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    1. Oliver Twist
    2. Merlin's Harp
    3. Mockingjay (The Final Book of
    4. Wish
    5. Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset
    6. Full Dark, No Stars
    7. Eliza's Daughter
    8. The Hunger Games
    9. Catching Fire (The Second Book
    10. The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles,
    11. Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy
    12. A Horse to Love
    13. Percy Jackson and the Olympians
    14. Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy,
    15. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1)
    16. Arousing Love
    17. The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, No.
    18. LEGO Brickmaster: Star Wars
    19. The Short Second Life of Bree
    20. The Book Thief

    1. Oliver Twist
    by Charles Dickens
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQUT8S
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Thieves, Murderers and all of their Ilk
    This book surprised me, not by the quality of its writing, which one can expect from Charles Dickens, but by the violent, lusty primal quality of the story. This is no dry musty tome, but a vital novel that arouses both passion and intellect. A literal page turner, I found myself having more than one sleepless night when I just couldn't put it down.

    Inside are some of the major characters in the realm of fiction; Fagin and his gang of child thieves, including the Artful Dodger. Nancy, the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold. Master Charles Bates (was this a pun even then?) Bad Bill Sikes, who shows the darker edge to all of this dangerous fun, and the innocent, pure Oliver Twist, who is the very definition of nature over nurture.

    A great book, and one that I am glad to have finally read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Page-Turner
    A novel of this size can be daunting for the reader. "If I start this book, I'm going to have to spend the next month finishing it". That's what I thought anyway. But in Oliver Twist I sailed through the pages. It's rare that a classic, and I have read many of them, becomes a page-turner but this one did. Maybe I was lucky in not having seen the film versions prior to the reading of the book because I desperately wanted to find out what happened to Oliver and the multitude of other brilliantly written characters who inhabit the pages of Dickens' classic.

    The plot is simple. A boy escapes his orphan home to live in London with a group of thieves and pickpockets. He's saved from this depraved life by a kindly, lonely old gentleman. But the villains, Bill Sykes and especially Fagin, fear that the boy may rat them out and so they kidnap him back. Can Oliver make it back to the life he deserves?

    Oliver's story is not a very originally one, but it is enlivened by some of the greatest characters I've ever seen written. My personal favourites and there are many, are Noah Claypole who becomes a principle player and a very funny one at that, near the book's conclusion; and Mr. Brownlow, who's catchphrase "I'll eat my own head" had me bursting into laughter.

    The book is diminished by its excessive sentimentality at the conclusion. Its female characters, apart from the courageous Nancy, are written in a golden light so as to become fantasies rather than the gloriously dirty reality of their male counterparts. A sub-plot between Mary and her boyfriend is ridiculously excessive.

    Against these weaknesses, the book is a triumph of character. Often memorably played on screen, the two villains have become more famous than the title character, who is slightly simpering. Fagin is deliciously smarmy and Sykes is evil incarnate. They get their comuppance in justifiably brutal fashion. Dickens like most of us was a sucker for a happy ending.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Forsaken child
    The creative novel Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens in 1838, defines a classic of all times. This intense story reflects a young boy's life in London with no family or place to go. Oliver's mother dies while giving birth to her son in the beginning of the book. Oliver's father remains unknown. Throughout the book the reader sees constant struggles. Oliver is befriended by Fagin and his company. Fagin, along with the Artful Dodger, invite Oliver to stay with them and become a thief. During one of Oliver's pick pocketing adventures; he is caught by Mr. Brownlow. Instead of reprimanding the young lad, Mr. Brownlow decides to raise him. Oliver desperately searches for the answer to his past while trying to stay alive on the streets of London. Ironically, Mr. Brownlow is Oliver's grandfather. A dominate theme of Oliver Twist examines the importance of family. Oliver's early years taught him to fend for himself and he suffers from never experiencing a loving and nurturing childhood. The setting of the book plays a powerful role as the story unfolds. Dickens describes the setting of London and all the places that Oliver stays very descriptively. "The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odor. The walls and ceiling of the room were perfectly black with age and dirt..." (page. 56). Dickens explains the facilities that were available to poor Oliver and makes them sound unbearable. He does an excellent job making the setting come alive and allows the reader to plight. I would recommend all readers at some point in life to delve into this classic. I found Oliver Twist very moving and towards the end hoping only the best for poor Oliver.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!
    I picked this book up at my local library for a book report. Since I am 14, I didn't expect to really enjoy this book, but I had heard so much about it so I decided to read it. Once I had read the book, I was surprised at how much I liked it! I could not put this book down. There were numerous occasions where I kept wondering what would happen next. I was surprised by the murder. I guess I kind of saw it coming though since Sikes seems as if he has it in him. The trials Oliver goes through in this book really make you think. I was disappointed by Mr. Bumble. He treated Oliver as if he weren't human. All in all, I enjoyed the characters. I give 5 stars to Dickens for writing this novel. He has made me an admirer of his books. Now I truly know why he is such a great author. Everyone should experience this book!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Charles Dickens' Best Novel
    This is my favorite novel by Charles Dickens. The book hooks you in and is a fascinating page turner from beginning to end. It has loads of adventure, mystery, and drama. It also has a lot of melodrama which reminds me of the old silent movies. Dickens writes about the villainous characters with a great deal of sarcasm, often calling them "philosophers." He describes the good characters in angelic terms. I was surprised to read a very virulent description of the Jew Fagin. It reminded me of Nazi propaganda. I got the impression that Fagin's business associates, the merchants who sold the stolen merchandise, were also Jews. This book thoroughly goes over the phenomena of how badly lower class people are treated in their lives. They are constantly abused, verbally and physically, by authority figures. I really wonder what it is about poverty that makes people treat each other so abusively and inhumanely. Some people say Dickens' books are flawed. That doesn't matter whatsoever. The important thing is that Dickens was the greatest storyteller of the 19th century.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping Classic Literature.
    I always wanted to read this book--and any other Dickens--after being subjected to the musical featuring child stars Mark Lester and the late Jack Wild. It is with great sarcasm that, though I love the musical, to find that the novel differs greatly is such a surprise. I will also admit that this is the first Dickens novel I have ever read, and find it interesting to note that children have never had easy lives since the beginning of man's origins up until now. We just hear more about it these days.

    The amazing cruelty with which orphans have been treated through history is depicted here with a verbal imagery which the reader will not soon forget, and the cast of supporting characters keeps one fascinated due to the human characteristics Dickens gives them. How a largely bland, yet sympathetic little boy stays true to the purest of righteous virtues seems far fetched at times given his treatment at the workhouse and being constantly surrounded by thieves and murderers like Fagin, Sikes, the Artful Dodger, and Master (All he does is laugh) Bates (I won't even elaborate on that name, but snickered quite a bit at it). Most children would have succumbed to their surroundings long before 12, but Dickens seems to be going for nature verses nurture here, pointing out that people can rise above their environment, and I cannot argue. Most people know someone who came from awful circumstances, only to become the opposite of all the negativity they've been surrounded with. So then, maybe there are street walkers like Nancy--the true hero of this story--who have hearts of gold as well, and there are wealthy people who are the antithesis of everything you have ever heard like the man who comes to adopt Oliver.

    Dickens makes one thing very clear in Oliver Twist: right makes might, and if you hold on long enough goodness can indeed win the day, no matter how hard life gets sometimes. He also stresses that, among the many paths in life one chooses, the virtues of goodness and honesty are the best roads to take in the end. A classic worth reading more than once.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Never expected it to be funny!
    I wuz robbed! Back in high school I had an English teacher who hated Charles Dickens. He found him dull, boring, wordy, and complained of Dickens' endless descriptions, formulated story telling, length of his books, and endings that were easy to predict. In his class, we focused on Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, among others. We were never assigned Dickens or expected to read him. And I generally respected the opinions of this teacher, so I refrained from the work of Dickens. Now, many decades later, I read in Stephen King's "On Writing" that "Oliver Twist" was one of the books he had read in the past three years that he thoroughly enjoyed. So, as we are about the same age, I decided to give it a try. Was my teacher dead wrong! Yes, the book is long, but it certainly isn't boring. Who knew that Dickens had a terrific sense of humor? And as the sarcastic narrator of this tale, he is laugh-out-loud funny. Yes, the book follows a pretty strict formula. But Dickens admits in the telling that he is following the popular style of the day: A chapter of anguish followed by a chapter of relief. Repeat. And each chapter ends with a cliffhanger. But we must remember that Dickens' books first appeared as magazine serializations. And yes, there is a ton of descriptive text, but so well written that I found it interesting. Also, I did know early on how the book was going to end. However, not knowing how Oliver was going to get to that end made the book compelling to read. There are terrific characters within, exciting plot twists, and to top it all, Dickens surprising humor. Now I'm anxious to read more Dickens. I should have started years ago. By the way, in the Penguin Classics version, there is a long Introduction, but writer Philip Horne had the courtesy to warn new readers not to read it because of the "spoilers" that are included. Also, Horne presents almost 100 pages of notes at the end of the book. Don't let that scare you off. I never had to refer to them. ... Read more

    2. Merlin's Harp
    by Anne Eliot Crompton
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $6.99
    Asin: B003TFE0A4
    Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
    Sales Rank: 686
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    When I was yet a very young woman I threw my heart away. Ever since then I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, the way Humans think all Fey live.

    Among the towering trees of magical Avalon, where humans dare not tread, lives Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. Her people, the Fey, are folk of the wood and avoid the violence and greed of man. But the strife of King Arthur's realm threatens even the peace of Avalon. And while Merlin the mage has been training Niviene as his apprentice, he now needs her help to thwart the chaos devouring Camelot. Niviene's special talents must help save a kingdom and discover the treachery of men and the beauty of love...

    "The story glows...a mythical tapestry that is at once completely recognizable yet utterly fresh..."
    -Publishers Weekly

    "Like The Mists of Avalon, the Arthurian legend from a woman's point of view."
    -USA Today

    "Readers will be enchanted...the characters and strands of the famous legend are skillfully woven together here."
    -School Library Journal

    "Take heed: the feminist possibilities of the Arthurian legendary cycle were not exhausted by Marion Zimmer Bradley's bestselling The Mists of Avalon... A riveting good read."

    What readers are saying:

    "A rather unique look at the legend of King Arthur."

    "An exquisite addition to Arthurian literature."

    "The writing is lyrical; the plot twists are original. Great!"

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic
    Reading Merlin's Harp, I realized something about novels that portray the interaction between the human world and Faerie. They usually don't tell the stories of fae folk in their own homeland. There are exceptions, of course, but authors tend to focus on faeries stuck in the human world, or humans encountering Faerie. I think I may know why that is. When writing about faeries living in Faerie, it's all too easy to have nothing happen.

    Anne Eliot Crompton uses beautiful, if occasionally stilted, language to draw us into her take on Arthurian legend:

    "When I was yet a young woman I threw my heart away.

    I fashioned a wee coracle of leaf and willow twig and reed, a coracle that sat in the hollow of my two palms. In this I placed my wounded, wretched heart, and I set it adrift on the rain-misted wavelets of the Fey river, and I watched it bob and whirl, sail and sink. Ever since I have lived heartless, or almost heartless, cold as spring rain, the way Humans think all Fey live. Humans I have known would be astounded to learn that I ever had a heart that leapt, brightened, fainted, quickened, warmed, embraced, froze or rejected, like their own."

    The narrator is Niviene, daughter of the Lady of the Lake. In the ensuing chapters, Niviene endeavors to tell us how she came to the point of throwing her heart away. This ornate, image-rich prose continues, and Niviene meanders and digresses in her tale. She'll mention an old family friend, then backtrack and tell us all about how she came to meet him before going back to the main thread of her narrative.

    By combining the flowery style with a narrative that is ever looping back on itself, Crompton conveys a sense of what Faerie is said to be like. It's beautiful and hypnotic, and time doesn't flow in Faerie the way it does in the human realm. The trouble is, it's *too* hypnotic. Lulling. Dreamlike. Reading Merlin's Harp made me sleepy. While falling into an enchanted slumber and waking on the cold hillside is very much in keeping with Faerie tradition, it doesn't help propel one through a novel.

    It also doesn't help that not much happens in the first hundred pages or so, which is as far as I got before giving up. Roughly the first ninety pages are taken up with an interpretation of the Lady of Shalott tale, and a rather uninteresting one. The main problem is Gwenevere, who spends this entire sequence drugged and being toddled around like a doll. Sure, she's gorgeous, but can physical beauty alone account for the trouble she unwittingly causes here? I've seen sympathetic Gweneveres and unsympathetic ones, but all the best portrayals afford her some charisma that helps explain why she is so loved.

    This is followed by a four-page sequence (I counted) in which Niviene gets pregnant and gives birth to a son, the son grows to the age of five, and then the son goes missing. All in four pages. That was when I decided to give up. If it takes ninety pages for a young boy to break a young girl's heart in favor of a pretty woman in a stupor, and four pages for a fetus to become a five-year-old, the pacing is just a little too strange for me, Faerie or no.

    Merlin's Harp contains some lovely language and an interesting perspective on the Matter of Britain, but finally the pacing and the hypnotic effect were too much for me. I recommend it to fans of lush prose who have plenty of coffee on hand.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The writing is lyrical; the plot twists are original. Great!
    Merlin's Harp is an exquisite addition to Arthurian literature. Anne Crompton's writing is lyrical and beautiful. It leads you into the story and keeps you there. Her very original presentation of well known characters, well known story lines, and even objects such as the Grail is so very intriguing that you do not want to put the book down until you have finished it. Her central character Niviene is delightfully "odd" and fantastical. This is a Niviene no one has seen before. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is one of the few books that really does take you into another world. When you put it down, when you have read every page, you are left with a feeling of amazement and sheer delight in the experience.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fresh perspective with new insights !
    Merlin's Harp is a great short read (one day ), that will transport the reader back to Arthurian times through the eyes of an important, but not much talked about player. The book reminds me of 'Forest House' by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It is light reading, yet keeps your interest. Merlin's Harp will give the reader new insight on Lancelot and Melwas, with a new revelation on Merlin and the Holy Grail

    5-0 out of 5 stars Creative - Original - Excellent
    If you liked Mists of Avalon, here is another book you will enjoy. The book is based on the perspective of a Fey woman. The first few chapters focus entirely on the life of the Fey and I found it a very interesting perspective. Merlin is introduced as is Guenevere and Arthur and Lancelot - though you don't know this at first. The introduction of characters is subtle and almost elusive. Not until later in the book does the plot twist and turn and bring you to the familiar aspects of the Arthurian legend we all recognize. It is a fast and intriguing read. I also liked her inclusion of Merlin's songs throughout the novel. They brought the poetic oral tradition of the legend into the book to show how the story evolved over time to the tale we know today. I highly recommend this book! ... Read more

    3. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)
    by Suzanne Collins
    Hardcover (2010-08-24)
    list price: $17.99 -- our price: $7.98
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0439023513
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Sales Rank: 42
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins’s groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Unexpected Direction, but Perfection
    This was a brilliant conclusion to the trilogy. I can only compare it to "Ender's Game" - and that is extremely high praise, indeed.

    When I first closed the book last night, I felt shattered, empty, and drained.

    And that was the point, I think. I'm glad I waited to review the book because I'm not sure what my review would have been.

    For the first two books, I think most of us readers have all been laboring under the assumption that Katniss Everdeen would eventually choose one of the two terrific men in her life: Gale, her childhood companion or Peeta, the one who accompanied her to the Hunger Games twice. She'd pick one of them and live happily ever after with him, surrounded by friends and family. Somehow, along the way, Katniss would get rid of the awful President Snow and stop the evil Hunger Games. How one teenage girl would do all that, we weren't too sure, but we all had faith and hope that she would.

    "Mockingjay" relentlessly strips aside those feelings of faith and hope - much as District 13 must have done to Katniss. Katniss realizes that she is just as much a pawn for District 13 as she ever was for the Colony and that evil can exist in places outside of the Colony.

    And that's when the reader realizes that this will be a very different journey. And that maybe the first two books were a setup for a very different ride. That, at its heart, this wasn't a story about Katniss making her romantic decisions set against a backdrop of war.

    This is a story of war. And what it means to be a volunteer and yet still be a pawn. We have an entirely volunteer military now that is spread entirely too thin for the tasks we ask of it. The burden we place upon it is great. And at the end of the day, when the personal war is over for each of them, each is left alone to pick up the pieces as best he/she can.

    For some, like Peeta, it means hanging onto the back of a chair until the voices in his head stop and he's safe to be around again. Each copes in the best way he can. We ask - no, demand - incredible things of our men and women in arms, and then relegate them to the sidelines afterwards because we don't want to be reminded of the things they did in battle. What do you do with people who are trained to kill when they come back home? And what if there's no real home to come back to - if, heaven forbid, the war is fought in your own home? We need our soldiers when we need them, but they make us uncomfortable when the fighting stops.

    All of that is bigger than a love story - than Peeta or Gale. And yet, Katniss' war does come to an end. And she does have to pick up the pieces of her life and figure out where to go at the end. So she does make a choice. But compared to the tragedy of everything that comes before it, it doesn't seem "enough". And I think that's the point. That once you've been to hell and lost so much, your life will never be the same. Katniss will never be the same. For a large part of this book, we see Katniss acting in a way that we can only see as being combat-stress or PTSD-related - running and hiding in closets. This isn't our Katniss, this isn't our warrior girl.

    But this is what makes it so much more realistic, I think. Some may see this as a failing in plot - that Katniss is suddenly acting out of character. But as someone who has been around very strong soldiers returning home from deployments, this story, more than the other two, made Katniss come alive for me in a much more believable way.

    I realize many out there will hate the epilogue and find it trite. At first, I did too. But in retrospect, it really was perfect. Katniss gave her life already - back when she volunteered for Prim in "The Hunger Games". It's just that she actually physically kept living.

    The HBO miniseries, "Band of Brothers", has a quote that sums this up perfectly. When Captain Spiers says, "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function: without mercy, without compassion, without remorse. All war depends upon it."

    But how do you go from that, to living again in society? You really don't. So I'm not sure Katniss ever really did - live again. She just ... kept going. And there's not really much to celebrate in that. Seeing someone keep going, despite being asked - no, demanded - to do unconscionably horrifying things, and then being relegated to the fringes of society, and then to keep going - to pick up the pieces and keep on going, there is something fine and admirable and infinitely sad and pure and noble about that. But the fact is, it should never happen in the first place.

    And that was the point, I think. ... Read more

    4. Wish
    by Alexandra Bullen
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $9.99
    Asin: B003MC5AW6
    Publisher: Point
    Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone... until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn't just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can't solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.In a breathtaking debut from Alexandra Bullen, WISH asks the question: If you could have anything, what would you wish for? ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special, January 4, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    When I read the description of this book on Amazon Vine, I was curious. It sounded like a very interesting and unique premise for a book. I couldn't wait to start reading it.

    Now let me state up front that I am 33 years old, I don't know if 33 is still considered a young adult or not. So it's entirely possible that I am not part of this book's intended demographic. But I have read and enjoyed a variety of other young adult books, so I don't think that is the major problem.

    Honestly, I found this book to be repetitious and dull. It was difficult to get through. I never really got "pulled into the story." I wasn't all that excited to find out what was going to happen next.

    My major complaint with this book has to do with the characters. I didn't feel that any of them were especially well-developed. In fact, they felt often rather cliched. There is Posey, the mysterious and odd dressmaker, Calla, the popular and beautiful rich girl, Violet the free-spiritied rebel, and Olivia, the awkward, reserved social-outcast, and Soren, the cute, skateboarder/musician. I didn't feel that there were any truly strong characters in this book. For me, the characters fell very flat.

    I also thought it was rather strange the way Violet returned to Olivia. In fact, I found it not very believable and somewhat creepy. I think it would have been better if we could have watched violet interact with some of the other characters. It would have been much more interesting if Violet had been angry about being brought back.

    In the back of the book, there is a little blurb about donating it to children in need. That's a wonderful sentiment, but I don't know if I would feel comfortable passing this novel on to a child. There is a smattering of profanity present, and I just think that the story might be too complex and overwhelming for a child.

    I don't think I will be reading any future works by this author.

    2-0 out of 5 stars interesting concept, not-so-interesting execution, January 19, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Olivia's rebellious, beloved twin sister Violet has died, and Olivia's parents have moved the family across the country to San Francisco to start again. Olivia would love to start her life again in a new city and a new school, but her life seems to have been put on hold when Violet died. Then one day, Olivia meets a mysterious seamstress who makes her a dress which grants her dearest wish, though perhaps not precisely as she would have wanted.

    I can't say that I enjoyed _Wish_ especially. The writing is awkward and full of clich�s and poor word choices. The magical element doesn't work with the rest of the plot at all; it's just a creaky mechanism to get Violet back and never believable in and of itself. The concept of Violet-as-ghost is potentially interesting, but poorly executed: for example, on one page, we learn that she can't affect anything physical, while soon afterward, she's flipping through a magazine.

    On the plus side, the relationships between Olivia and her new friends are fairly well done. She gets in the middle of a breakup, and the angst around that feels real and actually worked better for me than the more fantastical elements of the plot. By the end, I felt as though there was a decent book about grief and moving on somewhere in there, but it's simply buried too deep in the labored writing and the tacked-on magical elements.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo to Bullen for a well-written debut novel., January 11, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This is a story that transcends reality and makes the reader feel as if they are personally involved with the characters. We are not separated by pages and words in a book. We are engaged and vested in the fate of our character. This is the book that you stay in bed to read a bit longer, and this is the book that you clear your schedule to treat yourself to a quiet afternoon.

    I am giving this book 5 stars because Bullen's writing is clear and articulate, and it is a story well-told. I think that she could have written sappier, but she didn't. She respects her readers enough to make this a real story with a magical element. Bonus: I was pleasantly surprised to find out this was set in San Francisco, with the ability to make this book a travelogue for a newbie in town.

    In response to some feedback about the drinking in the story, I thought Bullen hit the nail on the head with her description of the children of wealthy parents who attend an exclusive school in a very open city. Teenagers experiment and when they have their own cars, keys to the summer home, and free reign, they are going to emulate adult behavior. It's what they've seen, and it's what they know. These are cues teens pick up from the adults in their lives. Does that mean Bullen is encouraging underage drinking? No. She is simply an observer who is writing about teen behavior. That's what makes this a real story. There is no sugar-coating here. Teens who want to experiment are going to do so.

    Onto the story itself:

    As the story unfolds, we learn that Olivia has been uprooted from all that she knows to find herself in a new school, in a new state, and without her fearless twin sister to help navigate the social mores. Her parents are distant. Her first friend at school exists only because their two moms work together, and - worse than that - he wears squishy mushroom-colored loafers. And then she sees a boy. One who meets her eyes and smiles like he knows her. But, of course, he is dating the prettiest and most popular girl at school.

    In her complete and utter loss, Olivia does the very best she can with what she has. She finds a tailor, Posey, who can fix dresses to suit the wearer in a way that is unexpected. In fact, Olivia has no idea that her bad night had a purpose, and her wish to see her sister again is about to come true. It is only in re-tracing steps and asking questions that Olivia realizes what a gift she has been given.

    So, if you had just one wish...what would you wish for?

    3-0 out of 5 stars A sweet and magical read, January 10, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    There's nothing that Olivia wishes for more than for her vivacious twin sister Violet to be alive again. Olivia is quiet and hesitant, and she is having a hard time adjusting to her new school in San Francisco. When she takes her sister's damaged dress to a dusty seamstress's shop, she doesn't get Violet's dress back, but a gorgeous magical dress that grants wishes instead. Olivia uses her one wish to bring her sister's ghost back, and is overjoyed. As Violet helps Olivia fit in and attract her crush's attention, Olivia grows more confident every day. But Violet can't stay with her forever, and there are still two other dresses (and wishes) left...

    Alexandra Bullen's debut, Wish, is an imaginative and layered read. Bullen really makes what might be a tired and overworked premise and turns it into something magical and entertaining. There are many points of conflict though, enough that the book never feels boring or slow, but they are perhaps just slightly overwhelming. Olivia is dealing not only with her sister's death, but her parents' withdrawal and constant arguments, moving to a new city and trying to fit in, all the while juggling three magical dresses, making friends with the popular group, falling for her new friend's ex-boyfriend, and keeping her friendship with her mom's co-worker's son platonic. It's a lot to take it, and occasionally Bullen drops the ball with one or two of the aforementioned issues, but everything comes together neatly in the very end.

    It's sweet to watch Olivia's transformation as she learns to step away from her grief and the shadow that Violet left behind and function as her own person. Violet herself is very much alive throughout the course of the book, making Olivia's pain and grief more tangible to the reader. The other supporting characters are surprising but realistic, and make Wish a very entertaining read. Bullen's descriptions of the San Francisco area are also excellent, and she really makes the reader feel right at home, in both Olivia's home and neighborhood; the only thing that seemed unnecessary was the mention of large amounts of alcohol toward the end. The ending has a little bit of a surprising twist, but everything comes together neatly as friends make up and Olivia's family moves toward closure. This is a very sweet, poignant, and entertaining novel, and despite how busy the plot is, readers looking for something touching with a bit of romance, humor, and magic will enjoy Wish.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Lighter twist on the death of a sibling, January 24, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Wish took the idea of losing a sibling (a twin) and turned it on it's head with a few magical dresses. What if you could wish your sister back after she had died, had her by your side as a ghost all the time? Olivia gets this wish and it allows her to find her own place in the world outside of her sister's shadow.

    The story gave an honest depiction of a family trying to find itself and stay together and happy after losing a daughter. It was not fun at home for anyone, so luckily Olivia had school and new friends to escape to. I wanted more of her friend Miles and his sister Bowie (who was awesome) not the more popular kids she begun to hang out with later in the book, they were nice enough just not as interesting.

    I also (surprisingly for me) wanted more about the dresses and the magical dressmaker. For most of the story the dresses were only mentioned in passing and I would have loved more attention paid to the ritual of putting it on and it being a special moment.

