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Splash Into Summer Winners!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By the almighty powers of Random.org, we have... a winner--no, TWO winners!

Congrats to our two lucky winners, Adrianaec and Maria, who will each get an e-copy of Glass Houses!

edit: Maria is unable to receive the e-copy of Glass Houses, so another winner was drawn. Congratulations to aloveforbooks!!

We'll be contacting you guys via email. Remember, there is a 48 hour period for confirmation, if you do not confirm within that time, we will pick a new winner.

When we reach one hundred followers (never thought I'd say this--EVER), we'll be hosting a 100 follower giveaway. Look forward to it soon!

Book Blogger Hop (4)

Saturday, May 28, 2011
Sorry for my super lateness...! I had a grad ceremony to attend yesterday and lessons all day today.

Book Blogger Hop


What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked?  Which have you disliked?



I liked The Series of Unfortunate Events movie a lot. I never got through all the books in that series, I read the first eight, then skipped to the last one and that was that. But the movie... I loved it. Especially Count Olaf. Can I say awesome?

Splash into Summer Giveaway!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Splash into Summer with Imaginary Reads!!
International Giveaway


In celebration of the coming days of summer, Imaginary Reads will be giving away a kindle ebook copy of Glass Houses (Book #1 of The Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine to TWO lucky winners!


From the author of the popular Weather Warden series comes the debut of an exciting new series set in Morganville, Texas, where you would be well advised to avoid being out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life, but they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

Giveaway

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Giveaway starts May 25 at 12:00 AM EST and ends May 31 at 12:00 AM EST. Winner will be announced by June 2 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email sent; otherwise, a new winner will be drawn. Winner will be chosen at random.

Author Interview - Kathryn Shay

Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Today, I'm interviewing author Kathryn Shay, author of The Betrayal.

Darcy Weston flees to her grandparents’ abandoned farm after her stepfather rapes her. There, she meets Jordan Mackenzie, a local boy, and the friendship of a lifetime begins. Jordan helps sustain Darcy with food and water, and his company, for months, but eventually her whereabouts are discovered. In subsequent years, the two young people try to stay in touch from their disparate worlds, but eventually they drift apart.

Flash forward twelve years. Jordan is an accomplished teacher and Darcy, an internationally famous, reclusive artist. They meet again when Jordan publishes a book that reveals secrets about Darcy's past. But they find themselves thrown together first over the scandal his book creates, then over a murder. Once again, they turn to each other for help and comfort as they deal with police investigations, a variety of suspects from each other's worlds, and a passion between them which won't be denied.

You have many novels featuring educators and/or law enforcement. Are these your favorite kinds of novels to write? What influenced you to write these kinds of novels?
I’ve written several books about educators because I was one for decades.  I love to tell stories about kids and the teachers who help them. I’m very biased, as I think the axiom, “Teachers change the world one kid at a time” is on target. Meanwhile, I get to tell a love story, which is also one of my favorite things to write about.

I do love to write about cops, especially female ones, but probably I’m most known for my firefighter series. I’ve done eight books about firefighters and have another brand new one I’m working on.  I’m truly inspired by their heroism, selflessness and courage. I spent years (literally!) with my town’s fire department, riding the trucks, going to training at the academy, eating in the firehouse with my guys and gals. I’ll tell you, the more you get to know them, the more in awe you are.


What/who is your writing muse? Where do you find inspiration?
I have no writing muse. I find inspiration everywhere—when I see a good teacher, when a cop story comes on TV, when a newspaper article discusses finding your birth mother, when I take my kids to the doctor, etc. Inspiration is all around and I think most writers get their ideas from real life, unless of course, you’re writing about vampires and werewolves.

You mention in your author's note in The Betrayal that it is a true by the "seat of [your] pants" novel in that you write it without knowing where the storyline would take you. Why did you decide to do this? When did you know the general idea of the story?
I did this because for years, I’d been writing books from a synopsis. It’s necessary to give editors a detailed outline in order for them to go to contract before the book is written. Since this story wasn’t under contract, I decided I’d just start with a premise: two young people meet when one is hiding out. They become lifelong friends and eventually lovers. That’s all I knew. About a hundred pages in (it’s a 450 pp manuscript) I found out that the hero would betray the heroine and she’d betray him right back. Finally, I realized there would be a murder.

