Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved with less than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is books you loved with 2,000 or fewer ratings on Goodreads. Looking at my list, a lot of my books fall into younger age ranges, such as picture books, early chapter books, or middle grade books. This does not surprise me. These type of books are not really huge in the blogging area. Additionally, the targeted audience for these books are not Goodread’s largest base of users, so they would be less likely to rate and review a book online. Here is my list (any book with a review will be linked to the book’s title):

Zora and the Greyhounds

Zora and the Greyhounds was one of the first books that I received a copy of via NetGalley, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. This story was really cute, it followed a dog who wanted to race with much bigger dogs, and also gave an inspiring message to younger readers.

Rush

Rush by Sara Bennett Wealer follows three girls going through sorority recruitment. I was interested in this book because I was in a sorority in college and rush was always an exciting time. It saddened me that this book solely focused on negative sorority experiences. While those do exist, I felt like this book was extremely unrealistic and relied more on stereotypes than an actual story.

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy

I requested the second book in The Kindness Club after reading the first book in the series and enjoying it. Like the first book in the series, it was a cute book with a good message although a little forgettable.

  • The Test by Elizabeth Doyle Carey (32 reviews)

The Test

I would describe this book as late middle grade/early YA. I received this book as an eARC from the publisher. I enjoyed learning about junior lifeguards, which I didn’t know much about, but I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the characters.

A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids

This was another middle-grade book that I received via NetGalley. While I enjoyed some aspects of this book, I wasn’t a fan of the romance and found it unnecessary.

The Kindness Club (The Kindness Club, #1)

I was a huge fan of another Courtney Shienmel middle grade novel (Sincerely) and requested this when I saw it on NetGalley. The Kindness Club is definitely more commercial than Sincerely and contains a lot of tropes, but it was still a cute story with a fun message.

Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog

This is a non-fiction book was the first seeing eye dog in America. It’s an easy to read book that many children will read since it focuses on a dog.

28755374

Isabella: Girl in Charge is a great introduction to notorious women involved in politics and government in the United States. This is a picture book, so it is a great non-fiction pick for young readers.

  • All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey (126 reviews)

All I Want for Christmas Is You

All I Want for Christmas is You is such a cute Christmas picture book! It combines the popular Christmas song with illustrations that show a girl getting a dog for Christmas. There’s also a cute one-hour long movie that goes along with this book (but is not included with the book).

The Right Track (Girl vs. Boy Band #1)

I picked up this book at my library because it sounded really interesting. A young girl is forced to live with an aspiring boy band that her mom manages. I liked how this book showed the story from a different point of view (romance was not the driving part of the storyline), however, some aspects of the story fell a little flat for me.

 

What are some of your least rated, but most loved books?

Follow me on…

123

Advertisements

ARC TBR

blogmas

Every month on my blog, I typically post a to be read (TBR) list that I want to accomplish in the upcoming month. For this post, I decided to switch it up and only talk about books that are in my advanced reader copy (ARC) TBR list. Here are four books that I have received as digital ARCs from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review:

  • Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party by Megan McDonald

Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party (Judy Moody, #14)

Release Date: September 11, 2018

From Goodreads:

Jolly smashing! Could the Moodys really have royal blood? Judy brings her new look to a comical episode about the ups and downs of exploring a family tree.

Judy Moody is in a royal purple-mountain-majesties mood. Make that Majesty with a capital M! With Grandma Lou’s help, Judy has dug up proof that some old-timey Moodys (aka the brave Mudeyes) lived in merry olde England. In fact, if her grandpa’s notes are right, Judy might even be related to — royal fanfare, please — the Queen herself! Should Judy start packing her purple robe for a sleepover at Buckingham Palace? But then Judy’s family tree gets a few more shakes — thanks to her nemesis, Jessica “Fink” Finch — and some more surprises come tumbling out. Crikey! These new gems are not nearly as shiny or sparkly as the crown jewels. Now Judy has some right royal family secrets she’d like to keep hidden away in a dungeon somewhere — and especially away from Jessica, the princess in pink herself!

Technically, the release date for this book has already passed. However, I still want to read and review this book. I love a good middle grade book and haven’t picked up when in quite some time. Hopefully, this will inspire me to read some more middle grade books next year! The Judy Moody series is always hit or miss for me now, although I LOVED it when I was younger. I’m crossing my fingers this new installment can become a new favorite.