    I think this is a good twist on the death of a sibling for someone that is looking for a lighter book on the subject.

    4-0 out of 5 stars If you could wish for anything..., January 18, 2010
    Olivia hasn't quite been herself since the death of her twin sister Violet. When her parents decide to move what's left of the family across the country to San Francisco, Olivia feels awkward both at home and in her new school. Without her lively sister to forge the way, Olivia doesn't know how to start her new life. When Olivia stumbles upon a small dressmaker's shop and learns that the dress she gets there is somehow magical, the sky's the limit, because with the dress, Olivia also gets a wish, a wish that could bring her beloved sister Violet back. And with two more magical dresses at her disposal, it seems all Olivia has to do to make her life perfect again is wish. But Olivia has to be careful because magic isn't the solution to everything, and what she thinks she wants may not be what she needs to be whole again.

    Wish is a cute story of when fairytale collides with real life. Olivia is a grieving, scared girl who's nothing without her twin sister. However, through a very unique fairy godmother, Olivia is allowed more time with her dead sister. Olivia's tale is sad but ultimately sweet coming of age story of loss and learning to stand on one's own legs. It's about making the right choices and fixing mistakes, and it's a story that's extremely accessible because of how easy Olivia is to relate to. Her character may seem uninteresting at first because of her overwhelming grief, but Olivia quickly proves to be a thoughtful and well intentioned girl. Her insecurity and fear of moving on makes readers genuinely care for her. Wish may not be the most romantic or exciting story, but it is one that will touch readers and bring a smile to their faces.

    Wish will be enjoyed by fans of traditional fairytales and fairytale retellings as well as by those who liked Saving Zo� by Alyson No�l and A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell. I look forward to more writing from this promising new author.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful story, December 30, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Wish is a thoughtful and lovely story about what happens when your whole life changes. For Olivia, that change involves the death of her twin sister and a move to the West Coast, starting over at a new school, trying to make new friends, and trying to deal with her parents' reaction to her sister's death. A little magic is thrown in - she receives a dress that allows her to make a wish, and she wishes for her sister back.... and then of course has to deal with the consequences.

    All of that is handled very deftly, and the descriptions of the city and the school ensure you feel like you are there, on the beach, in a classroom, etc.

    My biggest problem with the book was the overwhelming number of times a brand is mentioned, the type of clothes being worn, the type of bag being carried, and the colors of all of the above. Obviously, it's important to include details to give the reader a sense of place, but all of those details were distracting. (I will grant that I am not exactly in the target demographic, but I think that those details will keep the book from being timeless and read even a decade from now.) I also had a bit of a problem with the cavalier attitude toward teenage drinking, and the implication that it's okay for teenagers to do things - throw parties, have boys over - with no adult supervision. Not recommended for younger teen readers.

    4-0 out of 5 stars entertaining teen fantasy, December 30, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Olivia is the new girl in town, having moved to San Francisco with her parents after the death of her twin sister, Violet. Shy and reserved, when Olivia receives a magical dress that grants her one wish, she wishes for her outgoing sister back. With the help of her sister, Olivia learns to fit in - and let go.

    The story is predictable but sweet, and it's a nice, entertaining read. Olivia is a likable character and readers will enjoy taking her self-discovery journey with her. The ending seemed a little too quick and easy (with her family), but since the focus is more on Olivia's social life in her new school, I guess something had to take a backseat in the plot. That keeps "Wish" from having a little more depth and keeps it firmly in the lighthearted teen fiction realm, but still, it's a fairly good read for a weekend or a plane ride. Recommended.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Three Magical Dresses..., December 28, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    "Wish" is a young adult tale about a teenage girl, Olivia, who moves with her parents to start a new life in a new town. The move is Olivia's family's attempt to move forward after the death of Olivia's twin sister Violet. Olivia is struggling to make friends and be happy in the wake of Violet's death. Her parents are bickering and all Olivia wants to be with Violet again. When Olivia needs a dress for her mother's office party, Olivia finds herself in an odd shop where she later learns from the equally odd seamstress that she has been chosen to receive three magical dresses. Each dress will grant the wearer one wish. Olivia wishes for her sister back. Violet returns to Olivia but as a ghost who only Olivia can see. Violet follows her to school and parties and makes an obvious effort to help Olivia in her relationships. Once she has Violet back, Olivia's focus is turned to a boy and several friends. The second wish comes about because of a boy and the third comes about because of the second wish...or does it? The story was good and I think it deserves at least three stars. The plot is fairly predictable although the author appears to have planted a few red herrings in an effort to keep it from being too predictable. The characters are nice enough and interesting enough but nothing makes them remarkable. While the book does a fair job of dealing with grief, "The Hollows" recently did a much better job with a more unique magical twist. The thing is there was enough room with this general plotline, for the author to have given us something new and original but it just feels like everything about the story is good, not great. Still the book was enjoyable and worth the time to read.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Cute, January 28, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    WISH was a cute novel.The author dealt with Olivia's grief over losing her twin sister really well. The question that the book asked, if you could wish for anything, what would you wish for? got me thinking.I liked the originality of the book--that the wishes came true through magical dresses--though it was predictable.I do think that the book dealt with too many things at once: grief, moving to a new school, making new friends, and the wishes. The book did drag for me a bit in some places and I didn't care for the secondary characters.

    Overall, it was a nice, light debut novel for young tween/teen readers. A fast, easily forgettable read.

    ... Read more

    5. Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset
    by Suzanne Collins
    Hardcover (2010-08-24)
    list price: $53.97 -- our price: $27.92
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0545265355
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Sales Rank: 26
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The extraordinary, ground breaking New York Times bestsellers The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, along with the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay, are available for the first time ever in a beautiful boxset edition. Stunning, gripping, and powerful. The trilogy is now complete!

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars A True Classic, August 24, 2010

    Because I was such a fan of Suzanne Collins' The Underland Chronicles (also known as the Gregor the Overlander series), I picked up The Hunger Games the first week it was out and I feel privileged in a way to not only have read this series as it unfolded, but to have witnessed its climb in popularity over the last 2 years. That popularity is richly deserved.

    Collins is both a talented writer and a gifted storyteller, two things that do not always go hand in hand. In The Hunger Games trilogy, she has created characters that will stay with me and has given them a hard and difficult story that will haunt me. She also managed to keep the quality of the series high throughout which is not always the case with a book series.

    At the conclusion of book three - Mockingjay - Collins hasn't wrapped everything up in a neat little bow and slapped a happy face sticker on the bow's ribbon ends nor, IMHO, should she have done so. Instead, Collins provides a conclusion that suits the story, that left room for my internal `if-onlys', `what-ifs', `I-wonders' and `but-what-abouts', but that I also found satisfying.

    I consider The Hunger Games trilogy to be a great accomplishment for Collins and a true classic for both teen and adult readers of both sexes. I'm very pleased to give it a permanent place on my-favorite-books-of-all-time shelf where, coincidentally, it will sit right alongside The Underland Chronicles.

    Very, very highly recommended.

    Note: Prices will vary, but you may want to price the books out to see if you'll get a better deal buying them separately. As I write this, you will, so if you're not really committed to the box... :-)

    5-0 out of 5 stars An haunting series that will stick with you long after the last page is turned, August 27, 2010
    The Hunger Games (Trilogy) is one of the most "unputdownable" books to enter the teen market in a long time. The cliffhangers at the end of each volume are so intense, you can't help but continue on. Knowing this in advance, I decided against reading the series last summer despite the fact that everyone was talking about it. I waited the extra year, and I'm glad I did--even a week was torture when it came to getting my grubby mitts on a copy of Mockingjay.

    For the record, this isn't a series for everyone. You will be drained emotionally by its end. The Hunger Games is one of the grimmest dystopian worlds I've encountered in literature. A lot of characters die, and their deaths aren't pleasant. This series may not be for you. Then again, those who know me well would say it's not for me, either. I'm one of the most squeamish people you'll meet, and The Hunger Games more closesly resembles the movie Battle Royale than I thought it would when I started reading. I really enjoyed the series, though. There are scenes so poignant, they'll stick with me. Between this and Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, I've found that even squeamish ole me can still enjoy a disturbing book if it's thought-provoking and well-written.

    Now that I've warned you about the contents, let's move on to the meat of this review. It's hard to go in-depth without giving a lot away, so I decided to focus on the trilogy as a whole instead of singling out Mockingjay and reviewing it on its own (though I do have a paragraph dedicated to it further down). A brief synopsis for the uninitiated:
    The trilogy takes place in the future. The USA has been destroyed; in its place is Panem, which consists of thirteen districts and a Capitol city. Before the series begins, the districts revolt against the Capitol and are defeated; the thirteenth is completely obliterated. As retribution for their crimes, each district is now required to send a boy and girl, called tributes, to participate in the annual Hunger Games. The games are centered around survival; there can only be one winner (Luckily, most of the deaths occur off-page, so it makes it easier for the squeamish to read). The characters are very rich and detailed; some of their deaths hit incredibly hard and are forever memorable. In the second book, Catching Fire, there is a lot of unease in the districts, and a lot of anger when the year's Hunger Games take a twisted turn and past winners are forced to battle it out for survival. The final book, Mockingjay, consists of a full out rebellion; the districts are at war with the Capitol and it's do or die in a showdown so explosive, readers never see it coming.

    Mockingjay has already received flack for not going in the direction fans anticipated. Most were caught up in a romantic triangle and hoped the final book would have a heavy emphasis on this theme with war as a backdrop and a happily-ever-after on the horizon. At the same time, Suzanne Collins has been setting up the revolution since Day One; the grim nature of the first two books should lead readers to believe that the finale will continue in a similar vein. Yes, people will die and it won't always be fair. That's life. I think the direction of Mockingjay was natural, especially in war-like situations. Characters will not be the same as they were earlier in life; war changes you. I would have been disappointed if Collins sidestepped harsh realities in order to soften the story. The tale she weaves is extreme, but it's also genuine. To me, by sticking to her guns and not copping out for something friendlier, she has created a memorable, haunting series that will stick with you long after you've finished reading it.

    I'd also like to bring attention to the amazing book jacket art put together by designer Elizabeth B. Parisi and artist Tim O'Brien. At first glance, they don't mean much, but once you've read the serious, you notice just how ingenious they truly are. Before I read the series, I looked at the preview of the Mockingjay jacket and thought, "Wow, that's bright compared to the first two." Now I know better. Each book features a mockingjay, which is a hybrid mix of mockingbird and jabberjay (a Capitol creation used for spying on enemies during the first rebellion). The first book features the bird as the pin the main character, Katsa's, friend gives to her. The book is black and grim, giving it a desolate air. Every character in the Games feels hopeless, as though he/she won't survive. The second book's mockingbird is trapped inside a clock-like environment, which is the setting of the Hunger Games in this volume. The book is red for fire (both for its title, Catching Fire, and the literal associations with the element in the book), for anger (the fact that previous survivors of the Hunger Games must participate once more), and for bloodshed. Both books feature these circular objects that link to one another representing the way the districts and Capitol are linked. The final book features a mockingjay with its wings spread out. The linked circles are in broken pieces around it. The book is a vivid sky blue, the color of peace and hope. These covers have become favorites of mine; I adore the symbolism.

    All in all, I'm personally glad I've read this series and wouldn't change a thing. I'm glad I didn't sidestep it due to its violent nature and extreme situations. This trilogy is one I'll read again to delve into the intricate layers I know Collins has laid out for us. Collins is a master at capturing a society at war and showing the horrors that come when a corrupt government is in control.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The books are 5+, wish the gift boxset had a little more., August 25, 2010
    No doubt if you're looking at this product, you already know The Hungry Games Trilogy are all great books!

    In my mind, there's really only a few reasons for a "boxset" to exist: 1) To give as a a better looking gift than three separate books to someone who somehow missed the phenomenon along the way or is missing some of the collection. 2) Because they include something special w/ the set that makes it more meaningful, or 3) Because it's cheaper to buy them as a set.

    In this case, this set is only your best choice if you want to give the set as a gift. I wish they'd included something special that made it more worthwhile than a cardboard container to hold them. I don't think it would have hurt to add in a mockingjay pin and an exclusive map or poster - since the set costs more than the individual books combined. (Or did, the day I was writing this.) Who knows? Maybe they will come up with a more special set after the third books been out a bit longer.

    Still, there's plenty of avid teen readers that are just now getting to the age to begin enjoying these tales, and a set of the books would definitely make a great gift for them boxed or unboxed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for all ages!, October 2, 2010
    This compelling trilogy examines the brutality of war and the desensitization of a media-saturated society. Katniss is a strong and thoughtful young heroine, and readers will be haunted by her long after the final chapter of Mockingjay. In Hunger Games you will be introduced to the characters and their trials will keep you on the edge of your seat. In Catching Fire you will find out that no one is safe from the clutches of the Capitol. In Mockingjay you will feel the stirrings of revolution, and the dread that comes along with leaving relative safety for the unknown. These books are terrific for a book club, or for kids to read with their parents.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Deal I Could Find, November 23, 2010
    This was the best deal I could find. And it literally knocked all the other deals out of the water. All the books come with a hard cover. And I really enjoyed reading the series! ... Read more

    6. Full Dark, No Stars
    by Stephen King
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $27.99
    Asin: B003YUC3YE
    Publisher: Scribner
    Sales Rank: 26
    Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger . . . writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up "1922," the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

    In "Big Driver," a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

    "Fair Extension," the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Dave Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

    When her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

    Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars King delivers, November 9, 2010
    Some of King's best material-- "The Mist", "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption", "The Body", "Hearts in Atlantis", etc.-- can be found in his collections, particularly his novella collections. Yes, he's written some long books, many of them already considered modern classics (The Stand and IT come to mind), but the man has ALWAYS delivered when he confines himself a bit.

    By delivered, I mean everything: characters, setting, story, emotion.

    Read the first twenty pages of "1922." Try not to despise the utter selfishness of Wilfred and Arlette-- even while you're sympathizing with the unfortunate humanity of their situation. Try not to stare wide-eyed in horror at what Wilfred convinces his son to partake in... and just try to look away from the book (although you may have to-- for a breather-- after one grueling scene).

    This is an honest book. Each story seems to revolve around the theme that there is a monster inside each one of us.

    King is sometimes accused of being wordy, yet he seems to bat every ball out of the park when he confines himself to the constraints of a hundred or so pages.

    Pay no attention to the fools who have chosen to lower the star rating of this excellent collection with their whining about the publishing industry and the expensive nature of their digital "books."

    I paid fourteen dollars for this book several hours ago-- not a bad deal at all for a new hardback, I'd say-- and it's worth much more than that.

    King is a modern master, and we're lucky to have him.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Solid addition to my SK Library., November 13, 2010
    Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of 4 novellas that envelope the dark side in us all. The collection gets you started with...

    1922 - This first person POV story is a confession of a farmer detailing his deeds which lead to the worst year of his life during the year 1922 in Nebraska. It is written with Mr. King's normal grab your attention right away and then bog the story down for a while throwing in those little blurbs to keep the plot moving. The majority of the story is predictable leading right up to an easily drawn conclusion. However, Mr. King does a nice job of ending the story on anything but relative to typical and in doing so saved it from being a low rating story. I would rate this one in the 3.5 stars range.

    Big Driver - Another tale of rape and revenge. Even though this one was really predictable yet I still found it an engaging read, especially at the end. Mr. King does a great job of giving just enough details to get his vision across and at the same time leaves out enough so the reader can fill in the rest. I do feel he could have added more to the characters in this one. I wish he would have added more to the antagonist, but it seems he just let the deeds that were done to be enough to invoke a hatred for the antagonist and it just wasn't enough. The protagonist had her high and low points, but it was actually one of the side characters that seemed to have more to them in just their short scenes. The pacing and flow of the story was well done and so I will give this one a 4 out of 5 stars.

    Fair Extension - How remorseless can a person be? Read this story and find out. To me, this one portrayed hatred in its purest form. This one was a really quick read as it is the shortest story in the collection. This story doesn't beat around the bush. It gets right to it and doesn't let go. One of the things I would have liked was to know more about the "salesman" character. This one felt more like a Richard Bachman story to me, but not as good as the earlier works. So I think a 3 out of 5 would be fair for this one.

    A Good Marriage - What would you do if you found out the person you were married to for 27 years had a very dark side? I would have to say this was the best story in the collection. The characters had good depth to them, were well fleshed out, and easy to connect with. It had a good pace to it and flowed nicely. One of the points I enjoyed was the Edgar Allan Poe simile he used. This was definitely a good psychological thriller. 5 Stars out of 5

    Afterword - One thing I like is to read what Mr. King has to say about his books and this afterword was written especially for those who ask the question, "Where do you get your ideas?" If you are one of these type of people, then you will be greatly satisfied reading this small section, I know I was.

    This book as a whole was entertaining to read and had many aspects of good humanistic horror telling. All the stories are more based on the darker side of human nature. If you are looking for more supernatural monsters, you will not find much here, though there are a couple parts that tow that line and one that steps just beyond it, but the main focus is on human reaction. If you are looking for some really gory parts, then 1922 is the best you will get. For long time Stephen King fans, I would definitely recommend this one and even those of a younger crowd who may or may not have had the chance to read him; I would recommend it to them as well. Calculating all the stories together, I feel this is worthy of a 4 out of 5 stars.

    Happy reading.


    5-0 out of 5 stars A Great King Book, November 10, 2010
    I admit, I'm a fan of SK, but that doesn't stop me from NOT liking one of his books if I find it uninteresting. There have been a few-- like Rose Madder, Insomnia and Bag of Bones-- that I just didn't like and couldn't finish reading. Not that they're bad books, just not to my tastes. FULL DARK, NO STARS is one Stephen King book I'm putting in my great list. It was absolutely enthralling and very, very frightening. I'm not real big on bloated books that are more filler than sizzle, but the short novels in this book are lean and mean. I highly recommend this book.


    Now, as far as all the Kindle owners complaining about the price... back in the day, before the convenience of ebook readers and the wonder of having your reading collection all in one 4 ounce e-ink device, if someone could not afford a book they wanted to read, they went to the library and checked it out. They didn't protest in front of the bookstore. They didn't disparage a writer's reputation. They bought it used at a second-hand book shop, waited to find it at a yard sale or borrowed it from someone who is more affluent.

    But back in the day, people had a little more pride, and they didn't think they should get everything for free, or next to free, just because they wanted it. Have a little dignity, people! Stop yapping like you think you're the star of your own little reality TV show. If you can't afford it, wait for the price to drop.

    The review section is for book reviews, not for pricing complaints.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Full Dark, Three Stars, November 19, 2010
    I was looking forward to reading 'Full Dark', especially as it is a collection of stories rather than a novel. The short story suits King perfectly; far less room for the sagging middle section, the proliferation of thumbnail-sketched characters, predictable plot-turns, etc. The writing tends to be both more concentrated AND more pacey; it gathers its wits and gets down to what King does best: telling a great story. At his worst, he coasts along on automatic, happy to let the characters, plots and effects from earlier stories reappear in different guises, and he pads, so that dreary middle section becomes pendulous and plodding.

    Since three of the four stories in Full Dark are longish ones (or novellas), there is room for quite a bit of 'automatic' writing. The first story, simply titled '1922' is, essentially, a ghost story, in the form of a prolonged confession by a man who murdered his wife. The murderer is a poor and desperate Nebraska farmer. King establishes the man's voice (contrite but not above self-deception) quite beautifully in the first few pages. Here's a sample: 'I believe that there is another man inside of every man, a stranger, a Conniving Man. And I believe that by March of 1922, when the Hemingford County skies were white and every field was a snow-scrimmed mudsuck, the Conniving Man inside Farmer Wilfred James had already passed judgement on my wife and decided her fate.' But the story has a middle which sags and then some, and by the time the ghost makes its appearance the encounter has been so over-prepared that it is, inevitably, a non-event. And there are rats. Anyone find rats scary? If you do, you may find this tale engrossing, but in my experience an abundance of these critters usually indicates that the fiction will be seriously dilapidated. There are moments of tension and creepiness, but all of these are frittered (or gnawed) away in the 125 pages. It might have worked, with some serious editing, but it is, unfortunately, the longest story in the book.

    The two succeeding stories, 'Big Driver' and 'Fair Extension', are better, but they both have weaknesses. 'Big Driver' starts out enjoyably enough. A woman who writes detective stories (of the Miss Marple variety) accepts an invitation to give a reading and afterwards (on the advice of her host) takes a shortcut. Naturally, she encounters a problem, followed by a considerably bigger one. This is promising King territory; he is great behind the wheel, or with most things road-related (remember 'Mrs Todd's Shortcut' from 'Skeleton Crew' and 'Rest Stop' from 'Just After Sunset'). I motored along with this for quite awhile (it's the second longest story), but eventually the payback angle became tiresome. Revenge may or may not be a dish best eaten cold, but overheated, it quickly loses all flavour of beliveability. 'Fair Extension' is a blackly comic anti-morality fairytale. It has some nice touches (particularly in the figure of the devil as down-at-heel roadside hustler), but I far preferred the truly scary 'Man In The Black Suit' in 'Everything's Eventual', one of his strongest collections of stories.

    Which brings us to the final story, 'A Good Marriage'. I was tempted to title this review 'Indifferent Seasons', punning on King's 1982 book, Different Seasons, which has a similar shape: four novellas (or in the latter case three novellas and one longish story). But, despite my gripes, to call this offering indifferent would be unfair. 'A Good Marriage' is a great story, one of his best. The plot is easily described: a woman, who has been happily married for a quarter of a century, discovers something unexpected about the husband she thought she knew, the man who hadn't a cruel bone in his body. What happens afterwards is what makes this special. No need to say more. Buy the book, because this one story makes it worth the admission price.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is not a book to lull you to sleep, unless you enjoy double-checking the locks and looking under the bed before you turn in, November 15, 2010
    Is the King of the Crypt toying with us with the title FULL DARK, NO STARS? There is no denying that each of these four short, chilling stories plumbs the depths of darkness of the human condition, but each also shines in its own macabre radiance as four mere humans struggle with events that forever alter the course of their lives. This is not a book to lull you to sleep, unless you enjoy double-checking the locks and looking under the bed before you turn in.

    In "1922" Wisconsin farmer Wilfred James takes matters into his own hands when his wife decides to sell off the portion of their land left to her by her father. She plans to accept the generous offer for the 100-acre parcel from a hog processing plant and move to town, with or without Wilfred. He loves farming and foresees the hog business bringing with it putrid odors, noise and ruination of his property value. Leave she does, but not without a chilling assist from her husband, who entices their teenage son to help in her murder and the cover-up of the crime. The longest and most gruesome of the four stories, "1922" describes the real and imagined horrors that visit the murderous husband as his life and that of his son gradually unravel. The story of Wilf's journey into madness finds Stephen King at the height of his writing prowess.

    "Big Driver" introduces us to Tess, a writer of cozy mysteries popular with women's book clubs. Her readers aren't fond of the "ooky" parts of mysteries, but when she narrowly escapes death at the hands of a serial rapist and murderer on a lonely stretch of road, she is faced with plotting and carrying out her own form of criminal justice. The real-life solution she creates out of her fertile writer's imagination is deliciously satisfying as the self-sufficient young woman grapples with how to make sure he doesn't kill again.

    At a mere 34 pages, "Fair Extension" is perhaps the darkest and most thought-provoking tale of this extraordinary literary quartet. Dave Streeter, a successful, middle-aged family man, finds himself suddenly confronted by his own mortality by a virulent cancer. Feeling ill, he pulls off the road for a moment and notices a modest roadside vendor's booth. Curious, he strikes up a conversation with the odd little man who says he gives people what they want through a fair exchange. The man learns of Streeter's plight and offers restoration of his health with a 30-day, money-back guarantee if he's not satisfied. The fair exchange that is required is that Streeter must consciously select a person he dislikes who will be on the receiving end of the trade. "Fair Exchange" is a classic tale of good versus evil, a subject that has been thoroughly explored in some of King's most famous novels. The brevity with which he treats the subject snaps today's world into sharp focus. Just how far-reaching and pervasive are the consequences of greed in the pursuit of personal gain?

    The last entry is "A Good Marriage." Darcy Anderson discovers that sometimes it doesn't pay to be too tidy or too curious. Her entirely happy, if somewhat humdrum, world comes crashing down when she stubs her toe on something beneath her husband's workbench. In a modern-day tale of Pandora's Box, Darcy will find herself visited with knowledge best left unknown. Her solution, like that of Tess the mystery writer, is startling and darkly satisfying.

    King steers clear of the supernatural this time out, depending on how the reader sees the little man in "Fair Exchange." He offers the idea that there is the potential in each of us to kill, not only in immediate self-defense, but with diabolical cunning, if the situation warrants. He writes in his self-revealing afterword that each of the disturbing tales was constructed from real-life scenarios. Too often, he feels that the "whys" --- the reasons people do the things they do that appear in the headlines --- are not explored by the law or in the media. In FULL DARK, NO STARS, he explores these reasons through the eyes of otherwise ordinary people.

    Here they are, through a glass darkly.

    --- Reviewed by Roz Shea

    5-0 out of 5 stars Kindle version--$14.99. The fact there are any versions--priceless., November 13, 2010
    Here's my two cents (or my $14.99). These are some of Stephen King's best stories ever, and I've been a fan since I read "Carrie" in Junior High (when is was first published in paperback, kids couldn't afford hardback books back then!). Like most King books, I devoured this one in less than 48 hours. "A Good Marriage" and "Big Driver" are particularly disturbing, maybe because they both have female protaganists whose stories seem very real. Like it or not, Stephen King tells the living s&%# out of a story.

    Which brings me the price issue. People are certainly within their rights to bitch about the price of anything-gas,food, education, Ferraris, etc. But for me, fifteen bucks is a small price to pay for something that I really, really enjoy. I spend a lot more on stuff is don't enjoy near as much. I have read and re-read virtually everything King has written. There may come a point in my life when Mr. King dies (morbid, I know, but one of us will go first). Outside of people I actually know, his demise would probably be the only one which would actually leave a personal, lasting void in my life. So I say, live long and prosper, Mr. King. I hope I can give you (or your evil publisher) money for many, many more years.