How satisfied were you with the ending of The Betrayal? Were you shocked by any outcomes of the novel?
I love the ending ofThe Betrayal because I didn’t know right up until one of the last scenes who the bad guy was going to be. I had prepared for four or five people to perhaps be the culprit. After I finished the book, of course, I had to go back into the storyline (like a million times) to prepare the reader for this. Also, I had to revise many, many times because I didn’t know other aspects of the ending. Things just kept popping up and I didn’t prepare for them.

How have you enjoyed the experience of writing by the "seat of your pants"? Will you be doing this again?
I loved it and not only will I do it again, I already have. I wrote the three novellas in The Educators series with just a premise for each one. And now I’m writing the firefighter anthology the same way. It’s a whole lot of fun, if a bit more work that way.

If you walked into a bar and saw Jordan from The Betrayal, what would you do?
Oh my God, I’d die!!! I’d love to meet him in person. I’d tell him what a great guy I think he is, how I loved watching him grow up and how I think the fact that he never gave up on Darcy was wonderful.

If you could, would you go back change anything about your writing?
I know my books have been and continue to be successful. One thing I know I should change is the fact that I had two full time jobs for ten years: teaching and writing. But I just couldn’t quit my teaching job, I loved it so much. Still, my schedule took its toll on me: getting up at 4 a.m. to write before school started, writing weekends and vacations, that kind of thing isn’t really healthy.

If you could bring a character to life, who would it be and why?
Well, other than The Betrayal my two favorite books are Trust in me andCop of the Year. I’d probably bring the heroes to life from those two books. Next, I’d bring back all the female firefighters I’ve written.

In honor of the advent of summer vacation, what is your favorite vacation spot?
Jamaica—my own personal hero and I have gone there for years and am heading back next winter. It’s lush, lovely and relaxing.

Tell us five facts about yourself that we may not already know.
--The most important thing I ever did in my life was being a mother.
--I find great satisfaction in reaching out to others less fortunate than I’ve been. I volunteer at a soup kitchen and a battered women’s shelter twice a week.
--I love yoga.
--I could never watch TV when I was writing and teaching and raising kids, so now I watch a lot of it.
--I have a little Yorkie named Hattie whom I love dearly. Note: she was in The Betrayal.

Thanks, Kathryn, for taking the time to come here!

Kathryn's Website | Facebook | Twitter
Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has published 41 novels from the Berkley Publishing Group, Harlequin Enterprises, Bold Strokes Books and has several online works featured. She has won five RT Book Reviews awards, four Golden Quills, four Holt Medallions, the Bookseller’s Best Award and several “Starred Reviews.” Her work has been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine.  She lives in upstate New York with her husband and children.

Related Posts
Review of The Betrayal

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Time

Saturday, May 21, 2011
I wonder why I never have enough time to read everything I want to read. When I do find time to curl up with a book in a hermit corner, it's always short-lived and time passes way too quickly. I even have a reading chair which I read and write in. It's good for posture, apparently.

Why time passes quickly when I'm totally immersed in a book, I have no idea. All I know is that when I delve into a book's pages and get sucked into the story, the next time I look at a clock may be six hours later. Assuming the book is mind-blowingly awesome, of course.

I have horrendous time management. I never have enough time to do my homework or plan my speeches. I rely solely on improvisation, rushing, and sheer pressure. It's not that bad of a plan, and I can pull it off quite well, but where does that leave me with reading? If I can't even find time to do my schoolwork, where in the world will I find time to read?

It's a priority thing, really. I don't know whether I should be proud of ashamed to say I place reading high, high above homework in terms of priority. Though really, it depends on what book it is.

Even though I manage to find time to read. It feels like it's never enough time. Time passes like a trans-dimensional flash (no idea what I'm saying, but hey, I sound smart) when I read.

I think the reason why I'll never feel as if there's enough time is because there are simply too many books I want to read. Too many good books. There'll never be enough time to read all the books in the world. There should be though.

