Thursday, March 29, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I've become an addict.  Plain and simple.  I've known for a long time about my addiction to books of any and all kinds, but I've never been one to read serials.  I'm usually disappointed by the second book which serves to deflate my passion for the first book.  Leaving a beautiful memory intact is more my style.

But Katniss, I can't resist.  She's young and naive yet strong and determined.  We are watching Katniss grow from a child to a beautiful, intelligent woman under the most extraordinary of circumstances.  She made it out of the arena only to become a target of the government she loathes.  Peeta, Gale, and Haymitch too, all mold and change taking on each new challenge while trying to hide their emotions for the sake of protecting Katniss.

The writing is brilliant, leaving the reader on the edge of her seat.  Each and every word is meticulously placed to keep us wanting more.   And just when I thought I was not a serial reader, I read the last few words of Catching Fire and knew I couldn't stop.  Without a second thought, I turned on the wireless to my Kindle, downloaded Mockingjay and started to read.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

With the release of the movie imminent, I can't go anywhere, turn on the television or pick up a newspaper without seeing something about The Hunger Games.  A few weeks ago in the bookstore I picked up the book to see what all the buzz was about.   Frankly, I thought the premise was kind of disgusting.  I put the book back down and walked away.

I teach creative writing to a group of teenagers every week.  Most of them are also avid readers and we often talk about our favorite books.  One of them asked if I had read The Hunger Games. I expressed my concerns.  The student explained how the book was about so much more.  Katniss wanted to protect her family, her community and that she was strong and determined.

Not wanting a creative, knowledge, thirsty student to think I was an old and nerdy adult, I downloaded the book to my Kindle that evening.

I couldn't put it down.  The Hunger Games is by far the most compelling book I have read in ages.  It's a story with the ability to set the reader firmly in the mindset of the characters.  It's fast moving, high tension and every chapter ends with a hook that keeps you wanting more and more and more.  On the few occasions I did have to put the book down to do something like sleep or eat, I anxiously awaited the time I could delve into the story again.   It's not often that a book draws me in so completely.

I'm not young and crazy enough to get tickets for the midnight showing tonight, but now that I'm half way through book two, you can bet I'll be at the movie soon. The Hunger Games is captivating.  Don't let this one pass you by.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

One of the most wonderful things about my Kindle is the number of free books I can download and read.  All the classics that I haven't read since I was in high school, plus a few I should have read and never did.  Why I decided to read The Wizard of Oz again, I don't really know.  However I do have very fond memories of a copy of the book I owned as a child.  It had a sky blue cover with the dancing armless creatures across the bottom. 

The story opened curiously with an introduction from the author.  He talked about the children of the day wanting more excitement that the everyday fairy tale.  This was a modern story for children.  At first I thought this was a modern addition because the book was on Kindle.  But it wasn't. Today this is a very classic fairy tale.  But in the day it was written it must have been very modern and futuristic. 

I was surprised to learn that Dorothy wore silver slippers and that green spectacles were locked onto their faces while in the Emerald City.  Things weren't naturally green.  When the tornado lifts the house, Dorothy and Toto float calmly within the center of the storm until they are deposited on top of the wicked witch.  And I really liked the china people who made visits to the mender every time they broke off an arm or leg. 

And it was quite interesting to see how Hollywood took so many liberties with this story. I think they told a better story for the movies.  But the book is a beautiful classic tale, perfect for curling up with on a cold night or to be read aloud to children just to watch the wonder and amazement on their faces as each new chapter unfolds.  A modern fairy tale, yes.  A classic story that will live on forever.  For sure.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Emperor's Children By Claire Messud

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

This book is covered with doggie teeth marks.  That fact alone is usually a pretty good benchmark for me.  I've had plenty of books sit on my bookshelf long after little Ginger had her way with them.  Never wanting to get rid of a book I might enjoy, I'd read through the missing corners and the punctured pages.  I'm certain this book came from my sister. She owned dogs who could dwarf the petite Ginger.  The bite marks seem spaced out for a larger dog with a bigger jaw.  Ginger is more of a nibbler.  This book looks like it had been carried around the house a few times.

The Emperor's Children is a well written novel and does a wonderful job of getting inside the heads of all it's characters.  The problem for me however, is that none, and I mean none of the characters are the least bit likeable.  They are all sad and sorry arrogant self centered people who never thought about anything other than themselves.   And then 9/11 was thrown in as the catalyst that tore them all apart.  That kind of turned me off just as a matter of principle.  It tore us all apart.

I think The Emperor's Children  is a creative tool for me to learn about writing.  I like to read about more likeable characters that I might learn a life lesson from.  The teeth marks didn't make this story any more enduring to me. 

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...