It’s Monday, and I’ve read some books since the beginning of the year

January 14, 2019

This is strictly a reading update!

Giant Days, Vol. 5 (Giant Days, #5)Giant Days, Vol. 5 by John Allison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was so fun. A plagiarism plot, a mean professor, Susan being a stalker, Esther dabbling in pens, Daisy being the all-around best, and a trip to Ikea. Did I mention Daisy is the best? I love her. I mean, they’re all pretty great IN GENERAL, but specifically in this volume Daisy is the best.

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Dumplin'Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It took me FOREVER to read this book in part, I think, because I kept waiting for the pageant to happen and NO PAGEANT STUFF happened until, like, the last two chapters with maybe one mention of pageant stuff in the interim. I also wanted more stuff with Willowdean’s mom and Ellen, and I think if they were all together doing pageant stuff then that would have happened.

I liked the ultimate message of the book and the characters (although I honestly couldn’t keep the motley crew straight besides Hannah and Millie), but I just wanted/needed a little bit more.

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Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha! (Junie B. Jones, #26)Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha! by Barbara Park

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this on the plane to Hawaii because my daughter and I always said we would.

What is there to say? Junie B. is the GOAT. The book is hilarious, and I love that Park always managed to capture both the antics of the kids and the frustrations of the adults in a way that doesn’t demean either.

Fave quote: “Mr. Scary was not looking at me. When teachers don’t look, you have to stand up and shout. Or else how are they supposed to notice you?”


Also: “I kissed him [Ollie, her little brother] good-bye. And I pretended I would miss him.” HAHAHAHA. God, I love her, and I love Barbara Park’s writing (RIP).

4.5 stars, rounding up

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Royal Crown (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, #4)Royal Crown by Meg Cabot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is adorable and fiercely feminist (which…of course).

I loved the girls’ discussion of puberty (“And maybe you’re a little jealous because you’ve never experienced the natural beauty that is menarche?”–I almost hollered laughing on the plane) as well as all the stuff about communication (who should text first? should you call? etc). I think these are valid concerns of most kids in that age group, and both topics were handled with Cabot’s usual grace and humor.

There’s a bit about social media here, too, that plays well. And there’s bunch of stuff about kissing, so if that’s not your thing, you may want to skip it.

I loved the call backs to the original series (esp. the bit about the unauthorized biographies of Mia’s life, which is never not funny).

I think my favorite thing about these books is that they show (a) how easy it is to adapt to a life of privilege (Olivia doesn’t have to think about money so seems confused about why Nishi would) and (b) that Olivia’s relationship with Grandmère is so different than her sister’s. The latter is an especially nice touch.

(3.5 stars, rounding up)

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The Islanders, Vol. 1: Zoey Fools Around / Jake Finds Out (Making Out, #1-2)The Islanders, Vol. 1: Zoey Fools Around / Jake Finds Out by Katherine Applegate

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In an effort to get my writing mojo back, I am rereading books that I absolutely loved as a teen that made me want to be a writer. I first read this series when it was published as BOYFRIENDS/GIRLFRIENDS (yes, pre-Making Out) and still have the originals on my shelf. So when I say I loved them, I mean I loooooved them.

Anyway, this was fun to read because the ~drama~ is exactly what I loved about it. It’s like reading a soap opera with multiple characters, their POVs, and their relationships.

I only checked out this updated version because I was traveling and it’s available on Kindle. What’s hilarious is all the updated pop culture references (One Direction, Lindsay Lohan, Ed Sheeran) with no attention paid to the fact that none of the characters has a cell phone or other device that would drastically change the story otherwise. There’s also no note that says it was written in the ’90s and updated, so I’m not sure how today’s teen would feel about/register that part.

Nina and Ben remain the actual best, and I love them with my whole heart. The Aisha/Christopher story doesn’t hold up as well, but it is uncanny how much I related to Aisha’s attitude toward Zoey this time, and it’s also funny knowing what I know about the end of the series.

This was so nice to reread even though the beginning was kind of slow for me, but when the drama kicks in, it KICKS IN, and I am 100% here for it.

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Also, between Dumplin‘ and Junie B., I finished a book that’s not on Goodreads (so won’t count towards my end of year total on there *shakes fist*): Procession of Martyrs by my friend and colleague, Emily Fernandez.

procession of martyrs by emily fernandez

It’s a book of poetry, and it is delightful. My favorite poems are “Art” and “Avalanche.” One is about art (duh), and the other is about loss. Good stuff.

Currently, I’m reading:

loser's bracket by chris crutcher

I started Loser’s Bracket on the plane ride home, and I’m going to finish it. It’s pretty standard Crutcher fare so far. Good voice, interesting conflict. We’ll see where it goes.


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  1. Shaye Miller

    You have my attention with Giant Days. I’ve overlooked this series and will have to see if we have it available at any of our local libraries. My daughter started Dumplin’ but seemed to struggle to get very far into it. I was hoping we could read this one together and watch the Netflix representation, but if she’s not interested then I won’t push it. I almost missed your post, so I’m glad I checked back in tonight. Hope you have an excellent reading week, Akilah!

  2. Bryan G. Robinson

    Looks like you are getting off to a good start for the year with your reading. Keep up the good work.

  3. cweichel

    I liked the characters in Dumplin, but just couldn’t get my head around why anyone would want to be in a pageant in the first place! I too have a very soft spot in my heart for Junie B. Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed remains my personal favourite!

    • Akilah

      And if we had seen more of the pageant, you might have understood. See? It needed more pageant.

  4. Elisabeth Ellington

    I started Dumplin but never finished. I’ll probably watch the movie eventually. I clearly need to read more Junie B. Jones books. I think I’ve only read one! I don’t know the Giant Days series at all, so I need to look for it. How was the Chris Crutcher? I had to stop reading his books a few years ago because I just couldn’t take all the plots and subplots and sub-sub-plots. WAY too much going on in every single one of his books for my taste. But I do like knowing about them so I can booktalk and recommend.

    • Akilah

      I liked the Crutcher! I’ve never had a problem with his plotting, so I can’t speak to that part. This one seemed pretty straightforward, though.

      Yesssss, read more Junie B! A fave of mine is the sleepover one. Hilarious.


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