Monday, August 30, 2010

Mockingjay by: Suzanne Collins


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
[from B&]

Mockingjay is the final installment in the Hunger Games triology by Suzanne Collins. The first two novels of the series were positively addicting, so I was really excited to read this when I picked it up. Which is why it didn't gather dust on my TBR list for long, ha.

Mockingjay has its ups and downs. I'll start off with the things I liked first.

Beware, here be spoilers after this point.

The characters were still really well written, even if we didn't get as much background on some of them than I would've liked. There were some new character introduced that were really interesting and some of my favorite old characters. The plot was pretty solid. The writing was solid. I think Collins has some of the smoothest first person narration I've seen in a while. It's really easy to feel what Katniss is feeling through the style of writing Collins has. Collins, once again, proved herself in the "author not afraid to kill off characters" aspect. I know with some writers (coughStephenieMeyercough) have problems killing off their characters. Collins doesn't. And I love that. Some of the deaths made me sad, but I love that she pushs the boundaries of young adult novels like that. And the violence in this book is really apparent, but really well written. As a fan of horror and gore, I loved those scene. But, they also made me cringe. Which is very hard to do. So props to you, Collins.

I was really scared what would happen when Peeta was brought back and was hijacked and all crazy. But it worked out in the end between them (thank God!), and had some really cute interactions when he wasn't trying to kill her and was trying to figure out what was real and not real. He even had a game called "Real or not real?" I thought that was a nice touch.

And, of course, I loved Haymitch. He was an awesome character, and I thought he was great in this novel, as in the first two.

Now for what I didn't like.

I didn't like all the fast forwarding Collins did in the novel. I think it made the pacing in the novel off, and maybe it would've been better to split the last books into two so we could really get everything. Like, some parts would be pretty slow, and then all of a sudden we'd be weeks into the future. That didn't really sit right with me.

I didn't like that she killed off Finnick. That made me sad. It's more of a personal thing. I loved his character and his interactions with Katniss. And he just got married! I felt that wasn't fair. But, again, just a personal thing. I also think it was unnecessary to kill her sister. Just because that's why she got herself into this whole mess in the first place. Again, just a personal thing.

I think it may have been overkill to have Coin be an uber bitch, too. It kind of felt like it was just thrown in there to have some last minute drama. I think this would've worked out better, too, had the last book been split into two. Because then we could've had that situation built up more, instead of set up and ended in one novel.

As I said with the first two novels, the love triangle thing in this series was vastly unneeded. The books probably would've been better without them. And then Gale is a douche in this novel. He has his moments, but it's kind of like the Gale from the first novel and the Gale in this novel are two different Gales. I get that he's even more angry and full of rage because of the things that have happened, but I don't think that's an excuse to just make him an asshole to someone who is supposed to be his best friend. And then he gets shipped off to distract 2 at the end of the novel and we never get a resolution with Katniss and him. Does she just keep hating him? Do they ever talk again? This is something I want to know!

Which brings me to the epilogue. I liked it but didn't at the same time. I like that it's a happy ending but with scars, that's cool and all, but I still think it was a tad unneeded. Even though I loved the last line.

So, I wasn't jumping up and down at the end of this novel like I was at the other two. But it was still a fairly solid read. Was it a completely satisfying end to a great triology? Sure. I wish there was some things that were developed more, but what can ya do? I love the series, I'll definitely be re-reading the books. Collins is a good writer, and I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.

Overall rating: 8/10

Friday, August 27, 2010

Changeless by: Gail Carriger


Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
[from the barnes and noble website]

Changeless is the sequel to Soulless, and it just so happens that the third book--Blameless--comes out soon. Which I'm really excited about. This series is probably one of my favorites at the moment. I love Carriger's style of writing and the atmosphere of the books is straight up awesome. I've never really ventured into the realms of steampunk before, but these books definitely make me want to read more of the genre.

Alexia is as witty a character in Changeless as she is in Soulless. I love her. She's headstrong, stubborn, sarcastic, and an overall solid character. I think her relationship with Conall is adorable, they're so great when they interact! I did kind of get sick of people always mentioning that Alexia married Conall just for political reasons and to recieve better social standing, instead of for love. It got old. And from the way they interact together, I think it's ridiculous. Clearly, they care about each other. Even if she is soulless.

We were introduced to a new character in this book, Madame Lafoux. Now, she was interesting. I really hope to see her in the next book. We were given a fair amount of background on her, but I'd like to see more. And my other favorites were in the novel, Lord Akeldama and Professor Lyall. Although there weren't in it for more than a couple scenes, they were still amazing. Her friend Ivy was also in the novel. She flirted the line between funny and "I want to throw her off a balcony" a couple of times, but I found the tiff between her and Felicity (Alexia's half sister) pretty hilarious.

I thought it was cool Carriger brought them to Scotland, it was interesting to see Conall's former pack and gain some more insight into his character. And it seems like the setting changes once again in the next book, with Alexia heading to Italy, so that should be interesting, also.

I was not a fan of the ending. It made saddened me. I hope the situation gets rectified in the new book. So I shall be reading it as soon as possible.

