BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2767052 (1)Title: The Hunger Games

Author: Suzanne Collins

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 35 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Post Apocalyptic 

Read Start Date: November 4, 2019

Read Finish Date: November 12, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

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, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district 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.

Series: The Hunger Games is the first book in the 3-part series.

My Review: Essentially, the book is a post apocalyptic story about “the Capital” (where all the rich people live) and the surrounding 12 districts, where in most cases the populous is poor and/or starving. Each district has a sort of theme, where each is responsible for producing one type of commodity. For example, District 12 (where Katniss is from) is the coal mining district. District 11 is agriculture, and so on. Katniss’ father was killed in a coal mining accident, which left the family to fend for itself. As a result of their starvation, Katniss takes up hunting, which is where she meets her best friend Gale (enter the first male love triangle participant).

74 years before the book takes place, there was an uprising against the Capital, led by District 13 (responsible for mining elements necessary for nuclear power). The Capital won the war, and obliterated District 13. In order to keep the Districts in line, they created the Hunger Games, forcing the children of the remaining districts to fight each other every year to the death for the entertainment of the Capital. The names of 1 boy and 1 girl from each district are chosen at random to participate, with the number of times the name appears in the pool increasing incrementally every year as the child gets older.

Even though her name is only in the bowl once, Katniss’ 12 year old sister, Primrose, is chosen at the reaping, and Katniss volunteers to take her place in that years Hunger Games. It seems that the odds were not in their favor. This is where we meet Peeta, the second male in the love triangle. Although Katniss has never spoken to this boy, he had had a crush on her since they were children. They are whisked away to the Capital where they will be made up, pampered and forced to enter a closed arena where they will kill or be killed in sometimes gory and violent ways — all to entertain the Capital’s richest people.

I read this book once before in 2011, and while I remembered the overall storyline, had forgotten a lot of the details, so it almost felt like I was reading it again for the first time. I was really surprised to read in some recent reviews (see, Chrissi Reads) that there was talk of banning the book for violence and inappropriate sexual content for its intended age group. First of all, Katniss and Peeta kiss like a few times (as part of the games). That is all. There is not even a hint of sex in this book. I don’t want to give too much away about their relationship because it actually plays a big role in the storyline itself.

I never would have thought of this book as a romance novel anyway (even though on Goodreads it is tagged as such). For me, this book was more dystopian-action-adventure. Was there violence? Sure. But what PG-13 movie nowadays does not have violence or sexual content? What video game does not have violence? Maybe since this book was written 11 years ago (*gasp* has it already been so long?), it was more cutting edge then now in 2019? I don’t know. Anyway, I never thought that this book was inappropriate — but then again I’m the girl who read Roots in the 8th grade. Now that was a disturbing book, and it was based on reality to boot! I think that if we really want to talk about what might be scary for young adults, we should be having a discussion on school shootings, and not The Hunger Games.

But I digress.

This book has been one of my favorites for a while. Katniss is a great female lead character. She is smart, cunning, and brave. Of course she has some flaws too — she is fickle and naive at times, but I think these flaws add to her character and make her more likeable. I mean, who wants a perfect heroine? That would be super boring.

Despite the violence, there were also some really tender moments, where I found myself getting teared up. If you read the book, you will see what I mean — I don’t want to give anything away.

So in conclusion, and before I get too carried away, this book has it all. If you haven’t read this book yet, you really should.

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

3._SY475_Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 34 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: October 14, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 18, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

My Review: I have read this book 3 times in all, and everytime I enjoy it as much as the first. I really love the writing style of J.K. Rowling. It is very tongue-in-cheek, light, and just overall super fun! In fact, the entire story is just fun! A young orphan boy forced to grow up with his nightmare relatives, live in a closet beneath the stairs, finds out that he is a wizard…and not just any wizard, but the wizard who, as an infant, lived through an attempted murder on his life by the infamous dark wizard “He Who Shall Not Be Named.”

Suddenly, his life changes from one of misery to one of greatness and prophecy, and he is whisked away by a half-Giant to his first year of wizarding school, where he meets other kids his own age who also have magic powers. Harry makes friends (for this first time in his life) and they get into all sorts of hijinks at the school: from fighting trolls to hiding illegal dragons, wearing invisibility cloaks and going searching for a hurt unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. I was always constantly amazed at the imagination of J.K. Rowling — for example, jelly beans of every flavor — even vomit and beeswax!