    Oh, and just to make it clear, I will buy the hardback, too. The kindle version is just for convenience.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Kindle this you idiots!, November 15, 2010
    I own a Kindle and was surprised about the ebook price so i just got the hardback version and YES i bought AND read the book thus the 5 stars.
    King is at his prime with the novella size story and it shows, Simply put Full dark, No stars is well worth every penny be it hardback or Kindle.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic King, November 9, 2010
    Stephen King has had a sort of renaissance lately - the stretch of novels from Cell to last year's Under the Dome is King in top form, easily as good as (if not, in some cases, better) than his classics from the 70s and 80s. Full Dark, No Stars does not disappoint.

    "1922" and "Fair Extension" are worth the price of admission alone - the latter is probably my favorite of the four stories/novellas that comprise Full Dark, No Stars. But don't get me wrong - the other two stories are great, too. And all four stories together, with their common theme of retribution and payback, make for an engrossing read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Full Dark, Indeed, November 11, 2010
    Atrocious cover aside (even if I'm dumb and missing something greatly significant about a minimalistic cover with a woman making the figure nine on it, it's still terrible, the title of Stephen King's latest book is perfect. Full Dark, No Stars, ladies and gentleman, is one bleak book. And though King is no stranger to grim subject matter, when it comes to his novella collections, I think this is the darkest one yet. There are no stars. There's little hope either. Some, but not much. One might almost expect to see Richard Bachman credited here such is the impenetrable darkness on display.

    Those looking to King's latest hoping for the supernatural will come away disappointed. Even though there are instances in which rotting corpses shamble through the night and ghosts whisper from old wells, all of the horror in Full Dark, No Stars, is of the human variety, the supernatural relegated to mere projections from decaying minds. Ambivalent hauntings are, when the source is considered, not that ambivalent at all. And because all the terrible things are authored by human hands, this quartet of nightmares is all that much scarier.

    Inspired by Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy, the collection's opener "1922 matches Lesy's book in its bleak, wintry tone. After murdering his troublesome wife in order to keep her from selling his farm to the greedy Farrington Company, Wilfred James soon realizes, as the repercussions of his crime slowly radiate outward, infecting everyone and everything it touches, that no bad deed goes unpunished. In the author's engaging style, we're caught right along in the current as events quickly spiral out of control. There are some particularly well-crafted scenes here, not the least of which is the murder itself, but some creepy moments later in the game are very much reminiscent of King circa Pet Semetery. Mostly, however, "1922 reads like an homage to Poe's "The Black Cat".

    King takes tackles revenge fantasy with "Big Driver", the story of modestly successful crime writer Tess, who accepts a speaking engagement at an out-of-the-way library and takes a shortcut into a nightmare. Raped and left for dead, Tess escapes but, rather than going to the police (an idea quickly rejected when she considers the media attention it will draw down upon her), she decides to seek vengeance herself.

    This is one of the better stories in the book, even if it's well-worn ground King's dealing with. If you've seen the movies The Brave One (referenced in "Big Driver" more than once), Extremities, or any of the Dirty Harry or Death Wish movies, then you know what to expect, albeit with more attention to the emotional current that thrums through the protagonist than is usually afforded the unfortunate characters in this subgenre. King is clearly aware that he's mining well-worn territory here too, but he does it with his usual style, keeping you rooting for Tess all the way.

    Similarly, there is nothing staggeringly new about the concept behind "Fair Extension", but as always, there is something new in the way King tells it.

    David Streeter has aggressive cancer. He doesn't have long to live. So when he finds himself offered a 15-year extension by a roadside trader named Mr. Elvid (groan), he enthusiastically accepts, convinced, as anyone would be, that it's all a joke. This is a King story, so of course it's anything but a joke, nor is the other side of the bargain, which means that, in order for Dave to enjoy a cancer-free 15 year extension, he must pass his misfortune along to someone of his choosing. Although this setup reminded me of Richard Matheson's short story "Button, Button" (filmed recently-and not particularly well-as The Box), King, to his credit, elevates this tale above standard fare by resisting the urge to follow the usual direction of such "deal with the devil" stories. Like "Big Driver", the author is well-aware that this kind of thing has been done before (Elvid even references "The Devil and Daniel Webster"), but nobody does it quite like King. I found myself particularly impressed with this one, though ultimately (as can really be stated about the book as a whole), "Fair Extension" is a grim and depressing piece of work.

    The closing novella "A Good Marriage" is my favorite entry in the book. After reading the synopsis, I assumed I knew where King would take this tale of happily married housewife Darcy Anderson, who one night accidentally discovers something hidden in the garage that throws everything she knows about her beloved husband into question, and I was glad to be proved wrong. Riveting and heartbreaking, "A Good Marriage" poses the question, however deeply you wish to consider it: Do we ever really know each other?

    A similar question sums up Full Dark, No Stars, and that is: Do we ever really know ourselves? Unlike King's previous collections, there is a very strong unifying theme at play here, and that is a study of how people react when pushed, or how we handle the ugly choices we're given. In all of these stories, people find themselves forced to face sides of themselves they might never have known existed if not for the intervention of exterior forces. In "1922 Wilfred James finds himself driven to murder by the threat of losing the only thing he truly knows. In "Big Driver" a rapist awakens the primal vengeance of an otherwise mild-mannered writer. In "Fair Extension" a man is asked to condemn another for the chance at a new life. And in "A Good Marriage" an ordinarily housewife is forced to make the ultimate choice when she finds out her loving husband is not what he has pretended to be. Take away the safety and security, the gravity we take for granted and you truly see what we are behind the mask. Good people, King says, may only be good as long as they're allowed to be. There is always a high and a low road, the good and the bad. But when the line of demarcation is not clear, when the gray area is a blur, and when we stand to benefit more from taking the path that will ultimately bring horror to others but an element of peace to ourselves, what do we do?

    In Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King offers four unflinchingly brutal scenarios in response to that question. It is a grim and often ugly journey of discovery, but as always when it comes to King, one worth taking, if only to see what we look like when the masks come off.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Apt Title., November 11, 2010
    I usually put in my reviews some explanation for why I selected a book. I think/hope it helps folks who are reading the review know if I'm coming from the same place they are -- if I have the same hopes or expectations. There are times when it feels ridiculous to give that explanation. I selected this book because it's written by Stephen King, and while I haven't loved every word and some books have gone unfinished, he's still a darned good bet, isn't he? I think few people don't have some pivotal and lasting memories of either his books or movies made from his books, and my memories span my childhood into middle age, and involve people who are now gone. I also love both short stories and novellas and when I look back at my favorite Stephen King stories, these are well-represented. So, I bought the book and it freaked me out.

    The afterword begins: The stories in this book are harsh. You may have found them hard to read in places. If so, be assured that I found them equally hard to write in places.

    I thought, thank God. I did find these stories to be hard to read, intense, uncomfortable, heebie-jeebie creating. I was a little concerned that like my newly discovered acid reflux when in the presence of spicy food, my disinterest in roller coasters, and my increased habit of watching scary movies through my fingers, that this was just another sign of getting older. Good to know this stuff was really as intense as I thought.

    1922: A man kills his wife over land and that's just the beginning and a fraction of the horrors in this tale. It reminded me a little of A Thousand Acres: A Novel, complete with lots of stuff Shakespeare would be down with -- only different. The murder of the wife is brutal and vividly portrayed, but what happens next is something that the main character Wilf couldn't even begin to imagine, except for the parts he may or may not have imagined. As another Stephen King character once said, sometimes the soil of a man's heart is stonier.

    Big Driver: This was a pretty tough read for me in parts. Since a man wrote it, it would be uncharitable to say that the feelings it evoked are a "girl thing," but I do think that part of its effectiveness was being able to put myself in the main character's shoes, especially while she is walking after being assaulted, only keeping enough distance to berate her over certain decisions, but more about that later. The horror here is grounded in the plausible, even if toward the end it goes to a more fantastical place where justice is served in a rather "Rose Madder" way. I don't begrudge Mr. King this story, it was compelling, but Tess's option is not how it works in the real world, fortunately or unfortunately.

    Fair Extension: Interestingly enough, I've been reading an anthology called Sympathy for the Devil which contains stories about -- guess. It contains Stephen King's The Man in The Black Suit, for that matter. This story would have fit right in, and would have been a really welcome substitution in many cases. The stories about deals with the devils and fiddles against your soul never get old, because they're about temptation about the darker sides of who we are. They ask the questions, what would you do in that situation, really? For me, this story is about how you can choose to not give up your soul and still give up your soul, how some decisions are a case of six of one, half dozen of another.

    A Perfect Marriage: I wonder if Mr. King deliberately went boy-girl-boy-girl on the arrangement of these stories. Like Tess in Big Driver, Darcy finds herself in the middle of the trauma of a lifetime. Interestingly enough, like Tess, she also decides what to do or what not to do based on "what would the neighbors think?" I wonder if that's a coincidence. I think Tess and Darcy would understand each other just fine. Looking over all the stories, I think this is the one that satisfied me the most from start to finish. Any way I can think of to elaborate on that is a spoiler. Almost anyone who has been married a while will understand where Darcy is at in her marriage right before it all comes crashing down.

    There was a story called Button, Button by Richard Matheson "back in the day" which was made into a Twilight Zone (the eighties incarnation of TZ) with a different ending. It was also the inspiration for the wildly divergent Cameron Diaz movie, The Box. The short story -- and if you're going to ever read it, stop reading THIS now -- ends with the line "Did you really think you knew your husband?" Darcy can relate and good question -- does any human being know another human being? After reading Perfect Marriage I made it clear to my husband I was on the look-out for secret cubby holes.

    Bottom line, loved this, loved all the stories, best King I've read since -- wait, does Joe Hill count? -- I don't know when. The stories will stick with me and join the other King stories and memories. I know there's a battle over price right now. I don't rate books on price, because I figure you can see that for yourself and I want to tell you something you don't already know. I respect that others do feel that some ebooks are over-priced and I agree that we all have to make decisions on what we will and will not pay. I felt this was worth the price, which could be entirely different by the time you read this, and think this is some really impressive work whether you shell out the cash now, wait for the price to lower, or visit your library.

    ... Read more

    7. Eliza's Daughter
    by Joan Aiken
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $14.95
    Asin: B001RTC0O2
    Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
    Sales Rank: 6344
    Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    A Young Woman Longing for Adventure and an Artistic Life...

    Because she's an illegitimate child, Eliza is raised in therural backwater with very little supervision. An intelligent, creative, andfree-spirited heroine, unfettered by the strictures of her time, she makes friendswith poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, finds her way to London,and eventually travels the world, all the while seeking to solve the mystery ofher parentage. With fierce determination and irrepressible spirits, Eliza carvesout a life full of adventure and artistic endeavor.


    "Others may try, but nobody comes close to Aiken in writing sequelsto Jane Austen."

    "Aiken's story is rich with humor, and her language iscompelling. Readers captivated with Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense andSensibility will thoroughly enjoy Aiken's crystal gazing, but so will those unacquaintedwith Austen."

    "...innovative storyteller Aiken again pays tribute to Jane Austenin a cheerful spinoff of Sense and Sensibility."
    Kirkus Reviews

    ... Read more


    4-0 out of 5 stars Great read, but little to do with Sense and Sensibility, November 30, 2008
    Have you ever read a totally unfavorable book review so full of acrimony that it left you wondering if you would have the same reaction? I have, and am often hooked into trying out a book to see if I agree. So when I read a collection of reviews gathered at the Austenfans website against Joan Aiken's novel Eliza's Daughter : A Sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, I was intrigued. Here are a few of the zingers to set the mood. "It is the worst JA sequel I have ever read", "I wonder why ANYONE would have bothered to write something like this!", "I cannot recommend this book, except as an example of what NOT to do when writing a sequel to any great novel, especially Jane Austen.", or the final insult, "How did it even get published?" Ouch! To add further to the m�l�e, this website was created and is maintained by Sourcebooks, the current publisher of Eliza's Daughter originally issued in 1994 and now available in a new edition. Cleverly, only a publisher of this depth and confidence would have the strength and wisdom to assemble such a collection of scathing reviews and post them as publicity. A blunder - or a stroke of marketing savvy? We shall see.

    Eliza's Daughter continues the story of a very minor character in Sense and Sensibility who receives scant mention in the original novel as the illegitimate child of Eliza Williams and her seducer John Willoughby. The infant, also named Eliza Williams is placed by her guardian Colonel Brandon in the care of a negligent foster mother in the village of Byblow Bottom, an infamous Regency era repository for the natural offspring of public persons who were reared away from their parents to avoid disclosure of their existence. Raised in this rural backwater Eliza learns to survive under difficult circumstance and scrape together a bit of education, all the while trying to unravel the mystery of her parentage. Clever and creative, she knows by age twelve that education is the key to her survival and seeks out Colonel Brandon's attorney's and asks for their assistance while he is abroad serving in the army. They send her on to the Rev. Edward Ferrars and his wife Elinor nee Dashwood at Delaford. The Ferrars are living in genteel poverty as a country vicar and his wife with one daughter away at school and Elinor's mother the once elegant Mrs. Dashwood now suffering from mental illness. Their acquaintance is strained and they decide to pack her off to school in Bath where their daughter Nell attends and Elinor's younger sister Margaret Dashwood is a teacher. She is not very welcome there either, but she endures and excels in music having a gifted voice which brings her some attention.

    As the natural daughter of who knows whom, Eliza is definitely a social pariah and reminded of it with every connection and situation where she lives. The mystery of her parentage still lingers, but as the plot develops clues appear like bread crumbs along a trail bringing her closer to an answer by directing her to London and then on to Portugal. Ms. Aiken writes an engaging tale and knows how to keep our attention by a series of misadventures and recoveries by the heroine. We meet new characters as well who are interesting and authentic, but it is her treatment of Austen's original characters that is troubling and forms the largest objection from all of the previous reviewers.

    When Austen's novel concluded we were left with the happy thought that both Marianne and Elinor were married, their mother Mrs. Dashwood and younger sister Margaret are in better financial circumstances and the adversarial characters such as Lucy Steele, John Willoughby, and Mrs. Ferrars were much the worse for their life choices. So, as we read Eliza's Daughter and discover that the happily-ever-after does not really exist beyond the last page of the original novel it is more than a bit unsettling. Colonel and Marianne Brandon are childless and have departed for India and show little if no interest in Eliza's well being. This seems odd, since the Colonel has in the past always shown great concern for Eliza's grandmother, mother and his friends. Elinor and Edward live a penurious and Spartan life eeking out an exsistence at Delaford. Edward is now a bitter man more concerned for his parishioners than his family and Elinor faintly the strong and wise woman that we knew from the past. Their only surviving child Nell is a pill, negligent of her familiar duties and callous to others feelings. Mrs. Dashwood was always a bit unfocused on reality, but now she is insane? Margaret Dashwood is a spinster working as a teacher then a companion? As one reviewer stated, "I found it to be so totally mean spirited toward all the characters we have come to know and love so dearly", and I have to agree. In defense of Ms. Aiken's choice of plot and character development, if everything was sunshine and syllabub, there would be nothing to write about, so in making Austen's good guys the bad guys, she makes her heroine Eliza more pitiable and plucky, but at what cost?

    Reading the negative reviews in advance was really a gift leaving me with no expectation of liking this novel. In fact, I was strongly disposed to disapprobation myself, for what Janeite could condone such mistreatment of beloved characters? So I began with an entirely different objective in reading Eliza's Daughter, not as an Austen sequel but as a Dickensian tale full of memorable characters, social corruption, sinister doings and a twisting plot - Eliza Williams has a Copperfieldish adventure - and as such, it became quite amusing. However, it could have been an even more enjoyable if Eliza had been allowed to have a few more positive friendships to support her along her journey as Mr. Dickens supplied David Copperfield with his endearing characters such as Peggoty, Mr. Barkis and Wilkins Micawber. Choosing to make Austen's heroes and heroines the villains of this tale was a shocking and shallow choice. I may never forgive Ms. Aiken for striping away the tone and quality that Austen developed, but I will thank her for an inventive and engaging story that really had very little to do with what we experienced in Sense and Sensibility.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A VERY boring read, April 14, 2010
    I loved S&S , so any sequel sounds great to me.

    I wish I hadn't bothered with this one. It's dull, and really has nothing to do with S&S except for a couple of the same characters (who seem to have received personality transplants).

    Dull, dull, dull...don't waste your time on this one. Try "Elinor and Marianne" instead.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Morose, Depressing, Bitter - Not a pleasant read, October 13, 2009
    This is the first and only sequel I actually could not stomach. Where did Aiken come up with the characterizations she gave Austen's creations? I have read many so-so, okay, good, very good, and excellent renditions of Austen's world continued by others. But none has ever sunk into the abyss of utter unpleasantness this story portrays.
    Other reviewers acknowledge the disconcerting negative portrayals of beloved characters, but continue on to say that if you pretend it is not an S&S sequel, it is okay. Excuse me, what's the point? I chose to read it because it was supposed to be an Austen sequel, and Aiken's other works were fairly good, although there are much better sequel writers (Joan Austen-Leigh, Pamela Aidan, Jane Dawkins, Amanda Grange, Helen Halstead, Regina Jeffers, Susan Kaye, Rebecca Ann Collins, even racy Linda Berdoll) but I have read all of theirs. I think Aiken must have resented something about the original S&S and expressed her bitterness by writing this book.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Pretend it's not a S&S sequel, and it's pretty good, January 6, 2009
    This book was not at all what I expected. First, the events in this book occur after the end of Sense and Sensibility. The Eliza of this book is the daughter of Little Eliza and Willoughby. The future painted in this book for the Sense and Sensibility heroines is possible, but I really didn't feel it was probable considering how S&S left the characters.

    The author gives the heroes and heroines of S&S rather dismal futures and makes them into petty, weak, spiteful, jealous people. Not to mention that several of these characters where given physical characteristics (like a deformity) not mentioned in S&S.

    So I ignored that this book was supposed to be a sequel to S&S. In that case, the writing is good, though the pacing was slow for the first 30 pages. The author obviously thoroughly researched the time period, and the vivid details immersed me into the characters' world.

    The characters were all interesting and varied. Eliza, our heroine, seemed determined to rush head-long into ruin by continually making poor decisions. Though she makes a show of staying respectable, she seems to feel like she's fated to end up like her mother (pregnant, unmarried, and alone). This really isn't a romance book.

    There are no explicit sex scenes. Some people might not be interested in reading this book because of how the S&S characters are portrayed and because [spoiler] Eliza does end up pregnant, unwed, unattached, and satisfied with that state of things [end spoiler].

    Genre Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Eliza's daughters, A sequel to Sense and Sensibility., November 22, 2008
    For avid Jane Austen readers sequels are fun and not to be taken seriously but we cannot help hoping that someone else might capture the magic. Joan Aitken is the best of many who try to prolong the enjoyment of Miss Austen's style. This story, Eliza's Daughters,has ingenious plot lines, moves along at a great pace till a quick and rather weak ending. An enjoyable read , nevertheless.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Fine but Flawed Early Aiken "Austen", November 5, 2008
    In her half dozen or so Jane Austen sequels, the late Joan Aiken usually chose as her heroine one of the minor characters of the original novel and built a story around her, with Austen's original leads turning up in lesser roles. For this one, she selected someone whose existence was a key plot element in "Sense and Sensibility," but who never actually appeared there, Willoughby's illegitimate daughter.

    When we meet her, our heroine-to-be seems destined for the usual fate that 18th Century rich men bestowed on their mistresses' daughters, who were farmed out in some remote village until big enough to earn their keep as a servant or governess or some such. But fate and Aiken have other plans for Eliza's daughter. And I think you'll find her story indeed interesting, eventful, Austenesque and a worthy period page turner.

    Aiken was a wonderful writer in her own right and, to my mind, far and away the best of the Austen imitators and well worth reading--I especially liked her "Jane Fairfax." But I do have some "buts" here. For one thing, Aiken lacked Austen's gift for wit and creating the memorable characters who unintentionally supply it; I really miss that here. For another, Eliza, our heroine-narrator, tells us up front that she's going to leave some things out of her story, then makes good on that promise by throwing us a curve at the end that I don't think we deserved. Also I think you'll not much like the ever-afters she gave the beloved S&S characters who reappear in this one. All of which is why I'm reluctantly giving this re-release of one of Aiken's earliest Austen sequels three stars instead of four.

    ... Read more

    8. The Hunger Games
    by Suzanne Collins
    Kindle Edition (2009-09-01)
    list price: $14.99
    Asin: B002MQYOFW
    Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
    Sales Rank: 24
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    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 is forced to represent her district 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. Acclaimed writer Suzanne Collins, author of the New York Times bestselling The Underland Chronicles, delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging. Brutal, but engaging!

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Wow. I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It's entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once. If this was merely a good read, I would have given it 4 stars, but they say great art leaves you changed after you experience it... and this book definitely did that. Suzanne Collins has, with one amazing work, propelled herself onto my top shelf.

    Parents, caveat emptor! The storyline is brutal. Even though the writing is geared for young adults, the main characters are teenagers, there's very little physical romance, and the actual violence would probably count as PG-13 nowadays... it's probably one of the most terrifying books I've read in a very long time! Right up there with George R.R. Martin, if not more so. Remember what we learned from Jaws: you don't actually need to SEE the shark in order for it to be terrifying. Sometimes not seeing the shark is even worse.

    The story is basically about a teenager who is forced to compete in a 24-man-enter-1-man-leaves event. I don't want to spoil it by saying any more, but if you liked The Running Man, you'll definitely like this. And if you're young enough that you don't remember The Running Man, nor did you get the Thunderdome reference, then I'm just way too old. But take an old fogey's advice and read this book.

    Amazon, when can I preorder book 2???

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Hunger Games - Definitely worth reading!

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    It took me a while to get to this book because I never saw it out of my two daughters' hands. They devoured it! Once I read it, I understood. This is the second book I have reviewed this month that had a powerful female protagonist (other being 'Graceling').

    I found the book to be well written with a fantastic pacing. Their is violence in there, but not so over the top as to be distracting. Intimate scenes are sparingly written so as not to be too embarassing (something I greatly appreciated as a dad!!) The rage against the system theme is prevalent enough to notice, but not as overbearing as say.... Ayn Rand or Terry Pratchett.

    All in all, I highly recommend this book for kids from 12 up. The ending leads me to believe that this will be a series. I imagine I will be pre-ordering as soon as it's available. Congratulation Ms. Collins!!

    All the best,


    5-0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down.
    The 74th Annual Hunger Games are soon to begin. The Hunger Games are a fight to the death. In the new country of Panem, in the ruins of North America, each year as punishment for a rebellion and as a control mechanism, the Capitol forces each of the 12 provinces to draw names of a male and female tribute. The tributes are drawn from all people between the ages of 12 and 18. They receive training, are assessed by the game masters and then the betting begins. The games will be televised and are required viewing for the whole nation.

    The draws are not exactly even though. You can choose to enter your name extra times, for yourself and for family members to receive a terse, a grain and oil supplement from the government. Thus enters our heroine Katniss Everdeen. She is entered this year 20 times as she is 16 and taken the terse every year, for herself, her sister and her mother. Her close friend Gale has his name in 42 times, but this is the last year he is eligible. Then Katniss has the worst fear hit - her younger sister Prim (short for Primrose) is drawn with her 1st and only ballot. Katniss then does the unthinkable; she volunteers to take Prim's place.

    Katniss Everdeen knows that she has at least some chance of survival in the games. She has been secretly hunting in the woods and feeding her family since her father died years earlier. She hunts and gathers what she can with her friend and hunting partner Gale, in the woods beyond the fenced border of District 12. Yet even so, most believe she has just given up her life for her sisters.

    Katniss and Peeta Mellark are the tributes from District 12 for the 74th annual hunger games. As they travel to the capitol they have two mentors - Haymitch Abernathy the only surviving Hunger Games winner from the district and Effie Trinket the Capitol's representative in the district. They will each in their own way try to help them to survive both the Capitol, to win favor with the citizens who can sponsor them in the games, and then the games themselves.

    This book is very well written, the scenes sharp and crisp, the world believable and detailed. The characters become real as you read. You reach the end and are left hungry for more, which is what you will get as this is book one in a trilogy. The only drawback in my opinion is the lack of a map. I keep hoping for a map of Panem, with the 12 districts, the mysterious destroyed 13th district and the wilderness area's between them. Maybe it is just a guy thing, but I wanted a map. In this book Twenty-four are forced to enter the game zone but only the winner survives. You get a sample online. You can read chapter 1 online but it will only whet your appetite for more. There is also a video trailer for the book you can find online. This is a great Sci-fi book and would make an excellent movie.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chilling, Compelling, Best of 2008
    When Katniss Everdeen finds herself a contestant in the annual Hunger Games, she considers herself a goner. Out of 24 teenaged contestants chosen from the 12 districts of Panem, only 1 will emerge victorious. The rest will be slaughtered. By each other. And the entire event will be televised from the Capitol for the entire nation to watch.

    If you had described the basic plot of the Hunger Games to me and told me that it was going to be THE book to read in 2008, I probably would have raised an eyebrow. Futuristic? And dystopian? AND gladiatorial? Despite the seemingly disparate elements, Suzanne Collins somehow managed to hit upon the perfect combination in this thrilling story about a girl who lives in a nation obsessed with violence and reality television. There is action, romance, deception, humans hunting humans (Most Dangerous Game, anyone?) surgically altered stylists (reminiscent of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies), genetically enhanced mutants, a cruel totalitarian government, and a unspoken mandatory creed to treat the entire event as if it were a holiday.

