The Hunger Games (2)

Hunger Games series

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

4/5

Talk about sadness all over!

I know this isn’t much of a spoiler, but there’s honestly eth all over the place, how can that be pleasant?

MockingjayIt all felt like a good ending until that moment when Finick died in a single sentence. Seriously?

“Far below, I can make out Finnick, struggling to hang on as three mutts tear at him”

Really? Her last true allied? the last person she could really, unconditionally, trust? And you just killed him off after he just got married?

And then… he has a son?! Did he even get to know his new bride was pregnant when he decided to get back into semi-arena without a real purpose or plan? As a set of tools only used to draw fire and public image managing? How depressing is that?Have tissues close by

I understand that this whole series is told from Katniss’s perspective, and in previous ones, I actually enjoy all the little things she doesn’t know. I like being surprised and trying to figure things out as she does.

But, usually, she got a bit of a briefing after every confusing event. Enough not to keep us in the dark about what really happened and the intentions and actions of every player. Not this time, though. The whole of the last couple of chapters felt like the genuine experience of someone who has gone through such a horrible and traumatic thing likeKatniss has, but it left us all in the dark about the finer details.

Like, for example…

What happens after the murder of President Coin? There was a trial? What happened? Who testified? What could they possibly say to justify Katniss’s actions?

And Gale? I understand why he never comes back to her, but we don’t get to know about him again? And even if h accepts their relationship beyond friendship will never happen, he was supposed to be her best friend! eh just abandoned her to her grief? How lame is that!

And Katniss’s mom! She also abandoned her to her grief?! After everything she did for her when she succumbed to hers after the death of her husband?! And who cares if going back to their old house was painful to her?! A mother should have done it anyway! Her last living daughter needed her the most, and she just let her be taken away?! How disturbing!

And don’t get me started on Peeta!! He was seriously crazy! Quite demented! In a way most would have expected him to need constant supervision for the rest of his life… but no! He just goes back home alone where he has no family left to keep an eye on him, and to a girl who he used to love so much that he tried to kill her more than once. And we hear nothing about his therapy or road to recovery? That was kind of a necessary step if you wanted us to calmly accept he was now safe for Katniss, and capable long term to have a family of his own.

That’s another thing. Children? They had children? I don’t feel comfortable with people this damaged and traumatized to be responsible for raising a couple of children, on their own. Do you? Honestly?

But well… all and all, I did like it. Most of it felt right (except the part about Finnick), and wrapped most of it up. I guess I’ll just have to live with it.

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Catching Fire

4/5
by Suzanne Collins

 

I was actually not expecting to like this book as much as I did.

Catching_fireHonestly! I really liked it. it is filled with action and a lot of not knowing what is happening. I loved the fact that it was all told from the perspective of Katniss, so every time she’s confused or surprised or shocked, you are as well.

Not to dismiss the all-knowing narrator, but I do enjoy being surprised.

I have to say that for me, this book was a lot about betrayal. But I kind of liked that. It felt right to feel like that when everything feels like a battle for survival. And it IS a battle for survival! At least for Katniss

SPOILER ALERT

… She feels like she’s betraying her life-long friend, by faking a relationship with Peeta, but at the same time, Gale having feelings for her and trying to push their agenda with her when all she wants is to find the light at the other light of this tunnel she voluntarily got into, that feels like a betrayal to her.

And, on top of all that, comes the expected but not any less shocking betrayal of the government. She tried really hard to please the President. She did what she was asked, and was willing to do more… but it didn’t make any difference. The government still breaks all possible trust, as small and tentative as this could’ve been, by sending her back to fight for her life to that place she barely survived the first time.

And, just in case you thought that wasn’t enough to break all her trust in people in general, her friends betray her. By lying, by plotting against her, by using her as a pawn in their own game… as if she hadn’t had enough of that. It doesn’t matter if they think it is a noble cause or if they call it a Revolution or whatever.

It is all a betrayal, for Katniss. She is being forced into a role and into actions that don’t come of her own volition. You know how we call in the real life when someone is forced against their will to do something they don’t’ want to do? ABUSE! She’s being abused! By her friends! I feel for her.

I would’ve gouged Haymitch‘s eyes out without remorse.

But that’s just me.

