Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: Wrapped

Title: Wrapped
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Published: 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Obtained: Library
Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.
Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.
Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.
Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.
This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.
Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.

First Sentence:"'Put the book down, darling,’ my mother said from her chair beside the mirror."

Can I just gush? For hours? Because this book is worthy of years of gushing. Jennifer Bradbury states in the author’s note that she wrote this book to “[combine] my loves for the Regency period, Egyptian mythology and history, and stories featuring spies and secret agents.” Does this not sound like the most perfect combination of awesome things? And trust me, it worked. Soooo well!!

Because of my love of Jane Austen (whose works are referenced and spoken of many times throughout the story), I adore any story set in the same time period. In the very first scene of the book, Agnes is reading Mansfield Park. Right there, I knew I would love her. She goes on to quote Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

The start is like many regency books with the girl getting ready for her debut and dislikes all the fuss over husband-hunting. Agnes was on the more romantic side of that rebellion though, in that she longed for a Jane Austen-like romance, not something set up and based on social standing. She was also not in complete rebellion over the season. While she disliked the stress over it, she was not as “oh goodness I will rebel against everything” like some regency heroines (see “The Season” “Bewitching Season” etc.). Agnes held her parents in high respect and wanted to please them. If this involved marrying some random guy, then she would, albeit begrudgingly, do it.

However from this typical beginning we get all Egypt-crazy and have a mummy unwrapping (which I never knew was “a thing” back then!) at a high-class party. Here is were she sees a mysterious young man for the first time, and we all just *know* that he’s her destined true match (and how right we are). Because while Lord Showalter might be the most eligible man in London, for all his impressive qualities (and big ego) we know he’s not her man.

I don’t want to ruin too much of the mystery and excitement of the storyline for you, but let me say, it’s pretty fantastic. Understanding Egypt's history more and the effect Napoleon had on the people of England was fantastic. She only took a few liberties which she explains at the end. Mostly the deviations were all “fixed” by the end of the novel. I love historical novels as long as they are creative enough, and this was SO creative.

The “mysterious young man” is Caedmon who, as a male lead, is pretty awesome. He’s the “not so rich” guy who falls for the rich girl, and holds out hope that it will all work out. I loved him for his intelligence, his confidence, and his spirit. He was so normal, I loved it! Even though this normal-ness made him a flatter character in general, I do think he compliments Agnes perfectly and is just a great guy.

She is totally setting this up for more books!! I’m so happy!! At least, the ending makes it seem like they could have many adventures. Although, it might be a way to end the book and give the readers knowledge of the characters’ future events. But I hope she writes more books about Agnes. She gave herself so much to write off of, and her characters are so amazing that more books are definitely needed!

As you can obviously tell, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book. Go read it.

P.S. The cover??? It’s completely gorgeous!! I would have read it just for the cover. . .
P.P.S. I read this in one day. Got it from the library at five and read it pretty much since then till about 10. It was THAT good.

Rating: Capture878

Content Warning: Infrequent language (about two different words used around two-three times each).


Review: Awaken

Title: Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Published: 2011 by Houghton Mifflin
Obtained: Library
Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

First Sentence:
"My mom gave me an old leather-bound journal for my seventeenth birthday."

When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. A dystopian story where the problem is over-using technology? So plausible. So scary.

So good.

The rise in crime such as school shootings, bombings, and just other not-so-lovely happenings, instilled complete fear of all humanity in most people. Thus, everything went online, where you couldn’t get shot, beat up, or pushed around by people. Most people never leave their houses, because there’s nothing outside that isn’t on their computer. This is story of Maddie. Her father is the man behind the main online school for all students. Maddie was a bit of rebel when she was younger, and so now a group of teens who want to escape the ever-present shadow of electronics, track her down to see if she can help them get codes out of her dad’s computer. It’s through this that her life finally begins, and she meets Justin.

In short, this book made me want to burn all computers and return to a world of no technology. Just everything they created to do online really made me mad….I mean, going for a walk in the mountains….ONLINE! While technology is great for medical and efficiency reasons, this complete fear of other humans caused everyone to hide behind their technology. So now I’m totally freaked out of a world like this happening. It’s so completely possible. School shootings/bombings? Check. Incredible improvements in technology? Check. Use of technology for things that should be done in the real world with real people? Check. Yeah I’m quite unnerved.

As for characters, I loved Justin and Maddie’s relationship. They were so cute and perfect together! Also, Clare was an amazing friend and quite the developed character. I also feel like there’s a lot of potential for an awesome character with Maddie’s brother Joe. Which brings me to my next point. I just found out she’s writing a sequel called Middle Ground.