    I read Hunger Games from start to finish in a day while I was supposed to be studying for finals. I meant to read a chapter or two and then go back to work, but I just could not put it down. Hunger Games is the kind of book that continues to haunt you days and weeks after you've turned the final page. I absolutely recommend it to everyone, with the one caveat that it does feature brutal violence between children and is perhaps not for the faint of heart. The next book can't come fast enough! In the mean time, I'm going to go learn how to shoot a bow, you never know when you're going to need to know how!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hungry for the next book!!
    I read this book upon the recommendation of Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight series of books even though this isn't the kind of book I typically would seek out at the library. THANK YOU MS. MEYER! The Hunger Games had me engrossed from the first page. I was very intrigued with the characters, especially Katniss, however, the development of all the characters was impressive. The complexity of each character was described so well that there really weren't any that I didn't love and hate at the same time.

    The story itself is think that such a concept could be born and carried out is unsettling, but, unfortuantely believable. I'm not a person who likes blood and gore and this book is sometimes violent and gory, however, not to the point that I was too grossed out to read on. The romance added just enough additional struggle to keep me addicted.

    I would classify The Hunger Games writing as excellent. As you read you can easily visualize the characters and what's taking place. I am sooooo looking forward to the second book. ... Read more

    9. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)
    by Suzanne Collins
    Hardcover (2009-09-01)
    list price: $17.99 -- our price: $9.94
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0439023491
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Sales Rank: 60
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    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. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars And you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted..., July 7, 2009
    If you thought the Capitol couldn't get any more twisted... you were wrong.

    The highly-anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games is the kind of novel that has you pulling back to take a breath and go, "How did the author think of this?" (if you can stop turning the pages long enough to breathe)

    Catching Fire picks up right where Hunger Games left off. Unrest in the Districts is growing at an alarming pace and Katniss unwittingly finds herself the figurehead for the movement against the Capitol. The characters you loved return for the sequel and the reader must endure each indignity the Capitol inflicts upon them. It is painful, tortuous, imaginative and motivating. It is everything The Hunger Games was and more. It both answers your lingering questions and creates so many new ones. It challenges you to think and creates such feelings of empathy for the characters that whenever I had to put the book down, I was genuinely worried for leaving the characters hanging and couldn't wait to pick it back up just so they could continue fighting for their lives and freedoms.

    Everything I loved about The Hunger Games is present in Catching Fire: the unique and engrossing storyline; characters so thoroughly and beautifully described they start to feel like friends; a fantastical setting that is both real and sad; and language that is easy to read and yet conveys such a profound meaning. It has action, romance, horror, hope, despair and, most of all, humanity. It has sci-fi and politics yet, unlike a lot of books on the market, they are not "in your face" and are completely approachable.

    Due to elements of violence and some light romantic scenes, I would recommend it for 13+. That being said, I would recommend it for ANYONE 13+ of any reading taste or background: as a bookseller and a recent library school graduate, these are the books I find easiest to recommend to anyone I meet.

    I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the third and final book to come out. After reading Catching Fire, I know you will be too.

    3-0 out of 5 stars The Biggest Problem with Trilogies . . ., September 7, 2009
    . . . is that darn book in the middle! You know how it goes - the first book is dynamite, because it's all new and there's so much to discover. The last book is explosive too, since we find out what happens "in the end." But the book in the middle . . . well, it's sort of like treading water. It's a place holder, filler maybe, a way to stall the reader until the good stuff can start.

    Hunger Games was exiting and compelling; we found out about Katniss's world slowly, which drew us into it completely. My guess is, the final book will be equally engaging - after all, we'll learn all about District 13, we'll find out which of her two suitors Katniss will finally choose, and we'll get a glimpse of what lies in store for the Capitol and its totalitarian government. But Catching Fire is a disappointment. Nothing much happens. The plot can be summed up very succinctly - unrest grows slowly in the aftermath of Katniss and Peeta's Hunger Games victory. That's it. Katniss can't make her mind up about Peeta and Gale, she can't make her mind up about whether or not to rebel, and she can't make her mind up about who to really trust. In the end, not only is there no resolution, but little progress has been made toward one.

    The biggest problem with Catching Fire is its pacing. The first third of the novel is really told in summary - Katniss explains what happened when she and Peeta came home, what happened on their tour of the Districts, what happened when she talked to Gale, etc. By telling it all in long paragraphs of summary, Collins removes the reader from the immediacy of the action - and it's both disappointing and disengaging. I wanted to experience Katniss's first meeting with Gale after she returned from the Games. I wanted be part of her trying to get her life together after her horrific experiences. But that's not the way this story is told. Then, about midway through the novel, things start to feel very much like Hunger Games revisited. From the moment it's announced that Katniss will be thrown back into the arena it all starts to feel very much like a re-run. What was exciting and new in the first book, is expected and redundant in the second book. It's not that the final section isn't exciting - it is. There's plenty of action in the last chapters of the novel. But it just wasn't as gripping. I found myself reading to get to the end, rather than to find out what was going to happen.

    As with most "middle books," Catching Fire was written to set up the final part of its trilogy. There will be a rebellion. And there will be a love triangle. The sparks of the rebellion are there, although the reader is kept away from the actual embers. Collins put more time into Katniss's confusion over which boyfriend to pick - I found myself wishing for something, anything to happen to make that rather silly conflict moot. Katniss, as written by Collins, seems very, very young. It's hard to imagine her actually "torn between two lovers." Additionally, Gale plays such a peripheral role in this novel that it's hard to really know him. Peeta is present in almost every chapter - the sweet, loving, doting boyfriend who will be eternally true to Katniss. Gale, however, appears in only a few brief scenes, and never says more than a few words. Book 3 may give us a better picture of what these two young men really meant to Katniss; Catching Fire does not.

    Actually, I think the title accurately reflects what this novel is all about - things in Katniss's world begin to catch fire. They don't actually CATCH fire - it just begins; it's "catching," so to speak. The conflict was set up in Hunger Games. The actual conflagration will play out in the third and final installment. Here, in Catching Fire, we just see the striking of the match. It's not a bad read, and fans of the first novel will enjoy this one. I just found myself wishing for more - more of an understanding of Katniss, Gale, and Peeta; more of an understanding of the totalitarian government they live under; and more of a connection to a story that won me over brilliantly in Hunger Games. This time, I felt a little lost.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give it 10 stars!!!, July 9, 2009
    When I read the Hunger Games, I read it straight through the night, from 1AM til 5AM. Couldn't stop reading even though I had to pee badly. After I finished it, I was dying for the sequel. DYING!!!! When I found out the ARC would be available in the spring, I bribed everyone I could think of to get me one. And yes, I got it. The day I got it, I couldn't look at it until 1AM again. This time, I promised myself, I would only look at the first chapter and then put it down. Riiiiight. It was 4:30AM when I finished reading and immediately began plotting to find out when the next book ARC would be available.

    I thought the first one was fantastic. In the back of my mind I felt that the sequel just couldn't be as good. How could it? Boy was I wrong! It was even better! My heart was racing the whole time I was reading it and I simply couldn't put it down. I believe Ms. Collins is the MASTER of the pageturner. Every chapter ends with almost a cliffhanger feeling. It compels you to keep reading. It physically traps you into the book so that you just can't put it down. If you can't read this book in one sitting, then I urge you not to even look at it until you can. Like the first one, you will not be able to put it down. The house could have been on fire and I doubt I would have noticed.

    Since we got to know Peeta and Katniss so well from the first one, what the sequel does is invest us even more deeply into their emotional well being. I won't give any other spoilers than what has already been said. So the book starts with Katniss as the face of the rebellion because of her act of defiance in the first book. As rebellion grows, the President sets up his revenge - and when I found out what it was, I literally sat up in bed and shouted "Oh NO! I can't believe they are doing this to them!!!" Yes I was talking to my book. That's how deeply this book sucks you into this amazing and disturbing dystopian world. It makes you want to grab up a weapon and join the rebellion.

    One thing I have to say, I was deeply satisfied with the ending of this book. The first book ended in such a way that I was bothered by it and itchy for the next book. With the end of Catching Fire, I felt it was absolutely right and thrilled with the conclusion. But I'm still DYING for the third and final book of this amazing book series.

    5-0 out of 5 stars No sophomore slump here, August 1, 2009
    I got a galley at the BEA Conference this year. Before I started to read, I was terrified that Suzanne Collins couldn't possibly live up to my expectations after the extraordinary Hunger Games. I'm thrilled to say that she did not let me down. I don't want to give anything away as it would only ruin the rollercoaster ride of a read, so suffice it to say that all of our favorite characters are back to join Katniss as the spark of revolution catches fire. Collins is masterful. The story is at once personal to Katniss, Peeta & Gale, but it also makes social statements that can apply to society at large. Characters show the best and the worst of humanity. And at several points, I found myself finishing a chapter, stunned at the turn of events. Collins kept me on the edge of my seat. I hope she's writing quickly, because I can't wait for the concluding volume of this amazing trilogy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Collins has done it again, July 10, 2009
    Against staggering odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark of District 12 have somehow won the annual Hunger Games. But the fruits of triumph are bittersweet. Success in the arena means a life without want in the Victor's Village, but extravagant food and a nice place to sleep can only provide so much comfort when an increasing amount of one's life must be faked for the protection of those one loves. That's exactly Katniss's predicament, because she when she held up the poisonous berries in the arena, it was interpreted as an act of defiance against the Capitol rather than Katniss's strong will to life. And now the girl on fire has become the spark for rebellion--a rebellion the Capitol is determined to stamp out at any cost.

    I must commend Collins for writing such a phenomenal sequel to The Hunger Games as Catching Fire is. It's everything I hoped for and even more than I expected. Katniss's legend lives on in this action packed, suspense filled drama in which one's friends are nearly indistinguishable from one's enemies and ambiguous meanings make life into one giant maze. Collins takes her portrayal of a dystopian future to the next level in this novel by highlighting the extent of the power the totalitarian Capitol wields and the beginnings of long suppressed dissent. Catching Fire is such an engrossing read, thanks to Collins's well written and executed plot, vivid and realistic characters, and the resulting sense of revolutionary fear. It's so easy to lose track of time while reading this novel, because the story just flows from the page so fluidly; I really enjoyed the many plot twists and the development of each character. The only times I had to pause while reading were due to the multitude of names and minor characters that are somewhat difficult to remember. But overall, Catching Fire is a story so overwhelmingly incredible, no reader will want to put it down.

    Catching Fire and its prequel The Hunger Games are must reads for all readers not just because they are such interesting stories but because they show the nasty side of politics and culture not enough of us are aware of. This trilogy will be especially enjoyed by fans of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington, Shift by Charlotte Agell, Daylight Runner by Ois�n McGann, and the Poison Study trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. I know that I, along with throngs of others, can't wait for the conclusion to this trilogy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars In which the plot most definitely thickens, September 4, 2009
    "On the seventy-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol..."

    Ever since she pulled those berries out in the last minutes of the previous year's Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen has become an icon of defiance and rebellion to the Districts. She knows that the leaders in the Capitol are not happy that she outsmarted their plans, forcing them to accept two victors and saving her fellow tribute Peeta in the process. But she is unaware of the extent of their ire until she receives an unexpected visit from President Snow, complete with a death threat against Gale's life should she fail to quell the rising spirit of rebellion in the Districts.

    Meanwhile, President Snow has his own plans to quash any inklings of revolution, and they happen to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games--also known as the Quarter Quell. As in the two previous Quells (taking place on the 25th and 50th anniversary respectively) the rules of the Games have been altered for the year to remind the Districts that even the annual massacre of their children in the regular games is not enough to atone for their previous attempt at insurgency. But what the Capitol has cooked up for the new Games results in something that nobody could have predicted, not even President Snow himself.

    After reading the Hunger Games and being completely enthralled by the world that Suzanne Collins painted with her words, I was worried that Catching Fire might not be able to hold up to the high standard that the Hunger Games set. And while I did feel that some of the page-to-page action and detail suffered by comparison, it is more than made up for by the sharp upswing in overarching plot and the many twists that never failed to take me by surprise and made me wonder out loud: how did she think of that?! The love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale had me on the edge of me seat wondering who she was going to choose, whether it would be by choice or necessity, and who I would choose if I were in her shoes (definitely Peeta! Sorry, Gale.) In my opinion, it was not as polished or smooth a read as the Hunger Games. At the same time, however, I must acknowledge that the focus was entirely different from the first book, with a far more complex and ambitious plot, and I truly applaud Collins' creativity and ingenuity in weaving the bigger picture of corruption, manipulation, and rebellion within an entire nation into the same captivating first-person narrative of survival that made the Hunger Games such as success. I really enjoyed Catching Fire and cannot wait to get my hands on the third book to see what finally happens to our rebels.

    4-0 out of 5 stars the girl, still on fire, August 23, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Hands down, the most memorable book I've read within the past few years is Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. CATCHING FIRE is the sequel, and it right away plonks you into all the things that made THE HUNGER GAMES such a terrific, terrific read. Suzanne Collins' meticulous world-building introduced us to a post-apocalyptic future in which North America has ceased to exist. Its remnants came to be called Panem, a nation comprising of twelve districts governed with an iron fist by the Capitol city. The Hunger Games is an annually held event which pits lottery-selected children (called "tributes") drawn from each district and compelled to kill each other until only one is left standing. The Hunger Games, established to commemorate the Capitol's ruthless stamping down of an uprising many years ago, is broadcast to all twelve districts with their residents forced to watch as their youths are slaughtered one by one. It's intended as punishment and as a lesson.

    *** Serious SPOILERS from here on out ***

    Against all odds, young Katniss Everdeen from impoverished District 12 has survived the harrowing Hunger Games and, along the way, won the hearts of the twelve Districts. As reigning champion Katniss's lot in life has improved drastically, and she no longer has to forage and illegally hunt in the woods to feed herself and her mother and little sister Prim. Months have elapsed since the Hunger Games, but Katniss, now seventeen, finds herself still having to be on guard. The Capitol, it seems, hasn't forgotten her tiny acts of rebellion. One strategy Katniss had employed was to pretend to a romance with fellow tribute Peeta, a baker's son also from District 12. This got the audience on their side and was instrumental in Katniss and Peeta's both making it thru the Hunger Games.

    But, even months later, with the Capitol's eyes ever on her, Katniss and Peeta must continue to act mutually smitten - and, horrifyingly for Katniss, they may have to maintain the act for the rest of their lives. Except, for Peeta, it was never an act. I have to say, by the way, that I was pretty indifferent to Peeta in THE HUNGER GAMES, but that I warmed up to him in CATCHING FIRE. He is, after all, a pretty likeable dude, even if he's so noble it's almost unbelievable. And, for Katniss, there's the added dilemma of her childhood friend Gale barely talking to her ever since she returned home. Romantic triangle? Without a doubt. Katniss and Peeta eventually embark on the traditional Victory Tour of the Districts, and, in Katniss and Peeta's travels, you can sense the story arc Collins is building up to, the tiny cracks in the Capitol's ironclad rule. Particularly poignant and dangerous is District 11's reaction to Katniss's appearance.

    In reading THE HUNGER GAMES I was very curious about Katniss's home, so it's gratifying that Collins spends some time exploring it. Things get really desperate for the destitute mining community of District 12 as the Capitol even more relentlessly exerts its influence over the districts, and again this perhaps ties into what Katniss may have unwittingly sparked in her time in the Hunger Games. I was wondering where Suzanne Collins was going to go with the sequel, although I figured it would have to involve her branching out into the bigger picture. Katniss's defiance during the Games very much did not go unnoticed and, in fact, may have fostered seeds of unrest within the oppressed people of Panem. Beneath the skin of the districts, something angry is simmering.

    The Victory Tour marches along, and then it's time again for the annual Hunger Games. Except that the upcoming Hunger Games marks its 75th year, and that's all kinds of ominous. The Quarter Quell is nigh, taking place every 25 years and notorious for introducing vicious twists into the Games' rules. This time, the Capitol arrives at sort of an all-star version of the Hunger Games, bringing back all the previous survivors to compete. For the alarmed and very frightened Katniss, it's time to go back to the arena.

    THE HUNGER GAMES is one of the best, most moving novels I've ever read and, in her writing the rest of the trilogy, my thought was that Suzanne Collins would've had to make a deal with the devil to match the emotional richness and impact and sheer readability of that novel. And CATCHING FIRE comes close. It's not quite as up there in packing that strong emotional punch, but Collins weaves in enough indelible moments to make this a very worthwhile sequel. Katniss continues to be an awesome character, vulnerable and sad but very capable and an absolute deadeye with the bow and arrow.

    One minor quibble with her return to the Games and partnering up with other tributes is that less attention seems to be focused on Katniss (although it's Katniss telling the story in first person narrative). Also, these other tributes aren't as memorable or as wistful as the little girl Rue, the appealing District 11 tribute from the first book. I still marvel at just how moving that passage was when Katniss said her final goodbye to Rue with flowers and then saluted her with a traditional gesture from home. Katniss wasn't thinking of it, but that act smacked of being fairly subversive. No wonder the Capitol grew concerned.

    As CATCHING FIRE expands its storyline, I think we're all waiting for Katniss to take on a more involved role in the coming rebellion. Although, for now, it's perhaps understandable that she's more concerned about what's going on around her on a personal scale. But, hopefully, she sheds her passiveness. As it is, she's treated more as a figurehead for the revolt. If the ending is any indication, Katniss Everdeen is about to get really involved. And the third books also looks to have Gale more in the center of things.

    In terms of sheer adventure and thrills, Suzanne Collins really knows how to step it up, especially once Katniss re-enters the arena. The author comes up with some really messed up perils for the tributes, plus there's the added nuance of the contestants all being past champions. This time, Katniss isn't contending with inexperienced children.

    I do have a problem with the way the book ends. There were signposts along the way, so it's not like it came out of left field, but still I feel that the plot switcheroo comes along too abruptly and feels rushed, and so there's a jarring whiplash effect.

    But, above all, CATCHING FIRE is splendid stuff and a riveting read. Tautly paced, with Collins making you feel that things are about to explode on a larger scale, even as Katniss tries her best to fend for her own little corner. There are moments which are poignant and uplifting, but then these are followed promptly by moments of horror and heartbreak and sudden chilling violence, and these turnarounds leave you sort of twisting in the wind. There's no denying, though, that one quietly powerful moment when, Katniss, who had been thinking hard of taking her family and friends and skedaddling, decides to stay and tough it out. I felt like cheering when she declares: "I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay right here and cause all kinds of trouble." That's the girl on fire.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Getting deeper and more complex, August 4, 2009
    I, too obtained an ARC at BEA. I thought I was very lucky to get Catching Fire before September. I was so wrong! Now I have to wait longer than others to read the last book, and it's pure agony wondering what will happen next.

    The Hunger Game was a great book, but Catching Fire is even better. The story is getting deeper and more complex. As another reviewer stated, it's a "rollercoaster ride of a read". You'll never be able to guess what happens next. And once you start, you can never stop until the end. Relationships between Katniss, Peeta , and Gale are also getting more complex. This separates the Hunger Games from other shallow YA romantic fantasy. Their relationships reflect social issues and humanities this trilogy deals with.

    It's categorised as YA fantasy book, but I highly recommend it to adult Science Fiction fans. The Hunger Games trilogy should be and will be a classic like 1984, The Giver, and Fahrenheit 451.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Watch out for the 75th Hunger Games - the Quarter Quell is deadly!, September 6, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    "And this year, I am one of the stars of the show. I will have to travel from district to district, to stand before the cheering crowds who secretly loathe me, to look down into the faces of the families whose children I have killed..." (p. 4).

    With this thought, Katniss Evendeen goes through the mandated victory parade through the country, as co-victor (with the boy from District 12, Peeta), of the 74th Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are the penalty required of all the Districts to the Capitol, after the repressive government squashed a rebellion. The result? Every year, each of the 12 Districts is required to submit a boy and girl tribute to fight to the death in a bizarre arena: 24 enter, and only 1 lives. However, as the final two tributes in the 74th Game, Katniss and Peeta challenged the status quo by deciding to end their lives simultaneously; the organizers, anticipating a revolt within the Capitol's ranks if such a thing happened, allowed them to share this victory.

    But President Snow is a sore loser. The Games are supposed to demonstrate the Capitol's complete and absolute control over the Districts. How dare a girl from a remote District challenge the Games, and the Capitol's power! Somehow, Snow arranges the third Quarter Quell (the third 25 year anniversary of the victory) to have each District choose its new tributes from the pool of Game survivors. For the first time ever, a selection of previously winning tributes end up back in the Hunger Games, and this time Katniss and Peeta are with 22 other past victors that are, by definition and trial, successful killers. Except now, they've all grown up.

    What will happen? What can happen? What should happen?

    This is part 2 in the longer tale of The Hunger Games. Having read the first book twice, it is difficult for me to "see" the book from the perspective of someone who starts with Catching Fire instead of The Hunger Games. However, I appreciate the effort of author Suzanne Collins not to cram a complete recap of the first book into the first or second chapter.

    And I also know that I am looking forward to book 3!

    Sitting at Starbucks today, the head barista walked by, saw Catching Fire laying on the table, and asked if that was the second book in The Hunger Games series.

    Definitely not just for young adults!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A review you can read without spoilers., August 30, 2009

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    So many of the reviews posted give SO much of the story away and I'm glad I didn't read any of them before I started the book... Mine doesn't at all, so you are safe here. :-)

    In the second book of the Hunger Games triology, Collins has solidified her world and her vision. We get to know more about the characters, and a bit more about the history of Panem. Foundationally, the story sort of all came together.

    I'm still blown away by the harshness in these books. Perhaps being the mother of a teen makes me a tinge sensitive to the subject matter, but somehow it doesn't detract from the story.

    This book was exciting from the start, and darned near impossible to put down. I worried that there would be "more of the same" in terms of what went on in the book, but Collins's creative juices were in high gear, and there was plenty to keep the story fresh.

    I found this better than book one, but that may just be because I was getting used the concept in book one. I can't wait for book three ...

    Highly entertaining and not to be missed! (But for sure read The Hunger Games first) ... Read more

    10. The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)
    by Rick Riordan
    Hardcover (2010-05-04)
    list price: $17.99 -- our price: $10.52
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1423113381
    Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
    Sales Rank: 63
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

    One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

    Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set--has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Scoot Over Percy Jackson, The Kanes Are HERE!
    I must say, when I read the Percy Jackson series, I instantly liked it. I enjoyed the whole Greek Pantheon of ancient gods & goddesses, magic, etc. So, naturally, I wanted to read "The Red Pyramid" to see if it had the same magic. I can happily say that it does and then some. I would even volunteer that I liked "The Red Pyramid" even more than the Percy Jackson books for several reasons.

    First, in "The Red Pyramid", we're introduced to two amazing lead characters who both share in the story's narration. Carter Kane, age 14, is an African American teen who has lived with his father, Julius, his entire life...due to what is described as an ugly custody battle between Julius and his former in-laws (Julius' wife, mother to both Carter and Sadie Kane, died when the children were quite young). Sadie Kane, age 12, looks caucasian (taking after their mother) with light skin, blue eyes, and hair she likes to put colored streaks throughout. Because of the custody agreement, Sadie lives in London year-round with her grandparents - seeing her brother and father only two times per year, which has resulted in the siblings being more like distant relatives to each other. Julius is an archeologist, traveling around the world studying ancient Egyptian artifacts and bringing his son Carter along with him wherever he goes. Carter, because of his father's teachings, is an awkward 14 year old boy, a bit hesitant and unsure of himself. Sadie, on the other hand, despite being two years younger than Carter, is quite a bit more bold, quick to speak her mind and very sure of herself and her opinions. I must say, I loved both Carter and Sadie Kane...for their differences as well as how they grow together as siblings! I cannot reveal much more than this without revealing too much of the book...but I think you'll know what I mean when you read "The Red Pyramid".

    Another reason I enjoyed this book is because of the depth of information given to the reader. It's obvious that Riordan, in his research, learned quite a bit about the ancient Egyptian ways as well as the intricate nature of their belief system....and he definitely gets that information out to the reader in a very exciting and entertaining way.

    Magic and mythology come together in a fascinating and fast-paced way in this book. Instantly, the action starts and you'll be pulled into the book. Humor plays a big role in this book as well (especially from Sadie), which just adds to the entertainment.

    All in all, I'd highly recommend "The Red Pyramid". If you're a fan of the Percy Jackson series, I'm sure you'll like it. Or, perhaps you'll be like me and like it even more! :)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A parent's view
    This is the first book I've read by Rick Riordan and I loved it. The combination of suspense, history, and mythology is just brilliant. I'm going to have to read the Olympian series next. I'm a big fan of young adult fiction because kids are a tough audience. They won't slog through a book like an adult will just because they bought it, and so I believe that young adult novels have to be more exciting. Riordan does not disappoint.

    I read in Riordan's bio that he taught English and history. And now, through his books, he's teaching it again, only in a way that makes kids want to learn it. For any parent who wants their child to enjoy two subjects that are normally near the bottom of their list as far as what they have to learn, Riordan breathes new life these subjects. It's too bad that schools haven't caught on to this wonderful way of learning. We might have more engaged students.

    I can't wait to see what other subject Riordan decides to tackle after the Red Pyramid series. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's going to be exciting and informative.

    When I Dream ... Read more

    11. Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2)
    by Jeff Kinney
    Hardcover (2008-02-01)
    list price: $13.95 -- our price: $6.52
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0810994739
    Publisher: Amulet Books
    Sales Rank: 75
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The highly anticipated sequel to the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling book!

    Secrets have a way of getting out, especially when a diary is involved.

    Whatever you do, don’t ask Greg Heffley how he spent his summer vacation, because he definitely doesn’t want to talk about it.

    As Greg enters the new school year, he’s eager to put the past three months behind him . . . and one event in particular.

    Unfortunately for Greg, his older brother, Rodrick, knows all about the incident Greg wants to keep under wraps. But secrets have a way of getting out . . . especially when a diary is involved.