… I think the only person in the whole book who doesn’t demand anything from Katniss is Peeta. I think he sees what she’s going through, and most of all, he understands her. He can empathize and he just loves her, anyway she lets him, being with her in any capacity she needs. That is true love.

That is true love.

Deklan

3/5

deklan

Deklan by Shay Savage

Nice and short.

And steamy.

I, actually, intended to only check out the latest Shay Savage book. I was thinking if I could get right then and there… maybe I would read it when I was done with this year’s challenge…

I ended up reading it right there. I stayed glued to it for  whole day until almost 4am!

As it is Shay Savage’s thing, there is a gorgeous guy with a messed up childhood. But this one felt way mor wholesome than Arden (who we see something of in this one) or Teague.

This hotty is all sweet an strong. A deadly hitman, but a loving husband. Completely enjoyable. The only downside? This story gets told from the point of view of Deklan‘s new young (almost child like) bride. She’s a young girl, pushed into marriage with a mob boss’ son, as a means to pay a debt. But things change at the last minute and she ends up being pushed to marry down on chain of power.

An it ends up being the best thing that could’ve happened to her.

Honestly… if you’re looking for a deep inside into the working of arranged marriages within the mob… you’re in to wrong section of the book store. If what you want is something simple and steamy to take your mind off things… then, this is the book for you. I has many stops in plot and action to take you into the bedroom, with aggressive and hot sex. Some of those feel even a bit unnecessary… but it is completely grabbing.

Not apt for public consumptionIt is incredibly easy to stay glue to it to the end.

 

Definitely enjoyed it, but not something to have at the office.

 

 

Grave Ransom

4/5
It took me only one day to read through the whole thing. It is that easy to get into it.

Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price

The whole idea of Alex’s castle and the mixed reality of havin it just pop up in the backyard is fascinating. I loved that. I think we are finally getting to know the extent of Alex’s magic powers, the ones that everyone has seemed to find so game-changing.

There were some downs, like that crazy violent and annoying special agent, and the apparent last appearance of my favorite character: death. Of course, their relationship was doomed to end from the beginning, so their break up was expected and inevitable, but still… That was my favorite character.

I understand, though. Alex is getting more and more into the fae world. Even living in a fae castle. She is basically immortal now, right? So, it makes complete sense to have her move away from the guy that cannot come into that world with her.

But besides the whole series story arch, the mystery this time is great. Dead bodies walking around! It was really good, specially when it had nothing to do with zombies. I’m not that big a fan of zombies.

I’m still confused about Rihanna’s lover/protector/friend/pet. What’s going on there? And is the winter queen losing her mind? Will she be a less annoying and paranoid without the poison she was being fed?

I guess I’ll have to wait for the next book. Yes. Another endless series. Good thing I’m still enjoying it.

Shades of Magic (2)

4/5A Conjuring of Light.

I really really liked this book. This whole series, actually. Even when it took me waaaaaay to long to actually finish it. I blame it all on this the most unefficient year I had, when it comes to my reading. Only to my reading, though, because work has been crazy busy.

Shades of Magic

But, even when there were quite a few of forced pauses in between my chapters, this book was amazingly grabbing. I loved getting to know Holland, who until now seemed only as a secondary character, especially that last chapter from his point of view. His whole story, though, it was all heartbreaking and enlightening as to why he does a as he does and is as he is.

And I loved even more, getting to know Rhy and the complexities of his relationship with Alucard.

And Alucard, and his messed up family!

And the Queen and her inability to express herself to Kell

And that is all before we even get to the Shadow King and the growing relationship between Kell and Lila., it was honestly a great book. I wil totally recommend this series to anyone who may listen.

So, why only a 4/5? You migh be asking… Well. It was the ending.

No. I’m not trying to say that the conclusion/solution to their problem was anything but great, but I do think that he last chapter… The emotional wrap-up… Felt a bit brushed over. Too fast, too superficial.

After everything the brothers now share, there was no conversation, no reunion, no normal goodbye. And with Lila! When did they agree to leave to follow HER dream of being a pirate? Wasn’t she toying with the idea of settling down? And what happened to Kell’s promise to be by his brother’s side when he became king?! And to Holland’s world? And what I’d the letter to King George say?

Again, too rushed. I wasn’t satisfied.

Bu really that was my only qualm. Beside that, the book was real. The whole series was awesome.

