Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best of the Bunch: August 2011

"Best of the Bunch" is a meme hosted every month by Lyrical Reviews. It spotlights our absolute favorite book we read this month. My Best of the Bunch pick for August is......

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins


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.

I actually read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy this month, and if I could I would award the entire series with The Best of the Bunch title. But since I could only pick one, I picked the final book, Mockingjay. My best friend over at The Book Life kept urging me to read this series, but I was dragging my feet on it because I just didn't think that I'm the "dystopian" type. But, I was incredibly wrong! Mockingjay was a great ending to a fantastic story. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. My review can be found HERE.



















Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a fun way to exhibit the books we recently acquired. =)




Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Bride's Farewell By Meg Rosoff

-I purchased both of these from my local Books-A-Million store. I found The Bride's Farewell on the clearance shelf. It looked interesting enough and the price was right! As for Jane Eyre, I absolutely had to have the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of one of my favorite books of all time. I already had a plain paperback copy, but the cover art and pages in this deluxe edition are so beautiful that I couldn't pass it up!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bargains and Betrayals (13 To Life, #3) By Shannon Delany

Locked away at Pecan Place, Jessie finds her situation to be even more dangerous than she feared. While she struggles to maintain her sanity and discover answers about the group that seems less and less like any legitimate government agency, Pietr fights to keep their relationship alive. But very aware that his mother’s time is running out, Pietr makes a deal he doesn’t dare tell Jessie about. Because the deal Pietr’s made could mean the death of far more than his tenuous relationship with the girl he loves.

The third book in the 13 to Life series, Bargains and Betrayals, did not disappoint (except for the awfully small font in my paperback copy, talk about eye strain!). This entire series is so much more than I initially thought it was going to be. It is not just a "werewolf" story, it is so much more. There are several paranormal aspects/people in this story, including zombies!!! Yes-- I said ZOMBIES! I can't even tell you how delighted I was by this. There's also the mafia, scientists and a secret government agency. Not to mention the author is single-handedly teaching me Russian, due to the amount of the character's usage of the language in the book. I totally dig it! Russian is sexy. ;)

In this book, in addition to the story being told from Jessica's POV, we have Alexi's POV as well. At first, I was slightly annoyed by this only because I felt like things were too back and forth, and unsteady. But eventually it grew on me and I got over it. I see now why his perspective was necessary to the story, and I developed more of a liking for his character. In addition to Alexi, Amy's character was more involved in this book. I liked her from the beginning and I love how good of a friend she is to Jessica.

Pietr's character definitely progresses in this book and he matures while having to make some tough decisions for the sake of Jessica and his family. He is definitely one of my favorite male characters of all time. I like the way Shannon Delany portrays him-- from the many ways she describes his piercing blue eyes to the description of his Russian accent. I also like the dynamic between him and Jessica. This is a couple I want things to work out for. On a side note, let me just say that whoa buddy was there a lot of sexual tension between them in this book! It almost made me uncomfortable......almost. Haha.

I found that this book had some more mature situations in it than the previous ones did. While there were still several funny and sarcastic moments present (which I love, because Jessica's character is quite amusing), this third installment of 13 to Life provides some pretty serious and sometimes awful situations.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and I am quite excited for the next one. I think that we are going to get to see a lot more of Sophie's character next time around and I look forward to it, because she is awesome! I can only imagine what's going to happen in the next book after reading the dramatic ending of this one. =)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It's a fun way to exhibit the books we recently received in the mail. =)


Bought: (all purchased through my beloved amazon.com)

"Bargains and Betrayals: A 13 to Life Novel (13 to Life, #3)" by Shannon Delany
"The Iron Quill (The Pace Series, #3)" by Shelena Shorts
"Shut Out" by Kody Keplinger

-I am currently reading "Bargains and Betrayals" and am loving it so far! I love me some Russian werewolves. =)


The Masque of the Red Death -By Edgar Allan Poe

A thousand of the favored joined their decadent prince behind high walls and welded gates. They engaged in bizarre celebrations while the Red Death raged outside--until one cryptic figure showed them the true horror in "The Masque of the Red Death".

For reasons I can't fully explain, I have always had a fascination with Edgar Allan Poe and his talent for telling such grand and morose stories. When I read his stories and poems, I find myself utterly amazed by his talent. I can't even begin to fathom how he came up with his works of fiction. Actually, he goes into such great and unique detail in his poems and stories that he almost makes me believe that he didn't fabricate them at all; which makes it seem all the more creepy, and I totally dig it!