  • The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody

The Geography of Lost Things

Release Date: October 2, 2018

From Goodreads:

In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father.

After Ali’s father passes away, he leaves his one and only prized possession—a 1968 Firebird convertible—to his daughter. But Ali doesn’t plan on keeping it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father’s unfulfilled promises. So when she finds a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast willing to pay enough money for the car to save her childhood home, Ali can’t wait to get going. Except Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But guess who does?

Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Nico. And Nico has other plans.

He persuades Ali that instead of selling the car, they should “trade up” the items they collect on their trip to eventually reach the monetary amount Ali needs. Agreeing with Nico’s crazy plan, Ali sets off on a unique adventure that is unlike anything she ever could have expected.

And it’s through Ali’s travels, through the strangers she meets and the things that they value—and why they value them—that Ali eventually comes to understand her father and how his life may not have been as easy and carefree as she previously thought. Because just like the seemingly insignificant objects Ali collects, not everything is exactly as it appears.

Like with Judy Moody and the Royal Right Tea Party, the release date for this book has already passed. However, I’m still excited to read and review it. Seeing two books on my ARC TBR with the release dates already passed makes me really want to focus on reading and reviewing ARCs in a timely manner in the new year to best support the authors of these books. This description, like the recommendation at the top mentions, gives me Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour vibes. Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen are two of my favorite young adult contemporary authors, so I definitely have high hopes for this book.

  • Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Famous in a Small Town

Release Date: January 15, 2019

From Goodreads:

For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm’s length. Sophie in particular.

Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.

I’m always hesitant to read books that involve someone famous. However, I’ve heard great reviews for books by Emma Mills, so I’m excited to read my first book by this author. This release date is quickly approaching, so it’s one that I’ve already started reading.

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn 

You'd Be Mine

Release Date: April 2, 2019

From Goodreads:

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

This ARC has the furthest release date, so it is the last on my TBR. Once again, I’m always hesitant to read books involving famous people. However, I will still always pick them up to see if there is one that I really enjoy. This book’s description reminds me of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. That book was only okay for me, but I still am hopeful that this one will work out for me.

 

What ARCs are on your TBR?

Fish in a Tree Review

book review

In Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullally Hunt, Ally Nickerson tries to hide her inability to read through ridiculous comments and actions in class. Her secret becomes more difficult to hide when a substitute teacher tries to look past Ally’s antics. As Ally’s confidence grows, she befriends two unique friends that show her that different does not mean the same thing as bad or wrong.

When I read the description for Fish in a Tree, I couldn’t contain my excitement. As a fourth grade special education teacher, I was excited to read a book that featured a character with a learning disability. Even though learning disabilities, like Allie’s dyslexia in this book, can be common among elementary school students, I haven’t read many books that feature a student with a learning disability as the main character. While there were aspects of this book that I believe could be improved, overall, it has a good message for younger readers.

I think the strongest aspect of this book is the main character, Ally. The author did a great job of portraying a student with a learning disability and how some students with learning disabilities will sometimes create outlandish diversions to distract from their learning challenges. Ally, along with her friends, are are likable and relatable characters for younger readers.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the overall message in this book. Similar to another middle grade book, Wonder, this book explains that all people have differences, but that’s okay. While some people may try to pull people down for their differences, they cannot stand against a group of people fighting for what is right. This is such a powerful message for younger readers, so it always makes me smile when this theme appears in a middle grade book.

On the other hand, there several issues I had with this book. I felt like this book sometimes over-relied on quotes or stereotypes. For example, this book is named Fish in a Tree after the famous Albert Einstein quote. Additionally, there are other famous quotes or proverbial lines littered throughout the text. This wouldn’t bother me as much if they weren’t coming from the stereotypical smart, but socially awkward characters. For me, it just happened a little to frequently in the text.

As a special education teacher, I also noticed several inaccuracies with how the special education process was conveyed in this book. Ally’s substitute teacher, who not yet even obtained a special education license, tells Ally that she has dyslexia before any testing is done. Evaluating a student for special education is a very complicated process, and any teacher (whether they have a special education license or not) would know that 1.) You NEVER tell a parent or student they qualify for a disability category when you haven’t gone through the special education process 2.) It takes A LOT of testing and to determine if a student qualifies under a disability category, and 3.) The student’s teacher does not make the call what disability the student does or does not have. I’m not sure if they had a teacher read this book before it was published, but there were many glaring errors that cause the special education process not to be accurately represented.

