Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

ender's gameReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Ender’s Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Narrators: Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison
Format: Unabridged Audio Book
# CDs + Minutes: 9 CDs (11 hours, 11 minutes)
Grade Reading Level: 9th Grade
Summary: In a near-future society, the human race is in a war against the buggers, a hostile alien race, who nearly won twice in two wide scale confrontations against humankind. Fearing a third invasion, a system was put in place to discover and train child prodigies in the art of war. This system found Ender Wiggin, and set a course for him unlike any other kid that has gone before. Is Ender the general humankind desperately needs?

Meanwhile a second (side) plot revolves around Earth, Ender’s siblings, and it’s three separate governing bodies. The Hegemon, Strategos, and Polemarch, all struggle for supreme control and threaten humankind on the home front. Peter and Valentine are determined to make the world over in their image and work to achieve this through the “Nets” to influence how the masses think. Are two kids capable of achieving that sort of influence?

Why I Started This Book:

I can name approximately half a dozen boys over the last several years telling me I had to read this book. It was essential, a must read! I caved. Got it in audio format, because I’m grooving it right now and settled in for the long haul. I now have to apologize to the first five guys who said to read it and I ignored. Great book!


  • Orson’s style of writing. It’s obviously a style meant to be read aloud; in fact audio format is the best version to meet this book and is something the author mentioned at the end of CD #9.
  • Orson’s writing is very evocative. You see pictures and feel emotions and think thoughts as if you were a part of the book itself.
  • Battle School is fantastic. I loved it when Ender finally goes up in rank and starts commanding. The mock battles are some of my absolute favorite moments.
  • The surprising twist at Command School. It was an ending I did not expect it. I liked it even more when Orson took the story further and explained the aftermath. That too did not go how I pictured it might. Frankly, I was expecting that Ender was going to have to watch out for Peter.


  • Very little. I was going to say the graphic nature of some of the fights or the violence but as Orson pointed out in his ramble at the end of the CD #9 the language is in fact very plain. All graphic nature is rendered through the reader.

Last Minute Thoughts: It’s definitely a book for boys as it deals on many fronts issues boys face more often than girls such as bullying and warfare. Ender also goes through a crisis of identity of self. He does not want to be a killer (or hurt others) but is forced to become one. I think the following quote explains this very well:

Unlike his brother, Ender does not take pride in destroying others and commits this action because he is often pushed into situations which demand physical defense. This portrayal and situation in the novel justifies Ender’s actions. (Nick M. on

I am glad I came to this book now instead of earlier in my life. I don’t think I would have appreciated it then. I do now. It’s terrific! I’m giving the audio book to my dad and telling him to listen to it. He’s on CD #2 and loves it so far.

Buy: Ender’s Game (Unabridged Audio Book), Ender’s Game (Paperback), The Ender Quartet Box Set (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind)

Find books by Orson Scott Card on ebay.

Book Rating: 5 Treasure Chests.

Keira runs a book review blog for readers by readers on romance novels entitled Love Romance Passion. She’s been reading romance since she was in her teens and began blogging about romance so she could share her passion for her favorite genre. She loves reading paranormal, Regency, historical America, and highlander most of all and completely adores blind and wounded heroes.

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12 Ways to Gear-up for a Catching Fire (Hunger Games) Party!

catching fire

Who is excited for the release of Catching Fire this November? I know I am and I’ve been thinking about some party ideas for the big night. What’s so great about Hunger Games is, that like Harry Potter, there is a lot of inspiration to pull from the books. Here’s what I’ve come up with for a fabulous night you won’t soon forget:

