Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie vs. Book

So yes, I was part of the throng yesterday that went to see The Hunger Games.  Thankfully I got into a showing before school let out and I had to deal with the teenage group of fans. Not that I don't love you, I do, I just didn't want catcalls or snickers when Gale or Peeta were on screen.  So, I was actually surprised at the pace of the movie, it was slower than I thought and much more acurate to the book than I was expecting. My main curiousities for the movie were: how the heck do they make this PG-13 and stay true to the gruesomeness of the Games? Answer: they don't actually show the killing, only blood spatters and quick shots. Enough to get the gist, but not overly gory. Next question: How do they handle Rue? Answer: They don't show the actual death again, and it was handled very sweetly. The lullaby was one of my favorite parts of the movie. Another plus: actors who can believably cry on-screen! Yay! I heard more than a few people who were sniffling.

I only have two miffs. First, they ditched one of my favorite scenes! When Haymitch does a peter-pan off the stage at the reaping (which would have helped the tension holy smokes). And Haymitch is way too easily pulled into helping Katniss and Peeta. Second: Gale.  Liam might be a hunk, but he fell way short for me next to Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson's performances.  Way overdone or underdone, he made me sad because I really like Gale's character, even though I root for Peeta. :( Otherwise, this is a great movie done faithfully (as conceivably possible) to the book. Go see it if you love Hunger Games.

Also, Katniss is a lot more likeable in the movie for me than the book. Happy days. We'll hope that the next 2 movies are just as good...and maybe fix some of the doom and gloom of Mockingjay...

Keturah and Lord Death

By Martine Leavitt

Keturah is a peasant girl who is gifted with the ability to tell stories. When she gets lost in the forest one day and realizes that she is going to die, she meets a dark stranger on a black stallion: Lord Death. Keturah tells Death a story and earns herself one more day of life, with the hope of escaping Death. The catch? She must find her true love before the day is done…oh and she must also find a way to warn of the Plague that is coming that Lord Death told her about.

I'm excited to tell y'all about this find of mine. It's times like this when I'm glad to be on Goodreads. This book was a quick read that had me up until 3 a.m. finishing it. It's written like a classic fairy-tale, but with more personal aspects than say the Grimms. It has that eerie feel without being creepy that hooked me right away. I've haven't had so much fun reading a book in a long time that was equal parts endearing, a little spooky, humorous, and romantic.  Keturah is a likeable heroine and has two great friends that helped to lighten the book's undertone of the inevitablility of death quite nicely.  To a certain point, you can tell what will happen, but even so, it's still haunting and riviting. Great great find. Love love loved it.

Favorite quote: "The soul, it longs for its mate as much as the body. Sad it is that the body be greedier than the soul. But if you would be happy all your days...subdue the body and marry the soul. Look for a soul-and-heart love."

4 1/2 out of 5 for surprising me and touching my heart.

The Angel Factory

By Terence Blacker

Thomas Wisdom has a great life. He’s popular at school. He gets good grades. He lives in a nice home. His parents are caring, wise, and supportive. His life is perfect. Almost too perfect.
When Thomas opens a secret file on his father’s computer, he discovers that in his perfect world, nothing is what it seems—not even himself. The truth—if he is brave enough to face it—can be found only in the place they call “The Angel Factory”.

Got this at the local library and when I saw on the cover that it "Deserves to be ranked alongside Lois Lowry's The Giver" that was good enough for me.  One hint people: you shouldn't hype up a book like that unless it actually does rank alongside an award winner like Ms. Lowry's book. Sheesh. I probably would've read this book anyway, but raising my expectations like that did not do the author any favors. This book was a pretty good premise, but felt half-baked. It was sufficient to keep my interest, but in the days of the dystopian/science fiction, this book was barely average if that. It could've been more fleshed out and written loads better. With that said, it was interesting and did have a few good twists. It just fell short for me.
2 1/2 out of 5 (mostly for lack of connection with characters and depth to the story) Had promise.

The Red Pyramid

By Rick Riordan

Since his mother’s death six years ago, Carter Kane has been living out of a suitcase, traveling the globe with his father, the brilliant Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane. But while Carter’s been homeschooled, his younger sister, Sadie has been living with their grandparents in London. Sadie has just what Carter wants—school friends and a chance at a “normal” life. But Carter has just what Sadie longs for—time with their father. After six years of living apart, the siblings have almost nothing in common. Until now.

On Christmas Eve, Sadie and Carter are reunited when their father brings them to the British Museaum, with a promise that he’s going to “make things right.” But all does not go according to plan: Carter and Sadie watch as Julius summons a mysterious figure, who quickly banishes their father and causes a fiery explosion.

