The Perfect Series

So, I’m sure you read the title of this post and thought, bookworm3773 has done it! So soon after starting the quest, they’ve finished it by reading the perfect book—or, even better, series of books! Yay!

Sorry to disappoint you, but no. The title of this post is not a reference to my quest. The books in this series all start with the word “Perfect” (well, actually, they start with “the,” but The The Series doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) so I call it The Perfect Series.

The first book in the trilogy (my favorite one) is called The Perfect Score. The author, Rob Buyea (who also wrote the popular Mr. Terupt series) used his signature style of multiple POV’s to capture the story in a unique way, utilizing the thoughts of Gavin, Randi, Natalie, Trevor, and Scott to tell what unfolds over the course of their sixth-grade school year.

They struggle with dyslexia, pressure, rule-breaking, mild abuse, and bullying, but their wonderful teachers, Mrs. Woods and Mrs. Magenta, help them get through it all.

But then standardized testing comes along. It happens in every school (we all remember the test days well) but at their school, Lake View Middle, suddenly everyone is plunged into a test craze. First it’s just a couple practice tests here and there. Then they take away read aloud and even recess. They even bring in a few people to oversee the practice tests!

The kids have had enough (to be honest, so have the teachers.) So they give the administration exactly what they want, perfect scores on their tests, and learn that sometimes things have to get ugly before they can get better, and that you can do the wrong things for the right reasons.

I loved this book with every fiber of my being for a number of reasons! It’s heartbreaking and it’s sweet and it’s shocking and, and, and…!

If you can’t guess, I rate this book VERY highly. As in, 5/5 stars. As in, 10/10.

It goes on my “life-changing” list on Goodreads.

The second book, The Perfect Secret, takes place the next year and shows what happens when everyone’s secrets come out and the final one, The Perfect Star, is about how the kids use media and technology to make the world a better place. I give the second book 8.5/10 and the third 7/10.

I highly recommend the Perfect Series and will continue my quest!

(Kind of. Maybe. I’m unsure there is such thing as “the perfect book.” But I’ll keep this quest until I can come up with another one, because what’s life without a quest, right?)

Ready Player One

In 2018, I did something that is outlawed by readers across the country: I watched the movie before I’d read the book.

I’ll pause for the gasp.

It’s true. I saw Ready Player One in theaters, two years before I would read the book. But do not despair! For now, it has been two long years, 24 long months, 730 long, long days, and I have finally picked up Ernest Cline’s novel and delved into its pages!

Am I laying it on too thick? Sorry.

Yes. I read the book. And get ready, ‘cause this one’s a doozy.

The book follows a poor eighteen-year-old named Wade Watts. He lives in the year 2045, and the OASIS is an immersive virtual-reality universe that people, including Wade, escape to every day because their real lives are so hellish. The creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, died 5 years ago, and following his death, he launched a challenge to find an “Easter Egg” that he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS. You would have to find the egg by using three keys (copper, jade, and crystal) to open three gates, with clues along the way. The challenge was launched via a pre-recorded video scheduled to be released to the public the day of Halliday’s death, and it contains the first clue. But the clue is extremely difficult to solve, and so 5 years later, nobody has found the Copper Key. But then, a lightbulb goes off in Wade’s head. Could he be the first one to find the Copper Key? Could he possibly win the contest? Or could his best friend Aech and digital crush Art3mis become his greatest rivals?

The writing style was…interesting. It was a little bit odd. It switched back and forth between super-detailed, engaging writing to weird info-dumps with little to no warning, and I felt like often, it was info-dumping when it should be engaging (this was one of my main problems with the book) and it was engaging when it didn’t have to be. I felt like Wade was very obsessive-compulsive, and most of the book basically encouraged video game addiction.

But I am such a sucker for a good simulated reality. And the OASIS was a very good simulated reality.

I also have a weakness for challenges and games, with clues, competition, and a big prize at the end. Which is kinda what the whole book was about.

I also am partial to a good plot, with twists and characters that are deeper than they might have originally seemed. Ready Player One has all of these things. And, despite the rather annoying writing style, I truly enjoyed reading this book.

So, I have to give this book a 7.5 (rounded up to 8) out of 10, or a 4.5 (rounded up to 5) on a 5-star scale. I recommend it to anyone who likes any of the things I just said I like.

(P.S. I like the book better than the movie, as always. At least I didn’t betray y’all on that note. The book and the movie follow the same basic plot line, but they are different in a few major ways. For example: the movie’s got a little bit of horror. Beware.)

Three Words

Three words: World. War. Z.

(Z is not a word. Is that two words, then? Whatever.)

I had literally never heard of this book until I…um…had. (Duh.)