I'm currently reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I bought it on kindle, and it's taking me an age to read. What with all the tests and exams I have right now and I'm told to prep for (totally skipping the prep, by the way).

There's not enough time. I wish I had two hours a day where time stopped and I could do whatever I wanted to. I mean, I'd probably get used to it after a while and laze about as I usually do, but hey, a girl can dream.

"You could read a book a day and you'd never finish all the books in the world. But you'd get through a lot."

How do you spare time to read?


Hikari

Follow Friday (3)

Friday, May 20, 2011
Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee

Q. It's circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them...
  1. I'm crazy about keeping my books in new condition. I'll open them as little as possible for me to be able to see all the words, and I'll stack my books face up on the shelves so that nasty dust can't get on the pages.
  2. I love the smell of new book. If I had to be locked up somewhere for a whole day or maybe weeks (on the condition that I have food, water, and shelter), then I would choose a bookstore. I can lose myself in books for days if given the chance. (You can tell that I'm book-obsessed, can't you? My first two facts relate to books.)
  3. Time to deviate. I also love the smell of puppies. They are adorable. I love pretty much all baby animals, but puppies are the only ones I've had the chance to raise (besides baby bunnies--they were precious!) I'll give up a day of reading to play with a baby animal.
  4. I'm a camera maniac. While I hate having it point at me, I love to click that little button on the top right of a camera. I have mini photoshoots with my pets and the landscape around me all the time.
  5. My brain doesn't function past 11:00 p.m. If you want me to do something productive, you're better off letting me sleep at 10:00 p.m. and setting my alarm for 5:00 a.m. I'm an early bird.

What about you? What are your quirks?
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Book Blogger Hop (3)

Book Blogger Hop

"If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?"

If manga (Japanese graphic novels) were considered books, I'd definitely spend a day in a shoujo, surrounded by a bunch of hot guys. Probably Kaichou wa Maid-Sama, I could sit and eat at Maid Latte and badger Usui Takumi. And Aoi (while he's not cross-dressing). Perfect.

Um, real books. I want to spend a day in Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland, obviously) and have tea with the Mad Hatter. Wonderland without the Queen of Hearts sounds like an awesome place, so I'll just be staying in the Hatter's garden, celebrating our unbirthdays. I'm just in that dreamy slash hungry kind of mood.

Looks like everything I think up involves teatime. Go figure--literally, before I get fat from all the food.


Hikari

Review: The Betrayal by Kathryn Shay

Thursday, May 19, 2011

3 Stars: A Good Read
Publication March 18, 2011 by Kathryn Shay

Darcy Weston flees to her grandparents abandoned farm after her step-father rapes her. There, she meets Jordan Mackenzie, a local boy, and the friendship of a lifetime begins. Jordan helps sustain Darcy with food and water--and his company--for months, but eventually her whereabouts are discovered. In subsequent years, the two of them try to stay in touch from their disparate worlds, but eventually they drift apart.

Flash forward twelve years. Jordan is an accomplished teacher and Darcy, an internationally famous-and reclusive--artist. They meet again when Jordan publishes a book that reveals secrets about Darcy's past. But they find themselves thrown together first over the scandal his book creates, then over a murder. Once again, they turn to each other for help and comfort as the deal with police investigations, a variety of suspects from each other's worlds, and a passion between them which won't be denied.

The Betrayal is a romantic thriller that will keep you up all night, turning page after page (or clicking and clicking on your Nook or Kindle), eager to find out what will happen next. Kathryn Shay is a master of hooking the reader’s attention and feeding tidbits that continuously have you guessing at what will happen next. Sometimes you’ll get it; other times, you’ll find that there’s a twist in the plot, and The Betrayal will leave you at a loss as to who is the end culprit.

The story starts with Darcy Weston fleeing her home after being raped by her stepfather. While seeking refuse at her late grandparents’ house, she meets Jordan Mackenzie, who will fall in love with her while protecting her secret. They’re discovered after Darcy becomes injured falling down the basements steps, and Darcy leaves to live with her mother. Over subsequent years, they drift apart due to Darcy’s belief that her bad influence is corrupting the pure Jordan, whom she has grown to care about. Twelve years later, Jordan is a teacher and aspiring author while Darcy has grown into a recluse and popular artist under the name of D. J. West.

