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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanna Collins
Publish Date: Oct 2008
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.(From Goodreads)

Originally I thought this would be different than anything I’ve ever read before. How many books write about arenas with kids that fight to the death. Unfortunately, some time last year I saw and read Battle Royale.

The characters are original in themselves. I like Katniss despite her apparent naivety. She’s goal oriented and focused. She makes plans and tries her hardest to follow through with them. It’s admirable. 

Peeta is a darling. I love Peeta and would definitely sponsor him if I lived in the capital. He’s sweet and gives off an apparent innocence and good will. It would be very hard not to like Peeta. 

The problem I have is the story line runs too close to Battle Royale. There are differences in the execution and the reasoning behind the battles but the battles are essentially the same. The arenas are essentially the same. 

Overall it’s still worth reading. Only for those that have already touched Battle Royale you may find yourself sort of blasé about this book. It still entertains and it’s just different enough not to be boring or predictable. 

My Rating:

Book Review: Crescendo

Author:  Becca Fitzpatrick
Publish Date: Oct 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Nora Grey's life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn't pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He's more elusive than ever and even worse, he's started spending time with Nora's arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.

Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Patch hadnt been acting so distant. Even with Scott's totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him - despite her lingering feeling that he's hiding something.

Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperately searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything - and everyone - she trusts.
(From GoodReads)

Crescendo picks up where Hush Hush left off. The reader is tossed into the love of Patch and Nora. Or, what should have been love. 

Nothing changes in our characters and I think this is part of the problem. Nora still trusts Patch unquestionably, but he won’t her. In fact he’s a total ass in this book and I nearly put it down several times because of his attitude. I can’t blame Nora at all for her responses to him. She did what I believe any woman would have done in her shoes. 

For all the hate I have for Patch in this book it does progress through the story rather quickly. I hadn’t expected the twists and turns the story took and it was a pleasant surprise. What bothers me most is one action from Patch in the right direction and this story wouldn’t have taken place. IF he had just provided the truth from the start everything that happened here, wouldn’t have happened. Or at least not in the form that it did. 

This series is still a must read for anyone that likes the fallen angels. I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. 

My Rating:

Book Review: Mage In Black

Mage In Black
Author: Jaye Wells
Publish Date: April 2010
Publisher: Orbit

Sabina Kane doesn't have the best track record when it comes to family. After all, her own grandmother, leader of the vampire race, wants her dead. So when she arrives in New York to meet her mage relatives, the reunion puts the fun in dysfunctional. Not only is mage culture completely bizarre, but everyone seems to think she's some kind of 'Chosen' who'll unite the dark races. Sabina doesn't care who chose her, she's not into destiny. But the mages aren't Sabina's only problem. In New York's Black Light District, she has run-ins with fighting demons, hostile werewolves and an opportunistic old flame. Sabina thought she'd take a bite out of the Big Apple - but it looks like it wants to bite back.(GoodReads)

I’m skeptical when it comes to vampire books. There’s only so many ways to be creative with a vampire. However, the first book drew me in and engaged me with unique characters that stand out from the vampire cliché. That made this a must read in my eyes. 

Our characters are still wonderfully unique. Sabina is still a badass with a mussy center. If you can reach the center. This book is more about Sabina and her twin then any others, so we don’t see much of Adam. We are introduced to a few new characters, some from Sabina’s past and some that I think will affect her future. These characters are still just as fun and original as their companions and it doesn’t take anything away from the story. 

The story is just as fast paced as the first book. There’s no dust in any of the chapters and Ms. Wells doesn’t waste any words on useless or pointless actions. One chapter leads into the next. With the smooth flow putting the book down at the end of a chapter is a hardship. 

My Rating:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Tithe

Author: Holly Black
Publish Date: June 2008
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death. (From GoodReads)

Everyone I know has already read this book. A friend of mine insists Holly Black is a genius. Truth be told I had intended on reading it early but for lack of time. However, now that it's done, I must concur. Holly Black is a genius.

The book starts in New York City but the main focus of the story is set in New Jersey. it's a nice quiet town, that gives the impression of a close community in areas and a large community overall.

The main character is Kaye who is a very smart girl if a little naive in some circumstances. She enjoys the quieter town in comparison to the big city and enjoys (apparently) frolicking through dangerous trees. I like her spine most of all. She's not one to back down and when she's forced to retreat it's only long enough for her to think of an alternative strategy. She's not a quitter and she's an enjoyable character for her stubbornness.