Soon Carter and Sadie discover that the gods of Ancient Egypt are waking, and the worst of them—Set—has a frightening scheme. To save their father, they must embark on a dangerous journey—a quest that brings them ever lcoser to the truth about their family and its links to the House of Life, a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs

This book took me forever to finish because I was reading it out loud. I didn't really like it as much as Percy Jackson or Heroes of Olympus, mostly because I don't know Egyptian mythology nearly as well. It was still doused with Riordan's trademark humor, which I greatly love and appreciate, and it was adventurous. I really liked the character of Anubis and also Horus. Sadie's crush on Anubis is pretty funny too. Riordan knows how to weave a tale that everyone will like: adventure, rescuing parents, a little romance for both Carter and Sadie, and magical powers. What's not to like? I guess the one thing that would help me out is to brush up on my Ancient Egyptian gods.

3 1/2 out of 5


By Caragh M. O’Brien

Striking out into the wasteland with nothing but her baby sister, a handful of supplies, and a rumor to guide her, sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone survives, only to be captured by the people of Sylum, a dystopian society where women rule the men who drastically outnumber them, and a kiss is a crime. In order to see her sister again, Gaia must submit to their strict social code and the oppressive rules of Matrarc Olivia. Meanwhile, two brothers claim her attention as they attempt to understand the environmental trap that keeps the people of Sylum captive, and suddenly Gaia must contend with the exciting, uncomfortable, and altogether new feeling of being desired.

But when someone from her past shows up, Gaia discovers that survival alone is not enough and that justice requires sacrifice

So, the second book to Birthmarked. This was harder for me personally to get into that Birthmarked. And I was personally ticked at the whole 'now Gaia is desired' thing. I kept forgetting she had a scar, where that was a huge deal in the first book. Now suddenly she is 'it' girl and doesn't know how to deal with it. Not to mention the psycho people of Sylum and the men who let the women dominate over them...which I personally can't see really happening.  This is a small spoiler, though I'm pretty sure you figured it out from the summary. Leon comes back and is suddenly a jerk. What? I loved Leon, then he's all of a sudden acting like he hates Gaia. This was a little too extreme for me. I think he was having mood swings through the whole book. basically I was hating what was happening, but also not able to put the book down once I got into it. It's a page-turner and I was pretty invested in the outcome. I mostly was wanting to know what Leon does and lost interest in Gaia and her fickleness. The last book will be interesting...yes I will read it because I like causing myself to bang my head against the wall. Overall, mixed feelings, but still good enough for me to definately read the ending. Warnings: talks about rape (not any scenes) and also anatomy and birth and women's and men's parts. Needs a mature audience I'd say. 16+ in my opinion.
3 out of 5 (average)
There is also a bridge book called "Tortured" that is about 20 pages that fills in the gap of what happens to Leon at the end of "Birthmarked". Personally, it wasn't necessary, but I could resist reading Leon's point of view. I got it on my kindle for free if anybody wants to check it out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day!

When I was a kid I wanted to be Irish. Mostly because they talked so freaking awesome. I did all this research and everything and asked my parents where our family came from. My Mom told me that it was mostly England but there was some Scottish. I was bitterly disappointed, but set my eyes on Scottland. I still wish I could speak in an Irish Brogue. Speaking of which, did you know they have a translator on Google for an Irish Brogue?  Dia Dhuit this Saint Patricks!

Did you Know?

Saint Patrick wasn't Irish at all? He was born in Scottland.

During St. Patrick's time, Ireland's color wasn't green but blue? (Maybe we should wear blue on Saturday)

Ireland was the first country in Europe to grow potatoes on a large scale (I now love Ireland even more!)

The color green in Ireland stands for Nature and Hope.

You can thank the Irish for your oatmeal breakfasts- they brought it to America.


By Marissa Meyer

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Shout out to Ms. Meyer: You are my hero for writing this book. I fell in love with the story almost immediately. I mean, it's got everything! It's dystopian, with some cyborg sci-fi going on, along with fantasy glamours, romance, fairy tale goodness, and adventure with awesome characters! The only bad part is, I keep trying to get people to read this and as soon as I say, "Oh it's so cool, it's like a future cinderella, but not, and she's a cyborg that lives in China..." they kinda look at me like, 'are you serious?' And then I respond, "Do you have a Kindle?" And I proceed to tell them what I'm telling you, go get the sampler, the first 5 chapters free, and you'll be hooked just like I was. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed in Cinder or her story. I thought I might be able to tell where Meyers would go since it was based loosely on Cinderella, but she kept me guessing as to how she would tweak things. I have just been geeking out about this book ever since I read it, and can't wait for Scarlett (The next book in the quartet!)

4 1/4 out of 5! Yes I loved it that much.


By Neal Shusterman

Nick and Allie don’t survive the car accident, but their souls don’t exactly get where they’re supposed to go either. Instead, they’re caught halfway between life and death, in a sort of limbo known as Everlost: a shadow of the living world, filled with all the things and places that no longer exist. It’s a magical, yet dangerous place where bands of lost kids run wild and anyone who stands in the same place too long sinks to the center of the Earth.
When they find Mary, the self-proclaimed queen of lost souls, Nick feels like he’s found a home, but Allie isn’t satisfied spending eternity between worlds. Against all warnings, Allie begins learning the “Criminal Art” of haunting, and ventures into dangerous territory, where a monster called the McGill threatens all the souls of Everlost.
In this imaginative novel, Neal Shusterman explores questions of life, death, and what just might lie in between.

