Reviewed by Laney Belle on November 1, 2010
Mockingjay, the third installment of the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins was an action-packed ride that kept me on the edge of my seat, but did not completely satiate my needs. Let me explain…after reading Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I was anxious to know what was going to happen to my beloved Katniss and Peeta! I lived in anticipation while waiting for this final book, and was so excited to get my hands on it in August! Yet, after reading it I didn’t feel that this ‘love story’ was worth all of my devoted enthusiasm!
Mockingjay picks up where Catching Fire leaves off, which is right after the daring rescue of Katniss by the rebels. Katniss has been taken to District 13 to recoup, and Peeta has been taken prisoner by President Snow. Katniss is of course devastated, angry, and starts to feel indifferent towards the war since she thinks that Peeta is most likely dead because of her. Her feelings of ‘indifference’ soon change after a televised segment from the Capitol featuring Peeta himself, proving he was in fact alive! She reluctantly decides to reengage herself in the war by becoming “the Mockingjay”, a symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol. Sounds exciting huh? I must say, Suzanne Collins definitely delivered a clear and detailed storyline filled with intense action and drama.
However, even with the ongoing excitement of the story, my biggest qualm was the character development. For reasons that are well explained in the storyline, our usually charming and charismatic Peeta was not himself. He was angry, viscous, uncaring towards Katniss and murderous at times. I felt like I had been introduced to a new character, rather than reunited with a longtime friend. Then there was Katniss, who was more like a shadow of her former self for most of the book. I was slightly perplexed that this strong, courageous young woman could be so easily broken and almost lethargic after her rescue from the ring. It just doesn’t seem in her character to give up so easily. Gail was just about the only redeeming character in the story, as his role of the warrior and protector of Katniss never faltered. He definitely proved himself during this book.
The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gail remained in existence; however the romanticism between the characters definitely lacked the luster that embodied the first two books. I mean DAYUM, couldn’t we get ONE PASSIONATE MAKE OUT SESSION?! Is that too much to ask Suzanne?! Still, at the end of the book Katniss finally makes her choice between Peeta and Gail, giving us readers the closure we’ve been waiting for.
Overall, the book was extremely fast paced and entertaining. If this book were a stand-alone, I would probably rate it at a 3.5. However, given the complexity of the series and my love for the storyline, I’m going to give it 4 pumps. I’m taking one pump away for the missing romanticism and pitiful character development of “Panem’s Sweethearts”.
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on April 13, 2010
I think someone copied off of Stephenie Meyer’s paper! Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Stolarz should’ve been called Twilight: The Lame Edition. Wanna know why? The storyline is almost exactly the same as Meyer’s Twilight except Stolarz created the most boring and ludicrous characters to star in her book. Come along with me as we journey to Déjà vu town…
To begin, the main character, 16-year old Camelia almost gets hit by a car. And where does she almost get hit by a car? In the parking lot at her school! Some random hottie on a motorcycle comes to Camelia’s rescue by pushing her out of the way. So, after “Evel Knievel” saves Camelia from getting hit by yet another horrible teen driver, he speeds away on his bike without even telling her his name. All she remembers is a scar on his arm that is cool to the touch. Ooh… yawn.
So, who was the mysterious hero? He’s the new boy in town named Ben and he’s supposedly gorgeous. I could see that if you like uninteresting characters with freakish scars. He also has a secretive past that everyone at the school questions. The students hear rumors that suggest he killed his girlfriend and had to move to get away from all the drama surrounding her death. Even so, when Camelia recognizes him at school, she is eager to thank him for saving her life. But he claims that he wasn’t her hero. Really?? That’s unusual. Maybe he fell off his motorcycle and hit his head the day before and forgot! Oh, but it gets better…. Ben and Camelia are lab partners in CHEMISTRY! Ha-Ha! Are you reading this Stephenie?? Surely there are other classes in high school where students pair up and work together, right?!
Anyway, as time goes on, Camelia learns that she has a secret admirer of sorts. This character plays an active role in the book because there are chapters specifically devoted to his side of the story. This is a unique aspect for Stolarz’s book – and it at least breaks up the dull interactions between Camelia and her annoying friends, Kimmie and Wes. So, not only does Camelia have a very strange and seemingly dangerous boy toy to contend with, but she has a stalker who is frustrated by all of the attention she’s giving to Ben. However, Ben is hiding an even bigger secret from Camelia. Readers will likely consider this revelation unoriginal and quite similar to something Edward explains to Bella in Twilight.
