Wednesday, September 29, 2010 1 comments By: Suzanne

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

 
If you haven't read this, it is the last book in The Hunger Games series. In this book. Katniss is recovering in the fabled District 13 from her second go-round in the Hunger Games, Gale is training with their soldiers, and Peeta is being held prisoner by President Snow. Katniss has unwittingly become the face of the rebellion and must decide whether she will willingly take on the role. She does but with several conditions, one being that she kills President Snow. The rest...you have to read for yourself.

This is probably the quickest I've finished a series in a long time. Again, I am surprised by the number of people that don't like this last book. I thought it was amazing. My guess is that people simply don't like the sad turn of events near the end (I won't spoil it for people who haven't read it - though I suspect I'm the last person on earth to read it). Personally, I was bawling like a baby by the last page of the book. It's interesting how it is written because I didn't even feel like crying over those events until Katniss does in the next chapter. It's so heartbreaking when she loses it and the poor cat...well, I was a wreck. ;)

Now that I've read this, I'm looking forward to checking out Collins' Gregor series. It looks interesting, even if it may not be as heart wrenching as this one. 


Sunday, September 26, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

Catching Fire: Audio

All I have to say about Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is WOW!! I know a lot of people think the series is best on book 1, ok on book 2, and ho-hum on book 3 but I was blown away by this book (no pun intended). Maybe it's because the first was really only about the Games, with the political situation taking a back seat. I loved the story in the first book. There was lots of action which makes it very exciting almost the whole book. But the second book is exciting for a completely different reason. Yes, there's still plenty of action but mainly in the second half of the book. It's just not as important as the political intrigue that comes to the foreground in this book. And I love politics!

Katniss is trying to return her life to normal but her behavior in the Hunger Games has led to uprisings in some of the other districts. Before she and Peeta go on their victory tour, she is given a warning directly from the President: Calm the districts or face the consequences. And those consequences are nasty. Without meaning to, Katniss actually makes the situation worse...


The turn this book takes half way through caught me completely off guard. I figured something odd would happen with the Hunger Games, but what does happen...I wasn't expecting that. Well done Collins. I'm not an easy one to mislead. I love when I can't figure things out. I get bored if I guess it too soon.

Can I also say, what is up with the vampire President? Seriously! Maybe it says in the last book (which I will start tonight and leave off The Lady Elizabeth til I finish this series) but his breath smells of blood and he's been President for 50 years with very little change in his appearance? Totally a vampire. hehehe I know that's not the direction this series is taking but why was this made such a big deal of and then not explained? I really hope it's explained later. I hate loose ends like that. Collins seems to be turning out to be a fairly good writer, so I feel confident she will tidy up that bit. A little confident. :)
Friday, September 24, 2010 13 comments By: Suzanne

The Friday 56: The Lady Elizabeth



Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

I've had The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I bought it because I loved Weir's Innocent Traitor but it's not hard to get me to like a book about Jane Grey, she's one of my favorite historical figures. I got bored with Tudor historical fiction though. It seems EVERYONE writes only about that. There have to be some other interesting stories out there. History is full of fascinating people. When I finished the Hunger Games I went in search of something from my shelves, saw this lying there and thought, might as well. So far, it's proving a wonderful read. Weir is a great storyteller, and being an historian also, she's gets the facts straight (unlike Phillipa Gregory). I hate when authors take such liberties that it simply wouldn't have been possible for what they write to have happened. Takes me out of the story. So here's this week's selection (Elizabeth is 6 at this point):

"There are so many ladies at court!" Elizabeth had marveled at their rich gowns, their bejeweled  hoods, their air of sophistication.
Monday, September 20, 2010 1 comments By: Suzanne

The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman: Audiobook


I have loved almost every book I have ever read by Alice Hoffman. She is a gifted storyteller. The only one I didn't like was Practical Magic and I know that's only because I love the movie so much. What bothered me about that book was that the beautiful relationship between the sisters in the movie is not important in the book. That's my favorite part of the movie. That's what makes the movie.

