Friday, August 27, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


Okay, okay, I know you'll read lots of reviews for this book.  And I wish I could give you the big spoiler review of it, but I will do my best not to do that.

Suzanne Collins did it again!  A triumph in a novel that breaks your heart when you least expect it to but has you cheering Katniss to victory.

Here's the quick summary for the third and FINAL (yes I mean that, although is it odd to say I want more?)  book of The Hunger Games.

Summary from Goodreads.com

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. 

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss. 

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost. 

Everything from the beginning gets your head spinning in this book.  Everything about which way Katniss should go and who she should trust, or even if she can trust herself.  It's exactly the same situation as the first two books in the way that Suzanne Collins makes your jaw drop to the floor at moments where you want to cry, but you'll sog up the pages so you don't or your vision gets blurry so you hurry and set it down for a bit to compose yourself.  I felt the same way in the first two books and I got that in this final one as well.

I was thinking to myself about the covers once I began reading Mockingjay.  The first cover is colored with black, the second with red, and now the third with blue.  Now, I know that no author (unless really invited to have a say in it) has no say in the covers at all.  Zip, zilch, nada.  That's the usual case.  Usually the author will hate it or love it.  I'm guessing that since the beginning our amazing author here, has had many, and I mean, many says in what goes into her covers or they wouldn't all be the way they are.  Not in any way like the book which isn't that way once you get yourself immersed into whatever it is going on.  The games, the rebellion, the love triangle between Peeta and Gale.  But when I was thinking about the covers, I realized, they must all go with each book somehow.  The Hunger Games, I believe has the color black on it because of the death that surrounds the games themselves and the darkness of the world of Panem.  Catching Fire is red, for obvious reasons but I'll list it anyway, because of the rebellion that Katniss sparks and the flame catches on in that story.  In Mockingjay, I believe the blue is meant for a sign of freedom from the Capitol's icky, designer claws.  These are just hunches, but I really think that there is a symbolism in the covers themselves.  I could review each of them, but I think this review would take forever to read if I bored you all with what I thought they each were about in detail.

The covers are magnificent, but not as catching as the characters themselves.  We learn so much more about Peeta, Gale, and Katniss in this story and are reminded of things in the past stories.  Everything clicks together in this story.  But even though everything clicks, doesn't mean that the characters do.  I mean, they do in this story.  I love them all.  I wish, personally, to actually meet them all, but the way I imagine them in my head is different from the author's idea of them and even the ideas of everyone who reads these characters is different.  That's what makes these characters so incredibly special.  It is like Suzanne wrote them all for us individually.  There are the Team Peeta's and the Team Gale's.  There are the ones who don't care, but only hope that our own world doesn't fall into the glum place of Panem in the future.  And for me, as long as those words on those pages are still around, I can go back into that dreary world and live with Katniss.  Hunt with Gale.  Fall for Peeta.  Survive the games.

I don't know how Suzanne Collins does it with writing in present tense.  I've tried it myself, and failed.  I always fall back into past tense.  That is my most favorite "technical" writing I skill I wish I could have.  It is hard to write it all as if it were happening now.  But that's what makes these books so real to us.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

For Mockingjay, and I have read some other reviews on this, but I agree with some that the epilogue at the end of the story seemed out of place.  But really, I like how it did sum up everything and show really how the story ended.  Some epilogues don't need to be.  Some do.  This one, I'm indifferent on because of that.  It needs to be, but it doesn't need to be.

I could go on and on and on, but then I'd spoil the story for you!  No way will I do that.  That would be evil of me to do.  Maybe in the future one of us here on the Book Bundle will do just that. A nice, everything spoiled review of this wonderful, amazing end book to one of the most anticipated trilogies in the past three years.

I hope you will all join me in giving Suzanne Collins a standing ovation for her characters, her story, and her imagination.  This creation is a gift and almost, it seems, a warning to us all.

So, without further comment on this story....

for now anyway...

"May the odds ever be in your favor!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

An Interview with Eros (Cupid)



I'm kicking off my Blog Book Tour today here at my favorite book review blog, The Book Bundle! To celebrate I've lined up a little Q&A with one of my favorite characters from my new book. So without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Greek God Eros, from the new YA novel, FORESIGHT: Book 1 of The Gods of Fate trilogy.
~

Me: Hello, Eros. Thanks for joining us today.