Deadly Little Secret is a young adult book full of another author’s ideas. It has an unexciting storyline with underdeveloped and childish characters. Moreover, seasoned readers will immediately recognize who Camelia’s stalker is. This book gets 1 1/2 pumps from me. I’m taking away 1 pump for each of the three Twilight déjà vu moments mentioned above, and another half away for Ben only being somewhat attractive. Trust me Vixens, this book is not worthy of your precious time.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on April 12, 2010
Wisty! Whit! New Order! Magic! Ahhh, Fire! Prison! Dead girlfriend! Escape! Look a puppy! A.D.D. anyone??? I seriously think that James Patterson and/or Gabrielle Charbonnet are card-carrying members of A.D.D. Anonymous because that’s what reading their sorcery-slash-dystopia novel, Witch & Wizard was like with its 300 pages and about 100-ish chapters! In it, a smart aleck-y 15 year old girl, Wisty Allgood, and her older brother, Whit, are fugitives of the New Order, a newly elected but suppressive political regime that is absolutely con-witch/wizardry. This administration completely changes the world while everyone is asleep one night. …seriously…
Wisty and Whit are unaware of their supernatural abilities until the New Order comes to arrest them for it and Wisty burst into flames. Neat trick, huh? They are eventually overcome and thrown into prison where they have time to explore their new abilities. It also becomes evident during this time that the leader of the New Order holds a personal vendetta against the Allgood family as a whole. Despite the efforts of their “Nurse Ratched” type guards, they escape with the help of Whit’s dead girlfriend (yes, I said dead…she’s a ghost). While attempting to find & save their parents, they encounter group of teenage revolutionaries who are surviving in a holocaust type world. They believe the bewitched duo to be mystical entities and also prophets who will use their power to restore harmony and overcome the New Order.
The cast of characters are potentially colorful but are not completely developed. Examples of the more robust players include the evil “The One Who Is The One” that leads the New Order who has a foreboding and all knowing persona. And then there is Byron, a former schoolmate who is eventually turned into a weasel for witnessing the powers of the siblings and threatening to nark them out. There is also Whit’s dead girlfriend’s ghost, Celia, who helps them escape prison where they are made to run through a hallway lined with hell hounds for their supper. Finally! A diet that works!
The super short, 3 – 4 page chapters and constant switching between Wisty’s and Whit’s perspectives depicted blinky-type thoughts that never really amount to anything substantial. It was like watching a hyper 8 year old bounce around Santa’s workshop. The end result is a lack of depth that keeps the reader from creating a clear picture of the settings. This did, however, allow for an action-packed read with few lulls in the storyline.
So, while this was a suspenseful and vigorous tale, my mature hottie side was left completely ignored and I felt like I had whiplash from the rapid fire micro-chapters switching between thoughts at lightning speed. I also feel that the authors were writing to a strictly middle school aged audience. I would seriously doubt that our fantastically sexy fans could be intellectually (or otherwise, OWW) stimulated by this venture! 3 pumps outta 5, says The Vixen That Reviews!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on March 24, 2010
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, by Rick Roirdon is a totally fun and amazing read! It’s no wonder The Lightening Thief (first book in series) was so successful on the big screen! I’ll confess that these chronicles were intended for a younger audience, which was evident in the cheesy punch lines of a few of the jokes. However, the plot, action-packed battle scenes, and budding romance will definitely keep most adults enticed throughout the series. If you liked the Harry Potter books, or even Cirque De Freak, then you will definitely enjoy the adventures of Percy Jackson.
The story revolves around Greek mythology; creatively bringing ancient Gods and monsters to life in a modern day setting—Manhattan to be exact. Percy Jackson, a dyslexic and highly strung teenager, constantly finds himself in trouble and kicked out of every school he attends. As strange things start happening around him, he discovers that his dyslexia is actually caused by his brain being hardwired for Greek, and his hotheadedness is actually because, well, he’s a demi-god—the son of Poseidon! This discovery leads Percy to Camp Half-Blood, where he takes refuge and trains with other children of the Greek gods. The idea here is that Greek gods have affairs with mortals, and the resulting children are demi-gods. Unfortunately for the readers, there aren’t any details on this god-like hanky-panky! Pity!
