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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle

It can be difficult to come up with a completely original idea for a novel, and that is why I tip my imaginary hat to Lauren Myracle for thinking outside the box on her Internet Girls series. Why? Because it is a story told completely through instant messaging. Seriously. Open up any one of the books in the series (TTYL, TTFN, or L8r G8r) and reluctant readers will discover a whole new format of story telling that is unlike anything they have ever read. This is smart, since a lot of adolescents would rather be on Facebook or text messaging instead of reading. This thought pains me, but it is the truth. So these books are an interesting compromise.

The 3 book series centers around its 3 main characters: Bubbly, enthusiastic Angela, wild child Maddie, and intelligent overachiever Zoe. The 3 best friends vow on the 1st day of their sophomore year to never let any of high school's lameness get in the way of their threesome, but this proves harder than they think. Through all of the ups and downs of 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, the besties encounter guy drama, peer pressure, fights, gossip, and more. Join them on their adventures trying to navigate through their high school lives, which is all narrated by their humorous IM chats.

As long as you're not easily offended, you'll love these books. The 3 main characters always have a lot to IM about. If there is one thing this series stands for, it is friendship. Through their online chats they are always there for each other. Like I said, it is such a cool format! They are super quick reads too.

But note that these are also on the Most Banned Books list. There is a reason why Lauren Myracle has been referred to as "the Judy Blume of this generation". There is controversy involved because of sexual themes, language, drug references, and religious topics. These are definitely made for teens who are around the same age as the characters and no younger. I can see why this series can be considered offensive. I felt that the novels were somewhat disdainful towards topics like religion and human rights. It seemed to me like the 3 main charries often turned a blind eye to morality. They go to parties with underage drinking, for example. So note that they should be rated around PG-13.

I like these books and have read them all more than once, they are funny and well-crafted. Just keep in mind: morality!

Humorous and clever, this series is about the ups and downs of high school and the people who see you through it.
3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Angel by James Patterson

I waited way too long to read this book.

I just didn't feel like forking over the cash and buying a hardcover copy when all my other Max Ride books are in paperback. Am I the only one with the series-must-be-either-all-in-paperback-or-all-in-hardcover-but-never-both obsession? My point is, just now was I able to get a copy from the library and read it.

Maximum Ride is a killer series. James Patterson is definitely one of the greatest authors ever, not just basing it off of this series but his dozens and dozens of other books as well. But here's my review on Angel, the 7th book in the series. A summary:

Max Ride, the human-avian hybrid who is basically a teenage girl with a fifteen-foot wingspan, is back. She and her friends have saved the world several times before, but now they may be facing their biggest challenge yet when they make it their mission to take down the Doomsday Group, a creepy and disturbing cult that is spreading across the globe. This group has a motto: Save the planet. Kill the humans.

All this might not be as hard if Fang, Max's former flock member and her supposed true love hadn't left her and started his own "Fang gang" also made up of genetically-enhanced teens set on saving the world. And scientists begin pushing Max to be with Dylan, the boy who was created to be her perfect other half. Max resists, but eventually admits to herself that she may be falling for Dylan as well, even if it means leaving Fang behind.

But then the two groups are forced to work together, Max & flock and the Fang gang head to Paris to take down the Doomsday group, which is more dangerous and explosive than they previously thought. And this time, it might just be little Angel who saves the day.

I've been a fan of these books since I picked up the 1st one years ago. James Patterson is one of those authors who never slows his books down, there is always something happening. His short, choppy chapters, which nearly all end in cliffhangers ensures this. Before this book, I always saw Max Ride to be a science fiction series. And now, I am sad to announce that after reading Angel, I think it is more of a science fiction/romance series.

We now stumble upon the issue of love triangles, or, sort of, my issue with them. Sure, love triangles work for flimsy vampire fantasy novels, basically because without it the author would have no story line because in most cases vampires just aren't interesting. It's a fact of literary life. What I'm trying to say here is that I don't think Patterson needs a love triangle to make his stories interesting. They are already fascinating enough, and his unique ideas of a world that is constantly threatened by apocalypse-loving scientists can stand on its own and make a great story. It doesn't need a complex love triangle! I honestly don't care which winged suitor she chooses anymore, I just want her to pick one and get on with it!

Looking past all this, the book was still GOOD. There was still the epic battles that are MR staples. Max still narrates the books in her hilarious, spot-on way. I love how funny these books are! And the mysterious Doomsday group? Loved it. The book is fast and exciting, just like any other in the series.

The final Max Ride book comes out next year. I love how Patterson chose to end his apocalypse-implemented series on the year the world is supposed to end, 2012. Maybe those Mayans have it wrong...the world isn't going to end, Max Ride is. And for the thousands of fans of the series, this truly does seem like the end of everything.

Exciting, explosive, romantic. The pages "fly" by.
4/5 stars

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Here's a review on yet another Catherine Fisher book, but this time it is not on Incarceron, it is on the sequel, Sapphique. These books reach new heights in the fantasy, sci-fi, and steampunk genres. I really liked the first book, so reading the second was a must. (Plus, Incarceron is going to turned into a movie in the upcoming years, and I have this obsession with reading books before they get turned into films. Not to mention the fact that Taylor Lautner is going to star in it...)

If you don't know what Incarceron is about, check out my review on it, which you can find in the June archive of my blog. If you haven't read the first book, don't read my review on the second. It has spoilers galore.