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules chronicles Greg’s attempts to navigate the hazards of middle school, impress the girls, steer clear of the school talent show, and most important, keep his secret safe.
    F&P level: T
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Is that GREAT or what?, August 24, 2008
    I think Jeff Kinney hit the BullsEye with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I first read some of it at the internet. However it did not take me long to figure out that I had to have a hard copy of this book. Once I got it, I read it from start to finish and was unable to put it down until the end. It is THAT hilarious! The writing by itself is good and the cartoons make all that even better! And I am not the only one to love it. Since the time I got it, my book is being borrowed again and again by all my friends. In fact, I haven't seen it myself for long. It is just being passed from one friend to another. And we are all waiting for the next book in the Wimpy Kid series. I don't have an older brother. But although Greg seems to be complaining a lot about his brother Roderick, I wish I could get all this kind of troubles that Greg gets with Roderick. Life would be that much more interesting!!!!

    Another series that we all cannot get enough of is Why Some Cats are Rascals ( Book 3). We are all looking forward to book 4 in the series, It is actually a diary of a naughty cat, believe or not.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Jeff Kinney Strikes Again! PYP Funny!, January 17, 2008
    In his latest book, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES, Jeff Kinney nearly put me into the hospital. That man is going to have serious medical bills to pay if this keeps up. I almost busted a gut laughing out loud and almost aspirated my Diet Dr Pepper on a few occasions. And, yes, I hold him completely responsible.

    If not for Kinney's dry wit, keen insight into the lives of elementary school boys (especially their rationalization for EVERYTHING), and fantastic line drawing on nearly every page, I wouldn't have had so many close brushes with death in his latest book. But he put me there time and time again. Even when I thought I had things figured out (because I was once an elementary school boy with a wild imagination without a governor), Jeff would throw a wrinkle at me that I didn't see coming. He ambushed me with regularity throughout the pages.

    But it's not just me that Jeff has his merciless sights on. He's taking out EVERYBODY. My wife teaches elementary school and Jeff's books are all the rage among the students. I have to admit to adding to that bonfire because I talk about his books all the time (and I have to admit that I haven't quite become the responsible adult either, because I'll rile my wife's fourth grade class up and take my leave--taking her out to dinner usually gets me off the hook and my cool points go up with the kids).

    Parents have become interested in the books and I've told them they need to keep up with what their kids are reading. After all, they're supposed to be responsible parents. (I, myself, have been known to buy extra copies of Jeff's books and give out as gifts - some parents have accused me of inciting subversion, but I point out that Jeff's first book was a NEW YORK TIMES bestseller and that is a far better recommendation than I could ever make. Except the TIMES doesn't give away Jeff's books as gifts that I know of. That's why they hold me more accountable.)

    But when I recommend the books to parents, I issue a stern warning. I call it the PYP warning. I especially give it to pregnant mothers and people with weak bladders who read in public places. PYP is Pee Your Pants. The books are just that funny. You're reading along, and the next thing you know, WHAM! -- you're laughing so hard you're peeing your pants.

    The funniest thing about Jeff's humor, and the life of his main character, Greg Heffley, is that everything in the book COULD BE COMPLETELY TRUE. Speaking from experience, a lot of what's between those pages has been true. But I'm not going to incriminate myself now when I got away with those things all those years ago. And there should be some kind of time statute on most of them. I still don't want my mom to know, however.

    Greg is THE man when it comes to taking a boring day and turning it upside down. People who underestimate the creativity of a bored child are simply asking for trouble. Nuclear war pales by comparison.

    And Greg has an excuse - or a rationalization - for everything he does. Worse than that, half the time I get sucked in and totally buy into his point of view. Because, upon occasion, that point of view has been mine as well (or at least my defense). That's where Jeff's magic truly lies: he's never lost touch with his inner child. And boy, his wife must be mad and his kids must be terrified!

    In this second book, I was totally blown away yet again. Greg is a middle kid, which means that his life is made miserable from both ends of the spectrum - from his older brother Rodrick and his younger brother Manny. Rodrick is the sulky teen with a band called Loded Diper. And their music stinks, so they're appropriately named. Manny is three and gets into all of Greg's stuff.

    I love how Jeff sets something up in the books and continues to play off of it at appropriate times. His sense of pacing is fantastic. The work of "art" Manny creates out of toothpicks and aluminum foil is great, and I've seen that done, actually. Greg's mom tells Greg he should keep it around and he does - until it impales Greg's semi-best friend Rowley.

    Another sequence in the book focuses on Greg's ringleader abilities. Kids will follow anyone with a semi-great idea. Or at least one that will bring pain or embarrassment to another kid. See, Greg is NOT hero material. At least, not yet. He does show some potential, but it's really far into the future.

    One of those ideas involved making believe one of the other kids didn't exist. Following Greg's lead, the rest of the class pretends the kid doesn't exist so much that Greg gets called into the principal's office, then gets read the riot act by his parents.

    I loved when Greg gets involved in the role-playing game Magic and Monsters and his mom becomes concerned. She decides to show up and play with them. And her rules don't involve all the violence and bloodshed all the kids are used to enjoying. Worst of all, some of Greg's friends start liking the way his mom plays!

    Another instance is when the parents leave for a weekend trip and put Rodrick in charge. They're no sooner gone than Rodrick is on the phone calling people over for a party. Madness ensues. A door gets painted with permanent marker. Rodrick gets Greg to help him change out doors so the parents don't find out. Later, when they're punished, Rodrick says he's going to study the effects of decompression of the spine suffered by astronauts during prolonged weightlessness. He does this by sacking out on the couch and sleeping all the time while he's grounded.

    If you want, you can even read the books for free on the internet. Just go to Funbrain-dot-com to read them. One of the most interesting things about Jeff's books is that they're given away for free and STILL sold enough to make it to the top of the NEW YORKS TIMES BESTSELLER bestseller list.

    You see, Jeff wants everyone to read his books that wants to. However, kids want books they can hold in their hands, share with friends, and put on a shelf. Plus, it's kind of hard to take your computer and internet along when you're stuck in the car on a family trip or out with a parent at a doctor's appointment or a shopping spree.

    One of the best features about Jeff's books after you put them in your kids' hands is that you don't have to worry about batteries going dead. They're kid powered: fueled by imagination and driven by humor. They're good for the environment. Except for that whole PYP warning.

    Jeff's books are hilarious. I just can't recommend them enough. Call me subversive if you want.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Perils of Middle School in a Diary Format, January 30, 2008
    He did it again. Jeff Kinney has taken the ups and downs of middle school, friendship, parents and brothers and turned them into a wonderful diary-novel complete with pictures. It's a nonstop read. I laughed so hard and the characters stay with you long after you put the book down. This is a great book for reluctant readers. The best news, there is a third diary on the way!!!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Anyone Whose Life Was "Ruined" by An Older Brother Must Read Rodrick Rules, April 1, 2008
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a breakout success in bringing kid humor into classic situations and an appealing format. One of my concerns about reading Rodrick Rules was whether there would be enough classic kid problems to fill another book with side-splitting laughter. Well, some of the best gags are gone but some pretty good ones are left.

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid featured humor built from not wanting to touch a piece of rotten cheese. There's no exact equivalent that's as funny Rodrick Rules, but the continuing saga of being dominated by an obnoxious older brother certainly will evoke memories and laughs among those who were a younger brother or the parent of two or more boys.

    As in most families, both boys have something they can use to blackmail the other. But Rodrick is much better than Greg at fighting for dominance. What Rodrick has on Greg is truly funny, the sort of thing that would deeply embarrass any middle school boy.

    There's lots of contact between the two boys because their parents want to bring them together. I could relate to the sorts of things I tried to use to create peace between two teenage boys . . . that didn't work.

    One of the on-going gags involves Rodrick's band and his parents fear of where this could all lead. Any family that's ever had a garage or basement band will relate to this part of the book.

    I was also amused to see the book address that perpetual middle school challenge . . . how to pass without doing any work.

    This is great fun, just not as side-splitting as Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hal's review, March 30, 2008
    I recommend that you should read this book because the hand written diary style fits in well with the pages of the book. He includes every day things like going to a party or swimming, but puts a humorous twist on it. Gregory's (the wimpy kid) older brother Rodrick who is a lazy under achiever is in a band that can't play. He is either making Gregory's life hell, or playing with his band in the basement. As well as having a teasing older brother he has a snitching younger brother called Manny who tells on him constantly. His best friend Rowley is a bit of an idiot and can be quite annoying he also knows something that Gregory doesn't want people to know, could his best friend tell?
    Personally I think that Gregory is most certainly not a wimpy kid.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book worth a read, or two, or four!!!, January 22, 2008
    Greg Heffley's life is a halirious mixture of class and comic. This is a book that will grab your attention and keep it there until the very last line of halarious and fantastic comedy! Buy it. Read it. Live it!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Regardless of your age, this book is a delight!, February 13, 2008
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, in my opinion, is more gut-busting than the first book, and I loved Dairy of a Wimpy Kid. When an 11 year old (son), a 46 year old (Mom), and a 64 year old (Grandma) burst out laughing at the antics of the Heffley's, especially Greg, the humor is droll, superior, and a something that is easy to relate to regardless of age. It's also a book that can be read, and laughed at, multiple times. This especially makes purchasing it a bargain. How about buying two and donating one to your elementary, or middle, school library? The librarian, and students, will be delighted.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, April 3, 2008
    I just happen to pick up this book for my son in the book store. After reading the first one in 2 days. He decided that he wanted the 2nd book and I ordered it from Amazon at a cheaper price. He is now waiting for the 3rd book. I am impressed with how much he is reading with chapter books.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This is a fun, light hearted read! Love it!!, March 10, 2008
    Laugh out loud! If you can't relate as a kid, you certainly can as an adult. My wife and I were laughing so hard we were crying. A great read for kids from 3rd grade through adult! And fun!

    5-0 out of 5 stars excellent book, March 10, 2008
    Excellent book! My 8 year old son has read it 3 times and has passed it along in his third grade class. I have recommended the book to several parents and they went out to get it. We have the first and second book and can not wait for the third. The two classmates he recommended the book to loved it. ... Read more

    12. A Horse to Love
    by Marsha Hubler
    Kindle Edition (2009-09-06)
    list price: $4.99
    Asin: B002U80FZK
    Publisher: Zondervan
    Sales Rank: 387
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Thirteen-year-old foster kid Skye Nicholson has become an expert at being an angry, cold, and defensive teenager. After breaking more foster home placements than she cares to count, and committing numerous offenses, she's headed to her final resort --- juvenile detention. But after a court compromise, hope finds her through a beautiful sorrel quarter horse named Champ and the tough love of Tom and Eileen Chamber, who offer her another chance at their home at Keystone Stables. There she's introduced to a God who has the power to truly save her, no matter how much she thinks she's not worth saving. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Youth horse books
    great horse book for younger girls. If you haven't read the keystone stables series you will love it. If you have...don't be misled like I was..the first four book are the same book with a different cover..although cute and more modern...we ended up with the same book. after the fourth they are new, that is just a word of wise. IF you haven't read them, you'll love them ... Read more

    13. Percy Jackson and the Olympians Paperback Boxed Set (Books 1-3)
    by Rick Riordan
    Paperback (2008-09-16)
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $10.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1423113497
    Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
    Sales Rank: 74
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Humans and half-bloods alike agree--Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a series fit for heroes! Re-live the adventure from the beginning with this boxed set of the first three books.

    The Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. When his mom tells him the truth about where he came from, she takes him to the one place he'll be safe--Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island). There, Percy learns that the father he never knew is actually Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon Percy finds himself caught up in a mystery that could lead to disastrous consequences. Together with his friends--a satyr and other the demigod daughter of Athena--Percy sets out on a quest to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

    The Sea of MonstersAfter a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly calm. But things don't stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters--the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia--only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new nameL: the Bermuda Triangle. Now Percy and his friends must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family--one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke...

    The Titan's CurseWhen Percy Jackson receives a distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he'll need his powerful demigod allies, Annabeth and Thalia, at his side; his trusty broze sword Riptide; and... a ride from his mom. The demigods race to the rescue, to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two new powerful half-bloods whose parentage is unknown. But that's not all that awaits them. The Titan lord, Kronos, has set up his most devious trap yet, and the young heroes have unwittingly fallen prey. Hilarious and action-packed, this third adventure in the series finds Percy faced with his most dangerous challenge so far: the chilling prophecy of the Titan's curse. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars A true joy for children and adults, and the only other series that even comes close to Harry Potter
    I am a 24 year old married woman, and like many Harry Potter fans I have been reading unfufilling series after unfufilling series for the last few years trying to find something to fill that void. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is fantastic. I have to say I did like the second and third books a little more than the first. They were more colorful and funny than the Lightning Thief. Everything that you loved about Harry Potter is in this book, but not in the haphazard, copycat, money-maker way that some other series have tried (*cough cough Charlie Bone and Septimus Heap to name a couple). This is totally original and you will find yourself with the same love of Camp Half-blood that you had for Hogwarts. While this book is for children it is meaty. It has substance, thoughtful characters, interesting plots, and an intricate world I cant get enough of. I had a hard time putting the books down. I cant wait for the next book to come in so I can start right back up again. My cousin recommended this to me and I just cannot thank her enough. Thanks again Debbie!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, even for reluctant readers
    My 4th grade son who does not love to read absolutely loves this series. I can't get him to stop reading; he is reading instead of TV, video games, outside, etc. I read a few chapters of each of the 4 and they are well written, funny, and full of action/adventure. Great books!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Entertaining for Both Kids & Adults
    I bought this set for my daughter, who's a fan of Greek mythology, and ended up enjoying them myself as well. Like the "Harry Potter" and "Narnia" series, these books appeal to readers of all ages. I also appreciated the prominent featuring of strong female characters.

    Some of the plot twists I did find a bit on the predictable side but I still thought the books were highly entertaining.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Series as a whole
    I actually posted this on a discussion thread on books for fifth graders. But I decided it fit well in a review, so here it is. I feel (as a mom and as a teacher) that this series is great for everyone from strong fourth grade readers through eighth grade and beyond.

    My now 14-year-old son introduced me to this series: relatively new, from Rick Riordan. The Olympians have apparently moved Olympus over the years, following the westward march of civilization - in fact, Olympus is now floating above the Empire State Building in New York City! The main character is Percy (Perseus) Jackson, who is a half-god (Demigod), introduced in the first book, "The Lightning Thief". This first book is not as engaging as the following ones, but this is mainly because it first introduces all of the characters and has to give a lot of background quickly.

    Each subsequent book covers roughly one year (well, usually one summer) of Percy's adventures. They generally start out from Camp Half-Blood, the magically protected space on Long Island Sound set aside for Greek/Roman gods' half-human children. They need this special summer camp for protection from all the monsters and evils that we mere mortals can never see because of "the mist" that makes us interpret what we see only in ways that make sense to us. So, that evil substitute teacher might actually be a harpy, sent to weed out another half-blood. :-)

    This creative and engaging series introduces or reinforces ancient myths from Greek and Roman mythology, and does a wonderful job of painlessly increasing cultural literacy for the "history of Western Civilization". In fact, it covers many legends beyond that as well, because the premise is that the Olympians have always existed, and they just keep moving their base every few hundred years, through major civilizations on several continents. Really an awesome series, especially for fairly competent, but possibly reluctant, readers in 8th grade and up.

    5-0 out of 5 stars good books
    I've read all four books and I have found them pretty good. Not as good as the Harry Potter books in my opinion- they don't have quite the descriptive and immersing storyline- but the Percy Jackson novels are full of adventure throughout the entire book, which I found to be entertaining enough to make up for lack of detail. My only disappointments are that the books are really written for a younger audience (unlike many other YA books, which are written so teens can enjoy them and older adults can get even more out of them, i.e. HP), also that he either assumes you have a bad memory or that you haven't read the previous books.

    My opinion is based from someone who is 25. If your the parent of a teenager or preteen, then my nags do not apply to them. They will likely love the books without any complaints! I'm more speaking to those closer to my age or older.
    My 16 yr old brother loved the first book and is reading the second- and he hardly reads. He never finished the 3rd HP book, and hasn't read much of anything else except half of a zombie book. I thought he could use some new books, and I hoped to enjoy them as well. - Which I did.

    Each book gets better. the story becomes much more developed with each book, but it always seemed like Riordan tried to keep them short. I personally like more immersion- which needs more detail. But don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put down the books! I think their great books, and I would recommend them to anyone under 20, and many adults who enjoyed the HP books.

    *Edit: My little brother is now finished with the fourth book and my family is excited that he is actually reading! He very much liked these PJ books and is telling his friends about them. I've already said he could lone the first one to a friend. I'm looking for other books now that he might like. Think I'll go with the Bartimaeus Trilogy next.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great read to share with you and your child
    I have been looking for an adventurous series for my almost 9 year old boy and finally found it. I read the first book first then gave to him to read. The author wrote with such wit and it is interesting to combine mythology in the story. Now I want to go back to look for some mythology books to read. It is truly enjoyable.. my son is not avid reader but yesterday he read this book 1 for 4 hours on our long road trip. He is ready to read book #2. I just finished book #2 so we can discuss... He couldn't put it down because he wanted to know how the story develops..

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book changed me
    I am an 11-year-old girl who absolutely hated reading. I could never find a book I liked. If I actually found a good book, I would end up getting bored with it and not finishing it. Then, I happened to stumble upon "Percy." I opened up this book, and I never put it down. I read all day long, while eating dinner, while brushing my teeth, and even read it by flashlight in bed. I finished the series in less than two weeks. I cried so hard when I was finished with the last book. I was literally sick to my stomach and had a headache. I was bedstricken, okay???!! Then, I found out Rick Riordan would be writing a new "Percy" series, featuring some of the old characters. I have no reason to live until "The Lost Hero" comes out. (October 12th.) This is coming from a girl who, 2 weeks before "Percy", wouldn't even read a picture book. Rick Riordan, you are amazing. This author knows what his mythology-loving audience wants to read. And I will be reading Rick's work as long as I can possibly stand it!!!!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Exciting Adventures and Likeable Hero
    Percy Jackson is an ordinary 12-year-old except for dyslexia, ADHD, and his propensity for getting expelled from private schools. He is also being attacked by monsters out of Greek mythology. His mother brings him to Camp Half-Blood where he learns that he is the son of a god and a hero who has to go on a quest. Percy, along with his friends Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and Grover (satyr) must battle gods and mythological monsters as they try to bring Zeus his stolen lightning bolt before the solstice in order to stop the gods from going to war. Excellent adventure for middle grade readers. ... Read more

    14. Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy, Book 6)
    by Richelle Mead
    list price: $17.99 -- our price: $9.70
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1595143068
    Publisher: Razorbill
    Sales Rank: 102
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The epic finale in Richelle Mead's #1 international bestselling Vampire Academy series. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet But Satisfying Ending, December 7, 2010
    In the past Rose has overcome every obstacle in her path, no matter the odds, but now she may just be facing the one thing that could bring her down. Permanently. She's to be tried for the Queen's murder, an almost guaranteed death sentence despite her innocence. Fighting for her life isn't her only challenge, she also must carry out the Queen's last mission. Rose must find Lissa's illegitimate sibling to ensure her vote before it's too late. In the end it will take every last one of her allies working together for any hope at survival, let alone a happy resolution.

    Rose makes the choice between the two men in her life. I can honestly say that I was almost equally rooting for both of them. They both were good for her in their own way, but her choice really seemed to be the right one for her once all of her reasons were laid out. I felt really bad for the one that she didn't choose, but as soon as she made her choice it was really apparent why it wouldn't have worked with him in the long run. I'm hoping in the spin-off series he just might get a slice of happiness, he deserves it.

    While it is bittersweet to say goodbye to Rose, I'm really glad she finally got her slice of happiness. I feel it ended well and my only possible complaint would be for the happily ever after to have been more thoroughly fleshed out. Don't get me wrong, the major plotlines are all tied up, but I couldn't help but feel I was missing something, as if there just needed to be a little more concreteness in the resolution. However, when I really think about it, the ending works as is because it fits Rose perfectly. She is always flying by the seat of her pants, and a completely planned out future just wouldn't work for her at all.

    This book is one that you will definitely want to set a large block aside to read, as it will suck you right in. As I was reading it I didn't realize how absorbed I was until I looked at the clock and realized hours had passed. All of the characters have grown so much over the books, especially Rose and Lissa. In this book they really seemed to come into their own, and shine. Some of the ending events were a surprise, but I think everything worked out the way it should in the long run. At least the good-bye isn't really final as I'm sure some of my favorite characters will have a least small parts in the upcoming spin off series. All in all it was a very good book that I really enjoyed and highly recommend.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Left with more questions..., December 8, 2010
    I absolutely fell in love with this series and was eagerly anticipating this final book. While I am happy with most of the book, as well as the ending, I was left with more questions and felt like there were missing pieces that should have been included. With this being the final book for Rose, I had hoped to get a little more out of it. I loved the amount of Dimitri in this book. I was disappointed with the lack of his presence in SB so this one was more thrilling to me. The book was happy, sad, and funny at different times. I know many people are disappointed with the way certain people were left hanging (Adrian, Jill, Eddie), but I think they will all be joining Syndey in the spin-off series (Bloodlines). Some other things I enjoyed were Lissa's newfound strength, the severed bond (it was killing Rose), closure of the love triangle, Sonya Karp, Rose's growth, Dimitri finding himself again, and Adrian's anger (didn't expect that reaction). Here are some things I thought were lacking:

    Rose/Dimitri: I know they had a lot of time together in the book, but the real stuff didn't come until so late in the book and it left me wanting more interaction between them. They should have talked more about what happened in Siberia, the cabin, her achievements during her trial/graduation, how much she actually did to get him back, her time with the Belikovs in Baia, how she felt when he said "love fades, mine has" and so much more.

    The Belikovs: I would have rated this with another star if they had been included in the book. I know they were not meant to have a huge role in the series, but I fell in love with the family and I think they deserved some paragraphs. Even if they were not present, I think Rose should have talked to Dimitri about his family and whether they know he was brought back to life. Although I'm sure Yeva knows.

    Abe/Janine: I love Abe's personality and was happy to see a little Janine in this book. I was disappointed that we never did find out what Abe truly does for a living. Also, I was hoping for a more elaborate conversation between them and Dimitri. How do they really feel about this relationship that clearly started back at the academy? We will never know.

    I guess we have to make our own assumptions since this is clearly the end of Rose's story. Richelle has stated that this is the last book for Rose and she will only have a cameo appearance in the spin-off series. My guesses for the next book are Sydney (which is a given), Adrian, Eddie, and Jill. Too many things were left unanswered for those four. I know all series must come to an end, but I was hoping for a little more out of this book. Instead I was left with more questions. Although some will be answered in the next series, I know that others will not. It did not have quite the closure I was looking for but I guess you can't make everyone happy, right? Overall it was a good book, just lacking a few chapters in my opinion...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Feels one book short of finished, December 17, 2010

    It felt like one really important point was overlooked here. Rose often dreamed and was even forced to live it by Avery, getting away and leading a life of her own choosing with Dmitri rather than a life of servitude to Lissa or any other Moroi. This is a huge point that is brought up in the series and is never resolved. Just because she gets her promise mark does not mean she doesn't want another life for herself. (She did it when it seemed as if nothing could bring her and Dmitri back together.) It is almost like it is passive resignation to a life that was planned for her by virtue of her birth but never by her choice. I think that she and Dmitri needed to talk about what they wanted from life and make this decision to be guardians and not together rather than ignore the reality that they are giving up their life together in servitude to others.

    Dmitri goes from almost catatonic with grief and remorse to I love you with too much ease. The few bouts of struggle seem unlikely to yield the turnaround in behavior that they do. Rose is siphoning spirit off Lissa at an alarming pace and only has one huge breakdown? This also felt wrong. Why introduce the people living in the woods and not have them help the story along with either info on the lost Dragomir (I actually thought s/he would be living there in hiding at first)or help clearing Rose of the murder? In the absence of this help, maybe this group should have been saved for the spin off and not bogged down the pace of the story.

    Rose and Dmitri never talk about what happened between them in Siberia, even though she forgives him, they should have spoken about all of it. Or his subsequent stalking of her. He never acknowledges the love and strength it would take for her to try to end his Strigoi existence by death or by spirit cure. He never talks about how hard it must have been for her to kill so many Strigoi looking for him. They never talk about her challenging final exam. They never talk about their one sexual experience in the cabin. (The perfect time for that was their second time together.) All of these things could have been addressed in the road trip and would have felt more honest in bringing Dmitri to redemption than "your hair is beautiful" did. Therefore I propose the series really does require one more book about Rose. One that hashes out these points, has Abe and Janine talk to them both about what went on in their past relationship and brings in Dmitri's family.

    As observed by other reviewers, there was no mention of Dmitri's family at all. I would have expected most of his family to get on a plane and support him based on Rose's word alone. At the least a phone call should have been part of the story with a planned trip to follow.

    The other thing that really bothered me was ending the book feeling like Rose simply did not care about the fate of her many friends. Adrian's conversation with her broke my heart but needed to be done. But once he points out the sacrifices of so many of her close friends on her behalf, she doesn't even say "I'll look into that tomorrow" she just shines it over. She was somewhat selfish throughout the series (which is appropriate for her age) but she was always loyal to her friends and this lack of interest in their well being didn't sit well with me. I understand the author wanted to leave questions for the new series, I just wanted Rose to acknowledge that she would now try to help her friends out of the jams she had gotten them into.

    All of that said it is easy to complain when the hard work that went into it wasn't mine. I did love the book, I guess I wanted more of a balance of action and relationship in line with Patricia Briggs. I am grateful to Mead for writing the series and the effort she took in making me care about the characters and keeping me addictively flipping pages to see what would happen next. I look forward to any new books set in this world and hope that she will reconsider relegating Rose to the background and acknowledge that she can have books set in this world that are about Rose and books that feature other characters at the same time (see Kelly Armstrong's women of the other world and Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson/alpha and omega).

