What's Next

For Smooth Criminals, I'll be reading:

To follow the herd, I'll be reading:

I'll post more about what I'll be reading for the challenges later, when I've selected more books. 

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, grab your current read, open to a random page and share a few sentences. Don't include spoilers, but do include the title and author.
My head aches and I must have bitten into the side of my cheek in the night. My tongue probes the ragged flesh and I taste blood.

p.86, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Reading Challenge: Color Coded 2012

I've signed up for another challenge. I found it at My Reader's Block and I'm really excited for this one as well...This makes two so far, which I don't think is overly ambitious for someone new to the reading challenges. I'll need to do some research before I post a list of books. Looking forward to all the reading.

Review - The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Pages: 350+
Publisher's Description:
Katniss is a sixteen-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used to be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in the annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games". The terrain, rules and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat's sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place. 

My thoughts:
I guess I'll start with my expectations--I had none. All I knew before reading the book was that it's really popular. I didn't know a plot synopsis or any spoilers, so I basically went in blind. And in the end I really enjoyed the book. It was very fast-paced and to the point. Katniss is a likeable character, talented but not super-human. The circumstances of the people living in District 12 and I suppose many of the other Districts are unfavorable, and The Hunger Games really just makes life terrible. If I lived there, I would agree with Katniss; having kids just wouldn't be an option.

I really like the action described in the games, not the preparation leading up to, but the actual release into the terrain and the events that follow. The pomp and circumstance during the preparation in the Capitol was ridiculous. The only thing that interested me was the bathroom that dried and styled your hair without any effort on your part. I would really like to have one of those. At the arena, I kind of wanted the violence to be more graphic or full of more gore, but then again this is "teen" fiction. Nonetheless, I was satisfied. One thing that did annoy me was the excessive amount of affection exchanged between Katniss and Peeta. Pretend or not, it just seemed out of place. But it did get them survival gifts from sponsors...I don't know, it just made me raise an eyebrow. All this kissing and hand-holding, while you starve or freeze or bleed out...I mean really? And then Katniss had Gale back home. I'm so glad the Romeo and Juliet-esque double suicide attempt near the end wasn't successful, that would have annoyed me like no other. Then again I knew she wouldn't die because its a trilogy. I assumed Katniss would somehow survive the berry poisoning but Peeta wouldn't be so lucky.

The end did leave me quite intrigued. I can understand the confusion on Katniss' behalf. She has two unique bonds with two different young suitors--oh, the young teenage angst! My guess is Gale won't want here anymore for obvious reasons, and then Peeta won't want her as much because she's not really into him. But the good news is she's rich. Right? Unless the rule-makers renege on a promise or the tradition. This also wouldn't surprise me...I'm curious to see how the movie turns out and I'll definitely be reading the second book soon. 

The Hunger Games
Four stars.


Reading Challenge: Smooth Criminals 2012

I finally signed up for a reading challenge! Dead End Follies has a Smooth Criminals Challenge where I basically have to read eight books related to crime fiction. Each of the eight books differs in the requirement for the challenge. For example, one book must be a Noir Classic and another must be a Gothic novel. I'm looking forward to this, especially since I have until December 31st  to get it done.

Smooth Criminals, Reading Challenge for 2012


Review - The Maltese Falcon

Reading Now

The Maltese Falcon
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Pages: 200+

Publisher's Description:
A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter names Joel Cairo, a fat man named Gutman, and Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett's coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted generations of readers. 

My thoughts:
What makes this book great is Hammett's writing style. The plot itself isn't overly complex or confusing and the characters are believable. One can easily attribute these things to how well written the novel is. I could read Hammett's prose forever, it's just so smooth and clean and I didn't have to go back once to reread anything for clarity. 

My favorite part of the book was probably near the end when Spade makes it clear to Brigid that he's not going to 'play the sap' for her...Also a lot of things made me laugh, mostly names; Ms. Wonderly's real name being Brigid O'Shaughnessy (completely ridiculous to just odd)...or Mr. Gutman the fat man. The book opens with a description of Sam Spade which basically concludes him to favor a blond satan, with a V theme dominating his facial features...and throughout the novel you get the feel that he's sort of a womanizer. But I'm wondering who in the world would find anyone resembling satan attractive? I digress. 

I liked the ending too. It would have been too easy for the falcon to have been authentic...I mean it's been floating around the globe for years, jumping in and out of history and for some sloppy thieves to have procured it, would have been too much. But Hammett knew what he was doing. 

The Maltese Falcon

Four stars.


