Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday #1: 2011

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewehere on that page
  • Be careful not to include spoilers (make sure that what you say doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author too so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

"I'm in a dark room. Strips of negatives hang on drying lines. I collapse onto the floor. My head spins and my hands are burning. Since first seeing the light, I have kept my hands clenched into fists. I look down at them now and see my right hand is still glowing, pulsating. I start to panic." - pg. 31 of I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.

I saw this book being featured at the Times bookstore in Pavilion and with all the hype surrounding the release of the movie, I thought I might as well pick it up pronto. I'm only on page 57 but it's been a pretty interesting read so far.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Hunger Games Series: Catching Fire & Mockingjay

Title: Catching Fire (2nd in the Hunger Games Series)

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: Dystopian / Speculative / Young Adult

First Published: 2009 (472 pages)

Catching Fire is the 2nd book in the Hunger Games Series and picks off from where Katniss and Peeta survive the 12th annual Hunger Games event. Their controversial victory had unknowingly sparked a revolution in some of the districts and made them a target of Panem’s ruthless government. Under the watchful eyes of President Snow, Katniss and Peeta embark on their victory tour throughout the districts, in an attempt to convince the public that their actions in the arena were nothing more than an act of love, rather than defiance. But as Katniss begins her tour in District 11, she starts to realize that her actions, no matter how well planned have already elicited hope and strength in the people of Panem.  In an attempt to suppress the uprising, President Snow sends Katniss back to the pits of the arena as part of the 3rd Quarter Quell celebrations, and together with her, Peeta volunteers to be part of it too.

Catching Fire continues to provide the nail-biting suspense and fast-pace adventure as that of the first book. But where much of the thrills and chills of the Hunger Games were derived from Katniss’ survival in the arena, Catching Fire’s tension came from different angles: the looming threat of President Snow; the fearless uprising of the districts and Katniss’ and Peeta’s attempt at making allies and surviving the unpredictable Quarter Quells. As usual, Katniss is the star in this un-nerving saga. Her independent and nurturing character, gives a strong presence and unsurprisingly resulted in her being a rebel instigator. Her forced unity with Peeta makes for a cute story as they are both as different as night and day. Whilst Katniss is completely aloof when it comes to social and romantic situations, Peeta is forever the sweet and smooth gentleman. In Catching Fire, Collins also introduces the audience to new characters like Finnick Odair (a male victor from District 4), Johanna Mason (female victor from District 7) and Beetee (male victor from District 3), all of which are featured more in the 3rd installation to the series; Mockingjay. My slight contention with Catching Fire was that I was expecting more coverage on Gale’s personality and the development of his relationship with Katniss, which was sadly lacking. Overall though, Catching Fire is still a great read and does not disappoint.

Title: Mockingjay (3rd in the Hunger Games Series)

Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: Dystopian / Speculative / Young Adult

First Published: 2010 (455 pages)

In Mockingjay, the tale of the rebellion intensifies after Katniss escapes the 3rd Quarter Quells through the rescue of an undercover group aimed at over throwing the government. The plot thickens as Katniss comes to grips with the existence of a 13th District, her role as the Mockingjay, and the capture of Peeta by the Capitol. Whilst Katniss regains her strength and is being briefed by the powers behind the rebellion group, Peeta remains in the clutches of the snake-like President and endures both physical and mental torture.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I really enjoyed the intensity and suspense felt in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire and thus expected nothing less from Mockingjay. Whilst book 1 introduced the readers to the nature of the games and Katniss, book 2 gave more insight into Katniss’ character; her strengths and her weaknesses. Book 3, was the much anticipated conclusion to the distorted world of Panem, but with so much exposure to Katniss’ character and romantic life in the first 2 books, many had expected a lot more from it, including myself. In Mockingjay, Katniss is faced with the harshness of real war – she’s no longer a pawn in one of the Capitol’s games but rather a mentally strung participant and witness to the mercilessness of President Snow. Her mental situation doesn’t do much for her character development and instead of growing to her full potential of becoming a real leader she is forced into a rebellion that she’s not even sure she wants to be part of. The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale also seems to meet a stump and falls well below expectations. With Peeta mostly being under torture and losing most of his original personality as a result, the underdevelopment of Gale’s character, and Katniss’ continuous indecisiveness, there wasn’t really much to look forward to here. Although Katniss does end up with Peeta in the end, it felt forced and unnatural. Mockingjay wasn’t all that bad though. It still had the elements of thrill and suspense, but it was less fast-paced than the first 2 and definitely my least favourite in the entire series.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twenties Girl

Title: Twenties Girl

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Genre: Chick Lit

First Published: 2009 (497 pages)

From the Cover:
Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don't get visited by ghosts. Or do they? When the spirit of Lara's great-aunt Sadie mysteriously appears, she has one request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie's possession for more than seventy-five years, because Sadie cannot rest without it. 

Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie's necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different "twenties" girls learn some surprising truths from and about each other. 

My Take:
I am a big fan of Sophie Kinsella's "Shopaholic Series" and needless to say, Becky Bloomwood; the ditsy girl that never failed to make me laugh-out-loud. After finishing the "Shopaholic Series", I didn't think Kinsella was able to create such an adorable and charming character like Bloomwood, but I was wrong. Lara Lington was not only all that, she was also one independent, dependable and spunky gal. Whilst trying to come to terms that her relationship with Josh was over and the fact that her so-called business partnership was going down the drain, she is suddenly burdened by an even more alarming issue: she can see and hear her dead aunt when nobody else can. She starts to think that she's losing her mind until several episodes with her great-aunt Sadie proves to be otherwise. The journey she takes on with Sadie hovering in the background is full of humour and adventure which made it impossible for me to put the book down for even a toilet break! I simply loved the fact that here is a chick lit that combines chick, mystery, family drama and love, all rolled into one big delicious treat. Another great novel by Kinsella and easily one of my favorite books for 2011 so far.



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