Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Max: A Maximum Ride Novel

Max: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson
Publication Date: March 16, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Pages: 309
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Maximum Ride and the other members of the flock have barely recovered from their last Arctic adventure, when they are confronted by the most frightening catastrophe yet. Millions of fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii and someone — or something — is destroying hundreds of ships. Unable to discover the cause, the government enlists the flock to help them get to the bottom of the disaster before it is too late.
While Max and her team are exploring the depths of the ocean, their every move is being carefully tracked by Mr. Chu — a criminal mastermind with his own plans for the flock. Can they protect themselves from Mr. Chu's army of mercenaries and save the ocean from utter destruction?

This fifth installment of James Patterson's popular young adult serieswas loads better than the fourth. If you haven't read the others, the premise is that basically, the group of kids who save the world, better known as "the flock," have wings. The kind that jut out from their backs and spread to help them fly. Max, Iggy, Fang, Gazzy, Nudge, Angel, and their talking dog, Total, are on board with the Coalition to Stop the Madness (in other words, the organization against destruction of Earth and life as we know it).

Unfortunately for them, someone is not on agreeable terms with the CSM. In an attempt to get the flock to stop the CSM's awareness for ocean safety, the "evil team" kidnaps Max's mother. Now the flock must attempt to stop these destroying machines before they destroy the flock. All this has to happen while underwater, where flying ability is next to useless.

Patterson restored hope in me that these books weren't turning for the worse. He recreated that sense of disbelief that existed in the first book. The world is just so real, so touchable, that it almost makes me think this could be out there. We have the knowledge to do this. It almost reminded me of a Scott Westerfeld novel, the way the science fiction met reality. The characters also became infinitely more developed and relatable that before, making me enjoy the novel tons more.

Overall, not too shabby. 4: A need to read, but not quite perfect.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Publication Date: September 12, 2006
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 406
Keywords: mystery, writing, family
Format Read: paperback I own
Get It: Book Depository

Biographer Margaret Lea returns one night to her apartment above her father’s antiquarian bookshop. On her steps she finds a letter. It is a hand-written request from one of Britain’s most prolific and well-loved novelists. Vida Winter, gravely ill, wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. The request takes Margaret by surprise — she doesn’t know the author, nor has she read any of Miss Winter’s dozens of novels.
Late one night while pondering whether to accept the task of recording Miss Winter’s personal story, Margaret begins to read her father’s rare copy of Miss Winter’s Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. She is spellbound by the stories and confused when she realizes the book only contains twelve stories. Where is the thirteenth tale? Intrigued, Margaret agrees to meet Miss Winter and act as her biographer.
As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. 
The Thirteenth Tale is part suspense, mystery, murder, arson, love, and belonging. Solitary and isolated author Vida Winter was famous for her storytelling, most well-known, her collection of twelve enchanting tales. She has spent her whole life creating facades for herself, none of which come close to her truth. Now she is old and dying, and she calls upon a young biographer named Margaret Lea, who is troubled by her own painful history. Vida slowly begins telling Margeret everything- of the spontaneous Isabelle and rage-filled Charlie, of the reckless twins Adeline and Emmeline, an orphan Aurelius, a ghost who haunts Vida and her memories, a beautiful blossoming garden, and a devastating fire. Margaret finds herself mesmerized by her story, attached to it in a deeper way than she can imagine. Together, they confront the ghosts that haunt them, and face the truth about themselves.

Diane Setterfield created a world that drew me in. I felt as though I were a part of Margaret's story, intertwined with all the characters, knowing every twist and turn the tale would take. I found myself attached to the characters, willing them to take certain actions because I wanted everything to turn out okay.

She crafted the words together in such a way, and joined together sub-plots so well that it had me longing for more. I loved the way the book was so unpredictable, I stopped trying to figure out what was going to happen next, and instead, I just let the words consume me. Everything was so real, so perfect, and I fell immediately in love with it. I know I won't find another book like it for a long time.

5 stars. Hands down.