Overall, this was a great book. The writing was well done, the plot well done, and the characters well done. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!!

Overall rating: 9/10

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kitty and the House of Horrors by: Carrie Vaughn


Talk radio host and werewolf Kitty Norville has agreed to appear on TV's first all-supernatural reality show. She's expecting cheesy competitions and manufactured drama starring shapeshifters, vampires, and psychics. But what begins as a publicity stunt will turn into a fight for her life.
The cast members, including Kitty, arrive at the remote mountain lodge where the show is set. As soon as filming starts, violence erupts and Kitty suspects that the show is a cover for a nefarious plot. Then the cameras stop rolling, cast members start dying, and Kitty realizes she and her monster housemates are ironically the ultimate prize in a very different game. Stranded with no power, no phones, and no way to know who can be trusted, she must find a way to defeat the evil closing in . . . before it kills them all.
[found on barnes and noble's website]

By now, it should be pretty well known that I love the Kitty Norville series. I think Kitty is a great character who has grown so much from the first novel, and Vaughn always manages to keep me interested in the plotlines and story twists.

That said, this is probably by far my favorite out of the series. Maybe that's just because I just got done reading it, but I really freaking loved this book. It had one of my favorite side characters in it, which is Grant (I really hope we get to see more of him, I love his character). When I saw he was in this I did a little cheer. He was awesome in this story, I love the interactions between him and Kitty. And one of my other favorite side characters comes back at the end (which excited me, might I add, because I've missed him. I won't say who, because I don't want to ruin anything for the people who might not have read this novel yet but want to).

The premise was awesome. A bunch of supernatural creatures holed up in a cabin in Montana? Now, there's a reality show I'd watch.  But then all the fun takes a turn for the worse and people start dying, plus they're trapped because there's thin wires of silver closing them in. This book is a basically an Agatha Christie novel with supernatural creatures. I loved that whole air of mystery and darkness to it. It's a blend of horror and mystery, which was new to see in the Kitty series. And, surprisingly, I really felt for the characters when they died. A lot of times, characters aren't developed enough to really make the reader feel emotional when they die, but in this novel, even though some of the characters I hadn't known for long, I was really sad to see them go. You get to know them and when they're suddenly ganked out, it's sad. You really feel for Kitty and what she's going through.

The writing in this novel was strong, the characters were strong, and the plot was strong. Vaughn has definitely grown as a writer since the first Kitty Norville book. And as long as she can keep the tales new and fresh, I'll be reading.

Overall rating: 9/10

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Scent of Shadows by: Vicki Pettersson

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.
But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .
[from barnes and noble website]

This is the debut novel in the Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson. I actually picked the novel up a while ago, just finally getting around to reading it. And I'm so glad I did.

I loved, loved, loved this novel. It's quirky, dark, violent, and just a wonderful tale. I was a little hesistant at first about the whole "superhero" things, because it just sounded silly, but after a while I got used to it and loved it. I especially loved the whole comic book store scene, that was just priceless. I think that whole quirky take on the supernatural was really interesting and something I haven't seen before. I mean, these people are actually being written about in these superhereo comic books. Though it wasn't explained how the people writing them knew what was happening, so I hope that gets touched on in the later novels.

I love the main character, she's a witty badass who has had a hell of a life. She definitely changes throughout the novel, which I thought was awesome. The bond between her and her sister was touching, and I loved how she interacted with everyone. All around, she was a pretty well rounded character. Pettersson also wrote some interesting secondary characters, like Warren, Hunter, Ben, and the other superheros. I do think the romantic story side to Ben and Joanna was kind of unneccessary, especially with what happens about a third of the way into the novel. Their reunion was short and Ben wasn't really in the novel a lot, so it was a side plot that kind of detracted from the overall story. I do hope he doesn't just disappear, though. He was a pretty cool character. I liked him.

Ajax was an awesome villian. I loved him. He was creepy, disgusting, killed people for the fun of it, and was just a horrible person.  But he was awesome, because he had motive for what he was doing, and he was a genuinely bad person. He wasn't a villian who suddenly sees the light at the end of the tunnel at the end of the book. He was evil through and through, and I loved it.

The setting of the novel is great, I think having it take place in Las Vegas is really cool. I liked how the author portrayed the two sides to Las Vegas: the glitzy strip and the more torn down, shady alleyways.
I absolutely devoured this book. Once I got to the middle of the novel, I just did not want to put it down. The action scenes were well written, the touching scenes weren't cliché and trite--they were truly touching, the dialogue was good, the interactions between the characters were good, and the storyline was good. It was refreshing because it's an urban fantasy that is less about the romance and more about the supernatural and the whole good vs. evil. Definitely a great debut by Pettersson, and I'll be checking out the next novel as soon as I can.
Overall rating: 9/10

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Contest from The Eclectic Reader!

There's a new contest going on over at The Eclectic Reader that everyone should check out.

The books up for grab are:

Mockingjay by: Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay is the third and final installement to The Hunger Games triology!

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

and The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

If you're interested, click on this link and enter!

The competition ends on the 31st of August, so be sure to head over there before the end of the month and get your entry in to win one of the fabulous books up for grabs!

--Faith Adeline