Friday, October 30, 2009

Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr

Title: Wicked Lovely
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2008 (Paperback)
Length: 328 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: October 26, 2009
Finished: October 29, 2009

From the back cover:
Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries.

Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries.

Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything. Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in this 21st century faery tale.

Yet another supernatural romance type I thought I'd try. This one actually has a very good story, it reads like a fairy tale (forgive the pun). Keenan is the Summer King who must find the right mortal girl to agree to take the test to be his Summer Queen so that he can regain the power taken away from him at birth by his mother, the Winter Queen. There's a catch though: if the girl Keenan picks isn't the right one, she'll turn into a barely living ice queen called the Winter Girl, doomed to try to persuade Keenan's future girls from taking the same test. Great stuff.

However, like traditional fairy tales, I thought the plot wasn't fleshed out enough. Some parts move quite slowly, while others whizz by without a lot of build-up; it just felt disjointed most of the time.

The characters are well-rounded. Aislinn (pronounced Ash-lynn) is a strong female lead, and I was glad she stood her ground. She didn't like the terms of the agreement with Keenan, so she made Keenan agree to her own terms. One part seemed a little out of character for her though, Aislinn should know that you never drink the fairy wine! Sheesh, even I know that.

Keenan's character seems a little flat- loves Aislinn, loves Donia, wants his power back etc. The Winter Queen seemed a little over the top to be disposed of so easily, I was expecting her actions to be slightly more ruthless given what the reader gleams of her personality.

I liked the ending, and though I wasn't happy with the plot flow (but liked the story), I kind of want to pick up the sequels to see where things are headed.

If you're a fan of modern-day fairy tales, pick this up!

Thoughts on the cover:
Not sure whether the girl in the background is supposed to be Aislinn or Donia, but I'll assume its Donia. I love how they went with the cold and ice imagery of the Winter Queen/Winter Girl, since its so prevalent in this book. The dark background and the forest green font really makes the whole thing come together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Publisher: Little, Brown; 2006 (Paperback)
Length: 372 pages
Genre: Adult/Young Adult; Drama
Started: October 8, 2009
Finished: October 10, 2009

From the publisher:
When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn''t happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, heaven, and living.

I honestly had no idea this book existed until I saw the trailer for the upcoming movie, I'm bad like that. When this book was first published in 2003 I was knee-deep in French and Russian literature at university and wouldn't have had the time to read it anyway. Thankfully I did get to read it, and since so many high schools in my area are putting it on their optional reading lists (surprising considering the subject matter), I'm going to review it. This book is being marketed more towards young adults now with the release of the movie, so that's why it's under both adult and young adult genre headings.

A lot of people are turned off this book right away because it deals with horrific rape and murder within the first few pages. Thankfully for me, the stuff I read in university makes this book look like Doctor Seuss in comparison; so there isn't much I won't read.

The first chapter begins with Susie narrating the details of her rape and death, everything from her rapist's comments about her underwear to her mutilated body staining the garage floor of his house. Yes, it is quite disturbing, but if you can get over that, you can see the beauty of the novel.

Susie's heaven is wonderful. In the beginning, it forms into whatever the person wants it to be; hers looks like the town's high school she never got to go to. She meets other people in her heaven, and from there they watch people on earth. She doesn't meet all deceased people in her heaven because its for people not ready to give up the life they had on earth, they still have connections and people they want to look in on constantly. Susie watches her family, of course, and watches them for 10 years after her death.

There's equal development between Susie's friends and family after her death, and Susie herself. Despite being dead she grows up and experiences things via the people she watches. The issue with her mother Abigail abandoning the family a year after Susie's death is probably the most interesting. She wants to be more than a mother once she realizes the only thing she has lived for has been so easily taken away from her. There's so many feminist elements in this part it practically screams it. She doesn't get much sympathy from me though, abandoning your family is still one of the worst things a person can do whether you're a man or a woman.

The book is wonderfully written; the imagery of Susie's heaven is just beyond description but the author manages to illustrate the beauty of it. The real draw of this book though is reading about the actions of various people after Susie's death. You soon realize that every single thing they do is somehow related to her dying, even 10 years after the fact.

If you can get past the first chapter's horrifying subject matter, read this! It's worth reading simply because you don't see stories like this very often.

