I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.
This is the fourth installment of a series written in diary form from the perspective of 13-year-old Nikki Maxwell. Nikki and her two bestfriends, Chloe and Zoey, sign up to be in an ice skating competition to raise money for a charity. They find the perfect charity to support when they discover that the animal shelter where Brandon (Nikki's crush) volunteers is at risk of closing. Of course, Nikki's arch nemesis Mackenzie Hollister will do everything she can to try to thwart Nikki at every turn.
I love that this series excites my daughter and has her wanting to read more. She can easily relate to Nikki and her friends. The book narrative is funny and cute. Nikki struggles with insecurity and doing the right thing. She comes across as a genuine and ordinary girl learning to navigate middle school. MacKenzie is a bit of a caricature. The wealthy spoiled popular girl who is every inch a brat. Mouse and I are quite vocal in our conversations about Mackenzie that we don't like how she acts very much. My daughter said the other night though that even though she doesn't quite know why, she kind of feels sorry for Mackenzie. I have to admit I do too. I can't help but wonder what her back story is. Every bully has one, right?
Anyway, Mouse and I both liked Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess. We liked that Nikki stepped up to help Brandon and, despite her fears, got on that ice even knowing she isn't that great of an ice skater. Mouse thought Nikki was very brave and what she did was cool.
Of course Mouse was eager to dive into the 5th book in the series soon after we finished the fourth. Nikki Maxwell decides to join the school newspaper staff to keep an eye on Mackenzie who has threatened to write a story involving Nikki's crush, Brandon. A story that could get a lot of people in trouble, including Nikki and her bestfriends Chloe and Zoey. Mackenzie's attempts to thwart Nikki from getting a position on the paper are in vain when Nikki ends up with the assignment of advice columnist. But she must keep it a secret. Trying to stay on top of answering letters, worrying her scholarship is at risk, and find a birthday present for Brandon, Nikki begins to feel overwhelmed very quickly.
There's the usual family drama with Brianna, Nikki's six year old sister. Nikki is often put in the role of caring for her sister--or keeping her occupied. And although Brianna often gets on Nikki's nerves and sometimes makes situations worse, there are times when she comes through in surprising ways. That was the case in this book too. Mouse relates to both Brianna and Nikki, which is not surprising given her age. She's right in between the two.
Then there is the whole situation with Nikki's dad possibly going to work for Mackenzie's dad--which would be a nightmare of unimaginable proportions. Through out these books, Nikki spends a lot of time worrying about people finding out she is on scholarship at the private school she attends. And that her dad is an exterminator who drives a van with a giant roach on top. As a result, she feels like she is always having to hide a part of herself.
This was another fun book for Mouse and I to read together. It's also the first book in the series that we have read together that was not a re-read for my daughter. It was kind of nice not having things spoiled for me as we went along (although to be fair, Mouse never really gave away anything other than the occasional, "I love the next part!" or "I remember what happens next!"). We both got a kick out of some of the letters Nikki received and the advice she gave people. Mouse said her favorite advice Nikki gave was to the new girl who had been bullied and felt out of place and that was probably mine too. It was definitely something Nikki could relate to herself.
Nikki makes quite a few questionable decisions in Tales from a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All that Mouse and I discussed as we read (Toilet papering someone's house and lying to her parents among them). Nikki is by no means perfect and many of the issues and feelings she deals with mirror real life even if not in an exact situational way. I can appreciate that about her and about these books. While sometimes it may seem that everything falls into place a little too easily for Nikki in the end, it's important to keep in mind the audience this series was written for.
Each of these books can be read as stand alones, but I think it may be more fun to read them in order to see the characters' progressions in their relationships with one another.
Now Reading: Mouse would have loved to continue with the Dork Diaries, I am sure, but we are missing the next few books. I think we may have the ninth book. Mouse wants to wait to read it until she's read the books that come before it. I think that's a good idea.
Last year Mouse discovered the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski. We read a later book in the series together, and she expressed an interest in reading more. For Christmas, she got the first three books in the series. We are currently reading the first, Fairest of All. The series features a 10 year old girl named Abby and her 7 year old brother Jonah who discover a magical mirror in their basement which serves as a door into various fairytales. With each fairytale, something goes wrong to throw the story off course, and it's up to Abby and Jonah to get everything back on track.
On her own, Mouse is reading The Cinderella Ballet Mystery (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew #4) by Carolyn Keene, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan, and The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner.
What I Am Reading: I was able to finish T.A. Willberg's Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder Thursday night, staying up later than I should. I paid for it in spades the next morning. Why do we do that to ourselves?!
At the moment I am reading Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. I could not resist this one after reading the synopsis. It is about a romantic suspense novelist/divorced mother who is mistaken as a hired killer. I am not too far in, but it's already relatable (even if a bit over the top) and funny, and I look forward to reading more.
I have not quite decided what comes next. Perhaps The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose #3) by Charlaine Harris or Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck. It will depend on where my mood takes me.
What I Am Watching: The rain outside my window. It is so lovely.
I had the chance to watch Lupin on Netflix, about a man trying to clear his deceased father's name of a crime he didn't commit. He is inspired by his favorite book, Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief (Arsène Lupin #1) by Maurice Leblanc, which he has read numerous times. I watched the dubbed version, not realizing there was an option to watch it with subtitles. I may have to go back and watch it again with the subtitles. Regardless, I really enjoyed it.
I was able to watch much of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration this past Wednesday. It was understated as compared to years past, but I thought everything went very well and was fitting for the times. The highlight was Amanda Gorman, the inaugural poet. She did an amazing job--and what a beautiful poem!
Off the Blog: As mentioned above, it is raining at the moment. It is much welcomed and needed. Earlier in the week the wind was quite strong. Luckily my area did not suffer a power outage, but many surrounding neighborhoods and areas did. I just noticed the lid of the sandbox must have blown off--and of course now the sand is being soaked by the rain . . .
My family and I enjoyed the extra day off earlier in the week due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. Not that we did anything particularly special but it was just nice to have the day off together.
On Tuesday I got my first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of my work, I fall in one of the priority categories. I had a moment of panic after when I was told they wouldn't automatically schedule second vaccine appointments. That I would have to call in every day and hope for an opening. Fortunately my persistence paid off and I was able to schedule a second appointment. It's been such a scramble for anyone to get an appointment. They fill up so fast, especially as the requirement levels open up more and more. The big issue is whether there is enough supply to meet the demand. In my county, people 65 and older, teachers and child care staff have been added to the existing qualifying list most recently. I had a sore arm for a few days after the shot, but other than that I seem to be fine. I heard the second dose has more side effects.
I woke up yesterday morning with a bad case of allergies. At least I am assuming it's allergies. It made for a miserable day trying to get through work. It did not help I was up the night before reading. I managed though. I feel a little better today with the help of some sinus medicine. The headache has is not as intense, my eyes are dry, and my nose isn't quite as active.
This Past Week In Reading Mews:
Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your week? Do you have anything planned for this week?
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