Although this book is written for children, adults of all ages will find this book equally great and fun. This book is a definite read (and re-read!). I cannot recommend this book enough.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

34466922Title: Sleeping Beauties

Author: Stephen King and Owen King

Book Length: 718 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Thriller

Read Start Date: February 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: November 17, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

My Review: Stephen King is probably one of my favorite authors out there. However, I’m finding that I’m not so happy with his new stuff. The book starts with a woman murdering a couple of meth cookers in a pretty violent way. It become rather apparent that this woman is totally off her rocker, but at the same time she seems to know stuff, private stuff, about people that she really has no business in knowing.

Soon after her arrival, women who fall asleep start growing cocoons around them like butterflies (or moths) and do not awaken — but it is only the women. The men are unaffected.

I originally started to read this book because I really like virus books in general and The Stand by Stephen King remains to be one of my all time favorites, so it seemed like a winning combination. As you can see above, it took me much longer than usual to get through this book, and I guess that the book wasn’t really keep my attention as much as other Stephen King books do.

It took me NINE MONTHS in all to finish it, I can truly say that the plot just progresses really, really slowly. In the book, only a few days actually goes by. 718 pages to describe events that takes place in less than a week. You do the math. I was really expecting something more from Stephen King.

I also was not so thrilled with the whole men are evil and women are perfect, because let’s face it that’s not true. And to be honest, has anyone ever worked in an office full of women? Was that such a utopian society? If your experience was anything like mine, you will give a resounding HELL NO!

I read a few reviews on this book and I liked the one from Katie Marie the best. I’ve included a link to her blog post.

On a scale of must read to don’t bother, this book falls somewhere in the middle. However, given the length, I would caution against starting it if you don’t have a lot of time to get through it.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

248596Title: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Author: Ray Bradbury

Book Length (Audiobook): 9 hours 8 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Classics, Science Fiction

Read Start Date: September 28, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 10, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This is the second book in the Green Town series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of Dandelion Wine here.

My Review: I had a really hard time getting into this book. I’m not sure whether it was the monotone voice of the audiobook narrator, or the slowness of the book itself, or maybe even the lengthy prose to describe simple things that seems to be a Bradbury special (or maybe even the combination of the three), but I found myself constantly drifting off onto other thoughts. I had to rewind the audiobook at least five times — often times I would find that I had drifted over for more than 15 minutes (sometime even a whole car ride). Maybe it would have been better to read it as a book or ebook.

I had originally wanted to give this book a 3, but once I started writing this review, I realized I had to give it a 2. Although I eventually got into the story (after reading approximately half the book), I was less than ambivalent about it. I think that this had in large part to do with the format of the book I was reading. The story definitely seemed interesting. An evil and sinister carnival rolls into small town America just in time for Halloween? What’s not to like at first blush?

Notwithstanding the intriguing plot, if I was a reader prone to giving up on books, then I would have given up on this one for sure. It is just too dense for audiobook reading, and my library did not have it available in any other format.

I think that the story had potential to be great (if I was just able to pay attention), so I won’t not recommend it — but I do not recommend the audiobook version.

If you’d like to get more of a balanced opinion, I did read some other blog reviews about the book (below) which had a more positive outtake.

The Door Without a Key

Shannon Fox

For the Love of Science.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle

10838718Title: Many Waters

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length: 332 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 31, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 23, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Some things have to be believed to be seen.

Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraordinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.

Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.

The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.

This is the fourth book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

See my review of A Wind in the Door: Time Quintet Book 2 here.

See my review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet: Time Quintet Book 3 here.

My Review: The events of this book seem to take place somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd book. Unlike the other 3 books, this book was heavy in the Christian overtones. I would say that this book was nothing but a Christian overtone, as basically it is the story of Noah, before, and up to the time that he built, the ark. I wasn’t too thrilled about this book. Meg and Charles Wallace are not really part of this book, and only the twins Sandy and Dennys (my least favorite characters) are part of the story.

The overall story is rather dry — nothing really happens, and it is rather boring. I think that this is why it took me almost 2 months to read. I didn’t dislike it though, which is why I am giving it 3 stars instead of 2. Since I doubt this story will impact the remaining books in the series, this one can probably be skipped without much ado.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

50033Title: Dandelion Wine

Author: Ray Bradbury

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 30 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Classics, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: September 22, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 28, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The summer of ’28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma’s belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.

