Friday, January 31, 2014

Gregor the Overlander vs Katniss the Girl on Fire


*This post is half rant and half review of the Hunger Games.  SPOILERS ARE NOT COVERED FOR EITHER SERIES. I TRIED TO KEEP IT MOSTLY SPOILER FREE, BUT, AS YOU CAN SEE, I FAILED MISERABLY (it's inevitable in a rant ;)). READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!*

So going off of my previous post here, I think the Underland Chronicles were so much better than the Hunger Games and really underrated. I mean, the Hunger Games was entertaining, and the world building was pretty awesome, but to be honest, it wasn’t anything special.  Nothing about it blew me away.  Sure, it was a good story, and there were tons of symbolism and deep messages in these books, but there are quite a few books out there that address the same issues and have even better stories; the Hunger Games, I feel, only got attention because these issues were combined with a love triangle  during that dark period where love triangles were rampant. (*shudders*) (Not to mention, the love triangle CONSUMED the books to the point where, unless you were digging for it, I felt the point of the books was lost by the end.) 

The thing that got to me, and I’ve mentioned this before in my other review, was the lack of chemistry between all the characters.   I’m sorry, but Gale and Katniss? Katniss and Peeta?  There was no character development for both guys, first of all (not enough telling and not that much showing).  Second of all, I just didn’t buy it.  Um, why did she fall in love with Gale all of a sudden?? And the interactions between her and Peeta seemed forced, almost awkward.  And Prim and Katniss? I felt the love Katniss felt for Prim was tinged with a little coldness and a little resentment. I mean yes, it was inevitable, I guess, as Prim was close to their mother and etc, but still.  I’m not saying that Katniss wasn't fond of her sister, but I felt their relationship was just off ( a little awkward/forced).   It also didn't help that Prim wasn't really fully developed; as a result, it was hard for me to care for her.     

And that leads me to my next point: lack of character development for the major characters.

Katniss was an interesting character, but she, along with MAYBE Haymitch and Rue, were the only ones that I felt were fully developed.   In contrast, in the Underland Chronicles, almost every character, minor or major, were fleshed out entirely; I was really invested in the lives of all the characters.  In the Hunger Games, the only major person I knew that was fleshed out was Katniss.

Did I care for her? Not really.  I cared for her story though, and what she stood for, but that was pretty much it.  However, this was just a personal thing; her personality was noble, but I just didn’t click with her. 

Did I care about Rue? Sure, but then she disappeared from the story.  (Yes, her presence lingered on and etc., but she was dead.) I really wish the care that went into developing Rue, even in that short time that she was in the series, went into developing the other major characters as well.

I enjoyed Haymitch as the snarky mentor.  He was also really similar to Ripred (except Ripred was gruffer, and he was a literal rat ;)).  He and Katniss had pretty good chemistry (dare I say even better than what Katniss had with Peeta?). Obviously not romantic chemistry (EW!), but a sort of grudging respect for one another.  Haymitch was actually a really interesting character, maybe even more so than Katniss herself, because of his complexity.  Haymitch was very flawed and unpredictable, in contrast to Katniss, who we all knew as the heroine was going to do the right thing.

The last reason why I choose Gregor the Overlander over Katniss the Girl on Fire was because of the ending.  I felt the Hunger Games got worse as the series went on.  The first book was great, the second book was okay, and the third book was kind of bad.  This series really depended on a solid ending, and Mockingjay wasn’t able to deliver.  I felt Mockingjay just fell short of everything, especially after what had happened in the last two books; the ending was so abrupt and flat- not to mention, it lacked oomph, and there were so many unnecessary deaths. The Underland Chronicles ended on a bittersweet note, much like the Hunger Games, but it managed to resolve everything, logically, and it had that oomph.   (A very satisfying oomph.)

I can’t deny the Hunger Games wasn’t an entertaining story because it was.  But it really was waaay over rated. Girl on Fire? No thanks.  I'd rather have an Overlander. ;)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Series Review: Underland Chronicles

262430AuthorSuzanne Collins
Genre(s): YA/Middle Grade Fantasy 
*5 Books*
~Spoiler free~

The Underland Chronicles tells the story of Gregor, a seemingly average 11year- old boy, and his adventures in Underland, a world he discovers one day when he falls through a vent in his apartment. 

UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT: To be honest, I liked this series waaaaaay better than the Hunger Games.  In fact, I felt like this series was really underrated and overshadowed by the Hunger Games.
Well, I think that topic merits its own post.:)

For now, I've complied a bullet list of the reasons of why I absolutely love the Underland Chronicles.
(Note: There won’t be any spoilers for this series but there will be a few spoilers for the Hunger Games that I have left uncovered.  Read at your own risk!)

1  1. Characters: (Was it just me or were all the characters really similar to the ones in Percy Jackson?  Or the other way around, since this series came out first.  Gregor wasn't quite a sass master like Percy, but other than that, they were pretty similar.  This type of character must be a common thing because I’ve heard the characters of Percy Jackson be compared to Harry Potter (mostly in appearance; I'm not sure personality-wise because I haven't actually read Harry Potter).  Maybe that’s why I really loved this book series- because it was so similar to Percy Jackson. )  

The thing I loved most about this book, and what I felt was somewhat lacking in the Hunger Games, was the chemistry between the characters.  There wasn’t really romantic chemistry (hints here there), but the family and friendship dynamic was amazing.  You could see how much Gregor loved and cared for his sister.  It was clearly evident throughout the book with everything Gregor did.  In contrast, yes, Katniss did love her sister, and yes, her actions showed it, but as I was reading the book, I felt like Katniss viewed her sister as more of a delicate object to be protected (she was delicate, but a person isn’t an object).  The love Katniss felt for her sister could be argued as genuine, but at the same time, I personally felt there was an underlying coldness and a little resentment from Katniss to her sister.  There was something off about their relationship.   But with Gregor, all I could see was his sweet affection and unconditional love for his sister.  (I'll explore this more on the next post!)

There were other relationships I adored, especially Luxa and Gregor, Ripred and Gregor, and Ares and Gregor. 

In a bullet list within another bullet list:
- Luxa and Gregor:   They went from I-find-you-interesting-and-as-about-trustworthy-as-cockroaches (not to bash cockroaches, but they were seen as lower class; to be honest, though, they were actually really cute in this book) to I’ll-trust-you-with-my-bat (which is a pretty big deal!).

-Ripred and Gregor: Ripred is the snarky (and hilarious) mentor who, besides the cockroaches and Ares, was one of my favorite non-human characters in the books.   They have a I-care-for-you-like-you're-family-but-I’ll-pretend-I-don’t type of relationship.  Ripred is gruff, but caring in his own way.

Ares and Gregor: They started off as sort of enemies, but grew to love and care for each other.  Their relationship was very honorable with a tinge of sweetness.  (It’s a bit weird to describe their relationship like this, but I think "honorable" really sums up their interactions.)

2. The plot: Oh my goodness, the story was AWESOME. I can’t gush about it enough!  It was exciting, entertaining, and fun.  It was fast paced too, and there were so many twists and turns with each book; it definitely kept you on your toes. Again, I felt the stories were similar to Percy Jackson in nature; I don’t know if it was just me, but there were A LOT of similarities between *certain* scenes.  

But read and decide for yourself.  ;)

I can’t really say more about the overall plot without giving away spoilers, but it was really something (prepare thy heartstrings to be tugged and soul to be ripped).  And that ending?  I can’t guarantee it won’t disappoint (in a good way!), but it was satisfying.  So satisfying. (Mockingjay doesn’t hold a candle to it.)

3. The world:  Made me want to find a vent and jump in myself ;).   It might not be appealing to everyone (there were rats, bugs, bats…), but I personally love bugs, and the description of this place was beautiful.  Seriously.  There are few authors that could make an underground fantasy world beautiful, creepy, and real all at the same time- Ms. Collins is one of them.

The world building was just amazing. The author built up this world slowly, telling us only what we needed to know at that time- and there was a lot to know (esp. the prophecies!).   No info dumps or lack of info.  This book was a great example of balancing telling and showing.

4. Messages/themes:  This series was really lovely, not just in the plot and characters, but also in themes and messages.  It was mostly focused on themes of loyalty, family, doing what's right, and destiny/fate (PARTICULARLY THIS!). Now, these themes might sound cliche and overly done (esp. nowadays with YA books popping out like cake pops), but the author doesn't just plow you in the face with them.  It was very subtle, and writing this review now (I read this series again a month or two ago), I found myself realizing more connections and more themes within the novels that I hadn't before.  

