Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Published: Scholastic Press, 2008
Source: Library (Bedford Branch BPL)
Paperback, 367 pages
Challenges: Dystopia Challenge, 100 Books Challenge, Hogwarts Challenge, 350 Page Book Challenge

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before--and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

First sentence: “When I wake up, the other side of my bed is cold.”

I DID NOT WANT THIS BOOK TO END!! Lately, I’ve been reading longer novels. I started the year out at a full sprint to tackle the 100 books I promised myself this year but now that I’m ahead, I’m slowing down and savoring masterpieces like this one. I mean, what can I say about it that no one else has? The pacing is perfect. I did not feel like I was being rushed through the book at all and when there were slow moments, I savored them as they were opportunities to get to know Katniss’ back-story. The setting is believable. I didn’t feel loaded down with too many made up words and ideas that some authors of dystopian novels like to come up with.

The characters are perfect. I know who they all are, I know how they would react under any circumstance. Yet, Collins didn’t overload us with exposition and anecdotes that were just filler. Speaking of characters, omg Katniss. I freaking love this girl. Everything about her is so fierce. From the way she loves to the way she hates she is my freaking YA Dystopian Idol. I had a hard time picturing what exactly she’d look like at first but this was due to me seeing drawings of some of the characters before I really got into the book.

All in all, I give The Hunger Games One million stars out of 4 stars. Seriously this book is beyond…BEYOND awesome and now that you’re done reading this review, please do yourself a large favor and read this book if you haven’t already. I cannot wait to read the others.

Music Monday: "Pharaoh" for A Gathering of Old Men

About the Book
Set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s, A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines is a powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a Black man. 

I read this book all the way back in high school, but it's stayed with me for years because it was so fantastic. It was one of the only required readings that I enjoyed. And I will undoubtedly read it again sometime this year! When I heard Pharaoh the other day and immediately thought of this book, so please enjoy Pharaoh by Crooked Still!

About the Artist
My love affair with this band began last summer when I was killing time in The Apple Store. I tried out these headphones and one of the sample songs they had on was "The Absentee" by Crooked Still. They are a neo-bluegrass group that incorporates virtuostic players, fantastic harmonies and a sweet voiced lead singer. I love love LOVE all of Crooked Still's music and if you think they're as awesome as I do, check them out!

Crooked Still's Official Page
Crooked Still's Wikipedia Page

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox Feb 27th Edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. I only do this meme when I have something of note to share! Otherwise I get most of my books from the library!

This week was one of those rare occasions where I literally got two IMM on the same day!

This morning, the mailman rang the bell and woke me up way too early! But I was pleasantly surprised to have received my ridiculously awesome Goddess Girls Giveaway prize pack from Alison Can Read! Thanks again!

On hold at the library, I got Nevermore by Kelly Creagh!

So excited for all the awesome books in my life right now! What cool books do you guys have?!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: The Riddle of the Gnome by P.W Catanese

The Riddle of the Gnome by P.W Catanese
Published:  Aladdin Paperbacks, 2007
Borrowed from Library
Challenge: 100 Books Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Loving the Reviews Challenge

A boy cursed to bring bad luck to anyone who comes near lives a sad and solitary life. One day a foul-tempered gnome promises to end his curse...but only if the boy accompanies him on a harrowing adventure

It took me forever to finish this book! I don’t know if it was because of the slow moving parts or because I was busy. Cantanese wrote a series of books that take place AFTER the fairy tale has ended. In this case, it’s Rumpelstiltskin. I’m not sure what I expected but I did find the plot to be imaginative and adventurous. I do like the idea of continuing fairy tales and will read others from the author.

My favorite character actually ended up being the glow-toad. I found the main character, Tom to be likeable at most.  With his foster parents and the fact that he was an outcast, it was hard for me not to compare him to my boyfriend Harry Potter. Which, no one really compares to in my eyes.  I would’ve preferred for the author to leave out a lot of Tom’s one line inner dialogue (“But that little fellow was crazy..who knows if he was telling the truth”), it clogged up the flow pretty often. The dialogue generally didn’t move the story forward and I think that may’ve been my largest problem with the book.

