I love English. I’ve always had a forte for writing and reading, and I’ve been telling my own stories since the second grade. Back then all I did was draw superhero comics fueled by Captain Underpants books, but albeit it did make me iconic in the classroom, as I matured so did my writing. I went from writing superhero comics to writing real picture-less stories. Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, realistic fiction, the whole nine yards. But during my middle school years, I met a great teacher whose name was Mr. Principe. Also known as Mr. P, P Diddy, “the Fresh Prince of ELA”, and his mustachioed alter ego “Prince”. He (Mr. P) called what he taught not English, but ELA (English language arts), but he taught it well. He gave me counsel and tips of how to make my writing more exciting (hey that rhymed), and his classroom doubled as a welcome reading environment. He had not one but three shelves of books crammed with novels including The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm, Ender’s Game, Holes, HIVE, and the first two Mysterious Benedict Society books. A couple of months ago, after finishing Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island as a read-aloud story, he introduced us to this novel. I’ll never forget it.
Smells Like Dog, written by the author of Coffeehouse Angel and To Catch A Mermaid, revolves around the wild misadventure-filled romp that is the life of Homer Winslow Pudding. Yes, his last name really is Pudding. Homer is a countryside boy who lives on a goat farm in Milkydale with his parents and his sister Gwen, who is an aspiring taxidermist. Homer’s uncle Drake was eaten alive by a carnivorous mutant tortoise, and he aspires to be a treasure hunter like his uncle was, much against his father’s preferences. A man named Mr. Twaddle shows up at Homer’s door with his condolences and a single keepsake to inherit–a basset hound named Dog who has a very special coin on his collar. The catch about Dog is that he has no sense of smell, but when Homer leaves for the city to search for Rumpold Smeller’s treasure, he discovers his buddy’s true powers as he searches for the answers with a single clue: L.O.S.T. However, the treasure will not be an easy sweep, because every Peter Pan has his Captain Hook. In this case, Hook would be Madame la Director, who wants the treasure all for herself. Along the way Homer meets three new friends: Laura Lee (a pink-haired tomato soup girl), Ajitabh the Cloud Man (you heard me), and Zelda. No, not Zelda from Legend of Zelda (I wish), but the tall deep-voiced Zelda. With a band of unlikely companions, could Homer defeat Madame once and for all to save the treasure? Or will her diabolical plans come to fruition?
“A fantastic tale in every good sense of the word…both exhilarating and soulful.” – Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me
“Full of fantastic characters…delightful humor, and wonderful adventures, this book is a treasure.” – Sarah Beth Durst, author of SFWA Andre Norton Award finalists Into the Wild and Ice
PRESENTATION: Smells Like Dog seemed like it was a modern-day Huckleberry Finn at first, but it turned into a fast-paced and mystery-filled adventure that had me second guessing along the way. Selfors molds her characters with astounding detail, well tracing Homer’s relationships with his friends in such a way that you’ll be mowing through numerous chapters at a time. (10/10)
STORY: A very unorthodox approach to the middle-grade adventure genre, both for better and for worse. The upside is, it’s a unique story with a staggering amount of detail that supports over 300 pages of story telling. The downside is, Selfors creates her story with so much detail that I very often found myself lost within the story’s events. I’m trying to recall a minor event as I type. Maybe that one time at the elevator where–er, maybe when Homer met Laura and–uh, see what I mean? Also, some of the story plot lines are just unrealistic. I’m pretty sure those cloudcopters should’ve been a red flag. (8/10)
FUN: Smells Like Dog is as fun to read as it is to picture, and with over 300 pages of adventure you can create a pretty good painting around that. Visiting the lair, the Realm of Reptiles, and other places is a blast with Selfor’s creative detail. (10/10)
STYLE: Aside from major detail and great storytelling, Homer’s adventure isn’t really that “stylish”. I’m not imagining like “James Bond walks away as an explosion occurs behind him” stylish. I’m imagining like “the story has some fluidity to it” stylish. However, it’s so heavily written that when I tried to swim in its seas of fluidity, I drowned. (9/10)
QUANTITY/QUALITY: Smells Like Dog is nearly 400 pages long. Read my statements above and do the math. Alright, I’ll make an algebraic equation: say s = story, d = detail, f = fluidity, and q = quality. If sd – f + q = this book, solve for the variables. (10/10)
FINAL VERDICT: Smells Like Dog is one of the most innovative adventure novels you’ll ever read, a whimsical romp of an action-packed mystery that does heavy lifting with its detail for better and for worse. A rewarding read only for the most skilled readers, or those who enjoy stories about dogs and/or adventures. (9/10)
FINAL SCORE: Suzanne Selfors’ Smells Like Dog receives a 56/60, which is a 93% score that gives the book the final grade of an A.
Well, how about that for a Sammwak double feature? Anyway, make sure to tune in next Friday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! I say Friday because I’ll be leaving again this weekend to Illinois, and I don’t have anything scheduled for next Monday. If it’ll be another double feature, I don’t know. But it’s safe to say you’ll dig what we’re cooking up next!
Stay classy America,
P.S. Want to check out some more Suzanne Selfors books?
- Smells Like Treasure - When the moment Homer has been waiting for–finally becoming a true adventurer–arrives, he is set back by an unexpected foe who starts a battle where the one who solves the clues and finds the loot first will win the prize of becoming an adventurer.
- Smells Like Pirates - In what could be the finale for the three-part adventure of Homer and Dog, Homer finds himself closer than ever to Rumpold Smeller’s treasure. But when a bitter enemy forms a villainous organization called FOUND, the duo is caught at a gripping decision: either join the dark side to find the prize, or ditch their lifelong quest to find the treasure.
- To Catch A Mermaid - Since his mother died in a tornado, Boom Broom doesn’t think his life could suck any more. When he finds a baby mermaid that grants infinite wishes, his sister Mertyle is hit by the curse of the merfolk, and Boom and his friend Winger must return the baby mermaid to her mother before it’s too late to break the curse.
- Fortune’s Magic Farm - When Isabelle discovers she is the heir to Fortune’s Farm, a place where magic remnants grow, she finds an opportunity to break away from her mundane life working at an umbrella factory. Isabelle’s new home full of curative cherry trees and flying fronds looks like paradise, she must harvest the powers of the farm to bring back the sun and stop the despicable Mr. Supreme, owner of the umbrella factory.