My Review: I did not love this book, although it was certainly unique. Unlike other books, this book isn’t so much about people, but rather a town — Green Town, a small town in rural Illinois. There is not a main human character, but the book describes the town through individual stories of the people that live there.

Since there wasn’t really a main character, I didn’t feel any connection whatsoever to the characters, nor did I really care when stuff happened to them. And the pace of the book was super slow, and the sound of the narrators voice reading the audiobook was so monotone, that my mind would often drift away to other thoughts. I had to even rewind the story several times because when I came back from the mind drift, I didn’t understand what was happening anymore.

I am giving it a 3 instead of a 2 because there were some chapters that I did like, so it wasn’t all terrible. I’ve read some reviews of people who really love this book. So, I don’t know. Maybe I just missed something.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Fat Vampire 2 by Johnny B. Truant

16132952Title: Fat Vampire 2: Tastes Like Chicken

Author: Johnny B. Truant

Book Length (Audiobook): 4 hours 14 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 14, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 15, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s been six months since fast-food-addicted Reginald Baskin was turned into a vampire too fat to live peacefully amongst the glamorous undead — six months in which Reginald and his two-thousand-year-old maker Maurice have learned that power doesn’t equal popularity. Sure, Maurice is now calling the shots, but the Council is up to new and dirty tricks, threatening to once again upset the balance…

But when the Vampire Nation faces genocidal violence at the hands of an unstoppable force and the very future of vampire kind is threatened, Reginald, Maurice, and Nikki must find their allies elsewhere… buried deep underground in a foreign land.

My Past Review(s)Fat Vampire 2 is the 2nd book in the Fat Vampire series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Fat Vampire, here.

My Review: I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars because I didn’t love this book, but it was entertaining. There are a ton of mixed reviews about this book — it seems one either thinks its funny and amazing or one doesn’t like it at all. I find that I fall somewhere in the middle. I finished this book about 9 days ago, and I can honestly say I am drawing a blank on most of the book. This could be a symptom of the cold I was coming down with, or maybe the plot just isn’t so memorable.

I remember it has something to do with angels and incubuses trying to take over the vampires? Reginald is still the worst vampire ever, but trying to hone his mental abilities. Nikki (a vampire wannabe) is in training, and Maurice is delegating his vampire council duties to avoid being assassinated.

Then they take some trip to Europe or something? I don’t really recall why. I don’t remember the ending at all, but apparently there was a twist!

Apparently there are 6 books total in this series, but I haven’t decided whether to read on or not.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Fat Vampire by Johnny B. Truant

16067851Title: Fat Vampire

Author: Johnny B. Truant

Book Length (Audiobook): 3 hours 58 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 7, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 9, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the author of “Unicorn Western” comes a story of fangs and fast food…

When overweight treadmill salesman Reginald Baskin finally meets a co-worker who doesn’t make fun of him, it’s just his own bad luck that tech guy Maurice turns out to be a thousand-year-old vampire.

And when Maurice turns Reginald to save his life, it’s just Reginald’s own further bad luck that he wakes up to discover he’s become the slowest, weakest, most out-of-shape vampire ever born, doomed to “heal” to his corpulent self for all of eternity.

As Reginald struggles with the downsides of being a fat vampire — too slow to catch people to feed on, mocked by those he tries to glamour, assaulted by his intended prey and left for undead — he discovers in himself rare powers that few vampires have… and just in time too, because the Vampire Council might just want his head for being an inferior representative of their race.

Fat Vampire is the story of an unlikely hero who, after having an imperfect eternity shoved into his grease-stained hands, must learn to turn the afterlife’s lemons into tasty lemon danishes.

My Review: This is the first book that I have read by Johnny B. Truant (is his name supposed to be punny or is this is real name?) Anyway, this book is exactly what it sounds like — a fat guy becomes a vampire. This book was funny I guess, but I never laughed out loud of anything. Not even a little chuckle.

Essentially the plot goes like this: Reginald is a fat treadmill salesman (que the irony please). He befriends a goth kid (Maurice) at work (who of course works the nightshift) only to find out that this kid is actually a 1,000 year old vampire. While bowling one night, some of Maurice’s vamp friends take a bit out of Reginald, and he will die if Maurice doesn’t turn him, so he does. Now Reginald is doomed to be fat and unfit FOR EVER. However, since his physical skills are nill, he gets mad intelligent skills, which is rare for vampire these days because they all train before being turned — its like all Stepford wives up in vampire world. BUT, Maurice did a bad thing because Reginald’s turning was not sanctioned by the Vampire Council. Uh oh.

