Friday, March 30, 2012

Bloggiesta! My To-Do List

It's Bloggiesta! (a weekend devoted to making your blog amazing) I had really high hopes, and a long to-do list ready for this weekend. But life has sort of come up, so my list is short and sweet.

And that's ok. Everyone gets to set their own goals for the weekend, participate in the twitter parties, do a mini-challenge or two. You get to devote as much time as you'd like. And it's not too late to join up. Check out all the detail's at It's All About Books. It's going to be a fun weekend.

So, here's what I plan to do
  •  write up my review of Pandemonium. I wasn't into it, and then all of a sudden I started to love it. How do you write up a review like that?
  • Fix/update the links at the top of my blog Done
  • Link all the books I've read either to my review of the book, or its goodreads page
  • (If I have time) Add tags to my posts. At least for this year.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Now That I've Seen The Hunger Games

A couple quick thoughts:

  • Overall, I liked it. I was a little disappointed here and there, but overall it was good. It's mostly faithful to the book, but it's also not hard to find things that are different.
  • The actors were all great. Even people I had reservations about (cough * Josh Hutcherson* cough) did a good job. If I had to pick anyone out for being slightly less than I had hoped it'd be President Snow. But mostly because I kept remembering when he played the dad in Pride and Prejudice. And I liked that guy.
    Mr. Bennet or Mr. President?
  • All the scenes they added were fantastic. The tech aspects, the behind-the-scenes, all of it.  
  • I really liked the look of the Capitol & the Capitol people.
  • Holy cow, if you get motion sick at all, take something before you go see the movie. Before Prim's name was even drawn I had my eyes closed and felt nauseous from all the shaky camera work. If I hadn't remembered that I had some Dramamine in my purse, I honestly think I would have had to leave. (I have some serious issues with motion sickness, though. Obviously, because who normally keeps Dramamine in their purse?)
  • I wish there had been a little more time for some things. Just a few extra seconds to look at the other tribute's parade costumes, or see mud-Peeta. I thought they were cool, but if you blinked, you completely missed it.
  • Without spoiling, I'll just say I was disappointed in the way the Katniss-Peeta relationship played out. I don't think they devoted enough time to it.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Big Plans Tonight?

Anybody planning to see the Hunger Games at midnight tonight? I was originally, and with some fabulous local bloggers, but some things came up. So now I'm going tomorrow morning. I suspect it will end the same, regardless of what time I watch.

But, movie plans aside, I've always sort of wanted to throw a Hunger Games-themed party. Not with violence (not fun) or lamb stew (I have no idea where you would buy lamb), but with stuff I already have. If you ever want to do the same, here are some ideas I came up with.

Ladies Food First:
  • cheese bread, for all you team Katniss fans
  • pita chips with hummus and goat cheese, for all you Peeta (or Prim) people
  • "wild dog," for anyone who likes Gale. Or hot dogs. Bonus points if you "shoot" it yourself. Double bonus points if you tell your party guests it's actually beef. 
Mystery meat, it's what's for dinner

  • President Snow cones. With tiger's blood flavoring
  • Cupcakes. Either people can show off their Peeta-like decorating skills and make some fancy cupcakes. Or, if your group is less into that, you could do camo cupcakes. Chocolate cake, lots of brown/green/blue frosting, maybe even hide a green army toy Peeta in one of them.
If Gale were a baker...
  • Nerf archery. Or dart gun archery. Have people try to hit an apple out a pig's mouth. (Or off a fence post if you don't have a pig handy)
  • Paint the beard on Seneca Crane, using balloon "faces" and markers. The crazier the colors the better. Or party guests and fake mustaches. If your group is super-skilled at this, you could try a blindfolded version. 

  • Tribute parade. Make up (ridiculous) industries for each guest, and then go to a thrift/dollar store and have people put together costumes. The best costume could win a camo cupcake. 
  • If you must have an aggression outlet, you could play that game where everyone ties their (Seneca Crane beard) balloon to their ankle, and then goes around trying to stomp on everyone else's balloon. Last person left with an inflated balloon wins. Maybe a camo cupcake. Don't make too many of those or you'll have to come up with ways to get rid of them.

So those were my lame ideas. What would you want to do at a Hunger Games party?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: The Hunger But Mainly Death Games

The Hunger But Mainly Death Games
by "Bratniss Everclean"

The Short Story
It's a Hunger Games parody.
Some funny parts - even very funny - but also a lot of potty humor and what. moments. It's kind of like a 1990's boy movie version of The Hunger Games.

What I liked:
I enjoy a good parody, especially of something I either love enough to see its faults, or dislike enough that all I can see are its faults. (This guy's rejected Twilight screenplays were hilarious, at least to me) And since I love The Hunger Games series, I was most interested to see how they would poke fun at some of my favorite characters and scenes: Katniss taking Prim's place, Rue, the cave, the mutts. And for the most part, I thought the book did a good job of parodying them. Katniss is a bit dumber and blood-thirsty-er, so I liked that less. But what they did with Gale, and especially Peeta, was very funny. "Pita" honestly stole the show, and I think his character was done the best. How Katniss managed to get herself into the Games, as well as the cave scenes, were probably the funniest parts of the book for me. There were also some clever pop culture references.

  • I felt like the book would get into a nice, funny groove and then lose itself. Too often it would devolve into either gross/gore/potty humor, or things that were a little too random to be funny. For example, the trackerjackers were buzzerguzzlers (drink-seeking bees). That's funny. But they attacked Scar (Cato) in the bum, and then there was a long-running grossness that went with it. That wasn't funny. It was just gross.  Or Rue was actually out to kill Katniss (again, funny). But Thresh was randomly a bear. (what) I felt like I could never completely settle into the book because it kept going off track in that way. (of course, ymmv. My husband thought some of those things were funny)
  • Some of the pop culture references didn't work because they were too obscure for me. I'd guess most people have heard of Snooki, or The Night Circus, or Team Edward/Jacob. But there were a few things that left me scratching my head after I'd finished. I'm sure Dylancobra was a play on something; I'm just not sure what. Maybe others were from Battle Royale?
  • There were enough typos and editing issues that it got a little distracting.

The Big Three:
Language: Occasional strong profanity, including one f with dashes
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: regular violence, some gore and other grossness

Just So You Know
I received a copy of The Hunger But Mainly Death Games via the authors . It is now available. You can read Chapter 1 here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Hunger Games Week!

I was going to have a book review all ready to go today, but the weekend had other plans. So, review tomorrow. In the mean time, enjoy this clip - Katniss meeting Cinna:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Follow Friday: The Good & The Bad

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Come play along here.

This week's question is:

Q: What is the best book you’ve read in the last month? What is the worst book you’ve read in the last month?

The best book, by a lot, was The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm also about 100 pages into Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver and really liking it.

As far as bad books, usually I think most books are ok. But I recently finished Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic, and I would actually call it bad.

How about you? I'm always looking to add great books to my TBR.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Hunger Games Reread-Along: Chapters 25-27

Time to get ready for the victory tour
The end of The Hunger Games. At least, you think it's over, but it's not. Then it sort of is, except it's not. And then the book ends, but it's still not really over.

Were you surprised by the change in the rule change, or did you see that coming?
I didn't expect it at all. In fact, I briefly thought Peeta was trying to kill Katniss. Wouldn't that have been kind of awesome for Peeta's character? *spoilers* But I guess that did happen eventually. *spoilers*

Did you expect there would be consequences for Kantiss and Peeta's stunt with the berries? 
For some reason, again, I didn't. I just thought it was a good ending to the book. Maybe a little convenient, but I wanted both of them to win. After Rusty and I finished Hunger Games, we both mentioned how we had no idea what the next book would be about. Of course, now it seems obvious....

Katniss has no problem telling Peeta off at other points in the book, but in the end doesn't give any of her (understandable) reasons for her act in the Games. Why do you think that is?
Maybe because she was confronted with thinking about his feelings for first time, and recognizing that she'd actually hurt him. I think maybe that explains why she was so upset about him losing his leg - the consequences or effects of the Games will last longer than she had given thought to. (Because who has time to think about all that when you're trying not to die?) I thought it was interesting that Katniss wanted to believe she could be the same girl who hunts/Hobs like before the Games, but also recognized that at least some things had been permanently changed.

This better (not) be in the movie. (any scenes you would especially like/dislike seeing in the film)
I really hope they tone down Cato being eaten; that was the most gruesome part of the book for me. Peeta's enthusiastic affection during their "reunion" gave me the jibblies. (Was anybody else relieved when Haymitch put an end to all the kissing?) I wonder if that will even make it into the movie.

Anything else that stuck out to you in the chapters?
I liked Caesar's interview comment that the "real enjoyment [of the Games] was watching [Katniss] fall for [Peeta]" I wonder if that's accurate for readers of the book, or if it was intended to describe people who read the series. So much of the pre-Mockingjay hype was about which boy Katniss would pick, and a lot of the post-Mockingjay complaint was that the ending (love) story was too rushed.
Who knows if that line was meant as anything, but it seemed funny to me this time around.

Thanks for reading along with me! Next Wednesday is The Hunger Games movie plans post, and my "how to throw a Hunger Games party with stuff you probably already have!" ideas.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Skip This: Never Eighteen

Never Eighteen
by Megan Bostic

The Short Story 
Austin goes on a weekend of errands visiting different people in his life, and telling them how they should be living differently. Then he dies. (The book is called Never Eighteen, so this is not a spoiler.) Unlikeable protagonist and lack of character development sink what could have been an interesting book.

I couldn't help but notice...
the main character was really difficult to like. Austin is dying of cancer, but that wasn't enough to make him sympathetic. He was inexplicably self-righteous and hypocritical once he started visiting people. I think the message was supposed to be that people can overcome difficult things. But it came across more as Austin telling them to get over whatever was going on because at least they weren't dying of cancer. (If I had only been raped, I would move on and live my life. But I can't! I'm dying!) This would have worked better if the people he talked to were struggling with bad grades or pimples. But being abused, or raped, or addicted is a lot more complex than that and gave the whole story a feeling of being unrealistic and dismissive of real issues. It was like Austin couldn't understand that having to live with terrible things happening to you might be more difficult than dying from something bad. The fact that the people he visited mostly agreed was worse.

And I had some problems with more technical issues. The main one was that I didn't feel like I got to know any of the other characters. For a book that's only 200 pages, there really were too many people, and each gets maybe 8-10 pages. That wasn't enough time to develop anyone, and they felt like cameo appearances by stock characters. Girl in abusive relationship, kid with substance abuse problem, kid questioning his sexuality. At one point I thought about simply not finishing the book, but I was curious to see which other tropes would show up. The lack of characterization for anyone kept me from feeling anything in the story.

It wasn't all bad

  • The cover is nice.
  •  There are a couple of nice moments where Austin faces some of his fears or does things he's always meant to. He also has a brief realization that he didn't know everything about his parents. (I was hoping it would turn into some character growth, but it didn't.) Too bad there wasn't more of that in the book.

The Big Three
Language: Regular swearing, including several f-words
Sex and Stuff: A couple of scenes that were more descriptive than necessary
Violence: a girl has bruises from her abusive boyfriend, some fist fighting

Just So You Know
I read an eARC of Never Eighteen courtesy of HMH Children's Books via NetGalley. Never Eighteen is now available.

Because You Know I Had to Post This

For all the purists who would rather not see any clips before the movie, I understand. Just don't watch. For everybody else:

My review of Never Eighteen coming later today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hunger Games Reread-Along: Chapters 22-24

The cave! It's almost over!

At what point do you think Katniss should have (or did) realize that Peeta wasn't acting about his feelings? Did Katniss' refusal to acknowledge the obvious frustrate you?
Umm, maybe when he burnt the bread for her? Or told the whole country he liked her? No, I can understand why she questioned things earlier in the Games. But by the time Peeta tells her all about their first day of school, she was out of excuses (for me). It almost felt a little ridiculous that she continued to question it. So I like to think that she was more comfortable not acknowledging it than that she was actually unaware of how he really felt.

Although they both have their (dis)advantages, who do you think made a better ally for Katniss: Rue or Peeta?
I'd have to go with Peeta. Rue was sweet and helped Katniss with her fire-starting plan (and had some food and medical know-how), but she wouldn't have helped much at the end of the Games. Peeta was bumbling and injured  (I love that Stephen King describes Katniss as "babysitting" Peeta at this point in the book). But he's certainly a lot more help against Cato than Rue would have been. And I think readers would not have been ok with little Rue being nearly suffocated instead of Peeta. But now I'm getting ahead of the reading...

Technically Peeta is responsible for Foxface's death (and possibly another person's). Why do you think most people remember him as not killing anyone in the Games?
Peeta actually kills people in all three books, but he sort of remains the story softy. I think part of that is because the reader is in Katniss' head, and that's sort of her perception of him. I'm a little sad that it sounds like they're going to toughen Peeta up a bit for the movie. (I was going to include the interview where they talked about this, but it got taken down) :(

This better (not) be in the movie. (any scenes you would especially like/dislike seeing in the film)
I hope Foxface dies exactly like she did in the book, and I hope Katniss is just as short-tempered with Peeta.

Anything else that stuck out to you in the chapters?
I wonder what Peeta's mom thought of Peeta saying the dad had wanted to marry Katniss' mom. Awkward. I also thought it was interesting (throughout the series) that Katniss would equate getting married with automatically having kids. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mixed Review: Past Perfect

Past Perfect
by Leila Sales

The Short Story
Chelsea wants to spend her summer working at the mall and eating delicious ice cream with her best friend, instead of working at the colonial village her family has been employed by forever. Instead, she spends another summer donning colonial garb, trying to avoid her ex-boyfriend, and planning out a war with the local Civil War reenactment camp. When she ends up crossing paths with one of the Civil Warriors, her summer turns very differently than she expected.
This had a lot of potential but never really took off for me.

What I liked:
The characters were fun and had a lot of personality. Chelsea almost felt abrasive, but only for the first 5 or 10 pages. Then I really started to enjoy her. Her summer ambition is to become an ice cream connoisseur with her best friend, Fiona, so she can't be that bad, right? One of my favorite things was the time devoted to their job at the colonial reenactment village. I've never been to one but I think it would be sort of nerdily cool. And I've always wondered what those Disney princesses/colonial reenactors are really thinking when they get the same questions over and over, so this gave some funny insight. There's one part where a little girl asks Chelsea which American Girl doll she is, that I especially liked.

There's also a nice introduction to the idea that the past is only what we remember, and not necessarily everything that happened. Including that made my little history major heart happy, even if it was done with a bit of a heavy hand.

Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • I could never really get into the war between the Colonial reenactment village and the Civil War one. Why did they have to hate each other? It didn't seem like there was much at stake (unlike in Jellicoe Road, where there's sort of a similar thing going on). Since I didn't buy the war, I had a very hard time feeling like there was any reason for Chelsea not to be involved with Dan. It all felt a little contrived to me, and that's a bad thing for the central conflict of the book.
  • I still don't get what the cover has to do with anything. I don't recall any specific rainy scenes, or hair flowers, or green coats. The tag line is even more of a head-scratcher.

The Big Three:
Language: I don't remember this being an issue
Sex and Stuff: some kissy scenes
Violence: some pushing and shoving

Friday, March 2, 2012

February Recap

February wasn't a great reading month for me, but I did finish my taxes! Since I don't review every book I read, I thought this would be a nice way to give some attention to the books that won't get a full review.

In February I read:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I thought the beginning was amazing, and the ending was interesting enough that I'll definitely give the sequel a chance. (It just got a name - The Evolution of Mara Dyer). But the middle switched the book's focus onto things that I didn't think were nearly as interesting. Mixed for me.

Past Perfect by Leila Sales
I'm posting my review for this one on Monday, so I'll keep my thoughts short. It reminded me in some ways of Jellicoe Road, only I didn't get into it as much. It was cute, and there was nothing wrong with it, but I didn't love it.

Sign Language by Amy Ackley
I think I gave this about 75 pages before I put it down. It's got a middle grade feel to it, which isn't a bad thing. But it's another cancer book, and I just wasn't in the mood. I think I'll give it another chance in a few months because it had potential. DNF, yet.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.
I can't say enough good about this. I'm currently reading it to my husband, just so I have an excuse to reread it. I actually kind of want to own this book - maybe even pay money for it - which is something I basically never say. Read This

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis
This had moments of being really interesting, but also some wonky parts. It's told from three points of view, but they each get their own tense. Reading in the second person ("You walk to the store. You buy some doritos.") is just awkward. I didn't feel like the characters were completely believable, either, from the periodically Italian speaking grandpa, to the token "helpless younger sibling" who just adds responsibility to the main character. (I'm pretty sure you can make your own sandwich by the time you're 12.) Mixed for me.

Has anybody else noticed helpless younger siblings/family members popping up a lot in books lately?

March bodes a little better for reading and blogging.
  • I have a couple review books I'll be tackling (Never Eighteen, another cancer book; and The Hunger but Mainly Death Games, a Hunger Games parody).
  • I'll finish The Hunger Games rereadalong, and host Hunger Games week the week of the movie's release.
  • Then at the end of March I'll be participating in Bloggiesta! Seriously, go check the link out. I'm really excited to take some time to spruce up the blog.