Book Review: Honeybees And Frenemies by Kristi Wientge

Book: Honeybees And Frenemies by Kristi Wientge

Published June 2019 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|256 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Twelve-year-old Flor faces a bittersweet summer with a pageant, a frenemy, and a hive full of honey.

It’s the summer before eighth grade and Flor is stuck at home and working at her family’s mattress store, while her best friend goes off to band camp (probably to make new friends). It becomes even worse when she’s asked to compete in the local honey pageant. This means Flor has to spend the summer practicing her talent (recorder) and volunteering (helping a recluse bee-keeper) with Candice, her former friend who’s still bitter about losing the pageant crown to Flor when they were in second grade. And she can’t say no.

Then there’s the possibility that Flor and her family are leaving to move in with her mom’s family in New Jersey. And with how much her mom and dad have been fighting lately, is it possible that her dad may not join them? Flor can’t let that happen. She has a lot of work to do.

Honeybees And Frenemies was a really cute read, and I’m glad I read it.  I ended up really liking it!

This book was really cute, and I really felt for Flor, who is teaming up with a former friend to win the summer pageant.  Something about all of the festivals mentioned made me think of Gilmore Girls, where they have random festivals and town events throughout the years.

It was interesting to see them team up, but I’ll admit to wanting more of why Candice was horrible to Flor.  I mean, I get being bitter about losing the pageant crown…but they were seven, and I kind of think it would have made more sense had they been older.  But this is also middle grade, so I guess it had to happen earlier?

Anyway, I liked seeing them work together.  They both realize they have their reasons for wanting to win, and even though their talent gets them into trouble, it was still pretty cool, and I’m glad it didn’t get them disqualified.  Saving the bees is pretty important to Candice too, and she would be a great bee ambassador.  Plus, winning helps Candice a lot more than it helps Flor, but I think things will work out for Flor.  I know she had a lot going on, but the book ended on a hopeful note.  I really felt like things were going to be just fine for everyone.

I also liked the facts about bees at the beginning of each chapter.  That was a really cute tie-in, and it makes me want to learn more about bees.  I wasn’t paying enough attention to see if the facts actually tied into what happened in each chapter, but either way it was cool.

I did think helping out at her family’s mattress store and her best friend going away to summer camp would be more of a thing than it really was.  Maybe that’s just me, thinking things mentioned in the summary are going to be more important than they really are.  We do get a little bit of it, though we get bits and pieces of the family stuff throughout the book while the best friend stuff is pretty much towards the end of the book.

I also wanted a little more to the ending, and while things are pretty wrapped up, I still wanted to go a little past where the book actually ended.  Still, it’s a pretty good ending point, so I’m not going to complain too much about it.  I think it’s just wistful thinking on my part.

4 stars.  I really liked Honeybees And Frenemies!  It’s a super cute middle grade and worth checking out.

Book Review: Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge

Book: Karma Khullar’s Mustache by Kristi Wientge

Published August 2017 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|272 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume.

Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

I think I’ve been in a middle grade contemporary mood lately because this is one of a few I’ve read recently.  I mostly read YA (and only rarely read middle grade), but this one jumped out at me because it tackles body hair.  I’ve read a lot of books in the 7.5 years I’ve been reviewing books and while I can’t always remember what I read a week or two ago, much less years ago, I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve read a book about a character dealing with body hair.

It does have a Judy Blume feel to it (for some reason, I’m specifically reminded of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret), and I think Judy Blume fans will enjoy this one.  Regardless of whether you’ve read Judy Blume or not, this is a book I’m glad I picked up.

There is a lot that comes up in this book- food and identity, bullying, friendship, and much more.  It’s not long, and it’s middle grade, so it doesn’t go into a lot of depth, but I still thought that you get a really good sense of what Karma is dealing with.  I liked seeing her realize that both she and her best friend need other friends as well.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the new girl in town, who becomes friends with Karma’s best friend.  Even though I can understand why she acted the way she did, I still wasn’t a fan.  Hopefully, she’ll change and realize that she wasn’t always nice, and that how she treated Karma wasn’t cool.

Karma’s middle school experience was pretty relatable and I wish it had been around when I was around 11 or 12.  Not necessarily the friendship drama part, but the feeling insecure about how I looked part.  I’m glad that this book is on the shelves now, though, because I feel like it has an audience.

4 stars.  I didn’t love it, and I’m not quite sure why, but I still really liked it, and would recommend it to everyone.