Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney Review

book review

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid wasn’t awful, but not as awesome as I expected.

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinney follows Rowley Jefferson, a faDiary of an Awesome Friendly Kid by Jeff Kinneyn-favorite character from Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. In this installment (and potential spin-off series?) Rowley takes the reins and writes primarily about the history of his friendship with Greg.

I believe that I have read the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid a few years ago, but I did not pick up any additional books in the series, although I do hope to continue the series. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is well-loved by the age range of students that I teach and I enjoy reading books that motivate my students to read. While I have not read all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I have seen three out of the four movies and greatly enjoyed them. I particularly enjoyed the character of Rowley because he remained unapologetically himself regardless of whether other people may label him as cool or not.

One criticism of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series that I’ve heard is that the series rapidly goes downhill after the first couple of books. Additionally, I’ve heard many reviewers voice concerns over the main character in the series, Greg, specifically for his treatment of the main character in this book, Rowley. From reviews that I have read of this book, many readers were disappointed because they view this book as a take on Greg’s bullying, only from Rowley’s perspective (see Emily’s review on Goodreads). While I do think Rowley’s voice in this novel, I was disappointed, like many other readers, that this story mainly involved around Greg with a promise to focus more on Rowley in the next book in the series.

Let’s start with the positives. I think one positive aspect of this book in Rowley’s voice and character. Rowley stays very true to himself and the character presented in the original series. All of his choices seemed consistent with his character. While some may dismiss Rowley’s naive nature as unrealistic for a middle school student, I think it allows him to make some humorous observations of people and situations around him. Like I mentioned earlier, I enjoy that Rowley always stays true to himself and I think he serves as a great role model for younger readers.

As a result, it disappointed me that so much of this book focused on Greg instead of Rowley. In this book, Greg becomes annoyed that Rowley also keeps a diary. Greg insists that Rowley turn his diary into a biography about Greg to be published when he becomes rich and famous. As a result, the book in a disjointed mix of events surrounding Rowley and Greg’s friendship, and like many reviewers point out, Greg’s terrible treatment of Rowley. By the time Rowley takes back ownership of the diary, it is only a promise to focus more on himself in the next entry. If I wanted to learn more about Greg, I would have picked one of the numerous books published about him already. I think many readers will be disappointed by the focus on Greg because it is not consistent with the book’s marketing.

While there were a few laugh out loud scenes in this book (the studying part made me crack up!), I was disappointed that this book did not follow a clear end goal and focused mainly on Greg. I give this book three out of five stars.

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July TBR

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Summer is flying by! This is my last full month off before I go back to teaching, so I am trying to fit in as many books as possible before school starts again. Here are three of my picks for July:

  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

The Rest of the Story

Sarah Dessen is my favorite YA author, so I’m very excited to read her release from last month. This seems like the perfect summer read since it takes place at a lake, so I definitely need to read it before the summer wraps up.

  • Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Maybe This Time

Kasie West is an auto-buy author for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of her last release (Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss), so I hope that I enjoy this one a little bit more.

  • Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Daisy Jones & The Six

I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews about Daisy Jones and the Six, so I’m excited that it’s finally my turn to read this book since I placed a hold on it at my local library. I’m trying to read more book in the “adult” age range and I have been wanting to read some books by this author.

What books do you plan to read in July?

 

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Independence Day Book Tag

Book Tag

Happy Fourth of July to all of my American followers! Since today is Independence Day, I thought I would celebrate by completing the Independent Day Book Tag. Here are my answers (I am not sure who started this tag. If you know, please link to their social media down below so I can credit them!):

  • Show three books you have already read (one red, one white, and one blue)

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's JournalCounting by 7sReal Friends

This summer I have been really drawn to reading more middle grade books. These are three books that I have read so far this summer. While I wanted more from Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, I was thoroughly impressed with the unique and distinct voices in each of these stories. Real Friends, a graphic memoir about Shannon Hale’s childhood, really grabbed me because it perfectly captured how most people feel at that age.

  • A book with your favorite “rag-tag” band of revolutionaries

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I haven’t talked about The Lunar Chronicles in so long! This was one of my most hyped series when I first started my blog. I love each of the characters in this book and they have stayed with me years after I finished the series. I’m still waiting on someone to make this into a movie series, or even better, a television or Netflix series!