A Gathering of Shadows

5/5
It took me moths to finally finish A Gathering of Shadows, but it wasn’t for a lack of interest… i assure you.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Instead, the only reason I put it down was the crazy insane project that suddenly landed on my hands around the same time I was getting ready to finish this book.

When I finally found an opportunity to focus my mind on this story again, I had to go back a few chapters to get on the same excited mood I was when I was forced to leave it. It wasn’t difficult.

This is a amazingly exciting story. I can honestly say I liked this one better that the previous one. It is simply packed with more wonderful displays of magic than the first one in the series. Not only about this girl that’s supposed to have no magic discovering all the thing she hadn’t thought were possible, but also the more in-depth view we get to Rhy and that’s before we get to the whole magical battle cage contest!

And that ending!! Oh. My. God!

(And I don’t say that lightly)

I was still holding my breath when I immediately switched to A Conjuring of Light. Bless my crazy ideas of purchasing books by sets!

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

 

And, of course, I blew through the first chapters like crazy trying to keep up with my own excitement. It has been a while since I had that feeling. It was awesome. If the ending of book two and the beginning of book three are any indication, I’m going to absolutely love this one.

I’m trying to tamp down my expectations, so I don’t build it up too much before really getting into it, but I make no promises. This is, after all, the end of the story… As far as I know.  So, it is completely understandable that I would expect something way more amazing from this one book than from the previous tow put together. Don’t you think so? Isn’t that the standard?

What do you think?

Isn’t that the point of sequels?

Unexpected Circumstances: The Handmaid

The Handmaid by Shay Savage

I think the only reason I couldn’t finish this book in one afternoon was my work schedule. I didn’t very much like that.

I’m no stranger to books that can be red non-stop through, nor have a problem with short books, and I’m definitely no stranger to Shay’s way to take you all the way through  story in segments without feeling like you stopped to change books.

The problem I had with the Handmaid was the fact that it felt more like a long prologue or a first chapter than like a whole story. There was really nothing going on there. You are barely starting to get  feel for what’s going on and who these character are, when the book is suddenly over.

I felt cheated. Of course, I’m going to read the whole series, but this one really felt like it could have come in a single book. 2/5

Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you much. I am intrigued, and you can definitely see some sexy moments coming your way… but nothing much has happened yet.

 

The Shadow Hour

4/5
Ok. Another story that turns out has another sequel.

I’ve read many stories with multiple point of view and there are some pretty awkward and confusing stories out there, but I can honestly say that The Shadow Hour isn’t one of those.

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

You get a bit of the drama, with the love triangle of Rowan, Echo and Caius; you also get a bit of the sweet stuff, with Dorian and Jasper and how their relationship blossoms in spite of the war going on; but you also get a bit of comic relief here and there and Ivy with her compassionate view of a world and the people that have done her many wrongs.

It’s  great story, but i’m not sure I liked where it ended. An absolutely not sure abut what to expect on the next one. While I enjoyed this one with its mysteries and budding romances, it felt a bit anti-climatic by the end.

And, honestly! there was too little heard from the Ala. She is one of my favorite characters!

But well… I guess there is no other option but to wait for the next installment and go from there.

Grave Visions

Turns out that the best way to catch up with my reading is to be stuck in an airport for a couple of hours without anything else to distract me. Lately, when I try to take advantage of my time by reading while in transit from one place to another, there’s always someone trying to make conversation and it becomes impossible to focus.

Today, thou, I’m not sure if it was some kind of Don’t Talk to Me signal I might be sending out, but no one has tried to make conversation. I am grateful. Best group of people I could possibly keep company with in an airport as far as I’m concerned.

Let me read in peace, and I’m a happy camper. I can keep on waiting for the plane to beard for a couple of hours more. (It doesn’t look like I’ll have to, though).

So, this means I’m finished with Grave Visions. And a bit shocked, somewhat annoyed, but mostly curious to learn there is another Alex Craft book coming out this summer. Alex Craft series

I felt this one was a bit slow and not as packed with detective and mystery goodness as all the previous ones. And while I still liked it, I’m not as crazy about it as I was expecting.

There was crazy magic, and crimes were being committed and investigated… But I felt there was a lot going on in the story that was beyond Alex’s point of view. So much happened while she was unconscious or asleep, or as plain and simple as just terribly confused. And while all this makes sense when you take into consideration that she’s somewhat sick, it still left me with a feeling that I was missing much.