Following the Herd

Following the Herd: a minor attempt to reverse my 'anti' attitude to all books uber popular.

I've been thinking about reading some of the popular books and series that are currently trending. I was never really into reading trends (except Harry Potter). I completely missed the Steig Larsson boat and only partially dove into the Twilight series. I have nothing to contribute to any of the conversations on these books, but I wish I did (even if its just 'that book was garbage') I realize this sounds sort of uppity...but I guess you could say I'm getting off my high horse.

Anyways, I'll be reading the following two series in the upcoming weeks:

If all goes well, I'll keep this 'follow the herd' nonsense going...


Bookstore Finds

When I was a pre-teen I read the first book in the trilogy, Sabriel, and I loved it! I read part of the second one, Lirael, and never finished the trilogy...but I can't remember why I didn't finish it. Anyways, I found the Abhorsen Chronicles in my local bookstore; each book is bound into one big book. I'm really excited to reread and finish it.

One of my friends and I both bought this very same bookmark at the store together...well actually, I picked it out first and then she decided she wanted the same one. Its an awesome bookmark, so I didn't mind. Fast forward a year or so and my friend loses her bookmark in an airport or somewhere like that. Since she lost it, I was going to send her a new one, but every time I would go in the store, they either didn't have these bookmarks or they didn't have the right color. I've checked like 6 times and was going to concede by purchasing a different color; but today I checked one more time and they had the one I needed. I'm really happy it was there because I was getting annoyed. 

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. What I've selected to pique my interest in mystery novels. 


Review - Lowboy

Reading Now

Author: John Wray
Pages: 250+

Publisher's Description:
Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-year-old paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Will is on a mission to save the world from global warming--to do it, though, he'll need to cool down his own body first. And for that he'll need one willing girl. 

Lowboy tells the story of Will's odyssey through the city's tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope. It also follows his mother, Violet Heller, as she tries desperately to find her son before psychosis claims him completely. Violet is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing-persons specialist, who learns over the course of the day that more is at stake than the recovery of a runaway teen: Will Heller has a chilling story, and Violet--beautiful, enigmatic, and as tormented as her son---harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril. 

My thoughts:
Honestly, the peculiar plot and the various elements contained within the story intrigued me and if I could sum the book up in one word it would probably be....dysfunction--not because the book was terrible, but because it was the dysfunctional part in everyone that controlled the dynamic. This dysfunction and wanting to know how Lateef was going to find Lowboy before something potentially violent happened, created so much anxiety for me, and really propelled me through an already short book. Of course, there are some parts that are disconnected, mostly Lowboy's narrative...but then again that's probably done on purpose for effect.

I really enjoyed the tension between Lateef and Violet. It was actually sort of... romantic?--but also really inappropriate and grotesque at the same time. I'd like to think it would've worked out if a couple keys things didn't happen. Mainly, if Violet Heller wasn't ill herself. In fact, a few things caused me to raise an eyebrow: if Lateef was so smart and witty, why couldn't he see that Violet Heller was a schizophrenic? Why didn't Emily call the police when she found Will at Crowley? and I refuse to believe that a seriously ill person like Lowboy would manage to remain a runaway for so long...but then, there's that dysfunction again. Lateef, while sharp, clearly had some familial issues of his own and did seem lonely...which would maybe explain his unwillingness to see Violet for what she was...even though the signs were all there and she verbally admitted she was apart of the problem. And Emily; if someone had pushed me onto train tracks with a train only one stop away, I would never EVER want to see that person again. Lowboy's entire situation is just another quintessential example of dysfunction in our society; society's inability to care for/about or deal with mentally ill people. This is reflected by Violet's core concern; she always wondered what would happen when they found Will. What would happen if he was violent? Would they hurt him? Would they kill a schizophrenic?  

I have to say, the ending is lame...It was just so predictable. Part of me wanted everything to just be okay, to return to some degree of normalcy, but dysfunction wouldn't have that now, would it?...I didn't like the slightly nihilistic undertones throughout the book, talk of the end of the world, the constant questioning by Lowboy of why he was born and the realization of the answer with his death--by train of all things!


4 out of 5 stars


Teaser Tuesdays


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, grab your current read, flip to a random page and share a few sentences. Don't include spoilers, but do include the title and author.


'He studied the girl's hands, cupped protectively in her lap, hiding whatever the headphones were attached to. She seemed ashamed of her hands, of her lap, of her intentionally torn crocheted stockings. She'd hide her whole body if she could, he thought. He felt a rush of recognition. So would I'.

p. 18, Lowboy by John Wray