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Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

With all the hype surrounding this book (and soon-to-be movie!) I half expected this book to not live up to expectations. However, I am very pleased to be wrong! It’s a clever, thrilling sci-fi story, with twists and turns that make it impossible to put down. The story itself is like a cross between Stephen King’s Running Man and Battle Royale, with each of 24 children having to kill their opponents until only one is left, watched on TV by the rest of Panem (a post-apocolyptic USA).

Despite being aimed at the ‘Young Adult’ Genre, the writing is so clever and engaging that it’ll clearly appeal to young and old alike. The chacters are well developed, the plot well-paced and constantly interesting and it’s so well written that you believe you could very well be in the forests of the Hunger Games arena. Although the ‘love triangle’ aspect has been done to death in these teen fiction books, it’s done in a more subtler way and the romantic theme is less of a focus than other books of a similar genre.

Onto ‘Catching Fire now’…

5 Stars *****

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on Amazon

Dead To The World: A True Blood Novel

I love this novel – if only because it’s so Eric-focused! In this fourth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Eric has amnesia and the witches of Shreveport are after him. Jason discovers that the witches are offering a reward for Eric and disappears soon afterwards, leaving Sookie to look after Eric alone. With Bill travelling in South America at the Queen’s orders, she tries to find her missing brother and to find out more about the evil V-drinking Were-witches, without being killed herself.

This book is thrilling – a truely exciting read. With Eric’s personality completely reversed, it’s so interesting to see how his and Sookie’s relationship develops, as well as seeing Pam take charge without her maker. While the Supernaturals of Shreveport and Bon Temps declare war on the covern of Witches, there’s also the disappearance of Jason which leaves you wondering if that’s related to the Witches and their spells. Without giving away any spoilers, how Jason’s kidnapping develops is very interesting!

Dead To The World is a very exciting novel and the first I’ve been able to read before seeing it done on TV. Judging by this fourth book in the series, the fourth season of True Blood on TV will be very exciting and I cannot wait to see the show’s take on this novel. With Eric and Pam being my favourite characters, I think I shall be in for a very good season when it airs on TV. I’m very much ‘Team Eric’ rather than Bill, so Bill’s absense and Eric becoming the focus is very appealing – especially with the comedy that Eric’s amnesia will bring and Pam’s desperation over it!

5 Stars *****

Dead To The World: A True Blood Novel on Amazon

Book Review: Club Dead: A True Blood Novel

Club Dead: A True Blood Novel


This is the third novel in the Sookie Stackhouse series and roughly follows Season 3 of the TV show, with the King of Mississippi and all the werewolves being introduced in Club Dead. While reading book one of the series (Dead Until Dark), I found the TV show followed it so closely that it wasn’t a terribly thrilling read as I’d seen how it ended on TV. However, as the novel series progresses, I’ve found that the TV show follows it much more loosely and books 2 and 3 are much more entertaining than the first, as it tells a similar story but in a much different way.

Club Dead, book thee, is no exception. Having watched series 3 on TV, I was interested to see how different this third book would be. While it roughly includes the story following the King of Mississippi and introduces Alcide the werewolf to protect Sookie, it was quite a lot different to the season on TV – making it entertaining and surprising even after seeing the HBO show. However enjoyable it was, I found this book lacked a little in excitement, especially compared to the corresponding season on TV. In season 3 of True Blood on TV, the King of Mississippi has a much larger role with his attempt at overthrowing the Vampire Magister and taking power himself, not to mention Eric’s desire for revenge against the King, the torture of Pam, blackmail of the Louisiana Queen and the King’s interest in Sookie. With all these things introduced for TV, the novel story seems a little flat in comparison. However, it is still a very enjoyable read and I do love the character of Bubba which was obviously dropped for the TV show.