Okay, now moving on to Sapphique:
Finn has at last escaped the cruel labyrinth that is Incarceron. He now lives in the Outside, and is ready to take the throne of the Realm, as he is the lost Prince Giles. Claudia has put all her faith in him, that he will one day be king and overthrow Protocol. But Finn soon discovers that being Outside does not mean he is free. The Realm is ruled by the evil Queen Sia, who is still plotting against Finn, Claudia, and her beloved teacher, Jared. But when a new claimant enters the scene, also claiming to be the lost Prince Giles, Finn must do everything in his power to convince everyone that he really is the true prince, because his life and Claudia's depend on it.

Meanwhile, Finn's oathbrother, Keiro, and former dog-slave, Attia, are still trapped inside Incarceron, seeking a way out. They search for a magic glove that Sapphique, the legendary man who escaped the prison, supposedly used to get out. But Incarceron, the prison that is alive, wants the glove too.
It's all great adventures and high stakes in Catherine Fisher's Sapphique.

This book was different from it's precursor, because in Sapphique, we don't only get to read through the views of Finn and Claudia, but we also get to learn more about Attia, Keiro, and Jared. This fact made the first book a bit more...tidy. But Fisher has the type of writing style where she leaves off every chapter and passage with a cliff hangar. I hate to say it, but to me it seemed a bit choppy. At least it kept the story moving though.

There were some new characters, but the best one was madman-magician Rix, who is there at the beginning and end parts of the novel. Gotta love the crazy guy. I also think the author did a great job with keeping the main charries true to themselves. Finn is still Finn (yeah, I can totally see Taylor Lautner playing him.) Claudia is still her cold and practical self (Emma Watson is rumored to be optioned for this role. She would be perfect!) Keiro is still Keiro, providing the comic relief at the perfect moments.

The worst thing about the book was the ending. I felt like not enough was explained. Maybe there will be a 3rd book? Even a simple epilogue would have been much appreciated, to me the end was rushed and a bit confusing. The end itself was not happy nor sad, more bittersweet. I read the final page with a question mark over my head.

I'll say it was good. I'll say it was interesting. The plot was constantly moving, there wasn't a dull moment to be found. I'm not sure whether I liked this or Incarceron better. But I can't wait for the movie! These are pretty good books, totally original and clever.

A new adventure filled with action, bizarre situations, and cliff hangars.
3/5 stars

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Luxe by Anna Godberson

Yes, I'm doing it to you again. I'm posting yet another review on a book seemingly revolved around girly glamour. Bare with me here though, I'm about to tell you about a very good book that I can't help but gush about.

The Luxe is a dramatic, romantic tale full of scandal, intrigue, and some very fancy party dresses. Here's a summary I wrote for it, 'cause, ya know, I just love summarizing.

Welcome to Manhattan in 1899, where a life of luxury and splendor is a privilege, not a right. Girls in ballgowns chase after the men with the most money. The newspapers are abuzz with gossip about last night's parties and the people who were there. Servants work endlessly to make the society girls seem flawless. Elegant ladies buy the best they can afford at Lord & Taylor. The people of the high class would rather die than fall from social graces. And a midst all this, 5 teenagers have their own personal struggles.

There's Elizabeth Holland, society princess who is adored by all of Manhattan.
There's Diana, Elizabeth's rebellious little sister, who would rather be out having adventures than stuck at stuffy balls.
There's Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth's backstabbing best friend who will do anything to get what she wants.
There's Henry Schoonmaker, the wealthiest, most attractive young bachelor in all of New York who just wants to have a good time.
There's Lina Broud, Elizabeth's personal maid who is secretly jealous of her and is determined to one day rise above her mistress in Manhattan's social scene.

When Elizabeth and Diana learn that they are suddenly very poor after their father dies, their mother sees only one solution if they want to keep their wealth and status: Elizabeth must marry Henry Schoonmaker. Henry himself has no interest in Elizabeth, but his father threatens to disinherit him if he doesn't. But once he and Elizabeth are engaged, he falls for mischievous, romantic Diana, who returns his feelings. Elizabeth does not know this, she's too busy having her own affair with Will, the family coachman, a man she could never have a future with without giving up everything. This enrages her maid Lina, who also has affections for Will. And on top of it all, when Penelope learns that her best friend Elizabeth is engaged to Henry, the man SHE loves, she begins plotting revenge and vows the luxe wedding that is being held for the two will never take place. It's a dangerous life, there in the folds of Manhattan's elite, so dangerous and full of hatred that someone is almost bound to end up dead...

Ohmuhgosh, this book was awesome. Perfection is the only way to describe it. Anna Godberson is crazy talented in the way she flawlessly transports the reader into another era. Her descriptions and detailed insight were really something, there isn't dull moment to be found. Each chapter is told from the point of view from one of the 5 main characters. My favorite point of view was hands down Penelope. Getting into the head of scheming, vengeful rich girl is loads of fun, she's a fantastic antagonist expertly crafted by Godberson.

The story was laid out cleverly. It begins with a prologue that takes place at, in fact, the funeral of one of the main characters, Elizabeth. I found it shocking and disturbing that after that, the first chapter, and many chapters after that were told from Elizabeth's point of view in the days leading up to her death. At the end of the preface, it is mentioned that Diana was smiling at her sister's funeral, and on the very last page of the story, we learn exactly why she did this. I thought this was (what can I say?) cool.

The multiple love triangles of the book were also done well, not too confusing but filled with enough drama. But the best part about the novel wasn't that, or all the scandalous intrigue. For me at least, the highlight was the fashion. The author never failed to describe an outfit that a character was wearing, especially for the leading ladies of the story. The descriptions of their fancy dresses really made the book.

A flawless, breathtaking read that takes you to another time and will leave you wanting more. (Thank God for sequels!) I loved it, and hope you will too.
5/5 stars