Thoughts on the cover:
The original cover has the image of Susie's charm bracelet against a blue background that looks as if its fading from dark to light blue. The charm bracelet is a good choice for the cover since it's mentioned quite a few times and is the last thing the reader sees at the end of the book.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 391 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: October 20, 2009
Finished: October 26, 2009

From the inside cover:
Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems 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 she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.


There will be spoilers! If you don't want to read them, skip down to the recommendation.

I have such mixed feelings about this book. The teacher in me wants to scream, "When did stalking become sexy?!" The reader in me that knows that liking fictional bad boys is okay (so long as you don't internalize those qualities in a real life guy), wants to say, "Oooh, fallen angels; this could be good".

I'm a fan of supernatural love stories if they're done right. Mainly, the female character is strong and not spineless, the plot is believable, and the male character is likable. We'll see if Hush, Hush meets those criteria.

Patch, the fallen angel character in question, is stalking Nora. That much is very obvious, even to her. Patch is also dangerous. Also very obvious. This is pretty much a textbook case of "run to the hills, girl, that boy means trouble!" Yet Nora continues to go against her better judgement and finds herself drawn to him. Patch's behaviour towards Nora borders on sexual harassment, and is just plain creepy; if he was a human boy, he'd get slapped pretty quick (among other things). I have a thing with fictional bad boys where their behaviour is excusable up to a certain point if they're human, and they can get away with a little more if they're in the non-human category. Patch is a fallen angel, which means he can get away with a lot of bad-ass behaviour (fallen angels are the original bad boys after all), but Nora doesn't even suspect that he's not human until half way through the book! I honestly felt like slapping her until the half-way point because of her stupidity.

Once I got past the half-way point, I started to like Patch and Nora a bit more. Things were a little out of Nora's control, and Patch didn't actually want to kill her. He actually loves her...awwwww. Nothing says "I love you" like repeated attempts on your life. This is the part that gets to me as a teacher. There are some girls who will read this book and see that "yeah, he's creepy, but he loves her!" Yes, Patch loves Nora, but he only falls in love with her after he attempts to use her for his own benefit. Most guys in real life will just use you for their own benefit without the whole falling in love part. So, my only beef with this book is the potentially bad relationship model this gives girls without a better one to fall back on.

The plot is done well, everything all comes together nicely at the end. It was a page-turner, mostly I just wanted to see how Nora would react to Patch, then I actually got involved in the story. The characters are very real, I liked Nora and Vee, aside from the way they handled themselves when in the presence of the boys.

Again, this was a very well written story with some down-to-earth characters, I'm just not a big fan of the "I love you! Oh, and yeah I really did try to kill you those last few times..."

If you can get past the stalking and sexual harassment behaviour, then you've got a well-written, entertaining story on your hands.

Thoughts on the cover:
The cover was the one thing that attracted me to this book (aside from the title). You're looking at what I assume is Patch "falling". His wings are black, broken, and losing feathers. The image is a lot more powerful when you realize the feathers at the top of the cover are blood red. This cover really is amazing, I hope the sequel's cover is just as good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Sookie Stackhouse novels - Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead Until Dark (Book 1)
Living Dead In Dallas (Book 2)
Club Dead (Book 3)
Dead to the World (Book 4)
Dead as a Doornail (Book 5)
Definitely Dead (Book 6)
Altogether Dead (Book 7)
From Dead to Worse (Book 8)
Dead and Gone (Book 9)

Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace, 2001-2009 (Paperback for books 1-8, Hardcover for book 9)
Length: 300 pages (average)
Genre: Adult; Fantasy/Mystery
Started: July 2009 (Book 1)
Finished: October 2009 (Book 9)

The novels that inspired the HBO show TrueBlood. Sookie Stackhouse lives in Bon Temps, Louisiana; and lives a fairly normal life working as a waitress. Except Sookie has what she calls 'a disability'-she can read people's minds. In a world where vampires have "come out" (while the existence of weres, shape shifters, fairies, and other supernatural beings remains secret), Sookie's life is about to get a lot more interesting. All the books revolve around some sort of mystery or a murder of either the humans or the supernatural characters. Sookie's telepathy comes in quite handy at times, although she can only read human minds. All the plots are connected to each other, so although it isn't necessary to have read all the books in order (Charlaine Harris repeats certain key points in each book) you'd be missing out on a lot of the finer details if you don't read them in order.

