Monday, December 27, 2010

Midwinter's Eve WINNER and a new giveaway coming soon!

Congratulations to:

Lexie 

for winning their choice of book from the Book Depository!
Now for my next giveaway!

It's another hop... and if you want to join in, there is still time... just go here:

And enter your information!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

REVIEW: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins


 Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins

NOTE! If you have not read The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, this will reveal spoilers for the first books!


Synopsis:
With her home destroyed and Peeta missing, Katniss wakes up to find herself a resident of the fabled District 13. Unfortunately, the district isn't all its cracked up to be, and Katniss finds herself feeling more trapped than ever. Not to mention that those who escaped with her seem to be slowly losing their minds while she's being forced into the role of Mockingjay.


Character Likability:
Katniss: Have I mentioned my love for the character, Katniss? I love this girl. She's strong, she marches to her own drum, she learns from her mistakes, she fights for what she believes in, she gets broken, as any real person would in her situation... but she allows herself to be mended.  In this book, Katniss grows and learns yet again. She's beginning to see the bigger plan, she's beginning to understand that some things never end, no matter how hard you fight... she's pushed to, and past, the point of breaking, and yet, she persists in trying to reach her goal. She is an amazing character... and what makes her so amazing is that she does all of these amazing things... and remains believable. She is filled with just as much questioning and doubt as any of us.
Peeta: Absent for a good portion of the book... and then returned... Peeta breaks my heart in this book... and then in pure Peeta fashion, he mends it again.
Haymitch: During this book, you're left wondering what, exactly, Haymitch's motives are.
Cinna: Despite not physically being in the book, Cinna is still a very motivating character. His Mockingjay outfit is a major reason Katniss takes up the mantle.
Prim and her Mother: Used, once again, mainly as motivators for Katniss... Prim is given slightly more voice, and acts more as a support for her sister, while the mother still remains mainly out of the picture.
President Snow: Pulling out all the stops in his wicked handbook, President Snow outdoes himself in the evil department.
Finnick: Watching Finnick with Annie is almost heartbreaking, and hearing his story IS heartbreaking. I was glad I got to hear what he had to say. It really drove home the need for this system to be destroyed.
Briggs: The quiet military man from District 13... he turns out to be possibly one of the truest friends Katniss ever has.
President Coin: The president of District 13, she's cold, calculating and not to be trusted.


Quality of Writing:
Easy, quick flow. Engaging and un-put-downable. (oh yeah, I'm making up words now)

Ending:
Bittersweet, believable.

Plot:
District 12 has been destroyed, most of the people Katniss knew, dead. She, along with a few others, including her family and Gale, have been whisked off to District 13 to live underground. At this point, Katniss is starting to lose it. People she loved dearly are dead, most notably, Cinna, her designer from the Hunger Games. Peeta is in the hands of the Capitol and all Katniss can do is imagine the worst. Then, the video interviews with Peeta begin, and he's telling people to stop the rebellion... and Katniss knows she still has to save him... now from District 13 as well, who sees him as a traitor... and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
This plot really delves into the political motivations and the extent to which those in power will try to retain it. It's harsh, cruel and believable... which makes it all the more terrifying. The plot of this book is deep, twisted and worthy of more than just a casual read. The ideas being presented here really beg for, and deserve some deep thought on the part of the reader.

Believability of World:
The most believable yet. It really points out that it's often hard to tell the difference between good and evil.


Overall Grade: A

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A little off topic... but...

I'm starting a Toy Review blog here:
(click the picture to go to the blog)



So if you're interested, go check it out. 
Also, if you notice something I'm missing, please let me know, or if you have something to add... please do!

I have one review up already.

GIVEAWAY MidWinter's Eve Blog Hop!



Sorry for the delay! I set it to go at a certain time... and evidently did it wrong!

I will be giving away one book from The Book Depository! (up to a $15 limit)

TO ENTER: 
 Just become a follower and leave a comment with an email for me to contact you!

REVIEW: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


 Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

NOTE! If you have not read The Hunger Games, this will reveal spoilers for the first book!



Synopsis:
Katniss and Peeta, against all odds, have survived The Hunger Games, thanks to a bit of cleverness on Katniss' part. Unfortunately, the Capitol viewed her actions as an outright act of defiance, sparking political and social unrest among the districts. Then, to top it all off, it's time for the Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Game held every 25 years... and this years is set to be a doozy.


