Review - Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Pages: 350+
Publisher's Description:
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by the defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their familes a life of safety and plenty. But their are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

My thoughts:
Catching Fire picks up right after Katniss and Peeta have won the Hunger Games. It begins with Katniss describing her new life as a victor, right before she and Peeta must make a tour of all the districts as the winners of the Games. Katniss receives a surprise visit from President Snow, who basically tells her that not only did she make a fool of the Capitol, she has inadvertently triggered the beginnings of a rebellion. President Snow makes it clear that if she doesn't make an effort to clean up her mess, he'll have no choice but to snuff out whomever necessary. The threat is directed primarily at Katniss, but she knows that her loved ones are also at risk.

Sure enough, flashes of an uprising begin to surface in all the districts and eventually, Katniss and Peeta end up participating in the Quarter Quell--a special Games for the 75th year, if you will--and are tasked once again to put on an act (This time Katniss and Peeta are getting married AND there's a pregnancy--but not really *rolls eyes*) in order to survive. President Snow wants to squash any hopes of a rebellion by killing off the strongest of the denizens of all twelve districts, aka, the previous victors of the Hunger Games.

I guess I'll begin with the things I didn't like...In my opinion, Katniss is fairly mature in the first book of the Hunger Games, but in this one she just seems like a big whiner. Perhaps, she should be entitled to whining, granted all she's been through, but its still annoying to read. I still feel her love for Peeta is insincere, and I'm pretty sure she states this in the book, in her own confused, whiny kind-of-way; so I don't know why she seems all torn between Peeta and Gale. Choose Gale dummy! She eventually does...I think? Anyways, I'm completely over this love triangle.

There are many things I did like. I mean, who doesn't love a good rebellion story? The secret/not-so-secret symbol of a mockingjay representing the rebellion is cool. I also like that the victors worked together to literally break out of the Games. Oddly enough, I didn't see it coming. I also appreciated that the Games seemed more cerebral...yes, they still have to kill each other like savages, but the arena timed like a clock, with different times of terror, and them having to figure it out was pretty cool. I'll be interested to see how they remake the events in the arena in the movie. I also like the fact that District 13 is now a mystical location, or possibly something like a safe haven or headquarters for the subversives. The end of the first book, left me a little blah because I wasn't sure what the second book would be about other than putting Katniss back into the arena. But I'm more intrigued with the ending of this book. Overall, I think Catching Fire is a good intermediary, and I'm definitely curious about how this all ends. Honestly, being the pessimist I am, I get the feeling a lot of main characters are going to die...and I might even go as far as to say that the rebellion might fail. But I'm probably wrong, and it could go the other way; Katniss will somehow end up being the new president of District 13 (which would be comprised of what's left of all districts, but unified) where all is well.

Catching Fire
Three stars.


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 next stop is the Hob, where I've traditionally done the bulk of my trading. Years ago it was a warehouse to store coal, but when it fell into disuse, it became a meeting place for illegal trades and then blossomed into a full-time black market. If it attracts a somewhat criminal element, then I belong here, I guess.

According to my kindle, Loc. 108-10 of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Review - A Demon In My View

Reading Now 
A Demon In My View
Author: Ruth Rendell
Pages: 150+

Publisher's description:

Mild-mannered Arthur Johnson has never known how to talk to women. And his loneliness has perverted his desire for love and respect into a carefully controlled penchant for violence. One floor below him, a scholar finishing his thesis on psychopathic personalities is about to stumble--quite literally--upon one of Arthur's many secrets.

My thoughts: 

This is the first book I've read by Ruth Rendell, but it will not be the last. I cannot stress enough her amazing ability to create the character, Arthur Johnson: snob, longest living tenant at 142 Trinity, borderline racist, psychopath and Kenbourne strangler, and Anthony Johnson: young scholar, newest tenant at 142 Trinity, involved with a married woman, writing a thesis on psychopaths. Readers will view the movements of all the  eclectic tenants of 142 Trinity from the perspective of either of the two Johnsons. There are quite a few side characters and side stories that make the book interesting and believable, i.e. Li-Li Chan, Anthony's artificial infatuation with Linthea, and the affair between Vesta and Jonathan Dean. However, it is the conflict between the two Johnsons that is remarkable. I think this can be attributed to the fact that the "conflict" is imagined solely by Arthur Johnson, after an event relating to a particular "white woman". Once again, Rendell's ability to describe the characters and their actions or thoughts is a cut above. I have to share a few examples.

The woman in the cellar:
He didn't speak. He had never known how to talk to women. There was only one thing he had ever been able to do to women and advancing now, smiling, he did it. First he rested the torch on a brick ledge at the level if his knees so that she was in shadow, so that the room took on the aspect of an alley into which a street lamp filters dimly. Then he approached her paralyzed as she was, and meeting no resistance--he would have preferred resistance--he closed his hands on her throat (2)
Anthony Johnson's analysis:
The man obviously had an acute anxiety neurosis. A better-adjusted person would simply have scribbled 'Sorry I opened your letter' and left it at that. The circumlocutions the polysyllabic words were pathetic, They breathed a tense need for the preservation of an immaculate ego, they smelt of paranoia, fear of retribution, a desire to be thought well of by all men, even strangers. But men like that cannot be reassured, their deep-seated belief in their own worthlessness is too great and too long-established at fifty for self-confidence ever to be implanted in them (44)
A flashback:
Once she was out of the house, he had gone and stood over the baby, scrutinizing it with curious desire. It was about six months old, fat, fast asleep...A napkin, white and fleecy, secured with a large safety pin, was now visible above its legging. Safety was a strange word to apply to so obviously dangerous a weapon. Arthur removed the pin, and taut now with joy and power, thrust it up to its curled hilt into the baby's stomach. The baby woke with a shattering scream and a great bubble of scarlet blood welled out as he removed the pin (71)

A Demon In my View
Four stars.

