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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Infographic – The Anatomy of Panem

On November 22, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE hits theaters everywhere!
Meanwhile, check out this cute, unofficial look at each district in Panem, the Victors that will be involved in the Quarter Quell in THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE and some information about them you may not have known, courtesy of AMC Theatres.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

The Anatomy of Panem - Hunger Games: Catching Fire [Infographic]

Fantasy Book Review: Slayers: Friends and Traitors

Slayers: Friends and Traitors by CJ Hill

Synopsis:
Tori’s got a problem. She thought she’d have one more summer to train as a dragon Slayer, but time has run out. When Tori hears the horrifying sound of dragon eggs hatching, she knows the Slayers are in trouble. In less than a year, the dragons will be fully grown and completely lethal. The Slayers are well-prepared, but their group is still not complete, and Tori is determined to track down Ryker—the mysterious missing Slayer.

What Tori doesn’t bargain for, however, is the surprising truth about her powers. She isn’t just a Slayer, she’s part Dragon Lord, too. How can Tori fight to save her friends when half of her is programmed to protect dragons? And with a possible traitor in their midst, the Slayers will be divided in more ways than they ever imagined.

Review:
Tori and Jesse’s relationship changes at the end of the summer when they have to leave camp and head back to school and their home life. Meanwhile, Dirk has a tough decision to make about which side is best for him – his family or his friends. His love for his father and his love for Tori makes it nearly impossible to choose. And Tori too must come to terms with what her bonding with Dirk and her powers mean about her own heritage.

Following the amazing first novel in the series, I had high expectations for this sequel. And I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. With engaging characters, fierce dragons, intrigue, and a bit of romance – this super-powered adventure is impossible to put down. It’s fast-paced and action-packed, emotional and funny. I hope this series continues for quite a while, as these X-Men-like teens are tasked with saving their country from killer dragons and a ruthless despot.

Fantasy Book Review: Stonecast

Stonecast by Anton Strout

I have to call attention to the cover blurb, of course! 🙂
Don’t worry. No money has exchanged hands.

Synopsis:
Alexandra Belarus was an artist stuck working in her New York family’s business…until she discovered her true legacy—a deep and ancient magic. Lexi became the last practicing Spellmason, with the power to breathe life into stone. And as her powers awoke, so did her family’s most faithful protector: a gargoyle named Stanis. But when a centuries-old evil threatened her family and her city, Stanis sacrificed himself to save everything Lexi held dear.

With Stanis gone, Lexi’s efforts to master Spellmasonry—even with the help of her dedicated friends—are faltering. Hidden forces both watch her and threaten her, and she finds herself suddenly under the mysterious wing of a secret religious society determined to keep magic hidden from the world.

But the question of Stanis’s fate haunts her—and as the storm around her grows, so does the fear that she won’t be able to save him in her turn.

Review:
Lexi and her friends have been hard at work, trying to increase her skills bringing to life stone automatons. Meanwhile, Stanis has been trying to distract his father from going after Lexi and her grandfather’s book. But then Stanis is bound and forced to obey the enemy. And Lexi meets a young man who can help, but is unsure if he can be trusted. I enjoyed the character of Caleb. He reminded me a bit of Han Solo – someone who’s out for himself, but honest about it. He also became another love interest for Lexi, adding a love triangle element.

Stonecast is a fantastic sequel in this unique and exciting fantasy series. Full of suspense, intrigue, magic, and humor – gargoyles have never been this fun. The story ends with a climactic and satisfying conclusion. And I’m excited to see where the story goes next with how things leave off. This is one of those series that make you want to tell the author to write faster. Don’t miss this fast-paced, urban fantasy, but make sure to read Alchemystic first.

Fantasy Book Review: The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

Synopsis:
Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve a murder with only one clue: the strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high.

If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

Review:
Mina Holmes is a lot like her uncle, self-assured (to the point of cocky) and brilliant at deduction. Evaline, though beautiful, is not as confident – as she has yet to kill a vampire and actually has a weak stomach when it comes to dead bodies. Mina thinks things through analytically. And Evaline jumps into danger without thinking, but she has super-powered strength thanks to her vampire hunting heritage. The two make a good pair, though this first novel has them at odds and working alone through most of the story.

