Monday, October 18, 2010

Monthly Reads: September 2010

Once again, I'm really late putting up my monthly reads list. I don't know what happened. I started this post on October 3 - which would have been in a timely fashion - but never got back to it ^_^; Ah well, there's always October... and it should be fine, since so far, I'm having a pathetic month ^_^;

My health woes continue. I had an ultrasound last week for my urinary frequency problem. They checked the whole lower abdomen (kidneys, spleen, liver, pancreas, bladder, etc.) and apparently, everything's fine. While my urge to urinate frequently is not gone, it's been better and more manageable. Yay! My latest health woes though is that I poke my finger with something on Saturday (I don't know what) and now, my finger is a bit swollen. It's not bad, but it's bothering me psychologically ^_^; Sigh, I just want to be healthy again and not to worry about anything :( I always took my health for granted, but now, never again!

Anyway, let's talk about something more cheerful :P Books!! So let see what I read last month...

1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: B

Welcome to Panem, what used to be the United States. Panem is divided into 13 districts; however, long ago, the districts rebelled against the Capitol. Annihilating District 13 wasn't punishment enough, the government decided to organize the Hunger Games - a reality show in which 12 boys and 12 girls, one from each district, ranging from the ages of  12 to 18, have to kill each other in order to survive. The lone survivor is sacred winner and gets fame and fortune...

To spare her little sister's life, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to be the female representative for this year's Hunger Games. She is paired up with Peeta, the baker's son and probably the only boy she wished never to face again. Despite having a drunken mentor, Katniss is determined to do everything to survive and hopes that her skills as a poacher will help her greatly.

There was a lot of buzz when this book came out and with each subsequent sequel release, the buzz grew. With the third book coming out, I finally decided to check it out :P You know, in case it was so good that I needed to get the 2nd and 3rd book right away... It turns out that it won't be necessary for me ^_^;

I think Ms Collins did a great job at the world building and I thought it was very interesting. The concept Hunger Games was quite clever, and while the idea is horrifying, I didn't feel it was that far-fetched. I mean, looking at it, it's like a huge TV reality show ^_^; I could see why the whole nation would be fascinated by it. Kind of reminded me of Survivors. Especially when Katniss and Peeta thought of the previous years' challenges and strategies, etc.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and the writing style. However, I had a major problem with it and that was Katniss. I didn't think she was very likable ^_^; In fact, I think that her mentor Haymitch describes her well: hostile. I understand that Katniss has lived a hard life and get where she's coming from. Still, understanding doesn't make her likable in my eyes. She's strong and smart and you need that kind of heroine to survive The Hunger Games, and yet... Personally, so far, I feel she doesn't deserve Peeta's love and devotion and Peeta is right to be angry at her.

While I did enjoy The Hunger Games, it wasn't a very cheerful book ^_^; And from what I heard, the next two books are only more bleak... which is why I've decided not to go buy them. I've reserved Catching Fire at the library but whether I'll read it or not, I'm not sure yet.

2) Last One to Die by Kate Brady: B-

3) The Golden Chance by Jayne Ann Krentz: B+

4) The Grimrose Path by Rob Thurman: B/B+
 Upcoming review.

5) My Lord Scandal by Emma Wildes: B/B+
Upcoming review.

6) Graceling by Kristin Cashore: B-

Throughout the seven kingdoms, Gracelings - those who have been blessed with a particular talent and whom are easily recognizable by their two different colored eyes - are pariah. When your Grace is killing, it's even more difficult to be accepted. Katsa's life was spared by her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, only so she could be trained and become his thug. Trying to find meaning in her life, Katsa founded The Council, a group of people who assist the less fortunate. Her latest mission is to save the King Ror of Lienid's father who has been abducted for unknown reasons. This lead to the meeting with Prince Po, King Ror's seventh son, who is looking for his grandfather. After spending time together, it becomes more and more difficult for Katsa to do her uncle's biddings... and in the end, there is only one solution: to leave his court. Thus, she embarks on an adventure with Po who is Graced as well.

Okay, sorry, very bad synopsis ^_^; Again, this is a YA novel that got a lot of buzz when it came out and in many reviews said that Graceling reminded them of Poison Study. After reading Graceling, I can see why :P Although myself, I prefer Poison Study.

