Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And the Winners Are . . .

The two winners of my The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane contest are . . .


bridget3420 and barbrafl!!!

Congratulations! You'll be getting an email from me shortly. Thanks to everyone who entered!

And yay! I have 100 followers! Woohoo! *squee*

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Fear Itself Book List + Reminder

In case you didn't know, I'm hosting my first ever reading challenge, the 2009 Fear Itself Challenge. Click the link to learn more and join in the hair-pulling fun!

Here's my book list for it--

1. Alphas by Lisi Harrison (done)
2. Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani (done)
3. Secret Society by Tom Dolby (done)
4. I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (done)

I'll be posting the post to Mr. Linky all your reviews on Wednesday. I've started reading Alphas already. I'm about 60 pages in and now roughly 20 points lower on the IQ scale. Charlie's a relatively cool, somewhat normal character but the rest of the girls need to play catch with the front grille of a speeding bus. I. Don't. Get. The. Appeal. Vapid. Waste. Of. Words. Who the hell's idea was it for me to read this anyway? Oh wait . . .

This is also the last day to enter my The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane contest! Be sure to enter if you haven't already!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

It's Suite Scarlett psychosis this week . . .

Ends ???


Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads is giving away three copies of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking and following on Twitter. Won't end until there are 30 individual people entered.

Ends 6/30

Lauren over at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf is giving away a copy of Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell plus some dorky swag. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following/subscribing (new and old), linking and blogroll.

The Ravenous Reader is giving away a copy of Soulstice by Simon Holt. Comment with email and answer the questions to enter. Extra entries for answers, following, promoting and blogroll.

Lili of ChicaReader is giving away a copy of Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking and following.

Jess of Book Reviews by Jess is giving away a signed copy of Prey, Werecats, Book 4 by Rachel Vincent. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following and promoting.

Ends 7/2

This week on Free Book Friday Teens, win one of five signed copies of Blue Moon by Alyson Noel. Enter using the form in the left sidebar.

Ends 7/4

Jess of Book Reviews by Jess is having another contest, this time giving away an ARC of Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following, promoting and commenting on the authors' website.

Ends 7/5

Win all six books of Meg Cabot's The Mediator series from Steph Su at Steph Su Reads. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following, promoting and blogroll.

Ends 7/6

Fantastic Book Review is having a 200th follower giveaway. She's got Strange Angels, The Awakening, Bad Girls Don't Die, Fairy Rebels, The Demon's Lexicon, If I Stay, Silver Phoenix and Twenty Boy Summer all up for grabs. Comment with email and answer question to enter. Extra entries for linking, following on Twitter and following on blog.

Nicole at WORD for Teens is giving away five copies of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. Comment with email and answer question to enter. Extra entries for following, promoting and linking to blog.

Rebecca of Rebecca's Book Blog is giving away a signed copy of The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old) and linking.

Ends 7/7

Reverie Book Reviews is giving away a signed copy of LA Candy by Lauren Conrad. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following, commenting on reviews and promoting.

Aimee of The Book Obsession is giving away a copy of Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for extra questions and linking.

Ends 7/9

Fantastic Book Review is also giving away a copy of Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for commenting on the author interview and/or book review, linking, following on Twitter and following blog.

Ends 7/10

Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag is giving away a signed copy of The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby. Comment with email and answer the question to enter.

Ends 7/13

Megan at Simply Books is giving away five copies of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking and following (new and old).

Wdebo of The Electrical Book Cafe is also giving away five copies of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following, linking and blogroll.

It's everywhere as Carrie from Carrie's YA Bookshelf is also giving away five copies of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), promoting and blogroll.

Ends 7/19

Right here on Bites I'm giving away an ARC of Ash by Malinda Lo. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old) and linking.

Ends 7/20

And again. Maggie of Bean Bag Books is giving away five copies of Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson. Comment with email to enter.

Ends 7/25

J Kaye of J Kaye's Book Blog is giving away a copy of Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell plus a dork-filled goodie purse. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for promoting, book challenges, Book Blog Challenges, following, subscribing, Twitter, promoting on Twitter, Stumble, Friend Feed, Facebook, Ning groups, GetGlue.com, Amazon, Book Blips and Blogged.com.

Ends 7/30

Lauren of Shooting Stars Mag is giving away a copy of The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following and promoting.

Added to the Pile + 7

Just one this week and it's not even something on my TBR list or anything. I saw this walking by the Borders bargain racks at the mall and I did an abrupt halt to backtrack and pick it up. I so could not pass this one up. And all you Borders people will be happy to know that I now have a Borders member card thingy. I'm still waiting for my first coupon. Like I need anymore books right now . . .

Telling scary stories is something people have always done. It is an old-fashioned way of having a good time. Nobody tells scary stories better than Alvin Schwartz, and here, for the very first time, his three most spine-tingling books are together in one volume!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was the first spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz's popular books on American folklore. It contains all sorts of scary stories, including traditional "jump" stories that will make your friends JUMP with fright, and age-old stories of ghosts and witches.

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is the satisfyingly spooky sequel full of the funny, the macabre, and the fantastic. It asks all kinds of chilling questions like: Is it possible to die - and not know it? What if a person is buried too soon? What happens to a thief foolish enough to rob a corpse?

Scary Stories 3 rounds out this collection of hair-raising tales that will make your flesh creep with more eerie stories about supernatural creatures and their strange goings-on.

Complete with Stephen Gammell's splendidly creepy and bone-chilling drawings, this collection is perfect for reading late at night - in the dark and gloom - if you dare!

Ash by Malinda Lo + Contest!

Pub date - September, 2009

Pushed into indentured servitude for her stepmother in the City to pay off her father's debts, Ash is consumed with grief. She misses her family and her happy life at the edge of the Wood where old magic used to linger in the air like fairy breath. her only joy comes from the brief, stolen walks in the woods with the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean. Ash's single, unspoken hope is that someday he might steal her away, as fairies are said to do.

