Love & Gelato (audiobook)
by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Gelato starts with Carolina (Lina) and her mother, Hadley Emerson, who is dying of cancer. Once she passes, Lina goes to Italy to spend the summer with the dad she never knew she had at her mother’s request. Lina starts off resentful, but when she’s given her mother’s journal from when her mother went to school in Italy, Lina learns more about her mother’s past, her parents, and who she is. While she’s making these discoveries, she becomes close friends with a boy named Ren who takes her to the places her mom wrote about in the journal, and they solve a mystery together while falling in love.
What I liked about this book was that it mixed up romance and mystery. I don’t normally binge-listen to an audiobook, but I finished this in basically 2, maybe 3 days. It was light, fun, and perfect summer reading. I also appreciated that there was nothing inappropriate about it! There was some kissing and a boy who wanted more than kissing, but there was no sex or talk of sex or violence. That means I won’t freak out if one of my students reads it.
What I didn’t like about this book was maybe an audiobook thing. It was a little hard for me to tell when Lina was speaking and when she was reading her mom’s journal. I’m not sure what the book looked like (it may have been a different font), but as an audiobook, it was a little confusing if I wasn’t paying close attention.
Book 14 of summer 2017!
Invisible Emmie (paperback)
by Terri Libenson
AR Level 3.8, 2 points
Invisible Emmie is for the quiet, shy girls who are unsure of themselves and need to know there is hope for them. Emmie is basically an only child since her older siblings are adults, and she lives with very busy parents. She loves drawing, has a best friend, and a huge crush on a boy named Tyler Ross. She and her best friend write fake songs about their crushes, and her letter gets out, causing extreme embarrassment. Meanwhile, there is a perfect girl named Katie who is pretty, smart, confident, and also likes Tyler Ross. Emmie’s embarrassing situation causes her a lot of stress, but also causes her to grow as a person.
What I liked about this book was the humor that Libenson uses in both her drawings and her uncomfortable situations. Some of the humor is subtle, so an intelligent reader will have to think about the drawings and captions to understand, but it will give the reader a chuckle.
What I didn’t like about this book was the ending. It bugged me. I understand the meaning, but I think that 1) it will confuse younger readers, and 2) it didn’t make a lot of sense. Whose imaginary friend gets jealous???
Book 13 of summer 2017!
Real Friends (paperback)
by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
AR Level (no quiz yet)
Real Friends made my heart hurt. It hit way, way, way too close to home for me. Not the home I live in today, but the one from when I was in elementary school. This is the story of Shannon, a girl with a vivid imagination who enjoyed writing. She wasn’t perfect, and didn’t always do everything right in her friendships nor with her siblings, but she was gravely mistreated by the girls in the popular group and misunderstood/ignored by her mother. Shannon had to find out the hard way that being in the popular group isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, especially with mean girls who often dress better and compete for attention. Shannon finally realizes who she is and she stands up for herself, but not before suffering a lot of hurt feelings and anxiety, basically ruining her elementary school experience.
What I liked about this book is that students can either relate to Shannon’s experience (like myself), or they can see how damaging being in the popular group can be for someone on the outskirts. It was really hard to read this, because it was such an emotional story. I think it is really important for girls to read this book, because it seems like someone is either out with the in crowd, or the in crowd itself.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it did hurt to read it. I didn’t want Shannon to be abused by her “friends” at school or her sister at home, but it is her experience (the author’s), and important to read.
Book 5 of summer 2017!
by Jason Reynolds
AR Level 4.6, 6 points
I loved this one. Ghost is the nickname Castle Cranshaw gave himself due to his speed. Ghost learned to run when his father chased him and his mother out of their house. Now, Ghost lives with his mom in the poorest part of town with dreams of becoming the next Lebron, but he finds himself on a track team with a tough coach. This coach sees potential in Ghost, despite the trouble Ghost gets himself into. Finally, Ghost learns that he has control of his life and starts making better choices.
