Revisited: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games
Previous Books in the Series:
0.5. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Original Date Started: April 5, 2012
Original Date Finished: April 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover from local library

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 weight survival against humanity and life against love.

Oh, I’ve been waiting to review this book for a long time. As I’ve said before 2012 was the first year since 2009/2010 when I really got back into reading, and the first book that I read was The Hunger Games. I saw the preview for the movie and it looked interesting, and I was of the mind set that I wanted to read the book first before I saw the movie. My dad was at the grocery store and saw the paperback for like $7 and picked it up for me. I started reading it immediately, and I was kind of interested. It was a bit of a slow start. But once Katniss and Peeta go to the Capitol things picked up, and I will always remember reading the interview between Caesar and Peeta.

Why? Because that was the first time I actually ever threw a book in the air. It scared the crap out of my parents, it bent a dozen or so pages, plus the cover, and from that moment on I was hooked on this book and this series. And now that I’m reading it for the third time I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the screenwriters for not paying more attention to the mutts at the end of the Games. The fact that they resembled the dead Tributes just completely stunned me again, and is just another example of how the Gamemakers and the people of the Capitol were so twisted and cruel.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. This book is just as good as I remember it, and the differences between the movie and the book aren’t all that many, which is something, I think. The one thing I missed is Katniss’ inner monologue during the Games as she’s trying to figure out Peeta and how much of his ‘crush on her since he was a kid’ is an act or how much of it is real. This poor girl.

Bookshelf worthy? I’m half tempted to not sell my paperback copy just because the dent on the cover brings back so many memories… But it is nice to have all of them in hardcover.

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Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger

Title: Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Sequel to: The Devil Wears Prada
Date Started: June 14
Date Finished: June 18
Format: ebook from the digital library

Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine—a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a high end bridal magazine, The Plunge, which has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing—not her husband, nor her beloved career—is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago—and directly into the path of the devil herself…

So from what I’ve been seeing I am in the minority with my rating of this book. People don’t seemed to have liked the sequel like they liked the first one, and honestly, I have a feeling that if I had read this right after I had first read The Devil Wears Prada fifteen years ago, I would be in agreement, but alas. It’s been almost ten years since the first book and Andy is about ready to get married, she is running a successful wedding magazine with Emily who has become one of her closest friends. And look, one of the things that I didn’t like about this book was the fact that we are dropped in on Andy’s wedding day, and the rest of the book we flash back to significant moments over the last ten years – including, how Andy met her future husband, how Emily and Andy became so close despite the fact that they didn’t really leave things on the best of terms, and how Andy didn’t really exactly land on her feet when she left Runway.

But outside of that, I really did like this book. I loved seeing Andy and Emily – who I thought would have been great friends outside of Miranda – working so closely together. I even liked seeing Andy become a mom. And this book really proved the point to me that I’ve been saying since the movie came out that it wasn’t the job that was the problem, it was Andy’s friends that were the problem. And that is really true with this book. I knew we were going to have some serious problems when Elias Clarke calls them to offer to buy their magazine. I mean, the fact that Revenge starts with Andy having a nightmare about her time at Runway and with Miranda, just proved to me that even though it had been almost ten years, Andy still had PTSD from her time with Miranda. And the fact that Emily and her husband didn’t understand that and tried to get her to sell – and ultimately did sell – was just. Yeah, I really don’t blame her for doing what she did.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. So other than the fact that we kept flashing backward to these pivotal moments in Andy’s life post-Runway, the other reason I didn’t like this book was because of how Andy tended to avoid making decisions. She reminded me way too much of myself, and the fact that she didn’t like to do conflict, because let’s be honest if she did, I bet the whole sale would have ended a lot differently than it did.

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Revisited: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Clockwork Angel
2. Clockwork Prince
Original Date Started: October 28, 2013
Original Date Finished: November 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover from my shelf

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

Tessa Gray should be happy – aren’t all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute.
A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her.