Eros: Yes, well, I lost a bet.

Me: Er, really? Well, thanks just the same. So out of curiosity, who did you lose this bet to?

Eros: My wife. She finds amusement in my discomfort.

Me: I see, well, let’s get started. So I see you also go by Cupid? May I call you Cupid?

Eros: Not if you want to survive this interview.

Me: Oh, alright. Why don’t you want to be called Cupid?

Eros: *growls*

Me: Moving right along… How did you first meet Christopher LeFey?

Eros: I went on a surfing trip with Hermes during Hurricane Camille. Great swells. Christopher was there also. That night he taught me a card game called Texas Hold Them. It’s rare for Gods to mingle with Fae, but he seemed alright, for a Faerie. We have a standing Thursday night poker game in Vegas.

Me: What was it like growing up on Olympus?

Eros: Boring. Opulent. Though my father once gave me a Risk game as a gift. I didn’t realize until the fall of Rome that it wasn’t just a board game. I burned it.

Me: You like games?

Eros: I do.

Me: What is your favorite game?

Eros: Twister.

Me: Twister? Why?

Eros: Ask my wife.

Me: Oh. Um, so tell me about your parents. I mean who were they? I’ve heard you were the son of Gaia and Uranus but I’ve also heard you were the son of Aphrodite and Ares. Which of these is true?

Eros: Neither. I am a child of Chaos.

Me: That’s interesting. I thought you were the God of Love?

Eros: Misconception. I’m the God of Lust.

Me: I see. Do you have any children of your own?

Eros: Two. A daughter, Bliss, and a son, Dizasteron.

Me: Dizasteron? Isn’t naming your kid that sort of, like, asking for trouble?

Eros: You have no idea.

Me: When I see depictions of you, it’s usually a winged baby. But you look more like the Old Spice guy. What’s up with that?

Eros: Yes. In my youth I spurned the attentions of Athena. Besides being the Goddess of Wisdom she was also the Goddess of the Arts. On a side note, she should have added “the Goddess of Vindictive Clingy Women” to that list.
Also, I hate the Old Spice guy. So what if he can ride a horse backwards? I can make Simon Cowell make out with a mime.

Me: What do you do for fun, besides board games?

Eros: I enjoy most water sports. I also enjoy watching the Bachelor.

Me: The Bachelor? Why?

Eros: It reminds me of my childhood.

Me: Oooookay. Well, thanks for that disturbing mental picture. I have a few fan questions for you are you ready?

Eros: Shoot.

First, Nikki asks: “Did you make gay guys? If so, were you trying to be funny or were you high?”

Eros: I did not create sexual preference. It has existed in humans (and animals) forever.
However I believe if women weren’t so crazy, there would be more straight men.

From Pam: “How can he make / or allow us to make so many mistakes when it comes to finding true love?”

Eros: I have nothing to do with true love. It exists; it’s just not my specialty. I deal in more carnal things. However I will say that it is not the gods, but your own free will that causes the majority of your pain and confusion.

From Rebecca: “Is there a 1 true love? Or many that you could have gotten along with okay?”

Eros: I believe there is only one person in all of existence who is truly the perfect match for one’s soul. However the odds of meeting that person and recognizing them when you do? Ha. Good luck. But in the immortal words of Stephen Stills, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

From Richard: “When do I get my turn?”

Eros: When you take it.

From Pat: "What are your magic arrows made of?"

Eros: Adamanteum. Like Wolverines claws. No, kidding. Trade secret. Though all our weapons are created by Hephaestus.

From Nikki: "Do you smoke?"

Eros: Only when I'm on fire. Don't laugh. It happens surprisingly often.

From Beverlee: “When are you gonna ditch that diaper?”

Eros: Keep it up human.

Me: Um, is that a pistol crossbow you’re holding?