What I liked about this book was… everything. This is a great read, and I look forward to the next book in the series, Patina, which should be out this fall. I liked the positive message, the positive role model, and the fact that Ghost faced consequences for his actions and learned a lesson. I think it shows there is hope when you take control of your life instead of just drifting along.
What I didn’t like about this book… there wasn’t anything. It is my first Jason Reynolds book, and I look forward to reading more from him. I think he has a strong voice, and readers of all ages can appreciate his style.
Book 42 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Fenway and Hattie (paperback)
by Victoria J. Coe
AR Level 3.6, 4 points
Fenway and Hattie is about a little girl and her dog. Only, the little girl, Hattie, is growing up, and the dog, Fenway, doesn’t understand, and feels that he’s losing her. Fenway is a Jack Russell Terrier, which is a very intelligent and energetic breed. They move to a home with a huge back yard (“dog park”) and Fenway is faced with his nemeses… the awful squirrels. Hattie meets Angel, a girl next door who plays baseball, and they start playing together. It is clear to everyone but Fenway that Fenway is in desperate need of some training, and everyone’s frustration stems from lack of understanding. Did I mention the entire story is told from the point of view of Fenway? That is what makes this book; it’s (only) saving grace!
What I liked about this book is that it will get the attention of my lower readers. It is only a 3.6, and it is a cute story. I really like that the POV is that of a dog, because we often wonder what our pets (and babies) are really thinking. It doesn’t have a lot of higher level vocabulary, but readers are forced to make inferences and draw conclusions left and right due to the fact that a dog narrator doesn’t understand what is going on, but we as humans do!
What I didn’t like about this book is that I wanted to like it, but couldn’t really get into it. I got frustrated with Fenway, because he was being annoying. I didn’t blame Hattie for putting him in his own room and putting up the gate. I cans ay that as a grown up pet-owner, but I’m sure most people would see this as a cute, heart-warming story of a girl and her dog.
Book 41 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
I decided since nearly every review would be nearly the same, I’d save us all some time and just write about the last 6 books in one post. Instead of writing about each book individually, I’ll just write the 5 things I enjoyed most about this series as a whole.
- They are FUNNY! There were several parts of each book where I was actually laughing out loud at Greg’s antics. I found myself taking pictures of the pages and sending them to my friend to convince her to read the series. I appreciate any book written for children that can entertain me the way this series did.
- The illustrations add to the humor, story, and readability of this book. Some of the illustrations go along with what is happening in the story, while others provide a little extra humor. I also like the way Kinney is consistent with his illustrations of characters.
- Greg, despite being egocentric (typical middle schooler), is likable (or even lovable). You want him to come out on top, even though he is clearly the sand in a teacher’s or parent’s bathing suit. He manipulates people and situations to get his own way, but that makes him believable and relatable as a character. I remember doing the same things when I was his age.
- They are fast reads. I’d say each book took me no more than 2 hours tops, although I never got to sit down and read one beginning to end. Some books took several days due to the holidays and my own children. If my students are looking for a fast read, these are great recommendations, because they are also very engaging.
- The AR level is in the fifth grade range. I’m not HUGE on reading level, because I think students should read for enjoyment, and book level often limits their choices. However, it is a bonus that there are inferences to be made and higher level vocabulary in these books. There are also moral dilemmas that students would have to think about in order to relate to the story.
I think it goes without saying that I enjoyed the series, and I do take back my snobbery. I didn’t think this series had as much to offer, but I am now eating my words! I recommend it to students, but I also think any adult who can relate to children would also enjoy it.
Cabin Fever Book 26 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
The Third Wheel Book 27 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Hard Luck Book 28 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
The Long Haul Book 29 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Old School Book 30 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Double Down Book 31 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (paperback)
by Jeff Kinney
AR Level 5.2, 3 points
Ditto to my other reviews. 🙂
Book 25 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)