Keeping in mind that this is a Middle Grade book, I give The Riddle of the Gnome 2.5 out 4 stars. It has scary moments and seems to be geared toward young men. So, I recommend this for Middle Grade boys who love adventure and don’t mind some gross imagery here and there.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Library Thursday Blog Hop

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Library Thursday is a weekly blog hop that I've started to:

1. Encourage people to support their libraries when they can

 2. Meet new bloggy friends and grow your following

How to participate (UPDATED):
  • Create a Library Thursday post with a list, pictures or a vlog of your books. Or feature a cool picture of a library, or spotlight one of your favorite libraries.
  • Grab my button if you like it and include it in your post! Make sure to shout the library out that you went to!
  • Once you've created your post, link it to the linky at the bottom of my weekly post
  • Hop around to the other blogs participating and check out what other people are reading. Be sure to leave them a comment to let them know you were there, this is about making friends as well!

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been MIA. This is due to a few things I have going on this week. Good things of course, but things, nonetheless, that have taken me away from the blog for a little bit. So, I didn’t make it to the library this week for more than 5 minutes (I picked up a book I had on hold).

I've decided to dedicate this week’s Library Thursday to my favorite library in Brooklyn, The Central Library at Grand Army Plaza!

 “Opened on February 1, 1941, the Central Library is the major reference center for BPL's 60-location system. The library's notable architecture was created to resemble an open book, with the spine on Grand Army Plaza and the building's two wings opening like pages onto Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue.” ~Brooklyn Public Library Official Site

On a good day, I get to spend a few hours in here without even noticing. The sheer size of the place is mind-blowing.

Here are some very cool vintage pictures I found: 

Okay so this is a not so vintage one. It’s the inside. This is the main hall where they normally have Brooklyn based artwork or exhibits. This picture is from back in 2007. Next time I get in there, I will take a bunch of pictures and post them!

Thanks for reading about my favorite library in Brooklyn! What'd ya get from the library this week?!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday & Talk to me Tuesday

Squeezing these in last minute!

My Teaser:
Time was running out; he could sense it in the tightness of his chest. And there was another feeling within, harder to describe, like a whisper coming from his heart.
page 161, The Riddle of the Gnome P.W. Catanese

This week's question: How do you feel about book banning and censorship? 

I think it's completely ridiculous. There are so many other books that people can read, if an author wants to write about something that makes people uncomfortable, then so be it. Reminds me of the ban they put on Harry Potter because of "witchcraft". They should be glad people are actually reading books.

Just for Fun Reading Challenge: Books from Mr. Men series & Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama

For February’s Just for Fun Reading Challenge, I decided to read a bunch of short books!

Mr. Happy by Roger Hargreaves
I don’t know what made me decide to check these out the other day, but I was in the bookstore looking to kill some time and I stumbled across all these little books! My family had them in the house I grew up in too and I remember loving Little Miss Sunshine and Mr. Happy. All these books are about 30 or so pages long with illustrations and the reading level is from 4-8. Even though it’s clearly for youngsters, somehow the stories warmed my heart as an adult.

I guess this is a spoiler alert because there’s not much to the story of Mr. Happy but, in the story, we meet him and see that he’s happy and all that. Well, one day, he goes to the woods and finds a curious door in a tree trunk. He goes inside and finds a guy that looks like him but he’s sad. Then they go outside and Mr. Miserable is happy.

Haha, this summary is making me giggle. But honestly, I feel like there’s some sort of symbolism here because once Mr. Happy gets Mr. Miserable outside of his closed off from the world living quarters, he realizes there’s a whole world out there for him and that he should be happy. HA! 

