CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins | Review

Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Book #: 2 in the “Hunger Games” trilogy
Genres: young adult, dystopian
Publication: 2011, by Scholastic
Pages: 439
Author’s Website
Source: purchased
Format: paperback
Rating: αρχείο λήψης (5)

Goodreads 

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

 

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THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins | Review

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Book #: 1 in the “Hunger Games” trilogy
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publication: December 2011, by Scholastic
Pages: 454
Author’s Website
Source: purchased
Format: paperback
Rating: αρχείο λήψης (5)

Goodreads 

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

 

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HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins | Audiobook Review

Title: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Book #: 1 in the “Hex Hall” series

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication: June 2012, by Tantor Media

Length: 7 Hours and 7 minutes

Author’s Website and Twitter

Rating: combinhe_images

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“Let’s just say you may regret that second piece of cake.’
Oh my God. Regret cake? Whatever was about to happen must be truly evil.”

Review

This book was so much fun! That is just my general impression of it. It was really enjoyable and I was at no point bored or felt that it was uninteresting. I had a great time reading it listening to it.

The protagonist of this book is Sophie, a young girl who discovered she was a witch a few years ago and is now forced to go to a supernatural boarding school because of something she did. A supernatural boarding school! I mean, really! What could be more awesome than that? Sophie’s character was actually one of my favorite parts of the book. She was sassy, smart, sarcastic and caring. I just loved all her funny and sarcastic inner thoughts and reading (or listening) from her point of view was a pleasure!

The love interest is a guy named Archer. In the beginning I really liked him, because A) he was hot and B) he was also being sarcastic , which led to many witty dialogs between him and Sophie. At some point, though, I felt that this aspect of his character kind of faded and he was only left with his handsomeness, which, I’m sorry, but that’s not enough for me!

The storyline was quite good. As I said I wasn’t bored at any time, but it was also not really amazing. Things were going a little bit too slow; I feel like there could be a few more things going on. Also it was a bit predictable towards the end and I got kind of frustrated with Sophie for not figuring out what was going on earlier. On the other hand the ending did have a couple of plot twists, so I can forgive the minor predictability. As you would probably expect from a boarding school book, there was some teen angst going on, but it was at a level that I could handle and so it didn’t really bother me.

As for my thoughts about the audiobook version of the book, I have nothing negative to say about it. I really liked the voice of the narrator. I also didn’t drift off almost at all, which was really good, because this tends to happen to me with audiobooks. All in all, I don’t think I missed anything by listening to the audiobook version instead of actually reading the book.

Generally, I really, really liked this book. The best thing about it was that it was really funny! I’m glad I gave it a try, as this is the first witch-y book I’ve read and now I really want more!

First Line

Felicia Miller was crying in the bathroom.

Mini Review

A very enjoyable, funny book.
The protagonist was sarcastic and witty.
The storyline was in general pretty good.
A quick and easy read.

Recommend it for…

  • Fans of Witches
  • A fun read

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FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC by Virginia Andrews | Review

Title: Flowers in the Attic

Author: Virginia Andrews

Book #: 1 in the “Dollanganger” series

Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery

Publication: September 2011, by Harper

Pages: 423

Author’s Website

Rating: combinhe_images

The haunting young adult gothic romance classic that launched Virginia Andrews’ incredible best-selling career.

Up in the attic, four secrets are hidden. Four blonde, beautiful, innocent little secrets, struggling to stay alive…

Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie have perfect lives – until a tragic accident changes everything. Now they must wait, hidden from view in their grandparents’ attic, as their mother tries to figure out what to do next. But as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the siblings endure unspeakable horrors and face the terrifying realisation that they might not be let out of the attic after all.

Virginia Andrews is a publishing phenomenon, with over 100 million books in print. Still as terrifying now as it was when it first appeared, Flowers in the Attic is a gripping story of a family’s greed, betrayal and heartbreak.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“There is no hate such as that born out of love betrayed- and my brain screamed out for revenge.”

Review

While reading this book I was constantly thinking: “This is different from what I expected”. When I finished it I thought: “This is turning into some kind of a soap opera”. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!

By reading the synopsis of this book I was expecting to read a horrific story of children locked up in a small, dark attic, being constantly molested and/or abused, getting little or no food and just trying to escape. Well this was not exactly what this book was about. I mean, yeah, there were some of these things going on, but to a much smaller degree than what I had thought.

