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The Hunger Games

Book #3 (of 2012): The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)

Okay so here it goes,
The book: The Hunger Games
The author: Suzanne Collins

There you got all the information, now go buy it. Forget the library, there’s a reason you’ll be the 98th person in the queue for the book, just buy it and read it and then pay it forward.

John Green says something wonderful in his book The Fault in Our Stars which completely applies to how I feel about The Hunger Games, “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” (Page 33) There, now you know why you must read this book, the world will not be fixed until you do.

I had heard about The Hunger Games, knew lots of people liked the book, knew there was a movie coming out, saw some gifs on tumblr…eventually I decided to see what all the hullabulloo was about. Then I remembered last year, one lunch hour at school a friend in my class had been reading this book and I picked it up to read the back/first few pages. Two chapters in and at the end of lunch hour she pried it from my hands and I never remembered the author to track a copy down in the library. Then all this ruckus started with the movie coming out and I went to the library to try and get a copy.
I was 99th on the list with 6 books in the city.
The next day I was at work and saw the softcover copies were on for 40% off so I decided “What the heck, I don’t normally buy books without reading them, but if I don’t like it, for this price, I can resell it off to one of those die-hard fans!”
Ya that ain’t happening…

So Friday, I bought it.
It’s Saturday. I LOVE it. I will keep it. In fact I’m gonna go buy hard copies of all three of the books and then give away my softcover version. That’s right GIVE away, I need to give someone the opportunity to read this book without charging them.

Basic spoilerLESS (that means no plot spoilers) summary:
The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic novel about North America, after, (wait for it) the apocalypse. (high fives for cap’n obvious there!) What remains of the continent is the Capital, Panem, and it’s outlying districts, of which there are twelve. Originally there were thirteen but years before the book takes place there was a rebellion among the districts against the capital and the capital struck back, destroying district 13 and leaving the other districts quite aware that they were little better than slaves. As a reminder that rebellion is a bad idea the Capital hosts the annual “Hunger Games”. In these Games each district sends in two “tributes”, a boy and a girl to compete in the arena in the capital. The twenty-four 12-18 years olds chosen through a draw are then put in an arena and forced to kill each other for the entertainment of the citizens of the Capital who watch through televised  broadcast off of the cameras that are hidden throughout the arena. The last tribute standing wins and (get this!) gets to live and be provided with food (because food is scarce in many of the districts and starvation is not uncommon). The story follows two of the tributes as they go from their district to as far as they can get in the Games.
**From here on I do not apologize for spoilers; consider yourself warned.**

I love Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is the female tribute from district 12 (the lowest of the districts) I love how we start seeing her vulnerable with Prim and with Gale while hunting with him, and then we see her possibly giving up her life to keep her sister safe. I love that she thinks, she’s clever, she’s a survivor. I like that she is so humble about her skills, they’re just there, they’re nothing to boast about but she’s confident in them; she doesn’t boast about them, but she’s well-aware of them. Somehow she manages to be so likeable while being unlikable and sullen. I like that she doesn’t give up and that when she has an opportunity to win with Peeta, she goes for it, even though he’s wounded and will slow her down and make her an easier target herself. She works so hard to treat him, she works for that broth and medicine from the sponsors. I like being able to watch her slowly get confused about how she feels for Peeta. As the reader, we’re sure she’s in love, but she is utterly confused… Also, before the games her delight about the dresses that district 12’s stylist, Cinna, creates for her makes her seem more girly and watching her slowly become (more or less) friends with him is also neat, we see that Katniss doesn’t trust without time and reason to.

Peeta Mellark is also a wonderfully thought out character. He’s utterly charming in the sweetest way possible. He loves Katniss, this is something we learn along with Katniss very suddenly and rather surprisingly during his pre-Games interview, but it’s something that once we know it, clicks into place and makes perfect sense. Of course Peeta loves Katniss! How could it have been otherwise!? But Katniss…does she love Peeta or Gale? Or either…? Peeta is open and real and sweet and yet in the Games he’s strategic and clever. He keeps Katniss safe by appearing to side with the “careers” (the term used for the tributes from the better cared for districts where the tributes are trained for the games as careers). Then, once he’s injured, he continues to think of her and worry about her. Once she finds him, all he wants is for her to survive, he’s doesn’t care if he lives Peeta just wants Katniss to win the Games. He is very humble and very caring even when it puts him into danger. We, as the reader, feel his pain at the end of the book when he realizes most of Katniss’ affection for him has been strategic, to keep herself (and partially him ) alive. We understand how hurt he is by this, he thought it was real, and Katniss herself is completely unsure if it is or not. Even through that “betrayal” by Katniss though, Peeta doesn’t get angry or bitter, he’s hurt, that’s obvious, but he’s not going to hate Katniss for it. That’s admirable.