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to my Daughters by Barack Obama
The same day, I checked out the Nook Color and this was the book they had as an example . There are about 40 pages, each with a tender line from the letter to his daughters. It is beautifully illustrated, I mean beautifully. With images of great American heroes in drawn in storybook form. Once the icon is introduced, they’re illustrated on the next page in child form standing with a drawing of Sasha and Malia. I just loved reading it because he’s my President and he’s also a sweet Dad! I had no idea this book was so awesome and I wish I had kids to give this book to as a present!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Music Monday: "The Bones of Generations" for HATE LIST

At the end of their junior year, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend pulls a gun in the Commons, leaving six students and a teacher dead and many others wounded. Valerie is hit by a bullet in the leg trying to stop him, just before he ends his own life. Until that point, Valerie had no idea that the "hate list" that she and Nick created would be used to target victims in a vengeful shooting spree. For her, the list of tormentors was a way to ease the pain of being bullied and an outlet against the constant fighting between her parents. Although the police investigation reveals that Valerie had nothing to do with the actual shootings, many people in her community, including her parents, have a hard time believing that she is not at fault, too. With the help of a patient and insightful therapist, Valerie bravely returns to school after the summer to face the challenges before her. Told by Valerie in then-and-now chapters, with a few "excerpts" from local newspaper articles added for perspective, this is a startling, powerful, and poignant account of the incidents leading up to, immediately following, and continuing through the teen's senior year of realization and recovery.

This is one of the last books I read, definitely going in my top ten of the year. I'm dedicating this Music Monday to a very specific character in the book. One that we meet only through the eyes of the other characters, Nick Levil, the shooter. Enjoy Logh's "The Bones of Generations".

About the artist: Logh is a recent discovery of mine. They're this awesome post-rock band from Sweden that has indie rock and shoegaze elements because of their introspective lyrics and understated vocal lines. If you dig these dudes as much as I do, check them out!

Logh's Myspace page

Logh's Official Website

Ten Good Things on a Monday (9)

Ten Good Things on a Monday is a weekly meme by Noteworthy Nina @ Brush Up on Your Reading!

This week, I'm listing ten of my favorite Cartoons:

1. The Snorks- The Snorks are a race of small, colorful, fictional beings that live happily in the underwater world of Snorkland. They have snorkels on their heads, which are used to propel them swiftly through the water. The theme song to this cartoon makes me SO happy. Like, even now, as an adult.

2. The Smurfs- there was a time when I couldn't leave the house without watching this awesome cartoon. I had no idea it came out all the way in the early eighties however!

3. A Pup Named Scooby Doo - There's a mystery in town! So call the coolest pup around, go Scoooooby a pup named Scooby, Scoooooby, a PUP NAMED SCOOBY DOOO.

4. Tiny Toon Advetures-  Remember this one?! They had a lot of pop culture jokes and adult humor in the cartoon. I'm only realizing that now that I'm thinking about it. Here's an interesting sentence I just read: "The cartoon was the first animated series produced by the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation during the animation renaissance of the late 1980s and early 1990s." Animation Renaissance whaaat? Proof that 80s babies had the BEST cartoons.

5. Duck Tales- DuckTales is an American animated television series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. Based on Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge comic book series, it premiered on September 18, 1987 and ended on November 28, 1990 with a total of 4 seasons and 100 episodes. I also can't believe it only lasted 3 seasons. That almost makes me sad.

6. Muppet Babies- Jim Henson's Muppet Babies (also known as simply Muppet Babies) is an American animated television series that aired from September 15, 1984 to November 2, 1991 on CBS. It was spun off from a dream sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan, released two months earlier, where Miss Piggy imagined what it would be like if she and Kermit the Frog grew up together. The show portrayed childhood versions of the Muppets living together in a large nursery in the care of a human woman called Nanny (the whereabouts of their parents are never addressed). Nanny appears in almost every episode, but viewers never see her face, only the babies' view of her pink skirt as well as her distinctive green and white striped socks.

7. Inspector Gadget - One of my absolute favorite cartoons which I now have discovered, had a main character voiced by Cree Summer! She did all the cartoon voices!! (Elmira, the other girl from Rugrats, some other thing too) Note: This message will self destruct.

8. The Simpsons - this cartoon needs absolutely no introduction. One of my all time favorites and still makes me laugh as though I'm 8 years old.

9. Gummi Bears - best.theme song. ever. And I've always wondered what Gummi Berry Juice tasted like. I would often taste things and imagine that it was gummi berry flavored.