Eros: *smiles*

Me: Um, er, okay. Here's your chance to ask Eros a question of your own! Leave a question in the comments and he'll swing by for the next few days and give you the answer! At the end of the week I'll choose a random questioner to win a cool FORESIGHT prize pack! You have till Monday Aug. 30th to enter! Good luck, and happy reading!


*Shameless Plug*
FORESIGHT is now available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com!

http://www.amazon.com/Foresight-Gods-Fate-Book-I/dp/0984098070/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1279942497&sr=1-2

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Foresight/Sherry-D-Ficklin/e/9780984098071/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fallen by Lauren Kate


Take three of this book!  I know it's been reviewed twice already on our lovely site here, but I do need to put my two cents in as well.

In case you didn't catch it the last two times, but this story is about Luce (Lucinda) Price.  Being the new girl isn't easy, even if you are going to Sword and Cross reform school.  A piece of her past sent her to this school.  Where cell phones are banned and so is keeping a pair of scissors.  The teachers always seem to have missed their morning coffee and the cameras watch your every move.

But as soon as she sees Daniel Grigori, she has a gut feeling she knows him from somewhere, but he won't give her the time of day.  There's something strange about him.  Something strange that seems connected to the shadows she can see around her.

The only guy who seems to acknowledge her existence is Cam, the school's popular guy.  She doesn't like Cam, but she likes him enough to keep her attention.  Still, things are eerie around both Cam and Daniel.

The one thing I did not like at all about this book was how slow it moved.  It was incredibly dragging itself and nothing was really happening.  All I kept reading was how Luce liked Cam, then liked Daniel, then liked Cam, then liked Daniel.  It picked up about half way through but still, that, for me is way too long to grab my attention and keep it there.  We're reminded of the situation that got Luce to Sword and Cross...in my opinion, way too much.  The descriptions seemed to be the same (as in the same wording, no more intense or less intense wording) when shadows would appear and scare Luce. 

There really was no feeling of emotion put into this book.  It was too bland for me.  When the story finally took off, I enjoyed the plot.  I enjoy the concept of fallen angels, but really, I think Lauren Kate could have bumped up something more mysterious about Cam or about Daniel earlier on instead of Luce pining after both of them and being all whiny about it.

Luce is not my favorite character at all.  I hate whiny characters.  I really wish that Luce wasn't a bland character.  I did not "feel" her character like I do when I read Bella from Twilight or the characters from Shiver and Linger.  There was no vibe there for me.  Luce seems like she could be a really good character with some power in her own story, but I don't think the author gave her that chance to tell the story.  That's one thing I keep reading (as an aspiring author) that you need to listen to your characters and then everything will come to light and your story will be more relatable to your readers.  Nothing relatable happened to me with Luce.  I didn't feel her pain, I didn't feel her love for Daniel as strongly as Bella's love for Edward or for Jacob is.  I saw her pain, I saw her love.  I wish I could've felt it.  That I could've been in her shoes.

However, I pushed myself into finishing the book.  I finally got to a point where something revealed itself, but it ended up being the ending of the book!  Okay, so now we definitely have a defined villain and a defined hero/heroine.  We now have a story!  Why couldn't she have put in more closer to the beginning of the book?  Luce has dreams about Daniel.  Dreams that would tell her a lot about him, but if she is so connected to him, then why not show her past lives with him in a dream?  Why not have her discover things about certain characters like Arriane or Gabbe?  Not until the end do we see such things and begin the real story.  I think the whole beginning was just background and description.  But with the dodgy girls at school (Gabbe being one of them), but then becoming good friends with Luce, that didn't make sense at all.  Bringing Penn into the picture seemed to be the only normal thing that happened in the story, but she seemed to be a character that was brought in at the last and wasn't meant to be in the story at all.

With pushing myself to the end, I made it through and I may possibly pick up the next one to hopefully see it not move so slowly.  I hope that Luce is more developed as a character in the sequel and that Daniel isn't so elusive.

I will tell you my favorite character was Arriane.  She had this tone about her that really actually made her the most developed character in the book.  When I turned the page, I always died when I couldn't read a conversation between her and Luce.  I really like Arriane as a character and hope that Lauren Kate continues with her in the next book.