Fish in a Tree wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it at least provides a positive message to younger readers. As I keep thinking about this book, however, I keep remembering many issues and inconsistencies with Ally’s edication which made the story less enjoyable for me personally. I give Fish in a Tree three out of five stars.

Guitar Notes Review

Blogentines

Unfortunately, this book didn’t hit all of the right notes.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato follows two drastically different high school students as they bond through a shared music room. Lyla is a remarkable cellist destined for greatness, but questions her future after discovering a love of guitar and writing music. Tripp, on the other hand, constantly bickers with his mother who took away his guitar after his grades started slipping.

I picked up Guitar Notes on a whim at my local library because the plot sounded similar to P.S. I Like You by Kasie West which I really enjoyed. Even though I knew this would be slightly different since it sounded like younger YA, I thought it could be a cute and quick read. However, it took a lot for me to finish this book and I found several aspects of this book that I didn’t enjoy.

One aspect of this book that I did enjoy were the two main characters. I think the author did a great job characterizing Tripp and Lyla. While like several other characters in young adult fiction, they did seem realistic and all of their actions were consistent with their characters. As the book suggests in this description, this book is more focused on a friendship than a relationship. While the characters do crush on each other a little, this book is targeted towards younger YA, so the relationship never extends beyond that. I think the book is successful in this aspect, however, readers may be disappointed if they go into this book with different expectations.

I think my largest problem with this book is that many of the plot points were recycled throughout which made the book less interesting and boring as my time went on reading it. For example, the plot focusing on Lyla’s jealous and overbearing best friend or Tripp bickering with his mom about the guitar occurred quite a bit and it grew a tad repetitive. Even though this book is only a little over two hundred pages, it took me almost a week to read. I think I actually read another book in between reading this one because I constantly found myself drifting off and thinking about other things while reading.

My least favorite part about this book would have to be the ending. In the last fifty pages of this book, the plot drastically picks up due to a surprising event. However, this event didn’t really work for me. I felt like the ending didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book. Additionally, this book was very character-driven, but the ending was completely plot-driven. In the end, I felt disappointed that the problem wasn’t be solved by the main characters’ actions, but a random event. This made the entire book weaker for me.

Overall, Guitar Notes wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but I didn’t enjoy it either. Between the slow-moving plot and the random ending, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. I give Guitar Notes a two out of five stars.

Books I Read in 2017

blog-feature

This year, I set a goal to read 75 books. I was worried that I wouldn’t meet my goal, even though I read about 65 books last years. I completely surprised myself by reading 105 books in 2017! I was also so happy to find some new favorites and explore new genres. Here are all the books I read in 2017 (book reviews will be linked to book titles):

 

What books are at the top of your TBR for 2018?

Favorite Blog Posts of 2017

blog-feature

Earlier this week, I discussed my top five favorite book reviews that I featured on my blog in 2017. In this post, I’ll discuss some of my other favorite bookish posts featured on my blog. This year, I wanted to focus on posting more frequently on my blog. After I graduated college, I was able to start a more frequent and consistent posting schedule on my blog. As a result, I had a lot of posts to choose from! Here are five of my favorite posts from this year:

goodreads-challenge

I loved reflecting on my reading using the summary created by Goodreads. I loved looking at the interesting graphics that detailed my ratings, the length of my books, and their popularity. I can’t wait to see what my 2017 book graphics look like!

book-personality-challenge

This year, I create a tag… and other people actually did it! After taking dozens of personality quizzes online, I decided to relate it to my love of books. I loved reading about other people’s personalities and how they could connect their lives to their favorite books. (If you’re reading this, I tag you to complete the Book Personality Challenge!)

blog-feature

I was inspired by Heather from Bookables on Youtube to use different sorting features on Goodreads to learn a little bit more about my reading (see her original video here). It was interesting to see what authors I keep grabbing for… some of them were definitely a surprise!

blogmas

The Unpopular Book Opinion Tag is one of my favorite book tags. This year, I decided to only focus on books that I read in 2017. Since I read so many books this year, I definitely had more choices to go off of then when I first completed this tag on my blog.

the-brittany-awards

Since I wrapped up The Brittany Awards last year, I couldn’t wait to write them again this year! I had so much fun creating new categories this year (re-reads, graphic novels, and separate categories for contemporary and fantasy). I really tried to branch out and try new books this year, so it was exciting to reflect on everything I read in these awards.

