Catching Fire

An absolutely thrilling sequel to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins will blow your mind with Catching Fire. Katniss and Peeta made it out of the Hunger Games alive once, but can they do it again? As the living champions of the Hunger Games are pitted against each other, Katniss and Peeta realize that while being clever may have saved their lives the first time around, their behavior is now perceived as a threat to the Capital’s control and order. Meanwhile, the couple has managed to inspire hope among citizens opposing the Capitol, those who believe there’s a lot more going on than the government would like them to believe. As if survival weren’t enough to deal with, Katniss is still caught up in a sort of love triangle, struggling to understand how she feels about Peeta and Gale.

I enjoyed Catching Fire just as much as I did its predecessor. As expected, Katniss continued to be the strong protagonist I fell in love with in The Hunger Games. Though I was sometimes disappointed with her indecisiveness, I still loved her wit and bravery. I wish her interactions with Peeta and Gale had been developed further and had been less muddy, but I assume that will happen in the conclusion to this trilogy. Nevertheless, I was especially impressed by Collins’ play with time and symbolism in this installment. Though I wasn’t sure if the original premise would remain thrilling without Catching Fire seeming repetitive, Collins seems to do this with ease by focusing on the Quarter Quell, and I was never bored. I could hardly put the book down. This novel ends resolving sufficient loose plot lines to appease the reader, while leaving you desperate for the conclusion. 10 out of 10.


Waiting on Wednesday: January 6

Title: Mistwood
Author: Leah Cypess
US Release date: April 27, 2010

Summary (from GoodReads): The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwod. But when she is needed she always comes. Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have. Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty--because without it, she may be his greatest threat. Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them. Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

Why I'm interested: I'm all for supporting the tenners, and this book really speaks to my fantasy interests. First of all, I love princes (and not just those of the Disney variety, I promise). I also think this take on Shifters sounds awesome, and stands out a bit from the other fantasy that we're seeing a lot of in YA lit. Plus there definitely sounds like there'll be some romance, and I can never pass that up. And I mean, there's a castle on the cover. Sweet.

So... what did you pick this week?



Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne follows Kayla, a nature lover who lost her parents to the forest at a young age, as she discovers werewolves – though I suppose I should say Shifters. As Kayla faces her first summer as a sherpa, she struggles to overcome her nightmares while learning more about her identity and her past. As the summer unfolds, Kayla finds herself torn between feelings for Macon, a member of the hiking group she’s working with, and Lucas, their seemingly fearless leader. Meanwhile, Lucas and his fellow Dark Guardians, those charged with protecting the Shifter population, face a threat worse than exposure. Lucas strains to maintain his calm demeanor and lead as he should while protecting those dearest to him.

Though a bit formulaic, I truly enjoyed this start to Rachel Hawthorne’s Dark Guardians trilogy (though I hear now a fourth installment is due out spring 2010, so I suppose it isn't a trilogy anymore). For one, to read a novel dealing with werewolves as opposed to vampires was refreshing. By developing the history of Shifters, Hawthorne creates a more complex side to these fantastic creatures. Moonlight is a light, quick read that will keep the reader engaged through the final page. Full of an interesting group of characters, each with their own quirks, this novel is never dull. The romantic lines are really at the heart of this book, and the chemistry between characters is sure not to disappoint. For those who like adventure and romance and don’t mind a bit of fluff, this is a great book to pick up. 8 out of 10.


Lady Macbeth's Daughter

From the author of Ophelia comes a new twist on a Shakespearean classic: Lady Macbeth’s Daughter. In Lisa Klein’s take on Macbeth, Lady Macbeth bears a deformed child – a girl, nonetheless. When Macbeth casts away his child, Albia, his wife mourns and a serving woman, Rhuven, along with her sisters (coincidently the witches), takes the baby in, treating her like a daughter. Albia grows up with no knowledge of her rightful birth mother, while Lady Macbeth continues to grieve for the daughter she believes to be dead and for her failure to produce a healthy male heir to inherit the Macbeth name. When King Duncan is murdered, Albia is forced to leave her family to live with Banquo. There, Albia begins to feel an attachment to Banquo as the father she never had, as well as to Fleance – as more than a brother. A curious and brave heroine amidst the war, Albia sets out to learn the truth of her birth and to set things right for new family.

Lisa Klein creates a new and engaging angle on Shakespeare’s story of Macbeth in Lady Macbeth’s Daughter. Albia is a fierce heroine for a novel based off of Shakespeare, courageous and witty, though a bit naïve. Though the Macbeths are not supposed to have any children according to the play, Albia’s story fits perfectly with the drama. This work even unravels the mysteries of the witches and prophecies. I also appreciate how Lisa Klein portrays Lady Macbeth as weak and pained as opposed to power-hungry and manipulative, rendering her sympathetic to the reader. The one disappointing aspect of this book was the timing of the ending. For me, Lady Macbeth’s Daughter ended too early in Albia’s story. Still, 8 out of 10.