Now I’m really excited!! I wasn’t sure if there was going to be a sequel or not.

Bottom line: I loved this book for it’s realistic future and its characters.
Rating: Capture878

Content Warning: Implied sex/making out. Language, probably.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In My Mailbox (#1 Continues)

Since in my In My Mailbox post on Monday I didn’t get to really show you what I was buying in the next few days, I decided to do an “updated version” with the new additions.

I really did get Goliath by Scott Westerfeld, and I’m totally psyched to read it as soon as I can!!!

Today I got in the mail (YES, it was legitimately in my actual mailbox!) my very first “free book.” You know the kind where they give you the book so you can review it? That kind. OH YES. Moving up in this blogging world. :)

Here’s a picture of my THREE new books I got yesterday and today.

Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney has looked good for ages and so when I saw it at Sam’s for $6, I snapped it up.
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones is the one I got from A GREAT BIG THANK YOU TO THEM FOR BEING AWESOME!!!

What are your thoughts on these books?


Monday, September 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

I’m giving in to the meme….instead of “New Picks for the Week,” it’ll be the typical “In My Mailbox.”

In My Mailbox is a weekly (or however sporadically you feel like it) meme in which bloggers list the books they’ve recently received to review. This was instigated by The Story Siren.

This week I went a little crazy at the library. I plan to purchase Goliath by Scott Westerfeld tomorrow (on it’s release date!) because I’ve been DYING for it to come out. Also I’m supposed to get a book in the mail soon-ish to review (I’m SUPER excited about this because it’s my first get-a-free-book-and-promise-to-review-it!!!)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
 Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
 Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.

Jane by April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

Mistwood by Leah Cypess
The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwood. But when she is needed she always comes.
Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.
Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—because without it, she may be his greatest threat.
Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court... until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.
Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart... and everything she thought she knew.

Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler

For fifteen-year-old Daphne, the glass is always half full, a dab of lip-gloss can ward off a bad day, and the boy of her dreams—the one she's read about in all of her beloved romance novels—is waiting for her just around the corner.
But Daphne's older sister Gabby wishes Daphne would get real. In Gabby's world, everyone's out for themselves, wearing makeup is a waste of time, and boys only distract you from studying before they break your heart. The only boy Gabby trusts is her best friend, Mule, who has always been there for her.
Both Gabby and Daphne are still reeling from their parents' divorce, though in very different ways. While Gabby will never forgive her unreliable father for failing her mother, Daphne idolizes her daddy and is sure that everything would work out fine if her cranky mom would just let him back into their lives.
When a crisis leaves the girls and their mom homeless, help comes from an unexpected source, and both girls are courted by surprise suitors who shake up their views of the world. Suddenly the glass isn't so clearly half empty or half full… and love seems a lot more complicated than they ever could have imagined.

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
Scott Abrams is the love of Brooke’s life. He just doesn’t know it yet. So when his family moves to New York City the summer before senior year, Brooke has no choice but to follow Scott. It’s her last chance to prove to him that they’re meant to be together.
But the city is full of surprises that Brooke never expected. Ever since a painful family trauma, she’s been closed off to her parents, to her friends, and even to herself. Now, inspired by the thrilling energy of the bustling and creative city around her, Brooke begins to discover a side of herself she never knew existed.
And as she finds out, in the city that never sleeps, love can appear around any corner...

Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede

Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he's supposed to possess amazing talent -- and she's supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.


Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
 Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
 Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
I have yet to read If I Stay, but I figured I would get this out just in case I read If I Stay really soon.

The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg

With their family home facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast—no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City—and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. Based on the true story of the author’s great-aunt and great-grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in Eighty Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a woman’s place” in society.

Quite the haul.

I hope I have time to read most of these (plus the others I have lying around) before I have to return them!

What did you get recently?

Have you read any of these? If so, are they good?


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: The Boyfriend List

Title: The Boyfriend List
Author: E. Lockhart
Published: 2005 by Delacorte Books
Obtained: Library
Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:
 lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list),
 lost her best friend (Kim),
 lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket),
 did something suspicious with a boy (#10),
 did something advanced with a boy (#15),
 had an argument with a boy (#14),
 drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
 got caught by her mom (ag!),
 had a panic attack (scary),
 lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie),
 failed a math test (she’ll make it up),
 hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends),
 became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
 and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!).
But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

First Sentence:"Before anyone reading this thinks to call me a slut - or even just imagines I'm incredibly popular - let me point out that this list includes absolutely every single boy I have ever had the slightest little any-kind-of-anything with."

