Book Review: Girl in the Arena by Liese Haines

RATING: StarStarStar

It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena

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… For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine.



Girl in the Arena fooled me – I thought I would see a lot of Gladiator action involving a girl. Alas, it was only once and I get to see it in only in the end. The plot was averagely executed when it could have been ruthless. I still like it though; the premise of a future world adapting the Roman ways is unique. This book is more of a family-oriented story with a slight touch of dystopia. I was excited for the dystopia element! But all I read was family drama. You see why I felt cheated?

On the bright side, I like Lyn’s relationship with Tommy (she loved him the most among her fathers) and Thad (she loved him whole – with his being ‘special’ and all). I like how Mark and his parents protected and helped Lyn in times of trouble. I like how Uber is considered one of the fiercest Neo-gladiators but usually appeared clumsy and awkward with Lyn. It’s strange how I like the supporting characters more than Lyn – I just did not see her doing enough (to take charge of her mother, to defy the GSA). She’s smart, though. All the things she did seemed all too late for me.

There are instances where I took a sharp intake of breath – moments triggered by man’s cruelty. These are the only times I was reminded that I am reading dystopia. Girl in the Arena bored me half the time. I won’t say that it’s a waste of time; I’d rather say I should have read another dystopia instead.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Lorien Legacies #2: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

RATING: StarStarStarStarStar

(Lorien Legacies #2)

I’ve seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he’s a mystery. But to me . . . he’s one of us.

Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us—if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We’re hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we’ll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I’ve been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio—and failed.

I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.

And I’m ready to fight.

Book 1: I Am Number Four review


The key to change is letting go of the fear.


The Power of Six is a big improvement from its prequel, I Am Number Four that really says a lot! Three reasons  why I love it more than IANF: (1) Less somber, more fun; (2) romance from two people not likely to hook up – well, it was unexpected for me; (3) new characters, be it main or secondary, were like fuel adding to a fire – Lorien Legacies has never been this good!

The Power of Six is told in two POVs: one from Seven, searching for the other Garde while stuck in a Spanish monastery; the other from Four, eluding the authorities while figuring out what to do next. I have to say I love Four’s POV more than Seven, maybe because I already knew him, Sam and Six and where they came from (leaving Paradise after the battle)? I dunno. I kinda don’t like Seven, just a little. She let herself be bullied by the other orphans. Of course I get that she cannot be caught using her Legacies, but it wouldn’t hurt her to be discreet so she won’t be bullied, right? I adore Sam! He’s such a happy camper with anything alien (especially with Six, lol). He has much more sense than Four. I got to know Six and how was her life before finding Four. I like her! She’s a force to be reckoned with, whether she’s fighting the Mogadorians or just plain hanging out with the guys. Four – well he did mature and sounded grown up, and he’s still grieving over Henri. I just didn’t like his stubbornness when it comes to Paradise and the life he left behind there. When he decided to be selfish and stood up Six, I was so pissed! I was like, WTH man?! Argh. Yeah, Six. You should’ve kicked his ass and bump his head so he can have a lick of sense.

I found out more about Lorien history and the stories in between are very fascinating. The Power of Six is a fun, enjoyable read. Humorous and action-packed, it will suck you in. You will not stop reading, and you will never want your Lorien adventure to end. Were you bored when you read I Am Number Four? Well then, pick up the sequel and I’m pretty Pittacus Lore will redeem himself to you. Fantastic Sci-fi! And I’m not even a Sci-fi lovin’ chick. 😉



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

In My Mailbox [15]

Hosted by The Story Siren


HB/PB Grabs



Whew! I got another HUGE loot this week, guys!

Ender’s ShadowShadow of the Giant, Orson Scott Card

The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett

The Ruins, Scott Smith

Wake, Lisa McMann

Dreamfever, Karen  Marie Moning

The Cardturner, Louis Sachar

Impossible & Extraordinary, Nancy Werlin


Have you read some of them? Which do you recommend i read first? 

Leave a comment with your link so i can check out yours. 😛



Don’t forget to enter my current INTERNATIONAL giveaway!

Click the image above to join.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop: International

[This giveaway hop is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not A Writer and I Read Banned Books.]

Check out the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009 List. I will order one book (as long as it is available in The Book Depository) from that list for ONE lucky winner!

Here’s a couple of books I know from the list:

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck

His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

A Time to Kill, by John Grisham

The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

Cut, by Patricia McCormick

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine

Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume


  • Must subscribe to this blog via Email or RSS feed (You will find the subscribe button on topmost left sidebar of my blog – click the SIGN ME UP! or FEEDBURNER COUNT button)


  • Giveaway will be done via Rafflecopter (First time! So please bear with me :P)
  • Opens Internationally, as long as The Book Depository ships to your country
  • You don’t have to own a blog site to enter
  • Contests ends October 1st, ONE winner will be drawn 



Well, click HERE (Tip: Please open this link in NEW tab or NEW window so you can still view this blog post) to enter this fabulous giveaway!!!