Maybe even because what I thought was going to happen never happened, I was constantly on edge reading this book. I kept thinking to myself “something terrible is going to happen now” or “something big will happen and change the whole thing”. But nothing really “big” happened. At least in my opinion. I have heard people saying that they were really shocked by the things that were happening in this book, so I guess it’s just a matter of perception. But I was in no way shocked. As a matter of fact I was kind of  laughing at the things that were happening, because after a point they started resembling more and more things that would happen in a soap opera!

So, as you’ve probably understood by now, I found the storyline a bit ridiculous, but also monotonous and slow-paced. There were a lot of things that were revealed in the end of the book. And by “the end” I literally mean “the end”. Like the last 20 pages or so. But also in the last 70 pages there were some major things happening and a kind of twist to the story.

Moving on to the characters, I found Cathy, the main character and narrator, quite ok. I had no problems with her and I found that she reacted in a normal way most of the times. I enjoyed her impulsiveness, but other than that it was a kind of “plain Jane” character. The one that bugged me a little was the oldest brother, Chris. He was the perfect optimist and those kind of characters often get on my nerves. Also he kept believing things would happen, even when all evidence clearly showed that they were never going to happen. Yes… he was pretty annoying!

So you might be wondering why I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars since there were so many things I found problematic. The answer is that I didn’t mind those things. I still found the book absolutely amusing and couldn’t put it down. I think its biggest asset was the writing style. Everything was described in such a great way that made me believe that everything was really happening and kept me on edge all the time.

My dilemma now is, whether I will continue reading this series or not. There is a total of 5 books in this series, but to be honest I think they will only get worse and worse. I threw a look on the synopses (synopsises?) and they definitely get more and more like a soap opera (soap-opera-y?). So what is your opinion? Should I continue with this series?

First Line

Truly, when I was very young, way back in the ‘fifties, I believed all of life would be like one long and perfect summer day.

Mini Review

Completely different from what I expected.
I found the story a bit laughable.
Some characters were overdone.
I still LOVED the book.
That’s how weird I am at times…

Recommend it for…

  • people who don’t feel like they would enjoy a real classic, but might want to try something semi-classic
  • a light read that will still keep you on edge
  • fans of soap operas

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BLOODLINES by Richelle Mead | Review

Title: Bloodlines

Author: Richelle Mead

Book #: 1 in the “Bloodlines” series

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Publication: August 2011, by Razorbill

Pages: 421

Author’s Website and Twitter

Rating: combinhe_images

Blood doesn’t lie…

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir – the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir – is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty – a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning…

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“Takes a lot of tries before you hit perfection.” He paused to reconsider that. “Well, except for my parents. They got it on the first try.” (Adrian)”

Review

I really enjoyed this book and getting back into the vampire academy world! I love Richelle Mead’s writing style and the characters of this book.

I’ve heard many people saying that this series is even better than the original Vampire Academy series. After having read the first book I can only say that it has the potential, but I still want to read one or two more books from this series in order to decide. For me the book was good, but I did have one or two problems with it.

The best thing about this book? Adrian!!!

I’m seriously a huge fan of Adrian Ivashkov! I was really pissed that Rose decided to pick Dimitri over him, but now I might actually be glad because we can experience a new romance between him and Sydney.

The worst thing about this book? The plot. It really was nothing special. More than that, it was not what anyone would expect the spin-off series of the Vampire Academy to be. I for one expected action, romance, many things happening at once. But what I got was a supposedly big mystery that got solved in the end and a lot of highschool drama. I am willing to overlook this however, because I just love the characters and the writing style.

Speaking of characters I thought that there were really a lot of them that I liked! First and foremost, of course, Adrian! But I also really liked Sydney. I actually didn’t expect her to be such an interesting character, but that was a really nice surprise for me. It was also really nice to get to know some less important characters from the Vampire Academy, such as Jill and Eddie.

All in all, it was a great book! I have already started reading the second one in the series as I’m writing this, so I can definitely say it’s a series I will be continuing with!

First Line

I couldn’t breathe.