I think this story might need some alternative points of view. I’m dying to know more about Alex‘s father, of her elf, of her changeling, or even her Grimm Reaper of a boyfriend (who happens to be one of my favorite characters and barely made an appearance in this book). 3/5

But well… Hopefully next book would give us more. Right?

I’ll have to add the release date to my phone alerts, otherwise I’ll totally forget.

A Painted Goddess

So confusing

Sadly unsatisfying.

After the whole of my complains about the second part of this series, The Tattooed Duchess, I was super excite with all the action exploding all over the place in A Painted Goddess. Seriously! Everything seemed to simply fall into place… it was all going amazingly.

SPOILER ALERT

The Duchess was rescued from her kidnapping, but without looking like a “damsel in distress” at all. All the excursion souring the wold for more tattoos for Rina Veraiin were somewhat successful, eve when most o the participant died all over the place.

The war came and every tiny character thread got into the final mess… even the uprising within the enemy force was keeping me glue to the story.

A Painted Goddess by Victor Gischler

A Painted Goddess by Victor Gischler

The part of the defeated empress from across the sea that dies without knowing what happened to her navy? That was absolutely awesome an I loved it, as sad as it was.

How everyone from Rina‘s inner circle ends up converging at the royal palace, only to be witness to a coup! That was totally unexpected! And there i started to wonder when I would be able to read the next book… because, surely, all these new and dramatic twists will requiere at least a whole new book to unravel!

But no. this was the last book. And after the rather suden death of the king and Rina‘s refusal to being queen… everything went down from there.

All the sudden they are all together at a whole other place, with a whole other mission that makes no sense?! What the hell?! And after three books an everything, the Duke’s killer just falls dead? Just like that?

And what was up with that ending?! For goodness sake! it was terrible! Totally unsatisfying on many levels. Our favorite reluctant Captain of the Guard just walks away from  everything to go home and we never hear from him again?

Our favorite whores turned warriors just vanish into the background without any follow up?!

The pettiest of girls is the one to make it back home?

The only thing related to the title were two sentences?!

And the only guy who never had any idea as to what was going on, simply because he didn’t want to know even when he had ample opportunity to get all the details, is the one left in change?

WHAT   THE    F**K?!

Seriously! I feel like the only way to like this book is if you tore of the last couple of chapter and pretend you’re till waiting for the next one in the series.

And of course. this leaves me all confused… Did I like it? I’m not quite sure. At first I loved it… but then… Talk about mindbogglingly.

NSFW 

4/5

Specimen by Shay Savage

Definitely not appropriate for reading in public, specially if you’re like me and it requires effort and concentration to keep what goes through your head to show on your face.

Specimen by Shay Savage

Specimen by Shay Savage

I did enjoy it, though. Besides the hot and detailed sex descriptions, there is also a good story being told. There are super soldiers, and brain-machine interfaces, mad scientist experimenting with human beings, and all a bunch of stuff that can be considered immoral, but it is not because it happens in a post-disaster world.

It kind of made me think about all the things we would be willing to do to eachother as humans when survival is the immediate goal. I imagine we wouldn’t be so “civilized” then…

I also like the ending of this story. It took a moment to let it settle, but I honestly think it couldn’t have gone any other way. And it wasn’t even that surprising with the pace and direction of the book. It did feel a little sad, though.

But I won’t spoil it for you. Let me just say that it took me back to when I read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s all I’m saying.

Current goal: Cake.

4/5
Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

As you know, I’m a fan of Shay Savage‘s books. To me, they are like a good scoop of sorbet. Delicious, refreshing and excellent to cleanse my mind from all stories and free it for new stories.

It is not uncommon for me to get stuck on a story. Sometimes, even when I didn’t really enjoy the, that much, little pieces of moments get replayed over and over in my head. Sometimes, I even dream about them for days in a row… And even when that doesn’t happen, I feel like little left over residues of old stories and plots get smeared in my mind everytime I read a new book.

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

But there are these ones… these stories… that take everything else out of my mind as I go trough them. Like washing the blackboard before using it again. Win Some, Lose Some felt like that.

Of course, that is NOT to say that I didn’t enjoy it for itself. This is the only book I have ever read with a main character with autism. I think that makes it special.