But on the day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, from Kaisa she learns the art of the hunt, how to ride and track. Their friendship is as delic
ate as a new bloom, but it grows and changes, and with it, Ash reawakens her capacity for love - and her desire to live. (book back blurb)

Yeah, you won't be seeing this version of Cinderella as a Disney cartoon anytime soon. That's for sure. Disney isn't quite there yet on the whole same-sex-relationships thing. Give them another 50 years or so and maybe.

This was an intense story and immediately, well, as soon as the evil step-mother takes control of Ash's life, you feel for her. You (well, I do) want her to just get back at that evil bitch for the way she treats Ash and her twisted logic on who owes who what for debts. Ana needs to be drowned in her own pomposity and Clara, with a little more backbone, can actually be a pretty cool person. I liked that little twist. Instead of making both step-sisters nasty, there's a glimmer of hope in one of them that Ash can gravitate to when the need calls for it. It's a nice, slim little bit of padding for her in her otherwise crappy life.

I was at the same time loving the language the book is written in and kind of irked by it. Of course, it's told in the way of older fairy tales. I have to say, Lo does a better job of it than Neil Gaiman with Stardust. It comes off much more naturally and fitting to the story. But at the same time the stilt in the dialogue had a tendency of blending the characters together at times. I understand it's the style but at the same time most people, especially "lower" people, talk using contractions. That kind of took the reality out of it a little bit for me.

I liked the way the book tied Ash's mother into the story even though the largest appearance she makes is when Ash visits her grave. The end ties everything together although I felt it was a little too easy and could have been a loophole in the "contract" that a fairy would have seen coming. They're too conniving to be had and while it makes sense, I think it's something the fairy should have spotted that. But, I guess, at that point, Ash had cleared enough hurdles and deserved it.

What I found really astounding was the way Ash stood up to her step-mother and sisters. When she gets caught coming back from the ball and her step-mother hacks off her hair, instead of weeping, Ash just says, "it suits me" and thanks her, only enraging her further. Granted there were times I wish Ash had just up and run away because the opportunity provided itself plenty of times, but everything happens for a reason and her persistence and will paid off.

The thing is, as much as I really liked this story, I wasn't too compelled to finish reading it. I don't know why. There's no good reason for it. I don't have many complaints about it at all. I really liked the story, I loved Ash and her relationship with Kaisa but . . . I don't know. It's just one of those books that I've read it once and I'm all set. I don't really need to read it again. This happens every once in a while. It didn't strike the right fangirl chord with me and I just can't explain why. It just didn't.

But that aside, I would definitely recommend this book to everyone to read. It's a touching and moving re-telling of Cinderella that, I think, puts the rest to shame. And for all of the "old tyme" style and world that it's told in, it's been updated for the modern era. It truly is awesome. The language sucks you in. Ash's story and plight and pain just puts you right into her shoes and you can't help but cry for her. Her step-mother and step-sister Ana will make you angry, without a doubt, but it'll all be worth it in the end. Even though the fairy world plays a decent enough part in the story to be entwined in nearly every aspect of Ash's, and the "low" people's lives, it still makes for a realistic story that, I'm sure, echoes across many cultures.

And I just have to say I love how the fairy world and its tales are still within Ash's society. They were once very real but slowly forgotten to nothing more than tales. It makes you think about our own lore and just what could be real with those fables we hear. It really makes you think.



CONTEST TIME!

You want my ARC of Ash? It could be yours, plus some BEA swag with it. Here's what you have to do--

Comment with your email (in a Blogger profile is fine) answering this question - What's your favorite fairy tale? If you don't answer this question, your entry won't count.

Extra Entries--

+ 1 for new followers
+ 2 for current followers (meaning you're a follower prior to reading this post)
+ 2 for linking to this contest anywhere (+1 for each subsequent link, up to 5 additional points), provide a link for proof otherwise it won't count

Total potential entry points - 6
Ends July 19th.

Good luck!

Things I've Learned from Books + 8

Burn clovers with fire. Maybe that'll keep the little Shits away. Or piss Them off even more. Either way, there's a chance you might be delusional.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

80s Awesomeness! ~ 17

A little later than usual on this one. See the Freaky Friday post for why.

Rubik's Cube!



Ah, the Rubik's Cube. The bastard of a toy that makes most of us bleed from the eyes trying to figure out. Like Tetris, it can be highly addictive. But unlike Tetris, this cube can be hurled across the room and cause damage to things and people. Not good. It's been haunting people ever since the 80s.

And people who can actually do this make my eyes bulge. I need the secret.

Freaky Friday :|: 17

Yeah, sorry about the delay on this one. We had a bit of a tornado here (and I'm in Connecticut so this is NOT normal) and we lost power around 4 yesterday afternoon and just got it back around noon today. And it took me nearly three hours to drive the twelve miles home from work yesterday. Fun!


Title: The Teacher
Author: Joseph Locke
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's
Published: July 15th, 1993
Pages: 176

I can't seem to find anything else on this one. No summary, no reviews. It's a vortex. If anyone knows anything about this gem, speak up. I'm info-less!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PW's Children's Bookshelf BEA Picutres

See them all here. The one below is just one of many awesome ones. This kind of makes me sad that I didn't use my camera, well, at all. And damn I'm pissed that I missed Neil Gaiman! I had no idea he was even there! Bah! I so would have been all over that. I actually wanted to go up and see Kaleb Nation but I lost track of time and completely missed his signing. Dammit! And what I wouldn't give to run into that giant pig on the escalator!

If I'm not signing at BEA next year (please, Dog, grant my dreams), and even if I am, I'm going for the entire weekend. I missed so much going for just the day. Damn and blast!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Obsessed Much?

Yeah, I wasn't going to post today but it looks like that's gone down the tubes. Oh well.

What I wanted to do was expand on Ms. Hurley's guest blog topic of obsession because, I think anyway, there seems to be a trend happening in YA as of late.

