It's Monday! What are you reading? (2)

Monday, January 16, 2012

This is a weekly meme discussing books you just finished reading, are currently reading, or plan to read.

This week was not such a good week for reading. I had some personal things going on. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll get much read for the next two weeks because I'm working overnights to reset our toy department. Sleeping in the day is taking some adjustment. I'm also still trying to manage the fallout from the personal things, so we'll see.

Finished Reading:
Fracture by Megan Miranda
*Links go to my review*
Posts From the Week:
Top Ten Tuesday
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Amazon Best Books of 2011 Reading Challenge
Haven by Kristi Cook
Book Beginnings on Friday
Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke
Fracture by Megan Miranda
*Links go to my post*

Reviews to write:

Currently Reading:
The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right by Kieran Kramer
*Links go to Goodreads*

Reading Next:
A Slice of Murder by Chris Cavendar
Away by Teri Hall
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanna Fluke
Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson
Dark Lover by J R Ward
*Links go to Goodreads*

Review - Fracture by Megan Miranda

Fracture by Megan Miranda
*Debut Novel*
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication Date: 17 January 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary (sorta)
My Copy: received for review from NetGalley - kindle

Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine

-despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

I'm not sure where to start with this review. The book was intense, thought provoking, and enjoyable. I really loved Decker. You can tell from the very beginning just how much he cares for Delaney. The way he waits by her hospital bed and how upset he gets when the car spins out of control later. It's too bad that it took Delaney nearly dying for him to get it. I was annoyed with him and his fling with Tara. I was also annoyed that Delaney couldn't see how he felt when it seemed so clear. The part with Carson towards the middle of the book brought tears to my eyes.

Troy was extremely intimidating and more than a little scary. I didn't like him at all. I kept wanting to yell at the book and tell Delaney to stay away from him. He was very controlling and had a very twisted view of the world and his circumstances. His part in the ending of the book did not surprise me. It fit with what I knew of his character. I actually think that particular part of the ending was well done.

The book brings up questions about surviving near death experiences, humanity, and morality. What should you do if you know someone is dying? Should you save them or help them die peacefully? What if they could survive like Delaney? I have to love Delaney's question to the dying - If you had one day left to live, what would you do?

It seems like Miranda might have left the book open for a sequel. I think that would be ill-advised, but the ending is somewhat ambiguous. The synopsis hints at a dark supernatural cause for her predictions, but there is never anything like that in the book. She never explains why Delaney survived without any complications considering her brain scan. Whether Delaney's "gift" will continue or not is never really determined. The ending of the book feels misplaced somehow.

Book Beginning:

"The first time I died, I didn't see God."

Favorite Quote:

"Funny how everything can change in an instant. From death to life. From empty to full. From darkness to light. Or maybe I just wasn't looking. I hadn't known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer. And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely." - Kindle location 2504

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 4 hearts
Pacing: 4 hearts
Characters: 4 hearts
Character Relationships: 5 hearts
Ending: 3 hearts
Recommend: Yes

Read for these challenges:
YA Contemporary
YA Debut Author
100+ Books

Review - Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke
Series: Hannah Swenson #3
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: 1 March 2002
Genre: Mystery - Cozy, Amateur Sleuth
My Copy: bought - kindle

Preparations are underway for Lake Eden, Minnesota's annual Winter Carnival - and Hannah Swensen is set to bake up a storm at her popular shop, The Cookie Jar. Too bad the honour of creating the official Winter Carnival cake went to famous lifestyle maven Connie Mac - a half-baked idea, in Hannah's opinion. She suspects Connie Mac is a lot like the confections she whips up on her cable TV cooking show - sweet, light, and scrumptious-looking, but likely to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Hannah's suspicions are confirmed when Connie Mac's limo rolls into town. Turns out America's 'cooking sweetheart' is a bossy, bad-tempered, and downright domineering. Things finally boil over when Hannah arrives at The Cookie Jar to find the Winter Carnival cake burnt to a crisp - and Connie Mac lying dead in her pantry, struck down while eating one of Hannah's famous blueberry muffins.Next thing Hannah knows, the police have declared The Cookie Jar's kitchen crime scene off-limits. She's a baker without an oven - and the Carnival is right around the corner. Hannah's only alternative is to cook up a plan to save her business - by finding the killer herself.