    5-0 out of 5 stars OH-MY-GOSH, December 7, 2010
    After waiting for this book for what felt like a century. I finally got it and breezed through it, like the rest of Vampire Academy series. I literally went to the book store at 12:00 and got the book. Ten minutes later I was reading it in my car. It took me half the book to finally drive home, even thought my fingers were numb from the freezing weather. I was in such in haste I forgot my gloves. But to the review.

    I loved the book. Rose is one of my favorite heroines in YA and it was a joy to get to read about her one last time. The book was faced paced with full of action. But we should already expect that seeing as though the main character is a bad***. If you though Rose was going to be in jail most of the book, think again. By the second chapter she's out and about. Doing what Rose does best getting in more trouble and finding the answers she needs found. She won't let someone fix her mess, no she fixes it herself. Even if it means tapping it back together with a couple of pieces missing. She won't be caged in some crappy motel in a small town that's most likely called town. Not are Rose.

    The Alchemist Sydnay plays a huge role in the book. I was shocked by how much she was in the book. I'll tell you guys she's in here more than blood promise. Abe's not in here as much as I would have liked. I through he would play a bigger role. Yes, people there will be some Victor Dashkov and his brother. Then there is someone else I will not spoil it but she is mentioned throughout the books her last name starts with a K. More Dimtri, Rose and Dimtri are together a lot seeing as there both on the loose. It's really not a spoiler because it's like in the second chapter. See the action starts off insanely fast. As another review stated I do wish that there was something about Dimtri's family or a guess appearance. They didn't really mention anything about his family.

    The comedy in this book is amazing. Rose has humor like me. She can find humor in opening a can of beans. It was just funny to read her snappy comments, and her banter. Plus she has it in the worst possible places. But it works.

    If you're a Lissa fan there is a lot of good things that happen to her so you might like that. We don't see much of Christian and I hated that he was one of my favorite characters. His humor was always a good thing to read about. It was so dry in a good way. Rose looks through Lissa's head a lot like in Blood promise. I'm not going to lie it annoyed me not enough to deduct a star. I just wanted Rose to stay in her world.

    The murder was a shocker to me. The person that killed the queen went through my brain but I wasn't really thinking. So it was a shocker not as much after I read who did it.

    The illegenement Dragomiar was not so much I knew who it was when I first heard the gender. I'm just sad that he/she is in that situation.

    The triangle. That's usually what a lot of people wanted to know who did Rose choose? Well I won't tell you but it was obvious. For the guy she didn't choose I felt so bad for. He didn't deserve that at all.

    I heard that there's going to be a spinoff series. I can't wait to read it. I'm really going to miss vampire Academy and Rose. She was what made it. Hopefully I will like the spinoff series just as much.
    Here one of my favorite lines from Last Sacrifice. A gun. I had been brought down by a gun. It was practically comical. Cheaters(See humor in the wrong place at the wrong time)
    Little spoiler bit if you didn't read the book.
    "Fine, I guess it's ok then. Go ahead.
    Huh? What's ok?
    It's okay if you marry my brother."
    (If you read the book you get the person is talking to rose by the way)

    I recommend you reading other Richelle Mead's work esepecially Georgina Kincaid series. She's a great author and I would like to thank her for writing such a great vampire series.
    Also recommend all
    -Ilona Andrews magic bites series
    -Patrica Briggs Mercy Thompson series
    -J.R Black Dagger Brotherhood series
    -Kristen Cashore Graceling
    -Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
    -Midnight breed series by Lara Adrian
    -Chicagoland series by Chloe Neil

    3-0 out of 5 stars So long, but not farewell..., December 7, 2010
    *** The beginning of the end ***

    It's here! It's here! The sixth and final instalment of Richelle Mead's epic `Vampire Academy' paranormal YA series. . .

    I have been waiting, nail-biting and anticipating this final instalment for MONTHS! And now that it's finally here and I have consumed the book in one sitting my overall response is. . . okay. It was pretty good. I wasn't overwhelmingly in love with the book, I didn't hate it, but it won't make my 2010 favourite's list.

    `Last Sacrifice' picks up where `Spirit Bound' left off. Queen Tatiana is dead, staked in her sleep - and all evidence points to Rose Hathaway. Now Rose awaits trial in the court prison, and it is very likely that she will be found guilty and sentenced to death. . . But not if Rose's friends have anything to say about it.

    Dimitri, still recovering from his Strigoi-turn, is determined to break Roza out. Adrian, Christian and Lissa want to wade through political intrigue and find out who really killed Tatiana. . .

    And Rose wants to get to the bottom of Tatiana's cryptic final message. A hand-written note warning Rose that danger lies ahead, and Lissa is not the last of the Dragomir line. . . she has a sibling, an illegitimate child who could change the course of Moroi royal history forever.

    *** Big surprises ***

    This is a MAMMOTH final instalment. Following in the footsteps of Stephanie Meyer's `Breaking Dawn' and JK Rowling's `Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', `Last Sacrifice' is a whopping 594-page ending extravaganza. That being said, because it's 594 pages there's a fair bit of legwork on Richelle Mead's part; lots of scene setting and plot strategizing to set up all the players and orchestrate this grand finale. The first 200 pages seem quite slow, revolving around Rose's imprisonment, the political implications of Queen Tatiana's death and Lissa's standing in Moroi society. I would warn that the plot doesn't start to satisfyingly thicken until about chapter fifteen (page 236).

    *** She said, she said ***

    The book is broken up between Rose's perspective as she hunts for the lost Dragomir child, and Lissa's pseudo-narrative as she hunts for Queen Tatiana's (real) killer.

    `Last Sacrifice' follows a similar structure to book #5 `Spirit Bound', in that the book is often split between Rose's `real-time' perspective, and her shadow-kissed bond with Lissa. The bond with Lissa allows Rose to pull a `Being John Malkovich' perspective-swap, and let her see through Lissa's eyes. I'm not a big fan of this tactic; Mead used it quite heavily in `Spirit Bound', when Rose was in Siberia and Lissa remained in St. Vladimir's. I think the reason this point of view structure doesn't sit well with me is because it means Rose and Lissa aren't actually in scenes together. I know the storyline calls for them to be apart, but I've always struggled with Rose and Lissa's bond (mostly because I can never get past the idea that Rose is slave to Lissa's princess) so not actually having them in scenes together means I am missing out on evidence of their devotion to one another. I know that's quite an outlandish response to have, and few VA fans share it, but it's just the way I feel. I've never much liked Lissa, purely because I think she puts Rose in a position of servitude (even if Rose wants to be there).

    *** Stake, Treason and Plot ***

    The good news however, is that both plots are equally fascinating.

    The political storyline is wildly absorbing - not least of all because Rose is the accused murderer at the centre of it all. This plot sees Lissa, Christian and Adrian unearthing court secrets and political intrigues - sex, violence and royal assassinations are at the heart of their investigations. And the court politics runs nicely alongside Rose's hunt for the elusive lost Dragomir, with help from Dimitri and her Alchemist friend, Sydney. Rose's adventure in this book isn't as grand as past instalments - she travels to West Virginia instead of Russia, for example. But the stakes are higher than ever when the hunt for the missing Dragomir could potentially change the course of Moroi history. Even if I have never responded to Rose and Lissa's powerful `friendship', I appreciated the fact that they are both working for the other in this book - Lissa is trying to clear Rose's name, while Rose is hunting for Lissa's lost sibling. It's a nice compliment and balancing act that Mead juggles throughout. . .

    *** I think I love you. . . ***

    But let's not beat around the bush or walk on eggshells - what fans really want, what made the 12 month wait so excruciating and the prospect of this finale so delicious was the romance. Will Rose choose Adrian, or Dimitri?

    Once upon a time, Rose's choice would have been simple. Dimitri was her teacher, mentor, lover and firmly set upon a god-like pedestal. Adrian was once nothing more than a drunken flirtation - a boozed royal amusing himself with Rose's affections. Then Dmitri became Strogoi and everything changed. . . Adrian became a true friend and shoulder to cry on, and then so much more. Rose's romantic entanglements got flipped around and turned inside out, and fans are desperate to know who Rose ends up with. Well, I will say that Rose makes a choice; Mead doesn't take the option away from her.

    In `Last Sacrifice', Dimitri is still reeling from his Strigoi turning - and still standing by his `Spirit Bound' decision to stay away from Rose. Adrian, mean while, is as devoted to his little dhampir as ever. It's a tough choice for Rose, and a romantic triangle that Mead didn't write lightly. I loved that she built Adrian's character up from his first appearance in `Frostbite', making him a real contender for Rose's affections. Adrian was once a drunken flirt, but over the course of five books he has made some real changes and become an admirable character and fan-favourite.

    Dimitri and Rose still have all the spark that's been there since book one, but Mead piles on the romantic obstacles for these two. . . The romance has been a big selling point of the Vampire Academy series. Rose and Dimitri's clandestine student/teacher affair was a risky and somewhat revolutionary coupling in the young adult genre (and hardly mainstream). But more than that, Mead's doses of romantic tragedy kept fans reeling and devastated. Richelle Mead clearly does not shy away from heartbreak or moral conundrums (as evidence when she sent Rose off to kill the man she loved). `Vampire Academy' marks the first of Mead's series' finales (with `Georgina Kincaid' and `Dark Swan' still continuing). Fans will be going into `Last Sacrifice' not knowing what to expect from Mead's wrap-up style - does she like happy-endings, or will she leave the series on a sombre note???. . .

    *** Last Goodbye ***

    And on that note, I will say that the ending was so-so for me. The foreword from Richelle Mead (which may only appear in international copies of `LS', to clear-up a name-change error) deflated what could have been a dramatic ending. . . I can't go into too much detail, but if you read the foreword from Ms Mead you will see that she makes mention of the much-anticipated VA spin-off series. Because of this small mention, the ending of `Last Sacrifice' is more of a whimper than a bang, purely because that foreword gave away what could have been a curveball ending for some (like those who haven't been reading spoilers about the spin-off).

    I was also a little disappointed by the romantic wrap-up. I expected. . . more. The romance's conclusion ended up being a little more `teen melodrama' than anything else, and instead of a dramatic scene we get a lot of inner monologues and heart-to-heart's. Which is fine, but for the finale a bit ho-hum when not coupled with memorable action.

    *** So long, but not farewell. . . ***

    The good news is the spin-off series cast of characters become apparent by the end of `Last Sacrifice'. . . and I dare say a few fan favourite's will be coming back for more! And it looks as though the `Vampire Academy' title will be relevant once again, as the spin-off will most likely take place back at Vladimir's Academy - YAY!

    The `Vampire Academy' series has been a hallmark of the young adult paranormal genre. It has been an epic series of love, hate, violence and kick-ass girl heroics. This series is a work of unparalleled teen brilliance and Richelle Mead has cemented her place amongst not only the teen heavyweights, but paranormal-writers. If you haven't read this series yet, then you're doing yourself a disservice. Even if I wasn't thrilled with the finale, I can appreciate the series as a whole and will forever count it amongst my all-time favourites.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Hot Series that Fizzles Out, December 26, 2010
    I've enjoyed the previous books in this series, despite the fact that I felt like the main character complained like a child A LOT. The action was good, often the dialogue was alright, and I could almost appreciate the characters' struggles. However, starting with the last book and continuing on until the end of this, I was highly disappointed with the direction of the story.

    For someone as bitter and acidic as Rose has always been, she sure seems to have everything turn out peachy keene in the end for her, and never takes the time to fully appreciate or reflect on it, or even experience personal growth. In fact, I personally think the smartest thing she's ever said comes in this book when she says, "I suck," to a friend after screwing up royally (yet again). At the end of the series, she is undoubtedly the exact same person as she was at the beginning.

    She also doesn't actually receive any serious repercussions from her irrational, childish, and impulsive behaviors--rather, she is often rewarded for them, which in my opinion will give impressionable reader's the idea that life might actually work like this. It doesn't. In real life, if your lover emotionally and physically abuses you, the scars don't go away in a month because that lover is suddenly transformed into the person he was when you first met. They cripple you for years. This is just one example of the unrealistic character development in this series.

    However, despite its flaws the books have always been quick, exciting reads. Rarely does the author bore with details, and every once in a while she can land a surprising punch or two. Fans of the reformed Dimitri will enjoy this book, and most of the character's stories are firmly set onto paths that make their future predictable and provide a little sense of closure. Fans of Lissa will no doubt have seen her ending coming since the first book, and rejoice.

    Personally, I'm exhausted by Rose and am grateful she's finally giving it a rest. I've enjoyed the ride, but this series needed to end. By the last twenty pages of the book, some of the fans that have grown a little weary of the never-changing characters may find that they're skipping entire pages because they've all read it before. Yet, up until that point the mystery of who-done-it is still unknowable and interesting enough to keep people's attention. Die-hard fans will most likely be squirming with impatience for the next story of this world, and I wish them good luck with it.

    4-0 out of 5 stars I love-hated it..., December 25, 2010
    ***THE FIRST HALF OF THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER-FREE (because people who spoil books and rehash plots in reviews without fair warning should be staked)***

    Before I start this gripe-fest, let me just say that I LUB Richele Mead's books - all of them. I read all 3 of her series. I think she's a brilliant storyteller and she skillfully drags me into the emotional web of all of her characters and their worlds. That being said, on with the griping.

    I kinda want to give this book 2 stars as a series finale, but the book is actually good and deserves 5 stars for the story, so I settled on 4. I can only speak for myself, but I'm very emotionally invested in this series and it pains me that I might have to guess at what will happen next, but, seemingly, that's what I'll have to do. Don't get me wrong, this book is really good. Although it strays from the norm in this series, there's a lot of action and a LOT of interaction between Rose & Dimitri. The pacing of the story is good, too, except for a few parts. There are plot twists & surprises that you don't see coming. Overall, it's good - it's just NOT a series finale. I've had some time to really ponder & I think Mead coulda knocked out another book to give us all real closure. I've been dragged (willingly) through this highly emotional & vivid saga and I don't want it all wrapped up neatly in a bow. Not only do I not want to guess what will happen next, I also don't want to hear it from any other character's point-of-view in a future book. I'm hoping & praying that someway, somehow the new series will feature point's-of-view from multiple characters, namely Rose and/or Dimka.

    First and foremost, the Keepers were a colossal waste of time. They added nothing to the story except a couple of random laughs. Dimka should have heard everything Rose did in Siberia & after to save him. She went through hell for and with him. They kept alluding to a talk about what happened, but it never really came. I also wanted a firsthand look at Dimka's reunion with the Belikov clan. You come back from the undead and you don't immediately call your mother?! I also would have liked to see Rose & his kid sister patch things up. Most importantly, Rose should NOT have cheated on Adrian!! I'm not a prude, but per the series, Rose has grown & she should have broken things off with Adrian the honorable way - especially after the way she berated herself for killing Victor. Dimitri's all, "No. I can't steal another man's girlfriend. There's no honor in that," but then Rose gives him the "eye" and they just fall into bed and have sex. Ok... There goes honor right out of the window. I guess I just expected more from these two. I expected their legitimate reunion to not be so cheap and at the sake of Adrian.

    I still liked the book overall, but again, looking back, it's more like another installment. A good installment, because there was some good stuff there, but NOT a series finale. So sad now.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not a conclusion....I want more!, December 18, 2010
    I love the Vampire Academy series and started reading this book as soon I received it. And I finished reading it all in one day-today. Honestly, this book was really a 3 star book but due to my love for this series and the main characters, I give it 4 stars.

    I was left wanting more, heck of a lot more. I did not get that happy, fuzzy feeling after reaching the conclusion in a beloved book where your characters reach that HEA. I didn't feel like there was a HEA at all, and I was left with more questions than answers.


    The most important thing to me in the series was the romantic relationship between Dimitri and Rose, especially given how it ended in the previous book. Dimitri was in the book a lot more than he was in the previous books, but I didn't feel like it was enough. There wasn't really a lot of talk about what went down between them in the past. Nothing was mentioned about how much Rose did for him, especially breaking Victor Dashkov out of jail. There were hints and clues but nothing really clear, even though Victor was with them both. I felt like it could have been done a bit better. There wasn't a lot of romance really. It was kinda depressing because in the end, Rose dives in to save Lissa from a bullet. She asks Dimitri later if he had been going in to save her or Lissa, and he answers that he doesn't know. WHAT???? That's just so depressing! And he ends up being assigned as Lissa's boyfriend, Christian's Guardian. Not good!

    Then there is Rose being shot by Tasha. She goes in front of Lissa in order to protect her. Their bond is broken as a result because Rose heals all by herself. Nobody heals here because the Guardians have everyone on lockdown. So we are led to believe that after everything, nobody tries to heal Rose and break into where she is being held? They would have just let her die? But thankfully, she recovers by herself, which ends up breaking their bond. And to top it all of, Rose is never even thanked by Lissa for saving her life. What Lissa did was stupid. She went into the crowd knowing that Tasha had a gun and that Tasha's hostage, Mia would have gotten away anyway. So she went in to save the crazy woman with the gun? Very stupid.

    Let's get to the Queen's murderer. It's Tasha and she frames Rose because she loves Dimitri and knew about their relationship. She gets detained and more evidence comes to light, but we are not told what that evidence is or what her faith will be. Will she get executed or not? What happens? Call me bloodthirsty, but I would have liked to see Tasha executed or at least killed during the fight. I mean, she framed Rose and sent her to her death, even shot her at the end. Her character should have been KILLED OFF and not just detained because she could always escape. So, that's another loose end. And we aren't told about how Christian feels about Rose turning in his aunt. Although it is mentioned that he still visits her. We aren't told a lot about many other characters either. What happens to Ambrose? What happens to Eddie? What happened to Victor Dashkov's brother, Robert Doru? What happens to Sydney? The alchemist, Sydney, who was in a lot of this book and helped Rose in her quest to find the missing Dragomir and clear her name. Nothing is really resolved.

    That was my whole problem with the book. This was supposed to be the FINAL book in the series. I know there is going to be a spin-off series and all, but it's unfair for questions about this series to be answered in the spin-off series. Everything pertaining to this book/series should have been wrapped in this very FINAL book & conclusion to this series! I was disappointed and left wanting more. I want more! I want more Rose and Dimitri. I feel like there is so much more left to their story. Not everything was wrapped up about their relationship or about them being Guardians. What about that "they come first" phrase that was always repeated and how Rose questioned if Dimitri would have saved her or Lissa? Nothing was really resolved. It was just more questions and questions. Rose and Dimitri did NOT even discuss the past matters in their relationship like when she went to Siberia, met his family, everything she did for him, how his rejection of her after he was healed from becoming Strigoi hurt her so much, etc. I want more! Ugh, very frustrating. Many things are still left unresolved. This "final" novel was not a conclusion and left me feeling a bit disappointed and anxious for answers. Guess I'll have to wait all the way until August for the first Bloodlines novel, or wistfully wish for there to be more in this series!

    5-0 out of 5 stars So much better than Twilight!, December 9, 2010
    I can't even begin to say how much I love this series. I am not a teen but instead am a 30 year old teacher! I have tried reading all the other vampire novels out there and without a doubt the VA series rises way above and beyond. I wish I could give Last Sacrifice way more than 5 stars because it deserves it and then some. I have waited and waited for this novel to come out and when it did, I found I couldn't put it down. I put aside lesson planning and grading papers until I knew if Rose ended up with Dmitri. I've read a ton of books in my life but can't remember a series resonating with me and whose characters I absolutely adore. I felt satisfied when I finished the book, having gone on this journey with Rose. I am sad it has to end because I would love to read more about her and especially Dmitri!!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not really an ending to a series, December 7, 2010
    This is my favorite YA vampire series and I was excited that this is the last book in the series. (Although a spin off series is coming! The first book, Bloodlines, is due out August 2011.) I eagerly dove into this book as soon as I got it in the mail but when I finished it I kind of felt let down. I'm going to try hard not to give away any spoilers so sorry if some of this is somewhat vague.

    The Storyline

    As you can imagine Rose doesn't stay locked up for long and she and her friends are trying to figure out who really killed Queen Tatiana, who is this mystery Dragomir that Tatiana referred to in the note Ambrose slips to Rose and Rose and Dmitri have to confront their feelings for each other. The pace of the story was steady but not as much action as the earlier books. Being the last book it was obviously a lot about tying up the little story lines that have ran through the series. We find out what happens to Sonya Karp, the teacher turned Strigoi, the fate of Victor Dashkov, who Rose chooses and what happens with Lissa. I think while not a bad book this did not grab me as much because you could guess pretty early on who the murderer would turn out to be and what happens to Lissa and Rose was kind of obvious as well. In the fact the things that you could not figure out were never explained and the reader is totally left hanging. I guess this was so they could be explained in the spin off series. Which on one hand irritates me because I like to see things wrapped up nicely but on the other hand makes me even more anxious to get my hands on Bloodlines in hopes that I get to see more of some of my favorite characters and find out what happens to them.

    The Characters

    No real new characters in this one although we do finally get to see a lot more of Sonya Karp and Rose's dad, Abe. I loved that Sydney is back and plays a pretty large role. She's turning out to be more feisty than she first seems. A new group of people are introduced although they did not really add anything relevant to the story other than some comic relief. I have a feeling that this again is something that was more of a setup for the next series. I loved that Lissa was finally showing more back bone and not being as dependent on others to solve her problems. In contrast, I found it irritating that Rose making so many obviously stupid decisions. She is normally rash and lives in the moment but some of her choices made no sense and I actually had to put the book down at one point to say "Seriously? You did not see what was going on in front of your face regarding Dmitri?".

    The Romance

    Both Dmitri and Adrian get face time in this book and I was still torn about who I wanted Rose to end up with. She and Dmitri just seemed like they were meant to be but could Dmitri overcome the trauma of being a Strigoi and allow himself to love Rose again? I also love Adrian and really wanted him to be happy. He was so in love with Rose and was trying to change himself for the better so he could be with her. So I could really feel for Rose as she had to figure out which way to turn. I'm not unhappy with who she chose but of course I still feel bad for the other guy.

    All in all...

    I enjoyed this book but did not love it. I did not get a feeling of closure for the series. Instead it felt like one adventure was finished and it's getting ready to launch you into the next book rather than a new series. Not that this is a bad thing. lol. ... Read more

    15. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1)
    by Amanda Hocking
    Kindle Edition (2010-07-09)
    list price: $0.99
    Asin: B003VD1GBA
    Sales Rank: 45
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Switched - the first book in the Trylle Trilogy...

    When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right.

    With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.
    ... Read more


    4-0 out of 5 stars Not my typical reading, but enjoyable light reading!, November 26, 2010
    Hocking has an uncanny ability to write fascinating little stories that are compellingly addicting. Her books are not my typical reading fare - I tend more toward the adult mysteries and suspense type of thing - however ever since I picked up Hocking's My Blood Approves series, I've been strangely addicted to her work. The Trylle series is no exception. Now, I may not fall in the typical readership for Hocking's books, but because I work as a Probation Officer for teenagers, I tend to read a lot of YA fiction to keep "in touch" with what my kids enjoy.

    Hocking's three-part Trylle series, of which Switched is number one, is about a girl who has a miserable existance. Her childhood is filled with little oddities that don't make much sense, and her mother, who refers to her as a "monster" goes so far as to try to stab her to death at her own birthday party. Switched is so much a coming of age tale - with a twist - as Wendy soon discovers that she has another life waiting for her discovery and that she is so much more than an angst filled teenager stuck in high school.

    I won't give away any more, as part of the joy of reading this book is discovering - right along with Wendy - just what in the heck is wrong with her and why she has all these odd little habits, abilities and thoughts.

    This is not a literary masterpiece for your college Women's Literature 101 class. It was not intended to be so. It is not filled with symbolism and fodder for critical discussion. It IS, however, fun, light reading that will keep your attention. It is a sweet story. Hocking has captured a believable and realistic teenage heroine. She's captured appropriate action, adventure, and even romantic tension. For those reviewers who say the teenage angst is overblown...I would disagree. I work with teenagers for a living and the internal and external dialogue is actually quite realistic for the age group. Perphaps not ALL teens think this way, but the ones I work with quite often do. Many teens - especially girls with abusive backgrounds and lack of a stable parent figure like Wendy - DO think and act this way, althought many of them would be hard pressed to publically admit it.

    I've given Switched four stars, not because it isn't excellent, but because I save my five star reviews for books that are out of this world wonderful or books that really speak to me emotionally. This one is excellent, but it is not the definition of perfect. There are a few typos, but they are easily overlooked.

    Overall, excellent book. Excellent and believable plot. An overall wonderfully creative and engaging book. Nice job, Amanda - I'm off to purchase #2 in the series and I am looking forward to discovering more.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised, September 29, 2010
    I stumbled upon this book while hunting down my next read. I was intrigued by the description and also by the very low price.

    - The writing is smooth and very easy to read. I was drawn in immediately and would often digest great lengths before putting it down. It only took me 2 days to finish.
    - The storyline is unique. I had a hard time getting over the "troll" element, but I appreciate that it is something different.
    - I am a sucker for fairy-tales, so I appreciated the old world elements wound into the plot (balls, castles, beautiful gowns...)
    - Some of the character were incredibly enjoyable. I loved Rhys, Matt, and Willa the most. They were well-written and likable.

    - Hocking repeats the word 'foxy'. It made me wonder about Hocking's age, as the word seemed out of place. At first, it was only used by the main character, so I thought it was placed in there purposefully as part of her character, but then other characters started to use it. Very odd.
    - Some of the Trylle history was not explained clearly. Much of it was explained through dialogue, which I found tedious. Narrative would have been a better choice, in my opinion (or perhaps a mix of both).
    - I am just not feeling the romance between Wendy and her tracker. I am much more interested in a romance between she and Rhys.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to the next one!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyed it!, December 26, 2010
    I had seen this book every now and then but was not familiar with it nor was I familiar with the author at all. And the first thing I usually do is read the reviews and see if it is worth a buy - and of course reading a sample of it on my Kindle. This was worth the buy and the a good read. I know she has a vampire series as well, but this one was really great - take a break from the vampire genre.