5. Addiction level: INSANE. This series was amazing.  Honestly, I think I’ve read this series only a few less times than I’ve read Percy Jackson (and you guys all know my obsessive love for that!!).   The thing I think that made  this book so great was the chemistry between the characters and the characters themselves.  The plot itself was amazing, but with cardboard characters, even the best plots can be ruined.   Here, we were lucky enough to get both a great plot and awesometastic characters!  

Final thoughts?  So usually, I would take issue with the fact that Gregor was THE ONE.  But here, there was a rare exception of that being done well and being done with a plot twist.  (!!)

Can't recommend this series enough!!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Like Moonlight at Low Tide

Like Moonlight at Low Tide: Sometimes the Current Is the Only Thing that Saves YouAuthor: Nicole Quigley 
Release Date:   September 23, 2012 
Publisher: Zondervan 
Genre(s): YA Christian Contemporary 
Pages: 256
*Stand alone*

~Spoiler free~

 For Missy Keiser, returning to Anna Maria Island, Florida, means two things: her mother made another poor decision with men, and Missy will have to reenter a world where she’s known as “Messy,” a social pariah who dared to have a crush on Sam King, the most popular boy in school.

But much has changed in the three years she’s been away. Missy’s next-door neighbor is no longer an elderly woman but Josh, an intriguing boy who seems genuinely interested in her. At school, she’s surprised to find few people remember who she once was. And any remaining taunts of Messy are silenced when Sam King gives her his nod of approval.

Just as things seem to be perfect, Josh’s sudden distance, her mother’s latest relationship implosion, and her brother’s strange behavior threaten to ruin it all. Missy is forced to decide between the boy she’s always wanted, a boy who is intent on trying to save her, and the brother she’s known all her life. And her decision could have consequences she can never undo.


*Thank you to Zondervan for providing me with a review copy of this book! * 

I didn’t like this book, but I didn’t hate it either. I felt it was shallow, not as in the subject matter or the writing, but the lack of depth at which the subjects were explored.   This book touched on a lot of issues- suicide, belonging, believing, partying, self-esteem, drugs, etc- and it never really focused on one thing.  This was all fine, but it kind of just went from here to there and merely grazed upon some subjects, while going a little bit deeper into others. 

This book had a lot of potential, not only because of the subject matters, but also because it relates to life today, especially for teens.  I feel many teens drink and do drugs because, much like the characters in this book, they have this emptiness inside they want to fill.  I liked how the author addressed these issues in a Christian context, but I really wished she’d gone deeper into all of them. 

I really loved how this book ended with something beginning.  It wasn't a perfect ending, in more ways than one, but it was a realistic ending.  It was a hopeful ending.  And to be honest, it wasn't really the end at all.  It was just the beginning of something wonderful.

This book was not preachy at all.  In fact, the Christian parts were scattered throughout the book, and it was not really addressed until the middle.  I absolutely loved the emphasis on the love of God and how He is the perfect Father.

Final thoughts? Much of the heavy content was just touched on, but the ending was worth it.

Thanks for reading!

Rating: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Hi guys!

I know I virtually disappeared these last 2 weeks, and I want to apologize to all my readers and blogging friends! I've been swamped with school and life, and though I've managed to squeeze in a book here and there, I haven't been able to write reviews for any of them.  I'm also pretty backed up on Netgalley (serves me right for going book crazy and requesting all those books! I've definitely learned my lesson there!).  I know, though, that I have no excuse for not posting because I know plenty of other bloggers out there who manage to maintain an awesome and active blog while still living in the real world.    (*round of applause*  Those people are fabulous beyond belief! :) )

Again, I'm so sorry! I'll try to start posting again by this weekend. :)

(So much for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge, eh?  I'll try again in a couple of months!:))

Happy readings!:)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday Wk 3

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Jill over at Breaking the Spine
What I'm waiting on this week:
This cover is so cute! 
 Blurb: (from Goodreads)
Comes out April 1st! 

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell. 
Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there's life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she's ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way

A girl named Cricket?
Zac Efron look-alike?
Summer camp?
Count me in!