Once I finished reading E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I knew I had to read her other books. I adore her simple-yet-complex writing style and her amazing (and funny) characters. The Boyfriend List kept perfectly with this style.

Ruby Oliver started acting differently and so her parents, who are hilariously depicted, decide to get her a shrink. This shrink has Ruby write down the names of boys she’s ever had anything, or nothing but wished it was something, with. From here the author slowly builds up our understanding of Ruby and her life, from each chapter titled a different boy’s name. Hearing her stories of the past shed insight on her character, and she also slowly tells us  the story of what happened to make her upset.

This type of plotline, taking place after the event and revisiting the past, tends to be confusing. But it also makes you read the whole book eagerly because you want to know what happened to get the character where they are now. In the last few chapters of this book, after all the boys’ stories were told, the plotline went forward because her whole past story had been shown.

I adored Ruby’s little footnotes that were extremely biased explanations for random parts of her narrative.

This is the first in a series, and I will definitely be reading the others, hoping Ruby’s life gets better, because right now, it kind of stinks.

Rating: Capture878

Content Warnings: Language, kissing.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Published: 2011 by Scholastic
Obtained: Library
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness.

First Sentence:"This book begins with a plane crash."

First off, I gotta say, Libba Bray is one heck of a funny person. I would love to meet her. She’s completely hilarious. When I read her Great and Terrible Beauty books (Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing), I never pictured her a funny person. Honestly, it feels like Beauty Queens and the Great and Terrible Beauty series were written by completely different authors. In a way, this is awesome, because it shows how versatile she is.

To understand this book, you have to understand that The Corporation has complete control over America’s entertainment and possibly government(?)(so in a small sense, this is a bit dystopian). Beauty Queens follows the story of some pageant girls who are stranded on a island due to a plane crash. Most of the girls and all of the adults die, leaving about 15-ish girls (I kind of lost count). They have to deal with fighting jungle animals, surviving from limited resources, and getting along. Taylor, Miss Texas, is a pageant girl to the extreme and makes the girls practice their routines. Another girl who kind of becomes main character, Adina has a more practical approach to their situation. While the girls are trying to survive, we find out about some master plot with a dictator named ChaCha and the famous beauty queen Ladybird Hope. The plot of this book is simply insane. I don’t expect what I just said to make any sense.

The whole point behind this story is that “beauty” isn’t what the world sees it as. There are many lies in the world of beautiful people. You find out certain major things about some of the contestants, they all have their secrets, and the characters (and Libba Bray) are trying to tell you that people aren’t who you think they are, and the whole idea of beauty contests are shams. The girls struggle with the limits society has placed on them as girls, and they try to embrace freedom and turn very feminist. This book is basically a satire on all the pageant stuff.

I was expecting a more fluffy, funny read, and the beginning is quite hilarious. However, as soon as the stakes are higher and the plot gets even more complicated, you realize this book is dark and shocking. There’s a lot of death related in a detached way, and lots of the situations the girls get in are…strange.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that this book is not meant for the casual reader, which is what I was hoping to be. The social commentary surprised me greatly. But if you like absurdly funny, completely complicated plots, and girls experiencing complete lack of adults, then read this. This book also involves controversial topics with transgendered, lesbian, and bi contestants.

I did love the little Corporation tidbits of commercials and other televised bits that were interspersed throughout the story. Also, I loved the message that there is so much below the surface of every person. Just looking at someone can’t tell who they are. Everyone has secrets. The ending was also very appropriate and I enjoyed it.

Overall, I didn’t like this book too much. I am very thankful I did not purchase it. I stopped reading it a couple times, then would pick it up again begrudgingly (I hate leaving books unfinished). As much as I appreciated Ms. Bray’s humor in such a horrible situation, I just couldn’t get into the topics presented, and didn’t enjoy the completely INSANE plot line.

Rating: Capture878 I wouldn’t say I HATED it….but I really didn’t like it too much at all.

Content Warning: Oh goodness. Where to start? Lots of language (from mild to strong). Sex. Lots of violence. Kissing. ETC.
Most depends on how you feel about subjects like homosexuality and teenage sex.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review: Withering Tights

Title: Withering Tights
Author: Louise Rennison
Published: 2011 by HarperTeen
Obtained: Library
Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College. This is good-bye, Tallulah, you long, gangly thing, and hellooooo, Lullah, star of stage.
Tallulah Casey is ready to find her inner artist. And some new mates. And maybe a boy or two or three.
The ticket to achieving these lofty goals? Enrolling in a summer performing arts program, of course. She's bound for the wilds of Yorkshire Dales—eerily similar to the windswept moors of Wuthering Heights. Tallulah expects new friends, less parental interference, and lots of drama. Acting? Tights? Moors? Check, check, check.
What she doesn't expect is feeling like a tiny bat's barging around in her mouth when she has her first snog.