From the first chapters, I fell in love with the story. The idea of two kids meeting each other, growing feelings that never fully mature before they part, and then meeting each other again years later? It’s too sweet—and heartbreaking when misunderstanding arise and they betray each other, all the while having to sort out the feelings in their hearts.

Jordan is such a sweet kid with a pure character that remains as he grows up. He helps Darcy unconditionally and always acts according to what’s best for her. When his story about his time with Darcy receives a publishing offer on the condition that they use D.J. West’s fame to promote it, he doesn’t accept the publishing offer immediately despite his need for the money for pay for his mother’s medical bills. He doesn’t because he knows people will associate the artist D.J. West with Darcy Weston and that her secret will be forced into the open. Since childhood, he has always given everything for Darcy, a trait of his that will melt readers' hearts.

To be honest, I couldn’t help questioning the ease with which he put aside his best friend Tommy as a child in favor of spending every possible second with Darcy. While he does like Darcy, his interest in her borders a tad bit on obsession, though it doesn’t seem that way because he’s just so sweet and caring, both as a boy and as a grown man. On the other hand, I couldn’t understand Tommy’s intense dislike for Darcy. I know that he’s constantly jerked around by Jordan because of her, but I don’t know how he tolerates it. It would help if we had had more insight into his character. He’s a good man, and I would have liked to see more of him. The same goes with Lisa’s feelings towards Jordan, though her intentions will become clearer as the story progresses.

Darcy. While this story is told in turn by both Darcy and Jordan (and a couple other characters as needed to further the plot), it is essentially Darcy’s story. Her pain and sufferings are what set the events into motion when she met Jordan as a teenager and again years later when they betray each other. She is a rich girl, but she isn’t overly conscious of it. After being raped by her stepfather and doubted by her own mother, she needs emotional support, not material wealth, and it is for this reason that Jordan was able to win her affections years ago. I find it touching how Darcy opens a refuge for teenagers in an attempt to do for them what Jordan and his mother did for her years ago. She even goes so far as to name it after them. It shows that while she lost touch with him in an attempt to free Jordan of her influence, she has never forgotten him or his mother, whom she feels is the mother that she never had—the one who will listen to her and comfort her.

When Jordan’s book results in scandal and murder, Darcy’s ability to trust others takes a sharp hit. It takes great emotional strength for Jordan to break through the barriers that she’s placed on her heart and convince Darcy that he is truly the man for her.

Kathryn Shay has spun together a story of love and heartbreak, renewed affections and tragedy. While some of the characters lack sufficient motivation for some for their actions, Jordan and Darcy are well-developed overall, and their emotions are easy to understand. Their growth from na├»ve children to mature adults will pull you deeper into their world. The Betrayal is a suspenseful story that you will not be able to put down once you have read Darcy’s story. Once you have met Jordan. Once you have felt the pangs of betrayal.

Recommended for adult readers who enjoy a good romance and thriller. There is explicit content in the form of s-e-x and lust.

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Book Review: Living Dead Girl

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 170
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.

Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.


Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.


When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her. This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.


Don’t read this book if you’re scared of rapists and kidnappers. Don’t read this book if you have a heart problem. Don’t read this book if you’re a young, innocent girl, from ONCE UPON A TIME. This book is why I will never question guns being legal in America ever again. Sometimes, you need them. Jake did, anyway.

A last piece of advice: never—ever—try reading Living Dead Girl until 2am in the morning.

The first chapter of Living Dead Girl threw me into confusion. It’s in second person, which made me wonder what I was supposed to be figuring out. Then it jumped to first person, with Alice telling the story. I put two and two together to get six a lot of times before I figured the girl in the first chapter was Alice, “I,” in the second one.

The way Elizabeth Scott bounces from the present to the past confused me at times. But after a few chapters of it, I became used to the jumps and it’s a very clever way of showing the past without too much back-story info-dumps. I especially liked how she used “ONCE UPON A TIME.” In all-caps, it gives off this haunting, reminiscent feel that, at the same time, feels very “in your face,” which is something atypical of reminiscent scenes.

