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I don’t know if it’s because one of my best friends (we are also part of a trio) is moving far away this weekend or what but I am getting weirdly invested and emotional while reading the Internet Girls series. Yeesh.

I just got yolo (by Lauren Myracle) after pre-ordering, and to prepare I’m reading the entire Internet Girls series. Starting with the 10th anniversary edition ttyl, I’m noticing a ton of references to current technology and pop culture, which is new compared to the original version. I may eventually make a post noting all/some of the differences, because some editing was done to the messages as well. Verrry interesting.

Bad Kitty: Michele Jaffe

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Bad Kitty; Michele Jaffe. 274 pages. First in series.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

Meet Jasmine,1 forensic supersleuth,2 aspiring Model Daughter,3 and friend to animals.4 One second she’s trying to enjoy her Vegas Vacation,5 the next she’s tangled up in an outrageous adventure and has to outwit a crazed killer before he ends ten lives, one of them her own.6

1 Hi! That’s me!
2 I. Wish. 
3 Emphasis on aspiring. Current status: failing.
4 If friend means “unsuspecting victim” and animals means “one very bad kitty.”
5 And meet the cute guy at the Snack Hut. I have priorities.
6 Meep! But I guess it winds up okay since Kirkus Reviews says: “Inventive, witty, and laugh-out-loud funny, with an enjoyably twisty ending.” They wouldn’t say that if everyone died, right? Right?

This is another book I first read a long time ago and was absolutely smitten with. I loved Jasmine’s quirkiness and I loved the footnote format. Again, this time around both of these things seemed like a bit too much, but they still made for a highly entertaining book. Jasmine is naturally inquisitive, which naturally gets her into a lot of trouble. She is fascinated by forensic science and solving mysteries, so when she gets tangled up with a celebrity’s cat, she wants to get tangled up in figuring out why this celebrity is hiding. The lively narrative voice and all of the characters make for an amusing and enjoyable read. Though the end seems kind of random, this is a funny and dramatic mystery.

Avalon High: Meg Cabot

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Avalon High; Meg Cabot. 288 pages.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

Maybe it’s not where Ellie wants to be, but if you have to start at a new school, Avalon High is typical enough: There’s Lance, the jock. Jennifer, the cheerleader. And Will, senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy.

But not everyone at Avalon High is who they appear to be…not even, as Ellie is about to discover, herself. As a bizarre drama begins to unfold, Ellie has to wonder, what part does she play in all this? Do the coincidences she’s piecing together really mean—as in King Arthur’s court—that tragedy is fast approaching for her new friends?

Ellie doesn’t know if she can do anything to stop the coming trouble. But somehow, she knows she has to try.

I remember loving this book when I first read it six years ago. While this time around I found Ellie a little too peppy for my liking, I still enjoyed the book. Not as much as I remember, but I’m a lot more critical of books now. Seems I’ve read too many and am less easily impressed. Hard life.

Anyway, I like this modern take on King Arthur’s court. Cabot is a great writer and brings life to all of her characters, which I appreciate. I want to read the graphic novels just to see what happens next.

Tangled: Carolyn Mackler

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Tangled; Carolyn Mackler. 308 pages.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

The good girl, the jock, the beautiful one, and the geek. Tangle them together, and the unexpected happens.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all in Paradise. When they meet, they have no idea how they will all connect—or that their chance encounters will transform each of their lives.

The secrets we keep, the risks we take, and the things we do for love: Four months after it all begins in Paradise, none of them will ever be the same.

The four characters all see each other while on vacation at Paradise. Each character narrates one month, starting with that vacation. While each of their lives is different and they each have their own struggles and heartaches, each character plays a role in each other’s lives. Reading each month is kind of like reading a mini-novel, as the story is set up, the problem turns into a full-blown struggle, and there is some kind of conclusion. That’s not the end of each character, though, as they have small parts in each story. It’s a great way of featuring different stories and viewpoints within one book, and I think it’s successful. I liked seeing how each character affects the other, but also the parts of the characters’ lives they don’t share with anyone. There is so much more to everyone in the world than what we see and think we know. I like how this book addresses that.

Just Another Girl: Melody Carlson

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Just Another Girl; Melody Carlson. 221 pages.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

Aster Flynn wants a life of her own.

At seventeen, she’d like to date, hang with friends, maybe even find a summer job. Instead, she’s stuck at home with her younger sister - who seems to get needier by the minute. Her older sister is about, well…herself. And Aster’s parents… Don’t even ask.

But things are about to change. Or so she hopes. Enter: a cool guy and some new friends, and Aster is ready to get out and grab a slice of normal life.

But will her family get in her way?

Aster has a lot of responsibility. Her parents are divorced, and with her father not in the picture, her single mother thrusts the complete care of Aster’s younger sister, who has a mental disability, to Aster. Her older sister is selfish and has no compassion, so Aster’s life is entirely devoted to her younger sister. Within the first few pages I felt so bad for Aster, because everyone in her family treats her awfully. Taking care of her sister is a huge undertaking, and she has to do it all by herself, so she doesn’t have any friends or life outside of her home.