This series is full of fun, light-hearted, fast reads. Hannah is such a likable main character. She's very witty and independent. She's sassy. Who doesn't like a sassy MC? Hannah's family is so relateable and entertaining. Through Hannah's intuition we discover that her sister, Andrea, is pregnant with her second child. I have to admit I'm intrigued to see how that plays out in the next few novels. I love how inquisitive and curious Hannah's niece Tracey is about things going on around her. She's very no-nonsense and intuitive about the adults. Andrea's husband Bill rounds out the family with his patience and down-to-earth attitude.

Hannah also has two competing suitors, loveable Norman and protective Mike. I definitely feel like Norman would be the better match for Hannah. Mike seems more like the type to want his significant other to stay home, take care of the kids, make dinner, etc. Norman seems like he would encourage Hannah to go after her dreams regardless of what they were. He definitely feels more supportive.

In this book we are also introduced to Janie, an old friend of Hannah and Andrea. Janie, along with Norman, are both suspects for murdering the cooking sweetheart. Despite being locked out of the Cookie Jar, Hannah still finds a way to make delicious sounding deserts in this installment. Recipes are included, and although I have yet to try any, they sound fantastic! Definitely going to have to try out the grilled cream cheese sandwich.

The murder mystery kept me reading through this book quickly. I hated Connie Mac as much as Hannah. It's no wonder there were so many suspects in this book. Throw in a ghost to haunt Sally's inn, and you're in for some fun and mystery. I'll admit the murderer did surprise me. I wasn't expecting who it was until close to the end of the book.

The pacing in the beginning is a bit slow as Fluke covers the background of the series leading up to the third book. It's a bit repetitive, and in some cases, taken word for word from previous books. The cat Moishe, while cute in the first two books, is also becoming repetitive and not nearly as cute.

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 4 hearts
Pacing: 3 hearts
Characters: 4 hearts
Character Relationships: 4 hearts
Recommend: Yes

Read for these challenges:
Crusin' Thru The Cozies
100+ Books

Book Beginnings on Friday (3)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday is a weekly meme that features the first line (or two) out of books you are currently reading.

Fracture by Megan Miranda

The first time I died, I didn't see God. No light at the end of the tunnel. No haloed angels. No dead grandparents.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

This city used to be something once.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

I am dead, but it's not so bad. I've learned to live with it.

Review - Haven by Kristi Cook

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Haven by Kristi Cook
Series: Haven #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 22 February 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal
My Copy: library - hardback

Violet McKenna isn’t a normal girl with normal teenage issues; she has more to contend with than most people could handle. Violet thought she was just crazy when she had a vivid vision of her dad’s murder. Her life started falling apart when her premonition came true. She’s had flashes of other events too. The problem was nobody believed her until she found a new school: Winterhaven.

At Winterhaven, Violet finally feels like she belongs. She quickly finds a close group friends and discovers that they too have psychic ‘gifts’—as do all the students at Winterhaven. But as soon as she feels settled she discovers the most intriguing and alluring boy she has ever met, and things quickly go awry. As the attraction between them grows, intense visions of the boy’s death start to haunt her. In her premonitions the secret he is unwilling to share begins to reveal itself. And to Violet's horror, she learns that their destinies are intertwined in a critical—and deadly—way.