Recommend it for…

  • Fans of the Vampire Academy series
  • Fans of Adrian Ivashkov

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THE DUFF: DESIGNATED UGLY FAT FRIEND by Kody Keplinger | Review

Title: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Author: Kody Keplinger

Book #: Standalone

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Chick Lit, Contemporary

Publication: September 2010 by LittleBrown/Poppy

Pages: 280

Author’s Website and Twitter

Rating: combinhe_images

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“Your sense of humor needs some work, then,” Wesley suggested. “Most girls find my jokes charming.”
“Those girls must have IQs low enough to trip over.”

Review

This was everything I’m looking for in a young adult romance book!

I was kind of disappointed by the chick lit young adult genre, because I haven’t liked any of the books I’ve read so far. But this one totally changed my mind! The main character, the story, the love interest, everything was exactly how I wanted it!

What I liked about the main character, Bianca, was that she was not only stubborn (which is something that we often see with female protagonists), but she was also pessimistic, sarcastic and cynical. Generally a very refreshing point of view to read from! The love interest was the typical “bad boy” / man whore that we read about again and again. I kind of wish there was something more special about him, but I cannot say that I didn’t find him enjoyable and fun. There were definitely a good dynamic and a lot of witty dialogs between those two. What I also very much enjoyed were the secondary characters, like Bianca’s friends and her father, that were far from stereotypical and made the story that much more interesting.

The storyline wasn’t anything very special on its own. I actually think I’ve seen a movie where a girl is being told that she’s the ugliest of her friends, so it was not the most original plot. The thing that made it special was Bianca’s character and if it wasn’t for her, this would be a typical love story and would have nothing interesting about it.

I could definitely see this being turned into a movie, as it’s one of the best romance/chick-lit books I’ve read!

First Line

This was getting old.

Recommend it for…

  • a quick and easy read
  • fans of sassy, cynical characters

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UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld | Review

Title: Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Book #: 1 in the “Uglies” series

Publication: February 2005 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 448

Author’s Website and Twitter

Rating:combinhe_images

Tally Youngblood is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait for the operation that turns everyone from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to party. But new friend Shay would rather hoverboard to “the Smoke” and be free. Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn’t very pretty. The “Special Circumstances” authority Dr Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“We’re not freaks, Tally. We’re normal. We may not be gorgeous, but at least we’re not hyped-up Barbie dolls.” 

Review

Ok, I’ll admit, this book was not on the top of my TBR (aka to-be-read) shelf. There are so many books that I want to read and this one wasn’t really getting my attention, but I decided to buy it, after finding it at an amazing price. Turns out it was a really great decision!

Set in the future after humans (aka we) have destroyed the world, “uglies” follows the story of a young girl who is about to go through the same operation everyone goes through in order to become pretty. So the first thing that captured me in this book, was how unbelievably crazy this world was, but at the same time not too hard to imagine. Actually, disturbingly easy to imagine! I can not find it unbelievable at all that maybe one day everyone will be going through an operation to turn themselves pretty. A lot of people seem to want to do that even now! This, though, as we very clearly see in the book, comes with a price. Being pretty means being the same as everyone else, which can be extended to not only looking the same, but so much more!

The only thing Tally, the protagonist, wants is to finally be pretty. She can’t stand to see herself in the mirror and feels like she is completely ugly and repulsive. Shay, her new friend, on the other hand, doesn’t want to go through the operation. She has actually found a place where people who don’t want to become pretty escape to and tries to convince Tally to go with her. I really liked Shey’s character in the beginning of the book. She was a refreshing change to Tally, who at first wanted exactly the same as everyone else. Shay was the one questioning the whole system and convincing Tally to do more crazy and fun stuff than she had ever done before.

So, as the story evolved, Tally’s character really started to pick up and grow and she was becoming more and more interesting! I wasn’t a huge fan of Tally in the beginning of the book, but I ended up loving her! I was admiring how brave and open-minded she was, considering of course, the world she grew up in. In the end she turned out to be a great, strong female protagonist.

The whole book was written in such an extraordinary way, that I felt like I was watching a movie! I don’t know exactly what it was (that’s the whole magic of it) but I had a picture of everything in my head while reading it. I definitely think that the book could also be turned into a great movie!

All in all, I am now a huge fan of the “Uglies” series (hence the “5 golden stars”) and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!

Update 08.12.2013

I decide to change my rating of this book from 5 Golden stars to 4. After finishing the whole series I was so disappointed by the 3rd and 4th book, that my feelings for the whole series have actually changed. On the 5 golden stars category are books that I really love and definitely want to re-read and this book no longer fits there.