I loved the chapters where there were single lines or single paragraphs. Those scenes—though simple—stood out in my mind, and they’re really, really powerful.

Ray was a really well written character. He had a past that made him the way he is, and in some sick, twisted way, the way his actions link back to how his mother treated him makes sense. He has a smile for everybody else and a true smile with his gums showing. Perhaps he’s not a very likable character—I know I definitely hated him—but nevertheless, he’s a very good character. The way Alice describes him is so real, so full of emotion, it’s like Ray is right there, breathing down your neck.

On the other hand, there’s Alice. I didn’t like her a lot. But I could empathise with her story. Everything about her was so centered around Ray that her characterisation became Ray’s as well. Because I didn’t like Ray, I didn’t like Alice all that much either. I loved her voice though, just not her character. I felt sorry for her, but I didn’t love her to bits like I do some main characters.

I did like Jake though. That may be because he was the only one that was some semblance of “normal.” He was actually a normal teen boy, who was nervous when he talked to a girl, who said silly love struck things that he couldn’t achieve. His normalcy was what, for me, balanced this book out. His sister though, I didn’t like as much. She came across to me as a brat who thought she was grown up.

I found the ending quite disappointing. I expected something a bit more conclusive. It left me hanging on the edge, wondering if there was more to be desired. True, it was a dramatic all-caps ending that stayed with me, but it didn’t tell me much. And this lack of detail and a definite end left me itching—literally, or maybe I should attribute the itchiness to the large amount of mosquito bites I got recently.

Hikari, still a little girl from ONCE UPON A TIME, shivered after reading this book, for all the Alice’s and Annabel’s out there.

ONCE UPON A TIME, Hikari read Living Dead Girl. And not-so-ONCE UPON A TIME, Hikari recommends this book to you. If you can stand heavy content, that is. If not... I'd say go read something happy.


Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Monday, May 16, 2011

5 Stars: An Incredible Read
Series: Unearthly #1
Hardcover: 435 Pages
Publication: January 4, 2011 by Harper Teen

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Cynthia Hand adds a new twist to angels unique from the darker Nephilim stories that we see in bookshelves today. The story follows Clara Gardner as visions of Christian and a forest fire allude to her purpose, leading her away from her home in sunny California to rural Wyoming. There, she struggles to uncover her purpose and fit into the school.

The book was a relaxing read. Not much action takes place during the book, as Clara is mostly trying to fit into the school and get closer to Christian in order to fulfill her purpose. In addition, Clara is just as clueless as we are about her angelic heritage because her mom hides a lot from her. On the plus side, we get to see Clara find out a lot on her own (especially while her mom leaves on business), but it's disappointing for those who like to see more action.

Seeing as how she is angel-blood, one would expect Clara to be the perfect girl. In a way, she is. She's naturally beautiful, athletic, and talented. Inside, however, she's a normal teenage girl trying to find a place in the world. She's not like her brother who will be part of the 'in' crowd wherever she goes, and she isn't a genius who can fly correctly the first time she tries or solve the meaning of her purpose without a headache. And we can all sympathize with her when her hair job goes wrong and when she bumps into Tucker's car the first day of school.

Speaking of Tucker, the cowboy touch was quaint. He's a refreshing character and very different from most male lead characters today. He's open and doesn't hide his feelings, which makes Clara uncomfortable at the beginning but which I grew to appreciate as I delved further into the book. You always know where Tucker stands, which is more than I could say for Christian, who always seems so mysterious and doesn't come out until the end of the book. I loved watching how Tucker's relationship with Clara developed from open enmity to friendship and love. He's a great guy, and I began cheering for him halfway through the book.

Christian isn't a bad guy, but he doesn't have those dimples or that ability to get Clara to relax, fit in, and feel like a normal girl. He's too perfect, as Wendy puts it--perfectly. Wendy. She's a wonderful, charming, sweet friend, someone that Clara needs to be able to talk to like a normal girl while Angela is there to fill her in on the other business. *wink* *wink*

The Black Wings bring in the element of darkness, and one of them, Sam, brings in the conflict and battle at the end of the book, not to mention starting the forest fire that Clara has seen in her visions. I enjoyed reading as Clara broke free of her intended destiny in order to save the one she loves.

