Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Mini Book Reivews: August 2020 – Part 3

*Books included in this batch of mini book reviews: Wink by Rob Harrell, Blended by Sharon M. Draper, A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton, & The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

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» Wink by Rob Harrell

Wink
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5-Star Rating System
WhatILiked

*4.5 Stars*

» Wink is a MG novel inspired by the author’s own battle with cancer.  We watch as Ross, our main character, goes through the hardships of not only cancer diagnosis & treatment, but also the hardships of middle school.

» Ross was a wonderful main character.  I appreciated his strength, maturity, determination, and humor.  While Ross is under no illusions about the seriousness of his cancer prognosis, he wasn’t prone to sitting around feeling sorry for himself.

» Wink had an excellent cast of supporting characters.  From Ross’s best friend Abby, to the “bully” Jimmy, each character is dynamic and well fleshed out.  I absolutely adored Frank, the radiation technician, in particular and enjoyed the interactions between Frank and Ross.

» Since this book is based off the author’s own experiences with cancer, the portrayal of cancer felt authentic & handled with care.   We watch as Ross experiences not only the  physical side effects of treatment, but also the mental side effects as well.

» Wink would be an excellent book to use in a classroom setting to discuss topics like dealing with illness, friendship, bullying, overcoming adversity, and individuality.

» I would recommend this one to fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ childhood cancer; bullying

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder

» Blended by Sharon Draper

Blended
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WhatILiked

» This was a wonderful MG contemporary that dives into the complexities of divorce, blended families, & racial issues.  Draper has a wonderful way of taking heavy topics and presenting them in a very appropriate way to the middle grade audience.  

» Isabella was a fantastic main character for the middle grade audience.  She was responsible, smart, talented, driven, and hard working.  It was refreshing to such such a positive role model in a MG novel.  Also, reading from her perspective felt very age appropriate, which is not always the case in middle grade novels.

» I loved that Draper tackled blended families for a middle grade audience.  Not only do we have a blended family in terms of step families, but also in terms of interracial families.  Draper did a wonderful job portraying the complexities of blended families in both senses.

» Music is a very important aspect in Blended.  Isabella is piano prodigy, so we watch as Isabella puts her heart and soul into preparing for her upcoming recital.  Based off the beautiful descriptions of music and playing the piano, I’m wondering if Draper has personal experience.  If not, then it was very well researched.

» Sharon Draper completely blindsided me by the plot twist.  What a brilliant way to make such an important point.

WhatIDidntLike

» My only criticism would be that I thought the writing was a bit underwhelming.  On one hand, I could see this approach appealing to reluctant readers, but on the other it felt a bit rudimentary.

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ racism; divorced parents

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ New Kid by Jerry Craft

NewKid

» A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton

AWolfforaSpell
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WhatILiked

» First off this was a total cover ARC request. I just couldn’t help myself. Probably one of the most beautiful middle grade fantasy covers of 2020!

» Told in alternating perspectives of a young village orphan, a wolf, and a witch, A Wolf for a Spell is a Russian inspired fairy tale full of magic, friendship, heroics, and conquering evil.

» Sutton’s writing is lovely and deliciously atmospheric. This story was short and well-paced, making for a very quick read.

» I’m a sucker for a magical forest setting, so this was right up my alley. The forest setting added to the ambiance of the story.

» The illustrations were a lovely addition and enhanced the fairy tale vibes.

» This book reminded me of a cross between a Grace Lin book and The Girl Who Drank the Moon, so if you are a fan of these things, I think it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy this book too.

WhatIDidntLike

» While I did enjoy the alternating perspectives, I would have liked to have seen Katerina’s perspective included since she was such an integral part of the story. It fell off that her point of view was not included.

› Recommended to ⇒ fairy tale fans

› If you liked this book, try ⇒ For a MG book that feels like a fairy tale, try When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

*Thank you to Random House Children’s for providing a review copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

**The release date for this book was originally scheduled for September 22, 2020, but has been pushed back to December 1, 2020.**


» The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

TheRemarkableJourneyofCoyoteSunrise
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5-Star Rating System
WhatILiked

» The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is a new favorite book of 2020! I absolutely adored this book and it will definitely be a book that I recommend often.

» Because this is a “road trip” story, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise makes for a perfect summer read. I loved that the characters trek across the U.S. on an old school bus dubbed Yager.

» I chose to listen to this via audiobook, which was an excellent decision. Gemeinhart’s beautiful writing paired with a wonderful narration made for a wonderful audiobook experience.

» Coyote, our main character, is strong, adaptable, open, and kind. Life really dealt her a tough hand, but she never lets that fact bog her down or make her bitter.

» I’ve always been a sucker for a ragtag group of eccentric people coming together and forming unlikely friendships. The characters in this story are what make this story so wonderful. I loved watching these characters come together by chance and grow to care for one another and help each other out.

» While this cover screams light-hearted, this story dives into some heavy themes like loss, grief, and moving on. The climax of this story hit me hard in the feels and made me sob ugly tears.

» This beautiful story will appeal to a wide range of ages from middle grade to adults. I would say that The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is a great crossover book for those middle grade aged readers that are looking for a book that is a bit above the typical middle grade book in regards to reading level and content, but not yet ready for more mature YA content.

» I feel like this story would translate well to film…

WhatIDidntLike

» The only negative thing I could say about this book is that I would have liked to see a bit about Coyote & Rodeo’s life on the road before they start off on their journey back to Washington.

› Recommended to ⇒ road trip story fans

› Trigger/content warnings ⇒ death of a parent; death of sibling

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Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think?

Comment below & let me know 🙂

What I'm Reading

3 thoughts on “Mini Book Reivews: August 2020 – Part 3”

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