But this book...I have no words. hahahaha Of course I do, that's why I write this blog. It was wonderful. The relationship between the three main women in the book is so well developed. You can feel the tension between the mothers and daughters. You want to reach through the pages and MAKE them do what's right.

The Sparrow women have always been a little different. Each Sparrow woman, going back to their oldest known ancestor has a gift, or some cases a curse (depending on that "gift"). Elinor can tell liars. Not that she simply can pick up lies easily, she can smell the lie. Her daughter, Jenny, can see other people's dreams. Not what they daydream of doing with their lives, but their actual dreams as they're sleeping. Her daughter, Stella, can see how others are going to die. This "gift" causes trouble for her family when she begs her father to save a woman who is going to be murdered and he is suspected by the police when it comes true.

If you like a little magic in your everyday life, pick up this book. You won't be disappointed.
Sunday, September 19, 2010 6 comments By: Suzanne

Hunger Games

Ok, I get it. I now know what all the fuss is about because this book kicks a$$! I'm always leery of reading a popular young adult book, especially after the Twilight debacle. :) (I never miss a chance to make a snide remark about that horrible series).

When I first read the blurb I thought, "it's a modern telling of Crete and the Minotaur." So when I read that was her inspiration, I was not surprised but as I read more of the book I started to think it was closer to Battle Royale. If you've never seen that movie, holy sh**. If you can handle copious amounts of gratuitous violence and obvious fake blood shooting everywhere (think Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill) then go find that movie. I normally can't but this movie is so over the top that it just isn't bad. In Battle Royale juvenile delinquents are sent to an island and told to battle to the death. There can only be one winner: the last one left alive. It is also televised for the country to watch as if it's a sport. In the Hunger Games this is essentially the storyline, except these are normal teens simply trying to survive. They come from the outlying districts to provide a sport for the Capitol. The reasoning behind this is to hinder rebellion in the districts (like Crete). Katniss, our protagonist, is not originally chosen but volunteers to save her 12 year old sister who is chosen.

I was so engrossed in this book that I couldn't stop reading. In fact I stayed up till 1:30 the other night and finally had to make myself stop. I would have stayed up all night. I am amazed too at the quality of the writing. Most authors in the young adult market simply can't write. They have a great idea and the storyline is pretty good, but the writing is horrible (e.g. Meyer and Clare). I have been impressed with Michelle Zink's Prophecy of the Sisters  and now Suzanne Collins. I will definitely be finishing both these series.
Saturday, September 18, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

Short Story Challenge: August Recap

 


If you missed signing up for the Short Story Challenge, it's not too late.  Each month I will post a recap to discuss what everyone has read for the challenge. Everyone who still wants to sign up, go back to original post (to which I will leave a link in every current post). Then leave comments in the current post.

 Now that September is halfway through...:) Sorry I took so long in posting this. Life. Excuses. :)

I only read one collection this month. Well, 1 1/2. I finished Stories Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio, which I loved. I actually loved every story in that collection. A rare feat. Please, go read those stories. I guarantee you will love them too. Not all are sci-fi or fantasy, as you might expect with Neil Gaiman being an editor, but they all have an element of the weird to them. 

  
 
The other was Short Stories: The Vintage Collection with stories by classical authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Saki, and Thomas Hardy. While a few of the stories were really good, some were just crap. There is no nice way to put it, they were. I demand so few things from a short story but when those few things are let down, I lose all respect for the story. Some great authors simply should not write short stories. They should stick to full length novels where they have time to develop a story in their own way. A short story needs to tell a complete story. Even if down the line, you take that short story and make it into a full length book, I need to know that what I'm reading it is not simply an opening chapter. I need to feel some sense of completion when I finish. It needs to have closure. It can be weird closure, it can leave me wanting more, but there must be a true ending. Too few of the stories in this collection have that. The main character also needs to be developed. I know this is hard in shorts, but give me a sense of who this character is, why he acts the way he does. Make me love him enough to want to care about his story, because otherwise I will tune it out and get bored. Too few of the stories in this had that also. 

If you like the classical authors and are simply curious, pick it up. If you like short stories and want some good reading, skip it.

