Monday, September 21, 2009

City of Masks by Mary Hoffman

Book one in the Stravaganza trilogy

Plot: a young cancer patient discovers a new world filled with adventure, mystery, and, best of all, health. Lucien can travel to this magical Venice-like city while he sleeps, and he is miraculously free of sickness as long as he stays in the new world. But there is always the risk that he won't be able to get back home...

Comments: This book is good for fantasy-lovers, a fun and magical story for light reading. I like the characters; they seem very realistic and easy to imagine. Different characteristics, and they don't seem exactly like the average Joe, but they fit together well, and I like the way they interact. The descriptions of the scenery is good. I can easily imagine the city as it's described, so beautiful, with elaborate decoration, the shining canal. Though the city is apparently a lot like Venice, I've never been to Venice, so I'm not merely using those images to supply my information. Sometimes the clothes were hard to imagine, but that's probably because they're old-fashioned and I'm not familiar with them. The plot is creative, and interesting. I've never read anything like this before, and the way the story line twisted was well done. I was sad at the ending, and I wish it hadn't ended like that. Maybe it makes more sense for the next two books or something, or maybe the author just wanted a dramatic surprise. I don't know, but I still didn't like it. This book made me laugh, and I recommend it for a boring afternoon or a sick day in bed.

Rating: I rate this book a six and a half out of ten.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Plot: a young girl nicknamed Scout grows up during the Great Depression with her older brother Jem and her father Atticus. This is her story of growing up and learning lessons the hard way.

Comments: I can't believe I hadn't thought of reading this book earlier. Of course I'd heard about it, and knew it was a classic, but I'd never actually read it until now. This story is amazing. The characters are all very realistic, and I love how every person is portrayed from a young girl's point of view. Scout is so innocent and sweet, you can't help but fall in love with her. The story of her adventures with Jem and their friend Dill is creative, interesting, and heart-warming.

I like the way there are a lot of different stories inside this one big story, and it makes it feel a lot like life. There are plenty of life lessons in this book, and you get to watch as Scout matures and learns about the world. One thing I can't get over is how smart Scout is! At the start of the story, she's only six years old, and she's saying things and reasoning things I had no idea of when I was her age! It's amazing how times have changed. If you haven't read this book yet, you should.

Rating: I rate this book an eight and a half out of ten.

Maximum Ride Trilogy by James Patterson

The Maximum Ride Trilogy: The Angel Experiment, School's Out--Forever, and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Plot: this trilogy is about a girl, Max, and her adopted family of children. But these are not ordinary children. The whole family, all six of them, have wings. They were only babies when a secret organization experimented on them, adding wings and allowing them to fly. But the bird-children managed to escape, and now Max looks after them all. They have amazing, dangerous, adventures, trying to stay hidden from the School while attempting to find out who they really are and why there are here.

Comments: I loved this trilogy! Very well-written books, and an interesting array of characters. The plot is creative and well thought out, twisting and turning easily without confusion. I like the way you learn about the children's story in bits, when Max is thinking about her past. The different characters and places the family goes to keeps the story interesting, and I appreciate the effort to make each meeting with enemies (called Erasers) different from the last. The characters are very different, and I feel like part of the flock. The way James Patterson describes flying, it seems as if he has wings too, and has been flying himself. I have always wished to fly, and I like the book's description of it.

Sometimes this trilogy is confusing, because they switch back and forth between places and characters, and so you have to keep reading and guess who you're reading about. Sometimes it's confusing because you aren't supposed to know what's going on, and that's both good and bad; it keeps you interested, but I really want to know what's happening! I think Max sometimes only thinks about herself, but the rest of the time she's completely selfless. It's a little disorientating, when one moment she'll be looking after her family, and the next she's worrying about what it is she has to do.

Rating: I'm rating this entire trilogy a seven and a half out of ten.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell

Plot: a young girl named Emmy gets the best grades, has the best manners, lives in the best part of the city. She takes dancing and music lessons, has a truckload of expensive toys, and absolutely hates her life. Her parents are always on vacation somewhere distant, and her dreadful nanny controls her every move. Emmy is tired of not having any friends, and she's tired of being good. Then she meets the Rat.

Comments: I really liked this story, and it's great for someone who doesn't prefer fantasy but still has a good imagination. The characters were very easy to imagine, and I felt like I knew them myself. Emmy is a sweet little girl that no one notices, and when she meets the Rat, her life turns upside down. The Rat was funny and also easy to imagine. I like the plot, and the way the story isn't over even when you think it is. This is a cute story of friendship and growing up, and I'm glad I read it. I felt like I was Emmy (even though this is written in a third-person point of view). I like the way the characters interact, and the different characteristics in different characters help make the story seem real. The Rat at first seems an antagonist, but he soon evolves into a friend. This book taught some good lessons about making difficult decisions, and doing the right thing when you really don't want to.

Rating: I shall give this book a six and half out of ten.

Lamplighter by D. M. Cornish

Book 2 in the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy

Plot: Rossamund finally made it to the lamplighter academy where he was due, only just in time! He soon adjusts to the life of a lamplighter apprentice, and he knows now that lamplighters are the bravest, smartest, strangest people you will ever find. He learns to avoid the dangers of the open roads, and how to protect himself from the monsters he will find on his lonely patrols. But soon, a mystery surfaces, along with a young girl lamplighter. Will Rossamund be able to answer his confusing questions before it is too late?

Comments: I liked this book a bit more than Foundling, the prequel, but there are some things I didn't like about Lamplighter. There are a lot more characters, and I was often confusing names and people, but that got better as I read further in. Rossamund seems quieter, more refined, and very observant. I like that he makes friends with the oddest people, and that he puts up with someone no one else could. But I don't like how he never stands up for himself, never says a word.
The plot is captivating and interesting, and very complicated. I appreciate how the story line is cleverly twisted and looped around itself, unexpected turns around each corner. The characters develop nicely, and you get to know them better. Sometimes the different monsters got confusing, and I used the glossary a lot--a smart idea to include one.

Rating: I rate this book a seven out of ten.

Foundling by D. M. Cornish

Book 1 in the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy

Plot: a young orphanage boy sets out on his own to become an apprentice lamplighter, a dull-sounding job he is not looking forward to. His adventure begins immediately following a bad mistake on his part, and he is thrust into a world of monsters, thieves, and death.

Comments: this book is great for a fantasy/fiction lover, and it's perfect for someone with a big imagination. At first, you may have to flip back and forth from the story to the glossary, to look up a foreign word, but you soon get used to the different ideas and names. I liked the way the characters were described, and the pictures were very nice, too. I can easily imagine this story unfolding as I read through the chapters. The variation of characteristics is amusing, the way the different people interact is realistic. The plot is different from what I had expected when I began reading, and it follows a twisted, action-packed story line.

I like the way the main character (Rossamund, a boy with a girl's name) thinks differently from everyone else. I like how he isn't just the average person on the street. He adds an interesting perspective to the story, and the contrast between his opinions and the other characters' opinions makes the story that much more enjoyable.

Rating: I rate this book a seven out of ten.