First Sentence:"Wow. This is it. This is me growing up."

I laughed so hard. Louise Rennison sure knows how to create amazing characters and hilarious, yet plausible, situations.

While I have not yet read her other series that so many people love, I decided to read this book because it looked amazing. Trust me, this time, looks were not deceiving!

Tallulah (awesome name) gets the chance to go to a performing arts program for the whole summer. She’s really hoping to be selected to stay on for the school year as well. However, it seems like she can’t get any of the “arts” down. Her singing isn’t that great, she falls while dancing, etc. The only thing she really succeeds at is being unintentionally funny. While she is figuring out her future with the performing arts, she’s having fun hanging with her new friends in the town that she’s staying in. Turns out there’s a boy’s school nearby, and so the girls go on a few dates with these guys. Tallulah really likes Alex, the unattainable slightly older boy who might or might not be taken, and who so far has just seen her at her most crazy. And then there’s Cain who is the town’s “bad boy” and who keeping showing up.

I absolutely loved the situations that Tallulah got herself into. She keeps messing up and feels horrible about it. But sometimes she fails to see the charm she exudes while being caught doing/saying the strangest things. She has a strong spirit and makes herself stay positive even when it looks like she’ll fail. I would love her as my friend!

Also, this book is British! As an American, this is very exciting!

I love the characters, the setting, the references to Wuthering Heights, and the writing. However, I did think that it ended with her relationships with certain people being very unclear. I really need the sequel. :)

Rating: Capture878 

Content Warning: Kissing (which gets pretty descriptive since it’s her first).


Review: Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty
Author: Jody Gehrman
Published: 2008 by Dial
Obtained: Library
Geena can’t wait to spend summer vacation with her two best girls: her friend Amber and her cousin Hero. All three are working at the Triple Shot Betty coffee shop together, but the moment Amber and Hero meet, the claws come out. They hate each other on sight. Geena’s dreams of a girl-bonding summer fly out the window, and then threaten to disappear completely when a few cute (okay, drop-dead gorgeous) guys come along to woo the Bettys. But all is not what it seems, and in a story of mistaken identities, crazy summer high jinks, and enough romance to make Shakespeare proud, Geena and her friends learn that when Bettys unite, they can take on the most powerful force in their world: a hot guy.

First Sentence:"Great. So much for my summer. I should have known."

Going into this book I had no idea it was going to be so…rough. There was a lot of mature content that I wasn’t expecting (I don’t mean explicit content, but mature themes and words). However, in the end the result/lesson learned was positive.

So this is the story of a girl named Geena who’s best friend Amber is known as a slut. When Geena’s innocent cousin Hero comes for the summer, Amber and Hero clash. This book is FILLED with drama because Amber still likes John even though he dumped her. John really wants to get Hero, who currently likes this other guy. Geena swears that she doesn’t like Ben, but you kind of guess they’ll end up together (and you’d be guessing correctly!!). So in the midst of this mess of teenager infatuation, we have John who is a ____ (insert rude word here). This guy is a lot more disgusting and horrible than he seems. Amber also is more vulnerable than SHE seems. Attached to ALL this extra drama, we have some family issues that Geena and Amber go through.

That above summary is basically all this novel is about: DRAMA. IT NEVER ENDS!!! Not that it’s boring! Oh no! When is drama boring? But when you finish and step back, it just seems kind of pointless. The lovely little positive messages we get from this book are that guys shouldn’t have so much power over girls, it’s okay to stand up to a creepy guy and make your feelings known, and TOGETHER WE ARE STRONG. (No really, that’s the message…)

While at times it’s funny, romantic, relatable, cute, and empowering; in general it’s just a load of drama.

Rating: Capture878 I didn’t HATE it, but it really wasn’t that great.

Content Warnings: As you probably picked up from the review, there is a lot of sexual comments, words, situations, and insinuations. Nothing ACTUALLY “happens.”
This book also contains a lot of language, from mild to strong.


Monday, September 5, 2011

FINALLY! My Video Review of the Maximum Ride series

Sorry it took forever for me to do this. I kept putting it off because I knew how long it would take (I was right about that! It took pretty much all day).

So without further ado! Here is my summation and thoughts of/on the first seven Maximum Ride books:

Yeah it’s really long….but that’s because there are SEVEN books!!!

I realized I forgot to give a content warning and rating for the series in the video!

