Monday, August 30, 2010

The Many Faces of The Hunger Games

It's always fascinating to compare international covers for books, see what persona they're taking on around the globe. Sure, there's that old saying, "don't judge a book by its cover" - but oftentimes, a book's cover can say a lot about its contents. This isn't a complete collection of all the international covers, but they're ones that I find of particular note.
These are the German covers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, respectively. There's no denying that both covers are very striking, very gorgeous. Beautiful colour schemes, and the covers themselves just sort of pop. I also like how only half the face is shown, and the eye just sort of stares at you. It's also kind of cool how "Panem" is the word of main focus on both covers.
These are the Taiwanese covers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, respectively. They both have the signature mockingjay on the cover, one in gold, one in bronze. Personally I think the cover for THG kind of looks like a movie poster. The atmosphere created is definitely chilling. Really like the colour scheme of CF, and how some of the main tribulations of the arena are depicted here.
Both of these are from the UK, and both are of The Hunger Games - but one is a girl version, and one is a boy version. I don't tihnk I've seen anything like this before, one book marketed simultaneously to different gender groups by having different covers. It's kind of a cool idea, really. The guy one has a Stephen King blurb, the gal one Stephenie Meyer. Hmm...
These are both of The Hunger Games as well, the Swedish on the left and the Danish on the right. The image on the Swedish cover is definitely very chilling, but I'm not particularly fond of the way the text was integrated. Love the title font on the Danish cover. The image itself seems to be marketed almost towards a younger audience though...
Again, both are of The Hunger Games, the Russian one is one left, and on the right is the cover from the Netherlands. For the Russian one, the characters aren't really how I would picture them. For one thing, they look older than they should. For another - and wait for the explanation before getting indignant - I would expect Katniss to be portrayed as thinner. If that's Gale in the background, likewise. If that's Peeta... well. Anyway - why? Despite being able to hunt, Katniss is from the Seam, and it's referenced throughout numerous times that food is not plentiful. Sure, she's able to get game. But it's still only enough to fill her stomach, not enough to eat in excess. That, plus the fact that she's always expending a large amount of energy, one would expect her to be a little more malnourished-looking. Walking around looking like she's getting a full three meals a day and then some would probably arouse a fair amount more suspicion than safe, considering the physical state of the other people around her. Really like the blue gradient on the Danish version of the cover.

How about you guys, any particular covers you like more than the others? What do you think of these ones?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox [41]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren showcasing the awesome books received in one's mailbox (or from other sources). Pop on by for more information on how to join the fun!
Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink - Currently reading this one. I reviewed its predecessor Prophecy of the Sisters last summer.

You by Charles Benoit - This was a complete surprise, but a pretty exciting one. Been hearing interesting things about this one, and I believe it's written in second person, which is definitely very unique.

Sent and Sabotaged, The Missing books 2 and 3, respectively, by Margaret Peterson Haddix - These were also surprises, but I've read a number of Haddix's past works and enjoyed them greatly, so these were great to see as well.

Things have definitely been very hectic around here recently; I'm going to be heading out of town for university in about a week's time. Back to school shopping, lots of stuff to take care of, friends to chill with before leaving, packing that needs to be done... basically a huge to-do list. To minimize the amount of books I have to bring, I'm hoping to completely clear the backlog of reviews that still need to be written before I go. Wish me luck - it's going to be quite a feat ;)

Anybody else preparing to head off to university or college? Are you planning on bringing a bunch of books with you?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Behemoth Books

So I've been noticing what seems to be turning into a trend in YA lit these days: long books.

Is it just me, or does it feel like there are more and more 400-page-plus books coming out recently? Some examples that come to mind off the top of my head would be Beautiful Creatures, Before I Fall, The Eternal Ones, Nightshade, etc. There are also a few in the 350-400 page range that are also rather hefty, such as The Dark Divine, Brightly Woven, etc.

Now, one of the general unspoken tidbits about writing is that there's no set word count - write it in as many or as few words as it takes to tell the story.

There are books that do this brilliantly. For example, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (hehe, had to bring it up -Mockingjay tomorrow!) are decently sized books - but every page, every word feels necessary. The plot, the language, the characters - everything keeps the reader completely entranced. The Harry Potter books got pretty hefty by the end, but they're still amazing reads and hugely popular.

Unfortunately this doesn't always seem to be the case. Honestly, it feels like a recurring observation in many of my reviews now, the fact that some books are simply unncessarily long. I'm not going to into naming specific examples and calling anybody out here, but some scenes just feel like the book could've done without. Others, backstory and setting up the scene takes the first hundred pages or so. Seriously? Just get to the story already.

Has anyone else been finding this recently, books being longer than they need to be?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (19)

Wired - Robin Wasserman
*September 14th, 2010 Simon Pulse

One year ago, Lia Kahn died.

A few days later, she woke up.

She had a new body: Mechanical, unfeeling, inhuman. She had a new family: Mechs like her, who didn't judge her for what she could no longer be. She had a new life, one that would last forever.

At least, it was supposed to.

But now everything Lia thought she knew has turned out to be a lie; everyone she thought she loved has been stolen away. And someone is trying to get rid of the mechs, once and for all. Lia will risk everything to save herself and the people she can't live without. But not before facing one final truth: She can't save everyone.
Why am I excited about this one? Well, it's the final book in a trilogy, which is always exciting. A science fiction trilogy, actually, which makes it even more so.

Recently I read Skinned and Crashed (the first two books), one right after the other, so it's still fresh. In fact, keep an eye out for reviews of these two titles to come very shortly. Also interesting to note that Scott Westerfeld has blurbed this series. There's definitely a lot of parallels and "suitable for fans of" between this series and Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy (consisting of Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras).