Noise by Darin Bradley



Ok, so maybe I'm slightly biased because I kinda know this guy (he lives in Denton and is friends with people I know). At least I've met him a couple times. The first time I met him, my friend Laura said, "This is Darin. He's a writer and his book is awesome." It hadn't even come out yet, so we are a very supportive group here in Denton!! He then started to tell me about his book and I too started to think, "Awesome!"

This thriller is most likely shelved in the sci-fi section of your local bookstore though I wouldn't really call it sci-fi, more post-apocalyptic. Or peri-post-apocalyptic. It takes place right here in the merry old town of Denton, which was weird because I'm a very visual reader. What I mean by that is I have vivid pictures in my head of what I am reading on the page when I read. Every time he described something in the book, I tried to picture it not as he was describing it, but as I know it to be. I tried to figure out where in town he might be talking about. He didn't make it explicitly Denton, in fact the town's name in the book is Slade, but if you're familiar with it, it's clear what's talking about. Except sometimes it's not. Apparently he took liberties, which kept messing me up and taking me out of the story a little. Not his fault, mine. Because the book itself is wonderful. I love these kind of watch-out-the-world-is-going-to-hell kind of stories.

What's great (i.e. scary) about this is one is it seems so plausible. The downfall of society is an economic collapse, not environmental or nuclear. Right now every time I turn on the radio, I hear about how much worse our economy is getting and this book makes it all the more real.

It also made me paranoid, which is really not all that hard honestly. If we do every have a break down in society. I think I'll go hide in the mountains all by myself for a few years.
Friday, September 17, 2010 1 comments By: Suzanne

Felicity Sophia - the happy and wise one

I'm going to spend a little time blogging today. I don't know how much I'll get done but I have loads of books to talk about. However, this one is going to be devoted to my newest baby. As my mother says, I am quickly on my way to being the old lady in the shoe, only my children are animals.

I wasn't planning on another animal and this wasn't an impulse buy but here she is anyway...my newest love:


I'm not a very good photographer and I was standing under her, so while these show what she looks like, they don't show her personality. This little girl is a handful. I remember Aurora being a handful when she was a puppy (she still is sometimes) but not like this! WOW! It's like I brought a human baby in the house. Except you can't lock a human baby in the cage when you leave or get mad because it's bedtime and she's snippy (the main reason I don't have children! hahahaha). Of course, she'll never take away the crown from the Queen of bedtime snippiness: Lucina. The only difference is her beak is much bigger! She didn't draw blood last night, I don't think she would have unless I pushed the issue, but she sure did bite me. "What did you do to this beautiful creature?" I hear you wondering. I tried to cuddle. I swear. She loves to cuddle, most times. But it was 9:15 and obviously that is past bedtime. I was late getting to cleaning last night and she was on top of the cage playing with toys (or destroying with amazing ferocity, I should say) while I cleaned and got them ready for night-night. I picked her up to cuddle a little before covering them for the night. She reached toward me like she was gonna give me kisses (she gives the sweetest kisses) and bit the fire out of lip, then turned and did the same to my hand. Little bitch. In you go. hahahaha. Certainly not happy at night time and obviously all wisdom on my part has gone out the window. I'm lucky she's not a Cockatoo or a Macaw. I might have lost my bottom lip.

"What is she?" I hear you asking. She is a Black-Headed Caique (KI-eek). They derive their name from their white breast and belly which has a ruffled looked. A ruffled, white dress shirt is called a caique. They are little birds with large personalities. They are like a large parrot stuck in a small body. However, their small-ness is misleading too. Here's a good comparison. Cockatiels, like my Lucina, tend to be 10-14 inches long. This includes the amazing tail. Lucina was weighed this week and is 110 grams (about average for cockatiels). I haven't measured her because unless I have help, it's impossible but I'm sure she fits in this category. Caiques, like Felicity, tend to be 9-11 inches, but they don't have that extra long tail. So, she kinda looks as if she's the same size as Lucina but get this: Caiques weigh 150-160 grams! That's a huge difference when you're that little. And I can certainly feel it when I pick them up. Her head is also much larger than Lucina's (and therefore a much larger beak). I'm not sure exactly what Felicity weighs, but as a good birdy mom should, I'll be getting a scale soon. I'm trying to figure out how I can rig a perch on a kitchen scale because birdy scales are seriously overpriced. 

