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Catching Fire: The Second Book of The Hunger Games
Catching Fire: The Second Book of The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.43
394 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They are home, but are they safe?, April 3 2012
If you thought Katniss and Peeta were safe now that they are home in District 12 after the 74th Hunger Games, then think again. Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It's filled with as much excitement and action as the first instalment and won't disappoint if you are already a fan.

The book begins with President Snow's dislike for Katniss for what he sees as a blatant act of defiance against the Capitol. She had been the one who thought to end both her and Peeta's life with the selfless act of double suicide at the end of the 74th Hunger Games. It was not quite a Romeo and Juliet moment but close. They would have rather died together than kill each other as the Capitol had wished. However, without a winner, the Hunger Games could not be seen as successful, forcing the Capitol to accept both tributes from District 12 as victors.

Even though the 74th Hunger Games are over and Katniss and Peeta are both home with their families, their nightmares are far from over. Unrest has settled over the districts, and in President Snow's eyes, it's all due to the victorious couple. He had tried to use them to supress the people of Panem. Instead they had risen up against unthinkable odds and given hope to people who had none. This reminded me of the story of Spartacus. He was a gladiator, doomed to die in the arenas fighting for the pleasure of the rich and spectacle for the people. However, this all changed when he led a rebellion and became the leader of the slaves who worked to free the oppressed. A stylized adaptation can be seen of this story in Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010).

In order to not give the story away, I can't go into much more detail. However, in Catching Fire, a new Hunger Games is about to commence, this being the 75th games also known as the Quarter Quell. Every twenty fifth year the games are celebrated in a new way with varying rules, giving President Snow the opportunity to right what he has seen as wrong.

I would definitely recommend this book, and if you liked the first instalment then, it's a must. Katniss keeps up her portrayal of a strong female protagonist having a good head on her shoulders and determination that can't be broken. It's nice to have a young girl that is smart and skilled rather than ditsy and reliant on a boy. If you haven't picked up this book yet, give it a try; you won't be disappointed.

City of Bones
City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.82
99 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars The quest for th eMortal Cup, March 11 2012
This review is from: City of Bones (Paperback)
The book City of Bones by Cassandra Clare is a story about Nephilim, better known in these pages as Shadowhunters. The legend of the Shadowhunters begins when "a warlock summoned the Angel Raziel, who mixed some of his own blood with the blood of men in a cup, and gave it to those men to drink. Those who drank the Angel's blood became Shadowhunters, as did their children and their children's children. The cup thereafter was known as the Mortal Cup." (pg. 78)

This story begins at the club Pandemonium when Clary, the main female protagonist, witnesses a murder that no one else can see. Latter she is attacked by a demon and finds her mother has been taken. Before this, Clary's life had seemed fairly normal; she was very artistic, loved to draw and enjoyed hanging out with her best friend Simon. However, the events of the attack pull Clary into a strange, new world that she never knew existed. This scenario reminded me of the TV series Blood Ties (2007), where Vicki Nelson, a half-blind private investigator, witnesses a murder that draws her into a world filled with demons and vampires. In both stories, it's the witness of a murder, seen through a kind of blindness, that opens the door to a strange, mythical world.

Jace and his two companions, Alec and Isabel, who are all Shadowhunters, find themselves helping Clary try to locate her mother while unravelling her hidden past. They use the powers of Runes to help them with their constant battle against demons and other Downworldly creatures. Eventually, Clary develops the Sight and is able to see the new world that she is in, one that has always been around her but she has been blind to.

With the help of her new friends, they discover that Jocelyn, Clary's mother, has a secret past and is believed to be hiding the Mortal Cup. They all work together to try and save Jocelyn and find the Cup before it falls into the wrong hands. One might interchange this adventure with the quest for the Holy Grail, another mythical cup that is said to have miraculous powers. In an adaptation of Robert de Boron's, Joseph d'Arimathie from the late 12th century, Joseph captured the blood of Christ in the Holy Grail while burying him. Once again, a comparison could be made here: the Mortal Cup holds the blood of the Angel Raziel while the Holy Grail in some stories holds the blood of Christ.

At the same time as Jocelyn's disappearance, Valentine, a rogue Shadowhunter, has emerged after he was thought to be dead. He is after the Mortal Cup and plans to use it for his own terrible means. It is a fight against time to see who can find the Cup first. Meanwhile, it is discovered how all the characters' stories are connected, and their lives are more intertwined than first believed. One might find a mirrored story being told in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983). Here the audience discovers three characters whose secrets and hidden relations are revealed by Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The City of Bones unfolds into a cinematically-told story. The analogies and descriptions paint a portrait in the mind's eye. I couldn't help but notice all the names of artists being used: Rembrandt, Magritte, and Bosch just to name a few. Also, words such as chiaroscuro and fresco make we wonder if the author has some sort of art history background; it's not every day you hear that kind of lingo.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy and is up for a good teen read. The story combines countless mythical creatures from werewolves and vampires to fairies and mermaids. It brings to life the biblical Nephilim but gives them their own twist as Shadowhunters. The story deals with relationships at all levels from friends and family to lovers and foes. I did feel the story lagged a little in the middle, not really advancing the story line, but this was easily overlooked by the strong ending. The writing was beautifully done with words that really brought the story to life. My imagination was working on over drive. This was a great teen read. I'd recommend it if you'd like to take your mind on a wonderful adventure.