I really enjoyed this story even though it wasn't really what I thought it was about. I think the synopsis is a little misleading. I liked that Violet was a fencer. I'm not really sure why that aspect stuck out for me, because I don't know anything about fencing, but I liked it. Maybe because it wasn't a sport most YA characters take up. I loved Violet's friends. Unlike a lot of YA novels, Violet hangs out with her friends throughout the story even though she's all gooey over Aidan. Cece and Sophie were my favorites, and I totally wanted them to be my friends too. It was interesting to have so many characters with special talents. How cool would it be to have some of them? Astral projection, telepathy, telekinetic abilities, empath, being able to tell if someone was injured?! I have to admit that the one I'd want the least would be Violet's ability to see the future, particularly since it's always bad stuff. I can't imagine seeing horrible things happening to people I loved on a regular basis.

I've probably read too many paranormal books because I knew very early on what Aidan was. So that aspect of the mystery was blown. However, I did wonder how they were connected, although his and Violet's relationship was all over the place. I honestly don't have much hope for them to stay together after the big connection is revealed because their relationship didn't really seem to have much of a foundation. Another downside to this story was the similarity to two other well known series. There were moments where I was just like "Eh, okay, I've heard this before." The ending seems a little rushed too. The author also includes a character who isn't really important to the story, Allison. There is only one place where she very briefly alludes to the ending, but it's so quickly passed over and never explained that it seems like it might as well have not been included.

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 3 hearts
Pacing: 3 hearts
Characters: 4 hearts
Character Relationships: 4 hearts
Recommend: Yes

Read for these challenges:
YA Literature
100+ Books

Amazon Best Books of 2011 - Reviews Link Up Post

Please link to your reviews for the challenge in a comment below. Please include the following: blog name - book title and author - link. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'm sure we'd all love to see what you think of these books, so please share your links for all reviews for the challenge. Thank you for participating!

2012 Amazon Best Books of 2011 Reading Challenge

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1 January 2012 - 31 December 2012

I saw this challenge hosted last year. I cannot remember who hosted it though. I don't see anyone hosting it this year, so I thought I'd try it. If someone is aware of it being hosted already, then let me know.


* Read books from Amazon's Best Books of 2011 list chosen by their editors. This challenges you to read a variety of genres. I've listed the books below, but you can also access it through Amazon HERE.


Novice - 5 books
Competent - 10 books
Proficient - 15 books
Expert - 20+ books


1) Challenge will run from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012.
2) I would recommend listing the books ahead of time, but this is not required. If you list your books ahead of time, then you are free to change them later.
3) Choose a level. You can move up levels anytime, but you cannot move down.
4) All book formats are accepted.
5) Challenge can crossover to other challenges.
6) Books must be read between the challenge dates.
7) You do not need a blog to join. You can use Goodreads, Amazon, or something similar to share your reviews and books read.
8) You can join anytime between now and 30 November 2012.
9) Add the link to your challenge post in Mr. Linky below.
10) Also, add your review links to the following post: Challenge Reviews Link Up

The Books:

