Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins


Okay, so I'm a big, fat liar.

Why didn't anyone tell me?  All this time I've been convinced, going on and on about how I don't like dystopian, how it's not my thing, how it's just a big old downer and why do people love it so much anyway?

Now I know.

After reading The Hunger Games, I know, I get it, and I am totally on board.  Again, why didn't anyone tell me??? You guys, I depend on all you great book bloggers to tell me when I'm being an idiot and letting prejudice blind me to the wonders I'm missing by ruling out complete genres.  To think, I might've never met Katniss, now one of my favorite heroines in YA lit (and probably lit period).  She was so tough, so strong, so freaking fierce I can't even take it!  Yet, she was also vulnerable/na├»ve, especially when it came to love. *sigh*  I would've never been introduced to Peeta Mellark (goodness gracious, there were some great names in this bookJ).  Peeta's my new literary crush…if something bad befalls Peeta (as in mortally bad) I'm not sure how I'll deal.  But I'm also crushing on Gale as well--even though he was in it what, all of five pages?  Still, after the first book, Peeta's my number one and I'm pretty loyal.  And also I think he may be the long shot even though he was one of the stars of book one--and I always go for the guy who's pre-destined to not get the girl, to pine, to suffer, to serve his heart up on a silver platter and get it thrown back at him in pieces.

Oh Lord, if Katniss doesn't pick Peeta I'm gonna…I'm gonna…I don't know, but it'll probably involve tears and a lot of cursing.

Since I'm likely the last person on the planet to discover these fantastic books, this next part is probably unnecessary--but I'm going to do it anyway.

Short, short summary: Katniss Everdeen from District 12 just volunteered to take her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games--a yearly televised event where children are chosen (one boy and one girl from each district) to fight it out until only one remains, one survivor.  The battles are bloody, the contestants ruthless.  The Capitol doesn't care who lives or dies so long as it's good TV.  Katniss just volunteered to die--but she's not going down without a fight.

This book was wonderful.  I bow down to Suzanne Collins and her mad writing skills (but I really, really, really hope nothing bad happens to Katniss or Peeta L  And if it does…just don't tell me.  I don't want to know…good grief, now I'm already expecting the worst).  Katniss is my girl.  I wish I knew her, I wish I was as brave.  I loved all the side characters, Effie Trinket, Rue, Thresh, foxface, Haymitch, every single one of 'em!

If this is dystopian, I'm all about it J

Love, love, love this book!

Ninja Girl

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CRYER'S CROSS by Lisa McMann




The smaller the town, the bigger the secrets.

This is the line that appears on the cover of Lisa McMann's standalone title, Cryer's Cross (great name by the way).  This small town has a secret that’s both big and horrifying.  In the book, kids start disappearing, and there's a desk with strange graffiti, haunting messages etched into the wood like "Save me" and "I need you."  Then there's seventeen-year-old Kendall Fletcher whose OCD mind helps her link the two things together.

Honestly, I don't usually read books like this.  The plot reminds me of a scary movie--a good scary movie--but that just isn't my cup of tea.  Still, I'm a huge fan of Lisa McMann's sparse writing.  It's amazing to me how much emotional impact she can evoke with just a few words.  Kendall was intriguing, what with her dreams of going to Julliard though she's never taken an actual dance class and her morning rituals (she has to rearrange the desks, markers, curtains, put everything just so before the other students start arriving).  If she doesn't complete them, she feels off the rest of the day.

Another thing I like about McMann is her take on teen relationships.  I enjoyed getting to see Jacian, a newcomer to Cryer's with a chip on his shoulder, and Kendall get to know each other.  It doesn't always have to be love at first sight, and I think in real life it hardly ever is, so I appreciated the slow build.  The answer to the mystery itself was fitting and appropriately disturbing, but, to be totally honest, I felt like I'd read/seen/heard it somewhere before.

Cryer's was a good, quick, suspenseful read, but I'd recommend McMann's Wake Trilogy.  It has way more grit and the same direct writing, and the characters (Janie and Cabel) are far more developed.  The feel of those books, the originality of concept and character, makes them worth reading, again and again (Warning: Janie's gift isn't a superpower.  It has real consequences--which was one of the many reasons this story was so different and so great).  If you haven't picked them up already, you'll want to get on it before everyone else under the sun starts coming out with dream catcher YA novels.

Oh, they already have?