First Line

“The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.”

Recommend it for…

  • Anyone who likes dystopia that is fun to read, but also has to do with important “philosophical” issues
Add it on Goodreads

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THE LAST OLYMPIAN by Rick Riordan | Review

Title: The Last Olympian

Author: Rick Riordan

Book #: 5 in the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series

Publication: January 2011, by Disney Hyperion Books

Pages: 381

Author’s Website and Twitter

Rating: combinhe_images

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds are against them. Kronos is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, his power only grows.

In this momentous final book in the “New York Times” best-selling series, the prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“With great power… comes great need to take a nap. Wake me up later.” 

Review

The 5th and final book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series!

In this book we finally read about the final battle between the Gods of Olympus and the Titans! The prophecy we’ve been hearing about since the first book of the series is finally being fulfilled and many of the questions that were formed in the previous books are finding an answer.

This final book of the amazing Percy Jackson series is really full of action! For me that was both possitive and negative. I liked the action and it made me turn the pages faster, but I really missed the more calm days (not that there were a lot of them in this series) as well as the half-blood camp.

Generally, though, I really did enjoy this book (as all the others in this series) and I actually think that it could be a bit larger. I would definitely enjoy reading about some things in more detail, or having a few extra pages in the ending of the book!

First Line

“The end of the world started when a pegasus landed on the hood of my car.”

Recommend it for…

  • Adventure lovers
  • Middleschool readers
  • Greek mythology fans
Add it on Goodreads

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MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides | Review

Title: Middlesex

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

Book #: Standalone

Publication: September 2003, by Picador

Pages: 544

Author’s Facebook

Rating: combinhe_images

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls’ school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blond clasmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them–along with Callie’s failure to develop–leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia- back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City and Prohibition, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie’s grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.

Spanning eight decades–and one unusually awkward adolescence- Jeffrey Eugenides’s long-awaited second novel is a grand, utterly original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire. It marks the fulfillment of a huge talent, named one of America’s best young novelists by both Granta and The New Yorker.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com

“Can you see me? All of me? Probably not. No one ever really has.”

Review

At first I was hesitant to read this book, mainly because I don’t usually read adult non-fiction and this one was also a quite massive book. As it turned out, though, I really enjoyed it and it was much, much easier to read than I thought it would be. Not that it was anything like the fast-paced young adult books I usually read, but the language used was quite easier to read as I had imagined and the content of the book was very interesting.

The narrator of the book is Cal Stephanides in his adult age. In spite of that we experience very little about his life now, as he mostly narrates the lives of his grandparents, parents and of himself when he was still a little girl. And yes I meant to say girl. Cal Stephanides was born and raised as a girl and only later in his life does he realize that he was actually born a hermaphrodite and decides to continue his life as a man. Don’t worry there were no spoilers in this and just now, as I’m writing, I realize that there’s almost nothing I can tell that will spoil anything of this book. Just because the ending is obvious from the very beginning of the book. It’s the story that matters. The events that led Calliope Stephanides to change her identity into that of a man.

The story begins in the early 20th century in Asia Minor and Cal narrates the story of his grandparents as if he was there and knew everything that was happening. So in the beginning of the book we meet Cal’s grandmother (Desdemona) who actually evolved to my favorite character of the book. To me (coming from Greece) Desdemona felt like a real person. She reminded me of my own grandmother and the stories she used to tell of when she was little. So I guess the praise here goes to the writer, who managed to understand and describe accurately the every-day life and the traditions of Greek people of that time.

Later in the book Desdemona and her husbant migrate to America and slowly the focus of the story starts shifting from them to their children (Cal’s parents). When I realized this was happening I was sad, because I didn’t want to stop reading about Desdemona! But even though my favorite character no longer had a lead role, I continued enjoying the book and the plot was getting more and more interesting!

I don’t really have anything negative to say about this book. The reason I gave it 4 stars, instead of 5, was that I was at times wishing I had something more fast-paced to read and for that reason skipped the narration at some points to get to the dialog. But this only had to do with my own reading habits and the books I’m used to reading.

First Line

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . .”

Recommend it for…

  • Readers of adult/non-fiction
  • Anyone interested in learning more things about the greek cultutre of the 20th century
Add it on Goodreads

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