Throughout the summer Aster meets a few new people and fights for some freedom. She faces struggles, learns a lot of lessons, and tries to find a balance for her family. The book has some Christian undertones, but they’re not overly distracting. It all works. I liked reading this book and watching as Aster learned and negotiated for herself. I don’t like how she sometimes refers to her sister or that readers find out what her disability is so late into the book, but for the most part I enjoyed reading this book a lot.

Popular: Maya Van Wagenen

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for the Modern Geek; Maya Van Wagenen. 259 pages.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at “pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. 

The real-life results are hilarious, painful and filled with unexpected surprises. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence, along with a better understanding of what it means to be popular.

As someone who is against the whole idea of popularity, I was incredibly drawn to this book. I don’t think popularity is something to strive for and that everyone should be happy with the person they are, but that’s just me. I like that it’s a real-life social experiment, I found that so interesting. I really wanted to read about Maya’s journey and watch her follow the steps in the vintage manual.

This is a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. I found it very hard to believe a thirteen/fourteen year old wrote the entries while I was reading, but maybe I just haven’t seen that kind of talent in someone so young before. I also found it hard to believe that Maya took on new challenges with so little resistance, but, again, maybe that’s just because I have no self-will/control. I admire her for that, she’s a very strong girl. I wish I could move forward into project with that much drive.

A lot of the directions in the popularity guide are very looks-based and seem dated in that way, but Maya ventures through them all. Though it’s for the most part surface-based and kind of shallow, the lessons to be learned are what really matter. Beneath all of the clothing and make up tips Maya sees through most of this and learns important facts about how to treat people and make friends. I enjoyed following Maya in her journey through her eighth-grade transformation.

The Tragedy Paper: Elizabeth Laban

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The Tragedy Paper; Elizabeth Laban. 305 pages.

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

Tim Macbeth does not expect to find many friends as a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential it-girl Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him too, but she can kiss her social status good-bye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine relationship while looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior-year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher, Mr. Simon.

Elizabeth Laban’s stunning novel unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the love-struck new kid, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.

I largely misinterpreted the book jacket blurb, but even so the description leaves out a lot. I thought for some reason that Duncan was Vanessa’s boyfriend and finds out she’s cheating with Tim and thus writes a heartbreaking Tragedy Paper. In fact, Duncan is a seemingly random senior gets Tim’s dorm room the year after Tim and Vanessa’s story takes place. Tim leaves Duncan the story from his point of view, and Duncan becomes wrapped up in Tim’s senior year as he is trying to get through his own. Duncan and Tim know each other, but how is not immediately known.

Tim does not expect much when transferring schools because he is albino and is used to the stares and isolation. Vanessa has a boyfriend, but she obviously feels something for Tim, though his feelings are probably a lot stronger (and maybe bordering on obsession?). They don’t start a secret affair per se, but they are very close friends. The Tragedy Paper doesn’t really affect his story too much, but Duncan can’t stop thinking about it. 

I heard amazing things about this book, and while I don’t think it was amazing, I do like it for the most part. The Tragedy Paper aspect kind of let me down, but the rest of the story is good. It focuses on what it’s like to be an outcast, and even when things seem to turn around and friends come along, the feeling of being different still lingers. While I don’t think it’s quite as memorable as others suggest it is, it’s still an interesting novel.

Would anyone be interested if I started a twitter account to go with this blog? I would post about books I’m reading, books I want to read, and my thoughts on book related things. Let me know if you would follow!

(Also, for the next little while book reviews are going to be pretty short because I somehow let a lot some collect and now I have to write them all at once. Bad, bad book reviewer, I know).

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents: Lemony Snicket

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File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents; Lemony Snicket. 259 pages. 

FROM THE BOOK JACKET:

Attention!

Please find herein thirteen (13) cases investigated by Lemony Snicket during his apprenticeship in the town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea. Every detail of his inquiries into local kidnappings, supernatural occurrences, violent vandalism, and food theft has been described and catalogued in these pages. For security reasons, the conclusions to these suspicious incidents have been carefully hidden. You can find them easily at the back of the book.

If you are not a member of our secret organization, hello there. This is a blank book which you shouldn’t read.

I thought the cases were going to be tricky knowing Mr. Snicket, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I knew how each story would conclude. Each case is explained, and then the conclusion is located in the back of the book so you can see if your musing are correct. I felt so smart, because usually Snicket’s puzzles leave me confused and awestruck because they are so complex and amazing and yet I cannot unravel them.

I should have known the cases seemed to easy. Lemony Snicket fooled me AGAIN.

There are SO MANY SECRET MESSAGES. I am both enthralled and exasperated, as well as impressed. Also I am (im)patiently awaiting answers, which will most likely never come because I have never gotten answers to the questions I have and the brilliant secrets he has weaved. 

And yet, I love all of it.