by Colleen Hoover
Not a children’s book
This is not my typical reading. I’m not big on sappy romance novels, but I borrowed the book at the suggestion of a friend who talked me into 50 Shades and Room, both of which (I hate to admit) I enjoyed. Maybe Someday was a whimsical read. I wasn’t committed to the characters and I’m not really wondering what happened after the novel. Normally, that would indicate I didn’t really enjoy it, but I read it in 4 days (Thanksgiving week… I had a lot do do!).
Maybe Someday is told from the dual perspectives of Ridge and Sydney, two people in their early twenties. We learn early on that Sydney recently goes through a break up, and she is welcomed into Ridge’s apartment. They instantly make a connection through music. Ridge writes the music while Sydney writes the lyrics. They form a relationship and a bond that creates friction in their lives, but they are determined to remain friends.
What I liked about this book was that I needed something light and fun for my week off, and this is definitely it. I wasn’t attached to the characters, but I wanted happiness for both of them. The writing wasn’t spectacular (though I’ve been told the addition of the soundtrack is a bonus), but I felt compelled to finish and see it through.
What I didn’t like about this book was the part at the end where I wanted to barf from how lovey dovey sappy disgusting it was. It was like 50 Shades meets The Notebook. People cry after sex and can’t live without one another and their hands all fit perfectly as though they were made for each other. Oh my gosh. I love my husband, but if I ever think it’s sexy to write all over my body with a pen, please stab me in the eye with it.
Would I read it again? Probably not. But it served its purpose of entertaining me!
Book 23 of 40 (year 2)
by Stuart Gibbs
AR Level 5.2, 11 points
Before you read Poached, be sure to read Belly Up. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read it, because someone stole it off of my bookshelf in my classroom. I had two students who read it and told me how awesome it was, and that’s the last we’ve seen of it. Belly Up is the first book in the FunJungle series, and Poached refers back to the events several times. It isn’t necessary (Poached is a brand new problem and solution and the setting and characters are reintroduced), but it would probably be helpful.
Poached is about a boy named Teddy who lives in a zoo/theme park called FunJungle. His mom cares for the chimps and his dad is a wildlife photographer, and Teddy is a seventh grade prankster. We quickly learn he helped solve a murder (of a hippo) in Belly Up, but doesn’t have everyone’s trust due to the pranks he pulls. When a koala goes missing, Teddy becomes the number one suspect, and he has to prove his innocence throughout the novel, while trying to find the real koala-napper. It is a smartly-written “whodunnit” kind of book.
What I liked about this book was that it not only told a good story, but you couldn’t read it without learning a million new facts about wildlife. Although this was about a koala (and most of the facts were koala-related), I also learned about chimps, sharks, elephants, and big cats. At the end, Gibbs reminded the reader of why koalas are endangered, and encouraged the reader to learn more and take action. It’s almost like he was being sneaky and making me learn.
What I didn’t like about this book was that at times, it got to be a little too unrealistic. It is an adventure novel, so it makes sense that there would be a lot of action, and I should have expected it since Spy School was the same.
I was lucky enough to meet Stuart Gibbs at a book fair earlier this year. I wish I’d read his novels then so I could’ve told him how I felt about his writing (positive, of course)!
Book 22 of 40 (year 2)
Sunny Side Up
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (brother/sister team!)
AR Level 2.4, 0.5 point
I have been hearing about Sunny Side Up on Twitter and I’ve seen it in the bookstore on my recent trips (where I photograph books I want to read). I had to see what the fuss was about, and I can see why it’s been tweeted and raved about now! Jennifer Holm’s novel The Fourteenth Goldfish is a popular one in my class, and is never on my bookshelf for more than a few minutes.
The story flips between “present” time (mid 1970’s) and the previous year. Sunny lives with her parents, younger brother, and older brother. She is sent to stay with her grandfather in his retirement community in Florida instead of going on a family vacation to the beach with her friend, and she doesn’t think it’s fair. We see her struggles with her grandpa, as well as her friendship with a boy who introduces her to comic books. In the end, we see that part of the reason Sunny has been so miserable is she’s been holding onto a deep sense of guilt, and she has to let that go.