Well, here's what I say to that: The best is often imitated, never duplicated.  McMann's Wake, Fade, and Gone.  They're not all butterflies and candy hearts, but they are standouts in a crowded paranormal YA field.  In short, Ninja Girl Reads firmly endorses these books, and if you haven't read them…well, you should J

Have a great one,

Ninja Girl

Friday, June 17, 2011

FOLLOW FRIDAY'S BIG 50TH!


Hi everyone, so as you see, it's Follow Friday's Big 50th!!!  Parajunkee's the host of this awesome find and follow, and this week's (freakin' amazing!) feature is Rhiannon Paille!  There are great giveaways going on this week from both Parajunkee (a free blog design *o*  Holy cow...seriously, have you checked out her work?!?!  Priceless!) and Rhiannon Paille (a book giveaway w/some fabulous YAs in the mix)!!! What are you waiting for?? Go sign up, now!

This week's question:

Q. Genre Wars! What's your favorite genre and which book in that genre made it your favorite?


This was a real toughie!  I know that my favorite genre is hands down Urban Fantasy, but I think I've got two books (or series rather) that made it my number one.  The first is Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson Series.  The first book Moon Called rocked my world, and, even w/the 6th installment, I'm loving everything about Mercy!  The second would have to be J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood.  Now, I know you're probably saying, "But that's not UF, it's paranormal romance!!"  Well, whatever it is she writes, Ward is ball-to-the-wall kick a**, true?  :)

What about you guys??

(Oh, and if you follow me or have been following me, please leave a comment!  I like to follow back, and I know there are at least a few of you I'm missing ;))

Thursday, June 16, 2011

POTTERMORE???



So, seriously, I am a Harry Potter fanatic!!!!! (and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing J)

But anyway, I had to do a post about THIS new post from Reading Teen.

I'm so curious now.  What is Pottermore??  Is anyone else surprised that Yates decided to do the epilogue???  After movie 5, I'm still not his biggest fan, but I think doing this is the right thing.

Also, there's this:



Since I have no review ready (been doing a lot more writing than reading lately) and since this is just an awesome, AWESOME mystery, go on over and check it out!!!  Then come back here, and tell me what you thinkJ

Ninja Girl

Monday, June 13, 2011

FORGOTTEN by Cat Patrick

Forgotten


Forgotten was one of those books that hooked me on plot (and cover) alone.  The premise seemed so interesting, so unique to YA in particular, that I just had to know if the author could pull it off.

And Cat Patrick did.  She pulled it off and then some in her brilliant debut.

London Lane, 16, remembers forwards.  She doesn't recall anything from the past, unless she writes it down and reads about it in her notes the next day.  Then she meets Luke, a boy who stirs something inside her, a boy who gives her his sweater the first time they meet because she looks cold, a boy she has an instant and undeniable connection with.  A boy she's destined to forget, again and again, but also one she's falling desperately in love with.

I have to say that I really enjoyed it.  It took me only two days to read Forgotten (pretty much a record for me if you don't count the 7th Harry Potter; I tore through that faster than any book I've read in my life...then read it again b/c it was just that spectacular J), and at the end, I was completely satisfied with how it all turned out.  The mystery aspect was interesting as was London's actual disorder--which definitely drove the book forward--but what I loved best was the romance.

I believed whole-heartedly that London and Luke were in love.  Despite their age, despite her inability to remember him, I bought their relationship and ate it up with a spoon.  There was something tragic yet beautiful about London falling in love with Luke each and every time they met.  Thematically, it showed London's depth of character and the strength of her and Luke's relationship.  I think that kind of maturity and depth is so often absent from YA romance (yes, even/especially the forbidden, love-at-first-sight ones that we're supposed to believe w/out the author actually showing us why these two MCs love each other).  It was great to see Patrick succeed in that area.

Also, I was fully able to suspend my disbelief throughout the book.  With this kind of novel, so dependent on the character's lack of past memory, there was plenty of room for error and plot holes.  But I didn't spot any.  I was never pulled out of the story b/c of some silly mistake, and I could just sit back and relax while Patrick wove her tale with a deftness rarely found in a first-time novelist.

Thank you Franny for recommending such a great book on your blog!  I'm glad you introduced it to me, and I'd encourage everyone who likes YA with a great romance and a little mystery thrown in to give Forgotten a chance.  It's a good one J

Happy reading,
Ninja Girl

Friday, June 10, 2011

FOLLOW FRIDAY (3)


YAY!  After a crazy hectic weekend last week, I missed Follow Friday :(  But now I'm back and ready to discover some cool new blogs and bloggers!  If you didn't already know, Follow Friday is hosted by the fabulous Parajunkee and this week's feature is Nicki J Markus (looks like a very cool site, can't wait to look around more!!!)