It is an excellent book and I love whole series of Sookie Stackhouse novels. The TV show follows it loosely enough so if you see the show first like I have, it’s still almost a new story when reading the novels. However, the TV show has magnified the excitment and brought a lot of new twists and conspiracies to it’s season three, which makes this particular novel feel a little inadequate in comparison.

4 Stars ****

Club Dead: A True Blood Novel on Amazon

Book Review: Living Dead in Dallas: A True Blood Novel

Living Dead In Dallas: A True Blood Novel

Having seen the show first and now reading the books, I knew it wouldn’t exactly be a surprise what happens in the books. I read book one of the Sookie Stackhouse series (Dead Until Dark) and the TV show had followed it so closely that although it was a great book, I knew exactly what would happen.

Luckily for me, reading Living Dead in Dallas, it was much better. The TV show writers had followed this book very loosely and although it very roughly had the same storyline, everything seemed to develop differently. The Maenad had a much smaller part, unlike the show where she was the big villain at the end of season2, and Sookie’s infiltration of the Fellowship of the Sun was much different. While the TV show complimented this book perfectly, it was different enough to feel like I was reading something new!

And as for Eric, he’s just as swoon-worthy in the book as he is in the show and I love how comedic the character of Eric is in the novels. It’s a shame that Layfaette’s character was written out so early in the novels – it makes me very glad that the TV show decided to keep him as a regular character! Onwards to book 3 for me now!

5 Stars *****

Living Dead In Dallas: A True Blood Novel on Amazon

Book Review: Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark: A True Blood Novel by Charlaine Harris

 

As a huge fan of HBO’s True Blood TV show, the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris have been at the top of my reading wishlist for some time.

The series follows the story of Sookie, living in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. She has the gift of mind-reading, although she would never refer to it as a gift but more of a curse, as her head is constantly filled with noise. When she meets Vampire Bill Compton, she hears nothing and enjoys the peace. However, there is a serial killer in Bon Temps, one that goes after women who associate with Vampires. With both her brother Jason and her new Vampire boyfriend Bill both suspects, this first novel follows Sookie’s investigation into the murders while trying to stay alive herself.

What strikes me most about Dead Until Dark, is how closely the TV show has followed the novels. The creators of the True Blood TV show on HBO have done a marvellous job of keeping the show as close to the novels as possible. It’s always a shame when stories and characters are altered too much to suit a TV audience and ends up ruining a great series. However, reading Charlaine Harris’ novels, it’s obvious to see that nothing from the novels has been compromised to bring it to TV.

Having said that, reading the novels after watching the show on TV does have some downsides. While it’s easy to picture the characters in the novels, the element of surprise is lost. While the story itself is still gripping and I found it difficult to put down, I already knew who the serial killer was from the TV show. I can imagine it’s a spectacular read if you are unaware of the conclusion of the Bon Temps Serial Killer storyline.

It’s a very entertaining and easy to read book. There’s so much going on and very well paced. What HBO has fit into the entire Series 1 on TV, Charlaine Harris has fit it’s entirity into this first novel. What I especially enjoyed is her creation of the Bon Temps townspeople. With Sookie working at Merlotte’s Bar, Harris has enabled the reader to become familiar with everyone in the town. Sookie’s telepathy only adds to this – the readers here the thoughts of Merlotte’s patrons, meaning we get much more insight into the lives and thoughts of the less-important characters. She clearly paints a picture of the gossiping people of the small town, which really envelops you in the story. The main characters themselves are superbly well written and you feel so emotionally attached to them all.

Dead Until Dark has everything you’d want in a book – mystery, murder, romance, fantastic characters and a really enjoyable story. The only disappointment was that I knew how it would end. However, I fully intend on continuing reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels and I’m sure once I surpass the point in the storyline that is currently on TV, the story will grip me even more. Dead Until Dark is a brilliant book, but I did miss the element of ‘what will happen next?’.