I also feel that Haymitch deserves an honourable mention. He’s district 12’s only living previous Games winner (they’ve only ever had two though…) and is the town drunkard. He makes a fool of himself at the district’s “reaping” (the drawing of the tribute’s names in each district) and manages to stay drunk until Peeta and Katniss take a stand against it. As their “mentor” he’s a big factor in how things go for them in the arena. He arranges sponsors to send them gifts during the games (food, or medicine, something they might be needing) and he decides when the things get sent. When he sees them take a stand against his drinking I think it wakes something up in him. He realizes they haven’t given up on themselves and that they want a running chance in this so he agrees to stay sober (enough) to be of help to them and in all fairness, he ends up being a great help to them. Katniss and Haymitch don’t openly get along, but being very similar they understand each other. When he allows “gifts” to be sent her in the arena or withholds them, she is able to work out why they’re been sent or kept back. In this way they are able to strategize, and in the end, keep Katniss and Peeta alive.

All in all I’d give this book a 9 1/2 out of 10. It’s a wonderful book, but I didn’t cry. Now granted, I may have read it too fast, but as it stands, it didn’t catch my emotions the way some books do. Still a great book though! Well worth the read!

DFTBA!
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

The Vanishing Sculptor

Book #5: The Vanishing Sculptor
by Donita K. Paul (Fantasy)
(republished as The Dragons of Chiril)

So Donita Paul is the author of one of my favourite book series, The DragonKeeper Chronicles so when I saw this book in the library yesterday (yes, yesterday) I didn’t hesitate a moment before taking it out (on my mum’s library card, I have unpaid fines on mine… ;D). I wasn’t disappointed, although I am glad that this is a first of a new series by Donita Paul because the ending wasn’t quite satisfactory for me…but more on that later! Donita is a great writer and I always love her stuff and her ability to make you love the characters she creates (the good characters that is!)

This is a fantasy book so it, obviously, takes place in a fictional world. It takes place in the same world as the DragonKeeper books but in a different country (Chiril, rather than Amara). It does have some names DragonKeeper fans will recognize though, I squealed with delight upon discovering this, yes, literally squealed, I’m cool okay!

Now I just wanna point out, the few random illustrations in the copy I read are, well, they don’t relate to the book at all… I’m an idiot, I just re-looked at the illustrations. There are four illustrations in the book and each of them is the statue that is mentioned in that chapter. Okay, they’re a little crudely drawn, but they DO relate to the book =D My bad…

The book could be looked upon as allegorical, Donita Paul is a Christian author and if you choose to look at it as such, this book documents the spreading of the gospel to a land that’s never heard it and how it can change and save lives. I look at it from that perspective, but even if you choose not to, the plot is great.

There is sort of a romantic subplot but it doesn’t get resolved in this book which is why I’m going to read the sequel soon. I need this to be resolved!!!! =D

Also I like these books because they don’t have humans. There’s the seven high races and the seven low races. If my memory serves my right from the DragonKeeper books, the seven high races (emerlindians, kimens, mariones, o’rants, tumanhofers, doneels, and urohms) were created by Wulder (“God”, the world’s creator). The seven low races (bisonbecks, blimmets, grawligs, mordakleeps, quiss’, rompas, and schoergs) were created by an evil guy, I think he was a wizard, and he made them to try and prove he was as powerful as Wulder. He failed and his creations were twisted and evil. O’rants would be the closest you can get to a human. Emerlindians are like elves and the main character in this book, Tipper, is a young emerlindian woman.