Today's question:

Q. The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?

I love these questions b/c it really makes you think!  But I have so many MCs I'd want to switch with, I couldn't pick just one.  So, by genre, here are my picks ;)

1) Paranormal: Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson Series.  She's one of the toughest, smartest chicks in Urban Fantasy, and she's got Adam, Samuel, and Stefan (*sigh*).  Plus, she's got the awesomest mentor/father figures around in Zee and Bran.  Who could ask for more than that??  As a second paranormal choice ('cause I couldn't choose just one!), I'd go with Harper from Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly series.  She goes through a lot of crap, but at the end of it all, there's Tolliver ;)  If you haven't read either one of these series yet, you are seriously missing out.

2) Historical: Margaret Hale from Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South.  Two words: Mr. Thornton!!!!

3) YA: Kate Brown from Elizabeth Scott's Perfect You.  One of my favorite YAs :)

4) YA w/paranormal elements: Probably Katsa from Kristin Cashore's Graceling.

So, there you have it.  My four-pronged, overly verbose answer.  Looking forward to seeing you guys's picks!

Have a great weekend,
Ninja Girl

Thursday, June 9, 2011

THE IRRESISTIBLY SWEET BLOG AWARD


Hi everyone!!  So, I got nominated initially for this award by Amy Jones over at Amy Jones Young Adult Fantasy Fiction and then again by Silvia over at Darkest Sins.  (Apparently ninjas are very popular right now :))  I'd been meaning to do this post for a while and finally got my butt into gear and got it done!  It was so sweet of these ladies to nominate me, and I appreciate it more than I can say.

So, here goes.

7 Random Things about me

1)  I love to eat cookie dough straight from the bowl.  Chocolate chip, please :)
2)  I LOVE hoodies (see vid under Fun, fun, fun! tab)
3)  My WIP is seriously stalled at the moment (or really, I am), and I'm trying to break the block by just writing--anything, everything that comes to mind, hoping for a break through.  I go through this at least four or five times as I'm writing a novel, usually after or leading up to a  pivotal scene.
4)  Sometimes when I'm driving and a particularly good song comes on, I turn it up and roll my windows down to share it w/the world! LOL
5)  "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap is one of my favorite songs of all time (if you haven't already, go and have a listen.  It's...just...wow!  Could listen to it all day *sigh*)
6)  My favorite poem is by John Donne.  Any guesses???  You'll never get it--but then again, maybe you will :)
7)  I really, really, really dislike Grey's Anatomy :/ (mainly b/c they always repeat themselves, re-peat themselves, REPEAT themselves three times, emphasizing different syllables and we're supposed to be impressed.  I mean seriously?  Seriously!)

Now as for 5 of the Sweetest Blogs around:

1) Middle Grade Ninja Just spreading the ninja love ;)
2) Amy Jones (A very kind lady w/a very cool blog!)
3) Silvia at Darkest Sins (She's already convinced me to buy one book just from a review.  She's that good.  Go check out her blog.  You won't regret it)
4)  Tessa at From The Bookshelf of T.B.  Great, honest reviews from a great reviewer
5)  Rachel at The Ending Unplanned   A great blog for writers everywhere

Hope everyone's having a great week!!!

Ninja Girl

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

VAMPIRE KNIGHT by Matsuri Hino


MANGA (mahng-guh): A Japanese comic book or graphic novel.

So obviously, this isn't a book review.  Vampire Knight was actually one of the first mangas I read, and I decided to do a post about it because, well, it deserves its own post J  Great characters aren't only found in books after all, and a great story is a great story no matter what medium is used to tell it.

The plot is simple yet intriguing.  Two groups attend Cross Academy, the Day Class and the Night Class.  They don't attend classes together, aren't supposed to interact (and for a very good reason).  There's even a disciplinary committee to keep the two student groups apart.  When day changes to night, Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are there to ensure everything flows smoothly.  While the Day Class fawns over the Night Class, clamoring for attention like a pack of rowdy fan girls--totally ignorant of the danger which lies behind those beautiful faces and the cool air of sophistication--Yuki and Zero remain vigilant, guardians of their unsuspecting peers.