    In a nutshell, Wendy feels that she does not belong - in fact her own mother felt the same way that she nearly killed her daughter. After she receives a visit, to her bedroom at night no less, from the newer student at her school (Finn Holmes) she finds that there is a reason she feels she doesn't belong and the things that seem to happen when she's around...

    Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you - gonna have to read and find out.

    I am not really a fan of books written in the first person, with the exception of one (White Oleander, Great book by the way!) this one I actually didn't mind at all. I didn't care for Twilight (sorry Twilight fans) simply because I couldn't care for the character because she put it simply...annoying. That's just me though!

    I do like how she developed her characters, even the ones that don't have such a big part in the story.

    I did spot a few errors, but not enough to completely annoy me - but then I'm not a true grammar person. I will be getting the next book fairly soon (I read the excerpt and I have to know what happens with Wendy). Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, December 28, 2010
    From the first page I was absolutely hooked. I'm the type to give up on a book early; if it doesn't capture my attention in the first few pages, it probably wont capture it at all. But this one did literally the first paragraph. I cannot wait to read Torn, and hope to see more the series! :)

    5-0 out of 5 stars NOT a "children's book", December 27, 2010
    Great book if you liked Hunger Games, Twilight, or Percy Jackson. I liked it less than Hunger Games but much more than other Fantasy Young Adult Books. However, parents of readers be warned: Kindle has this book under the sub-category "children's books" and that is misleading. Hockling uses every swear word under the sun in this book and there are several sexually suggestive encounters between characters both old and young. Overall, I would suggest this book for anyone over 16. (I'm a prude).

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book!, December 26, 2010
    This book was fantastic! I loved this book, am almost finished with the second, and am eagerly anticipating the third!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining!, December 26, 2010
    New twists on a well-known plot design made this an entertaining read. I was seriously diappointed to find out that the author has placed an indefinite hold on publication of number 3, especially when the teaser chapter cites publication by the end of 2010. Still well worth the price, though.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!!!, December 14, 2010
    Simply charming! I love Amanda's imagination! There were a few typos, but nothing major. I can't wait to start Torn! Keep up the great work Amanda!

    4-0 out of 5 stars An alternate world that will peak your imagination..., December 8, 2010
    An alternate world that will peak your imagination...
    Hocking has a knack for creating a world spun from fantasy. Her characters are full & rich. This is the beginning of a trilogy about trolls, known as the Trylle, their enemy trolls, the Vittra, their tradition of substituting their children for human children known as changling, and a world chock full of ideas, customs, and more that will keep you reading. Meet Wendy, an angst teen with a colorful past who discovers she is the Trylle Princess. Then there is Finn, the tracker who takes her to her `true home'. And of course there is a host of other characters, both good and bad that will thrill your desire for adventure. Great read in spite of the many errors in the ebook version.

    Keep in mind that this is a fluff fantasy teen read. 4* of 5*

    5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating!, November 30, 2010
    Would never had picked this kind of book out of a bookstore as I have never been into trolls or changelings, but after reading My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking I knew it had to be good! She definitely knows how to keep the readers attention (maybe a little too I read this book in less than a day, could not put it down. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone! ... Read more

    16. Arousing Love
    by M. H. Strom
    Kindle Edition (2009-11-08)
    list price: $4.99
    Asin: B002WB0YDS
    Publisher: Marstro Press
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Zach knows Joanna is too young for him, but he has never felt like this about anybody before. She’s so sweet and passionate and flirty and free, and the most beautiful girl Zach has ever known.

    Joanna is swept away by her feelings for Zach as they grow increasingly passionate with each other. She’s doing things she’d never normally do, but it’s like God has whispered in her heart Zach is the one for her.

    The powerful forces of young love, sex and religion come crashing together in this romantic, sexually charged story.

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Christian porn for teens?
    Make that ZERO stars.
    A bizarre, unrealistic story of two teenagers, Zach and Joanna, who over the course of her 2 week family vacation from Colorado, manage to fall madly in lust/love. Intertwined throughout all of their self-inflicted sexual temptations is their desperate struggle to please "god". But at last we see their "patience" pay off as they promise Joanna's father to wait until Joanna is 17 to fulfill their commitment to "god" and go all the way. It's the least they could do after "he" came through with the prayed-for-a-few-times scholarship to the prestigious art school a mere 5 blocks from Joanna's house. Now THAT'S a miracle! I'm sure they'll be happily married forever and ever.....(yes, that was sarcasm.)

    I hated this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars unfair reviews?
    Before this book was free it received nearly all positive reviews. Obviously it has gained a lot more exposure since then, but the title and cover picture must have given a lot of people the wrong impression of what kind of book this is, and a lot of people must have downloaded it expecting an adult romance or erotica and not noticed it's in the teen/YA category. Most of the positive reviews come from teens who loved the book, while all the negative reviews are from adult women. Many of them speak of it as being juvenile and unrealistic, but the book has a romantic-teen-fantasy feel to it, especially the ending, and most adult romance novels are not realistic either (they're just aimed at a women's fantasies rather than a teens). The ending would be very romantic to a younger teenager, but to adults who have a more jaded outlook it might not be so romantic, and might even be offensive.

    There are quite a few religious conversations in this book, and I can understand some people being offended by that and not wanting religion mixed into their entertainment. But I think the religious views in this book are unique and add something to the story. It is not a standard religious message or indoctrination, and it takes an honest hard look at the church through the eyes of its main character. The teenage years are a time of questioning and figuring out what the truth is and what you believe and what is important. This is a real part of "coming of age", but not something you find very often in teen novels. Perhaps its realism is too much for some people. I can also understand some people not liking the realism and sensuality between a nearly 16 year old and an 18 year old. There is a lot in this story that could offend people.

    I think most of the harsh reviews are from people who were personally offended by this book. Many of the reviews give away the ending and deliberately misrepresent the story. They don't just give their opinion, they express it as if it is the opinion everyone should share. I think people should try reading it for themselves and form their own opinions, especially since it is free to read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars an amazing love story
    I do not understand how come this book get so many harsh review... I think it was captivating. Great love story of 2 teens struggling to stay pure and holy for God.

    Today's view is so deformed so a story like that may seem unrealistic but it is very real or at least should be.

    Great read!

    5-0 out of 5 stars ...
    Some people that reviewed this novel didn't like it. It's directed at YA, but a mature YA. I'm 15 and I really liked it, keeping in mind that it is fiction.

    5-0 out of 5 stars good read
    I think this story was great and it shows pressure teens may face but turned back to GOD

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing debut novel!
    This is one hot young adult story, but it is also very realistic (for a Christian teen) and well-written. The author includes God and faith in the mix, thus complicating things further when feelings get strong and the pull of young love becomes blinding. I really hurt for this guy. Seriously. I felt his pain as well as hers while they struggled with their budding relationship. I could not stop reading this book. It's the kind of story where you want to crawl inside and talk to the characters to make sure they don't do something they'll regret because they keep putting themselves in tempting situations. I totally remember being the same age as the characters in this book. I identified with the faulty thinking that came with their burgeoning hormones. This author has talent! ... Read more

    17. The Maze of Bones (39 Clues, No. 1)
    by Rick Riordan
    Hardcover (2008-09-09)
    list price: $12.99 -- our price: $7.79
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0545060397
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    Sales Rank: 76
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her decendants an impossible decision: "You have a choice - one million dollars or a clue."

    Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world's most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 clues hidden around the world will reveal the family's secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what's important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents.

    The 39 Clues is Scholastic's groundbreaking new series, spanning10 adrenaline-charged books, 350 trading cards, and an online game where readers play a part in the story and compete for over $100,000 in prizes.

    The 39 Clues books set the story, and the cards, website and game allow kids to participate in it. Kids visit the website - - and discover they are lost members of the Cahill family. They set up online accounts where they can compete against other kids and against Cahill characters to find all 39 clues. Through the website, kids can track their points and clues, manage their card collections, dig through the Cahill archives for secrets, and "travel" the world to collect Cahill artifacts, interview characters, and hunt down clues. Collecting cards helps: Each card is a piece of evidence containing information on a Cahill, a clue, or a family secret.

    Every kid is a winner - we'll give away prizes through the books, the website and the cards, including a grand prize of $10,000!

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Nothing wrong with a smart marketing strategy
    There's already a review that is negative about this series for being a blatant marketing scheme. While I was a bit put off at first by the whole book series/trading cards, now that we've bought the book and a few card packs, I'm a huge fan. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series helped ignite my 10-year old son's passion for reading. He's now half-way through Maze of Bones, and thoroughly enjoying it. He's noted on the calendar the date the next book will be released. I have to admit I'm reviewing the book without having read it myself yet, but based on the number of times my son has read me excerpts, I'd say it is succeeding with the target audience.

    As for the trading cards, well, 10-year old boys love trading cards - Pokemon, Yu-gi-oh, and so on. These cards are different though. They have puzzles on them that the reader has to solve. They're not that tough - they seem simplistic to me as an adult - but for my son, they're challenging enough that he feels a sense of accomplishment when he solves them, but not so challenging that he's had to enlist parental help very often. The web site provides hints. We did have a problem entering one card. We sent e-mail to support and the problem was quickly fixed. I was pleased when my son noticed a clue hidden in the book. I believe the puzzles have him looking at the books much more analytically.

    I'm hoping (as is Scholastic) that by including different authors in the series, my son will be encouraged to read other books by these authors as well. I see this as a win-win situation. Anything that gets kids to read is OK by me.

    I think this is a brilliant marketing move on Scholastic's part. I try to teach my kids to be informed consumers, and understand when they are being manipulated. Everything is about branding and marketing in our culture, and here is a case where someone got it right, and is marketing a quality product in a very effective manner. Kudos to Scholastic for coming up with such a unique and engrossing series!

    5-0 out of 5 stars An addictive new series
    I was reminded of both The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter books as I read Maze of Bones. First of all, it's an addictive read. Second, it is a mystery with multiple clues involving famous people, like Dan Brown's book. Last, like J.K. Rowling's famous books, it is about a group of people separated into four different branches, or houses; and about children saving the world.

    The plot involves the diverse, far-flung Cahill family, which has been the most powerful family in history. Anyone important in history was probably a Cahill, including Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte and, especially, Benjamin Franklin. The source of the Cahill's power has been lost over time. The 39 Clues is about the search for that source, by a group of Cahill relatives vying against each other to find the answer. The clues are found all over the world.

    Penniless orphans Amy and Dan Cahill enlist the help of their teenage au pair, Nellie, to find the solution to the mystery. The kids seem like real people, and you root for them against their mostly despicable relatives. Amy is a painfully shy, stuttering 14-year-old; Dan is a precocious 11-year-old who loves collecting things. Although they often fight, the siblings help each other during the many dangerous adventures collecting the clues.

    Maze of Bones is the first of 10 books in this new Scholastic series, which also has an elaborate supplemental contest where readers can try to come up with the answers to the clues themselves. The book comes with six game cards that you can use to get clues online. There are 350 cards in total, so the series is also a card-collecting game for kids.

    But if you just want to read Maze of Bones, it's certainly worthwhile. It's fast-paced, full of fascinating people and has an interesting mystery. I recommend it, and look forward to the second book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can't Wait For the Next Book!!!
    My son devoured this book!!! For a child that hates to read, he read the book in one weekend and exclaimed, "I can't wait for the next book!" What music to my ears!!! My son read the book, entered his trading cards on line, worked out the puzzles and had a ball!! I wish all books would thrill and excite him the way that this one did!! Kudos!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars My 10 year old Loves The 39 Clues Series
    Got Book 1 for my 10 year old daughter. She read the entire book in days, joined the website, and talks about these a lot. She keeps asking me to get her all 39 books - she really loves this series. Previously loved the Daisy Meadows books and still likes Nancy Drew. Hope the next few in the series come out Soon. I love to encourage her reading, and this book brings in educational subjects including travel and history. We highly recommend this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating First Book in an Intriguing Series of Ten . . . You Don't Need Any Game Cards to Have Fun
    I decided to wait until I had read the second book in the series, One False Note, to review The Maze of Bones. I wanted to see how well the books work without the trading cards, Web site, and contest.

    Imagine that the Wizard of Oz had been written as a ten part book where you could read what happens to Dorothy and Toto along with clues to help get them home . . . with an opportunity to win a cash prize for solving the clues before anyone else. It would have been a nice publicity stunt, but the pleasure of reading about Dorothy's adventures would have been no less.

    The 39 Clues provides a similar opportunity to my imaginary alternative to The Wizard of Oz. The series is a cross between The Amazing Race, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Survivor . . . constructed as a competition for youngsters.

    As the book opens, an elderly woman, Grace Cahill, is dying. She instructs her attorney to employ "the alternate will." At her funeral, a handful of the 400 Cahill relatives who attend are invited by ticket to attend a reading of the will. During the reading, each person is given five minutes to choose between taking one million dollars or competing in a contest to solve 39 clues in order to become the heir to the Cahill destiny and become the most powerful people on Earth. They may compete as individuals or as teams. Most people take the money and leave.

    Orphans Amy (fourteen) and Dan (eleven) Cahill are pressured by their great Aunt Beatrice (their grandmother Grace's sister) to take the money. She is also their guardian and says she will turn them over to the state to live in foster homes if they don't take the money. The two decide that they want to compete, having a chance to honor their grandmother's faith in them and their parents' memory. Naturally, the siblings form a team, but how will they compete without any money and adults to help them?

    Within minutes the competition takes a potentially lethal turn as it becomes obvious that some of the Cahills will stop at nothing to win the competition.

    In the rest of the book you'll get to know Amy and Dan better, meet their au pair, Nellie Gomez, and travel to Boston, Philadelphia, and across the Atlantic to Europe. An important American turns out to be important to solving the first clue, and you'll read a lot about that person.

    Youngsters will like it that children are the stars of the book (and the contest) with adults playing a supporting role. Parents will be happy that the book contains a lot of interesting historical, biographical, and geographical information in a format that makes learning fun.

    The book's main weakness is that it doesn't do much to develop the characters of Amy and Dan before the contest begins. As a result, you'll root for them as underdogs and wish them well . . . but you won't identify with them as closely as if you knew a lot more about them (as Roald Dahl did by introducing the Buckets in detail before launching the golden ticket contest).

    The writing is otherwise quite good, and you'll find yourself slipping rather easily into the adventure fantasy (despite many details in the story that don't quite work in real life). I liked the excitement of The Maze of Bones better than the more intellectual focus of One False Note. The two books are rewarding for different reasons.

    Don't expect, however, that the writing is the same or that the characters behave in the same way. As with any multiple-author series, there will be shifts from book to book.

    To me, the only thing better than a good mystery . . . is a longer good mystery. With the prospect of ten books to keep me entertained, I'm looking forward to reading all ten.

    I did look at the game cards and only found two that related to the first story. Those two didn't add much to my understanding of the book. The others seemed to relate to future stories, so they did give me a sense of the future story line. That part was nice.

    I haven't tried the online site for playing the games because I'm not interested in the contest, but if that is something you enjoy, please do take a look.

    I'm sure the focus will shift more towards the game in 2010 as the book series ends. But until then, you can just have lots of fun with the books!

    If you like this story, I also encourage you to ask your relatives about your family's history. You might find that your relatives are connected to some pretty famous events and places. Wouldn't that be fun?

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Fun Adventure. Reveiwed by the Book Junkie
    The first in a series of 10 books, "Maze of Bones" is the beginning of an adventure for the Cahill family. After the death of the family matriarch, Grace, the four branches of the Cahill family are called on to solve the 39 clues. The group who accomplishes this first will become the most powerful people on Earth. No one expects Amy and Dan, 14 and 11 respectively, to get far. They turn out to be cleverer than the others think, though--which puts them in danger from their competitors. From Philadelphia to Paris to Tokyo to Seoul to Cairo, Amy and Dan fight to stay ahead of the game without turning to deceit or violence like their distant relatives.

    A bit like a YA version of Indiana Jones or (or National Treasure, if you prefer a more contemporary reference), the 39 Clues books are fun, exciting, and filled with enough tension to keep you turning pages. I can't wait for the rest of the series to come out so I can find out what happens!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Sure it's a marketing strategy...but hey, it's a good story too
    I ordered this for my son for Christmas. It arrived yesterday and it just sat there...enticing me. So I started to read just a bit to see what the hoopla was all about and lo and behold, I got sucked into the story.

    I have absolutely no problem with the cards being part of it. My son collects cards from different things--why should this be any different than his Pokemon collection? He'll be reading...bonus #1....he gets to collect cards...bonus #2...and it's online as well...big bonus! ... Read more

    18. LEGO Brickmaster: Star Wars
    by DK Publishing
    Hardcover (2010-10-18)
    list price: $29.99 -- our price: $17.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0756663113
    Publisher: DK Publishing
    Sales Rank: 176
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Books and building bricks come together like never before! Dynamic full-color photos combine with clearly labeled instructions, trivia, and a compelling story to make the Brickmaster kits perfect for all LEGO fans!

    With this kit, kids can create incredible spacecraft from the world of Star Wars, or build their own unique warp-speed ships.

    LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2010 The LEGO Group. ©2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved. Production by Dorling Kindersley under license from the LEGO Group.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Favorite Kid's Toys Around our House
    Whenever these come out, we buy them. They have this one, castles, Atlantis and Pirates. My kids have all of them and play for hours. I love that the instruction books are hard cover, and attached. I also love that it gives good instructions and gets the kids starting building, just as their imaginations take off, and they start designing their own creations.

    I also like that these will sit in a book shelf, with a book attached to a pouch that holds the legos. This is nice for easy storage, and they just don't go into a big "lego bin".

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great for a Lego Boy or Girl
    I love these brickmaster sets. And, my 7 year old loves Star Wars so it's a win/win.
    I also have the Knights brickmaster. I like it because my son opens each lego set and builds the ship/castle/whatever and then what? He is not and I am not one to see it put on a shelf. I want him to enjoy his legos and use his imagination like we used to with our lego sets. He loves to take them apart once he has completed the given set of directions and do his own thing with the pieces-I love his creativity.
    Well, with the Brickmaster sets, they receive about 250 pieces along with directions for taking those pieces and using them at least 6 different ways to make 6 different things. Much more longevitiy in my mind.
    I would recommend the Brickmaster sets to all lego fans and I have!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Build your way through the Star Wars Galaxy
    This Lego building book can teach a person that has never played with Lego to build ships from the Star Wars Saga.
    Even if don't know about Star Wars, this book can show and tell you how to build the ships and provide info on the names and what their purpose was for.
    The 2 mini-figures included can make the experience even more fun ^.^

    5-0 out of 5 stars This item , for the price i got it on Amazon, Rocks!!
    I finally got this in the other day . its a gift for my son for christmas and its even more awesome than i thought. He is going to flip when he gets this.. the fact that it is a book w detailed descriptions and building instructions is great.
    And you can break all the blocks down afterward and put them in the box within the book...
    Its a perfect gift idea for any Lego fan/Star Wars fan...
    ... Read more

    19. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella (Twilight Saga)
    by Stephenie Meyer
    Hardcover (2010-06-05)
    list price: $13.99 -- our price: $5.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 031612558X
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
    Sales Rank: 157
    Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion. ... Read more


    4-0 out of 5 stars Vampires Within, June 5, 2010
    Warning - spoilers ahoy.

    My favourite aspect of the Twilight novels was the supporting cast of characters, who were so fascinating they always left me wanting to know more. This short novel from Bree's perspective works as a supplement to Eclipse, and as a tragic story in its own right. If the main aspect of the Twilight novels you enjoyed was the romance between Edward and Bella, then I don't think you'll enjoy this one, however if you liked the wider politics of the Twilight vampire universe, then this is one for you.

    I enjoyed the way the details of Bree's conversion to the vampire life were revealed gradually throughout the first half of the story. There was a great sense of tragic irony in the fact that Bree ended up trading her humanity for a cheeseburger, of all things. The contemporary culture references in Twilight always act as a nice reality contrast to the more fantastical elements.

    Riley came off as a sympathetic character in Eclipse, another sad victim of Victoria's evil. From Bree's perspective, there is nothing to pity, as Riley is as much a perpetrator of evil and manipulation as Victoria. His referral to the newborns as his 'kids' felt like a sad, twisted mirror of Carlisle and Esme's loving parental relationship with their own coven.

    Fred was a fascinating new character. Most of the vampire powers we've seen so far have seemed as much of a curse as they are a gift, but Fred's ability to repel people would be every wannabe hermit's greatest dream. I wondered if he was a social phobic when he was a human. The progression of his relationship with Bree was nicely done - very subtle. I especially liked the card playing: from solitaire, to assisted solitaire, and finally two-player.

    The best scenes came towards the end, when the story meets up with what we know from Eclipse. One of my favourite was between Carlisle, Esme and Jasper when they discuss Bree's fate. I don't think we ever saw those characters interact in the Twilight saga, and the dynamics between the various personalities of the Cullen family make for good drama.

    I can see a lot of potential for these supplemental stories for expanding the Twilight universe. I'd love to read one about Maria, or Peter and Charlotte, or the rest of the Cullen family. And, of course, Fred ... I hope he did meet the Cullens some day.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "Please. I don't want to fight", June 9, 2010
    "Please. I don't want to fight"
    Bree Tanner was a fifteen year old runaway before she became a vampire. Now, a three-month-old vampire, Bree has to find ways to stay alive, to feed without getting caught, and to find the truth about her new life. But Riley, the leader of this gang, is spurring them to war.

    I Liked:
    Right off, I need to say that I have recently finished Eclipse and did actually find myself interested in the character of Bree Tanner. She seemed interesting and was the first time we had seen a newborn vampire that wasn't so hostile. This book expands on her small part in Eclipse and there are many fascinating aspects.
    Bree Tanner, for one, is not a Bella clone. She is far more independent and curious, a lot more proactive and a lot more involved in her own life. I thought she had way more spunk than Bella has ever shown. Sure, Bree has no hobbies either, besides reading, but Bree is a newborn vampire. I don't expect to find her in a knitting circle.
    Fred needs to seriously have his own novella. He has a power that is absolutely creative and interesting and this novella (focusing on Bree) barely gives him a chance to show it off. Maybe if this book does well enough, Meyer will write his story (starting, hopefully, before he goes vampire).
    Learning more about newborn vampires in general was eye-opening. Finally, Meyer gets to explore her creation. We get to see newborn vampires have absolutely no loyalty to each other, no self-control, and no qualms about sinking their teeth into their poor human food banks. I liked reading Bree and Diego roam Seattle.
    I also loved how Meyer acknowledged the other vampire mythos by having our newbie vampires believe that sun is bad, they can get staked through the heart, and to fear garlic.

    I Didn't Like:
    You know it's a Stephenie Meyer book when after meeting a boy for two seconds, the girl cannot live without him. Yes, my fellow readers, Bree becomes very friendly (never exactly romantic, though) with Diego and when he is gone, she is devastated to the point of giving up on living. Oh, please. Spare me.
    Another part that really irked me is how, when the whole "army" of newbies appears in daylight, they spend most of their time commenting on how "pretty and sparkly" they are. Uh, the girls, maybe, but the guys? Particularly fifteen year-old guys? Have you been around fifteen-year-old guys? I can almost bet you they would comment on it, but I bet it would have a far more negative tone than "My you are so pretty and sparkly" (I won't recount it because I have no desire to reproduce such offensiveness here). Geesh.
    I guess one of my biggest complaints is that Meyer takes a character, who was in the big battle with vampires and werewolves, and TOTALLY AVOIDS WRITING THE BATTLE SCENE! Bree ends up avoiding it by hanging in the back for two seconds, and POOF! When she appears, the battle is all gone, the werewolves are elsewhere, and I am so confused about how long this battle took, who was where, who did what, and what was the point of writing from Bree if you can't even write the battle that she would have taken part it? Lord!
    Lastly, I have to mention that Meyer's writing is a little sloppy. I mean, she's not the best writer in the world (most elaborate, most spellbidning, most whatever), but this is her first book I had to reread certain parts over again to figure out what she was trying to say.

    Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
    I didn't catch anything.
    Victoria and Riley head off to a "gingerbread house" in the middle of the forest to "smoochie smoochie".
    There is a lot of violence near the beginning, with multiple feedings, vampires' losing limbs, and burnings.

    I did like this book. But I wasn't happy when I learned that Meyer is hosting this novella on her site for free while I spent nearly $14 (okay, not quite) on it. Yes, the free version is only up until July 5th, and I probably would have bought it anyway because it is a rather nice looking book (and I have a terrible time reading books on the computer and don't want to fight with my printer to print out nearly 200 pages), but I still want to warn those who are on the fence. It may be better to read it online, see if you like it, and then shell out the 14 bucks or whatever sale you can snag (and there are tons of sales to be found).
    So, nice book, neat insights, new characters. Is it brilliant? No. Is it interesting? Yes. Is it absolutely vital to understanding Eclipse? No. Do I recommend? For a nice, quick "time waster", sure.

    Brought to you by:
    *C.S. Light*

    1-0 out of 5 stars Bree Tanner and Canon Consistency - Spoilers*, June 9, 2010
    Even though I'm of the XY persuasion, I really loved Twilight. I loved New Moon and Eclipse less. I disliked Eclipse most of all, because Bella's confusion made no sense at all, and poor Edward had no way out. Any normal man would have given Bella the boot, and let Jacob have her, but Edward didn't have that option. Breaking Dawn restored some of my faith in their romance, which Eclipse had largely killed. Over all, I love the series as much as any fan. So does my wife. But this novella is an insult to our intelligence as fans. This story marks an epic fail.