Dictionary.com defines "obsess" as--

–verb (used with object)
1. to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of (a person); beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally: Suspicion obsessed him.
–verb (used without object)
2. to think about something unceasingly or persistently; dwell obsessively upon something.


1. possess, control, haunt.

I think the term "obsessed" is used lightly, especially in the scope of the definition. I say I'm obsessed with The Lost Boys but it's not all-consuming. It doesn't dominate my thinking, it doesn't haunt me and I don't live for it. I have a massive collection of TLB memorabilia but I'm not pulling it out and looking at it on a daily basis.

The very definition of obsess is for the person to be consumed by the object of obsession. That object gives them a one track mind. All they thing about, all they live for, all they care about it that obsession, thus making it an obsession, not just something you enjoy doing or want to accomplish.

One commenter on the Author Bites post asked, "Have you ever known anyone who ever achieved anything without being obsessed with it?" I achieved graduating high school and college without being obsessed with it. I achieved traveling Europe without being obsessed with it. I achieved writing my first book without being obsessed with it. Accomplishments are made every single second of every single day without people abandoning everything else in their lives to become obsessed with something. If that were the case, we'd have a lot of crazy, and lonely, people in the world.

Ms. Hurley states that some obsession can be good, like those obsessed with curing cancer. But do you have to be obsessed with curing cancer to find a cure? I know a guy whose job it is to research drugs to cure cancer. That's what he does. Tries to save lives every single day he goes to work. I've also done tequila shots with him so I can tell you right now he's not obsessed with his job because his job doesn't consume him. He has a life. He has friends. He has hobbies and drinking buddies. But he's not obsessed.

I think being determined is being bled into a pseudo-definition of obsessed. When you are obsessed, you've reached an extreme. It's in its definition. You are compulsively reaching for this obsession, bordering on mental instability. But someone just as determined to reach that same goal, but is capable of stepping away from that path every once in a while, will be just as likely to reach that end, without losing everything.

Bella is obsessed with Edward. She forfeits her own goals of not turning out like her mother, married and knocked up at 18, to do just that because Edward is all-consuming. The very definition of Bella's self is Edward. And she gets him in the end. Does it make her obsession OK or healthy because she achieved her goal? Is it OK to leave your friends by the wayside and toss aside your own goals in order to chase your obsession and ultimately get it? Maybe from the inside looking out but the outside looking in . . .

The doctor trying to find a cure for cancer becomes so consumed with it that his wife leaves him, taking the kids. He loses his house, bills go unpaid, his own hygiene becomes a factor. He dies without finding a cure, making all of his sacrifices for naught. Or he finds a cure before he dies. Does it justify the sacrifice? Sure, he's saved millions of people, but he hasn't saved himself. People will thank him but his ex-wife won't talk to him and his kids tell him to fuck off. He doesn't have a home to go to and, since he's reached his obsession, no longer has anything to live for. He reached his obsessive goal. Was it worth it?

That may sound extreme but the very act of being obsessed is in and of itself extreme.

I am determined to get my books published. But I have more on my mind than writing. Doesn't mean I'm not going to achieve my goals because they don't occupy my every waking thought. Doesn't make me any less worthy of achieving my goals. It just allows me to have more in my life than just my writing. It allows me to have a job, family, friends, a life. Obsession does not. There's no room for anything but that obsessed object.

I don't like the idea of promoting obsession as OK so long as you achieve your goals. Sure, you may come across people you never would have, but if you're truly obsessed, would you give a shit? And what would you lose on your way to your obsessive goal? Would it be worth it? Don't worry, those news friends will replace the old ones? Or pray to whatever god you think exists that those old ones will still be there when you're done? Not all are so forgiving. In fact, many are not. People don't like being shoved aside.

What do you think? Do you think there are varying degrees to obsession or is it a word that's been misconstrued over time? Do you think obsession is OK so long as you get what you're seeking? What do you think of obsession in YA? Edward and Bella in Twilight, Dee and Luke in Lament and any other number of books with relationships where one party is wholly consumed by the other (because it seems you just can't escape romance in YA lately). Have you ever been obsessed? And I'm not talking facetiously. I'm talking about textbook definition as stated above where people had to have a WTF? intervention with you to try and slap some sense into you.

Speak up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Author Bites - Tonya Hurley On Obsession

This time Tonya Hurley gives her view on obsession. Fitting for the book ghostgirl as the main character, Charlotte, well, needs a sedative when it comes to her obsession. I'm not too sure I agree Tonya's opinion this but to each his own.

Obsession often times gets a bad rap.

But it really cuts both ways. Sure, it can be self-destructive and harmful, especially in matters of the heart, but it can also be quite motivational. It all depends on which side of the obsession you're on and whether or not there's a happy ending.

For example, if you win the championship, find the cure, solve the equation, invent the contraption, or get the guy or girl that makes your life complete, it may prove your energy was well-spent. If, on the other hand, you fail in your efforts, you and everyone else may wonder if it was worth it, in the end.

In ghostgirl and also in the sequel, ghostgirl: Homecoming, Charlotte’s obsession with being popular and loved leads her to people and places that, for better or worse, she might not have otherwise discovered. And she learns a lot about herself along the way. That’s the way I think it is for most of us. We may not always get what we want – our obsession – but along the way, we might discover something, or someone, even better.

Monday, June 22, 2009

12 Hour Reading Challenge This Thursday!

Interested? Then head on over to Books Make Great Lovers! and get a hold of Ashley for more information.

I would participate but doing something like that on a Thursday is just not feasible for me. If it were on Saturday, or maybe even Friday, I'd be all over it. Alas, I must work. But even if you're the tiniest bit interested, contact Ashley and she'll give you more information.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

Here we go again . . .

Ends ??? (enter nao)

Sophie of Mrs. Magoo Reads is giving away three copies of Darkwood by ME Breen. The catch is that the contest will end when there are 30 individual contest entries. Looks like she's getting up there so you better hurry up! Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking and following on Twitter.

Ends 6/21 (not much time left!)