There is my two cents and I tried to be as nice and as thorough as possible.  So, I guess I can't say I didn't like this book, but I also can say that I didn't like it.  I'm in the middle on this and we'll see if the sequel can change my mind on that in the future.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blue Bloods: Keys to the Repository by Melissa De La Cruz


There are some reviews that contain spoilers...while this one, does not.  This book would be hard to review really if I did give away spoilers in this review.

And how can you spoil a companion book anyway?  Probably the easiest book for me to review because of the non-spoilerage (is that even a word?  Well, if it isn't, it is now.)

Okay, well as I began this book, I really didn't know what to expect from it.  I mean, it's Blue Bloods: Keys to the Repository.  You would think it was a new book for the series when in fact it is more like the encyclopedia that accompanies the first four books of the series by Melissa De La Cruz.  I loved that she did this part way through the series.  It will make the other stories afterwards make a lot more sense.

Like I said, this is a companion book.  Some authors have these to accompany their series, and the author, Melissa De La Cruz, cites one in this book.  Stephen King.  I didn't even know that Stephen King would do something like this for his books.  Then again, I don't read Stephen King because he is a brilliant author, but he also scares me to death if I did read his works.  Melissa begins the book with a letter to the reader which I found fabulous because it is really her telling the reader why she did this for the series.

Throughout the book you read more on the information that the Blue Blood coven in New York has on all the main characters and their family and what their previous lives were, whose blood they would suck on once in a while and who their bondmate would be.  I LOVED THIS!  It also gave a more defined description with simple, blunt, to the point descriptions of what the characters would look like.

Everything with this book is fabulous and actually helps me understand the author herself as well.  What's even better with this book is that she added some other character's point of views during certain scenes that happened through books 1-4 of the series that aren't in the actual books.  You get a better sense at who these characters are and what will or won't happen later on in the series.

And then she has the glossary in the back and definitions and descriptions of things that don't need a large explanation, but should be in there anyway.  If you read the Blue Bloods series, add this to your list to read after The Van Alen Legacy because then things will make more sense as you go on with Misguided Angel that will be released in October this year.  Happy Reading!

Oh and aren't the covers for this series AMAZING?  I think so.  They make my shelf look so mysterious and beautiful at the same time.


Hush, Hush



I read this book about 2-3 weeks ago and have been debating about writing a review. Not because this book is hugely popular or anything like that but because I don't like to be so negative about a writer's work as I know myself how hard it is to write, edit and get published. And then get a bad review (not that I think Becca Fitzpatrick will be reading this or anything lol) But this is a book review site. I read this book so I should review it. Here goes. . .

There will be spoilers.

I was looking forward to reading this book, especially after reading the blurb on the back cover. But I was very disappointed.

The writing was good, effortless to read and enjoyable. And I really have to praise Becca Fitzpatrick because she can write so well, that even though other aspects of the book weren't great and made me want to put this book down, she still kept me reading till the end.

I think Becca Fitzpatrick had the elements of a good plot but I just don't think it quite came together the way it was supposed to? It seemed quite thrown together, especially near the end. It felt like certain parts were focused on too much, and other sections were neglected and there was a lot of deus ex machina in between like e.g. touching the wing scars. I thought the plot involving Elliot was just. . . unnecessary? I think it could have been done differently, or in a more effective way. I can see what the author was trying to do, a sort of red herring but she just didn't make the characters likable or believable, or made me care. . . (harsh, i know)

It just didn't connect with me at all. None of the plot did to be honest. The horror mask, the rollar coaster. Events would happen, then it would turn out to be a hallucination, I'm a psychologist, I love hallucinations but it felt so passive - I got no sense that Nora felt she was losing her mind. The story didn't evoke a reaction in me. I just read on at the same pace. . . I'm the type of person who reads the end of the book before I read the start and I still get frightened for the characters (even though i know they are still alive at the end of the book!?!?!) but this didn't happen here (and I didn't read the end of this book first either so I should have been on the edge).

But the thing that really rubbed me the wrong with this book, which kind of made me shake my head was the relationship between Nora and Patch. Nora didn't exactly impress me much but I didn't mind her as a character and I got Patch as a character too.