Video of the Week: Adande Thorne, aka Swoozie, is probably one of the greatest vloggers on YouTube. Ever since February 2006 he’s been uploading fragments of his life story, and since last year he began using animations to tell his stories. This way was much better for his channel and scraped together millions of hits. This is probably Swoozie’s first video ever that doesn’t tell some part of his life story. Here’s the setup: Swoozie plays the driver of a girl named Alyvia, and as he drives her to an undisclosed location he is suddenly confronted in the middle of the road by a duo of armed diamond thieves. You’ll never believe the ending.
One of the diamond thieves (the guy in the front seat) was Cameron Magruder (better known as Scooter Magruder), who is also a great vlogger. In case you don’t know him, he was a YouTube Next Vlogger who’s been featured on The Today Show, the Orlando Sentinel, the Huffington Post, and even NBA TV! Here are a couple of videos to get yourself recognized with him:
Hey guys it’s Sam. To start off, I am super sorry about the delay on Monday. I got back from a weekend in Illinois and didn’t have anything scheduled for today, so I decided to postpone. I hope you’ll forgive me. Anyway, today marks the pilot of my brand new segment, Paranoid Android! What? …The heck you mean you don’t know what a paranoid android is? It’s a song by Radiohead, obviously! Haven’t you heard of OK Computer? Anyway, the meaning of the title not only is a blatant Radiohead reference, but it also ties in with the fact that these reviews come straight from an Android smart-phone. An LG Optimus Elite W powered by Virgin Mobile, to be exact. Consider this to be iNSiDE iPhone 2.0. If you don’t know what iNSiDE iPhone is, you clearly aren’t a long-time Sammwak fan. It was an old old old (like 2010 old) segment on Sammwak, one of my first, where I reviewed games I played on my brother’s fancy-schmancy iPhone. The segment was brimming with purposely awful grammar (i.e.: “rly”) and somewhat wise pro-tips, and survived a stunning eight episodes using a traditional Sammwak algorithm. Think of Paranoid Android as something short of a rebirth.
Anyway, today we’re reviewing a sequel to an old favorite of mine. An app that showed just how much the iPhone could do with its touch screen capabilities, more than Angry Birds could ever do.
When Om Nom is marveling over his candy, a time machine magically shows up and sucks in his companion of confectionery. When our little munchkin goes into the time machine, he meets several different versions of himself–his ancestors, I should say. When Om Nom and his fellow fathers get together and plot some strategic feeding techniques, Cut the Rope Time Travel is born. Now, this sequel expands greatly on the original CTR and Experiments. It does not require the reflexes of CTR, nor the intellectual mastery of Experiments–it uses a puree of the two. CTR Time Travel is such a unique entry into the series since it uses new elements that turn the tables on your side a bit. These include (but are surely not limited to) chains n’ blades, the freeze button (tap it to stop time), and rockets perfect for carrying candy and blades around. These new strategies totally change the game and make those three stars much more harder to acquire as you must feed both Om Nom and his ancestor. The game has six worlds for the six different ancestors of Om Nom:
- The Middle Ages - The new Om Nom in this world wears a viking helmet and a traditionally long ‘do. This level focuses primarily on the use of bubbles (candy encased in these automatically rise upward), the chain-blade algorithm, and timing. They are awfully easy to begin with, but get harder as they progress and really make you think about what ropes to cut. Overall, it’s still pretty easy–a nice way to kick off the game.
- The Renaissance - The Om Nom in this world wears a typical Italian mustache-goatee combo, and a good old feather hat. This level focuses primarily on the freeze button, as well as the occasional chain-blade and the brand-new physics of the stretched rope (you know it’s stretched when it turns red). This one is surprisingly tougher than the first world, as it requires almost nothing but sheer timing skills to get candy at the right point in frozen time and/or stop it from being shattered by spikes. No, but 2-15, the last level–that one’s a killer.
- Pirate Ship - This ancestor of Om Nom’s wears a fancy pirate hat and a traditional pirate ‘stache. This level deals a lot with not only the freeze button and bubbles, but also the new “mini bomb”. Whenever candy touches one of these, it automatically explodes and gives the candy some big air. Also, “bouncy platforms” were introduced to give candy a little spring in their steps. The trajectory physics of this world are absolutely astounding, wired down to the very last detail. Without the advantages of matter and energy, the levels really make you think and only pass with some trial and error. Trust me, I should know.
- Ancient Egypt - This ancestor wears nothing but a good old pharaoh hat. Anyway, this world introduces what I like to call “the flying snitch”–a candy with wings that goes wherever your regular candy goes. When a regular candy is eaten, the snitch loses its wings and its powers. If there’s one word I can use to describe this world, it has to be physics. The precise physics of this world can navigate the snitch through tricky and perilous situations–even a box outlined with spikes! This world also makes some good use of the stretched-rope physics as well, and this world also incorporates the methods of taking it slow. When flung too quickly, a snitch can easily get shattered in a line of spikes, but can make it through when navigated slowly enough.
- Ancient Greece - This ancestor wears a crown of leaves and what looks like a medal, as if he’s an Olympian. This is probably the best of the six I’ve played. Since it is a Greek world, stone platforms are incorporated to switch between the two Om Noms. And if you think it couldn’t get better, you’re wrong! This world introduces PORTALS! Drop a candy in one portal, it comes out the other. Simple physics. Oh, and these portals come in green and blue, so they correspond depending on their colors. Precise techniques and clever physics fun are abundant in world five, and this is probably the one I had the most trouble with. Yeah, to the point where I used online cheats. Hey, don’t arrest me! This just proves that the level really gets you thinking and can only be passed by true CTR prodigies as myself.
- The Stone Age - This ancestor is a plump caveman with a bone in his hair and a single buck tooth. The sixth and as of now final world in CTR Time Travel (because every CTR promises “new levels coming soon”) tests you the most, seeing if you’ve really picked up anything from the past five worlds. This one pulls out all the stops, incorporating rockets (used for transporting candy and blades out and about), the freeze button, portals, and the brand-new sun dial, used for adjusting things to their correct spots from portals to candies. This world is not only fun and creative, but very logical and advanced. Only true CTR masters hold the title of defeating this world, and it quite literally isn’t rocket science. Of course, I can’t say much, since I’m–er–still working on the level…
CTR Time Travel is an innovative doozy that shines Om Nom in a new light and changes his game forever, using stellar physics and unique gaming techniques that are ultimately worth checking out. However, the game does have some downside–it has an annoying tendency to freeze at the loading screen, which not only slows down the game pace but often prohibits you from playing any longer until you reboot the phone, which we all know is no fun. Also, I find it cantankerous how once a candy leaves the screen, one of the 2 Om Noms stares at you with that awfully cute sad-look instead of enjoying their candy. It also grinds my gears that whenever I play the first world, it shows me that little intro every time. Luckily, that’s why ZeptoLab created the ability to skip with a single tap.