1) The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
2) IQ84 by Haruki Murakami
3) What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes
4) In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
5) The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
6) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
7) Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson
8) Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
9) Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
10) The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
11) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
12) Bossypants by Tina Fey
13) Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
14) We the Animals by Justin Torres
15) Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
16) The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
17) The Greater Journey by David McCullough
18) Lost Memory of Skin by Russel Banks
19) Maphead by Ken Jennings
20) The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
21) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
22) A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor
23) Habibi by Craig Thompson
24) Malcolm X by Manning Marable
25) The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
26) Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
27) Townie by Andre Dubus III
28) The Oxford Companion to Beer by Horst Dornbusch
29) Catherine the Great by Robert K Massie
30) West of Here by Jonathan Evison
31) The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
32) The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
33) The Submission by Amy Waldman
34) Willpower by Roy F Baumeister
35) Just My Type by Simon Garfield
36) The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
37) Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
38) Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
39) The Magician King by Lev Grossman
40) The Information by James Gleick
41) Alexander McQueen by Andrew Bolton
42) The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
43) The Great Sea by David Abulafia
44) Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
45) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
46) Radioactivity by Marjorie Caroline Malley
47) Orientation by Daniel Orozco
48) Those Guys Have All the Fun by James A Miller
49) My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe
50) Jacqueline Kennedy by Caroline Kennedy
51) Reamde by Neal Stephenson
52) Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
53) The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
54) Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
55) Cain by Jose Saramago
56) Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
57) Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
58) Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
59) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
60) Carry Yourself Back to Me by Deborah Reed
61) The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
62) 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
63) Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
64) Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes
65) In the Plex by Steven Levy
66) Galore by Michael Crummey
67) The Longest War by Peter L Bergen
68) Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
69) The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
70) River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
71) Incognito by David Eagleman
72) Onward by Howard Schultz
73) The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
74) The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
75) The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
76) Blue Nights by Joan Didion
77) The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
78) A Dance With Dragons by George R R Martin
79) Endgame by Frank Brady
80) Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku
81) Fire Season by Philip Connors
82) Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman
83) The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
84) Then Again by Diane Keaton
85) Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke
86) State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
87) Embassytown by China Mieville
88) I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle
89) The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
90) Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
91) This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
92) The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene
93) 11/22/63 by Stephen King
94) Confidence Men by Ron Suskind
95) Sister by Rosamund Lupton
96) Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
97) The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
98) Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan
99) The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry by Rita Dove
100) Delirium by Lauren Oliver

My goal is the Competent Level.
My Tentative List:
1) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
3) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
5) The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
6) In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
7) The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
8) 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
9) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
10) Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Other Possibles:
Reamde by Neal Stephenson
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor

Review - But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace (Mandy Hubbard)
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: 8 May 2011
Genre: YA Contemporary
My Copy: library - paperback

Tonight was so much worse than anything before it. Tonight he didn't stop after the first slap.

At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved — and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything — and everyone — in its path.

This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong.

This is one of those books where I am having a hard time determining if I liked it or not. The story covers exactly one year of a relationship between Ann and Connor. It starts with a piece from the last day, August 30, and then works its way to the beginning of the relationship backwards while interspersing pieces of the last day. The book ends with the first day they meet. I'll be honest, I didn't read the book in the order it was written. I don't mind reading books knowing part of the ending first or in reverse chronological order, but with this book, I wanted to know all of the last day at once. So, first I went through and read all of the chapters that were dated August 30 One Year, then went back and read the rest from the front cover to the back.

The author wanted the reader to understand what it is like in an abusive relationship where the victim often doesn't see what is going on until it's too late. I think she does this well with the reverse order. The highs and lows of being in the relationship are wonderfully done. The uncertainty about how to react or what will set someone off. The devotion of a first love in which you think you can fix all the problems. Having to stay quiet and ride out the anger of the abuser. The abuser can be extremely sweet at times. These things in the book can easily be understood by the reader. Also, Ann seems like an intelligent girl. People always assume that abuse won't happen to them or that the victim must be stupid. But I Love Him shows that anyone can become a part of a bad relationship. Connor doesn't seem like he's a necessarily bad kid either. You can almost sympathize with him at points without condoning his behavior towards Ann.

I found very few things I disliked about the book. It is a little difficult to follow at times. The minor characters relationship to Ann is not really ever explained until later in the book. I felt like even though it makes sense that they wouldn't be in the story line much at the beginning (since it was a controlling/abusive relationship and often you avoid friends and family when you're the victim) that they should have been included more at the end/beginning of relationship. I felt that the ending could have been stronger. Then again, I did read the entire last day first, so I missed one of the major points of the last day when I read it. I can't really explain more than that without giving away the ending.

Book Beginning:
"I lie in pieces on the floor."