Their relationship though was just. . . mental. He stalks her for a year. He inserts himself into her life. He wants to kill her. He tries to kill her. Then manipulates her mind so she thinks she's imagining things when he doesn't manage to kill her. Tells her he wants to kill her.

But this is all ok because they love each other!?!

Of course this has been conveyed in other YA books (I will not even go into the 'message' this sends to readers) but it's not handled well in this book. For the majority of the book Patch is trying to kill Nora to become human. Then BAM, he's protecting her and sacrificing humanity for her. He goes from psycho to protector in such a short time. It feels completely unbelievable. This sense of unbelievability is strengthened by Nora's passivity (psychologically) through the entire book. As a reader, you never get the sense that she has doubts. . . which is incredible. She sees that he is the one that's going to kill her, she knows he's the one that has been manipulating her mind and making attempts on her life, yet she's kiss him "more" "more" - It leaves me feeling dumbfounded.

That being said, as you can tell I didn't like the main characters in this book, but one of the big redeeming features of the book was Vee. I absolutely loved her. She cracked me up with her lines and bubbly personality (I love her diet idea). And I really can't praise Becca Fitzpatrick enough for creating such a wonderful character.

So overall, I just didn't like this book at all. I know lots of people out there will disagree so please leave comments - i don't mind a bit of debate :)

P.S. I noticed a post defending Hush Hush, discussing a negative review of this book pertaining to abusive undertones of the story etc. and how some reviews encourage boycotting etc.

Personally I don't believe in banning books. You, me and readers worldwide (and YAs) can decide if we want to read a book or not. My only worry concerning this books and others is the rose tinting of this sort of relationship as being acceptable.

(mod comments is on due to spammers, not due to me censoring people's comments :) - i'll post every relevant comment up)

Thanks for reading this review

Housekeeping. . .


Hi everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know I'm switching comment moderation on!

Spamming has just gone totally crazy in past 24 hours.

Apologies about this.

Also I've just finished up my hols. so got some reading done. YaY!

So I should have reviews for the following soon :)

Shiver,
The Poisin Study,
Hush, Hush,
Cleopatra's Daughter,
Catching Fire

Em

Waking The Witch



Kelley Armstrong has been one of those writer's I've been meaning to read for ages, - now I realise what a shame it is that I haven't read one of her books sooner. I was delighted to receive an ARC of her latest Otherworld series book 'Waking the Witch' for reviewing on this site.

The story of this book centres around a prominent character in the series called Savannah, a young witch whom readers met in Kelley's second book in this series and became a huge hit with fans. Although this is the eleventh book in the series, Kelley wrote in such a way that I instantly was able to pick up the storyline. Although I didn't know the ins and outs of everything in Kelley's universe, she was able to portray enough information so I wasn't lost. I was expecting to find reading this book difficult because I thought I would be confused and not be able to connect with the characters. But I found this to be such a fun read, and the characters are so vivid and real that I connected with them immediately. I have to applaud Kelley Armstrong for her ability to provide the necessary backstory in an effortless way which doesn't tax the reader, - she reminds readers of the series but also helps new readers find their footing.

I loved the character of Savannah and I can see why she has such a huge fanbase. She's a strong young woman who is independent, stubborn, brave but most importantly is flawed. Although Savannah is a witch, can kick ass and uses magic, you never feel the 'mary sue' factor. I don't know the background of her life in great detail yet through Kelley's writing I can see the reasons for her motivations, actions and feelings and never felt I 'had to' like the character.

The only real issue I had with this book was the ending,

*spoiler alert*

which does require (even though you get the gist) some previous reading of the series. I felt that the twist in this book would have impacted on me more if I had recognised the villain (who appeared in previous books). Overall though this book was a hugely enjoyable page turner - even for a newbie like myself! I think fans of the previous books won't be disappointed either and will probably enjoy this book even more (especially the relationship between Savannah and Adam which is handled so well)

Considering this is 11th in a series, and is still written so well with great characters and sharp wit - I know what I'm going to spending my wages on in the future. It's so nice to find a new author with eleven books (and another series too) to read :)

Hopefully another book will be appearing soon about Savannah (and Adam)

Hint hint Ms. Armstrong ;)
 
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