Amber at Just Your Typical Book Blog is giving away a copy of Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), linking and commenting on a particular review.

Ends 6/23

Steph at Reviewer X is giving away a copy of The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (helps to put the link in the sidebar to begin with, right? dur). Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking to the contest and Sarah's Pub Story.

Ends 6/25

It's all about The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare on Free Book Friday Teens. Up for grabs are two signed copies of City of Glass, one copy of City of Bones and and five autographed Mortal Instruments posters. Enter using the form in the left sidebar.

Ends 6/26

Devyn at The Faerie Drink Review is giving away a copy of Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Comment with email answering the question to enter. Extra entries for commenting on Catherine's interview, commenting on the book review, commenting on particular posts and promoting.

Ends 6/27 or 6/28 (winners will be drawn that weekend)

Lee A. Verday is giving away an autographed copy of Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston along with autographed book plates for the runners up. Comment with email to enter. Comment as often as you like for multiple entries.

Ends 6/29

Lauren from Shooting Stars Mag is giving away three copies of David Inside Out by Lee Bantle. Comment with email answering questions to enter. Extra entries for following and promoting.

Ends 6/30

Lenore of Presenting Lenore is giving away an ARC of Geektastic by various authors (how about I forget to link in my sidebar again?). Comment with email and answering the question to enter.

Teen Libris is giving away ten signed copies of The New Kid by Temple Matthews. Become a member to enter.

Fantastic Book Review is giving away a copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for commenting on the author interview, book review, linking to the blog, following on Twitter and following the blog.

Cupcake Witch is having a big Spring Cleaning contest on her blog. The books to be given away include If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, No More Us for You by David Hernandez, Dull Boy by Sarah Cross, Better Latte Than Never by Catherine Clark and some random swag. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following and promoting.

Ends 7/1

Sharon of Sharon Loves Books and Cats is giving away a copy of Rampant by Diana Peterfreund. Comment with email to enter.

Fantastic Book Review is also giving away a summer prize pack that includes a signed copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and summer goodies. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for commenting on the author interview, book review, linking to the blog, following on Twitter and following the blog.

Ends 7/3

Amy of Books, Books and More Books is giving away a copy of Big Woo by Susie Day. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking and following.

Robin of TV and Book Addict is giving away either Golden Girl by Micol Ostow or In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash to one winner. Comment with email in the shoutbox to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old) and linking.

Ends 7/9

Em at Em's Bookshelf is having a hug Harry Potter giveaway. Five winners will receive a paperback prize pack that includes Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. Comment with email to enter.

Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads is giving away two books in her blogger profile for Book Chic. The books are Blonde of the Joke and The Debs: Love, Lies and Texas Dips. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following both blogs.

Ends 7/25

J Kaye of J Kaye's Book Blog is giving away an ARC of Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for promoting, book challenges, member of the Book Blog Challenges Yahoo! group, following, subscribed, following Twitter, posting on Twitter, Stumble, Friend Feed, Facebook, Ning, GetGlue.com, Amazon Friends, Book Blips and Blogged.com.

Added to the Pile + 6

Just the one book today. Thank god. My TBR pile is going to make my floor cave.

Pub date - August 1, 2009

New finds from America's History "Attic"

US president skinny-dips in the Potomac - every day!

America's real headless horseman.

Oops - Student cuts down world's oldest tree.

Mosquito bite secures statehood for Florida.

US presidents killed by their own physicians.
(Book back blurb)

The book doesn't have a "what this book is about" blurb because the title itself is pretty self-explanatory. It's filled with a weird tale from each of the 50 states, complete with some pretty neat looking illustrations to go along with it. I'm pretty excited to read this one. I love kooky stuff like this.

Things I've Learned from Books + 7


If you insist on confronting smoke-like malignant entities, always carrying around a fire extinguisher in order to freeze it's ass in solid form. But don't forget a hammer. Smashing it to little pieces afterwards will only add to the stress relief.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

OMG, I'M FREAKING OUT!

Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series is being re-released in multiple book form! Two books with three books each inside. OMG OMG OMG OMG


Finally, the YA world will know what it's like to have GOOD vampire books out there again! Fuck you glitter pixies and Prada-wearing fanged bitches! Oh god the good is coming back! Hopefully next it'll be Fear Street and then I just might pee a little.

Yeah, I so pre-ordered this.

The Devouring by Simon Holt

First published in 2008.

When Reggie reads about the Vours in a mysterious old journal, she assumes they are just the musings of an anonymous lunatic. But when her little brother, Henry, begins to act strangely, it's clear that these creatures exist beyond a madwoman's imagination, and Reggie finds out what happens when fears come to life.

To save people she loves, Reggie must learn to survive in a world of nightmares. Can she devour her own fears before they devour her?
(book flap blurb)

There's nothing like a good spooking to fall asleep too. Yeah, this one wigged me out a little bit, especially since I found myself reading it right before I went to sleep. Let me tell you, what an awesome departure this book is from all the other so-called "horror" novels in the YA section now. Gone, it seems, are the days of Christopher Pike and RL Stine's Fear Street and in are the days of sparkling vampire boyfriends and prep schools with fangs. What happened to the horror?

Holt definitely brought it back with this book. The transformation of an eight-year-old boy into this stone-cold sociopath was just downright creepy. He wasn't a little boy anymore. You could tell just by the way he talked. He didn't give a shit about anything except making other people suffer. And when the woman Reggie found in her house was described, the image that sank into my head was tough to get out. This face that was just pure terror, with a jaw gaping open as if she died as she was screaming. *shudder*

And the description of the Vours, as this black mist. You see it a lot in movies now, as if it's turned into this universal signifier of a malignant entity. But how it writhed about when it was trapped, how it possessed Henry, what it looked like when Reggie was able to overcome it. Blech!