Ready? Let’s go…

**SPOILERS** (One of those summaries that makes watching paint dry look exciting, jk =D I hope…)

Tipper’s father has been gone for years. He was an incredibly skilled sculptor but they don’t know where he is and they don’t know why he left. Her mother, who is the banished daughter of the King and Queen of Chiril, seems to have gone slightly mad and appears to be living in an imaginary world where she is still in communication with her husband. Tipper is watched over by Sir Beccaroon, the local magistrate and a family friend. Sir Beccaroon is also a Grand Parrot, and magnificent speaking bird reaching about to Tipper’s waist. Tipper has been forced to sell most of her father’s sculptures to pay for family expenses in his absence. One day an aspiring tumanhofer artist arrives at the house demanding to see the famed artist Verrin Schope. Tipper manages to get rid of him and a couple days later her father suddenly appears with two guests. Tipper learns that Verrin has somehow contracted a condition that causes him to come apart into particles and then reform next to a certain “gateway” (a sort of doorway that goes from place to place, country to country, etc depending on how it’s built). With him have come the Wizard Fenworth and his librarian, Librettowit from Amara. They were the ones to build the gateway in the first place and are now trying to find a way to untangle Verrin’s connection to it. While away with the wizard and librarian (the gateway went from Verrin’s house to Fenworth’s, it was built before the Schope’s house) Verrin Schope has learned about Wulder and is eager to share the news with his friends back in Chirul. The wizard and his librarian have determined that to cure Verrin Schope’s problem with coming apart and reconstructing, they need to join three of his sculptures together because they were originally of one stone, one of Wulder’s foundation stones. The problem is all three of the sculptures have been sold over the years. Thus begins a quest to find the three sculptures. The tumanhofer artist, Bealomondore, is asked to join the party because, having studied all of Verrin Schope’s work he has the best idea of where to find each sculpture. Along with the party come four minor dragons (minor dragons are small, about the size of a kitten usually, they only communicate through mindspeaking and only certain people can hear them, and they each have gifts, like music or healing or hope). Wizard Fenworth quickly decides it would be much more convenient to have some riding dragons so they go to the Sunset Mountains. Here they find dragons, but they also find a Dragon Keeper. Under the advice of his mentor  the Dragon Keeper, Prince Jayrus, agrees to lend the company riding dragons, but he will accompany them on their quest. Prince Jayrus is a young emerlindian man and it’s later discovered by Fenworth and Librettowit that he is the Paladin of Chiril, “the educator, encourager, exhorter, spokesman for Wulder, interpreter of the principles, leader” (Page 321). In the process of getting the final sculptures the questers are kidnapped and Lady Peg (Tipper’s mother, who has joined them after visiting her sister) is to be forced to the throne and used as a pawn for the villain to rule Chiril. They use a gateway to enter the palace and overthrow the King and Queen but thankfully Fenworth is able to defeat the villain (evil wizard) in time and save everyone. The three sculptures are all gained and placed together correctly, fixing both the gateway and Verrin Schope. Paladin (Prince Jayrus) helps Lady Peg and her mother reunite and we are left with a happy family, but knowing that Tipper quite fancies the prince going so far as to ask her father is Paladin’s are allowed to marry. This is way the ending is unsatisfactory but also a good ending because it makes you want to read the sequel. I am going to request it at my library ASAP because my brain is screaming “DO TIPPER AND JAYRUS GET TOGETHER?” and it’s getting kinda annoying listening to that so…

Overall: 8 out of 10 stars (I still like the DragonKeeper Chronicles better, though I guess I haven’t read the rest of this series… =D)
Unrelated sidenote: I have another blog on which I publish poetry I’ve written, so if you care to check that out, please, by all means, go ahead! http://random-orange-juice.blogspot.com

Hope to see you soon!
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Youth/Children's

The Raven Saint

Book #4: The Raven Saint
by M.L. Tyndall (Inspirational Fiction)

This is the third book in a series of three and like Spy Kids, they should have just stopped with two…

Having said that, this is definitely not a bad book, it’s decent; much better the Becca by the Book (Book #1) it just didn’t hold my attention as well as the first two in the series.

This series is about three sisters and there’s a book focusing on each one of them. I enjoyed the books about Faith (The Red Siren) and Hope (The Blue Enchantress), but this one, the one about Grace, just wasn’t doing it for me. It might be because Faith and Hope were naughty (okay not naughty, they were adults, I just like the word naughty today) and their books were about them turning into good Christian girls (realistically, not like BAM overnight angels appear! Wow, miraculous transformation! Nope, nothing like that.) while Grace was the pious sister and this book was just about her becoming less pious and more human. That’s not quite as dramatic and interesting a change…

It was still a good book, MaryLu Tyndall is a very good author so she kept it from being a boring book, she just should have written this one first in the series so they could get progressively better instead of falling flat at the end.