Roirdon definitely has a knack for capturing the cynicism and blatant mockery that IS the American teenager. I found this aspect very humorous and quite nostalgic if I’m being honest. Roirdon cleverly weaves the tales of Medusa, the Cyclops, and the Hydra (among many others) into some extremely intense battle scenes. His descriptions of these beasts provide readers with incredible mental images, leaving almost nothing left to imagine. You’ll find this very useful if your knowledge of Greek mythology is a little rusty, like mine.
Aside from Percy, there are many unique and endearing characters that readers will enjoy getting to know. Annabeth, daughter of Athena, is smart, crafty, and strong! She is also the girl of Percy’s dreams, and would make a great role model for young women today. Tyson is an adorably stupid Cyclops with bravado and charm. Grover is a funny young Satyr (half goat, half human) who provides the comedic relief and is also Percy’s best friend. You will fall in love with these characters and witness their struggles with monsters, family, and love. It’s a ‘save the world’ kind of story with a promising romance mixed in.
Overall, I truly loved this series and was sad to see it end. I look forward to seeing more of Percy Jackson on the big screen though, as well as reading more of Roirdon’s work. I give Percy Jackson and the Olympians a 5 outta 5 Pumps, and would recommend this series to any Vixen looking for an extraordinary adventure filled with fantasy, fun and good ol’ fashion principles…well minus the whole affairs with Greek gods part! OOWWW!!!!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on January 29, 2010
The first sign of a good book is finding yourself literally breathless during the climaxes. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, is definitely that kind of book. It’s wild, creative, totally crazy at times, and had me constantly solving puzzles. For the most part, I couldn’t read fast enough to get through the scenes; I was in a rush to find out what happens next. I should warn you that after reading The Maze Runner, you’ll find yourself in desperate need for the sequel…which isn’t scheduled to come out till October 2010. COME ON JAMES!!! WRITE FASTER!
The book begins when Thomas wakes up in an enclosed lift of sorts. He doesn’t know where he is, how he got there, or even what his last name is. When the lift stops and the door opens, he enters into a place referred to as the glade…and he’s not alone. Standing before him he sees about 40 other boys, from the ages of 8 to 18 just waiting for him. At first glance, the glade seems almost serene, set in a field with big trees and a farmhouse to boot. However, there are 4 humungous doors on either side of the glade that lead out to a giant maze. Every night, at the same time, the doors close on their own, locking the boys inside the glade and keeping the evils that roam the maze at night out! Though, Thomas has no memory of life before the glade, this place somehow feels familiar to him. He feels the need to explore the maze with the other ‘Runners’ (those who are charged with exploring the Maze), but finding a way out of this strange reality proves much more difficult then he ever dreamed!
I have to say, I was definitely surprised at how much I liked the author’s writing style. No offense to GUYS…it’s just that up until now, I hadn’t been very lucky in finding male authors that wrote with the kind of detail and organization that I like in a book. James Dashner did a great job keeping the story focused, and the descriptions vivid.
If there was one thing James could have done better, it would have been the character development. I realize the boys didn’t have memories to reflect on, but more could have been done to help the reader get to know the characters. Unfortunately, I didn’t develop a real attachment to any character in particular. This was a bummer for me, since my favorite aspect of reading is finding new ‘friends’. I know, I’m a huge dork!
Overall, The Maze Runner was an exciting book, and the ending was a total bombshell. The non-stop thriller aspect was a high point for me, and I can’t wait to see what James comes up with for the sequel. I give this book a 4 outta 5 pumps, taking one away for the disappointing character development.
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on January 19, 2010
Welcome to adolescence, boys and girls. Your hormones will go berserk, your body will change in ways you never thought possible and you will hate your parents. One silver lining in all of this is that these years are very short and will be forever cherished. For Connor, Risa, and Lev, being a teenager means something entirely different than what you and I experienced growing up. They are unwinds who are about to be chopped into little pieces and used for spare parts.
Unwind by Neal Shusterman takes place in a time not too distant from ours. The country experienced the Second Civil War called the “Heartland War”; this battle fought both sides of the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice argument. Many lives were lost as a result of this war, yet a consensus was reached in the form of the Bill of Life being added to the Constitution. This bill states that life begins at conception and is protected by law until the child reaches the age of thirteen. At that point, parents can send their teens to Harvest Camp where they technically remain alive, but are preserved in a divided state. Later, their body parts will be used to supplement other individuals who may need heart surgery, be an amputee, or just want a new pair of shiny blue eyes. The only problem is the original owner doesn’t completely disappear….