I am also extremely intrigued with the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. Apparently, he was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and in bad shape. He was then taken to the hospital, where he was out of it most of the time, and therefore unable to give any explanation as to what happened to him and why he was found wearing someone else's clothes (weird, huh?). It is said that on the night before his death, he was heard repeatedly calling out the name "Reynolds". To this day no one knows who this "Reynolds" character was. No one knows what his exact cause of death was either, and Poe's death certificate and medical records were lost. I suppose the nature and manner of his death could all be chalked up to him being a drunk (apparently he had an alcohol issue) who's behavior became increasingly more erratic after he lost his wife; therefore allowing his addiction to possibly be the cause for his demise. But we shall never know. Either way, the mystery only adds to his allure.

So, with all of that being said, I will proceed with my review of The Masque of the Red Death: This short story is hands down one of my favorite Poe stories! I love the symbolism and imagery in this tale. Basically, the "Red Death" is a plague that is wreaking havoc on the town in the story and Prince Prospero decides to lock himself, and many of his friends, away in his home. He ultimately ends up hosting a very grand masquerade party and while him and his people are lavishly partying it up within the confines of his sanctuary, everyone else is dying a terrible death. There are seven uniquely decorated rooms in his house where the party-goers roam while the celebrations never cease; and in the last room (decorated in black and red) there is an ebony clock which has a very eery and distinct chime that marks the end of an hour. When the clock chimes, everyone inexplicably pauses and the music stops until the clock is quiet. When midnight arrives, everyone is confronted with a terrifying figure, the "Red Death". As you can imagine, some very unfortunate and gruesome things follow the appearance of this figure.

I feel like the main point in this story can really be up to anyone's interpretation. But for me, the message that is loud and clear is that you can't cheat death and that it will creep up on you (much like the "Red Death" figure) no matter what. The clock in the story is symbolic of our internal clocks that are ticking away. One thing in the story that I didn't entirely catch the meaning of initially was the seven rooms. Upon further research, I learned that some believe that the seven rooms that were featured in Poe's story are to be interpreted as the seven stages of life. To me, that makes sense after reading about the rooms in this tale. At any rate, no matter what Edgar was trying to prove, this story was an astonishing one that vividly plays out in my head every time I read it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) By Suzanne Collins

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.

The final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, proved to be an amazing conclusion to the entire story. There is more fighting, strategizing, heartbreak, humor, loss and injury in this book than there is in the first two. Everything seems to be far more intense in this book, taking on an "it's now or never" sort of mentality. I pretty much liked everything about this book.

Katniss and Peeta have been through so much, both together and separately. But somehow, they are able to remain strong. Katniss has a small, but amazing, support system in her life that is comprised of her family and few good friends. She even makes some new and unexpected friends along the way that I really came to care about. I especially developed more of a liking for Haymitch and Finnick throughout this book because they related even more to Katniss than I initially expected. I would also just like to say, that even though his presence may not be that significant to some people, that I just love Buttercup! =)

I was unbelievably pleased with the ending of this book. Don't get me wrong, there were so many things that happened along the way that had me heartbroken (pissed off, even), but all the tragedy just made it all so realistic and made the cause worth fighting for. Also, the epilogue was one of my favorite parts in the entire book! I know there is so much more I could say about the last installment of The Hunger Games, but I am at a loss. There are just far too many fantastic things about it to reference.
 
  

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's a sickness....

Is it wrong that I want to call in sick tomorrow for work so I can finish reading Mockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy?? --Well too bad, because that's exactly what I want to do....*sigh*

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) By Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the annual competition described in Hunger Games, but the aftermath leaves these victors with no sense of triumph. Instead, they have become the poster boys for a rebellion that they never planned to lead. That new, unwanted status puts them in the bull's-eye for merciless revenge by The Capitol. Catching Fire maintains the adrenaline rush of Suzanne Collins's series launch.

The second book of The Hunger Games trilogy picks up right after Katniss and Peeta win the Hunger Games. They are now back in their home of District 12 but everything seems to have changed for these two.

Katniss' actions in the Hunger Games have set something of great consequence in motion that has enraged The Capitol, particularly President Snow, and she knows that it's just a matter of time before they retaliate. On top of being afraid for herself and her loved ones, she is struggling with how her actions have affected Gale and Peeta. Peeta is hurt because Katniss' feelings didn't mirror his own while they were in the Arena, while Gale feels that he is no longer allowed to be a part of her life. He also had a hard time watching everything that transpired between Katniss and Peeta, even though he knows it was necessary to their survival. Basically, everything is a mess on a personal and worldwide level.

Unfortunately, things only get worse for Katniss and her friends and family. Every 25 years there is a Quarter Quell, which is basically a more involved and celebrated version of the annual Hunger Games. It is also even more terrible than the regular Hunger Games, because there is always a cruel twist that is added to the terms of the games to evoke more suffering among the people in the districts. When President Snow drops a bombshell on literally everyone by announcing the theme for the upcoming Quarter Quell, it proves that no one is safe. Therefore, Katniss must brace herself to fight for what is right and the ones she loves.