I give Cut the Rope Time Travel 9 Om Noms out of 10. Well, thanks for joining me on Paranoid Android. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got another post to make.
Stay classy America,
P.S. Oh, did-ja-hear? Sammwak has its own official Google+ page! Follow it to get up-to-date breaking news about Sammwak and a special hint about the next episode! Follow us here:
Video of the Week: Alright, let’s just leave it at one this time. Two is too chaotic. This one got put up by our good friend Toby Turner back on Tuesday. In the third edition of his “Trapped in an Ad” series, Toby wakes up super-late at 1 PM and rushes against the clock while being persuaded by the voice that’s narrating his bad afternoon to eat two flavors of Limited Edition Hot Pockets: Spicy Beef Nacho and Cuban Style. If you’re a seasoned veteran, you know that Toby actually put up his own hilarious Hot Pockets “ad” which was used to advertise Hot Pockets via Facebook. How could you not, I even put it up that one time! Anyway, enjoy this video.
I’ve been a diehard for Cartoon Network as long as I can remember, ever since it introduced one of the biggest pieces of my brain’s nostalgia center–Tom & Jerry. When I don’t have anything to catch up with, or I do but I’m just kinda procrastinating, I usually spend my time playing their site’s games. You already know that I have some major beef with the Adventure Time games (excluding Jumping Finn, which is actually good), strong faith with the Reg Show games, and keen interests in the Gumball games. Well, take these three shows and a whole lot more, convert them to 3D, and cram them into one game. What do you get? No, not Formula Cartoon. You get this.
FusionFall Heroes is the sequel to the well-renowned FusionFall Universe which Cartoon Network introduced back in 2009. Instead of an open-world experience where you could interact with some of your favorite characters, this is a nonstop action RPG very similar to DOTA. In FFH, you play characters such as Finn and Mordecai, and you get automatically sent into a level. Each level is different–you could be fighting the Tech Queen, while your friend could be fighting the Graveworm. Before you fight the levels’ bosses, you must go through about four waves of smaller enemies. I’ve classified my enemies into two categories:
- The enemies that die with one hit, also known as the petite enemies
- The enemies that take a round of hits to die, also known as the buff enemies
Anyway, if you’re not a very skilled fighter and you get major health blows, you’re in luck. At your side are medical chests (marked with red crosses) that have health boosters in the forms of breakfast foods like jellied toast, cereal, and pancakes. Also, at your side are very special chests (marked with the infinity sign) that offer special powers once opened. I call it Infinity Power since I really don’t know what the official name is. Once you consume the IP, a five-bar gauge next to your health fills. Once at least one bar is full, you can right-click to perform a special attack that takes away -266 of the enemy’s damage. If you die, you don’t need to restart your fight–you respawn automatically, which saves me a lot of stress and fury. Furthermore, there are these red barrels that explode a few seconds after being hit, which is an easy way to wipe out a pack of petites.
Right now I’m kicking butt as Finn, and my gamer alias is “Major Zelda”. So if you see that name anywhere while you’re playing FFH, think of me. Anyway, I got hooked onto the game a few weeks ago, the first time I played it. I was bored out of my mind and probably killed an hour or so playing Heroes. What made me so addicted to the game, kept me going back for more, was that it so easy to master. A simple click of the mouse equals a swing of the sword, and that’s probably all you need to know besides that special attack. I love how something new pops up every time I play, and they always have the greatest and most unique boss fights. Albeit they’re not very hard boss fights (I mowed through two in my first sitting), they always relate to the environment you’re fighting in. For example, if you’re fighting monsters made out of auto parts in a junkyard, you’re gonna get a monster made out of cars. Most specifically, the Truckosaurus Rex. Furthermore, if you’re fighting monsters made of electronic parts in a fancy lab, you’re gonna get a giant electronic monster made of enough energy to run a parking lot of Nissan Leaves. Most specifically, the Tech Queen. I also appreciate the 3D techniques that were transcribed from Formula Cartoon.
However, its tendency to repeat levels is very annoying, and the first time I played I thought it was because I hadn’t saved. Then I realized you couldn’t save. Anyway, if I defeat the Tech Queen once, I’m not interested in defeating her five more times. Also, the game’s excitement does quickly wear off, and you find yourself very bored instead of very thrilled. Also, the game does lag sometime on me, which is no fun for an RPGamer. The game’s solo content does get a bit rusty after awhile, but it does offers a
party co-op mode that I haven’t tried yet, since I have no friends to co-op with.
Well, let’s not tell sob stories and get to our chart.
- Immersive gameplay
- Gorgeous 3D environments ala Formula Cartoon
- No-brainer controls
- Medical and Infinity Chests serve as helpful aid kits
- Ingenious boss fights
- Gets tedious and boring after a while
- Cantankerous tendency to repeat fights
- Annoying lags that slow down battle paces
- Offers a middling amount of content in solo mode
FINAL CONSENSUS: FusionFall Heroes is very addictive and unparalleled for a Cartoon Network title, but for any ordinary browser-based RPG it has very insipid flaws such as fight repeats, lags, and conspicuous tedium. However, the game does offer enough to have you coming back for more, which says something.
FINAL SCORE: 8.3/10 (great)
Well, with all that aside, make sure to subscribe if you’re new, and don’t forget–press the like button. Come back next Monday for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!
Stay classy America,
Video of the Week: Pogo already gave us not one but two Videos of the Week last time (“Living Island” and “Roarcraft“), so it shouldn’t be a surprise I found something really good this week. This video was the third one Pogo ever released, and it was actually put up back in May 2008. It’s not really a remix of anything–it’s Bertke’s first original song. It’s called “SplurgenShitter”, and if you have any questions about the name, don’t ask me because I don’t know. Don’t ask Bertke, because he won’t tell you. Besides, it got paired up with footage of Nick dancing around wearing a Darth Vader mask and it has 1.1 million hits. Quality Internet video!
(You could also find a 4-minute version of the song on Weave and Wish, an EP Bertke released in 2009.)
Our Bonus Video of the Week is a Pogo remix of Lord of the Rings (the Frodo era, not the Bilbo era) that came out in March 2011 and has 1.9 million hits. Someone actually had the nerve to role-play as Frodo, comment on the video, and 3 weeks later it got 187 likes. A true quality Internet video.
Hey guys it’s Sam. Back last year I made a post where the good ole Bookie made a post summing up all of the good books that were coming out that year. Now, I’m here to bring it again, and now you won’t have to wait for most of the novels–they will most likely already be out, and I want to introduce my comrades to some new books. So for now, enjoy this delicious smoothie of chopped, crunched, and blended book-world news of what’s cooking this year.
I’m a huge fan of fast-paced sci-fi thriller novels like Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard so I think I’d dig this one. This one came out back in February, so it’s gotten lots of time to sink into the mainstream quicksand. You could call this the novelization of Inception if you wanted to, but the latest novel from young adult author Kiersten White really messes with your mind. Mind Games (or Sister Assassin for non-Americans) is a fast-paced psychological thriller starring Fia, whose first impulse to go with her gut is always correct. Annie, Fia’s sister, is sightless to her surrounding world–she only opens her eyes when her mind whizzes with odd visions of the future. The two sisters are taken into a school that uses superhuman females as weapons of corporate espionage, where they must decide repeatedly to use their strange abilities in horrific ways or to risk their lives and fight the system–no matter what the cost.
Young-adult authors might remember Kiersten White as the author of Paranormalcy, an urban fantasy trilogy that introduced her to the world of books and turned her into a NY Times bestselling author. The final novel, Endlessly (how ironic), concluded the saga last year and White is currently making plans for a Paranormalcy film. MTV Music Video Award-winning director Ray Kay is set to direct the movie.
The book received mixed reviews. High praise was given for its spy-fi elements and well-suited ending, but high criticism was given for pretty much everything else, most notably the plain characterization.
Speaking of sci-fi thriller, that brings us to our next novel which came out back in March. In the writing debut of Debra Driza, Mila 2.0, the titular character lives with her mom in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her harrowing past of being created in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do the humanly impossible. But when Mila discovers her shocking secret, she must flee. Flee from the dangerous operatives who want her dead because she knows too much. Flee from the mysterious group that wants to capture her and unlock her tech. But Mila’s hidden powers will surprise you (and her), and they might just save her life. Her artificially intelligent life.
Mila 2.0 is just the start. Driza plans on making two more books starring Mila to form a Mila 2.0 trilogy. Goodreads described the book as “the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human.” They recommended the novel for fans of I Am Number Four, and said that the book’s gripping ending would pave the way for Mila’s second adventure and have readers hungry for more. I guess there really was more to Mila than met my eyes.
The book received generally positive reviews. Its fast-paced action and heart-racing adrenaline rushes were lauded, but its romance overemphasis and lack of emotional connections were noted as something that could’ve been finessed.
Take Timmy Failure, the clueless and confident CEO of the best detective agency in the
nation town. Throw in his partner, an imaginary friend in the form of a polar bear named Total. Throw in Timmy’s mom’s Segway the Failuremobile, and what you have is Total Failure Incorporated, a global enterprise designed to make Timmy wealthy enough to prevent his mom from stressing over bills. But of course, his plan does not include the 4′-tall lady who we shall call She Who Must Not Be Named. Nor does it include Rollo Tookus, who cannot carry out a super-easy spy mission due to his obsession with getting into “Stanfurd”. Stephan Pastis makes a stunning and charming departure from Pearls Before Swine with Timmy Failure: Mistakes Are Made, “the kids’ comedy of the year”. Here are a couple notable blurbs that would look great on the back of the book:
“Timmy Failure is a winner!” – Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
“Seldom has failure been so likable–or funny.” - Wall Street Journal
“…a great story starring an unforgettable protagonist whose unorthodox approach to detective work (and world domination) will have readers in stitches.” – Lincoln Peirce, author of Big Nate
“Readers should be simultaneously amused and touched by this quirky antihero.” - Booklist
“Pastis has assembled an eccentric and funny cast (running gags revolve around Total’s voracious appetite and a librarian who looks like one of the Hell’s Angels), yet there are also touching interactions to be found…” - Publishers Weekly
Timmy Failure received generally positive reviews. Its well-written humor and charm factors were positively recognized by critics, but some flat characterization and peculiar usage of archaic references were also dissected.
You may recognize Marissa Meyer as the unique author of the sci-fi romance novel Cinder (the start of the Lunar Chronicles), which was one of Indie-Bound’s Kids Next List picks for last winter. But the story of our favorite cyborg heroine is not yet over, as her story continues into Scarlet, the thrilling sequel which came out in February. Now after discovering a shocking secret, Cindy’s trying to break out of the clutches of prison in New Beijing (this was after World War IV), but she’ll be the most-wanted fugitive of the Commonwealth even if she succeeds. Halfway around the Earth, Scarlet Benoit has a missing grandma. It turns out there’s a lot Scarlet doesn’t know about Grandma B, nor of the grim danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet meets a street fighter named Wolf who may or may not have the whereabouts of Scarlet’s grandma, she is reluctant to believe Wolf. However, the two are drawn together in some sort of relationship. After Scarlet and Wolf solve one mystery, they run into another when they come across Cindy herself. Now this misfit trio must stay one step ahead Queen Levana, female ruler of the moon colony Luna. That introduces the book’s side plot, where she is attempting to make Kai (the prince of New Beijing) give into his pressures of marrying Levana or evoking a World War V.
In spite of its slow start, the novel received critical acclaim for its deep and complex story, a shrewd and surprising backstory, and impeccable fairy-tale weaving that made it impossible for most people to put Scarlet down. People are still coming up with ideas of how the brand new characters could play vital roles in the final half of the four-part Lunar Chronicles.
Jessica Brody began writing and “publishing” novels at the age of seven, using materials like cardboard and electrical tape to turn her into an amateur bookbinder. She is no stranger to the world of young adult books–she’s written three already–but this story is her most stellar and unorthodox departure yet. In Unremembered, the beginning of Brody’s new sci-fi saga, a flight courtesy of Freedom Airlines ends horribly and unexpectedly with a crash over the Pacific. No one ever suspected to find survivors among the wreck, and that’s why the sole survivor of the crash has made global headlines. That survivor was 16-year old Seraphina. However, her body shows no signs of the crash, but here’s the kicker–she doesn’t remember boarding the plane. In fact, she doesn’t remember anything before the crash, let alone at all. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest, nor can anyone locate her DNA or fingerprints in a single database on Earth. As this astray amnesiac attempts to piece together her empty past, befuddled by a world she doesn’t know and an ominous threat she can’t remember, she discovers an odd boy who claims to have known her before the crash. A boy who claims they were in a relationship. Sera must decide whether or not this boy can be trusted, and if he can protect her from those who have been making her forget.