Character Likability:
Katniss: Still amazingly dense when it comes to the boys in her life, Katniss has bigger things to worry about. I appreciate that the love stories that, in so many YA novels take over, are back-burner material in these books thanks to the fact that Katniss is able to recognize that some things are just bigger than her. This time around she's faced with more tough choices, more having to deal with pretending to love Peeta while he truly loves her, and more worrying about the future. She's finding out that there are repercussions to defying the powers that be.
Peeta: Still in love. Still hopelessly in love... and yet, when he disagrees with Katniss, he will make his voice heard. Always the voice of compassion, logic and reason... Peeta remains both true to himself and true to those he loves the most.
Haymitch: Less active in this novel during certain points, but more potent as a character... and as a father-type figure for Katniss.
Cinna: Still working as Katniss' stylist, he creates more beautiful works for her to parade around in... unfortunately, this time he might have gone one step too far.
Prim and her Mother: Living in the Victor's Village with Katniss, these two remain to be her main motivators. To protect her family is the most important thing to Katniss... and her family, in return, offers her the support she needs, when they can.
President Snow: Made even more villianous this time around... he exposes himself as a truly frightening human being and does things that are beyond unforgivable... as if the Games weren't enough.
Finnick: A District 4 Tribute winner... sexy, smooth, absolutely hilarious. He quickly became possibly my favorite character in the books along with Haymitch, Cinna and Katniss.

Quality of Writing:
I couldn't put it down... and part of that has to do with the ease with which the words flowed.

Ending:
Horrible, terrible, awful cliffhanger ending that had me running, scrambling, racing to find the last book. You CANNOT put this book down and not NEED to pick up the next one. If you can, well... my brain just doesn't compute that.

Plot:
This book takes the tragedies of the first game, and Katniss and Peeta's act of defiance at the end of it, and starts to expand on the political unrest they've caused.
As they make their Victory tour, they are greeted with blatant, public signs of rebellion by the people, especially in District 11, where little Rue was from.
Katniss is haunted mostly by Rue, but also by the gruesome, slow death of Caro... as well as the others. She can barely sleep and feels like the puppet the Capitol has made her into.
Not only that, but she has been threatened by President Snow. She must make him believe that she and Peeta are in love, otherwise, those dear to her will pay.

Believability of World:
Not only believable, but building on the world introduced in the first book. This one really starts to introduce the political motivations behind things, and makes them all the more real. It also really brings home the fact that Katniss has realized that the situation is out of her control, and that the question of who to trust is an almost impossible one to answer.


Overall Grade: A

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop, Follow Friday and a movie review

Book Blogger Hop
Click the picture to join in

"What do you consider the 
most important in a story: 
the plot or the characters?"
 Hmm, an interesting question... and I'm going to have to go with plot.
I have read stories where I HATE the main character, but because the plot was so interesting to me I kept reading (the first few books in the Anita Blake series) but I have never continued with a story whose plot I just couldn't get into.








What did you study in college, or are currently studying and did it lead to your current 9 to 5 or are you doing something totally different?

 

In college I studied both Photography and Graphic Design. I got my BFA, focusing in photography, and am now a full time graphic designer/photographer for a major corporation. :)


Ok, I haven't done a movie review in quite a while!

Last night... at midnight... I went to see Tron Legacy (why can I only find foreign movie posters for this movie?!)... and honestly, I was shocked by how many people were there. The theater was pretty much packed. 

Now, I don't really have a great system for reviewing movies... so for now I'll just say this.

If you enjoyed the first Tron, this one is that, rehashed, enhanced and with way better graphics (watch for somewhat creepy CG versions of Jeff Bridges... all I could think of when I saw them was Advent Children... I'll be waiting for Mr. Bridges to make his debut alongside Cloud).
The original is still the original... but at no point during this new Tron was I at all bored or tired (and seeing as how I'd only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, that's saying something).

If you haven't seen the first Tron, though, it might not all make sense, this movie is a true sequel and builds heavily on the plot of the first movie. I would recommend getting your hands on the original and watching... for plot's sake.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins




The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins



Synopsis:
Every year at the reaping, two children from each district, one boy, one girl, are chosen to play in The Hunger Games. Forced to battle to the death, only one victor can remain... which is a real problem for Katniss since she owes her fellow District 12 pick, Peeta, an impossible debt.