The fearscape was a pretty gruesome place. Holt definitely did not tread lightly in that department. With the kids at the carnival trying to burst open the heads of other children in that water pistol/balloon popping game, the hall of mirrors, that psychotic clown . . . gah! I fucking hate clowns. Saw Killer Klowns from Outter Space when I was about 7 or 8. Yeah, the movie's cheese, but not where you're that young. Destroyed clowns for me. That psycho clown so would not have survived that fearscape if I were in it. I would have become his nightmare and would have killed him with his own hatchet hand. *shudder*

The feeling of not being able to escape that fearscape was in and of itself frightening. It's like a dream you can't wake up from. You know it's not real but no matter how many times you blink your eyes, you're still in that dream when all you want to do is come out of it. If that doesn't get your heart beating faster, I don't know what will.

The reason why I do Freaky Fridays is because I miss YA horror like this. It's just not around anymore because the market isn't calling for it right now. If I could write it, I would and do my damndest to get it published just to add to the something different as opposed to just adding to the pile. I love horror. I love being scared and tweaking myself out. I don't know why. The adrenaline, I guess. I think that's one of the reasons why I loved this book. There's no romance, no glittering, no high school drama, no bratty rich kids with fangs. It's just straight horror, as it should be. God I love it.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 16

Like, totally, fer sher -


A term long associated with cheerleaders and blondes, "airhead" was yet another piece of vocabulary genius borne of the 80s. With all the Valley Girls going around, it was hard to think any of the girls that talked like that had anything more than air between their ears. And let's not forget the guys. Spiccoli, anyone?

While this is actually a recent video, it's still pretty much the epitome of an airhead. It makes me hope to god that this was an act . . .



And the ever-pleasant Spiccoli . . .



And the ever-loquacious Bill and Ted . . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

Freaky Friday :|: 16


Title: Game Over
Author: Joseph Locke
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: June 1993
Pages: 192
Summary:
When Hades, a new video arcade, opens downtown, all the teenagers are thrilled. But the video games are not only violent, the figures on the screen take on familiar faces and characteristics of kids from school. Soon the teens are not only committing bizarre, violent acts . . . they're dying one by one. (from bn.com)
Editorial Reviews:
Who should preside over sleepy little Dinsmore's newest commercial enterprise but the Devil himself? Introducing himself as Everett Blacke, the proprietor of the Hades video arcade takes special pains to lure the town's teenagers, particularly the pariahs. He steers them to games with names like Roadkill and Safari Slaughter that somehow feature their real-life persecutors, and before long they are committing real-life murders. Can Joe and Lorinda, themselves much taunted, stop Mr. Blacke before he wins everyone's soul? Joe must come to terms with his deepest desires for revenge before he can battle the archfiend. Locke does a good job of setting up the final, epic confrontation between Joe and Mr. Blacke, but Sunday school-solemnity and banal imagery turn the showdown into an anticlimax. The stuff B-movies are made of. (Publishers Weekly, bn.com)
Yet another unstimulating depiction of good versus evil in the YA world of technology. In this quickly predictable tale of horror, a wicked new video arcade called Hades opens. Its games are similar to the standard violent kill-anyone-in-your-path type that people usually play. But here, the characters on the screen look exactly like the players' school enemies. The players, each increasingly bloodthirsty having had a taste of revenge with the video games, actually begin to murder their enemies. P. J., who played ``Roadkill'' at Hades, later drives his mother's car back and forth over two people. Arlo, who played ``Death Match,'' chops up a classmate with an axe. And so it goes. The plot is transparent and grisly, and the characters are mere stereotypes. Still, the book may be popular with readers who want lots of action and are glad when a story doesn't stray from its familiar conventions. (School Library Journal, bn.com)
A juvenile version of cosmic conflicts with Satan. Joe Wagner, a video game champ, finds himself in Hades, a video arcade in his neighborhood. He also finds himself locked in combat with the owner of the arcade, Mr. Blacke, as it becomes obvious that the Great Enemy is perverting local teens through their obsession with video games. Ironically, Joe's knowledge of the technology enables him to destroy Hades. Stock characters support Joe, the unexpected hero of this novel, which has some of the same flavor as Card's "Ender's Game", Mahy's "The Changeover", and Charles Williams' plots. There's also a gory scene or two. Don't be surprised if the novel becomes a movie. (BookList, bn.com)
This one could go either way for me but considering the time it came out, kind of predicted a rather eerie future, didn't it? How many kids do you hear about in the news recreating scenes they played out from video games like Grand Theft Auto? I wonder if Locke's intention was to write about the course of kids and their games or not. Either way, it's kind of creepy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Color Online Summer Book Drive

It's time to help the chicks, man! A little while ago I posted about Guys Lit Wire running a book drive to build a library for the LA County juvenile facilities that are currently without. Now it's time to help out the girls whose lives are at a higher risk of things such as teen pregnancy and those who are homeless. Color Online Summer Book Drive is doing just that. They're looking to enrich their library and what do they happen to be lacking? Children's and YA books. Now's your chance to help a girl in need out.

Thankfully I get paid tomorrow so I'll be able to make my contribution. But if you're short on funds and want to help, spreading the word will help you get bonus Karma points. The more people know about this, the richer we can make this library for these young girls. Remember how influential books can be. Imagine how much good the right book can do for these girls.

The book drive is running until July 1st so hurry up and pitch in!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kids Books Eating Music and Movies at Borders

The big wigs at Borders Booksellers realize that they're not doing too hot so they're banking on what is, children's and cook books. Since it appears they're sucking in the movies and music department, they're going to shrink those sections and expand the kids (including teens) area into that space. Room for more books! And there'll be cook books in there too.

Apparently they're finding out they're viewed more like a type of toy store than an actual book store. I don't necessarily see that (although I kind of do) but I've always felt Borders was disorganized in some way. Or too cluttered. I always felt anxious and hectic every time I went into one. Which is why I choose Barnes and Noble every time. Much calmer, peaceful and books overwhelm the place. Instead of the movies and music section dominating the center of the store, at BN it's tucked away in the back, where it should be. Because it's a book store. Not FYE.