Once again, the author did a great job at the world building. I liked reading about the different kingdoms, their sovereigns and how these kingdoms interacted with each other. It was all very interesting. The author did a good job with the characters as well. My favorite character was Po, he was just so nice and friendly LOL. Katsa was an interesting and complex heroine. They do start to come from the same mold though, all strong, clever, etc. However, she was much more likable than Katniss. The thing with Katsa is that she's been considered a pariah ever since she accidentally killed a distant cousin. People fear her and therefore, don't treat her well. I don't think Katsa completely understood this, but it was nice to see that it didn't stop her from living and having "friends." I especially liked her relationship with her cousin, Prince Raffin. I think that in the end, action speaks louder and thus, Katsa has people who are loyal to her.

I enjoyed the intrigue and the overall story concerning Po's grandfather abduction. Unfortunately, what didn't work for me in Graceling was the pacing of the book. The pacing was uneven, the beginning a bit slow. It seems to me the author focused too much on developing Katsa, having the readers sympathize with her, building her relationship with Po. If I remember correctly, Katsa leaves Middluns at about half-way through the book. Also, there was a build-up to the confrontation to King Leck, but that part was quite disappointing. Ditto for the final confrontation between Katsa and Leck. My reaction was "that's it?!?" I was expecting much more, but it seemed to me Ms Cashore ran out of gas and just wrote those scenes and they were quite anti-climatic. So that was definitively a let-down for me.

Also, I get that this is YA and that there is going to be a sequel, but the ending was a bit too open for me ^_^;

7) Fire by Kristin Cashore: D

I'm not going to recap Fire. Fire is the prequel to Graceling and takes place approximately 30 years before, outside of the seven kingdoms. The main character is named Fire and she's the last human-shaped monster with the ability to manipulate people's mind. Although quite frankly, her beauty is such that most males are subjugated in her presence... Her father, Cansrel, was also a human-shaped monster and manipulated the previous king, sending the kingdom into despair and a precarious situation with its barons. As such, Fire is mistrusted and hated by most because people believe she is like her father. Therefore when she finds herself in the presence of King Nash and his younger brother, Brigan, everyone is wary of what will happen next.

 This book was a big meh for me ^_^; My biggest problem with Fire was that it was so unconnected to Graceling. Yes, we get to see ONE character from Graceling and it gives us a bit of background story, but still. Whatever we learned of the world building in Graceling is of no use in Fire and the whole monster thing?!? I still don't get it ^_^; I thought that as world building goes, Ms Cashore didn't do such a good job. Perhaps it's because she focused all her energy on the characters ties... I mean, that part of the book was mind-boggling @_@ The romance and the whole plot felt so-so for me. There were too many love triangles and it did seem characters were so casual in their relationship. Yes, I can be very prudish ^_^;

I guess this book was simply not for me :(

8) Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher: B-
9) Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher: B
10) Cursor's Fury by Jim Butcher: A-
11) Captain's Fury by Jim Butcher: A-
12) Princep's Fury by Jim Butcher: B+
13) First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher: B/B+

Upcoming review. I haven't decided yet whether I'll review each book or the whole series together; however, I'm definitively going to share some of my thoughts :P

14) Venom by Jennifer Estep: A-
Upcoming review.

15) Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews: B/B+
Upcoming review.

Books bought: +11
Books read: -14
TBR pile: -3

Woooohooo!! Negative number from the TBR pile! I'm pretty happy with the number of books I've read and bought in September, but even more pleased by the fact that many of the books came from my TBR pile. Now, I only need to catch up on my reviews :P There are a lot of slash grades (eg. B/B+)... those grades will become clearer once I write the reviews.


  1. But... but I LOVED Fire. And I do think Graceling is better than Poison Study ;-)

    For me, the equation would be:

    Poison Study < Graceling < Fire

    Oh well, glad you gave Kristin Cashore a shot. They're meant to be loosely interconnected books, not direct sequels, though the third book, Bitterblue, sounds as though it would be a direct sequel to Graceling.


  2. I LOVE Graceling! It's one of my fav YA's.

    I'm sorry they tried to market Fire as a "prequel" it's definitely not at all. Even the cover says "compantion novel" but that's misleading too. I wish they hadn't connected it to Graceling at all beacause I think a lot of people expected more characters from Graceling. Anytime I reccommend the books to people I make sure to explain how they're related (or as it turns out NOT so related). I really liked Fire, not as much as Graceling but I LOVE Cashore's strong heroines. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it more!

    And I LOVE the Hunger Games series, but yes it IS bleak. And it's NOT a romance. I think a lot of people go into it for that "romance" aspect. While that is a factor this series is about WAR and those that go in expecting it to be a HEA romance...I think are the ones who end up disappointed. That's not to say that Katniss can't get an HEA but that's not the focus of the series. I'll be interested to see if you continue the series!