The main characters of Unwind are quite captivating and dynamic. Connor is the hot-headed, sexy, bad boy who runs away before his parents can have him taken to Harvest Camp to be destroyed. Risa is a ward of the state that is caught in a cross-fire of budget cuts, and unfortunately doesn’t have enough talent or skill worth salvaging. And then there’s innocent Lev, who just happened to be the 10th child in a very religious family who is unwinding him as a tithe to God. These three characters cross paths in a way I never would’ve predicted, and they form a bond that cannot be unwound.
Shusterman’s novel is extremely action packed and filled with possibilities that will completely shock readers. I was drawn into the plot within the first couple of pages and was challenged by some of the events that occurred throughout the story. Personally, I struggled quite a bit with the disposable attitudes and perspectives the adult characters offered. Yet, I found myself rooting for Connor, Risa, and Lev, and didn’t give up hope on a happy ending.
For being a young adult book, Unwind surprised me because it explored areas of our world that are rather adult-oriented. I appreciated this aspect immensely; however, some of the imagery became very emotionally overwhelming for me. I’m giving Unwind 3 ½ out of 5 pumps. I’m taking one away for the author’s choppy writing style that I had difficulty connecting with at times, and I’m taking a half of a pump away for the subject matter that will haunt me for many months, and maybe years, to come.
Reviewed by Piper Grey on November 12, 2009
Who saw the trailer for Cirque du Freak: The Vampires Assistant during last summer’s COMIC-CON? I was so impressed with the cast list and the sneak-peeks that I just had to read the book to bide my time until the film was released. And I was not disappointed … too badly.
The Vampires Assistant by Darren Shan is the second book in this series so I supposed you should get a quick synopsis of the first book, right? In Cirque du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan, Darren and his friend, Steve, visit a traveling freak show. Eventually, Darren finds himself in a position where he must sacrifice his mortality in order to save the life of his friend. To do this successfully, Darren must become a half vampire, fake his own death, and be buried alive. HEELLL NO! When he emerges he realizes the extent of what his life has become and how he must count on his guardian, Mr. Crepsley, a full-vampire, as his only companion and teacher for the remainder of his existence. He is totally devastated, and completely resents the older, wiser vamp for causing his “condition”.
In the The Vampires Assistant, Darren has a lot to learn about what he has become and how to live with it. Unfortunately, Mr. Crepsley is the only one able to teach him. After a short stint on the road and away from the Freak show, they realize that “home is where the heart is” and return. Darren finds that there really is a lot to learn and many myths to be disproved about his new status. One thing that he is having trouble complying with is drinking human blood. Death is not instantaneous if he refuses this imposition but it is eminent. Slow, but definitely eminent.
This short read is packed with a plethora of interesting characters who find themselves in many fascinating situations. It is a Freak Show, after all! There is a Bearded Lady, a Wolfman, a Snakeboy, and much, much, more. This new, strange world is old hat to the Freak Show residents and so becomes the norm for Darren as well. He finds a true friend in the Snakeboy, Evra Von and together they find themselves working as a team and escaping various thrilling adventures unscathed.
There are twelve books in the series and they are all labeled as being in the “young adult” genre. The same genre as Twilight so I thought I was safe. However, in my opinion, these books are meant for a much younger audience. I would say 10 to 13 yos would get the most enjoyment out of them. That being said, I can completely get behind the idea of making this book into a movie! The characters and their exploits promise to draw a huge audience. I’m giving the book 3 outta 5 pumps, taking two away for under-achieving its potential in the young adult genre; but still, I express my excitement for its potential on the big screen.
Reviewed by Laney Belle on October 29, 2009
Inventive, Captivating, and Intriguing are three words that I would use to describe Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. This Young Adult (YA) Fantasy was unexpectedly good, and unlike any other book I’ve read to date. It’s imaginative plot will keep you enthralled, and eagerly awaiting each new original concept.
The story surrounds seven kingdoms: Nander, Wester, Estill, Sunder, Monsea, Middluns, and Lienid. There are two kinds of people in these kingdoms, the villagers and the graced:those who were born with extreme abilities and enhanced traits. Some gracelings are gifted in conventional skills such as sculpting, painting, or cooking; while others have more serious abilities like mind reading, combat skills, wielding knives, or seeing the future. The graced are easily recognizable to others, as they are all born with two different colored eyes. Unfortunately, this “defect”, along with their intimidating abilities, lead most villagers to fear them.