If you had to choose between Borders and Barnes and Noble, which would you choose? Would you consider Borders because they're expanding they're kids and teen section?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Help Me Choose My Blog Theme!

I'm a bit indecisive at my writing blog. I tweaked my own Wordpress theme, made my own designs and such, but I wanted a change. So I decided to search out some nifty themes and I found a bunch of them and the guy does some amazing designs. I'm just waiting for him to start taking requests for personalized themes!

If you could take a second and let me know by commenting on the voting post which theme you like best, I'll love you forever.

See the post here.

There's already a, uh, slight bias in the comments section! :) But if you could help me decide, that'd be awesome! And please don't be swayed by the blah default Wordpress setting up right now. That's because a) the theme I had on there before FUBARed my coding and screwed everything up and b) I didn't feel like going back in to reset a theme until I knew which one I wanted to use.

Monday, June 15, 2009

2009 Fear Itself Challenge


JULY 1 - DECEMBER 31

What's the deal?

No, it's not about reading horror novels. Well, unless those are the ones you tend to avoid.

I wanted to start a challenge that really challenged people. That dared people to read outside their comfort zones. Pick up a book that they'd otherwise look over. Thus Fear Itself was born (although I think I overdid it a little on the blood).

Do what now?

Between July 1st and December 31st, I challenge you to read 3, just 3, books that, under normal circumstances, you wouldn't give a second look to. Avoid Gossip Girl like a VD? Now's the chance to grab one. Does horror freak you out? Grab an RL Stine.

Why?

Like I said above, we have a tendency of reading in our own comfort zones and don't often venture out of it unless really urged to. Well, consider yourself urged. It's a good thing to read something that you might not on your own accord. It broadens you as a reader and as a reviewer. Read widely is an excellent mantra. It'll, if nothing more, keep you reading.

Why six months? Dude, have you ever read a book that you're not thrilled about reading or try to force yourself through something? Yeah, it might take a little longer. Especially if you're into procrastination. You can read more if you want. But 3's your minimum.

The Catch

Yup. There is one. You can't not finish the book. And it MUST be reviewed. Now you see why the 3? This'll get you to evaluate why you ended up liking the liking the book even though you were groaning to read it. Or why it just solidified your opinion that is sucked like a vacuum. So choose your books wisely. If you really don't think you can get through Hemingway, don't choose one of his works. Hey, I feel your pain. I have an Alphas book in my pile that I'm sure I'll be in tears by the end of it questioning humanity but I'm going to read it.

So are there books out there that you "should" read? Have friends begging you to read although you don't think you'll be interested? Not only is this good for expanding your reading, but it's a good way to utilize your local library too.

~

You don't have to stick to just YA books. You can choose whatever you want. If you want to sign up, just use the Mr. Linky here. You can either link to a post on your blog with your book list or just your blog in general. On July 1st I'll post the review post where you can start linking to your reviews. Feel free to snag the little banner I made up top to show that you're participating in this challenge but please link back to this post so people don't have to go rooting around for it.



*Since Mr. Linky's disabled the auto-linky and I'm not a gold member, I have to use this one. The sites won't list in post which is kind of sucky but just click the graphic and you'll be able to put in your site and see the whole list.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Contest Slurry

It's that time again. Time to round up this week's batch of new contests. Got some big ones this week.

Ends - ??? (aka enter nao before you regret it)

Steph at Reviewer X is giving away a copy of Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking to the contest and to Lisa's Pub Story.

Ends 6/14 (ends tomorrow!)

Sophie at Mrs. Magoo Reads is giving away a copy of North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking to the contest and subscribing to Sophie's YouTube channel.

Ends 6/18

This week on Free Book Friday Teens, you have a chance to win one of 5 signed copies of Death By Denim by Linda Gerber. Fill out the form in the left sidebar to enter.

Amber of Just Your Typical Book Blog is giving away a copy of Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Comment with email and an answer to either question to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), link to the contest and answering both questions.

Ends 6/19

Liyana of LiyanaLand! is giving away a signed copy of The Sacred Sin by Estevan Vega. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for answering the questions.

Ends 6/24

Fantastic Book Review is giving away two copied of Bloody Good by Georgia Evans. Comment on the author interview or book review with email to enter. Extra entries for linking to the blog, following on Twitter and being a follower.

Ends 6/25

Alea of Pop Culture Junkie is giving away a copy of Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell along with the character's purse. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for promoting.

Ends 6/26

Steph of Reviewer X is giving away an ARC copy of Fire by Kristin Cashore. Open to followers 400 and under only. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for linking back.

Ends 6/27

Perla at IB Teen Blog is giving away The Brimston Network Trilogy by Tom Sniegoski. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following and linking.

Fantastic Book review is also giving away Bad Girls Don't Die, a signed bookplate and patchwork coaster and something extra, all by Katie Alender. Comment with email on the author interview or review to enter. Extra entries for linking, following and following on Twitter.

Ends 6/28

Liviania at In Bed With Books is giving away a mean girls prize pack that includes The Elite, In Too Deep and Simply Irresistible by Jennifer Banash, Don't You Forget About Me by Cecily von Ziegesar, Envy by Anna Godbersen and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for reposting the trailer, creating a widget, linking, subscribing/following either IBWB or Jennifer Banash's blog and those who comment about the trailer.

Ends 6/29

Shooting Stars mag is giving away a copy of Angel's Choice by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Comment about the interview with email to enter. Extra entries for following.

Right here I'm giving away two ARCs of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherin Howe. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), posting and/or linking, referring and being referred. Optional to answer the question.

Ends 6/30

Celebrate Rebecca's first contest at Everything To Do With Books and enter to win Braced 2 Bite by Serena Robar. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for promoting, following (new and old) and answering the question.

Carrie at Carrie's YA Bookshelf is giving away three books to one winner: Breathe My Name by RA Nelson, Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev and Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), promoting and adding to blogroll.

Gaby at Starting Fresh is giving away a copy of The Night Gardner by George Pelecanos. Enter to help her celebrate her first giveaway! Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), subscribing and promoting.