And don’t forget to spread the word. 😉


Click HERE to hop away to other giveaways! List is at the bottom of the blog post.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro


As a child, Kathy—now thirty-one years old—lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood—and about their lives now.

Literary Award: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2005), Arthur C. Clarke Award Nominee (2006), ALA Alex Award (2006)



Never Let Me Go is gloomy – I can’t wait to finish it so I can get on with my reading life! I feel terrible that I didn’t like it, since some of my Goodreads friends marked Never Let Me Go as their favorites. Still, I would have chucked the book (if I wasn’t reading on my Kindle) a mile away, walk over to pick it up, only to chuck it again. They say subtlety is Ishiguro’s writing style – I say now that I will steer clear from that kind of writing since subtlety on books will never work for me.

I was disconnected with the characters; I felt no affinity to any of them, well maybe a little bit to Tommy. Kathy is a pushover most times; Ruth is… how do I say this? Ah, queen b*tch. When I reached Part Three, I don’t know why I’m still reading because I was at a loss on where Ishiguro is taking me (this is the subtlety part). I already have an idea on the Hailsham students’ purpose but I guess I’m waiting for the affirmation – but it only came late in the book. The twist was not shocking enough to merit the sacrifice I did by reading all the way. Sheesh.

I think you already got my point: I did not like Never Let Me Go: the story flow, the unlikeable characters, the somber atmosphere Ishiguro got going throughout the book.

Perhaps the only thing that drew something positive from me is the scene between Madame and Kathy discussing their sides on one moment years ago: Kathy is dancing on the tune of a tape then realized Madame is watching her, crying. The interpretation of Ishiguro on that is good – that much I can admit.  But it ends there.

Did you love Never Let Me Go? If yes, then I’d appreciate it if you leave a comment sayiing why you love it. Perhaps I can find something else to like in the book besides the only reason I stated above through someone else’s eyes. Apparently, i’m not a fan of subtlety on novels.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

RATING: StarStarStarStarStar

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.


It’s the intent, not the word, that makes something harsh.


I’m craving for horror when I picked up Cryer’s Cross and it gave me the ultimate satisfaction… and more! From scared to terrified, it didn’t fail to give me goosebumps. I haven’t read this kind of paranormal nowadays, but boy, did I relish McMann’s spine-tingling tale! There’s just something about small towns and big secrets that appealed to my imagination.

Kendal was the sort of girl who did not let OCD gets the best of her. Because of it, she’s brutally frank, resilient with a dry sense of humor when it comes to her condition. She controlled, accepted it but cursed it sometimes. Despite the disorder, Kendal appeared as normal as any female teenager to me. That’s a good sign because McMann developed a strong character in her; eventually it will be a major coping mechanism for Kendal in the upcoming horror at Cryer’s Cross. Jacian is as real as Kendal: hardworking but bitter, angry. I wasn’t expecting any romance in the story’s premise but those electrifying moments between Kendal and Jacian were breathtaking. Oh, Jacian, I feel like slapping you, too! *giggles* Ahem. McMann definitely knows how to stir things up without straying from her original atmosphere.

Cryer’s Cross is a must read for suspense/thriller lovers like me. The paranormal phenomena was enough to keep me at my wit’s end. It is a short read but I felt the eerie story was conveyed completely: not rushed, not cliffhanged either. McMann proved to me that even without action sequences to produce a scare, fright can be delivered to readers like me through simple yet effective storytelling.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Every other day, Kali D’Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She’s human.
And then every day in between . . . She’s something else entirely.
Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.
When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she’ll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process.



Every Other Day should be the basis of any urban fantasy read; it was CRAAAZY good! The dual characters in one body made Kali one heck of a kick-ass heroine. The fun never stops, and when I say fun, I meant Kali’s hunt of creatures that go bump in the night. This is undoubtedly one of the best UF book I’ve read so far.

Kali doesn’t know why every other day she turns into a demon hunter; all she knows is that her hunt lust must be sated. Monsters can smell her as she them, that’s why she’s vulnerable when she turns human after 24 hours – she’ll be defenseless by then. I love Kali mainly because of her ‘hero complex’.  Not only did I found it noble, but she’s smart enough to have a plan once her ‘hero complex’ kicks in. Man, I wanted to be like her… I want to be HER! Kali is such a bad-ass. Zev inside Kali’s head made me think of Wanderer from The Host. I was unaware of Zev’s big role in the story but it played out well. Skylar is my next favorite character: upbeat, confident, brave. She almost drove me to tears, what with her ‘feelings’, her fondness of her brothers and how she still choose what fate has for her. Bethany is such a fun character; her constant angst-ridden retorts to Kali and Skylar made my reading very entertaining. But beneath her shallowness lies a pretty decent girl – nice! I don’t like Elliot; he’s such a wuss but a great brother to Skye nonetheless.