To this day I will never forgive the Clockwork Princess for existing. Because I have yet to read a book since that settles the love triangle within the series pages in the way that Princess does. I mean. Jeez. Tessa, Will, and Jem are the strangest love triangle ever. They’re all friends – even if Will tries his damndest to put space between him and Miss Gray – and each care for the other deeply and don’t want to hurt the other. And I swear that both Jem and Will are so selfless it still brings tears to my eyes. Especially that scene when Will is on his way to rescue Tessa from Mortmain and feels his parabati bond break because Jem is dead. *blows nose*

Anyway, my favorite thing in the world about Clare and her books are the way that she brings such life to these characters. I mean, at first I didn’t really like Charlotte all that much, but ever since she stands up for herself at the end of the first book, I’ve really grown to admire her. And that holds especially true in this book. She is so caring for the students in her care, even for Gideon and Gabriel Lightwood who haven’t always been so nice to her. That moment when she asks how Gabriel is doing with the death of his father really got to me, just like it got to Gabriel. This is a woman who can arise loyalty and the way that those in residence at the Institute rally around her was really something.

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. The small details are so well tied together that this was probably one of the few final books of series that completely blew my expectations. From the way the love triangle is resolved, to the way characters behaved towards others…I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series, and actually would love a spin off series that focuses on Will and Tessa’s relationship or even Tessa after Will’s death and the things she has seen over the decades.

Bookshelf worthy? Seriously. I want the paperbacks with the picture on the spine, but at the same time I really love the hardcovers.

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Revisited: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Title: Uncommon Criminals
Author: Ally Carter
Series: Heist Society
Previous Book in the Series:
1. Heist Society
Original Date Started: July 9, 2013
Original Date Finished: July 11, 2013
Format: ebook from the digital library

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time. Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Ooh, this one was good. This one was really, really good. I like how Kat has become a modern day version of Robin Hood. Only instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, she’s stealing from the rich and giving to the rightful owners. Of course, her new heart of gold leads to its own set of problems, and I mean. I knew that stealing the Cleopatra Emerald and giving it to this elderly lady was just too easy, but when the lady wound up on the news saying that she found the counterpart to the Cleopatra Emerald even I was taken aback by it. But I do love Gabrielle and Hale and the gang for basically telling Kat that she got conned and its no big deal, she just needs to regroup and fix it.

And boy does she fix it. This is my second time reading this book, but I’m still not clear about what actually happens at the end. I mean. The whole thing looked like it had gone topsy-turvey wrong and then…it doesn’t? I know i said in the last book that the ending had been a little bit too perfect and something should have gone wrong to put a little twist on the ending, but…this was taking it a little bit too far. Either that or Kat and her friends are just too good at what they do that even someone as great as Maggie got duped.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I still love how easy it is to read these books. I love that the plot isn’t too complicated to understand and that the story just flows. The ending this time around was a little bit crazed, and I have a feeling the third time I read this book will be the charm where I will finally catch things I’ve missed the previous two times. I still want to know what caused Kat to stop being in the family business and what in world is going on with Hale and Kat? Kat kissed him and he left and then…nothing. Argh.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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Lost by P.C. Cast

Title: Lost
Authors: P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Series: House of Night – Otherworld
Previous Book in the Series:
1. Loved
Date Started: May 24
Date Finished: June 13
Format: audio book from Book Subscription Box

Things have settled down at the Tulsa House of Night since Zoey and the gang closed the tear between worlds and sent Other Kevin back to the Other World. Neferet hasn’t stirred. Damien and Jack are falling in love all over again. Stevie Rae and Rephaim are back in Tulsa where they belong. The Depot Restaurant is being rebuilt with the enthusiastic involvement of local humans. A new school year has begun, and Zoey’s exchange student program with public schools is really taking off. All is well.

But if all is well, why is Zoey increasingly withdrawn and moody?

Sadly, Stark is sure he knows the answer to that question. Zoey can’t stop thinking about following her brother to the Other World, and Stark isn’t deluding himself about why. Of course she wants to be sure her brother is okay. Of course she wants to help defeat Neferet in yet another world and be sure the balance between Light and Darkness is restored. But the real reason Z is so drawn to that other House of Night world is because Heath Luck, her childhood sweetheart, is alive in that world-alive and mourning her death.

So…as you can guess my complaint from the last book still stands with this one. For ‘adult’ vampires Zoey and the Nerd Herd act very immature for their age. And yeah, okay, at eighteen I wasn’t exactly mature myself, but considering everything this crew has been through you would think that they would get past all their shitty ass teenaged problems and just grow the hell up already. I mean, take for instance my huge problem with this book: when Stark figures out that Zoey is going to go to the Otherworld and confronts her about it, he gets so mad that Z is taking him with her and assumes its because she just wants to see Heath again, even though she very logically tells him its because he still exists in this Otherworld and he’s in a position of power over there. But Stark is so petty and so insecure about Z’s love for him that he assumes the worst of her. Ass. Hat.

