Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I hang up the phone and run outside to the mailbox. It's here. The book is here. I dial my sister's number again and tell her Mockingjay is in my hands. She tells me I won't be disappointed. I put my son down for a nap. I have two hours before I have to pick up the girls. I'm glad we don't have any plans this weekend. I read. I neglect the house. I immerse myself in a story.

***Major SPOILER Alert. Do not read any further until you've read the book. You've been warned. :)

I finished Mockingjay about 1am this morning. It messed with my dreams. I've been thinking about it all day trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts on this final book of The Hunger Games series.

As in most cases of a series finale there is a wave of disappointment. I can understand some of the frustrations people are sharing about the book--Katniss seems like a week pawn. We don't experience the Capitol's downfall through Katniss. It's retold during her recovery. And she didn't choose Gale. However, I was very satisfied with this book. Collins strikes me as a fearless writer. She isn't afraid to make you wince or question or even hate or disagree with what she's done with the story. I love how she uses symbolism. I appreciate her style immensely.

I'm a list person. I think the best way for me to write about this book is to make a list of what I liked and didn't like.

What I liked:


The line where he tells Katniss about how he knew she only kissed him because he was in pain stuck with me.

"Gale, who I have never seen cry, has tears in his eyes. To keep them from spilling over, I reach forward and press my lips against his. We taste of heat, ashes, and misery. It's surprising flavor for such a gentle kiss. He pulls away first and give me a wry smile. "I knew you'd kiss me."

"How?" I say. Because I didn't know myself.

"Because I'm in pain," he says. "That's the only way I get your attention." He picks up the box. "Don't worry, Katniss. It'll pass." He leaves before I can answer. (p.130)


Also, the heartbreaking irony of him going back to save Prim after the Capital's attack on 13 only to later become the likely cause of her demise. He doesn't even try to make peace with Katniss about it. He walks away. Some say that was weakness on his part. But he knows Katniss better than she knows herself sometimes and he knew it would always be an issue. Walking away meant he loved her more. He didn't want anything to do with causing her more pain.

Katniss shoots Coin.

Great twist. When Coin announced they wanted to do another Hunger Games with children from the Capitol, I was completely shocked Katniss agreed. Then I quickly realized she was playing Coin. Katniss is back, I thought. Don't mess.


His death stung. I wasn't expecting it. I liked learning his back story. His tenderness with Annie reminded me of how Peeta felt about and treated Katniss.


Collin's style is to the point, well-crafted, and symbolic. One of my favorite passages:

"I look at the bushes, the clods of dirt hanging from their roots, and catch my breath as the word rose registers. I'm about to yell vicious things at Peeta when the full name comes to me. Not the plain rose but the evening primrose. The flower my sister was named for. I give Peeta a nod of assent and hurry back into the house, locking the door behind me. But the evil thing is inside, not out. Trembling with weakness and anxiety, I run up the stairs. My foot catches on the last step and I crash onto the floor. I force myself to rise and enter my room. The smell's very faint but still laces the air. It's there. The white rose among the dried flowers int he vase. Shriveled and fragile, but holding on to that unnatural perfected cultivated in Snow's greenhouse. I grab the vase, stumble down to the kitchen, and throw its contents into the embers. As the flowers flare up, a burst of blue flame envelops the rose and devours it. Fire beats roses again. I smash the vase on the floor for good measure." (p. 383)

The Ending.

Katniss is with Peeta. Things are hopeful, yet not unrealistic. The nightmares are still there. Their children play on an unmarked graveyard. But there is hope and goodness.

What I didn't like:

Too much time in District 13.

I felt like this section of the book dragged a bit. I thought there would be more action at the beginning.


Again, a little too much time spent filming propos. I understand the significance, but after awhile I thought, really? more? okaaay...

What about Gale?

Here's all we know: He got a fancy job in district 2 and he's occasionally seen on TV.

Really? That's it? That's all we get? Katniss didn't seem too interested in what really happened to him after he left. Didn't sit right with me.

Overall I loved this series. Unique. Gut-wrenching. Fascinating.

What's next Ms. Collins? What's next???

P.S. She's coming to a bookstore near me in November to read excerpts from Mockingjay! Can't wait!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

HPBC Meeting Has Been Called to Order (sweet potato fries, that is...)