 This book sounds like so much fun with just the right dash of heart!
So what are you guys waiting on this week?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reading Challenge: Outside the Box 2014

2014 ROtB Reading Challenge

Hi there!
So I am joining yet another challenge (LOL).  
(If anyone cares, that's four... I know. I know. I've got a problem, but I can't help it! There's so many new events and stuff out there for book blogs!!)
It's hosted by Musings of a Book Lover :)
This one is aimed to take you out of your reading comfort zone and challenge you with 14 tasks (but you can choose what categories to aim for).

This is my first time doing this so I've decided to aim for I'm a Little Scared (3-4 categories).
 Hopefully I'll be able to *maybe* surpass that, but for now, with three other challenges on my shelf, I'm staying where it's nice and safe xD.
I totally encourage everyone to try it out!
Click on the link above for more information!!:)

Feature and Follow #2

Increase Blog Followers
Hi guys!!:)
Feature and Follow Friday is hosted by the wonderful Rachel over at Parajunkee and the fabulous Alison over at Alison Can Read

This week's question:

What were your favorite books of 2013?

This question is overloading my senses... omg.

But I'll narrow that down to my top ten (or else we'll all be here 'til next week) ;)
(in no particular order)
1. If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
2. Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes  
3. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa [squeee!! 4 more months until Forever Song.  My heart is ready to get ripped out again. (No not really, but when's it ever going to be ready? ;) ]
4. Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn 
5. A Charmed Life collection by Jenny B Jones
6. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
7. Splintered by AG Howard (ONLY 5. MORE. DAYS. UNTIL. UNHINGED. Forget Forever Song.  I'm pretty sure this one will finish me off...)
8. The Ordinary Princess by MM Kaye
9. Dragon's Bait by Vivian Vande Velde 
10. Me Since You by Laura Wiess (Just read this one right before the new year started!) 


Was the reaping as hard for you as it was for me?
Leave your comments below!
(And thank you so much for stopping by!;))

Christmas Challenge: Me Since You

12989100Author: Laura Wiess
Release Date:  February 18th, 2014
PublisherGallery, Threshold, Pocket Books/ MTV Books
Genre(s): YA Contemporary 
Pages: 368
*Stand alone*

(part of New Year's resolution for blogging: trying to be spoiler free in my reviews!)

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?


*~Thank you so much to Gallery, Threshold, and Pocket Books/MTV Books for sending me this copy via Netgalley!~*
I’ve never really had trouble writing reviews before. It’s kind of simple: if I like a book,  I rave about it; if I hate a book, I rant about it, and if I’m in between, I do both.  Easy. Granted, I haven’t reviewed that many books yet, but still.

Then I read this book.  I was left speechless. Sitting here staring at my computer, then swiveling my head back and forth between the word document and my kindle, I can’t seem to find the words that would adequately describe how devastating and moving this book is. 

This book is a lot of things.  It’s about the ripple effect and how one thing can change everything.  It’s about grief and how it lasts a life time.  It’s about life and how it moves on- sometimes when you’re ready and sometimes when you’re not.  It’s about family and the bonds that hold a family together.  It’s about love and how sometimes love doesn’t seem like the strongest force in the world- in fact, it may even seem like the weakest.  It’s about hope and how hope comes in pieces.  It’s about moving on and letting go, but also holding on and treasuring the little things. And ultimately, it’s about forgiveness from a daughter to a father.

This book is raw, emotional, and powerful.  You will cry, and sometimes you’ll laugh- because the thing that this book does best is it shows how hope and love never truly die.  

Thanks for reading :)
Rating: 4 out of 5 

"Quote Me" Thursday Wk 2

Quote Me Thursday #12 January 2nd- January 9th
Hi guys!
"Quote Me" Thursday is hosted by the fantastic Brenda over at Daily Mayo.
My inspirational quote for the week:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Romans 15:13  

I guess this verse is more encouraging than inspirational, but I think it's perfect for this new year!:)
It's like God's sending us off into the new year with His blessing. :)
What are your inspirational quotes this week? 
Leave a comment below!:D

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday Wk 2

Happy New Year everyone!
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fabulous Jill over at Breaking the Spine
What I'm waiting on this week:
The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

Sadly there's no cover for it yet, I'm soo excited!! 
That ending in The Eternity Cure!!!
Pretty much sums up the entire book/my feels for it and the release date.


The Forever Song comes out April 29th 2014
(4 more months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

So what are you guys waiting on this week?
:) Leave a comment below!