What I liked about this story was that it touched on a very relatable topic that I know for a fact several of my current and past students face (or have had to in the past), and that’s feeling guilty for someone else’s actions when it has nothing to do with them. Sunny also has a brother involved in something very dark and dangerous, and she worries about him. I know my students also deal with siblings involved in gangs, drugs, or other bad situations. I like that Sunny was able to get through a bad situation and still come out on top. She needed to change her attitude and outlook for things to improve.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I wanted to see more of what happened with her brother. It has a wonderful theme, but for my students, I think seeing the process of what happens to make things better for her brother would help. I felt like her parents’ explanation or reaction could have helped. As a story, it wasn’t necessary. For the sake of my students and others who CAN relate, I think more information may have been helpful.
I’ve enjoyed Raina Telgemaier’s graphic novels, and this fell into the same range of enjoyment.
Book 21 of 40 (year 2)
A Tale Dark & Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz
AR Level 4.6, 6 points
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book by a new author that I really enjoyed. Adam Gidwitz writes in a way that reminds me of Lemony Snicket in that he speaks to the reader, giving the reader warnings to discontinue reading or clear the room of small children. I like when the author interacts with me, because it pulls me into the story. Reverse psychology apparently works on me. Well played, Gidwitz.
A Tale Dark & Grimm follows Hansel and Gretel. The witch with the home made of candy does appear, but Gidwitz takes us through a mash of various fairy tales, in which Hansel and Gretel did not actually come from a poor family, but from a king who stole his queen. Together, they journey through forests and villages, fighting witches, dragons, the devil, and themselves. I found myself looking forward to the author’s voice more than what would happen to Hansel and Gretel, because of his technique of warning me.
What I liked about this book was that it was kind of gory. You don’t often read a children’s book where people are beheaded or killed in a gruesome or morbid way. There were a few parts that actually grossed me out or made me think that it might not belong on my classroom bookshelf, but then again, that’s probably what would keep my students wanting to read more.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I couldn’t figure out what was based on a real fairy tale and what was the author’s imagination. I do not recall reading a story where a little child when to Hell and tricked the Devil by dressing up as his grandmother, but I’m really not as well-read in Grimm’s tales as I should be.
I definitely plan to read the 2 books that come after, In a Glass Grimmly and The Grimm Conclusion. This is an author I’d like more of.
Book 20 of 40 (year 2)
All the Wrong Questions “Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?”
by Lemony Snicket
AR Level 5.5, 7 points
Um… what just happened? Did Lemony Snicket really just leave me hanging like that? I’d like to subtitle this blog post “What the Heck Did I Just Read?” Because I’m not really sure. In true LS fashion, I was left with more questions about the fate of the characters than I had when I started the series. This is the fourth and final installation of All the Wrong Questions, and the case of the Bombinating Beast came to a close. Or did it? Most of the story took place on a train headed to the city where all of our questions would be answered and justice would be served. I wanted to know who had the real statue, who Hangfire really is (I was wondering about a connection between the name Hangfire and the Volunteer FIRE Department aka VFD), whether we would find out what the S stands for in S. Theodora Markson, and if Kit Snicket would be set free. Some of those questions were answered directly and in some ways, we were left completely confused. As the final installment, I was hoping for more, but if all of my questions were answered, it wouldn’t have been a Lemony Snicket novel.
What I liked about this book was the usual snarkiness and random connections to elements from A Series of Unfortunate Events. Ultimately, I wanted to hear about our old friends, and there was a mention of Beatrice and Olaf. I appreciated that the problem was resolved, but it left me with more questions, and a little confused about what I just read.
What I didn’t like about this book was the death of one of my favorite characters, which I will not name, because I am not a spoiler. Also, I kind of wanted to throw it across the room when I read the last page. How dare he leave me hanging!
Book 19 of 40 (year 2)