Her counterpart is Roiben. He is everything good moms warn their daughters not to fall in love with. While not tall, dark and dangerous, the standard is successful changed to something more. Still tall, he's pale. Everything is pale. His hair, his skin, even his eyes are a light smoky grey. His demeanor is disgustingly cold and formal in the beginning but for some reason, it makes him a more loveable character when he finally comes out from behind his walls. The reader gets the undeniable pleasure of watching him loosen up and grow. It makes the heart warm and fuzzy.

The story is fast paced. Each chapter flows into the next easily and smoothly. There are no mysterious gaps or mysterious emersions of huhs or what just happened? Everything leads into the next and everything has significance. If not immediately identified it would be later on. There were no wasted words or pointless descriptions. The characters are very real and their struggles very well portrayed.

I'm very excited to read the next book. It's been a very long time since I've fallen into a story and not wanted to come out. This is very well written and I would recommend it to anyone that has a love of the faery.

My Rating:

Book Review: My Soul To Save

My Soul to Save
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publish Date: December 2009
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk….(From Goodreads)

Second books in a series always have mixed expectations. Will it live up to the first one? Will it leave enough of opening for the next one? Will we be provided with a clearer insight to the characters or will their identifications be lost and muddied? Because of this reason I’m always a little apprehensive about a second book.

The setting remains very much the same as the first book. With the additions of an overprotective father and very small, very claustrophobic house added as a Kaylee's new home. It's nothing new, and the rhythm is both familiar and a comfort.

Characters are very much the same. Although it feels every other chapter Kaylee and Nash are trying to get into each other's pants which was a little annoying. Their love is very much a novelty and while I understand the need to want to explore it, it was a bit toxic.

More insight is given to Tod however, and I'm not really happy with him at the moment. He is a very, very, very selfish creature thus far. He is not above disregarding the safety of friends if it means he'll get what he wants in the end. It's rather chilling and cold hearted.

The book progresses pretty smoothly other than the pausing to control the vomiting sensation every time Kaylee and Nash are left alone. The plot is solid and it's a really easy read, or in this case, listen. There's no missing links or plot holes that leave more questions then answered.

In total a completely average story. There's nothing extraordinary or gripping about it but still a pleasant experience.

My Rating:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review: Hammered

Author: Kevin Hearne
Publish Date: July 2011
Publisher: Random House

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully—he’s ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he’s asked his friend Atticus O’Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. But things are heating up in Atticus’s home base of Tempe, Arizona. There’s a vampire turf war brewing, and Russian demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plain of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry gods, and the hammer-wielding Thunder Thug himself.
(From GoodReads)

(Note: I listened to the unabridged audio book while I was working. Two birds, one stone and all that.)

This series has held me in thrall since book one. Not only is it not about some whiny girl growing up or finding the right guy; it’s actually a really mature supernatural/fantasy/science fiction story. (Sorry, I still don’t agree that it’s only Urban fantasy. *frowns at GoodReads*) As a series progresses though, I worry on how an author is going to hold up the cake to the previous books. If I’m in deep love with book one and two what could possibly make book three even more loving? 

The answer: EVERYTHING.

Leif introduces some new characters that being this late in the story I wasn’t sure I was going to be fond of. New characters are helpful to keep a story going but if there’s nothing to relate to them it’s hard to get to love them. This isn’t the case at all. I love our survivors and hope to see them in books to come.  

I feel for Atticus though. Caught between a rock and a hard place makes life a living hell. He had some serious choices that while I knew which one he would make (he is after all an honorable man) I still bled for him because he had to make them. It makes him a wonderfully complex character. (And I love his wit. I would love to Shakespeare duel with him.)
There’s no real winner to this story and no real ending either. However, there’s not really meant to be an ending with the next book a few months away. It definitely teaches one of life’s greatest lessons. Number one: Life’s not fair. Deal. And number two: there are no winners in a war. Everyone loses something.  

Overall nothing has ever made me nearly bust at the seams trying to contain laughter before. Certainly no one quotes Shakespeare better. While, I’m disappointed slightly with the ending that is no ending it couldn’t be avoided and that’s a minor bump in my road. I’m ecstatic for the next book. I’ll definitely be picking it up on release day. This definitely takes the cake.

My Rating: