Saturday, October 30, 2010
Hmmm. I'm not sure what to write about these three books. I finished them nearly a month ago and at first I was excited to sit down and write about them, but the more I thought about it, the less enthused I became. The truth is that whilst I enjoyed the first two books and the majority of the third, I wound up disappointed with the ending. Its as if that ending marred my perspective of the books and well, I decided that perhaps not writing anything was the way to go. Of course I've changed my mind and figured I'd write a little something about the three books that seemed for a time to dominate bloggers' posts and bookish forums. Here goes:
For the remaining few who have yet to read these books I'll provide a little summary without any spoilers.
Every year the Capitol holds a competition called The Hunger Games, which consists of 24 contestants (1 boy and 1 girl from each district - must be under the age of 18) participating in a survival of the fittest type of event. Each child will have to defend themselves by any means (which means killing each other) in order to remain the last person standing in order to claim the victory prize of being a champion and hero for their district. Katniss Everdeen takes her younger sister's place in the competition and finds herself struggling to stay alive within the Games and also battling feelings toward her new friend/partner, Peeta (also from District 12). After the competition ends we find the champions adjusting to life back home and having to deal with consequences following their unprecedented win (two people won instead of one). Soon enough they are back in a game reminiscent of The Hunger Games and must battle their way against new enemies in a bid to win back their lives. Of course that competition ends with consequences and we soon find our protagonists thrust into the middle of an all out war against the Capitol. And so the Mockingjay is born.
There you have a summary of sorts about what happens within the three texts. As for my thoughts, here goes:
Truthfully, I did enjoy the books. I found them to be entertaining and well written, with a number of memorable characters. In fact, I can understand why several bloggers had 'Team Peeta' and 'Team Katniss' badges on their sites - to show support for a character that easily becomes one of your favorites with his/her story of struggle and desire to win a battle that not only seems bleak, but completely impossible. These are characters that show you how love can propel people to do things that they would never have imagined themselves capable of. As for these competitions that they had to endure, well, that in itself was rather horrific and completely necessary in providing the framework for the upcoming war in the final installment. A war which had the citizens of Panem rallying together against the Capitol that had exploited and demeaned them for so many years and all at the expense of keeping the Capitol entertained and well fed. Truly gripping stuff. In fact, I was so immersed in the story that when it got to the part where the parachutes exploded toward the end, I was blindsided. Not because of the trickery involved with the parachutes, but with the direction the story took. It was most definitely not what I expected. From that point on, Collins lost me. I felt as if she rushed ahead to get Katniss and Peeta where she wanted, instead of continuing with the ease and progression, she had utilized throughout her story. Of course, many people loved the ending and felt satisfied, so perhaps I'm one of the rare few who was disappointed. Either way, these three books are definitely worth a read. They are what good YA fiction is all about.
From the book:
Dewey's Nine Lives: The Legacy of the Small-Town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions is comprised of nine inspiring, funny, and heartwarming stories about cats told from the perspective of "Dewey's Mom," librarian Vicki Myron. The amazing felines in this book include Dewey, of course, whose further never-before-told adventures and amazing legacy are chronicled, but several others whom Vicki found out about when their owners reached out to her. Vicki learned, through extensive interviews and story sharing, what made these cats special, and how they fit into Dewey's community of perseverance and love. From a divorced mother in Alaska who saved a drowning kitten on Christmas Eve to a post-traumatic-stress disorder-suffering veteran whose heart was opened by his long relationship with a rescued cat, these Dewey-style stories will inspire readers to laugh, cry, care, and, most important, believe in the magic of animals to touch individual lives.
Truthfully, I think this is a book that should be read slowly, perhaps a story at a time when the mood strikes, because what these people share is personal and special to them and should not be read in a rush. This is a book for cat lovers alike who have found themselves inspired by the bond between them and their cat(s). I'm not a cat person, but I did find these stories to be rather interesting in the ways in which they explored the relationships between humans and animals. In fact, reading this book reminded me of my best friend, Amanda, and the cat she had in college. That cat was wicked mean! It hated me from the first time we met and I truly never understood why. And yet, whenever Amanda went out of town, I would cat-sit for her and endure the scratches, because I knew how much Geri (the cat) meant to her - they had such a sweet bond. I suppose I just found their relationship interesting - the way they depended on each other and the comfort they provided for each other; it was so similar to human friendships. What this book does is showcase the various types of relationships people share with their cats and they ways in which their feline friends have helped to improve their lives. In fact, these improvements came on a nifty bookmark with my book - they are nine rules to live by. And here they are:
1. Find your place - and make it your own.
2. Independence is essential, but so are people.
3. Explore. Life is so much more fun for the curious.
4. Enjoy the simple things, like cardboard boxes and snuggling.
5. Every once in awhile, surprise someone you love by jumping on their lap when they least expect it.
6. You're never too old to sniff the catnip and play hide and seek.
7. Everyone is a potential friend. So always say "hi."
8. Just being there is often the best comfort you can give.
9. Read with someone every day. Even your cat.
With these rules and stories, Myron has been able to create another heartwarming book, similar to her first one, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. I would recommend this book to all cat lovers, who I believe will enjoy reading these stories with their furry friends by their sides.
Thanks to Anne from The Book Report Network for providing me with a copy of Dewey's Nine Lives.
Yes, I read Lauren Conrad's third novel in her series, L. A. Candy. I had to, because I've read the first two. I admit it, I like to indulge in some fairly bad chick lit and this most definitely takes the cake when it comes to extreme fluff read. Luckily for me, I had a doctor's appointment, which meant that I had plenty of time to kill in the waiting room and seeing that this book is only 279 pages, well I knew I could finish it off in one sitting. And I did.
From the book flap:
Sugar and Spice...not everyone's nice. Fresh from being betrayed by one of her closest friends, new reality-television celebrity Jane Roberts has learned a few lessons. Most important: know who to trust. And in Hollywood, that list is short.
Although the press is intent on creating a tabloid war between her and ex-friend/current co-star Madison Parker, Jane just wants to take control of her life. She's started by swearing off guys and the drama that comes with them. But when her high school sweetheart Caleb and her unrequited L.A. crush Braden shows up, both acting sweeter than ever, Jane has a hard time remembering her no-boys rule...
Her best friend, Scarlett, has only one guy on her mind: her new boyfriend, Liam. The girl who once thought love was a four-letter word is now head over heels. The problem is, being on a hit reality show means hanging out with other guys on-camera, and Liam isn't too happy with pretending to play a bit part in her love life.
Just when everything feels out of control, Jane makes a shocking discovery - one that changes everyone's definition of "reality" forever.
Hmmm. I suppose that summary from the flap actually tells all with regards to the plot, so I don't have much more to reveal. Basically, Jane and Scarlett, finally figure out what is most important to them and that is: living their lives their way. Jane finds out that the show's creator has a journal in which he has been planning out the entire season's story lines before they have even happened; he's basically creating the "reality" that she thought was her crazy life. And Scarlett finds out that she wants more for herself with regards to education and decides to leave USC for Columbia and she wants to enjoy having a boyfriend out in public (instead of having Liam waiting in the shadows, because the show wants her to be single). The rest of the cast of L.A. Candy have some rather ridiculous realities to deal with: Gaby undergoes a complete makeover and becomes rather catty to Jane and Scarlett per her new agent's instructions, while Madison gets blackmailed by her little sister (she wants to be on the show, too). Overall, another ridiculously superficial look at the "reality" of a group of wannabe celebrities on a somewhat scripted reality show. Gee, I wonder where Conrad got the idea for her trilogy?
Anyhow, the book did provide me with a few good chuckles and plenty of eye-rolls; not bad for a waiting room read. The writing was bad and the characters one-dimensional, but still I found myself enjoying the book for a number of reasons, such as: I like to use the books to try and figure out what happened to who from the reality show The Hills (the show the books are based on) and I like to let my brain rest with a good fluff read. So, all in all, not bad for a day's reading.
And now I'm off to read ROOM, which I've been hearing mixed reviews about. Nonetheless, I'm really excited to pick it up and dive right in. Happy Reading!!
RIP is over for me! With the final page turned on Dracula, I have completed my peril for the challenge and can finally move on to books that are frightening in a different way (I'm referring to my next read, ROOM). However, this wonderful tome will not soon be forgotten. Bram Stoker's book is simply marvelous. It was such a treat to read. I found myself reading much slower than usual, because I did not want the book to end. From the beginning I was captivated with Harker's diaries and wanted to find out how he would escape from the Count's clutches. I thought it was brilliant the way that the character's journals, telegrams, newspapers told the story of how Count Dracula came into their lives. It was so interesting to read every one's own perception of each other, the situation, the Count, their mission, etc. The writing was excellent - all the descriptions of the cities, the people, the culture, etc. truly brought everything to life. I was able to envision Mina and Lucy taking a walk and Van Helsing confiding in Seward about his fears for Mina, without a problem. I just love it when a book that is so rich in story and detail paints the picture so vividly in your mind that you can't help but feel as if you are right there in the story watching from the sidelines - Dracula does just that!
The story is about a group of people who under devastating circumstances band together and decide to destroy the bloodthirsty psychopath that is Dracula. Jonathan Harker deals with Count Dracula on a business trip, which leaves him locked inside a house with three female vampires wanting to eat him for dinner. Mina Harker, Jonathan's wife (at first they are engaged, but upon his escape from Dracula's abode they immediately wed), has a best friend named Lucy who falls victim to Dracula's charms and winds up becoming undead. Before Lucy's demise, she becomes engaged to Goldaming, who relies on Seward and Van Helsing to cure his future bride after she becomes deathly ill (Dracula's work to ensure her undead status). Lucy is mourned by these strong men, along with another man who had once upon a time asked for her hand in marriage - his name is Quincey. In order to ensure that Lucy will enter heaven's gate, Van Helsing informs the men that their beloved Lucy is a vampire and must be destroyed by staking and decapitation. Unable to believe Van Helsing, all the men meet him at the cemetery where Lucy has been buried in the family tomb - to their surprise she is not there and they encounter her nearby draining the blood of a child. Horrified and disgusted by what has become of Lucy, the men agree to return to her grave and do away with her vampirical state for good. As for the Harkers, Mina is taking care of her husband, who has been weakened by his stay and escape from the clutches of Dracula and his three minions. Upon hearing about Lucy's death, she is deeply saddened, but also wonders if perhaps there is some sort of connection to what has been happening with Jonathan and the ordeal that Lucy has undergone. A meeting between Van Helsing and Mina is set and soon enough the two are discussing with frankness the curious circumstances surrounding Lucy's death and Jonathan's current state of mind. In no time at all, Mina, Jonathan and Van Helsing are joined by Seward, Goldaming and Quincey (three men who are invested in putting a stop to the recent events that have left them terrified and mired in grief). With the facts revealed about what they are up against, the group is soon on their way to find Dracula and destroy any chance he has of survival.
Talk about exciting! Just writing about the story makes me wish that I were still reading it. And its not just the story itself, but also the characters. Their fierce determination to put an end to a monster comes across so clearly, that you can't help but feel proud of them. And you can't help but feel horrified when you discover that Mina has been visited by the Count. As the story progresses and you continue to read about the peril that these characters put themselves through as they collect clues and information in order to figure out a way to destroy the Count, you gasp in exasperation and fear, and sigh with content when everyone is able to sleep safely through the night. Its such an engaging group that you can't help but become immersed in their adventure. Stoker has most definitely created a memorable cast of characters.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone. There are so many fascinating themes layered within the framework of the novel that are ripe for discussion, such as: feminism, religion, history, psychology, culture, superstition, etc. In fact I would have to say that Dracula did make for quite an interesting reading experience. I would definitely count this as one of my favorite reads. And I'm glad I read this for RIP, because it certainly provided the right amount of Halloween flavor and tone for this time of year. Now I'm off to the next book.
Happy reading! And of course, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
From book flap:
One sunny morning in 1969, near the end of her first trip to Miami, twenty-six-year-old Frances Ellerby finds herself in a place called Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay.
It's the first time the Atlanta native has been out on the open water, and she's captivated. On the dock of a stilt house, with the dazzling skyline in the distance and the unknowable ocean beneath her, she meets the house's owner, Dennis DuVal - and a new future reveals itself.
Turning away from her quiet, predictable life back home, Frances moves to Miami to be with Dennis. Over time, she earns the confidence of his wild-at-heart sister and wins the approval of his oldest friend. Frances and Dennis marry and have a child - but rather than growing complacent about their good fortune, they continue to face the challenges of intimacy and the complicated city they call home.
Stiltsville is the family's island oasis - until suddenly it's gone, and Frances is forced to figure out how to make her family work on dry land. Against a backdrop of lush tropical beauty, Frances and Dennis struggle with the mutability of love and Florida's weather, as well as temptation, chaos, and disappointment. But just when Frances thinks she's reached some semblance of higher ground, she must confront an obstacle so great that even the lessons she's learned about navigating the uncharted waters of family life can't keep them afloat.
I've lived in South Florida and was looking forward to reading a book set in an area that I would be familiar with. I was excited to find out how much of the 'real' city would actually be in the book and truthfully, I was not disappointed. Daniel does an excellent job of bringing Miami to life with her vivid descriptions and ability to incorporate it into the book as another character instead of a mere backdrop. She is able to recreate a time and place with such ease and clarity that you can't help but imagine Frances and Dennis wandering about Coral Gables with the sun shinning down on them. However, that is all I truly enjoyed about the novel. For some reason I just did not find the characters to be engaging. Truthfully, I'm not even sure how Dennis and Frances coupled up - they are both such disconnected characters that any semblance of happiness would have escaped their notice. And I think it has to do with the fact that the book's tone is rather sad in nature. For some reason I felt a sense of loss and loneliness throughout the novel, even during times of happiness - it was as if a dark and heavy cloud hung over the story and well it left me feeling rather empty. Yet, I don't want to dismiss this book as a don't read, because I really did enjoy reading about Miami and Stiltsville. I just wish I could have enjoyed the actual story about Dennis and Frances. And maybe its just me that felt that way about this book - after all it has been heaped with loads of praise, so perhaps there is just something I missed. Of course, I'll just chalk it up to "different strokes for different folks".
And thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of Susanna Daniel's, debut novel, Stiltsville.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
It's 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex adn Em begin to lead separate lives - lives very different from the people they once dreamed they'd become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two.
Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day - July 15th - of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.
Hmmm. This is a book that slowly grew on me. At first, I wasn't really sure I even wanted to finish it, but somewhere along the way, I found myself wanting to find out what would happen to "Dex and Em, Em and Dex". Its a book that I would categorize as a cross between lad lit and chick lit - which is not a bad thing. The writing is engaging and the characters are depicted as flawed and somewhat damaged and the flow of the story is up and down, which is rather representative of the various places in life that "Dex and Em, Em and Dex" are at with each other and in their lives. And let me say, that these two are often at odds with one another with regards to their romantic feelings toward one another and their significant others - which I suppose is typical when you are trying to stretch out the plot of a "will they every get together?" type of story. Admittedly it was rather fun to read about their attempts to find themselves, because I could relate to their dilemma of accepting the fact that what you dreamt about in your youth may not come to fruition as quickly as you wanted or, at all. And yet, I hoped that the time would come when "Dex and Em, Em and Dex" would finally couple up and live happily ever after - Yes, I know, its rather sappy, but I wanted my happy ending. Lo and behold I did not get it, instead I got rather angry with a certain event that occurred towards the end of the story and let me just say that I found myself comparing this tome to those western television shows from back in the day - the ones in which the female characters always die, because after all, you can't have the male leads tied down to one woman, right? UGH! From that point on I found myself looking at this book with disappointment and muttering the word, "Typical." underneath my breath. I thought to myself, that I would rather the two characters remained solid best friends throughout their lives, instead of having them get together - because that was the end of the beginning for them. And though the book ended with a look at how their first day together in 1988 was brought to a close, it also showed us just how much they truly liked each other from the get go - but yet, I still wasn't pleased. Don't get me wrong, this is a book I would recommend, because at the end of the day, it is well written and quite engaging. I just didn't like the bit about the dying. Hmmm. Does make me wonder what anyone else thinks about the death and the way things turned out for "Dex and Em, Em and Dex". Am I the only one who didn't like it?
Anyhow, I'm off to finish The Hunger Games - I finally got hooked and have to keep reading!! Cheers!