The Watchers Trilogy: Awakening
The Watchers Trilogy: Awakening
by Karice Bolton
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.30
20 used & new from CDN$ 10.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A love story throughout time, Feb. 29 2012
I reviewed this book on Amazon.com for the Kindle. However, I saw there were no reviews on Amazon.ca, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

Awakening (The Watchers Trilogy) by Karice Bolton is a beautiful love story that unfolds with time, yet has no time limitations. This might sound contradictory since time is something we often use as a gage. However, for the Nephilim, time is simply a concept that they do not experience because they are immortal. The Nephilim are a hybrid race born to the "sons of God" (angles) and human women. In the Awakening, the Nephilim have been divided into a binary, light vs. dark or good vs. evil. It is here that the love story begins.

Ana, the main female protagonist, finds herself living in Whistler, British Columbia working as a waitress and unable to remember her past. She is haunted by night terrors and images of darkness she simply cannot understand. However, one night this all changes when she meets Athen and finds herself being magically drawn to him. It turns out they have been lovers throughout time. During the struggle of good vs. evil, Ana was taken and made to forget, not only about Athen but what she truly is, a Nephilim. This part of the story made me think of the characters Birgitte Silverbow and Gaidal Cain from the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time Series. In Jordan's saga, the two heroes of legend are continually reborn throughout the ages, always find each other, and fall in love. The same could be said for Ana and Athen; it doesn't matter when or where, they are meant to be and will always find each other.

The story unfolds, finding Ana struggling with the idea of being a Nephilim but trusting her feelings that Athen would not lie or hurt her in any way. It is up to Athen and his family, consisting of his sister Arie and her fiancé Cyril, to help Ana remember her past while still fighting their battle of good vs. evil.

Overall, I really liked this book, and I would have to say that the story line is excellent; it really kept me going and wanting more. In fact, the story line is the only thing that kept me reading this book. My critique would be I found the writing to be extremely repetitive and very wordy. I felt as though this 300 page book could have been told in about 200 pages. In fact, the story didn't start until page 103. The first 100 pages were devoted entirely to character development, and it felt like not very much was happening. I also felt the main character Ana flip flopped through emotions too easily: one moment being sick with worry at the thought of the Nephilims and the next having all her worries gone and being head over heels in love with Athen. I would really like to give this book more stars, but unfortunately I have to give it three stars because of the slow start, repetitive wording and descriptions, and the over-the-top emotional state of the character. On the whole, I'd recommend it as a okay read. If you like adventure and romance then this is a great book for you. Just be patient during the first 100 pages.

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls
The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Shadow Souls
by L Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye Damon, Elena and Stephan, Feb. 21 2012
I must admit I didn't finish this book, in fact, I only ready up to the third chapter, so I don't think it's fair I say this book was terrible because I didn't see it through. However, if the first three chapters are anything to go on, then I have to give this book two thumbs down. I might add as well, it's extremely rare for me not to finish a book.

The overall story of the Vampire Diaries is two brothers, Damon and Stephan Salvatore, fighting over the same girl, Elena Gilbert. Now this is no Legends of the Fall, a 1994 movie where Tristan (Brad Pitt) and his brother Alfred (Aidan Quinn) move through a complicated set of events being both in love with their dead brother's fiancé Susannah (Julia Ormond). On the contrary, the Vampire Diaries takes a more mystical approach where both Damon and Stephan are in love with Elena because she is a dead ringer for their maker Katherine. Maker you ask? Katherine was a vampire who wooed the brothers, making them booth fall in love with her and then turned them into vampires.

I've been a fan of The Vampire Diaries and really liked the first three instalments: The Awakening, The Struggle, and The Fury. To be completely honest, the books should have ended there. I mean *SPOILER ELERT (if you haven't read the first three volumes)* the main character Elena Gilbert dies. In Dark Reunion, Elena gets in contact from the afterlife with her witch-friend Bonnie to warn and help her with a threat descending on Fall's Church. It's at the end of this book that Elena is miraculously brought back to life as some kind of winged human of purity. At this point, I thought, `Okay, maybe Elena coming back from the dead could work; we'll just have to wait and see.' So I went on to read The Return Vol. 1: Nightfall. I was disappointed but held out hope for The Return Vol. 2: Shadow Souls.

When I picked it up from the store, I was excited to get back to my old friends Elena, Damon, and Stephan. I had such high hopes for this book. When I started, Elena's attitude of I'm so beautiful and all the boys want me, really turned my stomach. Elena has always been self centered and self absorbed, but when she came back as the winged human of purity, she seemed to be a lot nicer. However, this book has her right back where she was at the beginning, bathing in her own vanity. I was also reminded on the first few pages of the Kitsune, a fox-like mythological creature from Japan that was introduced in the first volume. I did not like the Kitsune then, and I definitely do not like them now. I have no problem with fantasy and folklore; I'm a big fan of make believe. However, I feel the combination of vampires and Kitsune are no peanut butter and jelly, more like peanut butter and mayo, yuck. When I got to the third chapter, I'd already had enough. I just wasn't feeling it and had no desire to go further, so with great loss and a sad understanding that I'd never read a Vampire Diaries book again, I closed the cover and said goodbye to my friends Elena, Damon, and Stephan.

Overall, I'd not recommend this book or The Return Vol. 1: Nightfall, but if you haven't read the first three volumes, I'd definitely give them a shot and maybe the fourth as well Dark Reunion. I will admit that I'm behind on the TV series and have only finished the second season, but I would recommend it. I almost never say this, but I like the TV series much better than the books. It is better written and Elena is more likable. If you watch the show, you'll have to give the actor Ian Somerhalder kudos for his portrayal of Damon Salvatore. In my opinion, he really brings the show to life.

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