  3. everyone keeps talking about the hunger games. but i don't know about right now. Maybe later

  4. Yeah for the whole negative number. ;)

    So, you really got into the Jim Butcher series. :) I haven't read anything by him yet so I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this one. Is it related to the Harry Dresden series?

  5. Great job on reading from the TBR pile!

    And no wonder I never know what day it is - these end of the month posts have me always going 'what, October is over? Did I pay the mortgage - wait.... phew!'

    I look forward to your review of Venom - I have the second Estep but haven't read it yet. I'm guessing Venom is the third book?


  6. Li - I know!! I read your post which is why I bought Graceling and Fire... but yeah, didn't work out so well for me ^_^;

    My equation would be your complete opposite LOL

    Poison Study > Graceling > Fire

    I know they are only companion books, still. It was an entirely different world and I thought it was hard to get into it :(

    Mollie - Nod nod. I know many have enjoyed Graceling... maybe I'm just too picky?

    Yeah, I knew it was a companion book only, but I was expecting a bit more link between the two. At least, the world building you know...

    I wished I've enjoyed it more too... but hey, it happens... and LOL, quite frankly, I'm not even surprised.

    Yeah, I guess I'm too used to reading romance, so I expect stuff to be a bit more cheerful ^_^; and you're right, it is not romance... but there's a thread, a beginning to a relationship. I don't need the focus to be the romance... Also, it feels like war can be portrayed differently. I mean, I've really enjoyed The Queen's Thief series... but I guess it's different. Hmmm.

    Isabel - Nod nod. Well warning, it's bleak LOL. Not as cheerful or funny as Percy Jackson :P

    Leslie - I know, right! I mean, it rarely happens, so I'm celebrating :P

    Yep, yep. I really got into the Codex Alera series and it's totally unrelated to Harry Dresden series. Codex Alera is completely fantasy :)

    Cindy - Thanks Cindy! I was mighty proud of myself :P Helps that September wasn't full of releases :P

    LOL, I'm so sorry ^_^; I've just been really late these past few months when it comes to this post. and no worries, you still have time to pay your bills! :P

    Ype, Venom is the third book. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series, more than Spider's Bite :)

  7. I'm sorry to hear you're still not feeling completely well.

    Cheer for the negative number! I have THE HUNGER GAMES in my TBR pile. Bought it because everyone talks about it.^^ Maybe I should take it when I'm going to visit my parents.

    And woohoo, I never expected these kind of grades for the Codex Alera series from you.^^ Great! :D I'm looking forward to reading your review.

  8. Taja - Well the thing is, it's a different ailment ^_^; that's what frustrates me.

    LOL, I think everyone has The Hunger Games in their TBR pile based on the good reviews :P Oh, by the way, I wouldn't take it with me to your sister's wedding ^_^; You want to be cheerful and happy, not depressed ^_^;

    It was a great series :) Now, if I can only muster the courage to review them!!

  9. I have both Graceling and Fire in the TBR. I'll get to them eventually. It would be nice if I did before the third connected book comes out... famous last words. I think I should look into Poison Study?

    So psyched to see that Estep's Elemental Assassin series is holding up so well for you!!!

  10. When I was here earlier I didn't see the part of your post that listed Hunger Games and I wasn't quite sure how the other commenters jumped to that topic. So I came back to see what the heck I missed... ta da!

    Sorry you didn't like Katniss so much. I personally think she's better matched with Gale personality wise and maybe part of my problem with Peeta is that I don't understand why he likes Katniss so much. LOL! I love her as the heroine for this series, though. For me, she doesn't have to be well loved to play her role in the series, if that makes sense.

    I still have to buy and read Mockingjay. My goal is to read it by the end of the year.

  11. October was a slow month for me too.

    Also, good list. :P

  12. Nath, I loved your review of Graceling, very thorough and informative.

    I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the Emma Wildes book (on my TBB list) and on Bayou Moon. I still have the Estep series on my TBB list and WILL get to it. It's great to see that it's still going strong. :)

  13. Christine - I really enjoy the Elemental Assassin series. Two books to go and they sound really good :P

    LOL, that'd be good indeed if you caught up, but there's no hurry. I think there's still a year or so before BitterBlue is coming out. In any case, were those books for your daughters?

    Oh Poison Study!! If you can, you must read it :P

    All what you say about The Hunger Games is correct. I think that Gale and Katniss have a better understanding than Katniss and Peeta... and it feels like Peeta doesn't get her ^_^; Ahhh, first love. Sometimes, you never outgrow it ^_^;

    Ames - Me too T_T

    Hilcia - Good. I was debating whether to write a proper review instead of minis, but seriously, I'm just so back-logged. Happy that you found it informative :P