In this book more characters are introduced, ones that I have come to like considerably, so I hope that I can see a lot more of them in the final book! Katniss is just as fierce in this book as she is in the first one, and Peeta is just as determined as ever (he is just so darn likeable!). I still haven't seen as much of Gale as I would like, but I have a feeling that will change in the next book.

The end of this book is a huge brain-bang, in my opinion! Certain characters are revealed to be different from how they are initially portrayed, which is a good thing in some cases. Katniss also learns that she has played, and has yet to play, a bigger part in the great revolution to overthrow The Capitol. I can't imagine what is going to happen in the final book, but I'm sure it'll be just as action packed and awesome!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) By Suzanne Collins

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

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

I am ashamed to say that The Hunger Games series sat untouched on my bookshelf for about 8 months.....until just recently. I have to admit that I put this series off because I have never been instantly intrigued by the idea of dystopian novels. However, after reading The Hunger Games, I suppose I need to amend that last sentiment because this book was AMAZING! The story held my attention the entire time and I have never read anything like this before. I am extremely impressed. The description of the book can't even prepare you for all of the things that go down in this story.

The main character, Katniss Everdeen was hard not to instantly like. She's strong-willed, resourceful, smart and a fighter all the way. I also developed quite a fondness for Peeta, who is the main male character in the book. He's honest and all around a good guy. This book is filled with intense, nail-biting moments that make it incredibly hard to put the book down for any given amount of time. It is THAT GOOD. I can't wait to dive into the next book. =)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Taking The Plunge

So I've decided to finally start reading The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. I'm not sure why I've resisted reading it for so long, I guess I've had slight doubts about it being my cup of tea. But pretty much every review I've read on it has been extremely positive so I've decided to just stop procrastinating and read it already! Besides, the series came highly recommended by my best friend and she's never steered me in the wrong book direction before. =)

On another note, I have officially coined myself  "The Plant Reaper". Yes, I realize this is a completely random thing to throw into this posting but oh-freaking-well. I'm just completely irritated by this fact. My parents got me these really pretty plants and the damn things have been struggling for a while. I've tried to water them diligently but I think it's just too damn hot over here on beachside. Plus, I don't care for plants that are going to be so freaking high maintenance in the first place. Even though these particular kinds are not supposed to be. I just think plants reject me, end of story. Even my cactus is struggling, and it's a CACTUS. I mean, good lord, those are supposed to be the easiest plants to take care of, right?! =(

Wisdom (My Blood Approves, #4) By Amanda Hocking

"For her eighteenth birthday, Alice Bonham takes a vacation to Australia only to have her trip cut short by an unexpected murder.

While Alice tries to understand what happened, she regrets some of the choices she's made, especially the more permanent ones.

On top of that, the child vampire is running loose, and its attracting some very unwanted attention..."


This series has been added to my top 10 favorites without a doubt. This 4th book proved to be the most exciting, gripping, action-packed, unpredictable, intense and emotional of all the books in the series so far. The pace of this book was great and there didn't seem to be any boring moments or down time. In addition to Alice, I just loved all of the other main characters. They are all amusing and likable in their own way. This book had me focused, laughing, shouting, and almost crying at times. Way to mess with my emotions, Amanda Hocking (but I totally loved it, so thanks!).

The beginning of the book takes us to Australia, where Alice, her brother Milo and his boyfriend go to visit Mae, Peter and Daisy. They aren't there long before something happens back in the states that devastates Alice. After she arrives back at home, she's basically just going through the motions and trying to deal with things with the help of Jack and the rest of her family. Throughout the book she struggles with herself feeling very lost. She realizes she has forever to make something of her life, but that proves to be very intimidating and she feels slightly worthless. She's basically just trying to come to terms with herself along the way and she's feeling the weight/reality of what her life has become.

The characters of Bobby, Leif and Peter have bigger parts in this book, and I was so glad for that. Bobby's character, who is Milo's boyfriend and Alice's sidekick/friend, had me laughing like a lunatic with some of the things he said. I could totally see myself hanging out with someone like him. I just have to throw out one of my favorite quotes by him: "Oh my God! That dude is supposed to be a vampire hunter, and he's wearing a fricking Swatch! There is no way these guys are for real!". -That line had me re-reading and laughing my rear off. I don't want to give anything away, so I will just stick to saying that I loved Leif's role in this book, as well as everything that we discover about his character. I hope we see much more of him in the final book. As for Peter, he is much more open and present in this book. I like the way that he interacts with Alice.

