Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is:

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

I'm dividing my list into three sections: First, books that were hard for me to read because of the difficulty of the book; Second, because of the subject matter; and Third, because it was cringe-worthy.

 First, books that were DIFFICULT

10. Don Quixote by Miguel  de Cervantes

9. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
See above.

8. The Bible
Long.  Also, the Book of Isaiah.  (I discovered that I really love the Book of James, though.)

7. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
This book finally made me realize that I will never be a Dickens groupie.

Second, books that had difficult SUBJECT MATTER

6. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
I spent a lot of time studying Shakespeare in grad school, but I could never understand this play, nor reconcile it with his other work and portrayal of women.

5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I actually love this book, despite the fact that it illustrated all my darkest nightmares.

4. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
This book was very,very difficult to read, purely because of the terrible and all too prevalent subjects it discusses.  (Domestic violence, drug abuse, neglect, death, crippling mental illness, selfishness, etc.)

Third, books that were CRINGE-WORTHY
(maybe I just dislike orange covers...?)

3. Watt by Samuel Beckett
I see the value of this book, but I struggled not to slam my head into my desk the whole time I was reading it.

2. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
I really, really hate the first half of this book.  So much so, that the brilliance of the second half failed to make up for it.  *dodges tomatoes*

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I can't even think about this book without cringing.

What's the hardest book you've ever read?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Words: Marcel Proust

Friday, September 26, 2014

Feature Friday: Book GIF Tag

Thanks to Andie at Metaphorical Musings for tagging me!  Basically the tag is that you have to provide a gif that expresses how you feel about ten books.  Pretty easy, right?  Here are the ten books I was tagged with:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This book is perfection, according to me.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Haven't read it, so...

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
I don't really get the love for this book.  My reaction was very "meh."

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is another one where I don't really understand the hype.

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
I seriously LOVED this book, though.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Haven't read this one either.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This one was pretty cool, but I don't think my love for it is as strong as others'.  I never finished the series, though I sometimes wonder if I should.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
What can I say about the most epic fantasy series since Tolkien?

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
I felt like a whole lot of nothing happened in this book.  I never finished the series.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I'm afraid this book just doesn't appeal to me.  *dodges tomatoes*

Man, most of these are indifferent or negative!  Sorry, Andie!  I still had a good time laughing over funny GIFs, so thanks.  :)

If you're reading this and want to do the GIF tag, then I'm tagging you!  Here are your ten books:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Good luck!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn
Rating: 3.75 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Gillengaria seethes with unrest. In the south, hostility toward magic and its users has risen to a dangerous level, though King Baryn has ordered that such mystics are to be tolerated. It is whispered that he issued the decree because his new wife used her magic powers to ensnare him… The King knows there are those in the noble Twelve Houses who could use this growing dissent to overthrow him. So he dispatches the mystic Senneth to assess the threat throughout the realm. Accompanying her is a motley band of magic-users and warriors including Tayse, first among the King’s Riders—who holds a hard view of mystics in general, and Senneth in particular.

But as the unlikely allies venture farther into the south, they will face death in a land under the sway of a fanatical cult that would purge Gillengaria of all magic users. And they will come to realize that their only hope of survival lies in standing together…"

Review: I keep going back and forth between three and four stars.  This high fantasy book has a better aftertaste than it has flavor, if you know what I mean.  I'm liking it more and more upon reflection, but while I was reading I kept getting disgruntled at how slow the pace of this book was.  It's nice to read a slow book every once in a while, though.  They often stay with you longer.  But at times it hard to keep going.

All the characters were wonderful, as always happens in Shinn's books.  Senneth was a calmer protagonist, whose fury is not raised unless it's faced with extreme injustice, ignorance, or cruelty.  When it is raised, though, she is a Force To Be Reckoned With.  I kind of wished she would loose her temper more often, since those scenes were the most charged and breathtaking moments in the book.  I loved how her motley band became unlikely allies, and how they trusted and defended each other by the end.