The main character, Katsa, is the niece of the King of Middlun; and is especially feared since she has the most unfortunate gift of all…one of killing (or so she believes). To Katsa’s extreme displeasure, her uncle (the King) uses this fear to manipulate the nobles of other kingdoms, and keep his own villagers in check. While reading this story, I kept thinking how Katsa would just totally RAWK ‘Vixenhood’ and easily make a great role model for young women today; she is courageous, powerful, full of integrity, and a little afraid of love. Although, we could probably teach her a thing or two on the ‘DIRTAY’ factor we all possess! OOWWWW!!!
Po is Katsa’s companion and eventual love interest; He is the Prince of Lienid and also graced. Though their personalities are very opposite from each other, life seems to have dictated their friendship, and they are thrown together to face many dangerous ventures. These two characters had just the right amount of chemistry. It was very easy to get lost in their story; yearning for their next kiss, and hoping to get some juicy deets from their ‘SHAG-Session’. Which, btw was quite disappointing, as they never did divulge the DEED! UGH! But I guess Dems are da breaks when you read a Young Adult novel. Since I’m on the topic of discontentment, I would also have to admit that some of the romantic plot was a bit predictable; Girl meets boy – Girl fights with boy – Girl falls in love with boy. You get the drift…
Aside from her exceptional creativity, Kristin Cashore’s writing style was just about average. I didn’t have any qualms with it, but nothing about her word usage or writing technique stood out to me as exceptional either. That said, I still think it was a great story, and definitely worth your time to read. Overall, I give this book a 3.5 pumps for running my imagination wild, and introducing characters that are just as odd as they are charming!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on October 16, 2009
Halloween has always been my very favorite holiday ever since I can remember. Not the gory / monster part but the ghostly / cemetery part is how I explain it to people. There is just something about the possibilities of ghosts roaming the earth on that one special night that just gets my heart pumping and my imagination soaring. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman gave me butterflies like Halloween was just around the corner. Please understand up front that this book targets an audience of 4th to 8th grade readers but carries great weight & depth; a story that anyone can enjoy. So there is absolutely no hanky-panky, people!
This novel opens with a pretty macabre event. A family is massacred off-screen and the killer searches for the sole remaining family member to complete his gruesome task. The toddler he seeks has wandered out of the house, up the hill, to an old graveyard and into the protective hands of its residents. The babe is given the name Nobody Owens (Bod for short) by his ghostly adoptive mother, Mistress Owens, and is granted the “Freedom of the Graveyard.” This status enables Bod to execute various tricks of the dead like fading and dream-walking. Just give me one day with those little tricks and Diabolical Piper would RULE THE WORLD BABY!
Bod experiences the pains and thrills of growing up through a string of otherworldly adventures. As a result, he discovers various life lessons through his interactions with a treasure-trove of descriptive and beloved characters from various historical periods. These characters include an impish witch, a melodramatic poet, a roman leader, and a shadowy nocturnal guardian (who I suspect to be a vampire but can’t be sure) just to name a few. Readers are first introduced to each ghost through their clever epitaphs engraved on their headstones. This will certainly get you thinking about what might be on your own headstone! Hmm… “Piper Grey – 19(blah-dee-blah) to 20(someday) – Rawkin the Afterlife in Pink Sequins!” Whadayathink??
The villains in this gothic fantasy are all a bit sketchy and vague. One version of the ‘bad guy’ is a coiling, 3 headed serpentine called The Sleer and is the oldest thing in the cemetery. Imprisoned in its tomb, it guards a small treasure and fruitlessly waits for a master to protect. We never get to the history of the creature, the treasure, or the missing master. Another type of villain belongs to an ancient order whose members names are puns off of the name “Jack” but not much else is explained about them.
Although this novel is dark at times, the overall message it delivers is one of self-discovery and overcoming fears of experiencing life. Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a 5 pumper in this Vixen’s opinion. This coming of age story of Nobody Owens has the potential to become a classic…. and would create delight in graveyards everywhere if it were to make its way to the big screen. Here’s hoping!
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on September 23, 2009
Are you on the Team Jacob side of the fence? If so, you were on my mind when I picked up this book! But unless you are completely obsessed with wolves and enjoy uninteresting characters, I doubt you will become fascinated by this storyline. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is based on your average boy-meets-girl scenario. Except the boy, Sam, is a beautiful yellow-eyed werewolf, and the girl, Grace, is the most boring character to enter the world of text!