So here comes the part where I admit something to you. I’m a sucker for romance books. I tend to mock my mum and my sister for reading cheesy, girly romantic books but I actually eat them up in hiding (no, not literal eating silly! that’s wasteful!) so I do like this book because is had a sweet romantic theme coming alongside the make-Grace-more-human theme. All the books in this series have the romantic aspect to them, the other two just had a more dramatic “co-plot” (“co-plot”? Does that make sense? Like a side plot? Sub-plot? whatever…)

I do like this book because it does show the story from the pious girl’s point of view and then it shows her transformation (also from her point of view) which can (I guess) make it easier to understand (and help!) pious people. It shows the story from the “good girl’s” point of view which is a nice change from the bad-girl-turns-good stories, it’s just because there isn’t really any badness that the story gets a little monotonous (big word! 10 points…)

OKAY

**SPOILERS** (One of those Quick and Basic Summary Things)

Lady Grace Westcott is tricked into an ambush by her bribed maid and finds herself kidnapped and onboard the ship Le Champion, a prisoner of French Capitaine Rafe Dubois and his “sultry dark eyes” (my goodness, I should write those blurbs on the back of books!). Grace learns she is to be sold to a Spanish Don in Columbia in revenge against her father. Grace is stunned, wondering what she could have done to deserve this as she’s served God her whole life. The book follows the journey to Port-de-Paix where Grace escapes dressed as a boy (a common disguise in ship-kidnapping books it seems) aided by a crew member, gets robbed by some men in an alley, roams the street for four days, steals, almost gets caught, gets saved by a prostitute who then takes care of her (immediately recognizing hat she’s a girl) and tries to find Grace a way home. Grace realizes that she’s been a beggar, a thief, and is now only alive because of the help of a prostitute and she begins to realize how judgemental she is. She finds herself at the house of Capitaine Dubois’ worst enemy, his father, whom the prostitute has said will help her get home to Charles Towne. Captaine Dubois discovers Grace is missing from his ship and tracks her down to his father’s house, and with much diffficulty he convinces Grace that he has decided not to sell her to the Don and will take her home. Grace changes her mind about coming with him to help his stepmother (who was his fiancé at one time, awkward…) to escape the abusive Monsieur Dubois. Furious at her apparent betrayal to him, the Capitaine re-kidnaps Grace and decides, he is going to sell her. Angrily he discovers his stepmother (Claire) has snuck on board his ship (so she was going to desert Grace anyway) and he sends Claire away (although they’re at sea so all she can do is get stuck sharing Grace’s cabin). Claire gets ill, poisoned and cursed by her mulatto maidservant and the ship gets surrounded by two enemies. They manage to sneak away from the enemies and Grace rebukes the illness and curse and Claire miraculously begins to recover. Just as they’re about to get to the island the Spanish Don lives on and Capitaine Dubois has decided not to sell Grace again, Dubois’ father catches them in his ship (come to get his wife no doubt) and then suddenly most of Dubois’ men turn on him in mutany aided by Monsieur Dubois’ men. Monsieur Dubois is now going to sell Grace and take the money for her. The Capitaine manages to escape after his father and Grace have left to the island and goes after Grace. He manages to rescue her and she falls into his arms. He proposes and then they’re stuck waiting on the island for the Capitaine’s crew to send a ship back once they get home (to avoid his father’s suspicion). Handily, Grace’s sisters turn up in Faith’s ship (she used to be a pirate) because while in Port-de-Poix Grace managed to send a message home telling them where she was and was going. Grace has realized that she should be less judgemental and be more gentle and Dubois had a revelation about God while stuck in the hold before his escape and now trusts God as his father (rather than his jerk of an abusive earthly father). They go off home and (I imagine) live happily ever after.

I always feel like in that summary bit I kill the book and make it sound so dry and boring. They’re really much more interesting than I make them sound!!

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 stars, Decent, but kinda slow.

I’ve got two books I’m in the process of reading, hopefully I’ll finish one soon!
– Becky

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Filed under Book Review, Inspirational Book

Whirlwind

Book #2: Whirlwind

by Cathy Marie Hake (Inspirational Fiction)

Go get this book out of the library.

Now. Go get it.

This was a good book, I quite enjoyed it. There will be a book summary with spoilers at the end of the review under the heading **SPOILERS** so you can read that later if you choose.

I liked this book because its characters were realistic and the story was good. The climax comes very late in the book so while reading it I was starting to wonder if there would need to be a sequel! There isn’t, but the plot was pretty good at keeping you guessing.