P.S. On her website, Lisa Klein summarizes her inspiration for this novel as such: “Lady Macbeth says ‘I have given suck, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.’ But the Macbeths have no children! Hmmm. What if Macbeth and his wife DID have a child, and her loss was the catalyst for the crimes and other events of Shakespeare's grimmest tragedy?”

Holiday Break Reading Challenege Finish Line

I continue to fail majorly. I got so caught up in reading for this challenge that I forgot about the writing reviews and blogging portion. I ended up reading a total of 24 books (way more than my original goal of 15), and I doubt I'll write reviews for all of them (correction: I KNOW I won't write reviews for all of them because I have a tendency to be a lazy ass). So, instead I'm going to write a couple of sentences about each, and will pick my favorites when I decide to get around to full reviews. Let me know if you want to hear more about any of these!

1. Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe - I read this for the 1 ARC Tours, so you'll definitely be getting a full review of this one. It took a bit of time before I really got into the book, but once I did I loved it.

2. Where There's a Witch by Madelyn Alt - The fifth installment of Alt's Bewitching Mysteries series. This murder mystery wasn't quite as interesting as the previous ones (it takes way too long to get to the exciting part), but I loved the development of Maggie's personal life and the ending was great, so it all balanced out nicely.

3. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - I really rushed through this when I read it back in September for the B&N discussion, and just knew I had to reread it since I was missing so much. This book was such a creative blend of fright, friendship, mystery, and romance, though I think readers will either love or hate it. Lucky for me, I loved it and really liked the writing style -- so much so that after the first 50 pages or so, I couldn't put it down.

4-6. Moonlight, Full Moon, and Dark of the Moon by Rachel Hawthorne - Though a bit formulaic, I truly enjoyed this trilogy (though I hear now a fourth installment is due out this spring, so I suppose it isn't a trilogy anymore). I've always enjoyed the romantic lines Hawthorne writes, and I like that she tackled werewolves and made them a whole lot more complex.

7. The Hollow by Jessica Verday - This was just as awesome as I expected it to be. I admit that I'm not always the best at guessing what will happen, but I never would've guessed the truth behind this story. The Haunted can't come soon enough.

8. Larceny and Lace by Annette Blair - Another cute mystery that's the second in Blair's A Vintage Magic Series. I really like how the series has developed so far, so I'll definitely continue to read them.

9. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - So freakin' good. I really loved how magic and history came together, and all of the puzzle pieces resolve so wonderfully in the end. There absolutely must be a sequel.

10. Shadowland by Alyson Noel - This is the first time Ever started to get on my nerves. I stayed interested because the plot was really engaging, but sometimes she annoyed me so much that finishing seemed like a challenge.

11. Bad Apple by Laura Ruby - Interesting concept, but I didn't really like this. The characters felt flat and I didn't like the format very much (Tola's narration is broken up by quotes from other characters in the novel, but they didn't actually add to the story).

12. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - This book was incredibly moving and some parts even gave me chills. As the narration was so key to the novel's success in my mind, I'm interested in watching the film adaptation now.

13. Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson - I've loved Maureen Johnson ever since I got an ARC of The Key to the Golden Firebird. This return to Scarlett's life was thoroughly enjoyable, and I love the new characters she brought in. The ending really left me hanging, so this is another book where there better be a sequel.

14. The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols - Cute and fun new SimonPulse RoCom. I could certainly relate to the stubborn protagonist.

15. Slept Away by Julie Kraut - This wasn't what I expected (I think I went into reading expecting a sweet summer romance), but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. The novel was longer than it needed to be, but the emphasis on friendship and message that appearances aren't everything/the clothes don't make the man was really nice.

16. At Face Value by Emily Franklin - An interesting adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac that had me laughing. It was longer than it needed to be, and I was a little disappointed by the happy ending, but still enjoyed it.

17. The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner - I liked this sequel more than the first book (The Red Necklace). I think that's because there was more action and the older, mature Yann was a more intriguing protagonist.

18. The Season by Sarah MacLean - This reminded me a lot of Marissa Doyle's books, and that's a good thing. I loved the strong females, sweet romance, and mystery and I always fall for Regency Era fiction.

19. Geektastic edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci - Some stories were great, others not so much. Still, an enjoyable collection of stories about a wide range of geeks. I'll admit that I didn't understand some of the geek language (I suppose I'm not geektastic enough), but they were still fun and I liked seeing the elevation of the geek.

20. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me by Louise Rennison - A disappointing conclusion to the Georgia Nicolson series. The majority of the book just felt like a jumble of what had already been written in early installments, and the only good part was getting to finally know who Georgia ends up with.

21. A Pearl Among Princes by Coleen Paratore - Absoultely darling story that you can read in a couple of hours. The character's actions didn't feel too realistic, but it was still a sweet fairy tale.

22. Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund - I liked this more than I expected to. I originally read it because I was drawn to the cover and enjoyed Osterlund's writing style in Aurelia, but the story really held its own.

23. Fairest of All by Serena Valentino - I never thought I'd feel sympathy for the Evil Stepmother/Witch in Snow White, but I did. I liked this backstory and it was fairly well-written.

24. Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri - I loved this Faust retelling. It was absolutely creepy and while I hated some of the characters, I'm pretty positive that was intentional. Even hours after finishing, I'm still wrapping my mind around some parts.


Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan gets into the mind of fifteen-year-old Blake who is struggling to balance his perfect girlfriend Shannon and his photo partner and friend Marissa who happens to be a girl. After taking a photo of a worn-down, drug addict on the street for his photography class (Blake always sticks to gritty photos), he discovers more about Marissa – that woman was her missing mother. As Blake learns more about Marissa, their relationship changes, and Blake begins to realize that though love and romance are confusing, friendship isn’t necessarily any clearer. While he works to perfect his photography, he realizes it takes just as much work to balance the two most important females in his life that couldn’t be more different.

L.K. Madigan blends comedy with more serious matters perfectly in Flash Burnout. Blake’s dilemmas feel real to the reader, and I must say I laughed at some point during nearly every chapter is this novel. L.K. Madigan does a superb job getting into the mind of a teenage boy – a task many young adult authors have tried without as much success – as Blake’s thoughts feel authentic. This book is fast-paced and, despite its length, easy to read in one sitting because it’s so hard to put down. The references to the craft of photography, especially the tips found at the beginning of each chapter and in the title itself, add to the parallels in Blake’s life and enrich the reader’s experience. The only time I was let down was the very ending of this novel which felt rather abrupt. I wish Flash Burnout had gone further in time and not ended so suddenly, so that the reader could feel more closure with the characters. 8 out of 10.



All I can say is FAIL. I am SO sorry I feel so behind this semester. I thought I'd be able to keep up during school, but that only lasted for about a month and then I was too overwhelmed to update. So sad.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

Anyway, I have a bunch of reviews to get up and a whole slew of books in my room to read, and I've decided the best way to get myself going again is to participate in a challenge. So, with that in mind, I'm participating in the Holiday Break Reading Challenge. It started yesterday, but so what. Between now and January 3rd, 2010 (a new decade!), I am going to (hopefully) read 15 books. I'm starting now with a book I just got for the 1 ARC Tours - Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe. aannnnnnnnnnnddddd... GO!


Waiting on Wednesday: October 14

Title: The Dark Divine

Author: Bree Despain

US Release date: December 22, 2009

Summary (from GoodReads): I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?” Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away. As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Why I'm interested: Even beyond the gorgeous cover, this book looks so intriguing! An ancient evil, dark secrets, sacrificing one's soul? Wow. The Dark Divine looks like it will have a lot of weight to it and won't be a book you want to put down. This synopsis leaves so much to think about, I cannot wait for this to be released in December.

What's your choice this Wednesday?


Secret Society Teen Ambassador Contest

So sorry I've fallen off the face of the earth. I didn't realize quite how demanding this year would be academically, and while it's sad I've had to choose homework and classes over updating this blog :(

Anyway, this is a really awesome contest to promote Tom Dolby's Secret Society. Enter by the 19th and YOU could win an Ambassador Initiation Kit!

The Teen Ambassador Initiation Kit includes:

• “The Initiates were given what looked like tattoos at the nape of their necks.” A set of 15 temporary ankh tattoos for you and 14 Initiates. Give them out wisely!

• “Anastasia took a sip of her martini, leaving a dark red lipstick print on her glass.” Your ticket to gorgeous lips and cheeks, TheBalm’s Stainiac Beauty Queen tinted gel blush (”a hint of tint for
the lips and cheeks”)! A $15 value! (TheBalm is a fabulous makeup brand launched by my friend Marissa Shipman and sold nationwide at Sephora.)

• “A card was included with the package that simply read, ‘With compliments.’” A one-of-a-kind vintage New York postcard signed by Tom — use it as a bookmark!

• “Patch and Nick used to play this game in class, where they would pass notes.” One beautiful, retro-styled Field Notes mini-notebook, perfect for writing down secrets! At the Bradford Trust, we’re crazy about these little notebooks. Normally, three are $10!

• “Lauren started to open it, but Emily stopped her.” Last, but not least: a secret initiation tool — here’s a hint: it’s sealed with an ankh!


Waiting on Wednesday: October 7

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: first in a series of Hex Hall books
US Release date: March 2, 2010

Summary (from Amazon.com): Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Why I'm interested: Hex Hall (as in the school) sounds really interesting. I love how Rachel Hawkins is combining all these supernatural beings - witches, faeries, and more. Then, she adds in a secret society and lots of mystery. Sounds sweet to me.

What's your pick this Wednesday?