I loved the political intrigue, loved Cammon's power, loved the set-up of a kingdom consisting of twelve houses (states), loved the magic system and the conflicting feelings towards magic by the various characters, and loved learning about the secrets each character held. And I really loved the raelynx.  

I didn't love the lack of rising action.  Much of the book was slow.  After they went to a handful of villages in a row, intending to remain inconspicuous, but then doing something to draw attention to themselves (saving a girl's life, ridding a village of an unseen terror, etc.) it became a bit predictable.  It was obvious for a long time who the Bad Guys were and what they were doing, so I wasn't sure why Senneth and co. didn't just turn around and report the unrest to the king.  It felt more contrived than natural that they continue their journey south, when they already knew everything they needed to know.  However, the last few chapters in Ghosenhall were really excellent, and those chapters alone make me want to continue this series.    

Lastly, I want to highlight a few phrases that I think illustrate Shinn's elegant and poetic prose.  Her word choice is a large reason why I like her as an author so much, so I can't help but want to share some of these lovely sentence: 

While attending a wedding among those in the Thirteenth House (those just below the upper class): "There was what seemed to Senneth a desperate air of gaiety, as if all these second-tier noblemen and their scheming wives were pretending to be at an elegant ball at one of the Twelve Houses."
-pg. 66

While attempting to train the raelynx: "She sat there unmoving for more than an hour, relaxed as she could be while waiting for a wild animal to try to kill her.  She liked the deep stillness of an untenanted night, the pervasive cold that seemed to take corporeal form and lean against her like an affectionate child.  She liked the utter blackness of the sky, the stars like spilled sugar across an unswept floor.  She liked being alone."
-pg. 98

During a conversation about one character's past: "His smile was rather small and painful.  'Perhaps I am just still numb.  I have come to believe there are no safe harbors.  I am just grateful when there is not a storm raging over my head at that very moment.'"
-pg. 136

Bottom Line: A solid start to a high fantasy series.  Fantasy regulars will find the traveler's journey to be reminiscent to other high fantasy novels like The Wheel of Time and The Hobbit, and will enjoy the well defined characters, the magic system, and the political intrigue, though some might get frustrated at the slow pace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book-to-Film: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

From BookRiot:

The Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film, based on the mash-up novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, is set to begin shooting in September. The film will star Lily James (of Downton Abbey fame) as Elizabeth Bennet, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy, and Jack Huston as George Wickham. Burr Steers, who worked on Charlie St. Cloud, is set to direct the screenplay that he co-wrote with David O. Russell, who recently worked on the for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

This movie could either be really good or really, really bad.  

Will you see it?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is:

Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

My to-read list is... long.  Like, really, really long.  There are always a few books that I'm especially excited for, though.  Here are my most anticipated reads for this Fall!

Technically this book doesn't come out until January.  But since I might DIE if I have to wait that long, I'm including it in my Fall list.

The reviews for this one have almost exclusively been insanely positive.  I must know what all the hubbub is about.

...Oh, I'm sorry, did you want more of an explanation besides "Amy Poehler"?

A Phantom of the Opera retelling in an Asian setting?  BRING IT ON.

I'm all about retellings these days, and this Rapunzel retelling looks fantastic.

I've been checking my spot on the library's wait list on an hourly basis.  WE NEEDS IT, PRECIOUSSSS.

I love short stories, and this new book of short stories sounds fascinating.

I'm no stranger to Literature-with-a-capital-L, but for some reason this book intimidates me.  Which is why I think I should read it.

Emma Watson has taken on the film adaptation of this book, which obviously means I must read it immediately.

Because that cover is just so lovely.

What are you reading this Fall?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekly Words: John Berger

Friday, September 19, 2014

Feature Friday: The Best of the Bard

My Shakespeare-loving heart went all pitter patter at this list of the best lines from Shakespeare's plays.  The poetry in his prose still leaves me in awe.  And though I'm happy to see so much representation from Macbeth (one of my favorites) my #1 favorite line from that play was not present in this list, so I added it to the end.  I do what I want.