"So how did you come by your newest bundle of joy?" Well, like I said, I wasn't planning on getting another bird just yet. I had thought for awhile that I would love to have another, but I had been thinking of a Green Cheeked Conure. I loved my conure and have wanted another one for a long time, but parrots are expensive. I didn't really want another cockatiel. As much as I love Lucina, and she apparently only has eyes for me (seriously dislikes everyone else - except an unnamed person she hasn't seen in awhile, apparently we both have bad taste in men) I wanted a bird I could interact with more. Lucina is not much for playing. She just wants to cuddle and explore. So my bestest friend, whom I call sister, Andrea decided this past spring that she was going to get a bird, only she's not really a bird person. She did tons of research to determine the type of bird that might be best for her and came up with a Black Headed Caique. Then she found a wonderful breeder who sent weekly updates with pictures after the birds hatched. She also sent pics to me to show how the birds were growing. I don't have them all because at the time I thought this was going to be Andrea's baby, and while I loved living vicariously through her and seeing the babies grow up, I didn't save all the pics. I have found a few though that are apparently still in my inbox. Here's the first baby picture:


Ok, if you're not a bird person (and so few of us are) then I know what you're thinking, "OMG what an ugly creature!" They don't have feathers yet and so little of the down, and apparently her sibling there is so young he can't even hold his head up! Felicity is the older one. I love this picture. One, because I think they are adorable and two, because they look like little baby dinosaurs. It really gives credence to the theory that birds descended from dinosaurs. 

I must have deleted the next few because the next I have is a month later:

You see how slowly they develop? This is similar to how the larger parrots develop. Most other birds their size would be close to weening by this time. Lucina was only about 1 1/2 - 2 months old when I brought her home. 

And here they are again a week later:


Personally, I'm starting to think there's something wrong with that other baby. Why is he never standing up straight? I'm glad Andrea got the one she did. Although, maybe the pictures are misleading. Maybe Felicity pushed him down so she could be the star!

I'll stop boring everyone with parrot baby pictures and get on with the story. 

So once Felicity is weened, Andrea and her husband head down to Houston to pick her up. That's about a 5-6 hour drive one way. They go down and back without stopping except to pick her up. 2 days later the bird is mine. :) Andrea has discovered she is truly not a bird person. Poor thing, I feel bad for her. She knows this is a wonderful bird but for some reason can't make herself look past the mess and scaliness and all out birdiness of a bird. She tells me if I don't want this bird it's going back to the breeder. Wait, I can HAVE the bird? Because I certainly don't have the money to buy one and she's adorable and wants so bad to play and cuddle in my hair. And I get this amazing cage with a divider that both birds can live in? Sold! My first thought is, maybe she'll teach Lucina to eat real food. hahahahaha. Lucina was not raised by a good breeder. I got her from a local pet store. While I don't normally like pet store animals, especially birds, they do hand feed their birds at this store which is so important for good pet birds. In the 6 1/2 years since I've gotten Lucina, I have revised my position on this store but at the time I thought they were fairly wonderful. They do hand feed the babies, but once they're weened, they get no human interaction except the customers and they are weened onto seed and millet!! That is the WORST diet for a bird. It was all I could do to get Lucina to switch to pellets, and I still have a hard time getting her to eat fresh fruit and veggies. Felicity was weened onto a variety of foods and loves veggies and fruit. Within 2 days, Lucina was trying the food I made for Felicity! She still doesn't eat much but at least she's nibbling at it. Of course, I'm crumbling Nutriberries (a mix of flavored pellet, grain, and seed) on top of her bowl. Whatever, I have to do to get her to try it! Then at "family breakfast" on the 3rd day I shot this:

 Felicity is happily munching away at everything in sight, while Lucina is as far she can be without falling off the table, happily ignoring even the food I put directly in front of her. Then, viola! She turns and tries the apple and orange. She appears to like the orange better and a few minutes later I shot this:


Success!!!