This young adult book begins when Grace is attacked by a pack of wolves as a child. She is taken into the woods where the pack proceeds with what appears to be an attempt to kill her. To my disappointment, they are stopped when teen-wolf Sam carries her to safety. Grace eventually recovers from the attack and comes to know Sam as “her yellow-eyed wolf” who protectively watches her from the woods behind her house. The mundane back and forth stares between these two continue for what feels like forever with an occasional touch of fur sprinkled in for good measure. Yawn… exciting stuff, huh?
However, one day it is rumored that Grace’s classmate has been killed by the wolves, so a hunting party gathers to take down the wolf pack and, of course, Sam is caught in the cross-fire. Sam shifts into human form and finds himself naked and injured on Grace’s back porch. And I’ll just warn you, it took 60 pages to get to this part! Chinese water torture is more appealing than struggling through pages and pages of lackluster plot! C’mon Mags where’s your creative bone, girl??
Anyway, after Sam shifts into a human, naturally he and Grace fall in love. What’s not to love? He’s smart, creative, and oh-so-sexy! And this Vixen has to give it to Grace for snagging some sweet lovins from her wolf boy when the situation popped up! Get it? Popped up?? As a side note, I am very proud to reveal that I read this part of the book twice! Oww! And because Grace has parents that barely notice her, she does everything she can to keep Sam in human form. You see, when the cold temperatures arrive, the werewolves “shed” their human form by shivering and remain in the woods until the warmer season returns. Yet, readers learn that Sam won’t be turning back into a human again. So Grace and Sam do everything they can to hold onto each other and their love.
Unfortunately, even in the good parts, I believe that Stiefvater failed to capture the audience with her narrative. She could’ve had a great novel under her belt, but she missed out on so much, which made the storyline just slightly okay. I give Shiver 2 ½ pumps. I’m taking one away for Grace and her lame-ass-ness; another away for the mind-numbing supporting characters I didn’t care about; and half of a pump away for the plot that barely maintained enough spark to keep me reading.
Reviewed by Laney Belle on September 14, 2009
Riveting; Jarring; Spellbinding; Exhilarating; Unpredictable; Emotionally charged. These are the words I would use to describe Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I can’t articulate enough how tremendously in love I am with this new series! However, I must warn you as I did with The Hunger Games, that this sequel STILL does not provide you with the closure you’re looking for! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!! If you’re like me, and need resolution, then the ending of this book will have you screaming “COME ON!!! WHAT HAPPENS NEXT DAMMIT?!?!?!?” LOL Fortunately for us, the author MUST be planning a third book for this series, because there’s no way she could leave her fans hanging like this otherwise! HURRY UP SUZANNE!
Before I begin, I want to confess that I had my own theories about what this sequel could possibly be about… and all of them were wrong! I want everyone to benefit from the same feeling of surprise and shock that I got while reading this. Therefore, I’m going to limit any in-depth discussion of the plot. With that said, I will tell you a few things about this book that I loved best, without spoiling anything for you.
Catching Fire doesn’t exactly start out where The Hunger Games left off, but that aspect shouldn’t bother you too much. It takes place a few months after the Games, and after that long train ride back to District 12 where our lovable Peeta confessed his true love for Katniss. This story brings you into their post-Game lives as Victors of District 12; which, as you may have suspected, is not the carefree, easy-living that the Capitol proclaims it to be. Since the Games, a secret resistance against the Capitol has been forming. Intending to squash this new opposition, the Capitol uses the upcoming ‘Quarter Quell’ (the 75 year anniversary of the revolution against the Capitol) to instill fear back into its citizens. With so much at stake, Katniss and Peeta are forced into a variety of life or death situations…all of which will have you gasping for air!
The author’s writing style is seamless, almost as if she never really stopped writing this story, but just divided it into sections and called each one a book. You will feel yourself easily glide right back into the first-person dialect as The Hunger Games, without any awkward adjustments. The writer’s speed and trajectory of the plot is what contributes to the overall excitement and thrill of the story. You will be captured by the first chapter!
Like The Hunger Games, my favorite aspect of this book was its merciless unpredictability. You really never knew what was coming next! There are so many twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out…BAM…you’re thrown for another loop! I give Catching Fire 5 outta 5 pumps for its ingenious topsy-turvy plot, incredible character dynamics, and amazingly enticing action scenes!!! I LOVED THIS BOOK!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on August 26, 2009
I’m already a sucker for a good historical romance, but when you throw a little ‘supah-natural’ in the mix, I’m in Heaven! And that, my friends, is where Laura Whitcomb’s The Fetch enters my world. Her enlightened vision of the afterlife follows Calder, a Fetch, whose sole job is to comfort the dying and act as a guide to assist them through their death doors into Heaven. This book is beautifully written and weaves around the tragic story of the end of the Romanov Dynasty during the Russian Revolution of 1917. The mystery that is specifically addressed is, “What happened to the remains of the Tsar Nicholas’ two youngest children, Anastasia and Alexis (Alexei), after the entire family was massacred?”