When sorrows come, they come not single spies
But in battalions.
—King Claudius, Hamlet: Act 4, Scene 5

Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
While night’s black agents to their preys do rouse.
—Macbeth, Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 2

Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
Or paddling in your neck with his damn’d fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out,
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft.
—Hamlet, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
—Sonnet 18

Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue: look like th’innocent flower,
But be the serpent under’t …
—Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5

Howl, howl, howl! O, you are men of stones.
Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack. She’s gone for ever!
—Lear, King Lear, Act 5, Scene 3

All strange and terrible events are welcome,
But comforts we despise. Our size of sorrow,
Proportioned to our cause, must be as great
As that which makes it.
—Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, Act 4, Scene 15

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
—Orsino, Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1

Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what’s done is done.
—Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 2

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
—Sonnet 116

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

-Macbeth, Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Rating: 2.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist."

Review: This is one of those books about which I have very little to say, so this will be short.

Kate Worthington's story was extremely unenjoyable, for me anyway.  No one was kind, or happy.  No one learned anything along the way.  No one became better.  There was a happy-ish ending, so I guess that was nice, but it wasn't enough to save the rest of the book.

I strongly disagree with the comparison to Little Women.  While both have elements of romance, Little Women is foremost a story about friendship between four sisters and their hardworking mother.  Kitty is a bit impetuous and naive, like Jo March, but her family life is nothing like Jo's.  Her growth is nothing like Jo's.  Her friends are nothing like Jo's.  The comparison should not even exist, according to me.

I was so frustrated by Kate's lack of support.  No one liked her, no one cared for her, no one was even very kind to her.  I didn't think she deserved such disdain, and I dearly wished for someone to be a real friend, besides the guy who was crushing on her.  But there is no real friendship anywhere in this book, and that made me sad.  

Kate is full of self pity, and while I did not envy the negative relationships surrounding her, I wished she would take charge of her own life and make it something happy.  I get that this is a Regency era story, and women only had so much power, but Kate was stubborn enough to change her own life, if she really wanted to.  The repeated comparisons to birds in gilded cages got old.  Fast.

I found this book to be surprisingly bereft of anyone to root for, and it left me feeling disgruntled.  I was surprised that this book was penned by the same person who wrote Edenbrooke, which I found to be an extremely delightful Regency era romance.  This book, however, did not make me happy at all.  (With the exception of the last two chapters, which, even if they weren't amazing, at least surprised me.  And it takes a lot for a romance novel to surprise me.)

To be fair, Kate Worthington is about as different from me as it is possible to be.  She is rash, I am cautious.  She is emotive, I am reserved.  She is impulsive, I am deliberate.  I had a very hard time understanding her or relating to her, but perhaps that is because of who I am, not because of who she is.  I've seen other readers whose opinions I value give this book high ratings, which makes me think this is a case of "it's not you, it's me."  Hopefully the next Donaldson book I read will be a better fit. 

Bottom Line:  This book was not a good fit for me, but if you like Regency era romances then you should consider this book, as many others have loved it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book-to-Film: Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence

From BookRiot:

The latest BBC One literary adaptation is set to be Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence. Holliday Grainger, who was previously in Great Expectations and Anna Karenina, will star alongside James Norton as Sir Clifford Chatterley and Richard Madden as Oliver Mellors. The 90-minute drama is set to start shooting in October with a 2015 airdate.

Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, and James Norton:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is:

Top Ten Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

Do you ever do this?  I'll find a book, fall MADLY in love with that author, and then never read anything else by them.  I blame my massive to-read list for most of these, but for some of these authors I CAN'T BELIEVE I've only read one book.  Here's my list:

10. Marcus Zusak
I love The Book Thief like I love life.  Maybe I Am the Messenger will be next.

9. Lois Lowry
The Giver has long been my #1 favorite book.  Which actually may be why I haven't read anything else - I fear nothing can ever compare to The Giver.

