Young Adult/Middle Grade books I read in September 2018 – Reading Wrap up

On to my young adult/middle grade wrap up! This was a pretty decent YA/ Middle grade reading month for me – though it was about 3 books and 3 audiobooks. (I own a lot more physical adult books than YA/Middle Grade fight me) and the ratings were honestly all over the place.

  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: Man I can really see why even before the movie came out this was pretty beloved. This is a super charming book. Goldman has just such a great, nostalgic voice throughout the book. Because a LOT of this book is both tongue in cheek and cynical, and then also filled with joyous sentimentality – which is such an odd mix that it just kind of works? The beginning is fucking weird, but once you get past that it’s pretty great.
    • There’s a few key differences to the movie if you’re curious: Buttercup is an actual character in this one! Like I actually really enjoyed her. I mean okay, she’s still not given a LOT of time to do stuff, but she has actual flaws and character traits that affect her interactions with other characters.
    • Also Westley is fucking terrible in this? Like he is just super gross and dimissive of Buttercup a lot of the time and it’s like????? What the fuck???? Why does this make you better than the piece of shit humperdink???? I kind of wanted Buttercup to punch him in the face and just kind of peace out with Fezzik and Inigo (who are still by far the best characters in this book and movie)
    • They also go more into depth with the Zoo of Death but honestly I think the movie did the right thing by leaving it out.
    • There are a couple author musings in the book that honestly are absolutely impossible to translate into movie format. Some are pretty laugh out loud hilarious. Some are just like. They’re okay.
    • I’m not going to keep beating around the bush here – The Princess Bride Movie is a way more successful story than the original. Even though the movie cuts out buttercup’s entire character, the pacing is WAY more tight and Westley isn’t an absolute dumpster fire. And while the book still has some absolute great tone, it really can not compete with the timing and wit and heart that the movie succeeds at.
    • I’d still absolutely suggest reading this book if you’re curious or if you just need a breather from some harder shit (which is kind of why I picked up this book in the first place), but if you absolutely love the movie just…. keep the expectations in check I guess.

  • Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Content Warning for: Discussion of Death & Cancer.
    • Thoughts: I’m in a couple minds of this book. Firstly, I absolutely loved how this book tackled grief and regret. This book does a really great job of kind of just… explaining I guess? The loss of a parent, especially when you are still so young. There’s a lot of processing of emotion that I don’t see in a lot of YA books. I think it also makes the kind of grief a lot more… processable for people who haven’t ever felt that way before? Which sounds weird, like it’s sugarcoating it or something, but that’s not I mean at all. It’s more like…. a lot of books are just fucking hard all the way through and I know when I was teen it was really hard to process just that shear amount of sadness. I think this is way more approachable for a younger audience, which I super appreciated.
    • That being said…. The “travel” part of this book, Italy, felt kind of a like a storybook. Most of the time, it didn’t feel like it was a real place more than it was just some nice scene in a travelogue. The only times it didn’t feel that way were when it didn’t give into it’s own touristy-ness. Which I definitely wish was more often.
    • Also oh god the romance was absolutely infuriating. It wasn’t at first – I really enjoyed seeing the two characters get along and using it as a kind of tool for the main character to process her grief and then it turned into some really uncomfortable love square that just took over the entirety of the last part of the book and it was like…. It’s not a great B-Plot. It really drags the rest of the book down.
    • This is an okay book. I think people way younger than me and way more romantic will appreciate the things I didn’t like way more than I did.
    • Lastly, the audiobook is pretty good for this one – check it out if you’re interested in this.
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
    • Rating: 4.75/5
    • Thoughts:I’m really surprised how much I ended up really enjoying this book! I heard about this from shemightbemonica’s channel and she absolutely RAVED about it. And as someone who just absolutely loves diverse middle grade, I had to pick this up – which I did on audiobook through my library.
    • And y’all!!! I’ve never felt so seen? If that makes sense? Like this reminds me of the stories and myths my mom’s family would tell me. I know that’s a bit biased but this is some great chinese mythology based middle grade. It is SO genuine and loving in its storytelling. Princess Bride may be a book about nostalgia, but this book IS like my nostalgia.
    • The world and characters and story is just super charming and moving as well? Like I can still remember everything about each of them, and their small stories that work their way into the book to form a complete picture of this wonderful world. It’s just a super well crafted book in all shapes and forms. It’s also a book that I think probably works as a story both physically and through audiobook – just pick this book up!!!!
    • The only slight criticism I have of this book is I think some of the stuff with the parents was a bit heavy-handed, even for a kids book, but it’s. pretty minor. I loved this and I hope this inspires some people to pick this up!!!
  • Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
    • Rating: 2/5
    • Content Warning for: Violence, Murder, Physical Assault. I mean it’s about assassins but the Physical Assault stuff later in this book is pretty damn bad.
    • Thoughts: Sighs now that I got my gushing out of the way…. What a disappointment this one was! This book has such an interesting premise and start – the world that Mehrotra is super interesting – it’s got some solid world building at the beginning and the characters, while not all time favorites, are pretty endearing and interesting to see play off of each other.
    • And then the twist happens and it becomes like any other boring YA Fantasy I have read at least a million times. It’s SO disappointing. No amount of interesting magic and world building can make up for the last 3/4 of this book. Th pacing and story just absolutely fell apart.
    • The romance is some of the most out-of-left field unconvincing heterosexual bullshit I have ever had to read. They have absolutely no chemistry and it’s super dull to get through.
    • Also all the male characters in this book are fucking bad. There is so little going for them???? And I’m supposed to be like “yeah this is fine and great???” no thanks.
    • Also the physical assault stuff that happens later in the book is borderline gross in how hand wavy one of the characters gets about it. It made me so fucking mad cause this was supposed to be a good person! why are you fucking excusing some of this shit?????
    • I did like how the ending happened and the consequences it will have to the magic system and world but it’s not… man the cliff hangar and that are not worth reading more. I’ll pass on the sequels thanks. I have all I need to know.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Thoughts: Another book that pleasantly surprised me! This book was written in the 60s (And BOY does it show the prices in this are like *sheds single tear* damn u inflation) but it still just really holds up. The narration/writing style and the characters in this book are FANTASTIC. I have never heard an author just so well capture the voice of just really precocious children – at ANY time period. This book is funny as heck too – one of the main characters goes on a rant about drugs that had me in TEARS.
    • Like story wise, this book is pretty okay. There’s nothing really that standout about it. It’s how Konigsburg wrote this and the two main characters dialogue, interactions and just absolute charm that carries this book as far as it does.
    • Another nitpick – part of the message was a bit… odd? Like it has a couple messages and for the most part they’re fine, but I don’t think this book really needed it. It worked a lot better as just a goofy mystery with some loveable characters. Absolutely recommend this to kids either way – and it definitely deserved the newberry medal it won the year it came out.
    • Another shout out to the audiobook on this one – the narrator was absolutely phenomenal! Definitely check it out when you get the chance. I think it really contributes to the character and charm.
  • Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
    • Rating: 4.25/5
    • Thoughts: I gotta say, I’m really glad I ended up reading this after I read Mare’s War because I would have liked that book a HELL of a lot less than I did originally. This is an absolute treasure of a WWII novel. It manages to be both informative, engaging and emotional all in one powerful package.
    • I love the characters you meet in this world. Ida Mae is such a striking main character – its so easy to just find yourself besotted. And the book does a pretty good job of discussing race and gender during this time period – much better than I’ve read of other WWII books in the past. This is a short book and you don’t spend a lot of time with them, but they all have such clear voices. Reading this was just SO easy in that sense – I never found myself struggling to pay attention or just wanting to skim through. And I just could NOT put this book down – I finished this WAY quicker than I thought I would!
    • My biggest criticism is that the book ended up feeling so SHORT! The ending left a bit to be desired, and didn’t wrap up almost at all. If there’d been at least…. 100 or so more pages to this, I think this could have easily been a 5 star read.
    • I still absolutely recommend this if you’re looking for a historical YA pick. It’s still an absolute delight

On to the next wrap up for the month – Adult Books!

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