Character Likability:
Katniss: First off, love her name! Ok, much like Clary in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Katniss is another girl surrounded by hot guys who seem to love her... and yet, she just doesn't have time for them. I LOVE THIS. Often repulsed at the idea of even having children (because then they'd be forced to play in The Hunger Games too), Katniss often rebukes any claim of love as something she doesn't have time for, and doesn't understand. She's not a cold character though, she's just not a Mary Sue. She, of course, has worthwhile talents, but when it comes to jumping on board the "What's going on" train, Katniss is often the last to figure it out. She figures out her own things in her own time, but she's usually last in figuring out the more complicated stuff... which, for a girl who's only ever had to worry about keeping herself and her family alive, makes perfect sense.
Peeta: A lovely, wonderful baker's son, Peeta is stuck in the middle of his own love story... unfortunately, due to the circumstances, the leading lady isn't falling for it. Doesn't matter though, Peeta knows what he wants and will do anything to protect that.
Haymitch:A former District 12 Hunger Games winner, Haymitch is a perpetual drunk... and Katniss and Peeta's mentor. As soon as he realizes he has a pair of kids who might make it, he puts in a smooth, calculating effort to keep them alive, and even though he's repulsive and spends a good portion of the novel in a puddle of
Cinna: Katniss and Peeta's stylist for the game, he's cool, collected and not nearly as flamboyant as most of the Capitol. He's a major source of support for Katniss, and one of my favorite characters.
Prim and her Mother: Prim is Katniss' little sister and the reason Katniss ended up in the games... and the reason she fights so hard. Katniss' mother was worthless after her husband's death, but brought back by Katniss' strength.
President Snow: Supreme overlord! He's the big baddy in the Capitol, and the one calling all the shots when it comes to quelling rebel uprisings and dictating how things should be run in the districts.
Rue: A small, bird-like child from District 11 that reminds Katniss of Prim.

Quality of Writing:
I found these books easy to read and quick as well. I've heard people complain that there were misplaced commas, but honestly, I remember at one point specifically noting how well placed the commas were.

Ending:
Cliffhanger of doooooom. If you liked the first book, you'll be so thankful you're reading the series now that it's all out... because honestly, if I had to wait... I might go insane.

Plot:
Katniss is living in an evil society where every year 24 children are forced to play The Hunger Games until only one is left living.
Truthfully, the plot of the first book seems to have taken heavy notes from a little Japanese thriller called Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. They are the same exact premise... as punishment for bad behavior, and to keep the peasants in-line, the ruling government forces kids to play in a game where they must battle to the death... leaving one victor who then becomes a national hero... and in both books, the main character, of course, is looking desperately for a way out of it, and a way to save someone they love at the same time. The plots really are eerily similar... and while I prefer Koushun Takami's method of announcing the dead in chapter titles, I prefer Collins' extension of this story, where there is the promise of further battle against the powers that be.

Now, I've read quite a few reviews where people have found this plot unbelievable... but, you know what, this doesn't bother me. It's not a book about how the people allowed such a game to begin, it's a book where the game already exists. I found everything that happened within the context of the game to be entirely believable.

And just so no one is confused, this IS a book about children killing children... in the most basic of terms. Beyond that, it's a very interesting, deep, questioning series that makes you really sit back and wonder about the level of betrayal and manipulation and calculation that must be going on around us all the time. It's a book that makes you question and then keeps you questioning.

Believability of World:
I find this world believable. There have been many terrible things that have happened through history... instances where people where sheparded to death, knew it, and did nothing. It's not unbelievable that Katniss' world could exist.


Overall Grade: A

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Review: Daughter of Darkness by V.C. Andrews


Daughter of Darkness
by V.C. Andrews



This will not be my typical review, because I passed this book along to a friend of mine who was an avid V.C. Andrews fan... back when V.C. Andrews was still writing her own books.

She has read everything written by Andrews, as well as through the Logan series, which supposedly, until then the books were still plotted out by notes from Andrews found after she died.

After the Logan series, my friend lost interest, and she only found today that after the Logan series, that's when the ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, took over completely. Coincidence? I think not.



From the very beginning, she found herself bored with the storyline of Daughter of Darkness. About 1/3 of the way into the book, nothing of any great significance had occurred and she was questioning whether it was even worth it to continue on.

She described the writing style as a long, drawn out monologue of inner-angst from the main character... where as the old V.C. Andrews books (you know, the ones actually written by Andrews), while still being from the main girl's perspective, would focus more on other characters as well, and not have so much self centered internalizing.

When she got to the end of the book, she literally flung it back at me and exclaimed, "What kind of ending was that?! What a letdown!" Needless to say, I don't think she liked it much. I could go into detail on what she said, but that would be spoilerific.

She did wonder at the lack of thinking on the other characters parts... feeling they were unintelligent and had no thoughts of their own. That was one thing she appreciated about the main character, who at least seemed to be smarter than the rest of them.

However, as an avid Andrews fan, she neither liked this book, nor felt it lived up to the quality of the books Andrews actually wrote or plotted herself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do you enjoy Edward Gorey?