I really enjoyed reading a book that takes place in such a rural and gorgeous setting. The imagery was fabulous (and I'm a sucker for imagery) and made up for the lack of action. Once I started this book, I could hardly put it down. I can't wait to read Hallowed, the next installment in the Unearthly series. (Where I expect to see more action and more plot development as Cynthia Hand develops the cliffhanger she left for us!)

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Examination Reads

Saturday, May 14, 2011
One of the great horrors of the ages is having to manage priorities. At first, it doesn't sound hard. Momentary pleasures versus the big decision? Reading or studying? The vast majority will, in the end, vote for studying. That's what I did.

Still, after having made the decision, you'll get a nagging feeling, a desire to enter your imagination and escape from the big decision. You'll open your textbook only to hear the whispers of another land calling you. You'll count down the days till you can curl up on the couch with that good old friend of yours. And at last, in the wake of the storm, you'll open that book!!

Okay, I'm exaggerating a tad bit, but I really have been counting down the days till I hit my week-long break in exams. I have much to catch up on.

The first thing I did after exams ended was read this:

Isn't that such a beautiful cover? It has to be my favorite out of the first three books.

I'll post my review later. For now, I am still in the middle of examinations.

Next on my list of to-read books are Darklight and Across the Universe.

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Book Review: The Hunger Games trilogy

Title: The Hunger Games trilogy
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: THG: 374, CF: 391, M: 390
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository

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 bought The Hunger Games when it came out (hardcover, cost me nearly HK$150) but I never got round to it until recently, when my friend pestered me about returning Catching Fire and Mockingjay, which I had borrowed from him ages ago.

My loss, I guess.

When I read the first few pages of The Hunger Games, the first thing I thought was that it didn’t live up to its hype. I got bored with Buttercup, didn’t understand Katniss’s mom, and was completely lost when Gale went, “May the odds be ever in your favour.” I was hopelessly lost and quite bored, really.

It was at the end of the first chapter of The Hunger Games that I officially fell in love with it. “Primrose Everdeen.” Those were the two words that got me hooked. Katniss’s character truly came out then, the love for her sister that kick started the entire series. Then BAM, the action starts. From then on, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the black and white pages. After that, the story only got more and more complicated, and I couldn’t help but dive into it.

The trilogy served to remind me that I hate, hate, hate love triangles. I loved Peeta Mellark. A lot. His sweet nature just got to me. Even back in the beginning, when Katniss had all those doubts about him, I could never feel the same way as her; Peeta was just way too sweet. I was actually angry with Katniss throughout Catching Fire for treating Peeta the way she did, which was a first, since I like Katniss a lot, and I could never hate main characters I liked. Although Gale’s handsome, and cool, and would, in any other case, be the one I was rooting for, I couldn’t help but like Peeta over him.

One thing I really loved about the trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s writing, is her characters. As I’ve said, I really loved Peeta. Primrose was such a real, three-dimensional character too. She had pets she loved, a passion for healing, and was just so lovable. As was Rue, the little girl from District 11. Even though she wasn’t there in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, she never left my mind. She’s still on my mind now, even. Oh, yes, and President Snow. Loved the roses, loved the blood. He’s one of my favourite characters, actually. I think Cinna and the prep team deserve a mention too, because Cinna was possibly the only one who came anywhere close to Peeta on my Like Scale. And the prep team… they’re like a bunch of puppies, you can’t help but want to pet them.

Suzanne Collins’s writing cuts straight to everything, her points and her story driving straight into my heart. No decorations, no fancy images of fairy lights and daisy petals (dandelions, maybe, but not daisies). That’s what reinforced the fast pacing of the books that left me barely in touch with what was going on, scrambling to catch up, desperate to read on. I didn’t stop until I flipped the last page of Mockingjay.