Rating Breakdown:
Pacing: 4 stars
Plot: 5 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Character relationships: 4 stars
Recommend: Yes

Read for these challenges:
YA Literature
100+ Books

Top Ten Tuesday (6)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book (debut authors, authors who seem to have taken a hiatus, OR for those who read classics authors you wish would have written another book before they passed)

I could only think of six, so here they are:

Julie Garwood - I would really like her to write another historical romance. I loved all of her books in this genre, but I cannot seem to get into her contemporary stories.

Margaret Atwood - Where is book three to the MaddAddam Trilogy?!

Max Brooks - It's been awhile since his last book. He's had a few stories in anthologies, but I'd like to read another book that is just his.

J K Rowling - Um...she created Harry Potter. Of course I want a new book from her!

Rachel Hawthorne - I love the Dark Guardian series, and I want to read some more by her.

Edgar Allen Poe - He has such twisted stories and poems. I'd love to read more and also see how they would play out in today's society.

Review - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games #3
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 24 August 2010
Genre: YA Dystopian
My Copy: bought - kindle

Young Katniss Everdeen has survived the dreaded Hunger Games not once, but twice, but even now she can find no relief. In fact, the dangers seem to be escalating: President Snow has declared an all-out war on Katniss, her family, her friends, and all the oppressed people of District 12. The thrill-packed final installment of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy will keep young hearts pounding.

This book was almost torturous to read after finishing Catching Fire. Katniss turns into a weepy girl who seems to have no backbone unless she's being shot at. After really beginning to like her in the second book, I found myself annoyed with her, but for different reasons than in the first book. I thought her harsh in The Hunger Games and brave in Catching Fire, but for most of Mockingjay I just wanted to throttle her. Rather than Katniss's character growing, she backpedals fast. And poor Peeta. I just wanted to squeeze him and tell him it would be okay. I will say I didn't feel like the love triangle was really strong. The synopses on the book covers make you think that it's a prominent aspect, but I didn't think it really was that big of a choice personally.

Besides my issue with Katniss, I had some other serious problems with the book. I kind of felt like Collins had no idea what to do with the story she built up in the first and second books. Most of the main characters the reader wants to hear about are drugged up anytime they feel depressed, which with a war going on and loved ones held captive, is most of the time. I can't say the ending surprised me much, although Katniss didn't seem like a 17 year old girl by the end of the book. I understand why the characters were as hardened as they were in this book, and in a way, they were written very well, but I just couldn't connect with Katniss again. The third book seemed much closer to an adult novel than a young adult one with many of the themes regarding war and post-traumatic stress. It's a very dark story with very little hope.

Overall, I liked the story and to a certain extent I understand why the series ending played out the way it did. I didn't love it, and I feel that this story had so much potential, but it just failed to rise to it.

Rating breakdown:
Plot: 2 hearts
Pacing: 2 hearts
Characters: 2 hearts
Character relationships: 2 hearts
Recommend: Only if you've already started the series. You should read it to at least find out how it ends, but just be prepared. There are plenty of people who do like it, so maybe you will too.

Read for these challenges:
YA Literature
100+ Books

It's Monday! What are you reading? (1)

This is a weekly meme discussing books you just finished reading, are currently reading, or plan to read.

I had a very successful week of reading. Since I graduated from college a couple weeks ago, I have all this free reading time that I used to need for textbooks. I'm loving it!

Finished Reading:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace - review on Wednesday
Haven by Kristi Cook - review on Thursday
Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke - review on Friday

*Links go to my review*

Reviews to write:
Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke

Currently Reading:
The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes
Fracture by Megan Miranda
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

*Links go to Goodreads*

Reading Next:
A Slice of Murder by Chris Cavendar
Away by Teri Hall
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanna Fluke
Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson
Dark Lover by J R Ward

*Links go to Goodreads*

Review - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Friday, January 6, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games #2
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 1 September 2009
Genre: YA Dystopian
My Copy: bought - kindle

