Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Nothing will ever be the same for Mia Thermopolis. Her biggest problems in life are failing Algebra and her mom dating her Algebra teacher. And then her father drops a bomb on her. He’s the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality. That makes Mia a princess and, since her father cannot have any more children, she will one day rule Genovia. Suddenly her life includes princess lessons from her not very pleasant to be around Grandmere, trying to hide the whole princess thing from the kids at school, and a big fight with her best friend Lilly along with lots of extra Algebra practice. When word gets out that Mia is a princess she is afraid her worst fears will be realized.

The Princess Diaries is told through diary entries written by Mia. While these entries are usually interesting, they are often very repetitive. While this is probably very accurate for a 14 year old girl’s diary, it gets a bit boring to read the same thing over and over. Discovering you are a princess is probably every little girl’s dream so the story is very relatable. I recommend this book for middle and high school kids.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 93
Pages Read in 2015: 27,130
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book set in high school

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Filed under Realistic Fiction

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

Gilly Hopkins is a rude, crude habitual liar, who is also a very broken little girl from being rejected by her mother at age 3 and then moved from one foster home to another for the next 8 years. When Gilly ends up with a new foster mother, Trotter, she is determined to cause trouble and reject Trotter before Trotter can reject her. Except Trotter doesn’t reject Gilly. Instead, she loves her. Unfortunately, a letter written by Gilly containing lies about her new foster home sets into motion something Gilly can’t control or stop no matter how much she loves Trotter back.

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson is a very sweet story of a child learning to break down the walls she built up to protect herself. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but the ending is real. Actions have consequences and life is not always tied up with a pretty bow. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to late elementary/early middle school age kids and adults as well.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 92
Pages Read in 2015: 26,826
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book that came out the year you were born (March 28, 1978, 8 days before I was born)

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Filed under Middle Grades, Realistic Fiction

The Kill Order by James Dashner

Thirteen years before Thomas entered the Maze, small settlements of survivors of the sun flares were attacked with darts shot from bergs. Those darts contained a virus that was supposed kill half the population quickly. Instead, it mutated into the terrible disease that became known as the Flare. Mark, Trina, Lana, and Alec come across a little girl named Deedee who was hit by a dart, but did not get sick (Teresa, presumably, though that fact is not revealed in the book). It’s a race against time, the Flare, and Cranks to get her to safe people she can help.

Of the four books in the Maze Runner series, The Kill Order was my least favorite. It was by far the most violent. Chapters would go by where nothing happened but gory descriptions of the behavior and fights of the Cranks. It was not fun to read. I did enjoy the story of what happened starting with the Sun Flares told through Mark’s dreams. The violence could have been toned down dramatically, however.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 91
Pages Read in 2015: 26,654
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Dystopian

Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale

Frank Abagnale ran away from home at the age of 16. Within weeks he had aged himself 10 years, become a Pan Am pilot, and passed dozens of counterfeit checks. By 21, he had been around the world (passing counterfeit checks in more than a dozen countries) and worked as a pediatrician, college professor, and lawyer. His escapades are truly unbelievable. His crime spree came to end when he was thrown into a terrible French prison followed by time served in Swedish and American prisons. How did he do it? Social engineering. When you act like you know what you are doing and where you are going, people tend to let you do whatever you want. Catch Me If You Can is a fascinating look at a young man’s crazy crime spree with just a little too much emphasis on Abagnale’s feminine conquests (and in spite of being reformed and having paid his debt to society, the tone of the whole book indicates pride in his achievements).

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 90
Pages Read in 2015: 26,284
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book based on a true story

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Filed under Memoir

The Death Cure by James Dashner

In the final book of the Maze Runner trilogy, Thomas, Newt, Minho, Brenda, and Jorge escape from WICKED and head to Denver only to find that the Flare has spread even into the “safe” cities and Immunes are being gathered up and sold to WICKED. After being caught by Right Arm, Thomas willingly heads back to WICKED headquarters to try to help take down WICKED for good.

The Death Cure is the best of the three main Maze Runner books. In some places the writing is not very good, but the twists, turns, and surprises totally make up for it. I was left wanting to know more, but the ending was still satisfactory. This book really made reading the whole trilogy worth it.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 89
Pages Read in 2015: 25,980
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Dystopian

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase, cousin to demigod Annabeth Chase, is just an ordinary homeless kid when he ends up dead thanks to a fight with the Norse god Surt. He’s taken by a Valkyrie to Valhalla where he learns two of his fellow homeless buddies are a dwarf and an elf and the father he’s never met is a god. He leaves Valhalla without permission in order to find the Sword of Summer and prevent Ragnarok from beginning.

As is typical of Rick Riordan’s books, Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer starts right in with the actions and doesn’t stop until the very end. While it’s not necessary to have read the Greek/Roman books, having read them makes this book a little more fun. The chapter titles are hilarious. This is definitely a must read for any Rick Riordan or mythology fan.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 88
Pages Read in 2015: 25,626
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Middle Grades

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Teresa is missing, replaced with Aris, and Thomas and the other Gladers are told by WICKED that they have been infected with the Flare and need to make it across 100 miles of the Scorch to the Safe Haven in order to get the Cure. Meanwhile, Group B, the girls, are tasked with the assignment of killing Thomas. Along the way the boys pick up Jorge and Brenda, two Civilians also infected with the Flare.

The Scorch Trials, the second installment of the Maze Runner trilogy, is a pretty typical middle-of-a-trilogy filler book. It’s almost 400 pages of movement, but no real explanations even though it promises several times to explain. The writing and word choices, like in the first book, seem simple even for a young adult novel. It’s required reading, of course, to get the whole Maze Runner story, but it’s not an incredibly exciting or interesting book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 87
Pages Read in 2015: 25,114
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book with a love triangle (Brenda – Thomas – Teresa)

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Filed under Dystopian