10. TaleSpin - TaleSpin is a half-hour American animated television series based in the fictional city of Cape Suzette, that first aired in 1990 as part of The Disney Afternoon, with characters adapted from Disney's 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book. While this wasn't as much of a favorite as all the others I listed, it made me appreciate good stories with excellent twists! This was definitely a mature cartoon.

Hope I gave you guys a little nostalgia and didn't age myself too much hehe! What were your fav cartoons??

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox Feb 20th Edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I do this meme every so often when I'm lucky enough to buy books/receive books/pick up holds from the library.

This week, I received two books from a giveaway that I won courtesy of Chelle at The Prairie Library! They are Num8ers by Rachel Ward & Violet Wings by Victoria Hanley. Thanks Chelle! I also picked up The Riddle of the Gnome by P. W. Catanese from the library. After reading Small Review's review on another book in the series, I had to check it out so I put it on hold and now I have it!

What's in your mailbox?!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review: Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber

Deeply Desperately by Heather Webber

Published: St. Martin's Paperback, 2010
Paperback, 312 pages
Borrowed from Library
Challenge: One, Two Theme!

When we last left Lucy Valentine, she was struggling to fit in with her family of psychic matchmakers and to run the family’s matchmaking business. An accident has rid her of her Cupid skills but left her with the ability to find lost objects. In Deeply, Desperately, author Webber gives Lucy the chance to put her unique skills to work in the family company by helping people locate their lost loves. Despite a series of successful reunions, Lucy once again finds herself in over her head and involved in a murder mystery concerning one of her clients. The return of her upstairs neighbor Sean, a handsome private eye, means that Lucy is once again able to solve the mystery while possibly falling in love herself. 

The second in the Lucy Valentine series picks up where the other one left off. She's still having all the sexual tension with super hottie Sean Donahue, still having all the annoyed-with Preston the news reporter tension and still having the friend drama tension with Marisol and Emily.

I don't know if it's because I got EXTREMELY busy at the end of this month, or because I just couldn't get hooked into this book like I did with Truly, Madly (where I beat a personal record of like, 200 pages in a day)...but I had trouble getting to the end of this one. I obviously love the Lucy Valentine story but I think I just got really distracted and couldn't remember who all the characters were. I did feel like she threw a lot of names at us that we were expected to remember. But, once again, I strongly believe that this is because I was ridiculously distracted from this book altogether and might have to read it again at some point!

Despite all that, I did enjoy reading this book once I got through it. I love all of the characters so much even if the story wasn't as fresh as the previous book. And even if I couldn't keep up with all their names! I look forward to the 3rd in the series.

All in all, I give Deeply, Desperately 2.5 out of 4 stars, only because I couldn't get all the way into it (mostly my fault). But I do recommend this book and the entire Lucy Valentine series for Chick Lit fans who enjoy light romance and a hint of paranormal elements and mystery.

What's Your Status? 2/12-2/18

What’s Your Status is a weekly meme hosted by Zakiyah @ Butterfly Feet Walking on Life. The format I’m using is very similar to Small Review’s weekly re-cap posts.

Music Monday (New Feature!)

Ten Good Things on a Monday

Library Thursday Blog Hop

Cat and Mouse by James Patterson

Couldn’t finish: Princess in Waiting by Meg Cabot

Currently Reading:

Deeply Desperately by Heather Webber
Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

Lah’s Thoughts on the Week
I took it VERY easy this week because I’ve got a new temp job with normal working hours (yes, I was unemployed previously so I had a whooooole bunch of time on my hands to blog and read!) If, God willing, this position continues, I will time manage maintaining the blog with my new schedule

I also took it easy because I’m preparing an opera recital in two weeks (actually a week and a half now!)

This month, I won 3 giveaways!!!!!!!!! I never win ANYTHING! I am psyched and will post my winnings as an IMM post when I get them!

Have a Great Weekend!

And the winner is...

Thanks for entering my Follower Love Giveaway! The big winner is:

Big thanks to everyone who followed and added me to friends for extra entries. I'm working on following you all back. Stop by and say hello some time! Stay tuned for future giveaways from me! :)