While the plot was different than most vampire books you read, I wouldn’t exactly call it life shattering or anything. Since the book was so short and a lot of stuff happened, there wasn’t really any time for character building and I wasn’t really invested in the characters, and didn’t really care about them so much.

Having said that, I wouldn’t not recommend the book — just don’t go into it with high expectations.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

77276Title: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 24 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 24, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 31, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: When fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace Murry shouts out an ancient rune meant to ward off the dark in desperation, a radiant creature appears. It is Gaudior, unicorn and time traveler. Charles Wallace and Gaudior must travel into the past on the winds of time to try to find a Might-Have-Been – a moment in the past when the entire course of events leading to the present can be changed, and the future of Earth – this small, swiftly tilting planet – saved.

This is the third book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

See my review of A Wind in the Door: Time Quintet Book 2 here.

My Review: 9 years has passed since the last book. Meg and Calvin are married and expecting their first child. Charles Wallace is now 15, and Mr. Murry still gets calls from the President. On this particular evening, the call he received warns of an imminent nuclear war started by Madog Branzillo. In order to save the world, a time traveling unicorn and Charles Wallace (aided by Meg through Kything) must go into the bodies of the ancestors of Branzillo to change the course of history.

I found this book to be really interesting, as it chronicles the history of a family through several hundred years. I do not want to give too much away, but it starts out with a man and his brother (Maddoc and Gwydyr) coming from Wales to America before even Christopher Columbus. There is a struggle between brothers, which Maddoc wins, and thereafter marries into an indian tribe, and that is where the history begins. Both lines flow with magic, but only Maddoc’s line are “good”, whereas the line of Gwydyr is portrayed as “evil”. The legends of the Indians and the magical myths of the Welsh are passed down through the generations — with each generation using a magical incantation to help them (which is in truth the Rune of St. Patrick).

The Offbeat Unicorn wrote a really good review / summary of the book and its themes. You can read the blog entry here. Frankly, this blogger wrote a better review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet than I ever could, so I urge you to click on the link.

In closing, I liked the book, and I hope that you will too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle

18130Title: A Wind in the Door

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 5 hours 27 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 21, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 24, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Just before Meg Murry’s little brother, Charles Wallace, falls deathly ill, he sees dragons in the vegetable garden. The dragons turn out to be Proginoskes, a cherubim composed out wings and eyes, wind and flame. It is up to Meg and Proginoskes, along with Meg’s friend Calvin, to save Charles Wallace’s life. To do so, they must travel deep within Charles Wallace to attempt to defeat the Echthroi—those who hate—and restore brilliant harmony and joy to the rhythm of creation, the song of the universe.

This is the second book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Review:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

My Review: I had never even heard of this book as a kid, and I had never read it before this month, so I was going head first into a dark tunnel without a flashlight.

I liked this book a little less than A Wrinkle in Time. This book was a little hard to follow, and I wasn’t really sure what the point of the story was. Essentially, only a small amount of time has passed between the event of the two books (even though the events of Wrinkle don’t even get an honorable mention), and Charles Wallace is deathly ill because of his mitochondria. While reading the book, I was like huh? How can someone get sick because of mitochondria? Isn’t that the DNA that you inherit from your mom?

Well, after finishing the book. I did a little research on the internet, and it turns out that mitochondria are basically the energy producers in the body’s cells — the batteries if you will. If they are not functioning properly, then the person can get really sick, and it is thought that certain diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s, bipolar disorder, etc. are all caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. Interesting, I guess, but kind of a weird (and complicated) subject for a children’s book. I don’t really remember knowing what DNA was when I was 8-12 years old –but maybe that is good — maybe it teaches children something about science in a fun way?

Anyway, Meg Murry, Calvin O’Keefe and their new friend Proginoskes must go within the body of Charles Wallace in order to save him from the Echthroi (who are basically evil beings), and to restore balance to the “universe” of Charles’ body.

I read some reviews that called this a “christian book”, but I honestly didn’t notice — which is good, because I really dislike being hit over the head with religious themes. So don’t let that description stop you if religious books also bother you.

In general this book has mixed reviews, which is kinda how I feel about it — but I made a promise to myself to finish all the books of this series, so upward and onward!