The Friday 56: The Grand Design



Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!



To show what a complete nerd I am, today's selection is The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking. This is my nighttime reading right now so it's next to my bed. I usually have two books going at once, my fiction that I carry everywhere with me and the non-fiction by my bed. I am really bad about finishing non-fiction. There are so many that look interesting but I get bored about halfway through and never finish. All non-fiction. Usually biographies are worse. I couldn't even finish the biography of Aleister Crowley, and you know his life isn't boring, so I know it's me. However, I love this book. I searched this book out at the bookstore as soon as it came out because I was so excited. Maybe I should have stuck with the science major in college...no, nevermind. But I do love this book.

There's just pictures on page 56. This book has WONDERFUL illustrations, except this page. Of course, it's a good representation of what he's talking about, but they're boring pictures. :) I'll put the label here since it's the only words on the page.

Interference Like people, when waves meet they can tend to either enhance or diminish each other.
Friday, September 10, 2010 12 comments By: Suzanne

Friday 56: Hunger Games



Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

I can't believe it's Friday again already! I feel like we just did this! Ok, so this week's is from Hunger Games. I know everyone on the planet besides me has already read this but I stopped reading reviews when I decided I wanted to read it. This may have been discussed already (and I'm only on page 9) so forgive me if I'm wrong or behind the times, but does anyone else think this is a modern day Crete calls for the youth to be fed to the Minotaur story?



Haymitch hasn't paid much attention to his platter, but he's knocking back a glass of clear liquid from a bottle.
Friday, September 3, 2010 3 comments By: Suzanne

Yes, I am an inconsiderate blogger....

To all my blogging contacts: I am so sorry. I have not been good at reading anyone else's blog lately (I haven't really been good at posting on my own blog) but I plan on reading blogs this weekend. Even if I don't comment, know that I have probably been to your blog so make it good....

:)

Friday 56: Noise



Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!


For anyone who missed my post promoting this book, please take a look: Noise: A Novel by Darin Bradley. He's a local author and I love supporting local authors, musicians, and artists. This town has a wonderful abundance of all for it's size. I've never been anywhere outside of a large city where I have my choice on ANY given night of the week which band I'd like to go see. It's a wonderful dilemma.

I thought I would have this read by now, by life intervened and I haven't read past page 18, so makes as much sense to me as it does to you.

"Target is in custody."
"Spook? Are those ours?"
"What fucking target?"
"Channel cue."
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 0 comments By: Suzanne

Noise: A Novel by Darin Bradley

I feel the need to push this book, simply because I kind of know the guy. Well, I met him once and have seen him around in the bars a few times. hehehe. But how often does it happen that you actually know a published  author you're willing to read? Plus, from what I can tell, the town in the book is based on Denton, TX (where I live). That's just too cool. The book just came out today and I was actually fairly excited when I read what it was about. I'm a sucker for apocalyptic type stories.

From Amazon:
In the aftermath of the switch from analog to digital TV, an anarchic movement known as Salvage hijacks the unused airwaves. Mixed in with the static’s random noise are dire warnings of the imminent economic, political, and social collapse of civilization—and cold-blooded lessons on how to survive the fall and prosper in the harsh new order that will inevitably arise from the ashes of the old.

Hiram and Levi are two young men, former Scouts and veterans of countless Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Now, on the blood-drenched battlefields of university campuses, shopping malls, and gated communities, they will find themselves taking on new identities and new moralities as they lead a ragtag band of hackers and misfits to an all-but-mythical place called Amaranth, where a fragile future waits to be born.


I've read the first two chapters and so far I love the different tone of this book from other science fiction. It reads like the narrator of an indie film. I know, that's a fairly broad statement, but I'm not the literary person here. I'm not really sure how to describe it other than that! To me it makes perfect sense.
It's a short book, 240 pages, and the writing is quick paced. I'll probably have finished by tonight or tomorrow. So different from my last few months of mire that is the WOT.

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