The plot to this tale gradually reveals itself as the very lonely Calder breaks his sacred Fetch vows by becoming obsessed with a beautiful woman he finds at an infant’s (Alexis Romanov’s) death scene. In order to pursue this woman, Calder breaks into the human world by taking over the dying body of the Romanov family’s mystic healer, Grigori Rasputin. This transition leaves a massive rupture between the worlds that can only be mended by a missing key. Accompanied by the embodied spirits of Anastasia and Alexis, Calder embarks on a long, really long, long journey to find the key. Along the way, they are pursued by Rasputin’s spirit and a whole host of malicious lost souls. But still, the overall voyage tends to be, ah – what’s the word? Oh, yeah… “LONG!” Though, in the end, it proves completely necessary to allow for Calder’s own self-discovery.
Romance creeps slowly into the story-line between Calder and Anastasia. And I do mean ‘creeps’. When Calder dies, he is a 19 year old young man and that is how Anastasia sees him as well; even after he takes over Rasputin’s body. It really is hard to get past this fact when THE WORLD is witnessing a beat up 44 year old mystic falling for a 17 year old girl. Am I wrong here or is “Statutory Rape” not considered illegal in most, if not all, of the known free world? Call me closed-minded but I just couldn’t get past that detail, especially when Calder thought about kissing her or holding her hand. CREEPY!
This would be a great discussion book as it certainly gets readers thinking about Heaven, the afterlife, and the nature of “sin and forgiveness;” so I am giving it 4 outta 5 pumps. Although the plot gets slow at times, Whitcomb’s descriptions of an afterlife are exceptional and well thought-out while the characters are real, introspective, and full of life. Plus the ending will leave you hoping for a happily ever after for The Fetch. It’s come to pass that the remains of missing Romanov children were found in 2007 and DNA testing proved their identities but still … the mystery and speculation surrounding this tragic tale lends it the potential to be a story for the ages!
Reviewed by Laney Belle on August 15, 2009
DING DING DING! Can I have your attention please?! The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins is hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read! This young adult story is surprisingly enticing and full of suspense! It will leave you breathlessly anticipating what’s next throughout the entire book. It is only fair to warn you though – if your looking for a story with closure, you won’t find it until October! Hunger Games is the first book in a series and book two will not be out until October 2009. SO LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!
The story takes place in a post apocalyptic world, where the Capitol city “Panem” maintains political control over 12 worldwide Districts. However, this is not the story of a glorious new nation that cares for its people. On the contrary, the rich State of Panem leaves most of its districts in poverty, and forces them to obey extreme laws punishable by death. This uncaring and cold regiment (which significantly resembles that of a communist society) has also demanded that two “tributes” from each District, between the ages of 12 to 18, be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death where only one can survive. The winning tribute receives a years worth of rations for their District, and a life of ease for themselves and their family. It’s like the ultimate reality T.V. show, infused with lots of shock and awe!
While reading this story, I completely fell in love with the two main characters. Katniss (yes, ridiculous name I agree), is the perfect role model for any teenager. She’s a strong, caring 16 year old girl with an incredible knack for survival due to a life of hard living! The heavy responsibility of feeding and protecting her family in a very poor district fell on her shoulders after her father’s death. Peeta is a sweet, witty and funny young man who easily steals your heart with his charm! Though just an acquaintance to Katniss, Peeta eventually comes to mean more to her than she ever expected. The chemistry between these two characters is addicting, and really forces the reader to experience a range of emotions! I laughed, I cried…I felt like a teenager again!
My favorite aspect of this book was its unpredictability. Just when I thought I knew what was coming, something completely unexpected happened instead. Suzanne Collins did an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing; flawlessly arranging the hints and clues to keep the reader engaged in the story. I gave this book 5 outta 5 pumps for its creativity, enticing action scenes, and encompassing love story!
Reviewed by Sophie Rose on July 9, 2009
Do you close your eyes or change the channel when a scary movie crosses your television screen? Well, you are in good company with me! I am the last person that should be reading anything related to the supernatural because I get so freaked out that I can’t sleep for weeks! However, A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb, is anything but your typical spooky ghost story.