Getting back to Alice now, I would like to say that I was excited to learn the whole "deal" with her. Since the beginning it has been known that she has a certain "draw" to her (so does Milo for that matter) and it was interesting to get down to the bottom of that. It was well put together and made sense. I feel that the author does a great job at explaining things and keeping her ideas clear.

This book has a decent amount of fighting, death and blood in it. I found it fitting and quite liked it. Alice was extremely badass throughout the entire book, especially towards the end, and I loved that about her. I don't like it when the main female character is a helpless pansy. The last parts of the book are very intense and emotional. I was completely freaking out! But all in all, I was completely satisfied with everything that transpired at the end. I'm sad that I have to wait until January for the final book in this series, but it pleases me to know that there will be more to Alice's story to discover. =)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wow

Oh dear sweet baby Jesus!!! I just finished Wisdom (My Blood Approves, #4) By Amanda Hocking, and it was freaking amazing!!!!! I will post my review on it tomorrow or Saturday. I just had to get a little of my excitement out first. =) I'm so sad that I have to wait until January to read the last book, but it will be so worth it. Yay!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flutter (My Blood Approves, #3) By Amanda Hocking

"Being undead doesn't make life any easier for Alice Bonham.
Her younger brother's love life is heating up, while hers is... more complicated. Mae is falling apart, her best friend Jane is addicted to vampire bites, and if Alice doesn't get her bloodlust under control, someone will end up dead.


Alice volunteers for a rescue mission with Ezra. But going up against a pack of rabid vampires might be too much, even for him." 

I'm reading this series so fast that all the books are starting to blur together! But that's not necessarily a bad thing. There is so much going in in this book, I don't even know where to begin or end. But here I go anyway....

From the description it's obvious that Alice has ventured to the point of no return.  But we all knew that was inevitable. In this book she's struggling with trying to get a handle on her new life and accepting everything that's going on around her.

She leaves the country with Ezra and encounters a danger she didn't even know existed, one that her and her family can't necessarily shake off easily. When they return to the states, she ends up facing more problems than she can probably even handle, convinced that she is bad luck.

Her best friend has become a "blood whore" junky of sorts, and she's left to contend with that.
Also, just when she thinks she has her relationship worked out with one guy, the other comes along and messes with her emotions, therefore possibly ruining everything (I still don't even know who I ultimately want her to end up with!).  

At the end of the book she, along with everyone she cares about, is put in mortal (or immortal?) danger. She soon finds out how many are willing to risk their lives to protect her, along with who she's willing to go out on a limb for. They manage to get through it, only to arrive back at home to another issue- thus causing me to want to stay up all night and read the next book, just to see what else could possibly be added to the excitement!

Fate (My Blood Approves, #2) By Amanda Hocking

"Fate - the second installment in the My Blood Approves series...

Alice Bonham thinks she's finally found a balance in her life between the supernatural and real life with her brother Milo. Jack - her sorta vampire boyfriend - keeps her at arm's length to keep her safe. As for his brother Peter... she's not sure where he's at, or what he wants with her. Worse still, she's not even sure what she wants with Peter.

When tragedy happens, Alice finds herself struggling with a terrible choice. Her decision has consequences that reach farther than she'd ever imagined..."

I'm not even sure where to begin! Basically this book starts off with a terrible accident that changes several things in Alice's already complicated life. Plans that she had fully intended on setting into motion have to come to a halt. So she is left spending a lot of time contemplating her future. Especially when Jack becomes too preoccupied to spend time with Alice the way they had both initially intended, before things got even stickier...

I liked how we got to learn a little more about the other characters, Mae and Ezra, in this book. Alice spends some more time with them and hears about their pasts, which proves to be interesting and informative for her.

Sadly, if you're a Peter fan, he is absent for most of the book. But of course he shows up just in time to accidentally stir things up, while simultaneously saving Alice from some trouble. Of course, along with Peter comes the heavy tension between him and Jack. He's still pissed at Jack for "overstepping his bounds", and Jack is pissed at him because of a certain incident that happened at the end of the first book. Unfortunately, Alice is caught right in the middle.

The confrontation between Peter and Jack leads right up to the ending, which was somewhat shocking but yet not surprising (if that makes any sense). There was definitely an infuriating cliffhanger that left me scrambling to retrieve the third book on my Nook, but rest assured because the first chapter of Flutter pretty much lets you in on what happened. Therefore, I would like to advise you to go ahead and have a copy of the third book handy so you can save yourself the frustration and distress! So overall, the second installment of My Blood Approves did not disappoint or fall short for me, and I think that if you liked the first book you will definitely like the second one.

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