Matthew Rohan is a very smart young man, to whom very sad things have happened, but all that on top of his social deficits, are not really what defines all that he is… And I think that’s the main thing we all most always remember. Our differences, be these what they’d be, are not what defines us as people… Our actions do.

But this is not the only reason I liked this book, it is also lovely. The budding relationship between Matthew and Mayra, the bond between siblings that Matthew enjoys with his sister even when they both have their own issues, and even the glimpses we get of all other relationships between many characters… I thought it was all simply lovely.

This was a heartwarming reading, even win the sad and dramatic bits.

But, hey! There’s a reason why I like Shay Savage‘s books so much.

Oldies but goodies

Have I mentioned before that I have terrible memory? I’m sure I have. I must have.

I haven’t? Well, let me mention it now…

I have a terribly bad memory.

Of course, that trait really isn’t conductive to reading different books in a series with long waiting periods in between.

It didn’t help with reading The Queen of the Damned, either.

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

It has been years since I read this series, and there were a lot of things that I wished I remembered better.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It made me feel quite nostalgic, and reminded me that the reasons I love some books are varied.

While I can come to love a writer’s style and way with words and worlds, it is also possible and common occurrence with me to love a book simply by the originality of its ideas.

The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice falls under the second category. I think Rice‘s style of writing is sometimes a bit slow in comparison to other more recent authors, but the mythology she created about the origin of the vampires and The Legend of the Twins is one of my favorites.

There are very few things that can beat an original point of view… at least as far as I’m concerned.

Now, this series is a very long one, and I stopped at the third book back then when I first took it up. I don’t know if I will ever finish it, but I keep feeling like this book is the perfect stopping point. I might hold it for a few more years.

The Build-Up

3/5
The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

This was the second part of the series, A Fire Beneath the Skin, after Ink Mage… and while the story does move forward a little, it felt much like prep work.

There was a lot of setting the stage happening, from meeting the Empress who cannot back up from the already-laid invasion plans, to the cith and soldiers preparing for the expected siege. It all felt like a big long prologue.

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

There was even a considerable part of the book where the fate of the Duchess was unknown!

And don’t get me started on Alam and his thoughtless fleeing. It gave the story a sense of going backwards. The Duchess is again on the road, looking for the tools she will need to fight her enemies, whoever they may be; Alam and the gypsy girl are again getting involved behind Rina’s back; the the girls from the whorehouse and their madam seem to be the only ones truly involved in saving the city from within; and, the enemy army prepares for a full-on invasion. It all feels too much like what was happening in the first book, just slightly bigger. And throwing some battling Gods into the mix…

I want to think that all off this anticipation and build-up will be worth it for the last part of the series, A Paintes Goddess, because if it isn’t I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Pleasantly surprised

4/5

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

I’m not sure what I expected when I started this book, but this was a great story.

There was magic and tattoos, yes… But there was also political maneuvering, gypsies, murdering whores and tragic love stories. There were powerful enemies and allies, and there was a good dose of fighting and gore.

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

It honestly has everything it needed to be an amazing mindblowingly fantastic book, but it isn’t. I’m not sure I can tell you what’s missing, but I know there’s something lacking.

I think it might have something to do with the details. The strange thing is that there’s so much going on, and so many different points of view… And still I felt like I missed more than one thing and that the important things were being left unsaid.

SPOILER ALERT

For example… We met the commanding officer in charge of pursuing the young Duchess, Rina Veraiin, and while I always appreciate the point of view of the enemy… We never know what he thought of his supposedly hapless quarry after the slaughter at the temple. That would have been an awesome insight.

And then, there was the mysterious third Mage to arri pave from the enemy’s land. We get a small glimpse, meant to build him up as the ultimate opponent. Powerful, knowledgeable and greedy. And then, it took one chapter to see him in action and get rid of him all together. That was a bit anticlimactic.

Like they say… It is all in the little things. There are little things that make this story awesome, like the magic tattoos that can be collected, the loyal friends/subjects that follow and support our main character, the different perspectives from the same conflict that help you see the bigger picture… But it was also the little things that keep this story form being all it could have been.

All this is not to say that I won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy. As most books nowadays, this one is part of a series… A Fire Beneath the Skin. It might take me sometime to get the other two books, but I definitely want to know how this story will end. Maybe our cool Duchess will end up with a full-body tattoo!!