The main characters, Millicent and Daniel were well developed. Not too good or too bad, realistic people. Millicent’s sister Isabelle wasn’t very well developed in my opinion but she’s not really a main character so that was alright.

The book starts in England but follows as the characters immigrate to America. (It’s about the 18th or 19th century I think)

I also like this book because it ties in with some of Cathy Marie Hake’s other books. The books aren’t a series but characters from other books are mentioned or referenced so that is kind of fun as I’ve read the other books. Reading her other books is not at all necessary to understand the book though.

Overall: 8.8 of 10 stars  A good book, I recommend it.

**SPOILERS** (A Dry, Quick and Basic Summary)

Millicent is nanny to two little girls and is abruptly told by their single father that the girls are being sent to a boarding school and she’s no longer needed. Millie goes to America with her sister, Isabelle, and her brother-in-law to start a shop with them. On the boat ride she becomes nanny to single father Daniel’s son, Arthur when their nanny leaves without warning. By the time the boat lands its been arranged that Isabelle and her husband will blend their shop with Daniel’s and Millie will continue as Arthur’s nanny. Before they get through customs though, Isabelle’s husband is killed when he accidentally walks in on a fight. Daniel knows that the two women cannot get through customs without a male relative so he and Millie get married (the natural conclusion in this type of situation wouldn’t you say? ;D) It’s purely a marriage of convenience though, not of love. Once settled in their shop Millie stays with Isabelle and continues as Arthur’s nanny (though due to the marriage he must be taught to call her “mama”) The story tells of Millie and Daniel slowly falling in love and its very sweet.

There’s another subplot that carries through the book. The father of the girls Millie used to nanny gets murdered and that’s why they were held up in customs on the way in to America (looking for the murderer). Once settled in the States Daniel secretly begins telegraphing the butler of the family to find out how the girls are because though Millie is doesn’t know their father is dead, she’s worried about them. As it turns out, near the end of the story it’s discovered that a bracelet Millie got as a goodbye gift from “her girls” names her their guardian according to the father’s will. The girls end up joining Millie and Daniel’s family much to Millie’s delight and surprise.

There. Oh, and honestly, I don’t read this slowly, I was on holiday and wrote this while away. I have another two books to write review/summaries of still…

Talk to you later!

– Becky

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Becca by the Book

So I’ve figured out to do with this website. I’m going to do a book review on every book I read. Now I’ve never done this before so it might be a little rough for the first little while and I’ll do my best not to give spoilers (unless its a book I didn’t like! ;D)

Book #1: Becca by the Book

by Laura Jensen Walker (Inspirational Fiction)

So I’d like to start by saying I think the copyright date on this (2009) is wrong and it was actually put out this year after the author stalked me.

The main character’s name is Becca (I’m Becky), she’s a non-Christian (they couldn’t make her IDENTICAL to me), she’s a book lover (read the name of my website), and she’s a Whovine (and Doctor Who lover for all those people who obviously AREN’T!)!! I’m telling you, this book is about me!

Overall the book is alright, Becca’s friends make a bet with her that she can’t stay in a relationship with a guy for three months or 25 dates and she accepts. The first guy to ask her out turns out to be a Christian (Becca is not a Christian) and the dates they go on (Church on Sundays, church potlucks, etc…) Make Becca quite uncomfortable but she learns that not all Christians are going to try and force Christianity down her throat (a good thing for non-Christians to know!). She actually makes some Christian friends such as a sweetie with a powerful testimony, Lucy.

What I dislike about this book is the ending. It’s like the author got bored of writing the book and just tied everything off as quickly and easily as she could. It ends with… ***SPOILERS*** …Becca not becoming a Christian like you’ve expected for the whole book, not completing the bet with her friends, breaking up with the guy she was dating and getting to be friends with, him not dating the friend Becca hooks him up with, Becca flying off to Africa and ending up sitting beside a young guy going out there to be a missionary. End. That, I’m sorry, is not a satisfying ending in my book (lol! no pun intended).

Overall, 2.5 of 5 stars I’ve read worse, but I’ve also read MUCH better.

This is a quickly review because I didn’t think of this whole review-books idea until I’d finished the book so I didn’t make any notes. Also, it just wasn’t a very good book, so there’s not much to say about it…

Talk to ya next time I finish a book!

– Becky

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