I was a little nervous. “Z-z-z-ZOMBIES?!” …Yeah. I scare easily.

Buuuut I read it anyway.

It’s about zombies, written interrogation-style. Basically, there was a zombie plague that spread around Earth. It was TERRIBLE. And it originated in China. I’m not going to ask if that sounds familiar, but… Ahem Ahems through mask.

ANYWAY.

So, the zombie “war” is over! Yay! But people are still haunted by those terrible years. Aww, man! So, the guy (the author, Max Brooks) travels around and interviews these people, and then writes them down. And makes a book out of them, I guess.

It’s actually really cool, talking about things I never would have thought of. Like how zombies on Earth affected people in space. Or how European castles came into play. Cool stuff like that.

The thing is, it also talks a lot…especially in the beginning…about kinda boring stuff.

There’s a lot of government. There’s a lot of military. There are a LOT of men, all more or less with the same personality, talking about more or less the same things!

And maybe that would be so cool to you, but for me…meh.

Really, there were about 5-10 interview “chapters” in the whopping 57 that I officially “liked.” However! Though a lot of the content wasn’t my thing, the writing was phenomenal! Max Brooks is a great author! His voice is so unique. Then again, all of World War Z is pretty unique.

On a scale of 1-10, World War Z gets about 6.5 or 7.5 stars, if we keep in mind that I gave The Hobbit 5.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good scare, or a strong voice in a post-apocalyptic setting.

So, have I found my perfect book? No. Not even close. World War Z was okay, but nowhere near phenomenal. And phenomenal is what I’m looking for. The search continues!

I’m Back!

Wow, it’s…it’s certainly been a long time, hasn’t it?

Okay, I am honestly really sorry. I would say I’ve been too busy to blog, but I actually have a whole different blog now, so that would be a lie. And I would say I got tired of sharing my thoughts on every book I read, but I have Goodreads and post reviews a TON, so that would be a lie, too. I guess I just…stepped away from this blog for a little bit. But I am back now, and I have read SO many new books that I cannot pick just 1 to review right now!

So, I thought I’d share a couple favorites from the last…Two years? Wow, it’s been a really long time, hasn’t it?

  • The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • This is Not the Abby Show by Debbie Reed Fischer
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • The Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins
  • The Mr. Terupt series by Rob Buyea
  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
  • All the Calvin and Hobbes Anthologies by Bill Watterson
  • Dear Ally, How do You Write a Book? by Ally Carter

Thank you for coming back, even though I abandoned you for two years. Again, I’m so sorry I haven’t posted. I will give you a review for the next book I read and like enough to blog about, I promise.

Also! I’m on a quest. A quest to find the perfect book. To help me on my quest, please go to the brand-spankin’-new “Suggestions” page, where you can comment your favorite books for me to read!

(I’m Ali on Goodreads. If you send me a friend request, let me know in the comments on any blog post so I can accept it!)

For the First Time…

For the first time, this is not a post about books I have read. It’s not a review. Read on, if you’re interested.

There’s more to a book then reading. Sure, that’s a lot of it. But it’s not nearly all.

Think about what happens beforehand. What happens before you know a book exists. What happens before anyone ever picks it up. When it’s just a file on Google Docs. Or Word Microsoft. Or whatever.

Writing the book is the most important step, by far. And, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m also a novelist and short story writer*. I’m only nine, so I haven’t gotten anything published yet. But I’m hoping to someday.

If you like to read…if you like my blog, you should write a story, too. It can be a poem. A picture book, complete with sketches. A full-on novel, like I write. A script or screenplay. Write something–anything really. Give me the link to your piece on a comment, and if I like it, I’ll post it. I’ll, of course, give you–the writer–full credit. And, yes, Mom (a writer too–my family must have words in our blood), I was thinking of you when I came up with this.

Be a writer. Your words can change the world.

 

*Go to https://drinkcoffeebreathefire.com/2019/02/01/hate-and-uncle-joe/   to read one of my recent pieces.

Maze Runner

Oh. My. God.

Hi guys! So, over the summer I heard my mom talking about Maze Runner and I was like, “Can I read it?” Mom frowned. “I don’t know, Ali, it’s got some pretty violent stuff in it…” “Please? Please?” I pleaded. “I can handle violence! You got violence? GIVE ME VIOLENCE!!!” Mom seemed a little confused, as if she didn’t know what to make of this. “Well…I suppose you can read it when you’re in 4th grade,” she said. Well, fine readers, I am now in fourth grade and on the second book in the Maze Runner series. Let’s take a look at Book 1.