  • Show a book that takes place in one of the 13 original colonies

The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected Everything takes place in Stanwich, Connecticut, one of the 13 original colonies. I am a huge fan of Morgan Matson’s books and hopefully I can get to the only book that I haven’t read by her, Second Chance Summer, before this summer ends!

  • Show a book that takes place in England

I've Got Your Number

Sophie Kinsella’s books are some of the first books that got me into the “adult” book age range. I particularly loved I’ve Got Your Number out of all the books that I have read by her.

  • Time for fireworks! What book(s) end with a bang?

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)

The Cruel Prince was an okay read for me, but I was completely blown away by the twists and turns in the second book in this series. The ending caught me by surprise! I am eagerly anticipating The Queen of Nothing.

  • Show three books you would like to read (one red, one white, and one blue)

The Wedding DateSomewhere Only We KnowThe Rest of the Story

I really enjoyed The Proposal, so I was love to read the other books in Jasmine Guillory’s companion series. I also want to read books by Maurene Goo because I’ve heard such positive reviews of her work. Obviously, I need to read The Rest of the Story because Sarah Dessen is my favorite YA author!

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ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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I have some serious love (and some criticisms) for this book.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett follows Birdie, an eighteen-year-old girl with narcolepsy and love for mysteries after she takes a night shift job at a hotel. On the job,Serious Moonlight Birdie runs into Daniel Aoki, a brief fling who she works with to solve the mystery of a reclusive writer who visits the hotel.

I have read one other book by Jenn Bennett, Alex, Approximately, which was an average read for me. I read Alex, Approximately as an ARC. While I enjoyed it, I was surprised to see so much hype surrounding the book upon its release. I wanted to try another book by this author to see if it lived up to the hype since I am a huge fan of contemporary books. While Serious Moonlight started off much stronger for me that Alex, Approximately, it ended up falling into several of the pitfalls that I did not enjoy in the first book that I read by this author.

Let’s start with the characters. Jenn Bennett does an amazing job of inclusivity with her characters. She includes characters from different races and cultures. Her characters struggle with mental illness or disability. But Jenn Bennet does not just include diversity in her books, but she fully fleshes out every character so they come across as people and not a checklist. The main character, Birdie is a shy and sweet main character that I think many readers will enjoy. Daniel, Birdie’s love interest, is also multi-faceted and interested. While I was initially put off by the “he’s perfect, but WAIT there’s a MASSIVE secret,” I think the author really steered clear of the typical formula that trope follows.

That being said, there were a few issues that I had with characterization in her book. My largest issue was with Birdie’s Aunt Mona and her former flame, Leon Snodgrass (yes, you read that correctly). Aunt Mona has a large personality and outfits to match. So much that you may roll your eyes at her outfit descriptions because they are so numerous and lengthy. While Aunt Mona has many moments that let readers see how amazing she is, I could do without the countless descriptions of her outfits that attempt to make her look quirky. The same goes for her love interest Leon Snodgrass, presented as what a frat boy becomes when he leaves college and barely anything else. I had this same problem in Alex, Approximately because I felt like I was being hit over the head with the character’s unique vintage style over and over again.

As for the pacing, the beginning of Serious Moonlight grabbed me a lot more than Alex, Approximately. For the first 200 pages, I found myself moving through the story quickly. While the mystery aspect could come across cheesy, I actually found it somewhat endearing since it helped Birdie come out of her shell. Then, the book took a major shift. There was a large chunk of the middle solely devoted to the relationship and devoid of any progression of the mystery plot, which confused me. This part of the book really slowed down for me and I found myself pushing through for more of the plot to develop. While I assumed I knew how the mystery ended (and I was correct), this derailment wasn’t my favorite aspect of the book.

Another aspect that I move back and forth on is the relationship in this book. For the majority of the book, I absolutely loved Birdie and Daniel. Both Birdie and Daniel grow as people throughout this book and learn to open up to each other throughout their relationship. I was actually really excited during the first 90% of this book because it generally steered away from the soap-opera style drama that I wasn’t a fan of in Alex, Approximately. Then, the big moment of the mystery came and some of my love left quickly. While I understand how Daniel reacted to this moment, it seemed fairly out of character for him, especially how he treated Birdie after it happened. I also was not satisfied with how quickly the characters moved past this moment either.