Steph Su of Steph Su Reads is giving away two copies of Worst Nightmares by Shane Briant. Comment with email and answer the question to enter. Extra entries for following and linking.

Ends 7/5

Kathleen at All The World's A Stage is giving away a bunch of books. They come in sets of three. Swoon by Nina Malkin, Everworld, Books 1 and 2 by KA Applegate and Ever by Gail Carson Levin; Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, Skinned by Robin Wasserman and David Inside Out by Lee Bantle; and Immortal: Love Stories with Bites edited by PC Cast, Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan and The Reforms Vampire Support Group by Katherine Jinks. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), linking and commenting.

Right here I'm giving away an ARC of Tricks by Ellen Hopkins. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following (new and old), linking/posting, answering the question, referring and being referred.

Ends 7/27

Amy at Addicted to Books has a bunch of paperbacks to give away: Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Falling by Sharon Dogar, Demon Princess by Michelle Rowan, Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard, Prism by Faye and Aliza Kellerman, A Season of Eden by JM Warwick, David Inside Out by Lee Bantle, The Miles Between by Mary Pearson and Revealers by Amanda Marrone. The books are broken up into first, second and third place, three each. Comment with email to enter. Extra entries for following, answering the question, promoting and referring.

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins + Contest!

Pub date - August 25, 2009.

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching . . . for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don't expect, though, is that they can have all these things when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons. Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story - a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. (book back blurb)

I've never read any of Ellen Hopkins's books but I knew going into this one that she wrote on the grittier side of the YA line. She didn't take the mythical or fantastical route. She kept it real. Really real. So that much I knew. I can't vouch for the rest of her books but this one was something you slit your wrists to.

Halfway through it I contemplated not finishing the book. I just couldn't bear to read on. I hated reading about teens going through such absolute shit because, and what it really boiled down to was, a lack of something at home, usually love. I can't read too many of these books too often. Yes. It's too real. It's too heartbreaking. Yes, it's labeled as fiction but it's not a stretch to think that the stories in this book hit a little too close to home to a few too many teens out there. It's made me think more seriously about fostering when I move out on my own. Having children just isn't really my thing. But helping the abandoned, forgotten, rejected and unloved . . . how could I not? How can I ignore something like this? How can anyone?

As I said, this is my first Ellen Hopkins book so I don't know if the rest of her novels are in verse but this one is, rotating between the five different characters. With hindsight, the blurb is misleading. But I'll leave that for you to discover when you read it.

All of the stories start out innocent enough, about first loves, coming into your own, finding solace in a friend. But then they start to change and you see how they end up where they end up but at the same time you can't help but ask, "How the hell did they get here? Where did it all go wrong?" And it hurts to read because you see every single one of them spiraling away from their former selves because the support system that should be there isn't.

I was most compelled by Eden's story, the girl growing up in a born-again Christian family who falls in love with a boy that's genuinely good for her, just not good for her parents. It brings me back to religion and how such god-fearing people that teach the supposed word of god, who's supposed to be compassionate and loving, up and do what Eden's parents did to her. Thrown away like some soiled shirt that makes the wearer look bad. It's horrible.

My beloved Santa Cruz is the home base of Whitney, the girl that just wants to be loved. Even the happiness I feel every time I go to that beach town couldn't permeate the sour emotions and feelings Whitney associated with that town. For Ginger, it's amazing she's as well-adjusted as she is for the type of mother she has, if you want to call Iris a mother. Read the story and I'm sure you won't. Sean's story rings all too true, I'm sure, to many, many people out there. Again, for all the love religion is supposed to teach people, how parents can shun their children for who they are is disgusting. Cody's life was probably the most well-adjusted out of them all but things start to slide down hill and while his intentions are good, his methods are, well, not. Still, I can't help but put some blame on his mother. Losing someone you love is painful but it's your duty, as a parent, to not forget about your children. That situation reminded me of Katniss and Prim with their mother, how she shut down after their father died. It's a selfish act.

While most of my reading will still be confined to slightly more frivolous stuff, reading a book like this is not only eye-opening and heart-wrenching, it's a good slap to the face that I think everyone needs every once in a while. We're all prone to complaining about something in our lives, whatever it may be. But it could be worse. And these kids go through a hell of a lot worse.

Hopkins has an insane ability to tap into the minds of the down-and-out teen and tell their story exactly how it needs to be told without sugar-coating anything. There's no hiding for the reader because the characters have nowhere to hide themselves. Why should you get the luxury? I have a hard time calling the teens in this book characters because they're more than that. They're tangible and it's sad to say that they're more real than what the pages decree. And the way that such separate stories end up coming together at the end it just amazing. There aren't words for it. These children that lead separate lives are, in some way, supported by one another.

While I can't go out and gobble up all of Hopkins other novels because I'm not all for slipping into a depression, I will slowly indoctrinate myself to her work over time. Books like this shouldn't be ignored and good on Hopkins for writing it so real. Go read this book. Read it now. And then read it again. It only took me about a day to finish its more than 600 pages. I just couldn't put it down. You can't help but hope that everything will turn out ok in the end. But even in life, nothing is certain.



CONTEST TIME!

I have an extra ARC of Tricks by Ellen Hopkins to give away. You want it? Here's what you have to do -

Comment with your contact info to enter (blogger profile is fine)
+1 for new followers
+2 for current followers
+2 for linking back/posting about this contest
+2 for answering the question, "What's the one book that moved you the most and why?"
+3 for referring someone to the contest
+3 for being the person referred

Be sure to tell me specifics otherwise I won't know how to tally up the points! Contest is open to US residents only and it ends 7/5.

Things I've Learned from Books + 6


Be like Indiana Jones. Avoid snakes. And anything green. Because all hope is lost for those emerald people. They will not come around to your side. It's their fault red is associated with the devil. It was all part of their master plan.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

First published in 2008.

In the ruins of a place once known as North American 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (book flap blurb)

O_O

Wow.