The main character is a boy named Thomas, maybe 15 or 16 years old. He wakes up in this box with no idea where he’s from, how old he is, or who his parents are. He knows his name, and he knows how the world works and how to talk and read and things like that, but he has absolutely no clue about his own personal life before that moment. He comes out of the Box a bit later to find a bunch of boys his age. They’re in a place called the Glade, surrounded by a giant, always-changing Maze. Supplies come up once a week in the Box, and new kids come up once a month. Some kids–like the leader, Alby–have been in the Glade for two years. Others–like Chuck–are relatively new to the Glade and the Maze. Some kids are Runners–they run around the Maze every day and try to find an escape. Inside the maze are monsters called Grievers, and the Gladers are terrified of them.

Newbies arrive once a month–same day of the month, same time of day. But the rules don’t apply to Teresa, a girl who shows up, in a coma, the day after Thomas does. Not only is she unconscious, but she has a creepy note for the Gladers, saying that she’s the last Newbie to arrive. On top of that, she is the first and only girl in the Glade.

Chaos ensues after Thomas and Teresa arrive. What kind of chaos? Find out in Maze Runner!

The second book in the series is called The Scorch Trials and the third is called The Death Cure. The fourth, which is a prequel, is called The Kill Order, and the fifth, which is a prequel to the Kill Order, is called The Fever Code. I haven’t read the Fever Code yet, but it sounds particularly interesting because it’s the story of how the Maze was built.

On a scale from one to ten, Maze Runner scores a perfect 10. It’s my favorite book of all time ever. I highly recommend Maze Runner.

The author of Maze Runner is James Dashner. He’s also the author of the Mortality Doctrine series.

 

 

Divergent

I recently read the first book in a series. It was called Divergent and I absolutely loved it. I loved the cliffhangers, I loved the way the author told us more and more about the main character’s past and feelings as we went along, and I loved how the exciting parts are perfectly spaced out. I loved how the book takes place in the future but it’s hard to tell. It’s great.

The main character is a girl named Beatrice. Her society is divided into five factions, and each faction values something: Erudite values knowledge, Abnegation values selflessness, Dauntless values bravery, Candor values honesty, and Amity values kindness. Beatrice was born in Abnegation, and has grown up feeling like she just isn’t selfless enough to belong. Aptitude tests tell you which factions you have an aptitude for, and her results are inconclusive. She has an aptitude for three factions (Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless) which means she is called ‘Divergent’. The next day is the Choosing Ceremony, which is where you choose which faction you want to be in for the rest of your life. Most people stay in the same faction, but some switch factions. When it’s your turn, a man gives you a knife and you make a cut on your hand. There are five bowls, each with something in it and each representing a faction: The bowl with the coals represents Dauntless, the bowl with the stones represents Abnegation, the bowl with the water represents Erudite, the bowl with a bit of dirt represents Amity, and the bowl with the glass represents Candor. She switches factions to Dauntless and changes her name from Beatrice to Tris. What adventures and challenges will Tris face in Dauntless? You’ll only find out if you read Divergent!

The second book in the series is Insurgent and the third is Allegiant. I’m currently reading Allegiant and so far I think Divergent is the best one in the series.

On a scale from one to ten, I think Divergent scores a perfect nine. If you read my other posts, you know how high that is on my radar. Insurgent is 7 and a half and Allegiant is eight. I love Divergent because it has almost every type of event, from relationship stuff to battle stuff to almost scary, exciting stuff.

I highly recommend Divergent.

 

The Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell

The Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell is the first book in my current favorite series (it’s funny how fast things can change!).

The book focuses on twins named Alex and Conner. For their twelfth birthday, the twin’s grandmother gives them her old fairy-take storybook, and after strange things begin to happen, one day Alex falls head-first into the storybook! Conner jumps in after her, and they end up in the fairy-tale world! When they realize the book is only an entrance, the twins begin collecting items for a spell called The Wishing Spell. Legend has it that the person that uses The Wishing Spell is granted one wish. The twins go to a lot of trouble to get the ingredients, but end up going home a different way. On the way, Alex and Conner Bailey learn a shocking secret about their heritage, their dead father, and themselves.

The second book in the series is called The Enchantress Returns, the third book is called A Grimm Warning, the fourth book is called Beyond the Kingdoms, the fifth book is called An Author’s Odyssey, and the sixth and final book is called Worlds Collide.

I adore The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell and every book after it! I’d recommend the series for teenagers.

On a scale from one to ten, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell is an 8 and a half, in my opinion. Chris Colfer is a wonderful writer, and knows how to put just the right amount of suspense in an exciting moment! His series are action packed, thrill-jammed, and amazing right to the core. I highly recommend this book and series; I love it so much that I’m even writing a fan fiction!