Okay, I admit, I love love love the TrueBlood show and that's the sole reason I picked these up. If there's a movie or tv show I adore and find out it was based on a book, I always make sure to read the book since there's a pretty good chance I'll love the book even more. For TrueBlood fans who want to try the books, be warned that the plot of the books varies from the show. The events of the whole first season occur in the first book. One book. They had to pad the story line quite a bit to get a whole season from one book, same with season two (based on events from book 2). If that doesn't bother you, then you'll be in for quite an addictive series.

The characters are immensely likable. I don't know if it's the whole Southern speech thing that's so endearing, but I love all of them. Sookie is a strong female character, she always holds her own and doesn't let anyone push her around (not even the vampires!). She doesn't have any education beyond high school due to her telepathy, but she's well-read, intelligent, and I love her Word of the Day calendar that she uses to improve her vocabulary. Sookie's brother Jason character changes a lot over the course of 9 books, and I found that I liked him less and less, he's depicted as a playboy but without the charm and heart that the tv show gives him. I love the vampire scenes, they're so completely deadpan that when they try to be funny you can't help but laugh. Surprisingly, Bill's character seems flat for the first few books and he only really fleshes out in the later books. Eric is your token bad boy vampire, and quite detestable at first; but he's an acquired taste, and I found he really grew on me (I'm quite the Eric fan now). There are quite a few characters that get introduced throughout the series, but it never gets to the point where there's too many to keep track of.

The plot of every book is different, but similar in what they cover: murder/mystery occurs, Sookie somehow gets involved, enlists the help of the vamps/weres/shifters/fairies, everything gets resolved in the last few chapters, action/character development occurs during the middle. The formula is quite simple, but every book captured my interest and kept me reading to the end and on to the next book.

These books truly are my guilty pleasure literature: I know they're not masterpieces and I'm not going to be blown away by deep metaphors and symbolism, but I don't care. They're great, light reads, full of engaging stories and characters that you like so much you'll beg the author to write more. Everyone that I've recommended these to has fallen in love with them; if you hear random stampedes in the direction of the nearest bookstore, I take full responsibility, just another victim of the influence of my lending library!

If you're looking for a few relaxing, yet addicting reads, pick these up! The first 8 books are available in paperback individually and in a boxset, the 9th is available in hardcover. These books are not for kiddie Twilight fans though, there is some mature content and explicit sex scenes, so don't buy this for your 9 year old just because she's into vampires.

Thoughts on the covers:
I am by no means embarrassed by what I read. But I have to admit I was embarrassed to carry these around because of the cheesy covers! The vampires are drawn Dracula-style with long black capes...I like my vamps to change with the times and wear slightly more modern clothes (and nowhere in the books does it mention huge capes). There is some new cover art floating around with close-ups of what we assume is Sookie's face with different coloured fog clouds around her. Not a big fan of those either. I do like the tv show tie-in covers for books 1 & 2 featuring the actors that play Bill and Sookie.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Little Brother - Cory Doctorow

Title: Little Brother
Author: Cory Doctorow
Publisher: Tor Teen, 2008 (Hardcover
Length: 382 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Started: June 19, 2009
Finished: June 26, 2009

From the author's website:
Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.

But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days.

When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

I picked this up while working in a school library around the time the Forest of Reading nominees were announced earlier this year. From my experience, all the Forest of Reading books whether they win or not are incredible reads, I've read quite a few from all the categories from the past few years and I've yet to be disappointed with a single one. Plus, the beauty of the program is that all the books are written by Canadian authors, and I think we all agree we need to see more books written by Canadian authors put in the spotlight. Little Brother won the award for the teen category ("White Pine"), which means all the students who read the nominated books for that category chose Little Brother as their favourite. Can't go wrong with something the kids actually like reading, right? Plus, it helps that the book is just plain awesome on so many levels, it doesn't have those endorsements on the cover from Neil Gaiman and Scott Westerfeld for nothing.