It turns out you really can’t judge a book by the cover, as Unremembered turned out with very mixed reception. People praised it for having the elements of a sci-fi gem, but criticized it for being an orthodox story that brought nothing unique to the action-thriller genre, and how its intellectual properties (planning and thoughts) were in over their heads. Oh, and it came out in March.
If you’re like me, you’re very familiar with the fantasy subgenre of “fractured fairy tale”. These kinds of books put twists on classic fairy tales and mend interesting and unexpected worlds around them, taking the original stories to whole ‘nother levels. Examples include Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted, and Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm/In A Glass Grimmly. Coincidentally, this story was made for fans of those books. Now rising fantasy star Liesl Shurtliff has given a twist on a classic Grimm story: Rump. This came out just a couple of weeks ago, so it’s probably ankle-deep in the mainstream quicksand. Now, Rump isn’t just short for Rumpelstiltskin–in a magic kingdom where names are destinies, he literally is the rump of everyone’s jokes. But his luck changes when he finds an archaic spinning wheel–he discovers he can spin straw into gold. His best friend whom we’ll call Red (hint hint) warns him of the magic’s darkest dangers, and she’s right. With each spun thread, Rump obliviously weaves himself deeper and deeper into a curse. To break the curse, he must go on a dangerous quest and fight off pixies, trolls, poisonous apples, and a maliciously foolish queen.
Rump got positive reception for having the fun side that most stories fail to have, full of delightful adventures and hidden messages such as greed and friendship.
From the look of this cover, you may already tell this has something to do with sci-fi. Well, if you guessed that, you’re right. This is indeed a sci-fi story called Pulse from the author of Skeleton Creek, which came out in February. 38 years from now, the world is still recognizable. No world wars, no apocalypse, no Republics or Capitols–I’m assuming. Well, the country has been split into two “super States” (what.), and protagonist Faith Daniels attends what is little more than a teenage daycare. In the future, select teens have “pulses” which grant them with the power to move things with their minds. In other words, they’re telekinetic. Faith discovers that she has a pulse with the help of a mysterious classmate named Dylan. Faith uses her powers against telekinetic masters so powerful they could pancake their enemies using uprooted street lights and shifted boulders. But even with a pulse, the mind can be hard to control. So can the heart. If Faith and Dylan want to combine forces and save the world of the future, she must harness both and discover that real power comes from within.
Reception for Pulse was mixed to negative. Its unexplained future was heavily panned alongside its conspicuous lack of action-packed adventure, plus its underwhelming characters and relationships and a greatly deceiving synopsis. In fact, here’s how one Goodreads user put it: “…almost non-existent adventure (unless you consider moving cups with your mind adventure), poor and mostly unlikable and under-developed characters and extremely unhealthy relationships.” Wow, is a story about telekinesis and saving the world that bad?
Also, the finale for Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning Seeds of America trilogy (started by Chains and continued by Forge) is forthcoming. It’s going to be called Ashes, and the plot is as of now unknown. The book may be releasing this year as opposed to 2014, but I guess we need to stay tuned for those news.
Ah, finally. We’ve saved the best for last. People who mowed through the Hunger Games trilogy and were starving for more turned Veronica Roth’s Divergent into an award-winning NY Times bestseller. When the book’s sequel Insurgent came out, people turned that into yet another award-winning bestseller. The two books became so successful that Roth is currently planning for a Divergent movie! (Check her Twotter feed to stay tuned. Yeah, I did that on purpose.) But now, after months of theories and guesses, Roth’s epic finale to her trilogy is coming this October–Allegiant. Yeah, Roth sarcastically gave the book the name of Detergent, but some people thought it was called Convergent, and that’s how this came up:
Anyway, check out Amazon’s and Goodreads’ summary to the explosive end to Roth’s smashing saga. (Oh, like my amazing alliteration?)
What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
Stay tuned and stay hungry for Allegiant when it hits stores October 22. But for now, here’s a link to Roth’s Twotter:
That was fun! If you plan on reading any of my recommended books, post it in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe if you’re new, and don’t forget–press the like button. Now just stay tuned until next time to get more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!
Stay classy America,
Video of the Week: If you’ve stuck with me long enough, you probably know who Nick Bertke is. He’s the greatest mixer of all time, that’s who he is. He goes under the stage name Pogo (his channel’s called “Fagottron”), and although he has less than 250,000 subs, his videos have gotten millions of hits and millions of fans for his unique remixes of movies and TV shows. His best works include remixes of Harry Potter, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs. Today’s video of the week is a Pogo remix from two years ago with nearly 750,000 hits. It’s a remix of HR Pufnstuf. If you don’t know what that is, sit back and enjoy this lesson.
Back in the 60s, there were these people named Sid & Marty Krofft. They made a show called HR Pufnstuf, which ran in 1969 on NBC. Yes, I said NBC. However, the show was so successful it stayed on the Saturday morning schedule until 1972. The show’s about a boy named Jimmy who takes his magic flute named Freddy and rides a boat to Living Island, where everything from clocks to houses are anthropomorphic. The island’s mayor is a dragon whom is the title character of the show, who takes Jimmy in to protect him from the show’s antagonist Witchiepoo. In a nutshell, it’s basically a psychedelic Sesame Street.
Because I love you guys so much, here’s the Bonus Video of the Week. It’s another Pogo remix, but you should be able to tell what got remixed from the name of the video.
Back last year, I did a full review of the Bone graphic novel saga by Jeff Smith, one of the best graphic novelists I know. In case you don’t have time for playbacks, here’s what I scored each book (remember, this was the old template):
- Out from Boneville - “an energetic start to a great graphic novel series…” (20/30)
- The Great Cow Race - “…the best book of the pack!” (30/30)
- Eyes of the Storm - “…the darkest addition yet.” (24.5/30)
- The Dragonslayer - “…may not be the best Bone book since The Great Cow Race, but it’s a full-fleshed attempt at it” (24/30)
- Rock Jaw - “…great premise and dazzling excitements” (22/30)
- Old Man’s Cave - “…a barbaric warrior…with well-played action, adventure, and drama” (26/30)
- Ghost Circles - “…a good wallop of laughs, action, adventure, and excitement that will definitely go into the scrapbook.” (23.1/30)
- Treasure Hunters - “…solely the lowlight of the Bone saga.” (17.5/30)
- Crown of Horns - “…a mightily entertaining–and epic–conclusion.” (23/30)
Now I’m back to review another graphic novel, from the same Scholastic imprint that’s been with Mr. Smith since the start. This one has to be one of the most unique comic novels I’ve ever read–and it’s not just because it introduces a new writing style or has vivid pictures. It has both of those, don’t get me wrong. But here’s the reason why it really stuck out to me–it’s not a wild over-the-top fantasy like Bone or Amulet–it’s an autobiographical story, a memoir! Eat Pray Love, Diary of a Young Girl, Running With Scissors, Marley & Me: A Dog Like No Other, those are all memoirs. But none of those tell a story quite like this.