So there you have it - my pick of the week. Now, what're you waiting on this Wednesday?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In My Mailbox [40]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren showcasing the awesome books received in one's mailbox (or from other sources). Pop on by for more information on how to join the fun!

This week's post shows the accumulation of what was received both while I was away on vacation and what I've gotten in the two weeks since coming back. Ironically, everything that I've gotten since coming back is from the same day - Friday the 13th.

`Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
`The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
`The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
`The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
`Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman

And during the month of July:

`Crashed by Robin Wasserman
`Bookmarks from the awesome Emily at Emily's Reading Room - thanks Emily!
`Edward Prize Pack from the awesome Nikki at Wicked Awesome Books - thanks Nikki!

I'm pretty excited, definitely tons of great books I'm really looking forward to reading here (so be sure to keep an eye out for reviews!) But there you have it - my mailbox for three-quarters of the summer. Your turn now - what was in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

丝丝心动/Strands of Love Review

This is the first full drama that I've watched since You're Beautiful, and the first without English subtitles in [a long time? ever?] For the most part, it's a fairly fun, humourous, watchable drama.

As far as the acting/casting goes, it's a thumbs up for this one. There's this one scene in particular where the four of them (the two couples) are sort of facing each other by the gates and the melancholic expressions and feelings conveyed by Blue especially, and Jenny too, are pretty amazing. The main pairing definitely has great on-screen chemistry.

"Nai Nai", "Three Wind", "Da Mei" & co. definitely provide numerous moments of comic relief. Rejoice shampoo is one of the major sponsors, and as such a lot of advertising is apparent throughout. A couple shots were well incorporated, but a few were a little over-dramatic and over the top.

There were scenes where Jenny's character would be continuously apologizing or expressing gratitude, and the acting in those got a little annoying, as did all the overt sighing, at times. Also, for any of you who've already watched it - what is up with Blue wearing pants that are too short all the time?!

In terms of classification, this would probably fall under the category of romantic comedy. At times it did feel a little too fluffy, a little too cliche, a little too "no-way-that-would-never-happen-in-reality" scoffs the cynical watcher. There were a couple moments of #characterizationfail.

But all in all? It's a pretty funny drama and worth checking out if you're into sweet, romantic, happy dramas.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reviews: Radiant Shadows & Jekel Loves Hyde

Radiant Shadows - Melissa Marr
*April 20th, 2010 HarperTeen

In Radiant Shadows Melissa Marr has created an entrancing world of magic and possibility that draws the reader in and holds them as tightly as a traveler wandering lost in Faerie.

Marr has a very distinctive writing style with beautiful passages of description. The particular faery mythology used in Radiant Shadows is fresh and engaging. As far as leading ladies go, it's great to see someone like Ani, someone strong and not simply a damsel-in-distress.

On the downside, the relationships [of the romantic variety] just didn't feel all that real or credible to me. Ani and Devlin's progressed a little too fast and suddenly for my liking, and I didn't particularly like the way it was at the end of the novel either. At times the plot was a little tedious and there was rehashing of information that the reader could've easily figured out pages ago.

With beautifully flowing writing, Radiant Shadows is not just a book - it's a new world to explore, one complete with magic and mystery that'll leave the reader thinking about it long after the last page has been turned.

Jekel Loves Hyde - Beth Fantaskey
*May 3rd, 2010 Harcourt

Before reading Jekel Loves Hyde, I'd heard some great stuff about her debut novel, and some reviews that claim the sophomore follow-up (JLH) doesn't quite live up to it. Well, not having read Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, I was approaching this one without a comparison point. Unfortunately, it was mostly a disappointment.

The main characters Jill and Tristen weren't particularly relatable to, and their relationship was a little sketch. Personally I wasn't too fond of the short, choppy chapters or the numerous ellipses trailing off sentences. There were plot holes like "what? Seriously?" And in beginning, when it appeared that science was going to play a part in explaining the experimentation and what happened to the original Jekyll and Hyde, I was kind of excited, expecting it to add to the credibility. But then the science aspect fell flat and actually had the opposite effect of detracting from it.

Fantaskey does have passages of magnetic writing though, which do exude charisma and are re-readable. On the whole, Jekel Loves Hyde is a good novel.

*This is the 3rd installment of mini reviews. Previous installments include:
If I Stay & Wintergirls
Hourglass & A Match Made In High School

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Katniss To Die In Mockingjay?

Recently, Suzanne Collins was interviewed by the School Library Journal (which can be found here, for any of you who haven't seen it yet). Before you read further, I must warn you that there are spoilers pertaining to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Gladiator in this post.

Now, there was one particular question & answer pairing that jumped out at me, and it'd be great to hear you guys weigh in as well. Says Collins,
"But once the “Hunger Games” story takes off, I actually would say that the historical figure of Spartacus really becomes more of a model [...] for Katniss. We don’t know a lot of details about his life, but there was this guy named Spartacus who was a gladiator who broke out of the arena and led a rebellion against an oppressive government that led to what is called the Third Servile War. He caused the Romans quite a bit of trouble. And, ultimately, he died."
Could this possibly be foreshadowing for Katniss Everdeen's fate? And you know, it kind of reminds me of Gladiator, that 2000 film starring Russell Crowe. And *spoiler alert* Maximus dies at the end of the movie. I mean, from an emotion-evokation perspective, that would definitely carry heavy impact.

And considering Collins's style, I can't imagine her finishing off Mockingjay with a happy fairy-tale ending. So let's face it - there're going to be deaths. There's going to be carnage. The whole Gale-Katniss-Peeta triangle is not going to end perfectly for all.

So, what do you think? Will Katniss follow in the footsteps of Spartacus and Maximus and the like and suffer a Romantically tragic demise? Will she survive? Which of those close to her will meet untimely ends?
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