Friday, March 28, 2014

(23) Mockingjay

Title: Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
390 pages
Genre: Dysopian, YA

Synopsis: 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. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Review: I know this book has gotten a lot of mixed reviews, more bad than good actually and I'm not sure why.   I thought the dark depressing tone of Mockingjay was right on point with the series.  I mean this is a world where they send kids into an arena to kill each other and the capital calls it entertainment! They are also at war which is not all sunshine and roses. I think some readers may have wanted the fairy tale ending but life doesn't always turn out that way.  Someone who has gone through what Katniss went through would be emotionally damaged goods and she is, but despite all that she continues to move forward and while she isn't very aware of her power she starts to figure out some of the political game. Realizing she is still a pawn in a game is a disturbing reality but Katniss is smart and despite her emotional turmoil she knows how to survive and ultimately how to win.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

(22) Cinder

Title: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles by Melissa Meyer
Publisher: Square Fish
448 pages
Genre: Fantasy/ YA

Synopsis: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Review: I bought these books for my daughter for Christmas and after she tore through them she gave them to me.  I have read multiple reviews on them but the true test for me is if my daughter likes them.  She said she wasn't sure about them before she started to read them but she is totally hooked and I have to agree. Cinder is a clever play on the fairy tale Cinderella, only this Cinderella is a cyborg. All the elements of the popular fairy tale are in there in an updated and whimsical way.  I loved this book.  Politics, mystery, and fairy tales combine to keep you turning the page.

Ever since Gregory Maguire updated Wizard of Oz I have been waiting for someone else to upgrade another classic story and Melissa Meyer has nailed it.  Creating the fantasy world of different planets, impending war and a deadly plague this story really has it all.  Cinder is a strong female lead character, and while she may get pushed around a bit she rises to every challenge, and ultimately it is now up to her to save the Emperor and ultimately the planet.

A big kudos to whatever illustrator designed the cover as well! Fabulous!

Monday, March 10, 2014

(21) Her Last Breath

Title: Her Last Breath: A Novel (Kate Burkholder Novels) by Linda Castillo
Publisher: Minotaur Books
320 pages
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller/ Amish

Synopsis: A rainy night, an Amish father returning home with his three children, a speeding car hurtling toward them out of nowhere.

What at first seems like a tragic, but routine car accident  suddenly takes on a more sinister cast as evidence emerges that nothing about the crash is accidental.  But who would want to kill an Amish deacon and two of his children? He leaves behind a grieving widow and a young boy who clings to life in the intensive care wing of a hospital, unable to communicate.  He may be the only one who knows what happened that night.  Desperate to find out who killed her best friend’s husband and why, Kate begins to suspect she is not looking for a reckless drunk, but instead is on the trail of a cold blooded killer amid the residents of Painter’s Mill.  It is a search that takes her on a  chilling journey into the darkest reaches of the human heart and makes her question everything she has ever believed about the Amish culture into which she was born. 

Review: Living near Amish country I have always been fascinated by their culture.  I love Castillo's books because they show a glimpse into something very few ever really see, the Amish way of life.  While this story is disturbing on many levels, it also touches on the thing the Amish are known for the most, their sense of forgiveness and acceptance of tragic things.  When your family is killed most people want revenge or would find it hard to forgive the person who so senselessly murdered your children, but the Amish say it was Gods will and forgive the person who committed the act. Its a nice way to think but a hard one for many including myself to wrap my head around.

In this book Castillo digs deeper into Kate Burkholders past, and tries to help her move past it and into the future.  It will be interesting to see where she will go from here.  I also appreciated that Castillo brings very real problems that are happening within the Amish community to light.  The fact that the gene pool is very small and many children are being born with special needs sheds light on the fact that they need to come up with a way to expand their options when it comes to marriage and children.  There are Amish communities in several places throughout the USA and if they were to migrate some of the younger generations to other communities the gene pool could be expanded and many of these genetic diseases could be stopped. But different sects of the Amish community are stricter than others and its not as easy as it sounds to have young Amish move away from their families when traveling to see them is made very difficult by their restrictions regarding cars, and planes, making this a very interesting dilemma for the communities.

Monday, March 3, 2014

(20) Season of the Wolf

Title: Season of the Wolf by Robin Summers
Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
264 pages
Genre: LGBT Romance, thriller

I received an advanced e-copy of this book through netgalley.com. Release date March 18, 1014

Synopsis: Devon James is on the run from a killer who has been hunting her for years. When she discovers the murdered bodies of two co-workers, Devon knows it is time to run again. But before she can run, the police arrive and take her in for questioning.

Jordan Salinger is a Pittsburgh homicide detective on leave after a hostage standoff left her with a bullet wound in her shoulder and an even bigger hole in her heart. When she is called in by her partner to help with an uncooperative witness, Jordan has no idea that the woman holds the key to the murders and to her salvation.

With the murderer stalking them at every turn, can Devon and Jordan overcome the horrors that haunt them in time to save each other?

Review: Both Jordan and Devon are filled with guilt from things that were not in their control.  Jordan is haunted by her latest standoff and Devon is haunted by the very real serial killer who has stalked her for half her life.  Jordan is brought back to work to help solve this case and Devon, tired of running decides to trust Jordan and her partner to help her.

This book kept moving. There really weren't any lags, or times when I felt like "oh my god just get on with it". The story moved smoothly and was well paced.  It is a romance so the sparks fly early but it didn't seem forced or out of place. The characters were well developed and while the story was a bit dark there were light moments scattered throughout.  I look forward to reading more from Robin Summers.
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