Released in February 2010 by Raina Telgemeier and Scholastic/Graphix, and based off of Smile: A Dental Drama, a webcomic created by Telgemeier, Smile is an auto-bio that takes place during the 1980s and early 1990s, following Raina’s years from a preteen to a real teen. One night after a Girl Scout meeting, Raina’s friends race her to the porch. However, Raina trips and falls right onto the side of the road, busting out one of her front teeth and jamming the other up into her gum. What follows is nearly five years of on-off braces, surgery, ignominious headgear, even a retainer with false teeth! However, Raina’s dental drama is only a portion of her problems–a gnarly earthquake leaves her town shaken and stirred, Raina begins to notice two big crushes, and friends who turn out to be not very friendly. The story evolves with Raina as she goes into high school, finds her true artistic voice and real friendship, and finds a place where she can really smile.
PRESENTATION: Smile was the breakthrough for an inglorious author, and it’s easy to see why. Raina tells her story clearly without any narrative exposition (okay, so a few helpful names here and there), and she writes it in such a way that you can feel the emotions she’s feeling. The terror in her eyes during the earthquake when the floor begins to tremble under her feet. The amazement in her eyes when she sees The Little Mermaid for the first time. The sorrow in her eyes when she has to replace her real teeth with false teeth. The anger in her eyes when she stands up to her not-so-friendly friends. Raina tells this story impeccably and powerfully, in a way that’s just as unique as the premise itself. The illustrating work done with Raina and Steph Yue (whom provided the pictures’ color) has to be one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel. Not as simplistic as Captain Underpants, not as detailed as Bone, but a nice balance in between the two. (10/10)
STORY: Same main ideas. Also, some people may be able to relate to the story such as people who are bullied at school, going through orthodontic treatment, and the like. (10/10)
FUN: Raina cracks a few jokes here and there to keep readers smiling. Also, since Raina’s story takes place in the 80′s and 90′s, there are tons of pop culture references, some more blatant than others. Raina owns an NES and is seen playing Super Mario Bros and Wizards & Warriors. Raina’s sister unsuccessfully tries to persuade her to buy DuckTales. Q*bert, Kid Icarus, and NES Soccer also make cameo appearances at the store. (10/10)
STYLE: Time for some restating. The humor and drama come in packs, and Smile puts up a fine balance between light-hearted humor and realistic drama. The book has ravishing illustrations that make everything look more down-to-earth. (10/10)
QUANTITY/QUALITY: Smile may not be told in real chapters, but it feels like Raina’s life is being told step by step, chapter by chapter, week by week. It has a great story to tell, and the quality of it is–dude, we’ve been over this. Giddy humor, raw drama, amazing illustrations, great connections, blah blah blah. (10/10)
FINAL VERDICT: Smile is one of the best graphic novels you’ll ever read, telling a powerful story mixed with giddy humor and realistic drama and emotion, topped off with great illustrations that make this book a true gem among Scholastic’s Graphix lineup. (10/10)
FINAL SCORE: I, Sammwak, am proud to give Raina Telgemeier’s Smile the first ever JGB 2.0 perfect score, 60/60, which gets it an automatic A+. Raina really deserved it, but hopefully after her Girl Scout meetings she remembers to walk to the porch this time. Heck, to show you how good this book really is, I’m gonna give it a seal of approval!
Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week here at Sammwak! Have an awesome Spring Break, and I’ll see you next week (hopefully)!
Stay classy America,
Video of the Week: I was gonna put up a Harlem Shake this week, but then today my art teacher showed me this. It’s a 6-minute short film called Pigeon Impossible, about a young man who is a rookie secret agent I’ll call Discount Jake Gyllenhaal. Now, Discount Jake here is dealing with a problem that most rookies don’t come around–what happens when an inquisitive little pigeon makes its way inside your nuclear, government-issued, multi-million-dollar briefcase? Find out in this video that’s already gone viral with 1.8 million hits.
Oh, what the hey, here’s the greatest Harlem Shake you’ll probably ever see in the history of the universe EVER. Also, it might be the final Harlem Shake. Take a click to see why.
I’ve already reviewed the first two novels in James Patterson’s bestselling Middle School series starring young troublemaker Rafe Khatchadorian. Now for some “I-don’t-mean-to-brag-but” fun facts. For his work, Patterson became the 2010 Children’s Choice Book Awards Author of the Year, and he received more than than 15,000 votes in a category shared with fellow middle-grade authors like Carl Hiaasen and Rick Riordan. His Witch & Wizard series was introduced to the biggest launch of a young-reader series in history, surpassing sales of the first Twilight, the first Wimpy Kid, and The Lightning Thief. Last year JP sold more books than Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, and John Grisham combined. He’s grossed over $3 billion in global sales, which is higher than the theatrical gross of Avatar–and that’s the highest-grossing movie ever! But Patterson stayed humble with his achievements, and last December–a mere two weeks before Christmas Eve 2012–he decided to shake things up. He released a brand new realistic fiction story that didn’t star Rafe. Yep, he incorporated an entirely new universe and one of the most unique plots I’ve ever seen. JP’s new book is totally funny–in fact, it’s so funny it even has it in the name.
What I consider to be the spiritual successor to JP’s Middle School series, I Funny is a unique story by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, who he also worked with for Armageddon, a novel in JP’s Daniel X series. This book centers on Jamie Grimm, a young lad about Rafe’s age who lives in Long Island, CA–more specifically, at Long Beach. He is an aspiring stand-up comic who’s been studying the techniques of classic comedians from Homer Simpson to George Carlin and probably every comic in between. His uncle Frankie runs a local diner (kind of like Swifty’s Diner, the place Rafe’s mom works), and he has a few pals at school–Pierce, Gaynor, Gilda, and Suzie (aka “Cool Girl”). But however, just like Rafe’s relationship with Miller the Killer, Jamie’s got a big bully on his back–Stevie Kosgrov, Long Beach’s bully of the year 3 years straight. However, what’s worse about Stevie is that he’s–er, for the sake of spoilers, I’ll just skip that one.