Every Other Day is a fast-paced, action-packed book. Brace yourselves as you join Kali in battling hellhounds, ice dragons, basilisks, and will o’ the wisps (to name a few) with such confidence and lethal skill. This is not your usual paranormal/urban fantasy read so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Publisher: Egmont USA

Imprint: —

Pub Date: 12/27/2011

Thank you NetGalley and Robert Guzman for granting my galley request.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Giveaways via Rafflecopter?

Hi guys!

I’m kinda getting addicted to entering and hosting giveaways. 🙂 And a lot of those blogs i visited used Rafflecopter forms. It was easy enough for me entering their giveaways, so why not try using Rafflecopter for my giveaways? Hmmm.

Rafflecopter uses javascript to embed the form in a site. does not support javascript (boohoo!), so I made up my mind to create this blog dedicated to my book giveaways (I don’t think I want to fully migrate from WordPress to Blogger).

I have an upcoming giveaway next week, and I will use Rafflecopter for the first time. Please be patient if there are glitches, alright? 😉

Keep in mind that i want you to have the easiest time to join my giveaways. But if you think the jumping from my wordpress site to blogger site is is tedious, let me know in the comments section.

Thank you as always for showing support to my blog!



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”


Book Review: The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

RATING: StarStarStarStar

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths.

Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the “death farm” there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it’s a wondrous transformation.

But it’s a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.



The Unwanteds turned on the FUN in full blast! It’s more of a fantasy adventure with a touch of dystopia but an enjoyable read, nonetheless. This is my first Lisa McMann book and by the looks of it, i’ll be reading another one of her works, probably Cryer’s Cross.

Once in Artime, Alex could still not forget his twin brother, Aaron, who is a Wanted. His delay in magical training only made his misery worse. In trying to ‘save’ Aaron from the evil clutches of High Priest Justine and the rest of Quill, Alex brought about the threat in survival for all the Unwanteds.

I really like Alex. He felt real for me – his loneliness over the separation from his twin, his anxiety to remove himself from his friends’ company, his adamance over Aaron not being evil. What i don’t understand is why he thought Aaron needed saving from Quill. He never heard a complaint from Aaron over his current state so i’m puzzled why he thinks he need to save Aaron. i hate Lani… at first. but she’s pretty cool in the end. Samheed is shady most of the time, untrustworthy – i don’t like him. Meghan is so-so; she didn’t stand out for me. Aaron is a masterpiece. He’s so ambitious! Can a thirteen-year-old be as cold-hearted as Aaron? He doesn’t care about anyone; not even his parents, not even Alex! I tell you, he got off easily in the end. I love Mr. Today (admirable), Clive (notorious), and most of all, Simber (endearing, funny, and bad-ass)!

I had reservations at first whether McMann will deliver (i thought the story took a while to develop), but The Unwanteds is a pretty good read. Is it like Hunger Games? not really, but there are scenes where father is pitted against son/daughter and there was no hesitation to kill on both sides. Is it like Harry Potter? maybe. There are scenes where you can paint yourself invisible or sing a tune to make your enemies crazy with grief. Whatever the similarities, The Unwanteds will stand on its own. The moral values are distinct: a loving father’s sacrifice for his daughter; a brother’s decision to correct his past mistakes he and his sibling made; a person’s creativity that will unleash and create magic to heal the fear he/she was born to.

The Unwanteds captured my penchant for adventure and magic. It was a quick read for me, and that added to my delight because i want a magic rush here and now.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Imprint: Aladdin

Pub Date: 08/30/2011

Thank you Simon & Schuster Galley Grab for the free e-copy.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst

RATING: StarStar

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire… fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil… until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops. 

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don’t exist), and they’re shocked she survived. They’re even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl’s family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King’s feast — as the entrees. 

The only problem? Pearl’s starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she’s definitely dead if she lets down her family. What’s a sunlight-loving vamp to do?



Drink, Slay, Love is more like a 2.5 in rating: 1st half – boring; 2nd half – just okay, I might even go for cute. The story is unusual (vamp staked by unicorn developed a conscience), but it wasn’t enough to let me connect with the characters. This is a loose book for me, so to speak.

I simply can’t relate to Pearl – her callousness, insensitivity, and indifference to all things outside her Family. I only liked her when she’s fighting her cousins once her conscience kicked in and she started to side with her human friends. Evan is unpredictable – his character kept me guessing on where he stands in all of this. Still, I like him! Bethany acts so strange but there was a reason for her being like that. I was scared of Pearl’s mom more than the Vampire King! And Jadrien – very disappointing. In the end, he wasn’t even a close match for Pearl.

Drink, Slay, Love made no impression on me whatsoever. It was fun, sure. Kind of. The twist with the unicorn didn’t sit well with me, though; it felt weird. Oh well, that’s just me. Perhaps if you’re looking for something light and a bit quirky from the vamp theme, Drink, Slay, Love might work for you.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Imprint: Margaret K. McElderry

Pub Date: 09/13/2011

Thank you Simon & Schuster Galley Grab for the free e-copy.



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”