Smooth Criminals, Reading Challenge for 2012


Movie - The Hunger Games


I saw the movie a few hours ago and I really enjoyed it. I thought the casting was done well, especially for Catniss and Peeta. It was...interesting (?) to see Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch worked out pretty well. I wished the actual games were longer in the movie, as I kept thinking it was taking forever to get to the fighting. Other than that, it was great. It did the book justice and it was definitely worth my time and money. On to the second book. 

What's Next




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.
The possibility of bringing the white lady up into the flat, installing her here, killing her here, occurred to him only for him to dismiss the idea. He disliked the notion of his encounters with her taking on the air of a game.

p.14,  A Demon In My View by Ruth Rendell


Poetry For Thought - Alone

by Edgar Allan Poe
From childhood's hour I have not been
 As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then--in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life--was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still...
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.



Movie Trailer - The Hunger Games

I'm not going to lie...I'm kind of excited to see The Hunger Games next week. I won't attempt to make any opening showings because I know the fanatics will be swarming...I jumped on the bandwagon pretty late anyways (Read the first book a month or so ago) so I don't feel the need to be the first to see it in theaters in my area. I hope the movie violence is more violent than the book violence; that was my only hang-up about the first book. We'll see. 


Review - The Neverending Story

The Neverending Story
Author: Michael Ende
Pages: 350+

Publisher's Description: Unicorns, dragons, spirits, will-o'-the-wisps: the inhabitants of an enchanted world. And into this world--through the pages of an old book--ventures Bastian, a lonely boy of ten or twelve. But Fantastica is slowly decaying, its Childlike Empress dying. Only a real human being can set things right by giving the Empress a new name. Bastian takes up the challenge, and finds himself crossing the Swamps of Sadness and the Silver Mountains, meeting sorcerers and giants, bats and night-hobs, gnomes and racing snails. As he journeys bravely toward the Ivory Tower, Bastian's quest is filled with all the wonders of myth and fairy tale. It is a fantasy adventure that will capture your heart--and recapture the magical dreams of childhood. 

My thoughts:

Where to begin? ....I suppose I'll begin by saying that everything the publisher wrote as the description above is accurate...for the first third of the book. After that the story shifts from an innocent, fantastical, "heart-capturing" tale about a young boy's imagination to one about a quest for power, the realization of that power, gradual corruption and downfall. Despite the change in mood, the story ends on a good note; with the ability to love being the solution to Bastian's problem: how to leave Fantastica and return to the human world. 

It's very well written and it is very much so a "neverending" story. Every chapter brings on new characters, new settings, new fairytales and new dilemmas. There were several points in my reading when I wondered what the main plot was or at least wondered when the plot would advance...I think this is because I was constantly comparing what I had seen in the movie with what I was reading in the book... Observation No.1: I'm pretty sure Fantastica is called Fantastia in the movie. Observation No. 2: Atreyu is green in the book, not so in the movie. Observation No. 3: The movie does not cover half of the book...I don't even think is covers a legitimate third of the book. These are just a few trivial ones.

There were a lot of ideas that I liked in this book. For example, I liked how for every wish Bastian made he lost his memories from his past and eventually forgot who he was. Ende uses a lot of dichotomy and contradicting images, thoughts and entities. The example I really appreciated was the beautiful, nocturnal, Perilin the Night Forest and the colorful, fiery, Desert of Colors, and how for one to thrive, the other had to die... I suppose that Bastian and Atreyu are dichotomous entities; not in the sense that one is good or one is bad. More in the sense that yes, they can be both be grouped together as heroes of Fantastica, but they are very different in their methods; Bastian is more emotional in his decisions and Atreyu, logical. The difference is more distinct in the latter part of the novel...I'd say I'm more of an Atreyu-type hero.

Now that I think of it, there was a sequel to the first movie. I don't remember much of it but it probably didn't follow the book that well. I definitely think everyone who has seen the movie should read this book, if they haven't already, so they can know how great it is.

The Neverending Story

Four stars


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. 

The next room was hexagonal like the others, but the light was bluish. The pictures on the walls were intricate ornaments or characters in a strange alphabet. Here the two doors were the same color, but of different material, one of wood, the other of metal.
p. 205, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende


What's Next

Hopefully, I'll wrap up The Neverending Story by today or tomorrow and begin one of the two books below:

The book by Rendell is on my list for the Smooth Criminals Challenge and Catching Fire is just to follow the herd by continuing a popular series. I'm really looking forward to reading both.


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.
The search for this savior calls for a pathfinder, someone who is capable of finding paths in the pathless wilderness and who will shrink from no danger of hardship. In other words: a hero. And the Childlike Empress has given me the name of this hero, to whom she entrusts her salvation and ours.

p. 35, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende