Archive | August, 2015

Book Gems in Chicago for the Traveling Bibliophile

31 Aug

If you read this blog, I’m guessing you’re a book person. If you’re not, you probably know me personally and know that I am a book person. So I’ll admit openly that I had a book person fail on my recent trip to Chicago. I was attending a conference and didn’t think I’d have a lot of free time so I only brought one book, a book club selection I was half way through. Well, luck would have it that we had more free time than expected and I finished my book. Yeah, probably the worst thing that can happen to a bibliophile.

Also, the best thing that can happen to a bibliophile because you get to go book shopping! I had a few hours in the city before meeting my roommates for lunch and you can bet I used it to book shop.

IMG_2224The first place I went was Open Books. They sell new and used books and their profits go to literacy programs in the Chicago area. I loved browsing the shelves and found a book I’d had on my ‘gotta-buy-it-because-the-library-doesn’t-have-it’ Goodreads shelf. Good find! They also had fun book-related quotes on their brightly colored shelves. I couldn’t help myself from taking this picture. I saw Zoolander way too many times as a child.

IMG_2225After hopping on the pink line and turning the wrong way out of the station, I found my second shop, Sandmeyer’s Bookstore. This was exactly what I needed! This place reminded me of Literati in Ann Arbor, MI, a place I always feel welcome and at home. The best part of the whole trip was that when I first walked in, I saw the sale section, headed over and saw Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist marked down the $16. That’s the fastest I’ve ever found a book when going into a store. I was in love. I had another half hour to kill (DANGER!) and walked around the fiction. I stopped dead when I saw the book in the picture! I’m a sucker for signed books. Especially when it’s an author I’ve enjoyed as much as Cline. My husband and I conferred and he agreed this was some kind of sign and I had to buy it. I asked the owner if Cline had come to the story and unfortunately he hasn’t yet. But I had a lovely conversation with the owner about Ready Player One, movie adaptations, Devil In the White City, and Leonardo DiCaprio. If you followed that, we should be best friends.

My roommates laughed at how delicately I carried my books into Gino’s, but I was in heaven. It was a great day for a book-worm. And I had something new to read by the pool! Winning all around.

I hope to do more of these posts as I travel in the future. I love exploring bookstores and libraries when I go to a new place. Maybe I’ll end up in your neck of the woods.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (2/5)

27 Aug

I’ve tried Alice Hoffman before. That time was also for a book club and we read The Ice Queen. I gave it 1 out of 5 stars. But I tried again (for the same book club) and this time I’m a bit nicer. 2 stars.

ExtraordinaryThe Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Summary from Goodreads:

Coney Island: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show that amazes and stimulates the crowds. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man photographing moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as an apprentice tailor. When Eddie captures with his camera the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance.

New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times.

I had a lot of problems with this book. Coralie and Eddie were both interesting, but Hoffman’s style made me less engaged in them that I could have been. Everything she writes seems unimportant because I feel she grazes over everything, including the horrible Triangle Shirtwaist Factory disaster. Eddie seemed so removed from the action that I felt removed. Coralie had no spine and was hard to relate to. Unless you grew up under an oppressive and poor father, I don’t think you could relate to her. You could only feel sorry for her. I thought the book was excruciatingly slow to start. The fire wasn’t until half way into the book! I was mentally done at that point. The ending was good and I enjoyed that, but it didn’t make up for all I’d had to slug through up to that point. I was really disappointed.

The characters felt more modern than I anticipated. Eddie was a very typical rebel nowadays, not what I was expecting from the time period. It was somewhat believable, but I think it was a bit of a stretch to help readers relate to historical characters. I thought Coralie and her father were very well set in the time period. I liked that the characters were from the fringes of society. It made them more fun to read.

Eddie was my favorite. Maybe due to his rebel status, I found him the most relatable. We’ve all rebelled in some way or another and Eddie was a good character for everyone to like. He had a heart of gold, which definitely helped.

Alice Hoffman Image via the New York Times

Alice Hoffman
Image via the New York Times

I liked the descriptions of the human oddities the most. Hoffman wrote about them in such a way so that I could forget their deformities. They became very human, wich is how Coralie must have seen them. They were all people, no matter how they looked and how others looked at them.

The parts about Coralie’s father whoring her out bothered me. There’s a line between making your daughter swim in an ice-cold river to draw customers and making her swim naked and the Professor had no problem crossing that line. The book seemed very fantastical and almost childlike until that point and I was bothered by it because of the contrast.

Coralie and Eddie pursued their own fortunes and that’s what made them happy. Eddie couldn’t be stuck under his father’s guidance and follow in his footsteps. He found his own way. Similarly, Coralie was trapped but not able to escape young, like Eddie. Her father was a tyrant instead of a shadow. They both needed to escape and finding each other was good. The book is a good example of finding your own way in life and being happy with it.

Writer’s Takeaway: The style Hoffman uses seems to glaze over major events because of the ethereal feel. The factory fire seemed like a dream instead of a real-life disaster to me and it was hard to give it the attention it deserved. I think the writing didn’t focus enough on how the characters were feeling and reacting, focusing more on what was going on and the feelings would have helped ground the action.

Not one I enjoyed, but better than the other title I’ve read by this author. 2 out of 5 stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Museum of Extraordinary Things – Coney Island, New York – Alice Hoffman | The Book Trail
Book Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman | Caffeine and Books
Fields and Fantasies presents… The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman | Bookshelf Fantasies
Review of The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (coming in February, 2014) | Navigating the Stormy Shelves

WWW Wednesday, 26-August-2015

26 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


ScorchCurrently reading:  I finally got Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell back on Monday. Woo! This won’t be the fastest progressing book I read, but I’m excited to make headway with it.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai is out, too. I just want one of these now and it’s seeming like that’s too much to ask.
I just got back to The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer after a week off to get through Dark Places. I hope to finish this up soon.
Just a little bit with Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. Again, I’m close to finishing this one so I hope to get through it soon.
I decided to grab The Scorch Trials by James Dashner next. I’m hoping it’s a quick read and I can get it over with quickly and move on to some other books I’ve been looking forward to.

MiniaturistRecently finished: I finished The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton on Sunday. Review to come but in summary I’ll say this was a bit over-hyped in my opinion. Good, but not outstanding.
I finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn on Monday. I don’t want to brag, but I half figured it out early on! I was so excited to see the story unfold. This one will be a high rating from me!

One review out this week, one you were all asking me about. Click to find my review of The Martian by Andy Weir! Please go check it out and let me know what you thought about this awesome book. I’m so excited for the movie.

Boleyn InheritanceReading Next: I think I’m going to finish up my When Are You Reading? Challenge next. I only have one book left and it’s on my shelves. So up next should be The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I’m a big fan of Gregory and can only remember one or two books of her’s I didn’t enjoy. I’m looking forward to this one.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Bout of Books 14: The final verdict!

25 Aug
Bout of Books

This was a great time for me to do Bout of Books. School is starting again soon and I got through a lot of books I was wanting to read but afraid would be neglected when that hecticness starts up. I probably didn’t finish as much as some super-readers, but for me, this was a lot!

  1. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Start: 14.2% (page 49 equivalent). Finish: 89.5% (page 350 equivalent) Total: 301 pages
  2. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Start: page 71. Finish: page 392 (end of book). Total: 321 pages
  3. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. Start: page 1. Finish: page 43. Total: 43 pages.

Daily breakdown

  • Monday: 80 pages
  • Tuesday: 81 pages
  • Wednesday: 69 pages
  • Thursday: 62 pages
  • Friday: 125 pages
  • Saturday: 98 pages
  • Sunday: 150 pages

Grand Total: 665 pages

Hey, I’m proud of it! If you did bout, be proud of what you read, too! This was a lot of fun, even though I didn’t do as many challenges this time. I’m glad I had a reason to power through these books and get excited about reading again. I hope other participants loved it as well.

Happy reading!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir (4/5)

24 Aug

When I hear things like ‘Science Fiction for the person who doesn’t like science fiction,’ I’m always skeptical. I usually think it’s way too science-y and hate it. But for once, the rumors were believable. This book is one with universal appeal and its 100% due to the amazing voice of Mark that Weir writes. This book will appeal to anyone who has been sarcastic for even one second of their life.

MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

Summary from Goodreads:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Wow. I was not prepared for how much I would like this book. I’m not someone who enjoys space books and every time I try one, I’m always underwhelmed and over annoyed. But my husband and I were driving to New York and I thought this is one we would both enjoy. We loved it. I can’t wait for the movie. Matt Damon will be amazing in the role, I’m sure. In summary, there are not enough good things for me to say about this one.

Mark is amazing. His strong voice makes the character jump off the page. Writing a voice like that is hard (I’ve tried!) and Weir pulls it off beautifully. Mark is smart, but he reacts to adversity the way most of us would, by cursing loudly and shaking a fist at the creator before figuring out how to survive. He’s likable and scrappy. In short, the perfect hero.

If anyone said their favorite character was someone besides Watney, they’re lying to you. Though, Venkat is a close second for me. I liked his dedication and love from Earth. But really, it’s all Watney.

But secret here; I’ve never been stranded on Mars. But I could relate to Watney. I’ve been stuck in situations where I had to figure things out and I was challenged. Times when I’ve struggled to think of something and the thing I think of might seem stupid for a second, but I know it is the only option and in the end, I’m surprised at my success. I think everyone’s felt that way. I think everyone has a little Watney in them.

Andy Weir Image via The Washington Post

Andy Weir
Image via The Washington Post

The rescue was amazing. It had me sitting in my car for ten minutes after I was home trying to convince myself I didn’t have to pee. I was so hooked and I had invested 9 hours in Watney already. I had to know how it was going to end. I don’t want to spoil it, but it will make an amazing climax to the movie.

I can’t think of a point in the book I disliked or thought dragged. It was a really incredible pacing job. Every time we talked to Mark, he had something different to report on and I was always interested. Hats off to Weir!

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by R.C. Bray. I thought he did a great job. He got the sarcasm of Watney right and brought a lot of character to the other speakers. If this had been a bad narration, the whole book would have been a huge drag, but Bray did a great job. It’s a lot of first person narration and I loved listening to it.

Watney never gave up. There were so many things that could have stopped him, so many times he could have stopped trying, but he never did. He was persistent and kept trying and made me want to cheer for him. I loved it. The story was about the human spirit and how far we as a human race will go to protect another person. I’m getting all mushy, but this book deserves it!

Writer’s Takeaway: Let’s talk about voice and first person narration. Weir’s book is my new favorite example. Mark is a character down to his word choice and reactions. His personality is so engrained into the book that you can’t escape it. It’s wonderful. It’s internal dialog they way we all think. I’m going to try to copy this from now on.

A great book. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review of The Martian by Andy Weir (You should read this book) | Sam Whitehouse
The Martian by Andy Weir | Pages and Pictures
The Martian by Andy Weir: A review. Well, a full-on analysis if I’m being honest.| The Self-Taught Author
Review: The Martian by Andy Weir |TheBookVenom

Book Club Reflection: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

20 Aug

 

I’m glad I was able to read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet with my book club. I gave the book a rare 5 stars so you know I liked it. I was curious to see what my book club would think and on the whole, we liked it. It’s a really solid read.

Cultural identity is a big theme in this book. The button Henry wore, the ‘I Am Chinese’ button, made it hard to forget how important cultural identity can be. Being Chinese was ‘good’ because they were on the same side in the war. Only the innocent eyes of a child could see they were all Americans. But the Chinese were afraid of looking like the Japanese. I’m sure Koreans and other East Asians were afraid of the same thing. While it’s not hard for a Japanese to recognize another Japanese, it’s hard for a white American raised in the states to tell a Chinaman from a Japanese.

Some of us were amazed to hear the Japanese men volunteered to serve in the US army after being put in the internment camps. The government had done so much to disadvantage them yet they were willing to die for that government. We think it did prove their loyalty to the US, but it did nothing to help them out of the camps. When the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, the Japanese-Americans were happy, especially the soldiers who could then go home to their families. They might have had relatives die in the fall-out, but they were happy to see it end.

Is this a part of US history we have learned from, or is this something that’s doomed to repeat itself? Our group was split on this question. It’s easy to identify conservative Muslims by hijabs and long beards but after the 9/11 attacks, they weren’t put in mass internment camps. Some in our group still think this could happen. Every group has its struggles when it’s the ‘new immigrant.’ Irish, Italians, Jews, Blacks, Arabs, and Hispanics are just the ones that come to mind. The Japanese were on this list at a pivotal time in US history. I think the Japanese internment is an incident that won’t be repeated.

If the Japanese had revolted, it wouldn’t have helped anything. They were already viewed negatively from perceived loyalties to an enemy nation and though the book didn’t say it, I’m sure there were hate crimes involved. No one was willing to listen so yelling louder wasn’t going to do much good.

The relationship between Henry and his father provided us with a lot to talk about in our meeting. We thought it was somewhat contradictory that Henry’s parents wanted him to speak English at home so they could learn it but wanted to send him to China to finish school. His parents didn’t seem to be learning English from him at all, so the practice seems to have been pointless.

If I were Henry, it would be hard to forgive my father. He thought he was doing the right thing, but it seems to have hurt Henry in the long run. Henry doesn’t have to forgive his father, but life would be easier if he did. Holding a grudge like that is hard.

The paralleled relationship between Henry and Marty made the similarities very apparent. Marty is also scared to tell his father about his relationship because of his fiancée’s ethnicity. However, both Samantha and Keiko are American. All Marty saw was Ethyl, the traditional Chinese-.American bride and Henry did nothing to change that opinion. Henry didn’t want to share with is son how he was the rebellious ‘wild child’ to his parents. Children don’t like to think of their parents before they were parents.

The only thing about Henry that bothered some of our group was that we felt the author treated 56-year-old Henry like a character in his 80s. My in-laws are older than that and act 30 years younger than this character. It seemed odd.

One of our discussion questions asked if Henry gave up on Keiko too easily. Honestly, none of us did. He was 12 when he fell in love with her and tried everything he could for four years to stay in contact with her. He had exhausted all his avenues except for going to the camp again. And going to the camp was very risky because the white guards might have made him stay inside it, being unable to tell him from the Japanese trapped inside.

The opposite question is why Keiko didn’t try to see Henry. It seemed like he wasn’t writing her back for a few years, that he wanted to be left alone. By the time she came back, he might have been in China and was at least dating Ethyl. She was a nice girl, she probably didn’t want to ruin his happiness.

We all liked the relationship between Henry and Sheldon. Most of us thought Sheldon was older than he was, at least in his 50s and not only 16 years older than Henry. He was half-way between a father figure and a brother figure.

There were things at the end of the book some members had issues with. One was that we never found out what happened to Mrs. Beatty’s father. They mentioned he had been captured, but we were given no closure on the topic. Others felt it was too rushed and tied up too perfectly. I do agree with this, I felt the ending was quick. One of the other problems someone had with the end was the use of technology to find someone in 1986. No one in our group could answer that well, but he answers that question on his site. It seems Marty is a self-insert into the story and Ford could have done this at the time. Mystery solved?

I hope you enjoyed this book as well. It made for a good book club pick.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 19-August-2015

19 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


MiniaturistCurrently reading:  I want to get Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell back soon. I need an ebook in my life.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai would be fine, too. As long as I get an ebook. Please, Book Gods?
Good progress The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I listened to more on my drive back from Chicago on Sunday. However, as it seems all of my books are, this is temporarily on hold. Read on to find out why!
On hold with Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian. Again, something more pressing has come up.
I finally received my eAudio of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn! Yes, this is why everything is on hold right now. This is a long book and I need to get through it before it’s returned so I’m putting my other audio aside for now and pushing through on this one. I’m making decent progress because of Bout of Books. I hope I can keep it up.
While I was on vacation, I needed a new book and was lucky to find The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton on sale at an indie store in Chicago. It’s so pretty!

CastleRecently finished: I finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls while I was away. I enjoyed it a lot. It was different from what I was expecting but still enjoyable. I’m amazed at her strength!

And one book review for your reading pleasure. I wrote up my thoughts after re-reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Can’t wait for the movie!

ScorchReading Next: For once, I’m really not sure. I’ve decided that my book club reading A Widow for One Year is unfortunately, one I need to drop. I’m not happy about this, but it’s become a logistical impossibility for me. So at the moment, I’m without book guidance. I think I might grab The Scorch Trials by James Dashner before the movie comes out. I know I’ll get suckered into seeing it. It should be a quick read I can power through during Bout of Books.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge: Round 1

18 Aug

Phew! Round one is over! For those of you who didn’t see my earlier post, I decided to participate in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition. Round one started on August 1st and was over by midnight on August 2nd. In that time, participants had to write a story no longer than 1000 words in length that complied with the three prompts.

I woke up early-ish (8 AM) on Saturday to see my prompts. Honestly, it could have been worse. A lot worse. I got:

Genre: Action/Adventure
Location: an underwater cave
Object: a dumbbell

Huh. Interesting. I started out right away writing a piece about a drug smuggler in an underwater cave. That was a quick one, taking maybe two hours. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the other 15 people in group 27 were also probably thinking along the same lines. It was time for some innovative thinking. Which is where Engish-major husband is very helpful.

“What do you think of when you think of action stories?”

Superheroes!

So I was off on story #2 about a superhero and her liar. It came out as an origin story and I really liked it. By noon on Saturday, I sent my first drafts off to a bunch of volunteer beta readers and went for a run. I did minor edits until dinner and then let myself take the night off with some friends. I was well ahead of where I wanted to be.

Day two was editing, editing, and more editing. I edited both stories down to a final draft (nicknamed ‘cocaine story’ and ‘fish story’). Both were line and content edited and under the 1,000-word limit. And then I had to pick. Talk about nerve-wracking! Shish.

After talking it through with my husband and my betas, I chose the superhero story. I liked it a lot. I’m not going to post it here because I think with 200 more words, it’s something I would want to pursue publishing. Heck, I might try to publish the other one, too. It’s been a long time since I did a publishing push and I have a lot of pieces about ready for it. Time to put on my big girl pants.

If you’re doing NYC Midnight, good luck in round two! If you’re not, think about it. I was skeptical, but this has been a really cool experience. I definitely want to look into doing it again.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (4/5)

17 Aug

I’ve talked with a lot of Readers about deciding to re-read Mockingjay before the final movie release. I read these books originally in December 2013 so, to be honest, most of Mockingjay 1 was a surprise to me. While it’s nice for a movie to surprise you, I’m also curious what had to be added or cut because of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. And the only way I could know that definitively was to re-read the book. I think the movie will still surprise me. So when it was time for another audiobook, this was the logical choice.

Mockingjay

Cover image via Goodreads

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary from Goodreads:

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

Well, I remembered more than I thought I did. I remembered who died and how the book ended, which were the biggest spoilers. But I’d forgotten a lot of the smaller details. Plutarch is very different in the book from how Hoffman portrays him, but most of the other characterizations are spot on. It’s hard to react to a book I’m re-reading so this review might be a bit short.

I’d forgotten how much of the book focused on Katniss’s PTSD. Especially the later part of the book which will be in the next movie, after the war. I’m not sure how they’ll make that part into a movie. It might involve a lot of montages and ‘passage of time’ shots. I think it’s very realistic for Katniss to go through such an ordeal. Especially because of the inspiration behind Collins’ book, I’m glad she included it.

I love Peeta’s character. He’s my favorite in the whole series, but what he does in this book is great. He purposefully puts himself in harm’s way to keep others from being hurt. I can’t think of anything more noble and heroic. I love the fight he has with his ‘hijacking’ to come back around to Katniss and how he’s not exactly the same. He’s a very dynamic character and gives me someone to root for.

Suzanne Collins Picture via Wikipedia

Suzanne Collins
Picture via Wikipedia

My favorite scene is when the rebels are trying to ‘crack the egg’ in District 2. I think this will make a great scene because it’s very visual but also very emotional for Katniss. It’s a big turning point for her and shapes how she participates in the war. I’m really excited for it in the film.

I thought Johanna’s character fell short of her full potential. She was very pivotal in Katniss’s training time but fell away soon after. I think it would have been a lot stronger to have Johanna in the fight with them at the end. I wanted to see more of Johanna because she was a favorite of mine.

My audiobook was narrated by Carolyn McCormick. I thought it was okay, but nothing special. I guess it bothered me that she pronounced Panem PANem instead of panEM which is what I always thought and how the film did it. I was okay with her Hanging Tree song though it sounded a bit too happy. Her voice was a little flat to me during high-tension moments and that was the biggest disappointment. But I wasn’t too distracted by her voice to be taken out of the book, so it was good enough.

Collins has said that the whole series is about war and young people fighting in a war. The final book takes that to a very different reality than the previous two. The first two books are a simulation that’s dangerous to those watching while the war is dangerous to everyone near it. I thought Collins brought the realities of war to the forefront and didn’t skip over any of the ugly parts. It was a very real book and for those of us who haven’t been in combat, I hope it’s a realistic look at what our countrymen might be battling once they come home.

Writer’s Takeaway: Collins wasn’t afraid to be controversial. She was writing about her feelings on the US War in Iraq and her comparison is thinly veiled. She’s not attacking individual players (at least I didn’t read it that way), but she’s criticizing the whole system. While the fist book is a thrilling and quick read, the second one has a more serious tone and the final book hits you over the head with it. Well played, Collins. Well played.

Great book, god pacing, and interesting characters. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Re-read: “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins | SDAVREADS
Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins | Writer’s Resource Blog

Bout of Books 14

13 Aug

If you’ve been following my WWW Wednesday posts, you know I have a stack of books on my bedside table a mile high. And with grad school starting up again in a few weeks, that’s a problem for me. So, logically, I’m going to do Bout of Books before it starts!

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

This times up perfectly. I’m coming home from a conference on Sunday (where I’ve been all week, sorry for slow replies) and next week is looking slow. Hubby has promised to be supportive. This is going to be awesome.

Yes, it will mean getting even further behind on book reviews. That can’t be helped. I don’t think I’ll participate in many of the challenges so I can maximize my reading time, but I’m going for the gold (aka grand prize). Let’s do this thing. Who else is in?

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!