Monthly Archives: October 2013

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Publication Date: JMarch, 21 2005

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Review: I’ve been meaning to read this since before the first movie came out and now that I’ve already seen the second, I think my delving into this series is long overdue. Since I’d already seen the film, I had an idea of what to expect. As is often the case, however, the book was definitely better and I think Rick Riordan does an excellent job of delivering Percy’s first-person narrative. I’m very much looking forward to the next book.

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: September 1, 2009

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
As the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire definitely delivered more than I expected. While this installment doesn’t seem to move with the same pace of the first book and is a bit less action-focused (especially early on), Collins continues to draw the reader into the world of Panem as we get a chance to learn more about this nation and the people who live in it.

Unlike the first book, I did not see many of the twists in Catching Fire coming before they occurred – which I always rank as a plus. On that same token, though, I was so taken with the story, its twists and turns, and the confusion through which Katniss has to navigate and stay strong (not just for herself, but for those she cares for), I don’t think I spent much time feeling the need to guess where the story was headed. I strapped myself in on the roller coaster and just enjoyed the ride.

I was just as glued to this book as I was to the first, and I fully expect the same will be the case with the final installment of the trilogy. I will say this – I have never felt myself more invested in a cliffhanger in a book series prior to reading this book. The ending will leave you not only speechless, but scrambling to get your hands on Mockingjay.

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: September 14, 2008

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ★ 
Review: 
I absolutely love dystopian fiction (as long as it’s well-done, as this book is) so it’s no major surprise to me that I liked this book. What does surprise me is how much I absolutely loved it.

By taking a cue from our culture’s current obsession with reality television and combining it with ways in which totalitarian governments can scare their subjects into keeping in line, Collins brings us a world that can eerily remind the reader of our own. By putting us into the mind of the protagonist, she helps us not only see this world that she has created, but also experience it right along with Katniss: her fears, her dreams, her insecurities, her thoughts of defiance, etc. Collins easily draws the reader in, connecting them to the main characters of her story, and causing them to truly care and be invested in whatever outcome befalls them.

I will admit that I did see many of the twists coming a few pages or so before they happened, which is typically something that turns me off on a book. In this case, though, it was completely forgiven because of just how well it still drew me in. It’s a rather quick and not incredibly difficult read and I highly suggest anyone with an interest in dystopian fiction pick it up – especially if they also enjoy either young adult, romance, and/or action as well.

Title: Grime and Punishment
Author: Z.A. Maxfield
Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Unlike many of the M/M books I’ve read recently the author didn’t take the approach of getting the characters to sex as quickly and unbelievably as possible or filling the story with angst for the sake of angst. Instead a real depth is shown in the characters – especially Jack and Ryan – and the reader is let in on years of history. The characters are damaged, but not for the convenience of the story, and they don’t magically overcome all of their problems in a page or two. Even the minor characters show a level of development that makes them easy to relate to (even though I really did find them infuriating at times).

I highly recommend this to anyone who likes M/M romance. It’s well worth the read.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Dead Ever After
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
A fitting end to the saga of Sookie Stackhouse. This book offers what one has come to expect and once again Charlaine Harris does an excellent job of getting readers into Sookie’s head and world. It’s certainly not the one in the series with the most twists – it’s easy to figure out most of the mystery before it’s revealed – but it does a good job of tying up the loose ends left after the last book.

And, of course, I can’t help but think that if True Blood had followed the books a bit more closely, the last two seasons wouldn’t have been ridiculous as they were and the show might not be ending.

Title: Dead to the World
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publication Date: May 4, 2004

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
** spoiler alert ** Best one in the series, thus far, in my opinion. I know a lot of people don’t care for it because it’s the one when Bill starts to take a backseat, but I haven’t really liked him in the books thus far. He really has seemed like he is more focused on himself and really just wants Sookie around for his benefit, so seeing her finally realize that and move on, to me, is a great thing.

It’s also very interesting to begin to realize the depth of the supernatural world that Harris has created in this series. While there have been hints in earlier books that the community is much larger than just vampires (and shifters), this book actually introduces us to more of the supernatural and some of the political dynamics that exist within. Definitely very excited to pick up the next book and see what happens next…

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publication Date: May 1, 2001

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The first book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries definitely showed me why this series became so popular and was adapted into a television series. As a fan of the show “True Blood”, I still found this book very enjoyable. There were enough similarities to still connect with the characters I’ve come to love, but also just enough difference to keep me interested – I did not know exactly how events were going to play out. The book also strengthened my understanding of some of the events in the television series that were not fully explained.

The narration, which is in the first person from the perspective of the lovable Sookie Stackhouse, reads very easily and conversationally. At the same time, though, plenty of detail is provided to build a descriptive picture for the reader of the events taking place in small-town Louisiana. A recommended read for people who like vampires and paranormal fiction (this ain’t your little sister’s Twilight, though, thankfully) and for fans of the show who want to immerse themselves more into Sookie’s world.

Title: The Elephant of Surprise
Author: Brent Hartinger
Publication Date: March 30, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
The fourth installment in the Russel Middlebrook series is probably my favorite. The story isn’t too far out from the previous three books, but there were a few things about it that I think pulled me in a bit more.

For one, I like the way the author is able to show that Russel is gaining a bit more maturity. It shows not only in the character’s actions, but also in the voice of the narration. Secondly, the development of some of the side characters over the course of the series has helped to give more depth to Russel’s world. And, finally, this is one where I actually didn’t see one of the major twists coming until I was up to that particular scene (some of the previous books have been a bit more, well, predictable at times).

I’m not sure if there’s a fifth book in store, but at this point I hope there is if the series is going to continue moving in this direction.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies
Author: Brent Hartinger
Publication Date: February 1, 2007

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
The third installment in the Russel Middlebrook series takes a bit of a different turn in terms of presentation. While I can understand that some might think the idea of reading a story and then reading it again from another character’s perspective, I contend that Hartinger’s choice and method were both ingenious and well-done. Thus far readers have seen everything through Russel’s eyes (thus is the nature of first-person narration). Since a number of things happened to Russel’s friend Min that he didn’t know about, it makes sense that the only way to present them to readers is to have Min tell her story. By doing so, Hartinger also helps us to understand Min even better – her narration is in a distinct voice that is in line with what we know of her character and gives us more insight into her life.

I enjoyed this just about as much as I enjoyed The Order of the Poison Oak and am looking forward to the latest book, The Elephant of Surprise.