Last night was our first Harry Potter Book Club meeting. Amy, Becky, and I gathered to discuss books 1-3. So what did we talk about whilst eating burgers and fries? Plenty. We talked about our favorite characters so far, Rowling's cleverness, and the fact that I never should have gone to see Half-Blood Prince before reading the books. It was peer pressure I tell you!

What I I love about these books is that it doesn't take a lot of effort to believe in this magical world of wizards. Of course this world exists. No question. I love the twists and the surprise endings. I love learning more about Harry's parents. I love the friendships. Rowling has created such a fascinating story with interesting characters. My friends tell me the character development only gets better. I'm looking forward to it. And to more sweet potato fries as well :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prisoner of Azkaban

Finished book 3 the other night with a big smile on my face. I loved it. I love the twist at the end. Already into number 4. I will need to take a short hiatus from Harry next week when Mockingjay comes out. Harry will understand. Katniss rocks.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Goodreads summary:
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle's mother has disappeared. While tracing her steps on a car trip from Ohio to Idaho with her grandparents, Salamanca tells a story to pass the time about a friend named Phoebe Winterbottom whose mother vanished and who received secret messages after her disappearance. One of them read, "Don't judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins." Despite her father's warning that she is "fishing in the air," Salamanca hopes to bring her home. By drawing strength from her Native American ancestry, she is able to face the truth about her mother. Walk Two Moons won the 1995 Newbery Medal.

I read this book last summer and loved it. Sharon Creech is an impressive writer. Her characters were so believable, likeable, and relatable. I especially loved the relationship between Sal's grandparents.

Sharon Creech also wrote Love That Dog about a boy named Jack who believes he can't write poetry, only to discover he actually can. The book is written in poem form. Very clever. It's one of my 8 year old's favorites. She's read it at least three times. Creech also wrote Hate That Cat too. We haven't read that one yet, but it's on our list!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Book Club

* Update: Today I sadly returned the Harry Potter tapes sans tape number 6. The very sweet librarian (we talked about how she used to play the accordian) asked my daughter if she had hidden the tape somewhere. I told her it was all me and that I couldn't blame my children for this one (that might have been less shamefull...grown-ups should not lose cassette tapes).
"I'll just pay the fine." I'm pretty sure my eye twitched as I said this. When she asked me if I would be paying with check or cash, I answered "debit". But apparently, if you've lost a TAPE CASSETTE you need to pay for it the old fashioned way--CASH!
Then she asked, "Are you sure you don't just wanna look again for the tape?"
"No, I need to wash my hands of this. I will go get cash. What time do you close?"
"In fifteen minutes."
"Right. I'll be back."

Luckily, my bank was next door. I made it just in time. It's done, it's over, I'm ready to move on!

In other news, I have officially joined the Harry Potter Book Club. There are only three members thus far. Of course, I am the only member reading the series for the first time. BUT I am already almost done with Prisoner of Azkaban. I'm winning. Just kidding. This isn't a race...(p.s. it kind of is). I'm also very excited that we will have our meetings at Betty Burgers. Talking about Harry over a Basic Betty Burger AND sweet potato fries--that is a win, win situation. No joke.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I'm panicking for a few reasons.

Number one. Remember how I listened to Harry Potter on tape in the car during my road trip? Yeah, well I can't find tape number six. It's gone. I've searched my car at least sixteen times. Why? Why is it gone? I've only listened to them in the car. How could it have disappeared??

I renewed the tapes hoping it would turn up like a five dollar bill in my jeans. Oh, how lovely--there you are!

Two weeks later and it is still nowhere to be found.

Today I mustered up the courage to explain the situation to the librarian (I have this fear of mean librarians). The lady was beyond nice and encouraged me to keep looking. I asked her what the worse case scenerio would be. She typed on her computer as fast as an airline ticket counteress and said if I couldn't find it there would be a $15 fee.


Okay, so I won't be banned from this library and publicly humiliated for losing a tape? That's a good deal compared to the alternative I had going on in my mind (I really didn't want to explain to my children why we can't check out books anymore because mommy lost a tape. Followed by the question, "What's a tape, mommy?")

So I will keep looking and pray it turns up because I'm so annoyed with myself.

Reason numero dos. There are way too many books I want to be reading right now. Fellow booklovers--do you ever feel panicky about not being able to read everything you want to read? It's weird. It doesn't feel normal. Please tell me you've experienced this. And maybe tell me you've misplaced things from the library as well and it all worked out in the end :)