All the deaths, all the tragedies, they left me pining for the characters, mourning over the losses, but at the same time, I couldn’t stop my hand from flipping to the next page. The trilogy doesn’t give you time to breathe, time to think. When you reach the last word, Katniss’s emotions will still be there, hammering in your heart.

Loads of dying people and cruel games may not be your cup of tea, but if you haven’t read The Hunger Games trilogy yet, I’d say, “Go, go, go!” It isn’t the reigning queen of dystopia for nothing. It might just be worth your time.

Book Blogger Hop (2)

Friday, May 13, 2011
Blogger is working, yay! I couldn't get this up earlier 'cause of it, blah. And I was asleep for the past nine hours.

Book Blogger Hop "Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?"

My answer: No. Unless I skive school and cross the Pacific--or whatever ocean's between Asia and America these days--I'm not going. I doubt my parents would be happy to provide the plane tickets either, or about me skipping school, especially since our school fees just got more expensive--again. So, although I'd love to go, I'm afraid I'm stuck here in Hong Kong, Asia.

Review: Torment by Lauren Kate


5 Stars: An Awesome Read
Series: Fallen #2
Hardcover: 452 Pages
Publication: September 28, 2010 by Delacorte Press for Young Readers

Hell on earth. That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous. What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never die.

Lauren Kate continues to develop the relationship between angels and demons in Torment. Here, we learn a little more about the weight that Daniel carries, about the fallen angels and Nephilim, and about what’s at stake. The title itself tells us of the emotional anguish that Luce will go through in this book. Despite having just been reunited with her angel lover Daniel, Luce must part with him while he protects her from those who week to end her life for good.

I missed Arriane and her wicked sense of humor, but I have to say that Shelby is a brilliant character. She is one of the few people who doesn’t idolize Luce because of her relationship with Daniel —in fact, she starts off not liking Luce at all— and she is not afraid to be blunt and say what Luce needs to hear. Overall, she's a cool girl with a don't mess with me attitude.

While intentional, Daniel has been severely missing from this book. He'll do anything to protect Luce, but the way he handles the situation continuously hurts Luce and causes her to doubt their relationship. He tells her that they can't see each other, he sneaks into Shoreline because he misses her so much, and then he won't tell her what's going on except that it's for her own good. We know that he still loves her, that he sacrifices so much to keep her, but she doesn't remember anything outside of this lifetime.

Luce doesn't know for sure that Daniel has not tired of her. He's absent, gone somewhere she can't follow. Consequently, it's no surprise that she starts to develop feelings for Miles, the nice kid who's always there for her. Honestly, Daniel brought this on himself, and I hope he respects Luce more in the next book (such as considering her feelings more) because I do like him.

Luce learns more about the Announcers, the shadows that have followed her throughout her life, and how to manipulate them into windows that open her to her past lives. At the same time, certain events that she spies cause her to doubt Daniel's intentions and whether her true destiny lies with him. Without Daniel there to take care of everything for her, she has more time to contemplate her feelings and to look into her past. The most touching scene for me is when she meets Vera and realizes that she and Daniel aren’t the only ones affected by her many deaths. That is when she realizes the immensity of the conflict revolving around the love she shares with Daniel.

Luce makes a bold decision at the end of the book to step into the past. This journey will continue to test her love with Daniel and possibly answer this nagging question I’ve had throughout the book. What secret is Daniel afraid of Luce uncovering? And will they learn to trust in each other’s strength?

The first book Fallen was about Luce learning how they fell.
The second book Torment was about Luce’s self-doubts.
The third book Passion… I’m expecting to see their love rekindled.

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Follow Friday (2)



Q. The Blogger Apocalypse made me a little emotional. What is the most emotional scene in a book that you have read lately?



I just finished reading Torment the other day, so the first scene that comes to mind is Luce's meeting with Vera.

Read my book review here.
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Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
5 Stars: An Epic Read
Series: Angelfire #1
Hardcover: 453 Pages
Publication: February 15, 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books

First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

It's not hard to see why Angelfire has been drawing so much buzz. The action plus Ellie's kickass attitude makes it an appealing book to guys, and her relationship with the hot and mysterious (and entirely swoon-worthy) Will is an added bonus for girls.

