware finds himself enrolled in a day camp at the local rec center with a bunch of other kids his age.  Meaningful social interaction is not Ware's idea of a good time, so when he happens upon a secret oasis—an abandoned church next to the rec center—he sees an unparalleled opportunity to duck out of camp and make his own fun.  The only problem is that someone else has already claimed the space and she does not want him there.  When Ware convinces scrappy Jolene to let him help her develop the old church into their own private playground, the two embark on a tentative friendship that might finally help two lonely misfits find belonging.  Then, an outside "enemy" starts to threaten their sanctuary.  Well versed in the knights' code of honor, Ware vows to protect their territory at all costs.  Can he and his new friend save the place that has sustained and nurtured them all summer?  Or will everything they've worked so hard to build be destroyed by the swing of a wrecking ball?

Here in the Real World, a middle-grade novel by genre veteran Sara Pennypacker, is a quiet, contemplative book.  The plot is compelling, the characters are likable, and the prose is assured.  While the story isn't exactly action-packed, it's still engrossing and enjoyable.  The tale teaches valuable lessons about friendship, being yourself, working together, finding one's strengths, etc.  Overall, it's a empowering, uplifting novel that I liked, didn't love.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for difficult subject matter (alcoholism, parental abandonment, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Debut MG Novel Funny and Entertaining

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Yumi Chung's Korean immigrant parents expect a lot of her—intensive studying, perfect grades, admission to an Ivy League institution, and the pursuit of an ambitious career (her older sister is in medical school).  Eleven-year-old Yumi couldn't care less about school.  In fact, she kind of hates the fancy prep academy her parents make her attend.  Her big dream?  Becoming the next great stand-up comic.  To her family, comedy is a silly hobby, a waste of time.  To Yumi, it's a way to express herself and connect with people in a way she can't otherwise.  

When Yumi happens upon a comedy camp for kids taught by her favorite YouTube comic, she can't help wandering in.  She's instantly mistaken for an absent camper.  Knowing her parents would never let her join the camp for real, Yumi assumes the missing girl's identity.  Yumi's thrilled to be learning from her idol, but maintaining her lie and keeping her activities a secret from her parents is stressing her out big time.  When the inevitable happens, Yumi must decide how much she's willing to risk to make her dream come true.  

A debut middle-grade novel by Jessica Kim, Stand Up, Yumi Chung! tells a fun, upbeat story that's entertaining and humorous.  The set-up is a little cliché with its demanding Asian-American parents and restaurant setting, but the stand-up comedy angle is one I haven't encountered before in a children's book.  Yumi is funny and likable, which makes her an easy-to-root-for heroine.  She and her friends act a lot older than 11, with more freedom and ambition than kids typically have at that age.  This made the story feel unauthentic, making me think this novel would have worked a little better as a YA book.  Still, Stand Up, Yumi Chung! is an enjoyable, empowering romp with lots of heart.  I didn't absolutely love it, but I definitely liked it.

(Readalikes:  A hundred titles should be coming to mind, but I'm drawing a blank.  Any ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  Another fine find

MG Sisters Novel Warm and Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is great at science, being optimistic, and talking to her famous, accomplished friends (okay, maybe that last one is only in her head). She’s not great at playing piano, sitting still, or figuring out how to say the right thing at the right time in real life. Libby was born with Turner Syndrome, and that makes some things hard. But she has lots of people who love her, and that makes her pretty lucky.

When her big sister Nonny tells her she’s pregnant, Libby is thrilled—but worried. Nonny and her husband are in a financial black hole, and Libby knows that babies aren’t always born healthy. So she strikes a deal with the universe: She’ll enter a contest with a project about Cecilia Payne, the first person to discover what stars are made of. If she wins the grand prize and gives all that money to Nonny’s family, then the baby will be perfect. Does she have what it takes to care for the sister that has always cared for her? And what will it take for the universe to notice?  (Plot summary from publisher)

What Stars Are Made of, a debut middle-grade novel by Sarah Allen, tells a warm, uplifting story about one girl's quest to help the person who's always been there for her.  There's a lot to love about the tale.  As a Type 1 diabetic, I'm always excited when I find books that deal with medical conditions, especially when they're geared toward young people. I love that these stories educate readers about these conditions while also teaching empathy and understanding. Because Allen has Turner Syndrome, Libby's experience with the disease comes across as very authentic. Libby is also a kind, compassionate heroine, which makes it easy to root for her success. I especially like her obsession with science and hope it encourages more girls to study STEM subjects. The plot of What Stars Are Made Of is compelling, the prose is assured, and the characters are likable. Although I didn't end up loving this one, I definitely liked it. I'll be on the watch for more from this debut author.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for material most suited for readers over 8

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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