Every year in Panem, the dystopic nation that exists where the U.S. used to be, the Capitol holds a televised tournament in which two teen "tributes" from each of the surrounding districts fight a gruesome battle to the death. In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the tributes from impoverished District Twelve, thwarted the Gamemakers, forcing them to let both teens survive. In this rabidly anticipated sequel, Katniss, again the narrator, returns home to find herself more the center of attention than ever. The sinister President Snow surprises her with a visit, and Katniss’s fear when Snow meets with her alone is both palpable and justified. Catching Fire is divided into three parts: Katniss and Peeta’s mandatory Victory Tour through the districts, preparations for the 75th Annual Hunger Games, and a truncated version of the Games themselves. Slower paced than its predecessor, this sequel explores the nation of Panem: its power structure, rumors of a secret district, and a spreading rebellion, ignited by Katniss and Peeta’s subversive victory. Katniss also deepens as a character. Though initially bewildered by the attention paid to her, she comes almost to embrace her status as the rebels’ symbolic leader. Though more of the story takes place outside the arena than within, this sequel has enough action to please Hunger Games fans and leaves enough questions tantalizingly unanswered for readers to be desperate for the next installment.
(Summary from School Library Journal)

As soon as I finished The Hunger Games, I began to read the sequel. I absolutely loved this book in the series. Katniss proves her worth as a main character. She is witty, intelligent, brave, and compassionate. Since the book synopsis pushes the idea of a love triangle, it was nice to see Gale finally become a real love interest as well as Katniss bonding with Peeta. I have to admit the decision between the two was the most torturous part of the book for me. I really liked both Gale and Peeta in this story. They each bring their own admirable traits in, making it difficult to pick just one. The Hunger Games twist is interesting, although not unexpected. We are introduced to more of the past winners, and I adore Finnick.

I don't have much more to say about this book. I've already finished Mockingjay as I write this, so it's difficult to write this review without giving away too much. I can say that this was my favorite in the series.

Rating breakdown:
Plot: 5 hearts
Pacing: 4 hearts
Characters: 5 hearts
Character relationships: 5 hearts
Recommend: Yes!

Read for these challenges:
YA Literature
100+ Books

Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Series: Hunger Games #1
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 14 September 2008
Genre: YA Dystopian
My Copy: bought - paperback

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 Primrose, 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 will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

My first book of the new year! I finally got around to reading this. I got the book for free on my Kindle when Catching Fire came out because it sounded like a book I would enjoy, and it was free for a few days around the release of the second book. I put off reading it, then it became such a huge deal in the book blogging world. Then I avoided reading it because I didn't want to be disappointed. When I was considering what my first read of the year was, I noticed my paperback copy sitting on the top shelf of the bookcase. What a perfect read to start with; some post-apocalyptic dystopian for 2012. I really liked the book. I found the writing style enjoyable. Collins kept me reading the book well into the morning because I just had to finish it. I loved Peeta, Gale, and Rue; however, I found Katniss hard to empathize with. She was a bit of a harsh character. Don't get me wrong, that totally fits within the book and the society, but I just could not make myself fully support her. I sort of waiver between 4 and 5 stars for this book mostly because of Katniss. Perhaps it was also the fact that I instantly liked Peeta, so I felt bad for his own personal torture in the book. I can appreciate that she didn't fall head over heels in love with Peeta as it happens in many YA books.

I think it is different to read it knowing as much as I did going into it. It's supposed to have a lot of suspense, but some of that was ruined by reading it this late in the game so to speak. I already knew it was a trilogy, so at least Katniss had to survive. I knew there would be a love triangle, so Peeta had to survive. I found it was easy to imagine the games themselves. The writing was done, so that I could visualize the battles and challenges easy enough. I can see how this would make for a great movie if done well. I had several favorite quotes, but I can't really share them without giving away possible spoilers!

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 5 hearts
Pacing: 5 hearts
Characters: 4 hearts
Character Relationships: 4 hearts
Recommend: Yes!

Read for these 2012 challenges:
Book Blogger Recommendation
YA Literature
TBR Pile
100+ Books