 

What were some of your favorite blog posts that you wrote this year (please link them below, I would love to read them!)?

The Brittany Awards 2017 Part Three: Middle Grade

the-brittany-awards

  • Part One: Re-Reads
  • Part Two: Graphic Novels

In the third installment of The Brittany Awards 2017, I will be discussing my favorite middle grade books of the year. Middle grade books hold a special place in my heart. Their humorous, heartbreaking, and filled with great messages for people of all ages. Here are my five favorite middle grade books of the year (book reviews will be linked to book titles):

  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree

Fish in a Tree was a book that I knew I would like before I even read it. The main character, Ally, is a great representation of a student with a learning disability and gave me more perspective into my own teaching and how I interact with students. Overall, this a a great book with an even greater message.

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match (The Great Shelby Holmes, #2)

I enjoyed the first book in this series last year and may have loved this second installment even more. Both main characters in this book show a lot of growth and practically leaped off the page. Especially Shelby, who sometimes came across as unbelievable in the first book, really showed a lot of depth and made me connect with her character more.

Judy Moody Declares Independence (Judy Moody #6)

This book was on my top re-reads list and also earns a spot on this list as well. In my opinion, this is the best Judy Moody book. Judy shows a lot of growth in her character by taking more responsibility to herself and her actions. This book also brings up bias in history and brings up historical figures seldom mentioned in textbooks. Overall, I appreciated Judy’s character in the book and the book’s message.

Stage Fright (Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, #4)

Allie Finkle is one of my favorite characters in middle grade and this book was no exception. I literally laugh out loud when reading the Allie Finkle books for the crazy situations Allie finds herself in.

Red Thread Sisters

Red Thread Sister was such a wonderful book to read! This book provided a lot of perspective on adopting a child from China. Since this book is written by a woman who adopted her own daughters from China, there was not only a great story line, but a lot of solid background information as well.

 

 

What were your favorite middle grade books of the year?

 

The Brittany Awards 2017 Part One: Re-Reads

the-brittany-awards

The Brittany Awards are my annual end-of-the-year lists to celebrate my favorite books of this year. For 2017, I have divided my list into five preliminary categories (re-reads, graphic novels, middle grade, contemporary, and fantasy) and one overall favorites category. For each category, I will select my top five favorite books as well as two honorable mentions. Since I read 100 books this year, there’s a lot of competition for the top spots in each category!

Today, I will be reviewing my top five favorite re-reads. This year, I wanted to go back and read some of my favorite books. With so many books being released every year, sometimes I forget to go back and read the books that made me love reading so much in the first place. For this category, I decided to forego the honorable mentions and just talk about my five favorites of the year (reviews will be linked to book titles):

Just Listen

Just Listen is one of my all-time favorite young adult books, so it’s no surprise that it is on this list! This book has such a great message and is filled with realistic and complex characters. I’ve probably read this book over ten times already, but I always find something that I didn’t see before. This will most likely always be a five star read for me.

Judy Moody Declares Independence (Judy Moody #6)

This book actually showed up in my favorite middle grade books of 2016. In this book, I think Judy Moody shows a lot of growth and it also gives an important message about unrepresented heroes in American history. I reread this book earlier this year because I had the opportunity to create unit on it for one of my student teaching placements. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to share this book with some of my students!

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

When I read Fangirl the first time, I enjoyed it but it probably wouldn’t have appeared on a favorites list. After rereading it, there are so many little details that I missed the first time around that made me like this book even more! Now that I’ve graduated college, it was fun reading this book and thinking about my own college experiences.

  • This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby

This Lullaby is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books, so it’s no surprised that I enjoyed it this time around. Every time I read this book, I resonate with Remy and further appreciate her relationship with Dexter. This is always a book that I read whenever I need a pick-me-up.

The Truth About Forever

This is the third Sarah Dessen book on my list! Even though I don’t like repeating authors so much on a list, I can’t help but hide my love for my favorite Sarah Dessen books. Like with Annabel and Remy, I relate to Macy which really invested me in this story. Even though this book has sad moments, I am always happy and hopeful when I finish reading it.