Well, if you do, check out the work of Don Kenn... these are little doodles he does on post-it notes... and for me... well, I can't help but think of Edward Gorey.
You can check out his work HERE!



Monday, December 13, 2010

REVIEW: Book One of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare


City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare



Synopsis:
Clary Fray considers herself a normal girl... that is, until she starts seeing some really strange things. People who aren't there, boys with claws for fingers, evil monsters in her own home. Suddenly confronted with a world she'd never known was there... and a boy she never would have imagined could exist... Clary finds herself tripping blindly through situations totally alien to her.


Character Likability:
Clary: I enjoyed Clary... she's a female character who, despite being attracted to Jace, isn't consumed by it, and this is so refreshing it's unbelievable. She has a mission... to save her Mother, and everything else is just kind of bonus for the reader, but not the main focus. Clary is on a set path to do what she feels she needs to do, and she absolutely gains my respect for that. There is no sniveling over dreamy boys... oh sure, there are dreamy boys, but Clary is smart enough to know what matters in life, and to chase after that first.
Honestly, Clary is what Bella from Twilight SHOULD have been... a strong, independent girl who thinks for herself, and thinks about what is important first, and not just how HAWT the guy she's with now is.
Jace: Snarky, good at what he does, and placed in the story to be the obvious love interest, he remains an interesting character. His past is tragic, his upbringing questionable, and his views on what good parenting is are horribly skewed... but, thanks to said tragedy, he was saved from a totally barbaric upbringing and manages to be a somewhat caring, thoughtful guy.
Simon: Clary's "Mundie" friend from school, Simon is obviously in love with her, and has been for years. Honestly, if Clary and Simon don't end up together, I might actually be mad. Thankfully though, while Simon is wrapped up in his own little love triangle angst, Clary just doesn't have time for it... so the love story isn't sickening and overwhelming, but is actually useful to the story... and despite Simon being part of the "love triangle"... he's a useful, interesting, developed character who I want to see more of.
Alec: A newer twist on the love triangle thing, Alec is in love with Jace, but has never told him. Clary realizes this pretty much from the start. Alec is Jace's partner in hunting demons. I appreciate that Alec is not in the running as a potential mate for Clary, because frankly, I find him more interesting than Jace early on and would have chosen him.
Also, just a note... I've noticed a real upswing in homosexual male characters in YA literature... but not an upswing of homosexual female characters. I find that odd. 
(In fact, the only one I can think of recently was in the Anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns)
Now, I'm not talking about books specifically about the trials of being homosexual, I'm talking about extra characters. It seems I've run across quite a few of the gay male friends, but rarely any lesbian ones. It feels like there is a subtle undercurrent saying that male homosexuality is permissible since they can make such good buddies... but female homosexuality is still taboo.
Isabelle: Possibly the least fleshed out main-ish character in this book. I hope she gets more depth later on.
Luke: The obvious "Not what he seems" father-figure... Luke is a character that I was a little disappointed in, just in so far as he wasn't really mysterious. You could see what was happening, and it didn't shock you.
Valentine: A FANTASTIC villian. This man is wicked and evil. He's not cut back or toned down for the kiddies... he's all out there, waving his evil flag around like he's claiming a new world... and he kind of is. He's done terrible things, has a well thought out, elaborate evil plan, and is just wickedly cruel to everyone, even those he should love. I'm very interested to see *why* he became so evil.

Quality of Writing:
This was a fairly fast read for me, so the style wasn't choppy or distracting. There wasn't anything particularly beautiful or poetic about it, it was straight to the point, telling the story as it needed to be told.

Ending:
Since this is part of a trilogy, it wasn't concluded as far as the BIG story goes... but the ending of this one was satisfying and set you up to want to read more. There was a twist that, while I saw it coming, I was incredibly glad it existed... and there is still a LOT for the main characters to accomplish.

Plot:
Girl realizes the world isn't what she thinks it is.
Girl gets sucked into new world.
Girl realizes only she can get herself out of this mess.
Girl kicks some arse while still fumbling around and not knowing what she's doing (I really appreciated this, actually).
Girl realizes this is just the tip of the iceburg.


Ok, honestly there's so much more going on than just that. This is a fun, rich story full of layers and magic and we get to discover this new world right along with Clary, and I think knowing what she knows is a wonderful way to do that. I enjoy it, as a reader, when things aren't revealed to me too quickly.

Believability of World:
It's a pretty well thought out alternate version of our world.


Overall Grade: A-

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fear not!

I am still around... I have chosen a winner for my giveaway... but... I'm in the middle of a move and can't find anything!!!!!

I think I'm losing my mind. XD

Book review soon though :)