Ellie is a strong, independent female lead, a one-of-a-kind girl that I've been missing in recent YA releases. Yes, she will mess up during real fights with Reapers out to get her, but she can seriously kick Will's butt in practice fights. All she needs to do is figure out the Preliator business, and she'll deal serious damage to the Reapers. She'll become the hunter and they the prey. At the moment, she's still a really funny girl with a sweet and sensitive nature underneath her tough exterior.

I do have this nagging suspicion that there's more to the whole dad business. Ellie's depression over her jerk of a dad seems unreal, and I don't get how a guy can change so much all of a sudden. I think the Reapers have infiltrated her house. That's the only possible explanation that I can think of (unless they found a way to brainwash good dads).

Will. I love him just as much as I love Ellie and maybe just a tad bit more because... well, he's Will. Hot Will with a passionate heart concealed under the impassive mask he wears. It doesn't hurt that he's Ellie's sworn guardian and completely devoted to her. I really, really hope that they manage to stay together throughout the saving-the-world business. They've both suffered enough already, Will more-so in that he still remembers each of Ellie's lives that he's lived through while she's still struggling to remember everything.

Angelfire is a fast-paced read abundant in action while not lacking in hilarious moments or heart-touching romance. I recommended this book for those who love books with angels. For those who love books with action. And for those who love books with romance. Courtney Allison Moulton's debut novel is a must read. I can't wait to read Wings of the Wicked, the next installment in the trilogy!

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Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Thursday, May 5, 2011
3 Stars: A Good Read
Hardcover: 343 Pages
Publication: September 21, 2010 by Razorbill

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

The Replacement was a nice change of pace from other high-tensioned paranormal romance in that (1) the protagonist is male and (2) he lives in a creepy town filled with secrets. It's different from other small town paranormal romance novels because all the town members are in on the fact that something isn't right in the town. They know that there are creatures stealing their babies, so they keep iron around. However, they won't admit that the town isn't natural.

I enjoyed reading the story from a male's point of view and from a changeling at that. Being changeling doesn't give Mackie any special powers. In fact, it's mostly a weakness since he can't touch iron, he grows faint at the smell of blood, and he can't step on hallow ground. Nevertheless, Mackie really isn't different from any other human male despite being a changeling. He eyes girls (Alice), and he has his own troubles about self-identity. Most importantly, he has people he cares about and who care about him in return. Emma especially is an amiable character, and we can see how important she is to Mackie's life. He admits that she is the one who helped him live for so long.

I enjoyed how Yovanoff described the town of gentry, especially the Morrigan and her people, whom she portrayed in a fascinatingly creepy manner. I loved the scene where Mackie asks the dead girl to give back Emma's gloves. It is a touching scene considering how the dead girls realize that nobody can love them because of their rotting bodies, so the kiss is important to the girl with the glove. It is also the moment where Mackie realizes that they aren't bad at all. They're just trying to live with the pieces that they have been dealt in the only place that will accept them.

Tate is a strong female character, though it is mostly because we see her from Mackie's perspective, and he admires her for being an outspoken person as compared to his own indecisive nature. She doesn't pretend that everything is all right like the rest of the town. She gives Mackie the strength that he needs to confront the Morrigan's sister to get Nathalie back. I do wish that Yovanoff spent more time developing the romantic tension between Mackie and Tate. It is hard to see why Mackie has such an interest in Tate when he's always shown an interest in Alice (in the beginning, I did think that she was the primary romantic interest).

Yovanoff could have better developed Mackie's relationships with the people of Gentry. For example, just why was word Freak being painted on Mackie's locker? It was never explained whether or not people know that he doesn't belong. And why does Alice take a sudden interest in Mackie? I can't see any character motivation here. Her role in the story is minor, and Yovanoff might have just excluded her from the story unless she plans on writing a sequel where Alice plays a larger role, which I haven't heard about.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I would recommend this book for those looking for a different kind of paranormal read in a time where most writers are turning in dark, high-tension paranormal romance reads. Yovanoff does a great job incorporating old superstitions in Gentry, and I will be looking out for new releases from her!

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