It's important the remember that Little Brother takes place in a world where their average everyday technology is about 10 years ahead of our own, because that's the only thing to remind us that it's not really our own world that's being critiqued here. Little Brother is like a spiritual successor to 1984 by George Orwell (even the title is a play on words of "Big Brother is watching you"). It uses teen protagonists to explore the issue of personal rights in a digital age by plotting them against the government after their beloved technology is used against them. It's the old idea of giving up certain freedoms (like the government being able to access your email or text messages) with the promise of security. In the wake of a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the adults in the novel are willing to do just that without a second thought. Marcus and his friends however, who at this point have been tortured by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) for their assumed involvement in the attack without any proof or fair trial, have a different idea. They use hacked xbox game consoles to create an online hub called Xnet, where it's members brainstorm ways to subvert the DHS by hacking their technology and creating mayhem in the hope that the rest of society will see that the security they've been promised isn't as wonderful as they thought.

Geeks and techies will get so much out of this book because of all the technology Marcus describes in his narration. When you understand exactly what he's talking about and what it can do, you actually get really excited. I was drooling over free xbox consoles, The Onion Router, and gait-sensing technology the schools used to track the kids. I thought it was all just plain cool. Heck, even 1337 ("leet") speak is featured. Even if you're not a geek or a techie you can still enjoy the book; Marcus explains the technology behind every gadget and process. He narrates just like we were taught to write essays in English class: "When you write, assume your readers know NOTHING about what you're talking about". Marcus explains things without being condescending or confusing.

I wish this book was around when I was 13 or 14, it would have meant so much more to me back then. Kids are used to having next to no freedoms and having them taken away at any given time, adults tend to take freedoms for granted and seem willing to give them up without really thinking about what they're giving away. I think that's why this book appeals so much to teenagers, especially boys.

Only one caution with this book: some of the material isn't appropriate for kids that aren't of high school age. There's some sexual content, and of course the scenes where the DHS interrogates the kids might not be something you'd want a 10 year old reading.

If you're looking for a must-read book for a teen, especially boys who are reluctant readers, then pick this up! If you're a tech loving adult, pick this up! Heck, everyone should pick this up just because it's an amazing book.

Thoughts on the cover:
I think the cover is the only bland thing about Little Brother. You have a white background, generic-looking kids with their faces shadowed standing in front of a giant red X (for Xnet), plus endorsements from other authors. The images are not amazing (though the shadowing on the kids' faces is a wonderful symbol), but I could have done without the recommendations from other authors. Not that I don't appreciate them, they're part of the reason why I picked the book up in the first place, but put them someplace other than the front cover (like on the end pages or inside cover).

The Magician's Elephant - Kate DiCamillo

Title: The Magician's Elephant
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Started: September 17, 2009
Finished: September 17, 2009

From the inside cover:
What if? Why not? Could it be?

When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true.

But it is-all of it- true.

I wish more books like these existed when I was younger. Kate DiCamillo writes beautiful stories that manage to convey life-long lessons through simple storytelling. The Magician's Elephant is clearly written for young children, but the themes about trusting the unexpected and faith in the impossible can be appreciated by anyone. The story comes across as a fable of sorts where Peter is in search of his long-lost sister and his encounters with the magician and the elephant eventually lead him to her. There are parts where only adults will truly appreciate some of the more subtle images that come with experience that will just go over children's heads, but I think some adults who have trouble suspending their disbelief would have trouble enjoying a story like this that assumes the reader believes without question (which is part of the charm). The book is a breath of fresh air, it reminds you what storytelling is at its core: simple yet elegant, and beyond all else-powerful.

If you're looking for a simple yet refreshing tale or something to read to the kids or to a primary/junior class then definitely pick this up.

Thoughts on the cover:
Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, who also does the illustrations in the book itself, the cover shows the book's namesake crashing through the top of the opera house by the magician who claims he only intended to conjure lillies. It's very eye-catching, done all in shades of green and a look that makes you feel you're watching all this through a foggy window.

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Title: Catching Fire (Book 2 of The Hunger Games)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 391 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction/Adventure
Started: September 6, 2009
Finished: September 7, 2009

From the publisher:
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.

Since I devoured The Hunger Games a few days after Catching Fire was released, picking up this one was not just a passing fancy, it was a necessity! I HAD to read the continuation, an urge I don't get all that often with sequels.