8. Benjamin Alire Saenz
Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe is one of my favorite reads of 2014!  I want to read more Saenz, but don't know where to start!

7. E. Lockhart
We Were Liars rocked my world.  In a good way.  Ready for another world-rocker.

6. Cinda Williams Chima
I actually read her entire Seven Kingdoms series, so this one is kind of cheating.  I LOVED that series, though, and I've been meaning to read her other work, but haven't yet!

5. John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is hard to beat.  But I hear Looking for Alaska is just as good...?

4. Jhumpa Lahiri
Unaccustomed Earth is one of my favorite books, and considering Lahiri has won the Pulitzer, her other books are sure to be awesome as well.

3. Diana Gabaldon
As engrossing as Outlander was, I never read past the first book.  Has anyone been watching the TV show?  Should I look into it?

2. Marissa Meyer
I read and loved Cinder.  I own the next two books in the series, but haven't read them yet!

1. Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale is one of those haunting, earth-rattling books that you only come across a handful of times in your life.  I'd love to read more of her work.

Must. Read. More.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekly Words: Stephen King

Friday, September 12, 2014

Vote! Which Book Should I Make A Cast List For Next?

If you've been reading this blog for long, you know that one of my favorite things is creating fictional cast lists for my favorite books.  I had so much fun making my cast lists for The Selection and The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I haven't made a new cast list for a while.  It's high time for a new one!

Here's where you come in:  Tell me which book I should make a cast list from next!  If your favorite isn't on the list, you're welcome to suggest it in the comments.  I'll leave the poll up for a few weeks before closing it.  Can't wait to see what wins.  :)

Which Book Should I Make A Cast List For Next?
Red Rising by Pierce Brown
The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo
Archangel by Sharon Shinn
Dangerous by Shannon Hale
The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Tell me your vote in the comments!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda."

Review:  Wow.  Usually I wait a couple of weeks to write up my book reviews - I find the time and distance helps me digest the story and my reaction to it - but I just finished this book a couple of hours ago, and I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.  I have so many thoughts swirling around and crashing into each other; I feel like there's a hurricane going on in my brain.  So I'm going to forgo my usual two-week buffer and write this review now.  I just HAVE to talk about this book.  Immediately.

SO.  The first thing you should know is that this book will not be for everyone.  It is very violent.  More violent than The Hunger Games.  (Note: This will not be the first time The Hunger Games appears in this review.)  There are also instances of sexual violence in this book (implied, not shown) that could be triggering.  Because of this I would advise caution, especially to younger readers who I think could be very disturbed by the graphic violence.  To be frank, I don't think this should be classified as a YA book at all.  It felt much more adult to me, and I wouldn't recommend it to teens.  Or some adults.

Okay, on to the review.  Red Rising is very ambitious.  It tackles corruption, revolution, injustice, violence, nepotism, power, and ambition, all very strongly; but, above all that, the main theme in this novel seems to be a moral battle between vengeance and justice - mainly within our hero, Darrow, but also within this world galaxy at large.  Much of this novel is spent displaying these issues, less to dissecting them.  But Brown's writing is very high quality, and I hope for more meaty dialogue surrounding these issues in the next books.  (Yes, it's the start of a series.)

The scope of this book is just as ambitious as its themes.  It's a sci-fi dystopia, so we have whole new (corrupt) worlds to learn about.  Darrow is born a Red on Mars, the lowest on the social heirachy.  We learn not only about his life, culture, and worldview as a Red, but also of the life, culture, and worldview of many other castes.  We learn how they think, and where their blind spots and prejudices lie.  We learn about the issues and problems unique to different castes along with Darrow, and empathize with his rage and determination to overhaul the entire system.  By the end of the book, we don't just have one worldview, but several within the same world.  It's a difficult feat, but Brown accomplishes it well.