Anyway, Jamie lives with his adoptive family which he dubbed “the Smileys”–ironically, they haven’t cracked a grin in who knows how long. This is a perfect audience for Jamie’s jokes, because if he can get them to laugh, he can get anyone to. In fact, he tries out his jokes on everyone from his classmates to the customers at Frankie’s diner! Jamie has hopes of entering and maybe even winning the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic contest. But when he goes up in front of an audience for the first time, the following events change his life forever–the most essential being meeting the girl of his dreams. Also, what makes Jamie such a character to root for is that he can’t walk, and takes his wheelchair everywhere he goes. Now, who can’t feel sympathy for that?
PRESENTATION: I Funny delivers an ingenious balance of humor and drama, the same mix that made Rafe’s first adventure a real home run. However, what makes this mix a bit more unique is that the humor and drama come in bundles, the humor is more genuine and easy to “get” (although some readers who are familiar with the comics may know some of the jokes). The drama is raw and emotional, and a few times in the story my inner self actually cried. Rarely in a book do I cry while reading it. Albeit Laura Park, JP’s long-time illustrator, draws the detailed pictures of the story, she gives I Funny its own special something, making pictures look more polished and realistic. (10/10)
STORY: Jamie tells his story with realism and cracks some jokes or introduces some scenic situations that actually make a story a bit “mushy”, just like Rafe would. However, aside from humor and drama, Jamie tells a very down-to-earth story that incorporates real-life things like bullying, friendship, a first love, and broken hearts. Jamie is a character most readers would root for, especially after all you see him go through in the book. Connections between characters are strong as well. However, there’s one thing that won’t make me give I Funny a perfect score in this category–Jamie uses Rafe’s same “fake reality” techniques to try and zest up the story. In this case, Jamie believes that most of the Long Beach community is made up of zombies, but they are shown to be more funny than freaky. The book feels a lot like Rafe had helped Jamie write it–for better and for worse. (9/10)
FUN: It’s entertaining to watch Jamie spin his tale in a way that tons of authors have done, but it’s still nonetheless very unique. It’s intriguing to picture the events that occur in the book from the factual to the fictional, and the vivid imagery–if you saw my last JGB 2.0, you’d know that was almost the exact same stanza I used for Rafe’s second adventure. I Funny and Get Me Out of Here share lots of the same jokes, sequences, and connections, which says something if JP wanted this book to stand out more. However, this book does lots of media referencing–comics like Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Yakov Smirnoff, Steve Martin, Steven Wright, and Kevin James. Speaking of Kevin James, Jamie also references his star role in Paul Blart: Mall Cop several times. References to KGB, acme (a staple in 20th century comedy like Looney Tunes), Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Penn Station, The Brady Bunch, Harry Potter, and much more. Hey–I think all that referencing just won this book its half of a point back. (10/10)
STYLE: Time for some restating. The humor and drama come in bundles, the humor is more genuine and easy to “get” (although some readers who are familiar with the comics may know some of the jokes). The drama is raw and emotional, and a few times in the story my inner self actually cried. Rarely in a book do I cry while reading it. Albeit Laura Park, JP’s long-time illustrator, draws the detailed pictures of the story, she gives I Funny its own special something, making pictures look more polished and realistic. (10/10)
QUANTITY/QUALITY: I Funny has a great story to tell, and it took 69 chapters to tell it! In fact, the book begins with Jamie choking onstage (forgetting his setups and such), and then it flashes back a while. JP managed to tell enough story and pack in enough element, characterization and such, to meet up to that point in the book, which actually doesn’t come until very late. It’s great how you get to know people like Pierce, Gaynor, Gilda, and Cool Girl, and how they interact with Jamie. How their relationship with him changes as the book progresses and you begin to relate to Jamie more. This is the kind of feeling that I got when I reached the dramatic climax of Middle School, Worst Years of My Life where everything kinda reached its summit. (10/10)
FINAL VERDICT: I Funny packs the same wallops of humor and drama that Rafe would, but the humor is more authentic and the drama is more raw and tearjerking–never has Patterson told such a dynamic story that has the powerful plot lines that really make this the third hit of JP’s threepeat. (10/10)
FINAL SCORE: 59 out of 60 –> 98% –> A+
Check out some vids from JP’s official YouTube channel!
Ah, what a day. Well, make sure to tune in next week for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!
Stay classy America,
Videos of the Week: Check out these mind-blowing Nick mixes from my ole buddy Nick Bertke, aka “Pogo”. For y’all who don’t know who he is, he is literally the greatest mashup artist on Earth. He’s made groundbreaking remixes of Harry Potter, Dexter, Up, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Poppins, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the list goes on folks. Tragically, last Thursday Nick put up a 3-minute video explaining how and why he is no longer allowed to enter the USA for the next decade. I mean, the poor lad got sent to the big house for 3 weeks! Never would I think of Pogo as an inmate. Anyway, here’s the video…
…and to cheer you up, here are two amazing Pogo mixes you can jam to. The first one is an iCarly remix, made in honor of the series ending after five years of being one of Nick’s greatest hits. The music in the mix ranges from all of the show’s seasons, and you may be able to pick out some episodes. The second one is a SpongeBob remix, which also ranges from all of the show’s seasons, and you may also be able to pick out some episodes. ENJOY!
As you can tell, this is no longer the Jolly Good Bookie I’ve been using for a few years–this is JGB 2.0. I got rid of that annoying Common Sense chart and replaced it with a more simplistic chart designed after IGN’s. Also, all reviewed books will get graded on a scale from E to A+. Anyway, on a completely different note, back in December I reviewed Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, a novel by James Patterson who is famous for writing Witch & Wizard and Maximum Ride. Here are some of my most acclaiming snippets from the post:
“…one of the greatest school stories I’ve ever read…”
“…thorough, fleshed comedy with sincere, heart melting drama…”
“Patterson is clearly a unique writer as he actually manages to give us those pangs that make us feel like we’re on the verge of tears…”
“…makes a joke out of middle school in a way that is rare for most favored kids’ authors…”
“…a book that you can’t find around the corner.”
Now, three months later, I’ve read the sequel to this book and now hold the answer to this burning question: “Will Rafe’s second adventure build upon the first, build alongside the first, or build away from the first?”