Catching Fire was a constant surprise. Again, I tried to guess where the plot was headed while I was reading and was wrong every time. I knew a rebellion in the districts was going to be a focus in this series, but I assumed it would be established somewhere in the first book. In Catching Fire, the rebellion comes up around Katniss and Peeta's heads without them really intending it. Even then, the rebellion is very much something going on in the background while you're focusing on what's happening to Katniss, though there are parts that pop up to remind you that it is indeed happening. I was never quite sure what Peeta's feelings were regarding his involvement, his true motivations are very shrouded throughout both books, part of that is probably because Katniss is narrating and we never really figure out what he's thinking (except I'm pretty certain by this point that he truly does love Katniss).

The second half of the book blew me away. I think I read it continuously without a break because I could not believe the direction the plot took. I love the relationship between Katniss and her stylist Cinna, the gentle way he regards her is very touching; and not to mention he creates her whole image of "the girl on fire", which pops up again in this book. I actually cried during the scene where Cinna redesigns Katniss' dress and what came after it, and I was amazed that I had gotten so emotionally attached to his character.

Characters are fleshed out even more so in this book. Katniss becomes slightly less hardened and begins to open herself to others, especially Peeta. Peeta's actions are geared towards doing what he believes is best for Katniss (at least we're lead to believe so), so I can't help but like him for his sincerity and dedication. Even Haymitch has his redeeming moments, and I'm glad the author included a scene explaining how he won in the past Hunger Games.

I was angry when I finished the book because it ended with a cliffhanger, which made me want the third book to magically appear out of thin air so I could read it right away instead of waiting another year for it!

In short: another engaging plot with plenty of twists, the writing is beautiful yet again, and it leaves you wanting more.

If you read The Hunger Games and liked it, reading this is a no-brainer.

Thoughts on the cover:
The mockingjay makes an appearance again, this time against a crimson background to add to the fire images that run rampant in this book. It would be nice to keep the continuity for the third book (mockingjay in a different position against a different colour).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic, 2008 (Hardcover)
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction/Adventure
Started: September 4, 2009
Finished: September 5, 2009

From the inside cover:
In the ruins of a place once known as North America 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.

Since this is my first post, I thought I'd open up with a book that really made an impression on me when I read it this past summer. I wasn't sure about this book at first when I picked it up. I knew I'd like the plot from reading the inside cover (who can resist a good dystopian novel?), but I didn't know how well the idea would be conveyed.

I was blown away, to say the least.

Suzanne Collins manages to tackle a plot rife with difficult subject matter without coming across as being too gruesome. I could see a lot of people being turned off because of the whole "kids killing kids" thing, but it's written in such a way that the deaths aren't glorified; there were parts where I actually cried because the scenes were so touching. It also helps that Katniss and Peeta don't really want to harm anyone and the deaths that do result are in self defense or as a result of the harrowing conditions of the Games themselves.

Katniss and Peeta are amazing characters. I think the reason why I devoured the book so quickly was because I was so entranced by them. Katniss is a very strong female lead, something I've been looking for in YA books so overcome with spineless female characters (*cough* Twilight *cough*). She's fleshed out very well in her relationships with her family, Peeta, Gale, and the rest of the villagers in District 12. Peeta is almost the complete opposite of Katniss, but he completely surprises you by the end of the story, proving that it really is the quiet ones you need to watch out for. You could say there is an element of romance in the book, but the love felt between the characters is at its purest, sweetest form; something completely ironic considering the situation they're all in.

The plot is a constant surprise, it really messes with your head. It also doesn't sugar coat anything: you'll find everything from a contestant being stung to death by mutant wasps to complete emotional manipulation on so many levels. The writing is superb, a real page-turner; and Collin's descriptions are informative without being boring.

In short: the plot is very engaging, the characters are likable and then some, and it's beautifully written. Plus almost every person I've encountered who has read this book shares a positive opinion of it.

Read it now!

Thoughts on the cover:
I thought the image of the mockingjay was the perfect piece for the cover, I almost squealed when I came to the part of the book the describes the brooch and realized that's what was on the cover. The mokingjay image also contributes to the allegory and symbolism of the story.