The cast list is perhaps the most ambitious of all.  There are a lot of people to keep track of in this book.  Dozens and dozens and dozens, and almost all with ancient Roman names.  But somehow I not only remembered them all, but actually felt like I knew them.  Sevro, Mustang, Cassius, Roque, Pax... I could see them.  Feel them breathe.  Predict what they would say to each other.  I love it when that happens.  

I didn't love how some characters entered the book, had important scenes and strong character development, and then left the book early on with no mention of them ever again.  I thought they would be Important Characters, but looking back, they were pretty auxiliary.  I wish some of those scenes in the beginning were edited down so we didn't go through this.  

Darrow morphs quite a bit in this book, both literally and metaphorically.  He undergoes a severe and extreme physical transformation in order to fake his position as a Gold, but his mental and emotional transformation is even more intense.  If you compare the first page from the last, Darrow is unrecognizable.  But I think that kind of transformation was critical to his success.  He makes mistakes along the way, but he's a quick study and evolves and becomes better, smarter, and more dangerous, each time. 

The most impressive part of this book, however, is the plot.  I enjoyed parts one and two, but by the time we got to part three I absolutely could not put this book down.  It was addicting and dangerous and suspenseful, and as the stakes got higher and higher I had no idea what was going to happen next.  I could not put the book down, and I'd place it next to The Hunger Games and Divergent regarding the addiction factor.

Speaking of The Hunger Games, there will be a lot of people comparing these two series'.  Most notably, the competition wherein kids violently compete against each other.  I understand the comparisons, but I feel like these two stories are very different.  For one, Katniss is a reluctant hero.  She never wants to be the savior of Panam.  Darrow might not be born with a revolutionary streak, but once his fire is lit there is no way anyone could call him reluctant.  Those two protagonists set very different tones for their stories.  

Also, and more importantly, The Hunger Games is very anti-violence in its message.  Red Rising is not anti-violence at all.  It's focus is not on the negative effects of war on children, like THG.  Its focus is on power and corruption and justice.  Darrow knows that it takes a lot of blood to change a galaxy, and it's a price he's willing to pay.  He's not completely unfeeling - he sobs after his first kill - but I wished for more regret and heaviness on his part when it came to the deaths of those he didn't know or like.  Even his enemies.  Taking a life is a very serious thing (obviously) and even if it's done in self-defense, it changes you.  Or at least it should.  RR could take a note from THG on that point.

So there are parallels to The Hunger Games, but the similarities never bothered me.  Red Rising is a harder, sharper (though not necessarily better) story, and I am looking forward to the next book to see what Brown has in store for his fans.

I have one last thought: This book should have been proofread by a feminist.  I am pretty positive this book does not pass the Bechdel Test.  There are female characters, but very, very few in positions of power.  And very rarely more than one in any given scene (which inevitably features several males) if they appear at all.  But, the thing that bugged me the most, was the gender-based derogatory slang thrown around.  Doing something "like a girl" was mentioned multiple times, and always in a negative sense.  There is a moment after a battle when a character from the winning side makes fun of a character from the losing side by braiding his hair into pigtails.  Because, you know, pigtails are a girl thing, and girls are less than boys, so the pigtails are an insult.  And no one even seemed to notice that anything was wrong with that line of thinking.  Moments like that had this girl feeling annoyed and defensive and irritated.  I knocked down half a star just for those moments of stupid sexism.  Seriously, Mr. Brown, next time have a feminist proofread your work.  Those moments need to go.

Okay, so clearly I had a lot to talk about.  (SORRY.)  But for real, what do you think?  Will you read this, knowing it's so violent?  Will the promise of addition get you hooked?  Do you notice or are you bothered by the Hunger Games comparisons?  Do the moments of sexism bother you as much as they bother me??  Are you going to die because Golden Son (book 2) doesn't come out for four more months?!?

Bottom Line: An incredibly ambitious and well written and completely addicting new series that will leave you with a lot to think about.  I am HOOKED and can't wait to read book #2, though I wouldn't recommend it widely because of the strong graphic violence.  Fans of The Hunger Games and/or Game of Thrones will probably eat this story right up.