Anyway, besides that small problem, I did actually like this book a little bit more than the previous one. Even with the constant switching of POVs and worlds, I liked the story line and I’m really hoping that the next two books have to deal with Other Kevin defeating Neferet in his world.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. So the reason that I’m not giving this book a four star rating is because Neferet wasn’t completely defeated. And I wasn’t a big fan of the narrator for the audio book. If you’re going to be a narrator I think you need to have a lot of voices and unfortunately this one did not. It’s kind of creepy when your voice for Other Kevin is the same as Stark’s. And now I get why people say to use synonyms for the word ‘said’ when you’re writing because every time she said the word ‘said’ I cringed. A lot.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Pretties
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Uglies
Date Started: June 5
Date Finished: June 10
Format: ebook from the digital library

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

You know what I really hate? When books spend so many pages trying to have their characters do something and they finally achieve it and then they do something that totally makes all those pages obsolete. And that’s exactly what happened in Pretties. Tally spends pretty much all of this book – especially once she gets the cure – trying to stay ‘bubbly’ and get the heck out of Pretty Town with her new boyfriend Zane. And there are so many ups and downs to her journey – I mean, the whole Shay plot? Jeez. I read this when I was in junior high? Was that really smart of me? – that when she finally gets back to the New Smokies I was just ready for the end.

But when the ending never happened and instead we had a similar ending from book one happened, I am just… Look, I’m not sure if it’s the time of year where I’m reading this – it was really, really busy – or that I’m trying to finish this before my loan expires, but I just. I’m getting really close to the point where I might just say screw it and not read the next two books. I basically had a huge replica of Uglies on my hands. The only difference was the fact that Tally is now pretty. And god. She is such a fickle creature. She fell in love with David and then as soon as she turned pretty she falls for Zane, but that’s the guy she decided to stick with? *sigh*

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Eh. I read 280 pages where the story was basically just the same as the first book with a few twists. Shay has taken a turn to crazy town and I’m not sure about Zane either. I mean. He’s not exactly ‘wowing’ me. You know?

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Revisited: Endlessly by Kiersten White

Title: Endlessly
Author: Kiersten White
Sequel to:
1. Paranormalcy
2. Supernaturally
Original Date Started: November 13, 2012
Original Date Finished: November 19, 2012
Format: ebook from the digital library

In Endlessly, pink-loving, butt-kicking Evie has way too much on her to-do list. Paranormals are begging her to open a faerie gate so they can leave the human world, something Evie’s not sure she has the power to do. The Dark Queen is torturing humans and must be destroyed.

On top of all that, Evie’s prom is coming up. She’s not sure what to wear, and, oh, yeah, her shape-shifting boyfriend, Lend, has been cursed so that he falls into an enchanted sleep whenever he and Evie are in the same room…and even Evie’s ex-boyfriend, the faerie Reth, can’t reverse the dark magic.

An epic battle is looming, and the choices Evie makes will determine the fate of whole paranormal world—and her own life.

Ah. Evie. How would i get through a stressful time of year without you and your sparkly taser to keep me sane? Evie is fantastic, although at times in this book I did find her a little bit slow on the uptake. I mean, the first time I read this book I thought that Reth had turned over a new leaf and was helping her because of how he felt about her. But as I was reading it the second time around, I started seeing what I missed the first time. Here’s a faerie who is familiar with the realms of the Seelie and Unseelie courts and he takes the long way to rescue Lend so that she sees all these evils? Master of manipulation that one.

Although I do have to admit that Reth has changed a lot since book one. I mean, he still wants to use Evie to get what he ultimately wants, but he’s not as diabolically twisted as he was back in the first book. I’m still not sure if I like Lend and Evie’s relationship by the end of this book, and I am kind of surprised that Jack didn’t end up going off with Vivian at the end, but hey. For all I know there was a reason for that.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I seriously think that Evie is going to need lots of therapy after all of this. And I really, really would have loved to see Evie go to prom with Lend, especially after all this talk of color schemes and themes for the dance. Of course, the committee might go off and kill the girl after her MIA act…hm. That would actually be a really good novella idea.