  1. 12 Trials Obstacle Course – Catching Fire features an arena with rotating trials that appear hourly, around the clock. I propose for the big event that you gear-up and prepare a timed race with 12 trials. The person with the best time could win a prize (popcorn at the movies?). I have eight ready for you based on the book (these are not in the order of the appearance on the clock dial):
    • Blood Rain (CF, pg. 332) – Dodge a hail storm of red water balloons. They could be filled with colored water.
    • Mutated Monkeys (CF, pg. 332) – Climb something… a tree?
    • Acid Fog (CF, pg. 332) – Cover your eyes with something then attempt to run through a blanket maze.
    • Jabber Jays (CF, pg. 348) – Mimic someone convincingly. Just don’t be mean! I would try imitating the characters first.
    • Big Wave (CF, pg. 325) – Jump in the pool and make the biggest splash! All pool safety rules apply.
    • Beast (CF, pg. 348) – Face down a vicious beast (somebody’s pet dog) and make it play dead.
    • Pincher Insects (CF, pg. 364) – Crab walk around an obstacle.
    • Lighting/Electricity Surge (CF, pg. 332) – Race from Point A to Point B as fast as you can. Timed, of course.
  2. Lawn Sports – Any good Hunger Games or Catching Fire party should host lawn sports. Include archery, corn hole, lasso golf, and egg tosses (or water balloon tosses). The more adventurous could include… skeet shooting.
  3. Party on the Water – The arena for Catching Fire begins on the water, so why not start your partying there too? Rent a boat and cruise for a bit before locating a great area to anchor. Bring swim suits and fishing gear. You can even practice your archery with bowfishing!
  4. Rock Climbing Gym – Host your Catching Fire party at a rock climbing gym. Challenge each other to do more and more difficult routes, timed climbs, and then chomp down on pizza when you get ravenous.
  5. Go Capitol – Plan a Capitol-size makeover party. Buy the fun spray-on hair color (that washes out) and get white face paint or white powder foundation and see who can look the most Capitol. (Super cool parents might allow you to buy the permanent version of the hair colors, but get permission first!) Host a runway show and model your Capitol look. Take lots of photos! A prize could go to the best costume.
  6. Capitol Feast – Make your Catching Fire Capitol party a potluck, and encourage your friends to bring their most scrumptious dishes (just don’t go to the vomitorium to make room for it all, okay, that’s not cool.)
  7. Camp Out – Plan your Hunger Games party in the woods. Camp out in style or rough it. I think Peeta (and Katniss) would appreciate the s’mores don’t you? Make your camping party even more fun by combining it with different ideas on this list!
  8. Play Survivor Games – You can go wrong with classics like Manhunt, flashlight/freeze tag, Nerf war, hide and go seek in the dark, etc.
  9. Paintball Party – Plan a paintball party with your friends, either on teams or every-man for himself. Who’s got the best aim? Go to the movies in your war paint – it’s an almost Capitol look, don’t you think? See number five more ideas to complete the ensemble.
  10. Scavenger Hunt – Whether you have to hunt and scavenge for your campsite (see idea 7) or simply find Hunger Games and Catching Fire related clues on your way to the movies, this would be a great idea for a large party. You can break up into teams and have a blast running around! Who knows the most about the book series?
  11. Laser Tag – Go to a local thrill park and play a round of laser tag (perfect for that high-tech fancy look the movies go for with the tributes’ outfits). It’s way less messy (and painful) then paintball. But just as fun!
  12. Fencing/Mock-fighting – Duel it out, mano-a-mano. Get 24 tributes, I mean friends, together and plan a fencing championship. See just who will rise to the top and be the Champion! En Garde!

Most of all, just have fun getting ready for the next Hunger Games movie! See you at the movies!

Get your Catching Fire gear here!

Don’t leave without checking out: 74 Books to Read if You Love the Hunger Games

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Review: Independent Study (The Testing, Book 2) by Joelle Charbonneau

independent studyReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Independent Study (The Testing, Book 2)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 310 pages
Grade Reading Level: Grades 9-12

Summary: Cia was excited to find out she pass the Testing, but when she finds a recorded transmission in her own voice telling her of traumatic experiences during the Testing she’s terrified and battles with denial. She doesn’t want to believe it. But the recording is convincing because it is in her voice. Which leads to the question… What if the warnings are real? How can she validate her message? Does Tom still have his memories? Is it true that Will, her friend, tried to kill them? What’s in store next? Do more perils lurk on the University campus? The answers need to be found and Cia better make sure she finds the right ones or there will be consequences!

Why I started this book:

I devoured the first book in the trilogy. It reminded me of Hunger Games while being a fresh take on the dystopian genre. The hardest part about waiting for this book was the wait for my local library to process it and place it into the collection when I was first on the reserve list!


  • Independent Study is more intrigue than actual violence (though there is some). It’s the threat that creates the suspense. The intrigue goes larger-in-scale than the Testing and incorporates rebel factions and politics.
  • I like the initiation tests the kids goes through to get into their departments. The students in the departments devised the tests – you can see that something from the Testing bled through the memory blockers… well, that, or the kids are as sadistic as the adults who administered the test.
  • I like that Cia is tricked in whom to place her trust.
  • Spoiler: The rebel faction twist near the end of the book – I only caught a glimpse of the twist ending happening just before it did happen. Who would have thought the rebel faction was set up by the person they’re trying to rebel against? It definitely takes the saying keep your friends close, and enemies closer to a new level.


  • I was looking for more connections with the kids. Stronger friendships and it was still superficial or surface. Like Cia and Will, I was looking for a different side of Will (not necessarily as a romantic interest, but on the friendship side).

Final Thoughts: I hope the romance gets a little more attention in the next book. It had some ups and downs in Independent Study. The book was more focused on the intrigue and developing the setup for the next book.

Buy: Independent Study: The Testing, Book 2

Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, Book 1) by Beth Revis

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Across the Universe (Across the Universe, Book 1)
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 416 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14 and up

Summary: Godspeed is a spaceship that was sent into space by a group on earth, hoping to find a new earth planet. Amy joined her parents aboard as frozen cargo, not wanting to grow up without them. The journey is only supposed to take 300 years, so when Amy awakes she thinks they must have landed, but that is not the case. They can’t put her back to sleep without risking that she might never wake up again. That leaves Amy stuck on a spaceship, fifty years from its destination that is slowly spiraling into chaos. This is so not what she signed up for at all. How can she get her life back?