O_O

Uh, wow.

Oh, I'm sorry. Were you looking for a more intelligible review? I just don't know if I can summon one up without gushing about how much I heart Suzanne Collins. Maybe I can muster something.

There are few things I love more than authors who say fuck it and write the story they want to write regardless the potential repercussions that may arise. Regardless of the lack of a happy ending. Regardless of the fact that the story is akin to The Lord of the Flies on a week's worth of crack. Not all happy endings are purely happy. In fact, most are not (must . . . fight . . . glittering . . . commentary . . .). You can win but still lose.

I have to start at the social commentary of reality TV. Considering the absolute shit that's on TV now and what people degrade themselves to do for their nanosecond of "fame," it wouldn't surprise me that this is where our television is heading. As a society we are so desensitized to war and pain and death that something like this would be entertaining and unless it happened to our kids, it probably wouldn't faze us because it's "reality TV."

Then there's the government control aspect. Punishing the districts for daring to revolt by making their children fight to the death as a means of entertainment. That's nine different levels of demented right there. While it makes for a most excellent and unique read, from a societal standpoint, it's been done before, sans TV. Many ancient cultures lived just like this, where battles to the death were staged for everyone to see and it was a means of entertainment. There was little thought given to the families unless you were the families. You just showed up because society dictated it so. As a society currently, we are beyond this kind of barbarism. I don't want to say more evolved as ancient cultures like the Romans were no further back on the evolutionary scale than we are today. There was just a very different regard for life. Not to mention their morals were not necessarily religious-based.

Which leads into the lack of religion in Panem. Christianity is a governing aspect of many people's lives. How you act in life dictates where you end up in death. When you remove Christianity and all of it's strings, you have societal value that's no longer governed by the holy. In Roman and Egyptian times, it didn't matter what were actions were in life. So long as you were loyal to the gods and had someone to prepare you properly for the afterlife, you were fine. Morality was based on societal obligations as opposed to a set of scripture. The lives of the gods were just as bloody and thus dictated the bloody conquests of their human subjects. You remove the seed of Christianity that's been ingrained in our lives for two thousand years, remove it over the generations, and your beliefs and morals change. It's more about power and obedience to power and what will happen if you disobey the power which is not some intangible deity but real, living people with real living methods of pain to inflict on you. Religion is by no means the harbinger of civility. More wars have been waged in the name of a Christian god than any other in history. Christianity just brings with it certain strings, certain viewpoints, even though you may not follow that religion. In Panem it's not about a god or what's right or wrong. It's about survival. If District 12 could turn the tables and inflict the same pain on the Capitol as they've done on them, I'm sure they wouldn't think twice about it. It's not about Karma or letting a god dole out punishment. It's about human emotion and usurping a tangible power that you object to. Beliefs do not come into play. When your sole focus is finding enough food for dinner, there's no room for a belief structure.

I am in absolute awe of this book. I rambled on about religion and it's views of right and wrong for a reason. Different societies in different religious bases would view this book differently, just as certain districts viewed the games differently. If I were a Roman, let's say a high-ranking one, I would probably think that's an excellent way to keep the people in line. Bloodshed is good for the people. But considering I'm indoctrinated into a Christian society, despite the fact I'm not Christian, nor part of any religion, I see the force of pitting children against children purely for entertainment and to teach people a lesson absolutely horrifying. These children are paying for the actions of their ancestors, as a reminder for them to not try anything else. Learn from the past, as they say. To the Capitol who is, in essence, their own gods, it's right and justified as they rule over all. To people in certain districts, it's an honor to be a tribute and they are reared and honed to be the perfect contenders all their lives. In others, it's a sure way to die and an injustice on their lives.

The fact that this is watched for entertainment is sickening. Blood baths like this in ancient societies were normal, usual methods of entertainment. If you happened to be the victor, it just proved your strength and you lived to see another day. If you're not, well, just hope you died fast. Different mentalities but when you're trying to think outside of your own box and inside someone else's, it's very hard to do. But I think that's what Collins is trying to do. Societies have come full circle in this book, haven't they? They've gone from entertaining human slaughters to thinking that such acts to be barbaric to a more "civilized" society and right back around to entertaining slaughter again. Think outside the current Christian bubble and understand that yes, some believe this is an honor while others view it as their time to die. We can't comprehend such things because those acts have, for now, left our society. Some cultures still stick to it in lesser forms, such as animal fighting, but it's not human (not to demean the act, animal cruelty for the sake of entertainment is purely awful). But who's to say it won't come back when Christianity has worn out its welcome and some other belief system has stepped up to take it's place?

You can feel Katniss's pain when you read this book. You get nauseous when she's spinning from all those tracker jacker stings. You get hungry when she's hungry. You're cold when she's cold. You're panicked when she's panicked. A true sign of an amazing writer. The best part, for me, was the dynamic of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. Especially when they teamed up, I couldn't tell if Katniss was acting or not. And neither could she, which was the point. Gale kept coming up. Gale the friend who only meant something more in the arena. But is it something more? Or is Peeta the right way to go? Or was it simply a love borne of circumstances? I guess the sequel will pick up more on that one. I hope. Especially considering where the story ended. And damn, the girl just can't win, can she?

So amid the notions of what is right and wrong in what societies, government control and social commentary, there is an absolutely amazing story here. Unlike a story like, say, Generation Dead, where it read as if the message was first in the author's mind instead of the story, this book was pure story that just happened to have messages and nigglings of brain pokes strewn throughout. If Collins wrote this book with the intention of getting minds brewing and relaying some kind of message, it doesn't show. The story does. The pain of having to forage for food for an absent mother and a younger sister, the fear of the potential of just one day being taken away from it all to go and die for national entertainment, the suffering of having to crawl through that arena, that's what's on the pages. The story. And finding out whether Katniss lives or dies was what kept me turning the pages. I needed to know. While I wouldn't let a younger kid read this book (maybe around MG age and under, it's just too brutal), I would recommend it to anyone with eyes.

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