Mockingjay By Suzanne Collins

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Mockingjay is the third and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, and is again centered around Katniss Everdeen. This time around though, it is a bit darker and more sinister than the first two. I know what you are thinking, how could that even be possible when the first two were sinister enough? Well, after her rescue by the rebels of District 13, Katniss is convinced to become “the Mockingjay”: a symbol of the rebellion against the ruling Capitol. As part of a deal, she demands that the leader of District 13, President Coin, grant immunity to all of the victors of the Hunger Games. She also demands the right to kill President Snow herself. In a daring rescue, Peeta and others previously captured are rescued from the Capitol. But the Peeta we know and love, is now gone. His memories of Katniss have been altered to make him believe her to be the enemy, and the war against the Capitol a mistake. Katniss is given a new hi-tech bow and arrows, and trained in combat, and is soon on a mission with Gale, Finnick, Peeta, and a few others (including a film crew) to overtake the Capitol. Somewhere along the way the mission goes wrong, and the team loose a number of people, and must blend into the evacuating cities of the Capitol in order to get to the president’s mansion. Once outside, Katniss sees that there are children in front and deduces that they are a human guard for president snow. When a hovercraft drops bombs, the rebel medics, Including Prim, arrive to help the wounded, when another explosion goes off killing the remaining children and the medics. Katniss is taken to the hospital set up in the the newly overtaken mansion, and treated for her injuries due to the bombing. scared to the point of mental instability, Katniss wanders the mansion, hides, and avoids her duties (much like she did during her time in 13). She learns that during her time in the mansion, Snow has been on trial and found guilty, and is now awaiting his execution. But while she is exploring the mansion, she goes into the garden and finds Snow and he tells her that the idea of bombing the children was not his. This makes her start to doubt President Coin, and Gale. When she is supposed to execute Snow, she realizes that he was telling the truth and kills Coin instead. A riot ensues and Snow is found dead, having possibly choked on his own blood or been trampled in the crowd. Katniss is then taken back to district 12 along with Haymitch and Peeta.

Overall, I liked this book. I liked the whole trilogy. However, I didn’t like how Katniss seemed to need to be babied at every turn. Yes, she was a 17 year old girl, but she had been through hell in the first book, and going through something like that should have made her grow up a little more than she did. Prim didn’t go through the games, and she grew up more during the books than Katniss (rant over, I promise). But for all her faults, for all her immaturity, she did provide a likeable heroine. I honestly could have done without the love triangle, but I think that was because from the moment Peeta announced his love, I wanted them to be together. All the books had a slow start, but the third book was the slowest and was the most difficult to really get into. I don’t know why. But that’s how it was for me. would I recommend this book to anyone? I honestly don’t know. It’s one of those books one has to decide for themselves if they want to read it.

Oh, and before I forget. For some reason, I was having a difficult time placing the districts, and came across this image. map for me it gave a bit more perspective on the books.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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Catching fire is the second book in The Hunger Games Trilogy, and it starts where the first book leaves off. Again, like the first, the book was a bit slow to start off, but picked up momentum after the first few chapters. And once you hit the momentum mark, it’s a difficult book to put down. It all starts with a visit from President Snow where he informs Katniss that when she defied the Capitol, she created talk of rebellion in the districts. He threatens to kill her family and friends if she doesn’t continue with the lie that her and Peeta are in love and convince him of it beyond a shadow of a doubt. While on the victory tour of the districts and the capitol, Peeta proposes to Katniss, but this fails to convince President Snow of their love, but it has failed to stop the rebellion. Soon after Katniss meets 2 refugees from District 8 and they tell her that because of a theory that stock footage of 13 is played instead of new film, the residents have survived and gone underground. Soon the Quarter Quell is announced and victors from previous years will be competing again.

While in the games Katniss and Peeta build an allegiance with other tributes and destroy the arena, resulting in Katniss being temporarily paralyzed. When she wakes up, she is being transported to District 13 along with Finnick, Beetee, (fellow tributes) Gale, Plutarch Heavensbee and Haymitch. She learns that Peeta and two others have been captured and taken to the Capitol and there had been a plan between most of the contestants to break out of the arena. Gale soon informs her that thought he and her family got out of District 12, it has been destroyed.

Top Ten Tuesday

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Okay, this is a first, and I won’t promise I’ll do it every week, but A couple of other book blogs I follow do this as well, so here is TTT. This weeks was apparently a freebie (no set category), so here goes.

My topic is Teen/YA fiction I love and hate.

1. Meridian by Amber Kizer. Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian’s body explodes in pain. Before she can fully recover, she is uprooted to her great- Aunt’s house. Meridian is told that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos.

Why do I like this book? Well, To be honest, who doesn’t love a strong heroine? And let’s face it, thanks to twilight, there has been an almost embarrassing amount of teen vampire fiction, so this is a nice switch. I initially bout it because it was one of the few books left at borders, and had such a good discount on it, I though I may as well buy it. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the other book in the series or find out much more about it. All the Author’s web site has is the blurb about the first book.

2. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. The book is narrated from Rose’s point of view. Due to her mysterious bond with Lissa, she is able to slip into her mind, which enables her to read her mind and feelings. St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I know, I pretty much just said that I was burnt out on the teen vampire trend. This is one of very few exceptions. What can I tell you, I LOVED this series. I think I finished the first four books in two days. Then there was the excruciating wait for the last two.

3. House of Night series by P. C. and Kristen Cast. In Zoey Redbird’s world, vampyres have always existed. When she is 16, she is marked and taken to the house of night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire–that is, if she makes it through the Change.

I admit, when I bought this book, my only thought was, “Oh, that’s a pretty cover.” Then I got home, read the first three pages, and put it down for a year. Then I saw it sitting on my shelf, unread, and decided to give it another shot. I have mixed feelings about this one (so I’m not sure why it’s not farther down the list). The first three, maybe four books were good. Surprisingly gripping to tell the truth. But there are nine books in the series, and quite frankly, They need to stop. No more books in the series, no spin off books.I think it’s gone on too long.

4. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the story by now. 11 year old boy finds out he is a famous wizard, and is swept of to the wizard world where her learns magic and is destined to defeat the big, bad, evil wizard.

Okay, while the 7th book is not my favorite, I still love the series. What is not to love about it? Words cannot describe how much I love this book. I’m glad I got it as a gift for my 16th birthday. If I hadn’t, I would have never picked it up to read it.

4. Daughters of the Moon by Lynne Ewing. Vanessa, who has always had the special power to become invisible, discovers that she and her best friend Catty, a time-traveler, are goddesses of the moon who must fight together to overcome the evil Atrox.

This series is becoming more popular now, but a year ago, it was out of print due to poor sales. The first 6 books in the series are now being re-published in two three-in-one volumes. The series itself, like HoN, is good. But it goes on a little long for my taste. with 13 books in the series (seriously, more than 7 is too much sometimes), but then before going defunct, there were also Sons of the Dark. Initially a spin-off series dealing with four unrelated characters in the middle of the series. Basically, you read the first 11 Daughters books, switch to reading the first 2 Sons books, then back to book 12 of Daughters, then back to boos 3 and 4 of Sons, and finish with book 13 in Daughters. That really brings the whole series up to 17 books.

5. Series of Unfortunate events by Lemony Snicket. The series follows the adventures of three siblings: the Baudelaires and their downward spiral into unhappiness.

Am I being over dramatic? No. That is one of the things that made me want to read this book. The promise that there would not be a happy ending. Yeah, before I said that anymore than 7 books could be overkill, but not with this series. It really does go into the vein of Unfortunate things, due to the number 13 being unlucky. It also has other themes as well. For instance all books (except for the 13th) has 13 chapters, All the people the Baudelarires live with have a litterary name, The location of each book’s critical events is usually identified in the book’s title, the siblings all put their skills to use against Olaf in some way, When describing a word the reader may not be aware of, he typically says “a word which here means…”, sometimes with a humorous definition, or one which is only relevant to the events at hand. Olafs disguises, the list goes on and on.

6. The Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Barron. The tale of the legendary wizard Merlin’s youth.

Althought not originally A teen/YA series, it has been republished as such. Not only has it had that change made, it has also gone on to combine the book in The Great Tree of Avalon and the Merlin’s Dragon trilogies. Again a bit over kill with 11 books in the series, but it’s Merlin. There are so many books about Merlin, that they are easy to find and it does make it a bit easier to read if all the seperate series are combined.

7. Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. the novels focus on the adventures of a teenage boy named Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, as they struggle to overthrow an evil king named Galbatorix.

Now, I admit. I saw the movie before reading the book. and also true I haven’t read all the books in the series, but what I did read, I liked. The amount of books in the series is perfect. And the first book alone, if a bit long, is very well written. Especially when you remember that the first book was written and bublished when Paolini was 15 years old. Like I said, the first book is a bit long, but the chapters are short, so it’s a quick read.

8. Septimus Heap by Angie Sage. follows the adventures of Septimus Heap who, as a seventh son of a seventh son, has extraordinary magical powers. After he becomes an apprentice to the arch wizard he must study for seven years and a day until his apprenticeship ends.

Again, haven’t finished the series, but so far, so good. It’s not quite up to par with Harry Potter, but then again, I don’t think that’s what Sage is really looking for.

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. This is where the government, working in a central city called the Capitol, holds power. In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual event where one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol are selected to compete in a televised battle in which only one person can survive.

For any readers who saw my review for the first book, you know what I think of it. I am now on the second book in the trilogy, and I’m almost done. It has proved to be as gripping as the first, and just as exciting. I hope the third can live up to the first two.

10. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. It follows the coming-of-age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes against a backdrop of epic events. Again, saw the movie first, then bought the novels. And at first I was a little wary of reading them. Not because I was worried about them living up to the movie, but because, as someone who does not believe in God, I tend to steer clear of overly religious books. The few exceptions are of course Chronicles of Narnia, HoN, and this one. This book, essentially is about killing God. I’m not saying I liked it because that’s what the plot was, I truthfully wouldn’t have noticed if Pullman hadn’t said it himself. I liked it simply because it was beautifully written.

