Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Wrap-Up

I've never done a wrap-up post in the past, but I figured the end of the year was as good a time as any to do one.

(every list is in order from oldest to most recent)

EVERY review I posted this year:
The Ruins of Gorlan
Shadow Kiss (spoilers!)
Golden (spoilers!)
Doomed Queen Anne
Between Mom and Jo
Waiting for Odysseus
Fire Study (spoilers!)
A Northern Light
The Amaranth Enchantment
If I Stay
The Hollow Kingdom
Imaginary Enemy
The Mermaid's Mirror
White Cat
Across the Universe
City of Fallen Angels
Paper Towns
Tempest Rising
As You Wish
Hush, Hush
13 Little Blue Envelopes
The Last Little Blue Envelope
Keeping You a Secret
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
All These Things I've Done
Low Red Moon
Where She Went
Between the Sea and Sky
How I Live Now
The Adoration of Jenna Fox
We Hear the Dead
Invincible Summer
Violet Eyes
The Death Catchers
Looking for Alaska (spoilers!)
The Fallen
Girl in the Arena

Cover vs. Cover posts:
CvsC 1
CvsC 2
CvsC 3
CvsC 4
CvsC 5
CvsC 6
CvsC 7
CvsC 8
CvsC 9
CvsC 10
CvsC 11
CvsC 12
CvsC 13
CvsC 14

I'd run out of room if I list every single post for every single meme I've participated in, so I'll just list the one I participate in the most.

Follow Friday posts:
FF 1
FF 2
FF 3
FF 4
FF 5
FF 6
FF 7
FF 8
FF 9
FF 10
FF 11
FF 12
FF 13
FF 14
FF 15
FF 16
FF 17
FF 18
FF 19
FF 20
FF 21
FF 22
FF 23

Miscellaneous Posts:
"Girly" Covers
Book Announcement!
Obsidian Cover Reveal
Favorite Books of 2011

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favorite Books of 2011

I was going to include ALL my favorite books I've read in 2011 in this post, but since there are simply too many, I'll stick to the ones published in 2011.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I'm a big fan of the Mortal Instruments series, and while I had doubts about this fifth book before reading, it didn't disappoint. I loved being back with all the characters, and the new villain was brilliant.

(full review here)

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Like with its companion Ash, I loved this book. The writing was gorgeous and the world-building was captivating. While I didn't like it more than I liked Ash, I can say that I was more attached to the characters here. The ending nearly had me crying!

(full review here)

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed. Lauren's writing is both lovely and suspenseful, and I loved the dynamics between the characters, especially among Rhine and her sister wives. Only two more months till Fever!

(full review here)

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

This gritty tale of a dysfunctional family was raw and compelling in every way. I can't guarantee happiness after you finish it, but it's certainly worth it.

(full review here)

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

To me this book was even darker than Sisters Red, which I mean in a positive way. And while reading this book, I experienced writer's envy for the first time. More than once I thought, "This is so well-written. Why can't I write this well?"

Cloaked by Alex Flinn

I think it's safe to say that this is my favorite of Alex Flinn's fairytale retellings (I've also read Beastly and A Kiss in Time). Aside from romance being a little too predictable, I liked everything about this book! Despite it being nearly 400 pages long, I read it in one sitting.

What were YOUR favorite books of 2011?
(if you leave a link to your post I'll check it out!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Girl in the Arena

Title: Girl in the Arena
Author: Lise Haines
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Cover Designer: 
Danielle Delaney
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Sci-fi
Tagline: Daughter. Celebrity. Neo-gladiator.
Summary: Lyn is a neo-gladiator's daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules and the GSA can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn's seventh father, he also captures Lyn's dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him...

Girl in the Arena had a lot of potential, but the execution was poor. I was expecting a lot better.

I wasn't a fan of the info-dump at the very beginning that went through the history of the neo-gladiator sport, starting in the 1960's. I would have preferred the information to be conveyed little by little as the story progressed.

One of the few things I did enjoy about this book was the concept of gladiators in modern times. People   part of what was known as "Glad culture" lived separated from other people, and often did not marry outsiders. These people were viewed as nearly cultish by some outsiders. What interested me the most was that the rules of the arena were nearly identical to those long ago. No one is forced to fight, but will sign contracts with Caesar's Inc. to fight for a certain number of years, or sometimes a criminal on the death row is sent to the arena. Just like in ancient Rome!
However, I did say almost. I doubt there were hundreds of bylaws confining the original gladiators, and as far as I know, women could remarry as many times as they wanted.

Despite all the information that was given, I don't understand how the sport become popular. Did millions of modern people suddenly find it acceptable? How did it become  lawful? I'm certain there's something in the Constitution against killing for sport. And if the sport was so popular, why did it remain in the U.S. rather than spreading to other countries?

Fighting was not even the main focus of the book. It was mostly about how rough it was for Lyn being a celebrity. There were only two or three battles in the entire book.
I didn't like Lyn at all. She wasn't a distinct character to me. Nothing about her stood out except that she was the daughter of seven gladiators. I also didn't buy the romance between her and Uber. How could you fall in love with the person who killed your father? I couldn't.

I wish the time period had been a little more clear. While there were things we don't have today, such as the Living machine, aside from the Gladiator Sports Association the world of Girl in the Arena was just like today's world. I assumed this book to be dystopian science fiction, but that threw me off.
Speaking of the Living machine, its existence made no sense. How did it work? How did the projections of people eat food? And how did such a machine fit in with the Roman-based culture of the neo-gladiators?

One of the formatting styles of this book annoyed me. Instead of quotation marks, dialogue was indicated by m dashes. I don't see why this was done, as it was unusual and confusing.

The ending was open enough to be followed by a sequel, but apparently this book didn't gain enough popularity for that to happen, and I can see why. On a final note, I very much dislike the cover. I find it more fitting for a TV show poster than a book cover. And the expression of the model seems more pouty than angry to me.