Released last May, almost a year after the original bestseller, Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! is Rafe Khatchadorian’s second middle school adventure written by the well-renowned James Patterson and the not-nearly-as-popular Chris Tebbetts, alongside the book’s illustrator Laura Park. Anyway, if you read Rafe’s first novel, you’d know that his story isn’t as stereotypical and cheesy as most school stories are–his is deeper, more realistic, better to relate to. This sequel doesn’t pick up where Worst Years of My Life left off–it travels forward in time to the seventh grade. Now, for the sake of non-spoilers, let’s just say Rafe doesn’t hold a very great status at Hills Valley anymore. Now, after the fiery death of Swifty’s Diner, he’s moved on to a new life in a new city, now having been accepted to a fancy art school known as Cathedral Academy. But Rafe’s plans of living a worry-free life are down the drain–he has to keep his grades afloat, or else he won’t get accepted back into Cathedral for eighth grade. For Rafe’s first art project, he needs to turn his life into a work of art to show who he is. Instead of doing that, he teams up with his good pal Leo the Silent and creates his second mission, Operation: Get A Life. From playing poker to visiting an art museum, Rafe’s gonna have to learn the art of trying something new. But when Get A Life unravels secrets about the side of the Khatchadorians Rafe’s never known, his life takes a big detour…
PRESENTATION: Just like its predecessor, Get Me Out of Here is realistic and down-to-earth, with Rafe’s incredibly descriptive and always hilarious drawings put in alongside the story. Nothing has really changed since the original, which is kinda bad since the book needs to have some uniqueness. (9/10)
STORY: Rafe tells his story clearly and deeply, although he has high tendencies to exaggerate story elements like turning his teachers into monsters or going hang-gliding with Leo the Silent. This was kind of like in the original Dork Diaries when Nikki had an excruciatingly high tendency to say things in her head. This is a very annoying flaw, but otherwise the book’s storytelling ability is proficient. (8.5/10)
FUN: It’s entertaining to watch Rafe spin his tale in a way that tons of authors have done, but it’s still nonetheless very unique. It’s intriguing to picture the events that occur in the book from the factual to the fictional, and the vivid imagery makes the book feel less like something an artificial intelligence like Siri would cough up. (Not that I’m saying Siri would ever cough up such a thing.) (10/10)
STYLE: Rafe’s detailed pictures go great with his bubbly storyli–okay, now I think I’m just restating the same main idea. (10/10)
QUANTITY/QUALITY: This category just asks a book, “How much story do you have, and is all that story told well?” In this case, the story is abundant and told extremely well, although it’s almost as immersive as it could’ve been whatsoever. But hey–I’ve said too much good about the book to start getting bad. But speaking of which, the book kinda does get confusing with all these new elements added to Rafe’s persona, and I was wondering if James Patterson wrote the right story a few chapters in. But as soon as I saw Rafe pull an unsuccessful prank, I knew I was back in business. Thank gosh. (9/10)
FINAL VERDICT: Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! may be an unexpected new leaf for some old fans of Rafe, but they’ll appreciate the same deep storyline and playful imagery that was incorporated in Rafe’s first adventure. It’s an ingenious novel that will keep readers hooked and have them hungry for the next installment in Rafe’s middle school adventures. (9.5/10)
FINAL SCORE: 56 out of 60, which equals a 93% score which gets this book an A.
But the post doesn’t end there. Check out some juicy news about James Patterson’s plans for the future!
As you can see here, Mr. Patterson has already gotten the next two Middle School novels up for release later this year. The first book, My Brother Is A Big Fat Liar, tells the story from Georgia’s perspective instead of Rafe’s! Georgia plans to excel at all the spots Rafe failed at HVMS, and she makes a bet with Rafe that she’ll become just as famous as him. However, G may have bitten off more than she can chew–Rafe’s troublesome acts at the school left a big impression on the school, and no one’s even bothering to give G a second glance. However, things go from bad to worse when Rafe furtively signs up his band to play at the school dance! (Since when was Rafe in a band like Big Nate?) G refuses to make an ignominious impression on her crush as well as the school’s clique, but she’s determined to win her bet and prove Rafe wrong at all costs, even if it means putting her HVMS rep on the line. Will she succeed, or will Rafe win? Check out My Brother Is A Big Fat Liar to find out when it hits stores next Monday.
The next book, How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill, is indeed the third Middle School novel first foreshadowed by Rafe himself at the end of Get Me Out of Here. Rafe is stoked for a fun 3-month stay at summer camp–until he realizes that it’s a summer school camp. Luckily, Rafe manages to befriend his cabinmates and bunkmate, as well as a boy nicknamed Booger Eater. Rafe soon finds out that there’s more to BE than meets the eye, and maybe he’s just the guy you want to know when the Cool Cabin kids attack. Wow, this plot is very similar to Fred 3: Camp Fred, with the whole “good camp vs. lame camp” concept. This book will take a longer wait–it won’t come out until June, which is rather convenient.
We all know that James Patterson’s revered sci-fi adventure saga, Maximum Ride, came to an end when Nevermore came out last year. However, besides the manga series being still alive, Patterson knows the canon is not yet dead. And he’s deciding to honor one of his greatest hits with one of the biggest blowouts an author can produce–a Maximum Ride movie. That’s right, the flock, the Erasers, and the School are all coming to the big screen. News about a Max Ride movie began spreading as far back as fall 2007, and James Patterson would be the movie’s executive producer. Steven Paul is also a producer alongside Avi Arad, who has worked on films like Spider-Man and X-Men. Apparently, Arad got so full of himself he planned out a second movie as well. (If you’ve seen Anthony Horowitz’s scrapped plans for an Alex Rider film series, you know that pride like this is dangerous.)
Columbia Pictures bought screen rights to the movie in 2008, and the film was expected to release 2 years later. Twilight‘s director Catherine Hardwicke had planned to direct, and in 2010 she had requested that the movie script be rewritten to include more action. (Oh, gosh.) This delayed the movie’s release to this year. In February 2011, Maximum Ride‘s Facebook page asked fans who they’d want to play Max, and also stated that the movie would be released in 3D. Unfortunately, by last year Hardwicke dropped out, and Patterson said he was “very hopeful as opposed to mildly depressed.” Sadly, the movie is as of now cancelled, but we can only hope that by 2014 Patterson can get his chin back up.
Ah, so much info, my brain is hurting! Well, as my cerebellum cools down, let’s call it a week. But make sure to stay tuned for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! Stay tuned for more James Patterson books, too!
Stay classy America,
Videos of the Week: The channel of the week award goes to TomSka for his latest episode of his gut-busting asdfmovie series. “asdfmovie5″ back from May was kind of a letdown in my book–all of the skits were new, and not once did the I Like Trains Kid appear! Anyway, this new video is hilarious, and it’s really put Tom’s random humor skills to work. Hey–at least Mine Turtle shows up again and makes me realize that Tom has found a new running gag for his videos.