Overall, Serious Moonlight is a solid young adult novel. I can see why so many people consider Jenn Bennett an auto-buy contemporary author because she creates loveable and multi-dimensional characters in her books. However, there were still several aspects of this book that reminded me of reasons that Alex, Approximately was only a three star read for me. That being said, I am still interested in checking out Starry Eyes, another book by this author currently out on the market. I give Serious Moonlight three out of five stars.

 

I received Serious Moonlight as an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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ARC Review: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

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There’s something sweet(ie) about this book!

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon follows two athletic Indian-There's Something About SweetieAmerican teenagers who develop a romantic relationship despite cultural and societal expectations. Ashish Patel finds himself heartbroken after his first love cheats on him. Despite his reservations, he asks his parents to set him up with an Indian-American girl. Enter Sweetie Nair, a top-notch track star whose mom opposes the match since she believes her daughter weighs too much. As a result, Sweetie becomes determined to prove her mother wrong.

Sandhya Menon’s books have been hit-or-miss for me. While I enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, it lacked the spark to make it one of my favorite contemporaries. On the other hand, I did not enjoy From Twinkle, With Love at all due to unlikable characters and an overdramatic plot. Going into There’s Something About Sweetie, I was not sure what to expect. I’m happy to say this book exceeded my expectations and ranks as my favorite among this author’s books.

I loved both Sweetie and Ashish because their personalities greatly differed from the characters in Menon’s other stories. While I enjoyed Dimple’s headstrong personality and Rishi’s gentlemanly attitude, I found Twinkle and Sahil to be watered down versions of those two characters and less likable. Sweetie possesses the same strong beliefs as Dimple, but comes across a lot more reserved and intuitive to others’ feelings. Rishi completely differs from Rishi or Sahil as he is portrayed as more “popular” and “cool.” I dislike when I read books by the same author and all of the main characters and love interests across the stories read the same. I appreciated that Sweetie and Ashish were vastly different than Menon’s other characters to set them apart.

If you have read Menon’s other two books, they follow a fairly similar formula. Each character has their passion, which is mentioned, but never as integral to the story as it may seem. I would say this is only half true for this book. Based on the synopsis, Sweetie’s track and “Sassy Sweetie Project” is mentioned, but there is a large focus on the dates that she goes on with Ashish as well. I would say the book holds true to the synopsis in this case. While the largest focus is placed on the arranged dates for Sweetie and Ashish, there is a large focus on Sweetie and how her weight is viewed through Indian culture as well. I think this will satisfy readers who were put off by the inaccurate synopses for some of Menon’s other books.

There were several other aspects of this book that I really appreciated. In the author’s note at the beginning of the story, Menon mentioned how her weight has fluctuated through the years and she has had vastly different experiences based on her weight at the time. She also mentioned that Sweetie describes herself as “fat” in the book because it is only a negative word because of societal connotations. However, she also acknowledges that some people, especially those bullied using this specific word, may feel uncomfortable when they see this word in the story and they are entitled to that feeling. I always appreciate reading about an author’s connection to a story and I thought Menon’s note before the story was incredibly thoughtful to those who may be triggered by the discrimination that Sweetie faces, especially since it often comes from close family members within this story. Just a warning: While this book does have a prevailing message of loving your body that although authentically portrays Sweetie’s experience, it may be extremely uncomfortable for some readers who struggle with body image. Since there is a large amount of negative commentary regarding Sweetie’s weight, you may want to skip this book if this triggers you.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was learning more about Indian culture. Sweetie and Ashish go on arranged dates by Ashish’s parents that are described as “typically Indian.” It was interesting to learn more about Indian culture and its influence in Indian-Americans’ lives. I think the two main characters also provided other perspectives that we have not seen yet in Menon’s books. Prior to this story, Ashish only dated white girls. Sweetie does not fit the stereotypical mold of the “perfect” Indian girl. It was interesting to read the conversations surrounding these topics in the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed There’s Something About Sweetie. I really liked the main characters and learning about a culture different than my own. I give this book four out of five stars.