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Revisited: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Hesit Society
Author: Ally Carter
Original Date Started: July 6, 2013
Original Date Finished: July 9, 2013
Format: ebook from the digital library

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

This is the time of the year that I love books like this; quick and easy to understand the premise. And Kat is just, well, to be honest she’s the opposite of Cammie. She’s smart like Cammie, but she’s not quick with a sarcastic comeback really, and she still stands up for her family. Plus the whole angle of her family being in the business was interesting to read about, especially as her and her cousins and Hale try to plan out this huge heist to save her father’s life. I mean, they’re teenagers and they pull off this insane plan…it’s really quite something and really proves that parents are right when they tell you that if you put your mind to it you can do it.

However, that being said, things seemed to be a little bit too perfect in my opinion. I mean, even Kat figuring out who Nick was right before the end was too easy. And I really, really want to know why Kat left the family business to begin with. It wasn’t really explained, and I’m hoping – because I can’t remember if it was explained – that it’s explained in the next few books.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. The fact that they’re a bunch of teenagers who plan this heist is amazing. I love how easy and perfect this plot was, even if the final moments were a little bit too perfect. I was still expecting something to go wrong, and I think something should have to add a little bit more punch to it all.

Bookshelf worthy? Support your local library!

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Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody

Title: Queen of Volts
Author: Amanda Foody
Series: The Shadow Game
Previous Books in the Series:
1. Ace of Shades
2. King of Fools
Date Started: May 22
Date Finished: May 30
Format: ebook from the digital library

Only days after a corrupt election and brutal street war, one last bloodthirsty game has begun. The players? The twenty-two most powerful, notorious people in New Reynes.

After realizing they have no choice but to play, Enne Scordata and Levi Glaisyer are desperate to forge new alliances and bargain for their safety. But while Levi offers false smiles and an even falser peace to the city’s politicians, Enne must face a world where her true Mizer identity has been revealed…and any misstep could turn deadly.

Meanwhile, a far more dangerous opponent has appeared on the board, one plucked right from the most gruesome legends of New Reynes. As the game takes its final, vicious turn, Levi and Enne must decide once and for all whether to be partners or enemies. Because in a game for survival, there are only losers…

Was it my imagination or did this book just seem to drag? And did we really need so many chapters from different POVs? I mean, I got Enne and Levi because we’ve been with them from the beginning, but did we really need Harvey? He was a blubbering mess of a human being and sure, I got to see the villains plan, but I had to deal with a lot of guilt and wallowing and… honestly, I could have done without it. And then there was the overall plot. I know I said that I really liked the Shadow Game that was brought in at the end of the first book, but the ‘new’ Game that was introduced at the beginning of this book seemed to be a little bit messy.

Everyone was given a card at the St. Morse at the end of the last book, when Queen of Volts begins, the name of another person’s card magically appears on the back. That is their ‘target’ and you either have to kill that person and take their card, or have them willingly give you their card – but if they do that their life is now tied to yours – and then you take on their target. Collect five cards and you win the game, but those who are left without their targets die. I think that was the gist of the Game. And I’m still getting a headache just trying to wrap my brain around it.

And then there was Levi and Enne. The poor souls have been through a lot, and I honestly just wanted them to get locked up somewhere and have a long talk without any interruptions or anything else. Because they honestly needed a break – and some intense therapy. And even after everything they went through in this book I still think they need therapy. Also a better ending, because the one I read was just blah.

Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Honestly the politics and who hates who and talents just got to be way too complicated for me. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had sludged my way through the previous two books, I probably would have given up on this one about a quarter of the way through. And after that ending, I’m wondering if I should have done that anyway.

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The Empire of Dreams by Rae Carson

Title: The Empire of Dreams
Author: Rae Carson
Series: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Previous Books in this Series:
1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns
2. The Crown of Embers
3. The Bitter KIngdom
Date Started: May 22
Date Finished: May 27
Format: Kindle book from my collection

Even though Red Sparkle Stone is a foundling orphan with an odd name and a veiled past, she’s about to be adopted into the royal family—by Empress Elisa herself. Sixteen-year-old Red can hardly believe her luck. Then, in a stunning political masterstroke, the empress’s greatest rival blocks the adoption, and Red is left with no family and no future.

Grieving and lost, but determined to find her place, Red hatches a daring plan: she will prove herself as a recruit for the world’s most elite fighting force, the legendary Royal Guard—something no woman has done before. But it’s no coincidence that someone wanted her to fail as a princess, someone whose shadowy agenda puts everything she loves at risk. As danger closes in, it will be up to Red and her new friends—and maybe some new enemies—to save the empire. If they can survive recruitment year.

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