In the beginning, the reader is introduced to Helen, a young woman who refers to herself as a spirit of the Light; a soul floating in the midst of the Quick, or living humans. She died nearly 130 years ago and has been clinging to human hosts to “haunt” ever since. Helen is not a scary ghost; instead, she acts as a shadow or a proud guardian to her host. The man she is currently following is a high school English Teacher named Mr. Brown. The reader is captivated by Helen within the first two pages of the book when a student actually sees her standing in the classroom! Yet, this student is unique because he is being claimed by another spirit of the Light who goes by the name of James.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly due to James and Helen’s relationship and the world that separates them from each other. Helen desires nothing more than to be with James every second of every day. Their emotions and interactions with one another made me feel as though I was re-living my days with my first love again. The high-charged emotions I felt and the love that I will forever cherish, were reignited by this odd couple. Furthermore, the underlying story of why Helen has not made her journey to heaven kept me intrigued and demanding answers. Throughout the book, Helen begins to see glimpses into her life before she was Light. What she remembers chilled my bones and left me feeling anxious for her.
Laura Whitcomb creates a world that invites the reader in. She made me reconsider what is important in life, and will likely do the same for you. Even if just briefly, take a moment to appreciate your lover’s scent, the taste and crunch of a juicy apple, or the sensation that you feel in your heart when it is filled with love or sadness. Whitcomb reminds us that these are the precious moments in life we should never forget. Also, the last 20 pages provides readers with all the answers that they need. Whitcomb shatters our hearts into a million pieces, but somehow manages to put them back together again like a beautiful mosaic. This book gets my full stamp of approval with 5 out of 5 pumps! A word to the wise: toward the end of the book be sure to keep a full box of tissues at arm’s reach, because you will need them!
Reviewed by Piper Grey on June 30, 2009
Really, Stephenie Meyer? A “remarkable debut”? I can’t for the life of me figure out how such a brilliant author, could call Wings by Aprilynne Pike a “remarkable debut”. Stephenie goes on to comment “…the ingenuity of the mythology is matched only by the startling loveliness with which the story unfolds.” Okay, that statement is so over-thought, it’s not really a solid statement is it? Probably just an attempt to be kind to her fellow Mormon’s “astonishingly dull” debut. That’s Piper Grey’s quote!
The first three quarters of this book were agonizing to get through! This book is about a “perfect” 15 year old teenager, Laurel, who was found on the doorstep of her adoptive parents home when she was a toddler; was home schooled until they had to move to ensure the families financial security and starts public school as a sophomore…..a “perfect” sophomore who struggles with her perfection. Did I mention that she’s perfect? Seriously! I find it hilarious that the moral of this story was “everyone struggles…even the teenage hotties”!
The ridiculousness of this story grows, as Laurel eventually undergoes a drastic physical change that results in a perfect flower sprouting from her back. Surprise! It’s not wings! Of course this discovery leads to the revelation that Laurel is a fairy. This sounds like an interesting concept, however, the way it’s delivered is seriously boring and tedious! I gave this book to an 11 year old to read after I was finished and I swear she actually said to me: “So far this is the most boring book I’ve ever read.” And she is a booklover! Okay, I admit, she’s a brilliant 11 year old ……. with great taste in books.
Another thing that I wasn’t too enthused about was that the main character, Laurel, embodies the ‘vision of perfection’ that teenage girls everywhere develop self esteem issues trying to achieve. Who could feel good about giving young impressionable girls another “perfect” idol they could never live up to? I am not a feminist by any means but messing with our blossoming vixens developing psyche in this way is unforgivable. Instead of burning our bras, maybe we should take every copy of this book off the shelves and make some good old fashioned compost! Maybe then this world would see some benefit of its existence!
I must admit that the last 80 pages or so (of this 300 pager) were somewhat exciting and eventful. The author introduces trolls into the mix; big slimy smelly grotesque trolls that were the most appealing part of the story! Nevertheless, the fact that trolls were needed to peak my interest speaks volumes about the agonizingly dull plot.
Even though Wings was written for a younger audience, I felt that it was poorly done. I was seriously open-minded to the young-adult genre when I opened this book due to the outstanding review from Stephenie Meyer. It was a serious disappointment! Sorry Steph, but Young Adult is no longer my favorite flavor. 1 outta 5 pumps for this clod hopper ‘fairy’ tale!