 

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

 

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May TBR

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Once again, I failed to make a lot of progress on my TBR. I did not finish A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story, or You’d Be Mine while I did make a little bit of progress on two of those books. That being said, I did finish a book that I picked up and put down before I picked up any of those books. While the book, Internet Famous, was a struggle to finish, it still feels good to finally finish that story.

Looking ahead to May, I still want to focus on some of those books that I have been working on. However, I also want to finish reading an eARC that I received in order to review it before its release date. Here are my choices:

  • Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt

The Boy Next Story: A Bookish Boyfriends Novel

I think that I am struggling to finish this book because it is really angsty and repetitive. I’m also not a huge fan of several characters in this book, including the love interest, which makes it difficult to finish reading. That being said, I am not the target age range of this book which skews as younger YA. Since I received this as an eARC, I am committed to finish it and provide an honest review.

  • Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Don't Date Rosa Santos

This book sounds right up my alley! I heard from other reviews that there is a large focus on the main character’s culture, which I always love to read in stories. I also have this book as an eARC, so I am determined to read and review it in order to provide an honest review before the release date.

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine

I always struggle to read books involving celebrities or people trying to be famous, but I hope this is an exception. I barely started this book, so I’m not entirely sure about my feelings towards the characters or plot yet. The country music focus will be great to read as summer comes closer.

 

What books do you plan to read in May? 

 

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Sadie by Courtney Summers Review

book review

Sadie by Courtney Summers follows Sadie who embarks on a journey to find the murderer of her dead sister, who she raised due to her mother’s lack of involvement. Fascinated by the story, a radio host follows Sadie’s tracks in hopes to find Sadie who has been missing for a long time.

While I am not a huge thriller/mystery fan, I decided to pick up Sadie due to hearing many positive reviews. I was also interested in the format, which combines Sadie’s story as well as a podcast that chronicles her journey. Although I find Sadie an interesting and enjoyable story, it did not live up to the hype for me.

Overall, Sadie is an interesting and complex character. After surviving some traumatic experiences in her childhood and raising her younger sister, Sadie presents herself as tough and serious. However, readers also get to see a more vulnerable side of Sadie through several of her interactions with other people she meets throughout her journey. However, my favorite aspect of Sadie’s character is how realistic and relatable she is as a person. There are so many Sadies out there in the world that I think would resonate with her story.

As for the format of the book, it was a bit hit-or-miss for me. I really liked the concept of following the story through Sadie’s eyes and a podcast, but for me, it did not always enhance my reading experiences. Since the podcast’s hosts follow Sadie’s footsteps, some information is repeated throughout the story. While readers sometimes see the consequences of Sadie’s actions in the book, I felt like some of the podcast did not add anything to the story after you read it from Sadie’s perspective. Working towards the climax of the story, I sometimes wanted to push through the podcast aspect and get back to Sadie’s perspective. While I understand why the podcast was necessary for some aspects of the story, I think it could have been incorporated more successfully into the story.

I also think some readers may find the story predictable and the ending as flat. While I do not read this genre often, I was still able to figure out the mystery fairly early on in the story. While I continued the book due to my investment in Sadie as a character, other readers who frequently read this genre in favor of a less predictable storyline. Additionally, some readers may find the ending of this book as unfulfilling. I understand the author’s purpose behind the ending in the story, however, some readers may feel disappointed by the somewhat open ending.

Overall, Sadie is an interesting and overall enjoyable read. While I found the story somewhat predictable, this story still stuck with me after reading. I could not help but think of all the people with a similar story to Sadie in the world. I would recommend this book to people looking for more of an impactful mystery than a true mystery or thriller. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

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March Reading Wrap-Up

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March ended up being a month of ARCs! I was approved on NetGalley for a few releases that I’ve been excited for this year. While I enjoyed all of them, I was slightly disappointed in one book from a contemporary author that I loved last year. Here’s what I read (each book on this list was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review):

  • Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (★ ★ ★ ★)

Serious Moonlight

I enjoyed Serious Moonlight much more than Alex, Approximately which is another book that I have read by this author.

  • There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (★ ★ ★ ★)

There's Something About Sweetie

This is definitely my favorite book by Sandhya Menon yet. I found When Dimple Met Rishi slightly average and did not enjoy From Twinkle, With Love, so I’m excited to find a book by this author that I really loved.

  • Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer (★ ★ ★)

Call It What You Want

While I still enjoyed reading this book, the story itself never captured me like the other two contemporary books that I have read by Brigid Kemmerer.

 

 

What was the best book that you read in March?

 

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi Review

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that I have read way to many Pride and Prejudice retellings.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi follows Zuri Benitez, a girl proud of her Brooklyn neighborhPrideood and Afro-Latino culture. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri decides she wants nothing to do with them. However, Zuri is forced to interact with the two brothers across the street when her sister falls for one of the boys.

I added Pride to my TBR after seeing the cover and synopsis reveal on social media. Pride seemed like such a unique take on the classic Pride and Prejudice storyline. While there are many aspects of this book that I appreciate, there are also several aspects that fell flat for me. Overall, Pride ended up being an average retelling for me.

Let’s start with what I loved. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how Ibi Zoboi developed Zuri’s Afro-Latino culture as well as the culture in her neighborhood. Zuri was proud of who she was and where she came from, which resulted in amazing descriptions of her family, her heritage, and her neighborhood. Jane Austen always commented on the culture of her time through her books and I think Ibi Zoboi modernized the story in a real and relevant way.

That being said, the story itself did not stray far from the original story. Every major event from Pride and Prejudice appeared in this book. While modernized, it did not really offer a unique twist on the events in the original story. If you’re like me, you’ve read countless Pride and Prejudice retellings. While it is a retelling, there needs to be something plotwise that makes it stand out from the original and other retellings of the same work. Additionally, the pacing went rather slow for me. The pacing combined with the formulaic plot made it a slow read where I found myself skimming some sections to push ahead.

As for the relationship itself, it was a standard YA relationship to me and made the book come across as a little younger YA. Zuri and Darius hate each other, but then flip the switch without much explanation. This is a common trope that I see more across younger YA, which generally is not my cup of tea. As a result, I never really connected or believed in their relationship. Since the interactions between the “Elizabeth” and “Darcy” in a Pride and Prejudice retelling is a make-it-or-break-it aspect of the story, this one just did not stand out to me.

Overall, I love the concept of Pride and enjoyed the commentary that the author made about our society. However, the story itself fell flat for me since I never invested in the plot or characters. I give Pride two out of five stars.

 

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99 Percent Mine Review

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I’m 99% sure this book won’t end up on my favorites list this year.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne follows Darcy Barrett, a tough bartender who enjoys photography and traveling the world. After inheriting a cottage from her 99 Percent Minegrandmother, however, she finds herself back in her hometown. When Darcy’s brother insists on renovating the cottage to sell, he recruits his longtime best friend Tom and Darcy’s longtime crush, Tom to complete the project.

I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne last year after countless recommendations online and ended up really enjoying it. In fact, it motivated me to pick up other new adult and adult books last year that I really enjoyed. As a result, I automatically put 99 Percent Mine on my to-buy list for 2019. Unfortunately for me, I did not enjoy this story nearly as much as The Hating Game. That being said, there are some good aspects of this book that will motivate me to pick up more books from this author in the future.

Let’s start off with the main character, Darcy. If you read The Hating Game, Darcy is the complete opposite of Lucy. Darcy is a no-nonsense girl who can put the rowdiest patrons of a biker bar in their place. Darcy is a girl who knows exactly what, and who, she wants. She never backs down from a challenge or anyone who tries to put her down. While I relate more to Lucy in The Hating Game, I still appreciate Darcy as a character. I think all of her actions in the book aligned well with her motivations. I also enjoy that Sally Thorne created a main character drastically different from her first novel because it shows she can write a wide variety of characters.

On to the romance! This aspect of the book fell flat for me. For some reason, I found it hard to connect with the relationship between Darcy and Tom. While the two had some chemistry, it never really popped off the page like with Lucy and Josh from The Hating Game. For me, the banter was not as entertaining. Additionally, since this book takes place over a shorter time span, you do not see as much of their relationship develop on the page. I also did not enjoy the whole “Tom might be still engaged” plotline that spanned the first half of the book.

Overall, 99 Percent Mine failed to create the same spark that The Hating Game did for me. I think I set my expectations too high going into this book, which may have impacted my reading experience. While 99 Percent Mine is a quick and easy read, it is not particularly memorable or a book that’s on the top of my re-read list. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

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