 

What were your favorite re-reads of the year?

Books that Feature Good Families

blogsgiving

During Thanksgiving, I always feel thankful for my family. In middle grade and young adult literature, I typically find that finding a good family to be thankful for can be few and far between (f they are shown at all). However, there are some supportive families across middle grade and young adult literature that I want to show some appreciation. Here are five of my favorite bookish families (any book with a review will be linked to the book’s title):

  • The Vanderbeeker family from The Vanderbeekers at 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Even though I had mixed feelings towards this book, one aspect that I loved was the dynamic between the family members. Each member of this family possessed their own unique personality and they worked together to solve their problems. You could tell in this book each member of the family really cared about each other and helped each other recognize their individual strengths.

The Hate U Give

I think the Carter family would have to be one of my favorite families featured in a young adult novel of 2017. The Carter family faced a lot of adversity before the novel takes place and during the novel. However, they continue to support each other and make tough decisions for the best of the family. The relationships between Starr’s parents, Starr and her parents, and Starr and her siblings were depicted realistically.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

The Song family from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the main reason that I loved this series. Every member of this family is different, however, they all support each other no matter how near or far away they may be. Additionally, the family in this book grows and changes throughout this series. All of these changes aren’t always easily welcomed, however, they eventually learn to accept another family member’s decisions and love them despite their differences.

Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me

I think my favorite aspect of this book would have to be Zona’s new relationship with her mother’s side of the family. While Zona only knew her father, a year abroad allowed her to meet family that she’s never met. Zona’s family is lively and fun with a lot of new family traditions for Zona to experience. I liked how the author showed the cultural differences between Zona and her father’s relationship compared to the dynamics of her other Greek family.

Wonder

I love the Pullman family from Wonder and how readers get to experience multiple family member’s perspectives in this book. Each family member is impacted by Auggie and it was interesting to see the exact way he impacted all of their lives.

 

What are some of your favorite families from books?

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy ARC Review

book review

The second installment of The Kindness Club needed a make it work moment to really shine.

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy is the second book in The Kindness Club by Courtney Shienmel. In this novel, fashion forward club member Lucy Tanaka is determined to stick to the club’s goal, completing three acts of kindness a day. When a classmate’s mother passes away, Lucy sees this as the perfect opportunity. Her classmate, Serena, loves birthday parties, so Lucy wants to throw her the perfect party at her family’s bowling alley. However, unforeseen circumstances threaten Lucy’s plans.

I read Sincerely, a two-in-one book, by Courtney Shienmel and absoutely loved it for its realistic characters and situations. When I received an ARC of The Kindness Club last year, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite work by this author. When I saw the second installment of The Kindness Club on NetGalley, I requested it right away. Unfortunately, out of all the books that I’ve read by this author, this book is my least favorite.

I think one of my biggest issues was with the characters, especially the main character Lucy. While I appreciated the characterization of The Kindness Club in the first book, it was a little overkill in this book. The group’s personalities and conversations felt so unnatural and it felt like they walked on eggshells around each other in fear they would say something that would accidentally offend someone.

Out of all the characters, Lucy especially annoyed me because she refused to listen to anyone’s advice. After devising the plan for Serena’s birthday, even after numerous warnings from friends and family members that it wasn’t her place to do this and tat she should find another way to show Serena that she cared because her plan would make Serena uncomfortable, Lucy never stopped. Especially since Lucy also lost her mother, it would make more sense if she understood Serena’s need for privacy at this time. I felt myself cringing throughout the entire book at her actions. I felt like so many characters tiptoed around Lucy because they didn’t want to hurt her feelings, instead I think they needed to be more frank about how some of Lucy’s ideas weren’t the correct way to handle specific situations.

While there were several aspects that I didn’t enjoy about this book, there were a few things that I did enjoy. Even though I think the book focused too much on the party idea, I do think it resolved that particular story line fairly well. I think Lucy’s fashion talents were used in a creative way beyond making clothes. I also think Lucy’s relationship with her father and grandmother were portrayed realistically and appreciated how much they were involved in the story.

The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy wasn’t my favorite book of the year, but I still liked some aspects of the story and the overall message this series strives to send. I give The Kindness Club: Designed by Lucy three out of five stars.