There you have it. My first TTT post. I will have more reviews soon, but it seems I’m reading the books faster than I can sit down and update this thing. Life, eh?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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When I first got wind of this book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I hadn’t been this excited about a new book since the 7th Harry Potter book was released. I can honestly say, it did not disappoint.

The book is about Le Cirque Des Rêves, a circus that is open only during the night, and how it comes to exist. It is literally a place of magic and wonder with a fortune teller, a contortionist, an illusionist, and everything in between, but it’s the illusionist that is the center of why the circus is brought to life. The Night Circus is the story of Celia and Marco, a girl and a boy chosen and trained by two different magicians to compete in a game of illusion and strength. The game commences when they are adults, and it is played in a dream-like circus that travels the world. One illusionist travels with the circus while the other plays from afar. The circus impacts more and more lives the longer it goes on, and not always in a good way. Alongside the interplay of Celia and Marco is the story of Bailey, a boy fascinated by the circus who will play an integral role as the two story lines merge.

Too often a book with split narratives lingers too long on one or another of the characters, to the point that the reader forgets the other tale being told. Not with “The Night Circus”. The prose is beautiful – not too verbose, not too simplistic. Morgenstern has the rare ability to describe her fantastical imaginings in a way that is easily accessible. Reading “The Night Circus”, I felt like I could see the contents of the tents. The Night Circus is, by far, the most aesthetically pleasing novel I have ever encountered. Every sentence is flooded with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches.

I loved this book so much, I couldn’t wait to see how it would end, but I was also sad when it did.

Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins

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This book was a surprise for me. Both unexpected and expected. Truth be told, it started a bit slow for my taste, but once I got into the flow and the plot, I found I couldn’t put it down.

The Capitol and its twelve outlying districts make up Panem, North America in the future, torn apart by war. The capitol controls the districts by holding the hunger games every year. Two kids from every district, a boy and a girl ranging in age from 12 to 18 are chosen to participate in the televised games.

When the main character, Katniss’s sister is chosen to participate, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Upon doing this she and her fellow district tribute, Peeta, are taken to the captol, cleaned up and trained for the games by their mentor Haymitch, a team of stylists, and Capitol chaperon Effie. Once in the games, Katniss must kill or be killed as she and Peeta must fight 22 others for the same goal to win. The prize is a house and wealth for the victor and his/her family.

The first few chapters of the book are what you expect, the author introducing us to the main character and explaining the background for the setting. So after leaning about Katniss and her family, it’s really no surprise that she sacrifices herself to save her sister. Her name has been put into the lottery so many times, whereas her sister’s has been put in once, so she thought her sister was safe.

Once Katniss and Peeta are taken to the capitol, the surprises start, and the games themselves present a roller-coaster ride of suspense. Ending with a very unexpected twist and a delightful ending.

While the descriptions of Panem are rich and the history of why the games exist is needed to understand Katniss’s decision, getting through the first few chapters can be a tedious task, but the over all result is well worth putting in the time and effort. Collins’s novel is a breath of fresh air among the Young Adult fiction world, and it proves to transcend to readers no matter what age they are.

Blue Bloods By Melissa de la Cruz

book cover This is my first actual review, so I hope I can get my thoughts out clearly.

The story starts out simple enough. The main Character Schuyler Van Alen is the shy somewhat loaner goth-ish girl who doesn’t fit in at her private school. When Schuyler turns fifteen she is invited to join “The Committee,” which is made up of a select group of New York’s oldest and most influential families, including Mimi and Jack Force. When Schuyler attends her first meeting, she finds out the Committee are vampires, fallen angels known as Blue Bloods.

All Blue Bloods have human familiars known as conduits, and Schuyler learns that hers is her best friend Oliver, and together they find out that The blue bloods live in Cycles, and that in this cycle they have an enemy to face that dates back to 1620 : Silver Bloods, Blue Bloods who have gone bad and are draining the life blood of other Blue Bloods.

The basic plot of the book sounds reasonably good, but once you delve deeper, it gets worse. Jack Force, Schuyler’s crush is a bondmate with his twin sister. Yep, you read that right, there are incestuous undertones in a Teen vampire romance novel. And as if that were not bad enough, did I mention that these vampires Glow. In. The. Dark.

I never thought I’d say this, but I think I may have found something worse than Twilight. That said, while I do actually have the rest of this series on my list, but that is for two reasons. I have the problem that once I start a book series, I have to finish it. No matter how bad the first book is. Second, I truly hope that the series becomes better as it progresses.

I doubt it will simply because of the thinly veiled attempt to either out do Stephanie Meyer’s stupidity or the blatant copy of her concept. And while I don’t in any way endorse going into an abusive relationship that Meyer made so prominent in her novel, at least the Cullens never tried to have sex with their siblings.