    Let's leave out the critical scenes on the post-battle field for a minute and focus on something really simple. Given what this story claims, Victoria and Riley had been at their "build an army" thing for nearly a year, where as Eclipse leaves you with the impression that they were at it for two months at the most. Diego was 11 months old as a newborn. That's an entire year of a growing number of newborns "grazing" in Seattle. The opening of the book has Diego and Bree murdering 5 people. And the impression you get is that, that was business as usual for members of Riley's coven, which had been growing in fits and starts for a year or more. So, take a calculator and start playing with some numbers and you have to wonder just how big the city's "dregs" population was, because you start getting into a body count in the thousands. For instance assume that you have only four newborns the first three months, hunting every other night, and taking say 3 people each, instead of the 4 that Bree took. That's 540 corpses in 90 days. Now extrapolate that through the next 9 months with an increasing population of thirsty monsters. By the time we get to the start of the story, they'll be killing 150 to 200 people a week just to sustain themselves. Seattle ain't Mexico City. They'd finish off the city's population of "dregs" in a month, six weeks at the outside, and be hitting the malls and houses in the suburbs. Even if they hid ALL of the bodies, the number of missing wouldn't have the city in a panic. It would be in a state of war. The military would be called in and martial law would be declared.

    Then, there's the ferry massacre. No mention of it in Eclipse. Nada. On 9/11 people got cell phone messages out about what was happening, both in the buildings and the planes. No one on the ferry did? No bodies were found with mysterious wounds? Nothing? (snorts) Sloppy and careless writing.

    Then you get to Bree after the battle, passing her info to a telepathic Edward and you just completely blow large chunks of Breaking Dawn out of the water. Now, if they were the parts that were centered on Jacob and Bella rather that Edward and Bella, I wouldn't mind so much. But with this story Meyer completely destroys canon on what the Cullens knew or didn't know in planning to deal with the Volturi. Carlisle wouldn't have even attempted a peaceful solution and neither Edward, nor Carlisle, nor anyone else indicated that they had any hint of the information that Bree supposedly gave Edward there on the battlefield. Taking Bree's alleged actions at the end of the novella as canon for the books makes most of the discussion that took place in Breaking Dawn while preparing for the Volturi into utter useless nonsense.

    Meyer just retconned her own canon, while the books are still in the stores, after making tens of millions of dollars off of it. What will be next? Eclipse 2.0 and Breaking Dawn 2.0, the rewritten novels that take the amazing and sweet former plot device Bree Tanner, and the information that she never gave to Edward in the original canon, into account? If she's retconning the Saga, why stop there? Why not go for the gold and have Bella choose Jacob in the new canon? (shakes head) In my book there's no more unforgivable sin in an author than not being able to keep their writing internally consistent with itself. She rarely had that problem in the Saga itself, and The Host really rocked (says the science fiction fan of 40 years). Why did she drop the ball now? And the violations here are so obvious and blatant that we can't even say that she made a mistake. To do something like this you have to not care at all. As my wife would say..."Most authors protect their canon. I don't think she even *likes* Twilight anymore."

    Diego and Bree would have been a good story to tell, had Meyer kept within the bounds of canon. As it is, I give this thing a complete and total thumbs down. I can think of ten fan fiction stories off hand that are better, and I could probably think of more given time.

    What? She couldn't just finish Midnight Sun and be done with it? (snorts) She should have left it alone.


    Added in Edit 06/22/10: I just realized something sort of ridiculous while talking to my wife yesterday. Think about the canon time line in the books. Edward leaves Bella in New Moon. Not quite nine months later the Cullens and the Pack destroy the newborn army on the field of battle. According to Edward, while he was separated from Bella he was tracking Victoria all over hell and back, including to Texas where she presumably got the idea to build an army. My problem is, if the novella is to be believed, Vicky started assembling her army prior to the events of New Moon. How did she begin building an army before she had the inspiration to build an army? Diego was 11 months old. That makes Reilly over a year old. Months before the Cullens ever left, there would have been newborns rampaging around Seattle. No one noticed? Not the cops? Or the newspapers? Not the Cullens? Apparently not, because it isn't mentioned in New Moon, and there isn't even a hint of it in Eclipse until less than 60 days before the battle. Remember that body count? Nobody? Noticed? (shakes head) I do still truly adore the original four books (with reservations about way too much Jacob), but I just can't stomach this novella.

    Added in Edit 07/03/10: I just got back from my second viewing of the movie...which was pretty good by the way. Meyer implied in interviews that people should read the novella prior to seeing the movie, as if it were a movie companion, or necessary to understanding the movie. I have to tell you, aside from vague generalities, there was almost nothing of the novella in the movie. Certainly nothing that, lacking the novella, couldn't be written off to Melissa Rosenberg getting creative. In short, the novella is a red herring. It doesn't fit in the book canon, and is utterly unnecessary to make sense of, or enjoy, the movie. Steph must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Man, what a waste of paper..., June 8, 2010
    I have to say it: I was bored silly by this book. I know there are fans out there who will say that they are happy to have anything Twilight related to read now that the series has ended, and I thought I might be one of them, but sadly, that's not the case. I'm going to make a gross assumption and say that the majority (not all) of the people who love this series do so because they are sucked into the teen romance and either love Edward or love Jacob. And unfortunately, there is hardly mention of either character in this novella. So, the main pull of the series is almost totally absent from the storyline. And unfortunately, the story is not nearly engrossing enough to pull you in otherwise. I was so bored and uninterested by page 64 that I almost stopped reading.

    I think it's great that SM wrote this for her fans; she is obviously an author who takes the process very seriously and I think this idea came honestly to her during the writing process. But I will repeat what ALL your fans have been asking for: give us what we want, "Midnight Sun." Your point has been made regarding copyright infringement. Please, please stop punishing the masses because of one person.

    So, even to you die hard fans, truly, this book may disappoint.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Wow. And not in a good way., June 8, 2010
    You've got to be kidding me. This story adds nothing to the Twilight experience. There is no feeling in this, no... pardon the pun... soul. Dare I say it: It's boring. What's with the lame "cool! let's create a ninja club!" theme?! And "vampire kissy noises"?! Really? Holy moly, how deep did she have to dig to come up with these gems? Ugh! Look, I was just as obsessed as anyone w/ the Twilight Saga, but really... I don't understand all the stars people have given this "book." Yes, the focus is on Bree. But Victoria is an important part of this backstory and Meyer diminished Victoria's cunning nature so much that I felt the poor vamp was robbed. Laurent said in the first book: "Don't underestimate Victoria." That's JUST what Meyer did in this novella. That aside, we weren't really given anything that would help us to better understand--or even care about--Bree. We get that the newborns were cast-aside teens. But that's all we get. Where is the emotion? Why should I feel for Bree? Because she somehow manages to retain some reasonable thought processes and not become obsessed with video games? None of the relationships were explored in meaningful ways. Diego & Bree were hardly believable and completely dull. The only character that had a modicum of promise was Fred, and she did nothing of significance with him. She dropped interesting hints and then took the easy route out. Fred just went away. Huh?

    1-0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time, energy, paper & Moneyd, June 18, 2010
    I just want to start off by saying that i'm a fan of all 4 of the Twilight Saga. After reading the Saga multiple times, I was excited to see another addition to the series. So after paying $10 for the book I took it home and immediately started reading it. Immediately I couldn't follow it. I thought that I was missing part of the book, but then figured out it's just how it's written. With the Twilight Saga, I literally couldn't put the book down while reading them. With this book, I couldn't pick it up!

    I feel that if Stephenie Meyer would get off her high horse and finish Midnight Sun, would be a much better use of her time & our time! I would've preferred she write a book about the characters in the saga that we've "met & made a connection with". I would rather read about Carlisle's life before and after becoming a vampire, before he changed Edward etc.

    This book did NOTHING for me! I feel the only good part is that I bought the hard cover so $1 was donated to the American REd Cross. That is the ONLY redeeming factor of the book.
    Don't waste your time or money on this waste of shelf space! Just re-read the Twilight books you like the best it's much better!

    1-0 out of 5 stars More garbage, June 16, 2010
    Yet another marketing ploy masquerading as "literature," this alleged novella tells the poignant story of Bree Tanner, a nearly forgettable character from Eclipse (the film version of which is premiering on June 30, a mere three weeks after the book's publication--coincidence? Not in the carefully orchestrated world of Twilight marketing). The special twist here is that Meyer tells the story from Bree's perspective, abandoning (for the first time in the Twilight series, anyway) the first-person narrative voice of Bella. The reader, however, will be forgiven for overlooking this difference, since the voice of Bree is almost indistinguishable from the voice of Bella. Bree is an overly sensitive adolescent girl (and newborn vampire) prone to flights of melancholy who manages to fall passionately in love with Diego--another newborn vampire--within the space of one day; Bella, on the other hand, is an overly sensitive adolescent girl (who wants to become a newborn vampire) prone to flights of melancholy who manages to fall passionately in love with Edward--an old vampire who looks youthful--within the space of a few days. See the difference? I didn't think so. This tale does fill in a narrative gap or two from Eclipse, and we get to witness the unintentionally absurd way in which Bree and Diego discover their ability to glitter in the sunlight. But the book's most redeeming quality is its merciful brevity--only 178 pages.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Not exciting in the least..., July 28, 2010
    I can't say I'm a fan of the Twilight saga, but I admit I enjoyed reading them - despite the awful writing and irritating main character, they still provided some entertainment.

    This novella, however, put me to sleep. From the very beginning I found myself skipping paragraphs and waiting impatiently for it all to end. Stephenie Meyer continues to skim over the details of what could have been a very interesting story.

    I was hoping this novel would be a bit darker than her usual writing; after all, this novella IS about a group of teenage train wrecks, kidnapped and turned into savage, soul-less killing machines. However, if this is SM's definition of an "edgy" novel, I think it is pathetic. I understand she is writing for the young adult spectrum, but that is no reason to water down your work. Plenty of YA novels deal with harsh language, violence, sexuality, etc. I'm not saying SM should have included all of these aspects, but really, to assume teenagers use phrases such as "top secret ninja club" and "vampire kissy noises" is pathetic.

    I did not feel for Bree or Diego. I found their sudden romance/strong friendship incredibly contrived. Even Edward and Bella had more of a pull to each other than these two, and the only reason Edward even noticed Bella at all was because she smelled good. I did not appreciate the lack of details. I understand this is a novella, but that does not mean skimming over the gritty details. This would have made this book much more interesting and would have made me care more about Bree and the other characters. I definitely had a very hard time finishing this very short "book".

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Addition to the Twilight Universe, June 9, 2010
    I feel like this is a great addition to Eclipse. It's not suppose to be a stand alone novel like the rest of the Twilight books. It's just a back story to an already existing book. I thought it was great! It made me hate Riley more, and the rest of the newborns less. I felt aweful for Bree and Diego, and wished they had a longer story together. I guess that's the point.. the newborns don't get to live long enough to have a great story. I think that's part of their irony and why Stephenie gave you that back story.

    I would just like to go over a few of the things people said were negatives, and maybe explain it better for them.

    1. People have complained that the Cullens didn't save Bree. Why would they risk losing one of their own for someone they don't know at all? It would be inevitable, just like in Breaking Dawn. They know if they fight for her, one or all of them could die.

    2. That Bree doesn't have a back story / human story. Most of the Cullens have a hard time remembering their past, especially Alice. Bree said that her father beat her, so she left home. Then, she got stuck on the street and was starving. Riley offered her a burger for her immorality, and she took it. That's the most she can remember, and that's more than Alice can remember.

    3. That the story isn't long enough or in depth enough. Stephanie Meyer has said herself that this was never meant to be a stand alone book. It was meant to help the directors of Eclipse get a better understanding of the newborns. Then after that, wanted to add it to The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide as a back story to Eclipse, but it was too long. Since Eclipse was coming out soon, they thought it would be a great idea to release it alone for readers to better understand what is going on in the book and movie on the other side of things.

    PS: I really hope Fred gets to meet the Cullens! :)

    1-0 out of 5 stars Mostly Pointless, June 6, 2010
    I don't really see the point in this novella. I mean we all knew it was going to end badly but I was cool with that. I figured it would be sad, but it wasn't. I just couldn't make myself care about Bree. Her relationship (if you can call it that) with Diego was hollow and unconvincing. She didn't have any real personality. If she had just once expressed some kind of remorse about all the people she was killing and sucking dry, maybe I could have sympathized more with her plight. If she had developed a real connection with Diego, I might have cared more. This could have been a poignant little story about with real emotional impact if it had been handled differently. Instead it just seems completely pointless. What are we supposed to take away from this? What is the message here? What is the point of Bree and her short second life?

    As far as I can see, the only good thing to come out of this novella is the introduction Freaky Fred. He was an fascinating character with an intriguing power. I was way more interested in him that I was in Bree, or any one else. I kind of hope he gets his own book some day. The one star is basically for him.

    And yet, despite being a pointless, dull and frustratingly empty little story I would still rate this novella better than Breaking Dawn. At least it did not offend or infuriate me. It just made me yawn. ... Read more

    20. The Book Thief
    by Markus Zusak
    Paperback (2007-09-11)
    list price: $12.99 -- our price: $5.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0375842209
    Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
    Sales Rank: 163
    Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

    Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

    This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars This book deserves more than 5
    I am not going to tell the plot of this book yet again, Amazon and some other reviewers have done it quite well...I will tell you that this is an astounding book, a beautiful book, and a book that I know I will read again and again......
    I read a lot, two to three books a week, my family makes fun that I "love" so many that I read...but in the past few years there have only been a handful of books that when I finish reading the book I sit and try to think of who I can send a copy to, who can I share this wonderful experience with. A book that when I finish, I want to go back to the beginning and start over.
    I am a little sorry it is listed as a young adult book, I feel that if the bookstores put it in the young adult section, so many people will be missing out on a wonderful experience. Yet it is important that younger readers, high school readers, read this book too. When I was growing up, I remember reading Diary of Anne Frank, and the feelings I had when I read it...and understanding the importance of everyone reading that book. Well, this book is that important, this book is a must read.
    I am going to go back and read this author's other book, I don't know how it can measure up to this one, but if it is half as good, I am in for a treat.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Astounding
    Very rarely a book comes out that steals my breath away. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak is a revelation. Narrated by Death, this story follows Leisel as she steals books in Nazi Germany while she and her best friend Rudy discover the power of words, language and friendship. Zusak's writing is mesmerizing; it's sarcastic, emotional, sophisticated and wondrous.

    If you only read one book this year, read this one. Share it with your friends and family. I don't expect to read anything better this year, or next year either.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Story
    Liesel Meminger is a Book Thief, living with a foster family in Germany during World War Two. Torn from everything she's known, her foster father shows her the power of words as the two of them share late night reading sessions of The Grave Digger's Handbook. Her love of books ties her to others, including the mayor's wife and Max, the Jew the family hides in the basement.

    My own words escape me as I try to recount the beauty of this book in a short review. Rarely have I read a book as moving, as profound, as this one. Narrated by Death, this story is one that crawls under your skin and reverberates your soul with its images of Nazi Germany, friendship, and loss. The images stirred through Death's telling are so vivid, so wonderful, so tragic. Zusak has a masterful command of language and I was astounded by the way his words brought Liesel and her world to life. We follow Liesel over the years as she learns the true meaning of family through her caring new Papa and her friendships with Max and Rudy, the boy next door who idolizes Jesse Owens.

    Just a small list of images that will stay with me forever:

    +Liesel reading to the neighbors sitting terrified in a basement waiting for the bombs to fall around them
    +A snowball fight in a basement
    +Mama arriving at school to "yell" at Liesel
    +A boy with candlelit hair standing up to a Nazi Youth Leader
    +Death gathering up the souls of children softly
    +The story of a Word Shaker
    +An accordian player accepting a cigarette as payment

    There are not enough words within me to express the beauty of this book. It will move you to laughter and tears, often at the same time. This one is a keeper that I will revisit frequently in the future. It has changed my soul. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Word Shaker
    THE BOOK THIEF is a beautiful and carefully worded story, following four years in the life of young Liesel Meminger, a poor German girl who finds herself separated from her six-year-old brother (who dies) and her mother and father (taken away by the Nazi's for being a communist), and fostered to Rosa and Hans Hubermann.

    Arriving at the Hubermann's, nine-years-old and already burdened with great loss, Liesel forges a deep bond with her Papa, Hans - a man with a many-roomed heart - who sits with her at night when her nightmares force her awake with screams. It is during these nights that Hans teaches her to read, and they begin with the first book she ever "stole": The Grave-Diggers Handbook, a book that fell out of the pocket of a fourteen-year-old grave digger who dug the grave for her brother. Like a kitten who finds comfort at the teat of a sow after losing its mother, Liesel begins to find comfort in words.

    The story is narrated by no less a personage than Death, although this Death is sans hooded-skull and scythe. Indeed, we learn little more about Death than he is not what we perceive him to be in our Halloween imitations, and very good at his job. Given the setting for this story, we are guaranteed of the chance to evaluate Death's job performance.

    Zusak writes with a deft, poetic hand, his descriptions unconventional and mesmerizing. Rosa Hubermann is "a small wardrobe with a coat hung over it". A woman's mouth has teeth that elbow each other for room. A boy: "His tie is a pendulum, long dead in its clock." These images jump from the page and give us a clearer picture of what we're seeing than if Zusak had spent hours describing the tiniest detail of Rosa Hubermann's body.

    Along the way, Liesel shares her interest in words, and in no place is that felt more potently than in her relationship with Max Vandenburg, a Jew who her parents hide in their basement. Max arrives nearly dead, and the much younger Liesel finds herself captivated by him. When the cold in the basement pushes Max to the brink of death, they move him to Liesel's room for (I believe) eight days, where Liesel brings him small mementos and reads to him while he fights for life (and once against Death itself!). In turn, Max writes for her - and these books-within-a-book are more touching and meaningful, more full of love and hope while not betraying the slightest hint of over-dramatization, than anything I've come across in years. Indeed, if this story had been only about Liesel's relationship with Max, it would have been an enormous success. It may also have been more widely read - I suspect that the length of the book and the immediacy present in Max's story but not as equally present in other sections, put some people off.

    Before I read the book, I looked at the negative reviews (of which there are four). One review commented that the book felt like "work". Reading Hawthorne can be work, too, but I always feel the better for having read him.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful, moving, and remarkable
    "A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."

    So muses the narrator of Markus Zusak's powerful and moving new novel, THE BOOK THIEF. As you might guess, this is no ordinary narrator. The contemplative first person guiding you through this book is Death, an at-once fitting and ironic vanguard for a tale that both celebrates the power of words and agonizes over the consequences of their use.

    Set against the tragedy-stained canvas of World War II, Death tells the story of young Liesel Meminger (the eponymous book thief) growing up in Nazi Germany under the watchful eye of a staunch foster mother and kindly foster father who teaches her to read. She attends meetings of the BDM, a youth group aimed at indoctrinating young girls into Hitler's ideology. She plays soccer with the boys on her street, holding her own in any disputes that arise. And all the while, the dreams of her dead brother haunt and goad her into a fascination with reading and words that inevitably leads to her life of crime.

    It is a meeting with Max Vandenburg, a 24-year-old Jewish man being hidden in Liesel's basement by her compassionate foster parents, that alters the course of Liesel's life. Max, too, is haunted by nightmares of a family he lost in the harrowing aftermath of Kristallnacht. Together, Max and Liesel discover a shared love of words that leads to a decisive understanding about the role words play in both bravery and cowardice. Each, in their own way, sets out to use this knowledge to shape the world around them.

    While other writers have employed Death as a narrator, Zusak makes his own indelible mark on the technique in the dimensions he gives to the character. Death is simultaneously dispassionate about his work and the impact it can have while striving to understand humanity's resilience. Death boasts an omniscience of what will happen in life but also a naivety about what can happen in the human heart.

    In the ultimate expression of his dichotomous theme, Zusak creates a touching love letter to books and writing, framed in arguably the most horrific period in human history. But his greatest triumph is delivering a reminder that no writer enters this world quietly. Writers are born of eruptions and detonations, and the truly exceptional ones, like Zusak, continue to channel these explosive energies to craft a truly remarkable book that will be admired for generations.

    --- Reviewed by Brian Farrey [...]

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Transforming for Any Age
    I just finished this book last night and said to myself, "I should really read it again before I try to make comment" but, no, I want to share my reactions as spontaneously as possible.

    There are hundreds of books in my house, but there is one bookshelf upstairs in a back bedroom which holds those special books: you know, the ones that have made such a profound impact on who you are and how you see the world that they are put aside in a place of honor. This will be one of those books for me.

    This book is for adults, but it is also for teenagers. I think it is doing younger people a dis-service to think they could not relate to this book because the narrative style is challenging, the subject matter is doleful and/or because there are too many pages (oh, for heaven's sake!). Young people who like to read and like to think and like to feel will love this book as much as older folks like me. There is no need to dummy things down or sugarcoat them, especially when there is such a compelling story to be told.

    One of the most powerful aspects of the book for me was the number of surprises. The book was not what I thought it would be and I was constantly astonished by:

    1. the amazing stories that Max told and were re-created with tender illustrations inserted into the body of the book

    2. the treatment of the German people as human beings, rather than "nasty Nazis" a la 1940's Hollywood. Although I like to see a "nasty Nazi" get his comeuppance as much as the next person, I found the lack of stereotypes in this book quite refreshing.

    3. the imaginative use of language - it's just plain poetical at times. You get stopped short and have to read bits out loud because they are so darned beautiful and/or original.

    4. the character Death, who is our guide and narrator. He has seen a lot in all the thousands of years of his existence, but he has never seen anything like the story of the book thief. And neither have I. And neither will you.

    As some other reviewers have recommended, I will be sure to read other titles by this author.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Old Story Made New Again
    How rare the times that we read something entirely new and unique! It has been said that there are no new stories to tell, and I will not argue that. There really are only a few novel plots, although it is in our endless variations that we set ourselves apart as writers and word-artists, perhaps also as readers, in the manner and voice in which we tell the story. This is true for Markus Zusak in his creative storytelling of "The Book Thief."

    The story is one of the oldest ones told: the narrator is mankind's friend/nemesis, Death, ancient as Time itself, and the scenes Death (not without compassion and not without wry humor) narrates for us are those of human suffering and endurance, an eventual overcoming of conflicts and obstacles, a story of love pitted against hate, of the victory of the best in all of us over the worst in any of us. Zusak's main characters are a 9-year old girl, Liesel Meminger, her companion and young partner in crime, Rudy, and a Jewish refugee named Max hiding in the basement of the house where she lives, herself something of a refugee in Nazi Germany during WWII. A wide range of secondary characters fill in all gaps and keep us reading with fascination, e.g. Liesel's adoptive family, especially her cruel and ascerbic foster mother, Rosa, who on occasion cracks to show a bit of humanity; the mayor's deeply depressed wife, who quietly allows Liesel to "steal" her books; Liesel's young comrades in thievery, and many more.

    It is hard to pinpoint what it is, precisely, that makes Zusak's work so unique. But I knew it, felt it, instantly, page one, first line. Voice, yes. Style. A few experimental approaches in his storytelling, such as illustrations inserted in the novel with all errors present, just as Max wrote the text and drew the pictures for his young friend, Liesel. Death's narration is unique, too, with occasional bolded quotes that give just the right amount of distance. There are many such details that all come together to form a story worth reading, worth hearing, worth understanding. It is the story of Liesel, a spunky little book thief, who does far more than steal good books. Liesel steals hearts. In our smallest, we often find our greatest heroes.

    Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful.
    This book is beautiful.

    Following on the heels of I AM THE MESSENGER, nominated for best young adult book at the 2006 L.A. Times Book Festival, Markus Zusak's THE BOOK THIEF is an astounding piece of literature. Originally published in Australia as mainstream fiction and arguably not young adult, the novel works surprisingly well both ways. Adults will relish the story's beauty and magnitude, and while the first third of the novel may be a tad too slow for teens, the persistent ones will connect with young Liesel's tragic experiences in Nazi Germany.

    Zusak's novel, set in a small town outside Munich during World War II, chronicles the story of Liesel Meminger, a German girl taken into Hans Huberman's household as a foster child. As likeable as she is well-developed, it's amazing to watch a young girl like that remain so strong in the face of human tragedy, impossible hatred, and adolescent love.

    The twist is that Death is the one telling Liesel's story. From the very beginning, he wants us to trust him. "I most definitely can be cheerful," he tells us. "I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's. Just don't ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me." An interesting character, to say the least. But what does Death think about our wars? Our famines? Our day-to-day lives? We may not often think about such things, but he does. It's his job to see the world as it is. Infinite in color. And fear.

    John Green, author of the award-winning LOOKING FOR ALASKA, said that this is the novel he wished he'd have written. I must wholeheartedly agree. While the story is painful and lovely, the images are fresh and lasting, the words, poetic and stirring. This story pays tribute to the simple power of words, to their ability to change our minds, destroy our lives, move our souls, recount our memories, and yes, heal our world.

    Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens

    5-0 out of 5 stars haunting tale
    During World War II near Munich, Germany, nine years old Liesel Meminger finds a tome The Gravedigger's Handbook while attending her younger brother's funeral. Unable to resist she takes the book with her. However, she is unable to read the book until fate steps in. Her father is missing and her mother cannot afford her upkeep so she gives Liesel in care to foster parents, acerbic Rosa Hubermann and her kindhearted spouse Hans, who owes a Jew his life.

    Hans helps Liesel cope with her nightmares and teaches his ward to read. His chance to pay the war debt to the Jewish soldier who saved his life finally occurs when the man's son, the artist Max, arrives at his house seeking shelter. As Max paints over pages of the Mein Kampf, Leisel steals books from Nazi burnings and begins to write about living at a time of misery caused by fellow humans. If the Nazis catch either one, Death will be a welcome guest.

    This is a complex book in which the narrator Death tells the tale of Liesel and Max. Interestingly Death is a cynic when it comes to human behavior especially kindness towards others; the apparition recognizes that his best suppliers of goods are people who in spite of their Golden Rule ramble contain homicidal tendencies rationalized by an ism of some sort. The fascinating asides to the readers are brilliant as they enable the audience to understand the cast he looks upon adding to his collection, but especially Death itself. Give yourself plenty of time, over a week or more, as Markus Zusak has written one of the most haunting tales of the human condition in several years.

    Harriet Klausner
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