YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for the ‘absolutely HAVE TO READ’ Category

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 1st 2009
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (5/5 stars)

Synopsis: Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Review: Astonishing and impossible to put down, Catching Fire is a terrific continuation of Katniss’s story from the remarkable Hunger Games. Collins has met, and exceeded, my expectations for Catching Fire. In the first book we watch as Katniss grows into a strong young woman, now she is as strong willed and independent as ever, and I applauded to her for being so resourceful and resilient. In the first half of the novel, we see the lives in the Districts through Katniss’s eyes as she tour the Districts. There are new characters introduced and of course, a villain as well, President Snow. The other characters were very well fleshed out and I was very pleased to see more of Gale in this book (will elaborate on that later).

There was a twist and I honestly did not see it coming. The last chapter confirmed all her suspicions and I didn’t know whether I should smile with joy or burst into tears because of something else.

One thing that irked me in Hunger Games was that there was so little of Gale it was impossible to choose between him and Peeta because he have not seen more of Gale yet. Collins delivers more of Gale in this sequel but I wanted more. I was initially rooting for Gale but I disliked his frosty demeanor. Frankly, I wanted to scream at him “TREAT KATNISS NICER! Can’t you forgive her?”. But in a way, Gale’s behavior is completely realistic, the characters are all flawed, and Gale is not an exception. As Katniss struggles with her feelings for Peeta, I can hardly blame her for it. Peeta is absolutely wonderful guy, he comforts Katniss when she has nightmares and is willing to die for her. Awwww. So I think I am now leaning towards Team Peeta because he is such a nice guy. Nice is an understatement, actually.

The cliffhanger ending is positively brutal! I want a time machine so that I can fast-forward into the future and gets my hands on Hunger Games #3! I am definitely picking up the third and final installment to the Hunger Games on August 24 2010. It will be exciting to see how everything plays out in the end. Collins has written a series that is impossible to forget, full of action, excitement, heart-pounding moments and romance.

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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf–her wolf–is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human–or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

I finished this book with tears flowing down my cheeks. I was speechless, I enjoyed this book way more than I expected I would, it surpassed all my expectations. And truthfully, I don’t remember the last time I read something that made me cry. Please applaud to Maggie Stefvater for making me cry because there is an amazing accomplishment because I am sure Maggie did not write this book intending for her readers to cry while reading.

EDIT: Sorry everyone, Nina pointed out my mistake. I Googled and Maggie actually intended for people to cry while reading Shiver. She said ‘With Shiver, I wanted to write a book that would make someone sneak a peek of it in their cubicle, and then mascara would run down their face, and they could shake their fist at the sky and curse me to the heavens.’

At first, I felt that their first kiss came too fast. But the more I read, their love for each other became more realistic. Unknowingly, I was two hundred pages into the book and I wasn’t stopping there. Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is incredible, it flows smoothly and lyrically.

I loved Stiefvater’s fascinating take on the werewolf genre. After reading some books on werewolf, I still wasn’t a fan of them… until now. I felt in love with Sam and the pack except for Shelby. Sam is a sweet thoughtful guy and I immediately fell for him. Grace is a herione that we need to see more of in YA books, she’s unstoppable. She won’t just resent to fate and let Sam be a wolf. Her determination makes her a wonderful character.

As the days pass and time is running out, Grace and Sam try to prevent him from changing back into a wolf. This is his last time he will be human, soon he’ll be a wolf, permanently. Their alternating POVs gives readers a clear insight on their individual struggles they are facing. Some scenes in the book were so well described, for example, I loved reading about the candy shop, I could practically inhale the delicious smell of candy while reading. My heart ached when during the bookstore scene when Sam wanted Grace to notice him. My heart nearly shattered into pieces at the end, thus the tears.

Shiver is a beautiful heart warming tale which will send shivers down your spine. I am satisfied if it’s a standalone but in this case, there are two more books due for this series so we will be getting more of Sam and Grace. This is a book you absolutely have to read.

Maggie Stiefvater sold movie rights for SHIVER so you know what that means. In a few years time you might see SHIVER on the big screen! Comment and discuss who you think would be ideal to play Grace and Sam! And this November, I am going to be having book discussions for SHIVER so please come back then to discuss!

Gold star!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Oh the irony, while everyone is reviewing Catching Fire, here I am reviewing The Hunger Games.

I picked up this book at the library out of curiousity after hearing many good things about it. It took me some time to get riled up but once I got pass the first three chapters BAM! I was sucked into the story. I returned the book to the library and bought my own copy. I had high expectations for Hunger Games and I would say most of them were met. The pace was steady and there is a build up of suspense. The storyline was extremely well crafted. Katniss is a strong, skillful and clever character which makes her a compelling narrator. She is concerned for the welfare of her loved ones and is a very sensible person. And of course there’s also a love triangle. Cute but I felt that I knew too little about Gale thus I had a hard time choosing between Peeta and Gale.

Readers are told about how dangerous the Hunger Games are, making them aware of how deadly the Games are. Reading this book made me feel as though I was right there, fighting to stay alive. Can you imagine how intense this book was?