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Author of the Week: Rick Riordan

Author of the Week on Ali’s Book Nook is where I take one of my favorite authors, visit their website, and post about them. However, next week, I’ll ask one of my friends to do it, and I’ll review their post before posting it. I’ll ask a bunch of friends to do it, and when I can’t think of anymore, it’ll be my turn again. However, I might take weeks off because of travel and school. Here it goes!

At first, Rick Riordan was a teacher. He loved teaching. It was a hard desicion when he left the classroom, but when he sold the Percy Jackson series to the publishers, he had to write two books a year for his deadlines. He didn’t have time to do that and still be a good teacher, so he reluctantly left his classroom.

He never talked about it much in the class, but his students knew he was an author. His students often asked if they could become characters in his books, and he did use lots of names of former students, but it took so long to publish the books that they were in high school by the time the books with their names were in bookstores.

He got the idea for Percy Jackson when his son Haley asked him to tell him Greek myths as bedtime stories. He did, but eventually he ran out of myths! So Haley asked if  he could make up something new with the same characters. Off the top of his head, he came up with Percy Jackson and his quest to retrieve Zeus’s stolen lightning bolt. The story took three nights to tell! When he was done, Haley said he should make a book about it. He had a lot to do already, but he found the time to write Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. He was glad for the break from adult books. He spent a lot of time on the first Percy Jackson novel, and now he’s sure glad he did!

Many kids compare his series to Harry Potter. He does find some similarities between Percy and Harry: Harry and Percy are both boys that find out they are special, are trained to use their abilities, and fight an evil villain. There are many stories that follow this same basic plot line. Both are brave. Both have to face their worst fears and rely on a small group of friends.

Percy Jackson is like Rick Riordan in some ways. Percy has Mr. Riordan’s sense of humor. Like Percy, Rick was not always the best student. Percy is also based on Rick’s former students and his own son, Haley.

Learn more about Rick at http://www.RickRiordan.com.

The Penderwicks

If you are reading this second post of mine and are not a member of my loving family, I can’t believe it. There are a million other blogs out there. There’s even another Ali’s Book Nook. So thank you for coming back.

When my family went on a trip to Tennessee in May 2018, my school librarian suggested bringing The Penderwicks, the first book in a series by Jeanne Birdsall. The subtitle was, A Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. I didn’t think I’d like it that much. I read a couple pages though, just to tell the librarian that I looked at it, and I was hooked. It was the best thing I’d read in over a year, since I’d finished Harry Potter over a year ago.

On a scale from one to ten, ten being the best book ever and one being the worst book ever, I’d give The Penderwicks a seven. If you read my last post, you know that’s really, really, really, really good. Jeanne Birdsall should be proud of herself. She’s an artist that has crafted a masterpiece. I wish the Penderwicks were my neighbors.

The Penderwicks is about four sisters (Rosalind, 12 years old; Skye, 11 years old; Jane, 10 years old; and Batty, 4 years old), their father and their dog, Hound. When their usual vacation house on Cape Cod is sold, the family winds up at a nice cottage at a place called Arundel for three weeks. It turns out that their cottage is right next to a mansion, and in that mansion lives snooty Mrs. Tifton, her son Jeffrey, and the housekeeper Churchie. The gardener is a nice young man named Cagney. Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty go on lots of adventures, some with Jeffrey and some without. The adventures involve rabbits, bulls, and some trouble with Mrs. Tifton and her boyfriend, Dexter Dupree.

The other books in the series are The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, which is what happens when the Penderwicks get home, and involves adventures with school plays, dating, and the Geigers, the Penderwick’s neighbors. The third book, which is my personal favorite, is The Penderwicks at Point Mouette, the tale of what happens when Mr. Penderwick goes off to England, Rosalind goes to New Jersey with her best friend, Anna, and Skye, Jane, Batty, and their aunt, Aunt Claire, going to a beach. This separation lasts for two weeks, and the Penderwicks at the beach have many adventures involving boys, sprained ankles, and a shocking realization. The fourth book, The Penderwicks in Spring, takes place years and years later. It is my personal least favorite, but I still recommend it. There are a lot of misunderstandings in the fourth one, but I still like it; just not as much as the other three.

The Penderwicks series is probably good for ten-year-olds and older (again, I’m the exception). I really want it to be real, and I highly recommend it.

My favorite part in my favorite book is…whoops! I’d just spoil it! (;

THE END

P.S. Learn more about Jeanne Birdsall at JeanneBirdsall.com

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P.P.S. I have started to do something called Author of the Week. I will post this week’s author on Friday. Now, the end (of this post) for real.

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