Why I started this book:

I picked this book up to read because it has been floating around the blogosphere for some time now and I’ve seen it on the shelf at the library. After reading and enjoying the Hunger Games I went searching for more books to read that would give me a similar read of dystopia and romance. This book fit the search criteria.


  • The alternative view of history by a group of people stuck in outerspace desperately hoping to avoid mutiny. (Still horrifying! Amazing how awful histories can be rewritten to sound like a good thing – but that’s propaganda for you.) Take heart; never trade the illusion of safety for the actuality of freedom.
  • The heroine has some guts.


  • How the Elder/Eldest is perpetuated. It’s hard to like a hero when you see how he can be warped. It does bring up an interesting issue about personality/character/individuality/soul.


  • I can’t believe they are really fifty years from reaching the planet. I really thought they were already there and orbiting around the planet for some reason.
  • Oh and the creepy descriptions of getting frozen or waking up from being frozen – and is it me or does the idea of two strangers (middle age men) putting your naked body (teenage female) into a deep sleep seem like a really terrible idea? Where were the female scientists to cover the issues of propriety?

Buy: Across the Universe

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, Book 3) by Beth Revis

shades of earthReviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, Book 3)
Author: Beth Revis
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 369 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14+

Summary: Amy and Elder left the safety of the spaceship, Godspeed, for the promise of Centauri-Earth. What they find is not what they expected with dangers they aren’t prepared to handle. The best or perhaps worst of all is finding signs of civilization on the new Earth. They are not alone. But who is there with them?

Why I started this book:

I read the first two books in the trilogy and wanted to read the conclusion. I had to wait until I could grab from the library, but it was worth it!


  • I like that the planet is largely like earth with a few exception regarding the wildlife. It’s hard to imagine surviving on a totally alien planet without extra equipment to aid in breathing, water purification, and the like.
  • Amy gets another love option (for about five seconds, because Chris is creepy) which cements her feelings for Elder.
  • When the ship they took to Centauri-Earth goes on lockdown


  • Amy is very liberal and doesn’t understand a conservative POV. There’s got to be more balance. Conservative isn’t bad.
  • Amy can’t decide between her parents and Elder. I get why it’s hard, but it seems there could have been a compromise not an either/or so both her parents and Elder lose a bit of my respect for forcing the issue. Amy’s mom seems the most reasonable.


  • There’s a lot of violence – from fighting pterodactyls, to fighting between the ship-born and the frozens, and then between them and the aliens (I’m thinking of the instant vaporized and blood splatter for the planet’s transport home), to forcing someone’s DNA to change.

Final thoughts: I felt a lot was crammed into one book when it could have been expanded into at least two, maybe three. Though, I could be saying that because I didn’t want to stop reading!

Buy: Shades of Earth: An Across the Universe Novel

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: The Fall (Seventh Tower, Book 1) by Garth Nix

Reviewed by Quartermaster Alyx

Title: The Fall (Seventh Tower, Book 1)
Author: Garth Nix
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 195
Grade Reading Level: 3rd-5th

Summary: In this world if your family doesn’t have a Primary Sunstone then you will be forced into a life of servitude and will never be able to acquire a Spirtshaddow (a helpful companion that you bind to yourself in place of your shadow). Unfortunately for Tal, his dad has gone missing and with him his family’s Primary Sunstone. Even worse, his mother is sick so no one can help him find a way to gather a new one so it falls to Tal to save himself and his younger siblings. He tries everything from asking his aunts to entering a competition to trying to seek an audience with the Empress but is unable to procure a Primary Sunstone. This only leaves only one option for Tal: he must steal a sunstone.

Why I started reading:

My brother really enjoyed the series so I decided to give the first one a go.


  • There was tons of action!
  • The characters are great. Especially the hero, Tal, and his crazy uncle. The vast majority of the characters feel very real and I found myself wishing that I could meet them.
  • The world the book takes place in is super original and is described very well. I was able to picture everything that was happening in my head perfectly.
  • The shadow creatures that (almost) everyone who lives in the towers receive. They are so cool, I want one myself!
  • The Beastmaker game that Tal play’s is remarkable. I think the scene where he plays against the guards is my favorite.


  • Huge cliffhanger at the end, it’s definitely not a stand-alone book. I had to run to the bookstore as soon as I finished so I could find out what was going to happen next.
  • I think that Tal’s immediate family should have been developed a little more. He’s going on this quest for his mother but the only thing that we really know about her is that she’s sick.
  • Tal’s aunts. They are unnecessarily cruel. I can’t believe that they wouldn’t help their own family out.

Buy: The Fall (Seventh Tower #1)

Rating: 4.5 Treasure Chests

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