The Clockwork Scarab is a fast-paced, exciting start of a unique new series. Classic gothic horror, steampunk, and time travel make for an interesting mash-up. I’m a fan of time travel when it comes to science fiction, if it’s thought out logically. But time travel in a fantasy, is a little confusing. And it doesn’t quite fit here. Though, maybe it will be fleshed out in future installments. The mystery itself revolves around ancient Egyptian mythology, but takes a backseat to Gleason’s clever character development. Captivating, suspenseful, full of mystery, and a bit of romance – this new series is off to a encouraging start. I really enjoyed these characters and look forward to future adventures of Stoker and Holmes, especially if they begin working as a team.

Fantasy Book Review: Box Office Poison

Box Office Poison by Phillipa Bornikova

Synopsis:
What happens when exquisitely beautiful elves start getting all the roles in Hollywood? Human actors sue, that’s what. In a desperate attempt to keep the squabbling inside the Screen Actors Guild from going public, the president of SAG forces the two sides into arbitration.

Enter Linnet Ellery, a human lawyer working for a vampire law firm, to serve as arbitrator. Linnet discovers that there are sinister forces at work in Tinsel Town determined to shatter the fragile peace between elves, vampires, werewolves, and humans. Someone has been coercing famous elven actors into committing sudden and terrible acts of violence against humans in a series of tragedies that could turn the tide of public opinion against all the supernatural Powers.

Review:
Having been raised with vampires, Linnet has a healthy respect of them but doesn’t fear them. She has an easy camaraderie with her boss that often borders on flirting. And despite being a lawyer, Linnet finds herself investigating why elves have started violently attacking humans. She also seems to be a magnet for dangerous situations where people end up killed.

Box Office Poison is the second novel in this fantastic, urban fantasy series. And while I haven’t read the first, I had no problem getting to know the characters. This was a standalone story that can be read on its own, though now I will definitely be checking out future installments. Full of suspense, mystery, and humor – this well-paced story is fun and engaging.

SciFi Book Review: The 100

The 100 by Kass Morgan

Synopsis:
No one has set foot on Earth in centuries — until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

Review:
One hundred imprisoned teenagers are being sent to Earth to see if it’s livable again. Not all of them are guilty of terrible crimes. But the humans are desperately overcrowding the ships even with strict guidelines in place. Clarke and Wells had a brief romance that led to betrayal. Bellamy’s only motive is to protect his sister. And Glass comes from a life of privilege, but fell in love with a poor young man. Each has their own stories and secrets, told in flashbacks.

Not surprisingly, the series has been picked up for television and is coming to The CW in 2014. The 100 is an incredible, character-driven story of love, heartache, intrigue, and survival. The first installment focuses on the above key characters, with plenty of adventure, mystery, and plot twists. The excitement builds to a climactic ending with a big cliffhanger. If you enjoy dystopian novels with a side of romance, don’t miss this fantastic, new series.

SciFi Book Review: The Feros

The Feros by Wesley King

Synopsis:
James, Hayden, Sam, Emily and Lana are finally ready to join the League of Heroes. Their new powers have made them stronger than ever (Hayden has perfected some particularly useful tricks for doing housework from the sofa), and the friends even gave themselves a name: the Feros. But as their induction into the League approaches, they are ambushed and arrested by a group of rogue Heroes. The only one who can clear their name is the League’s leader, Thunderbolt—but he’s gone missing. The Feros manage to escape capture, but with Thunderbolt gone and several League members defecting, there is no one left to trust.

Confident they can overcome anything together, the group’s security is shaken when Emily is mysteriously abducted right out from under them. Have the Vindico somehow managed to escape the impenetrable Perch? Or are they fighting a new enemy that they can’t see? One thing they know for sure is that even Sam’s telepathic detection has proven useless against this unknown foe. Without their computer genius or their telepathic shield, how will the Feros ever find Emily and keep themselves—and their families—safe?

Review:
Having betrayed the villainous Vindico, the Feros teens now want to become a part of the League of Heroes. But someone sets the League members against each other, and the Feros must flee even as one of their own is captured by the unknown enemy. The Feros, having gotten their backstories taken care of in the first novel, have become a true team – with distinct and engaging characters.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I enjoyed The Feros even more than the first novel. There is more danger, adventure, excitement, mystery, and suspense than before. It’s a clever and complex story with well-developed characters. The villains have a reason behind their madness, and are often sympathetic characters despite their wrongdoings. This is a fantastic, fast-paced science fiction series for super hero/villain and comic book fans from middle grade readers to adults. There is a satisfying conclusion, so I’m not sure the story will continue in future installments. But I certainly hope so.