They know the truth, the deep dark secret that must be kept from the Day Class at all costs: The Night Class is entirely made up of vampires.




What made this story so interesting (besides the awesome plot and beautiful artwork) and worth the time it took to figure out the format (Tip: Mangas are read from back cover to front, right to left, a detail which threw this ninja for quite a loop;)) was the Yuki/Zero/Kaname dynamic.

Kaname Kuran, head of the Night Class, saved Yuki's life when she was nearly attacked by a Level E vamp back when she was a little girl.  The Vampire Knight mythos might be a little too heavy for this post, so let's just say, Level E = Crazy/Insane vamp mad with bloodlust.

Zero's parents, well-known vampire hunters, were slaughtered in a vampire attack which left Zero scarred and an orphan.  As a young boy, he was taken in by the headmaster of Cross Academy and raised alongside Yuki.

Kaname = class, status and restrained emotion.

Zero = sarcasm, rash decisions and a tortured soul.

Now, can you guess who I was rooting for??? J

There's so much more to say about this one, but I'd recommend it for all the reasons I just listed.  The triangle was one of the best I've read (mainly b/c I was so sure she was going to pick Kaname, but I desperately wanted her to pick Zero.  Hmmm, is anyone sensing a trend??).  If you aren't into manga, you might want to check out the anime.  It only ran for two seasons (and ended in a pretty craptastic way if you ask me), but it's worth a look.  Here's hoping you enjoy the Yuki/Zero/Kaname love triangle as much as I did.

Truth: Yuki + Zero = <3

Ninja Girl

Thursday, June 2, 2011

PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White



Before I bought the book, I'd read several great reviews about it and spent a good amount of time eyeballing the beautiful cover.  What?  Can you blame me?  Just look at it, you know I'm right J The title was great--GREAT.  Knowing how big paranormal is, I can't believe someone hadn't thought of it before (hats off to you Miss White).  Being a YA paranormal with a fun/original plot, Paranormalcy seemed to be right up my alley.

Here's a quick rundown: Sixteen-year-old Evie has worked for the International Paranormal Containment Agency all her life.  Her ex is a fairy (literally), her best and only friend lives in a fish tank (again, literally), her job involves clapping tracking devices on vamps, weres and other paranormaly beings, but Evie still insists that she's normal--or at least not 'paranormal'--despite her rare talent for seeing through paranormals' glamours.  Then someone (a boy, naturally...or in this case supernaturally since he can shape-shift) breaks into the Agency, paranomals start dying left and right, there's talk of a prophecy, and Evie finds out that she's not as normal as she'd once thought.

Annnnd after all those run-on sentences I'm pretty tired. *takes a moment to regroup*

Phew...okay, now I'm good.  So, the book started out great.  Fast pacing, a light tone and relatable heroine who for once wasn't depressed, suicidal, or obsessed with sparkly vamps sporting the funky I-love-you-but-I-want-to-kill-you stare 0___o (Yes, I'm looking at you Swan).  I honestly thought it was really good.  The action kept the story moving, and the plot was interesting.  Lend and Evie's relationship in contrast to hers and Reth's (the possessive fairy ex) was actually kind of refreshing.  Their budding romance was innocent and moved at a far more believable pace than most of the YA I've read.  And Lend, though not the tortured/bad boy love interest I typically go for, was sweet and courageous.  I can appreciate a bit of nice guy charm J

I did have a slight problem with Evie, though.  As the novel went on, more and more bad things happened, and she just didn't feel the impact as much as I thought she should have (don't worry, no spoilers).  I'll just say that although I didn't want her to turn weepy and weak for keeps, there are times when 'weepy and weak' is exactly what a character should feel.  She'd think about this tragic event one moment and then be laughing/shopping the next.  Her emotions just didn't run as deep as they should have, or at least that's how it felt to me.

Overall, I really liked it.  Not loved but liked.  Lend was a good guy, and I'm glad to see one of them finishing first for once (As you can tell, I'm totally Team Jacob J  But I didn't think Bella deserved him anyway...but I DEFINITELY didn't think Nessy did either.  Just...ewww.  WTH was Meyer thinking???  Twilight rant over!).  Another thing I enjoyed was the fairy slant.  I do love me some fairy stories!  But if I were to recommend any, I'd go for Tithe by Holly Black or the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.  Darker than Paranormalcy but ultimately more satisfying I think.

Good book, but I'm not sure about buying the sequel.  Any thoughts?

Ninja Girl