4 Stars **** (Would have been 5 stars, had I read this before watching the TV show!)

Dead Until Dark: A True Blood Novel by Charlaine Harris on Amazon

Book Review: Once Bitten – Stephen Leather

Once Bitten by Stephen Leather

Reading the synopsis of Once Bittenby Stephen Leather, I anticipated this to be a crime fiction novel. Jamie Beaverbrook is an English psychologist helping the Police Department in LA. His knowledge and experience has enabled him to create a software program that can help decide if a murderer is sane or insane. The story follows a case where a girl is discovered standing over a body with it’s throat ripped out and blood all over her.

While the crime scene and it’s prime suspect seem to obviously hint that she’s not human, I expected this to be a serious crime book, where Jamie Beaverbrook has to disprove a Vampire theory. While the story was well paced, well written and intense in parts, I was disappointed to discover very early on that it was more of a fantasy book and it seemed a bit of a let down when Terry, the murder suspect, was in fact not-human and there was no twist.

Although I enjoyed Stephen Leather’s writing style and found it to be an entertaining read once I’d accepted that it was a fantasy Vampire story rather than the crime fiction I hoped for, the story and characters were a little unbelievable. Jamie was described as being a little worn and exhausted by his divorce and death of his newborn baby, looking significantly older and worse for wear than he really was. Terry, however, was described as young and beautiful, as well as being immortal, wealthy and with special abilities. While we’re supposed to wonder if Terry’s feelings are genuine or if she has ulterior motives, the whole relationship seems a little far-fetched. Terry seems too willing to spill the details of her lifestyle and her Vampire community to someone employed by the LA Police Department.

The story itself was easy to read and, despite my criticisms, I read continuously from start to finish. The major downside for me, and many others judging by reviews, was the ending. It was so anticlimactic and although it leaves you wondering what might have happened, it seemed a bit of a cop-out by the author. It was an average read – while it had excellent potential, it just didn’t seem well executed.

3 Stars ***

Once Bitten by Stephen Leather on Amazon

Book Review: Switched (The Trylle Trilogy)

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) by Amanda Hocking

I so wanted to love this book – I assumed, after loving her other books, I would love this series. How mistaken I was! What a disappointing read!

I was swept away with the magic and fantasy of Hocking’s My Blood Approves series and Hollowland (the first of the Hollows series), but it seems if you read one of her series, you’ve read them all! As I was reading Switched, I grew bored with how much it resembled her other series (My Blood Approves, The Hollows). If you’ve read her other series, you’re likely to notice they’re all almost carbon copies of each other, just with a few changes of names – Alice and her Vampires, Wendy and her Trolls, and Remy and her zombies. Even the wording, phrases and characters were a little deja vu for me.

The stories all follow a distinct theme, regardless of series – awkward teenage misfit with attitude; only real family is her brother; suddenly gets swept away into some kind of adventure; along the way she discovers she’s ‘special’ and everyone wants a piece of her; is protected by handsome boy in mid-twenties who she can’t decide if she loves or hates, he falls in love with her and is hopelessly devoted and would die protecting her after only knowing her a few days; plantonic male friendship who’s relationship makes her love interest declare his feelings of love and jealousy; she has to choose between her new found destiny and her brother, while fighting some evil people who want her for themselves…etc etc.

If you can read that sort of story over and over, you’ll love these books. They’re magical and the characters are fun and lovable and the story is hopelessly addictive. But, I just don’t have the patience to read the Tyrlle trilogy after reading My Blood Approves. I loved My Blood Approves but reading the Trylle Trilogy just makes me cringe and I got bored very quickly. If I had read this series before the My Blood Approves books, maybe I’d feel differently, but having read Switched just afterwards, it was just too similar. There’s definitely potential there, but the pattern that Hocking sticks to means the excitement of reading all her books are lost.

Although Switched is currently only 49p in the Kindle Store, even that seems overpriced when I’ve already ‘read’ this by reading the author’s other work.

2 Stars **

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) by Amanda Hocking on Amazon