At the end you cannot help but find yourself wanting to know what happens to Peeta, Katniss and Gale. There is no doubt about this book being a bestseller. The highly anticipated sequel Catching Fire is in stores now and Suzanne is working on the 3rd book for the trilogy. A truly remarkable read.

Mini rant: This has nothing to do with the book so ignore this if you want. The Hunger Games has been getting a lot of hype here but it concerned me that it was only boys reading it! I saw two different boys purchasing The Hunger Games at different times but it struck me that it was only boys that seem to be reading it. I’m speechless. I know teens in USA, both guys and girls alike, enjoyed the novel. But why is it so few girls know about this book? That frustrates me, a lot. But hopefully once The Hunger Games movie is out, everyone will start reading this fab book.

Gold star!
On top of a gold star, this book falls into a special new category “absolutely HAVE TO READ”. Yes, only the best books are listed here so books listed in this category are very highly recommended by me and absolute have to buy.

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Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 1 2009
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star! (4.5/5)

Synopsis: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Review: After reading the first two chapters on the Simon & Schuster website, I knew I would love this book. And sure enough, I did. It’s not like this topic hasn’t been done before, forbidden romance. However Becca has written a novel with the same idea but the writing is exceptional. Reading Hush Hush was like riding a roller coaster, the story moves in a fast pace and before you know it, it’s over. I long to go back into Patch’s and Nora’s world and experience everything again.

Nora is an excellent protagonist. Like Patch describes her, she’s attractive, intelligent and vulnerable. Her emotions are perfectly captured and portrayed. Patch is a very intriguing guy and more so when he is reluctant to talk about his past. Though he can be provocative –and flirtatious at times, he is very attractive and has this ‘good’ side of him. Despite Nora feeling uncomfortable with Patch, she is drawn to him. Her best friend, Vee, is affable but don’t insult her because she can be rather sharp-tongued!

There is one part towards the end when everything seemed so surreal (hint: that part reminded me of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones), I wanted Nora to run and hug Patch. I wanted to cry during that part, honestly. I can feel Nora’s pain and when she questions her sanity, I got quite a bit emotional at that point.

I hereby declare Patch from Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick my favourite YA guy. Trust me, by the time you are done with Hush Hush, you’ll be like Edward who?

My only problem with Hush Hush is the whole similarity with that vampire book. I completely agree with Steph from Reviewer X. Once or twice I had the déjà vu feeling, personally I feel the book would have been better if the scenes were altered in way that makes it unique ( read Steph’s review here).

Part romance and part mystery, Hush Hush will appeal to both young adults as well as adults. Be sure to buy Hush Hush when it’s out in stores October 2009 or preorder it from Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Book Depository. You bet I am getting Crescendo, but that might take a while since Becca just turned in Crescendo to her editor not too long ago. But not to worry, Hush Hush is a great (great is an understatement) spectacular, extraordinary book by itself, everything wraps up nicely at the end. If you want me to describe Hush Hush I would say it is a stunning riveting phenomenal novel which would keep readers hanging onto every page.

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Nick and his brother Alan are on the run with their mother, who was once the lover of a powerful magician. When she left him, she stole an important charm – and he will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Now Alan has been marked with the sign of death by the magician’s demon, and only Nick can save him. But to do so he must face those he has fled from all his life – the magicians – and kill them. So the hunted becomes the hunter…but in saving his brother, Nick discovers something that will unravel his whole past…

Wow! How do I start describing how amazing this book was? Let’s start with Nick, his hot, mysterious and not exactly Mr. Nice. There’s Alan, Nick’s brother who is kind, smart and thoughtful. There’s a vast difference between the two brother’s personalities and if you asked me who I preferred, I pick Nick! His my kind of guy. Mae and Jamie are fun characters to read about and their personalities are well written. Mae is strong and not intimidated by Nick. She refuses to give up hope on Jamie and that was portrayed really well.

The Demon’s Lexicon is fast paced and filled with heartpounding action. And it’s funny too. I was praying that Alan would be alright as he had the second Mark. Three marks and you die! However that’s not all, Sarah throws a huge curveball at the end which made me reread the page to make sure I got it right.

This book will keep you up all night. Well done Sarah Rees Brennan! The Demon’s Lexicon was a fantastic novel and I am definitely impressed by SRB’s writing. You absolutely have to read this book!

You will probably like this book if you enjoy Twilight, Mortal Instruments series and other supernatural books.

Edit: I used the UK cover for my review as my copy is the UK version. Besides, I don’t really like the US cover.

Gold star!

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!,” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!

Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can’t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.

Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.

This has got to be one of my favourite books this year. I loved everything about this book. It definitely lived up to my expectations of it. The plot is kind of predictable but it doesn’t really matter as readers are too busy laughing out loud at the hilarious scenes and the problems Audrey faces. Audrey Wait is a book full of life, humor and unforgettable characters. It gives a wonderful insight on the life of being a rockstar’s ex girlfriend. From running away from the paparazzi to snogging backstage at a concert to watching Audrey’s pictures surface on the internet, Audrey Wait guarantee’s entertainment. Robin Benway has written a fresh, realistic, fun-filled and completely memorable novel.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi. 😉

Gold star, no doubt ’bout that!