Content Warning: Mild language and kissing

Rating: Capture878


Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: 2010 by HarperTeen
Obtained: Library
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
 Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
 Instead, it turns out to be her last.
 Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

First Sentence:
”They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.”

Lauren Oliver manages to take a clichéd plot conflict and make an amazingly original story out of it. Seriously. This was an incredible book.

Before I Fall is about a girl named Samantha (Sam) who is one of the popular girls at school, has a group of awesomely close friends, and has a super hot boyfriend. Then one night, after a crazy party, her friend Lindsay is driving and hits something which sends them off the road, killing the person in the passenger seat: Sam. After this, we get to hear her thoughts on her life and about this “in-between” stage that she’s in. Then without warning she’s back waking up to her little sister jumping on her bed. Just like on the day she died. Turns out, Sam has to live her last day over again seven times.

You know the saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone?” Well, that would very appropriately fit this story. Sam has spent her life, dying to be popular and respected, and now that she has that status, she seems to try and convince herself it’s a good thing. Even before her death, she had hesitations about treating certain people poorly. She did it though, because her friends were doing it and she didn’t think it was that wrong of her. She IS popular after all.

Throughout her narrative, we discover that Sam was a typical loser all throughout elementary school and middle school. She had a couple friends, ones she later alienated, but mostly she was made fun of. Then one day this popular girl Lindsay stands up for her and they become best friends.

Her and her group of friends are close, but not as close as it seems. They ignore the issues lurking beneath the surface, and just focus on the mundane parts of their friendship: boys, parties, and shopping. As Sam sees more and more the value of life, she tries to get her friends to open up and get past the secrets.

What I’m trying to show is that this book is really deep on so many levels that I’ve barely scratched the surface. This is one book you have to read for yourself. You will dwell on it for many days, I promise. It’s rough, but it’s good.

The one thing that bugged me about this book is that once Sam realizes she’s living through the same day again, she mentions that “it’s just like in the movie Groundhog Day” (not verbatim). My problem with this is that by saying that, we know Sam has seen Groundhog Day. Now how did the guy in that movie stop the cycle? By doing everything right and being nice. So WHY in the world didn’t she just try that right off the bat? This annoyance is really just in reference to the addition of it to the story. With that comment in there, you wonder about her intelligence. If it hadn’t been in there, I would have just known that she was acting each day due to “normal” human reactions.

I loved this story for what it showed about human behavior, peer pressure, and outside appearances. Go read it.

Rating: Capture878

Content Warnings: Most everybody curses, drinks, and dwells on sex. (I guess, typical teenager interactions? I don’t know…) Some people smoke. Some descriptive kissing.
I know I said I would never label a book with an age range, but I would like to say this should probably be read by older teens, unless they’ve been exposed to other similar content before.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review: Hourglass

Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Published: 2011 by Egmont
Obtained: Library
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

First Sentence:
"My small Southern hometown is beautiful in the haunting way an aging debutante is beautiful."

Based on all the buzz about this book, I expected something quite stunning and that’s pretty much what I got. Hourglass is a beautifully written story of time-travel.

The story starts off with Emerson seeing these phantoms. Almost everywhere she goes she’ll run into someone who is a “ghost” from the past. Her brother is really concerned for her, obviously, and keeps trying to set her up with various “doctors” who are all crazy. Finally, with the visions getting worse and worse, he manages to find Michael Weaver who says he can help. Weirdly enough, he knows exactly what’s wrong with her and knows how to control it and use it. Now he wants her to go into the past with him and change the future.

Sounds great, right? It pretty much is. There’s basically nothing I can say bad about this book except that it is a bit confusing. The concept of time-travel is never an easy thing to write about since it really CANNOT happen. Hence everything ever written about it seems really confusing and full of holes. I do have to hand it to Ms. Myra for making it seem possible (only with “superpowers”, or whatever, though). She explained it in a way that made more sense than most.

One more thing I didn’t like was the Emerson-Michael-Kaleb love triangle. It felt very forced and lacking in emotion. Emerson and Michael’s relationship was good for being love-at-first-sight and all. However, they didn’t act on their intial attraction because their relationship was supposed to be “strictly business.”

The writing was completely gorgeous. I love her word choice. This may sound way too specific, but I noticed that her similes were amazing. The comparisons made were unexpected instead of clichéd and I had to think intelligently for a few seconds to completely understand her meaning. Now, that might sound like a bad thing, but that’s only because we’re so used to similes that we expect, so no thinking’s involved. Instead, Ms. Myra respects her readers enough to give them a comparison requiring intellectual thought.

All in all it was a very fantastic book, and I look forward to the sequel.

Rating:  Capture878

Content Warnings: A bit of language


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