So I've always been a sucker for ghost stories, and I really enjoyed Neal Shusterman's version of 'limbo' for kids. In the world of Everlost, it's only full of kids because, well, kids aren't really sure of things yet so they can get knocked off course before they "get where they are going". This is a really creative ghost world ruled and managed by kids who are just trying to figure out how to survive their afterlife. There is a lot questioned about death and purpose in his books and it's fun to go along with the protagonists Nick and Allie. Allie is more impulsive and adventurous, questioning everything. Nick is a lot more reserved but ends up being a very courageous and right-minded sort of kid. This book is the first in a series, the Skinjacker trilogy. I really enjoyed this first one and have the second in my possession, so I'll let you know how the next books stack up.

4 out of 5

Midnight in Austenland

By Shannon Hale
When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?

Bwahahahaha! I just felt the urge to do an evil laugh before I review this just makes me smile and go all giddy. I didn't love Austenland, but this one was so much more my speed.  Instead of an obsessed Coling Firth fan visiting a weird regency amusement park, it's poor Charlotte Kinder. Divorced, and trying to find a way to trust another man. I thought I'd have a hard time sympathizing with the character, but Charlotte is awesome. She is a lady who is not just a mom and a businesswoman, but a woman who is lonely and in desperate need of a Jane Austen hopeful ending. The great thing about this novel was that it wasn't just a romance, it was a mystery too. How cool is that? While Charlotte is trying her best to fall in love, she's also trying to solve a murder that no one believes happened. This was a great feel-good novel to read and giggle at and even pull your heart-strings. Full of Hale's wit and humor, you'll be satisfied you took the time to read this one.  There is a few instances of language and some inuendo. Just as a warning. Uncomfortable at times for sensitive me, but really mild.

3  3/4 out of 5


By April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.
But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

What if Jane Eyre fell in love with a rock star? You get pure trash. Oh woe is me, I took a risk and wanted to scream when I finished this book. I thought, "hey, this doesn't sound too bad for a modern re-telling of Jane Eyre, it might even be good." WRONG. Okay, I admit, I did like it at first. I was enjoying it until bam, bedroom scene. I was apalled. One of the greatest things aobut the story of Jane Eyre, the reason that she runs from Rochester is because she knows that if she stays she'll get into trouble and she doesn't want to go against her own morality and Gods. It's one of my favorite scenes; and I guess if you want to tell it modern you can forget about morals, but I was ticked that she ruined Jane Eyre by doing it. After that the story lost all interest for me and I had to force myself to read the rest. I can't really give an unbiased review because I was so disappointed and disgusted. It also threw around the f-bomb which was disconcerting. My addage usually is to stop reading once they put that word in because it will only get worse. I ignored it and got burned. Yuck. Yuck. Blech.

1 out of 5 (Only because the writing was okay.)

Farewell My Lovely

By Raymond Chandler

Philip Marlowe is about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.

Hardboiled fiction; just makes you smile thinking of the mob bosses, the sarcastic PIs, and the dangerous dames. This was my first walk through the park with a hardboiled mystery book instead of a movie. I gotta say, while it makes me laugh to read the sarcastic remarks of Marlowe, I was asking myself why I finished this book. It felt so incredibly disconnected and fantastical. Basically it's Marlowe gets beat up to an inch of his life, barely makes it out alive, drinks, goes back for more, gets his gun taken, drinks some more, gets knocked out, drinks some more...etc. I was not engaged at all, and didn't really care who did it, I just wanted out of that mess. This genre has it's charms, sure, but I doubt I'll ever traverse it again.

2 out of 5

Murder in Mesopotamia

By Agatha Christie

When Nurse Amy Leatheran agrees to look after American archaeologist Dr Leidner’s wife Louise at a dig near Hassanieh she finds herself taking on more than just nursing duties – she also has to help solve murders. Fortunately for Amy, Hercule Poirot is visiting the excavation site but will the great detective be in time to prevent a multiple murderer from striking again?

Have you ever read an Agatha Christie novel? Grew up watching Poirot like I did? She is a master of the "Whodunnit". I absolutely love how she allows the reader to try and put things together as she feeds you the clues. I love even more that I can almost never completely figure it out. This was a lot of fun for me to read, but I was a little surprised at the lack of depth in the characters. They were all there to move the plot forward and get you to the main point: who killed Louise. Not to say that this is a drawback, just was giving fair warning for the people who like character developement over plotline. Didn't bother this character-crazy reader at all. Just wallowed in the joy of figuring out a grusome murder. :)

3 1/2 out of 5 (because it's Agatha, and I had it almost pegged!)