Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This page was almost left blank because when I finished it last weekend, I was speechless.

Didn't I love it like everyone else?

Wasn't it amazing?

Am I going to the midnight premier of the movie?

     The reason this particular review is all over the place is because Hunger Games took me all over the place!  To some it is another dystopian novel. To my teenage son, it's a story about survival. I saw it also as a coming of age story, a youthful romance, a story about rebellion in the face of a corrupt government. Even the actors' interviews presented vastly different stories. One said it was about child abuse, one said it was about Hollywood and having to live behind a mask - having to be what everyone else expects.

       The world we know is destroyed and the government has divided into 13 districts. After a rebellion, 12 are left and being subdued by the yearly selection of two "tributes" from their teenagers to participate in a last man standing battle in a Survivor-style arena the size of LA. Families and districts of the winner will be showered with provisions, fame, and wealth.
     16 year old Katniss Everdeen lives in the starving District 12 and gets paired with the baker's son, Peeta. Forced to act as a team, knowing each is required to kill the other in order to win, Katniss protects her emotions by not building a friendship with him. The tributes each hone their unique skills and plan strategies for winning. For Katniss, her adviser, Haymitch, insists she go the opposite direction as the battle and survive on her own. Not only does she heed his advice, her encounters with other tributes reveal her spiritual journey is also leading her opposite of the rest. She finds herself protecting the weaker ones and the ones who use avoidance as well. Soon after, she finds herself bonding with Peeta and he finds himself entirely dependent on her. And this is where the characters find their true individual identities.

       After mulling it over for a week, I've decided that for me, it is a story of preservation of the spirit. Katniss shows in the very beginning that fighting daily to stay alive in District 12 is not just her skill, but her gift.  Peeta helps her realize that there's more going on than just a game of survival. Katniss' spiritual evolution would allow her own death if it meant dying with dignity-preferably if it flew in the face of the Capitol. 

To answer the questions - did I love it? I would recommend it, but cautiously. I love it for its complexity, its intensity, and its originality. However, the brutality mixed with young ages was over the top for young readers. At least when I am a librarian, I will encourage parents to read it first and discuss the violence with their young reader. It needs to be explained to young teens that the government is going to extremes to scare the citizens back into compliance by victimizing it's young ones on a yearly basis. I would hate to recommend it for a teenager who may not grasp the big picture and think kids killing kids is acceptable in some places or situations.

Wasn't it amazing? Yes! So many angles, so many emotions stirred by her writing. She makes you so angry about the exploitation of the teenagers it's sickening!

Am I going to the midnight premier? No. Not that I would turn it down, but my real life has much more pressing things going on at midnight like work and cramming for tests. While I hopped on the fiction bus to read Hunger Games before the movie came out and snatched up the set from someone I recommended it to when it first came out, I'm not sure I trust Hollywood to do it justice enough to turn into a Collins-version-Twihard-fan. If I can, maybe before the movie leaves the theater I'll have a weekend day off and can go see it, but I'll buy DVD for sure. I can't wait to see Katniss in "the girl on fire" costume.

     Overall, Hunger Games was moving, excellently written with a breath-holding ending. I see this as being around for a long time. I think it will soon be replacing some of the older dystopian genre books most junior high teachers assign. In fact, Scholastic already has teaching resources for it here. Lucky for this generation to have Susanne Collins give them something new. I can't wait to read Catching Fire, but my nerves need unraveling first!

I give Hunger Games Photobucket 5 stars!

Check out this trailer made by high school senior Justin Breaux to encourage kids to read
Sunday, March 25, 2012

The end of an era

So, this was in my email last week:

After nearly 250 years, the 32-volume Encyclopædia Britannica print set will be discontinued.

Encyclopædia Britannica is going completely digital. The 2010 print set will be the final edition and is available at The Britannica Store only while supplies last! Don’t miss this final opportunity to own one of the most important printed reference collections of all time.

Supplies are limitedget yours before it is too late!

       Kinda sad isn't it? Wasn't it one of those things that families strived to own - if only one volume at a time? Didn't it solidify the middle class? Do you remember hearing in school,  "What? Your family doesn't own an encyclopedia set? Well I guess you can come over and use mine." 

     Then came the internet. It snuck up on us and suddenly those late night memories of, "Oh yeah, my teacher says my report is due Monday" quickly turned into internet searches for facts. Rather than search the entire internet I subscribed my family to the online Encyclopedia Britannica. And just recently, our local library has linked with EBSCO so the kids have as much access as I have at the college now, for free. I guess it couldn't be helped - we all need immediate access and no one wants to share volume "N" and take turns like they used to. Still, like film cameras, it's one of those things that letting go of is a little bit sad. 

Also, it makes me feel like HG Wells was right when he wrote The Time Machine. I can still feel the horror when the time traveller puts his arm through the last set of books on earth and they turned to dust. At least I hope they remembered to back them up on a thumb drive!

Did your family own a set? Did your uncle go door to door selling them when he was out of work? Do you use an online encyclopedia or just random pages? Does it make you feel creeped out like Time Machine?
Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

     Just what is the Power of Six? If you read I am Number Four about the surviving Garde of the original nine from the planet Lorien and thought you saw some serious paranormal action, just wait until you read what Six is truly capable of. Not only can she fight, she can train even the weakest man to unleash some serious wrath! And that's just one of the Garde - find out what the six survivors can do together.
     The Power of Six picks up with John, Six, and Sam on their quest to find the rest of the Garde.  The Mogodorians are not only aware of number seven and her Cepan, they are setting up camp and ready to battle. Pittacus Lore takes you around the world and pulls the earth out from under your feet for an epic battle between some seasoned, some wet-behind-the-ears Loren, and and entire clan of don't-stop-until-you're-obliterated Mogadorians. This book is packed with intensity, loss, discovery and victory. Best of all, you get to meet another member of the Garde, number Nine.
      This book has something for everyone - man/woman, YA boy and girl. If you love paranormal action and books full of surprises, you have got to read The Power of Six - even as a stand alone book it's fist-pumping exciting! I cant wait to learn more about Nine's Legacy in The Lost Files.

And if you really want to get your YA Paranormal on - check out Pittacus Lore's fan page for secret messages and updates.

I give The Power of Six Photobucket 5 stars!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: Vanish by Sophie Jordan

 Vanish, the sequel to Firelight, one of my top all-time favorite novels about a teenage girl who can discovers she can turn into a dragon, was so fantastic I couldn't pry my fingers off the book. Waiting for it to come out, wondering if that was Jacinda or Tamara on the cover drove my crazy for months! So many questions were screaming to be answered - what happened to Will, does Jacinda save her family from Will's? Does Tamara hold it against her that they had to leave Chaparral? Just who or what is going to "vanish" in this sequel? Sophie Jordan delivers a  mid-trilogy book and rivals the highest rated single works of fiction in  YA paranormal novels.
      Finally my questions were answered as I devoured page after page, unwilling to close the cover until I tasted the last bite of this story. Sophie Jordan has a way of painting a fantastic images in your head and gripping emotions on your heart. I will forever see the gorgeous gossamer wings of the Draki, and the image of the Draki wedding ceremony is lifetime-unforgettable.

     Jacinda finds herself in a tug of war with her devotion to her family, pushed by their rejection and pulled by Will's undying love for her. Throughout the story of these two families, the unusual is taking place. Manifestations, powers strong enough to cover the entire tribe, and covert enough to sneak up on even the most on-edge Draki. Jacinda must choose - will she return to Cassian and continue on in the pride's tradition? Or will she follow her heart, go after Will, and leave Cassian to Tamara?
     Sophie Jordan answers all these questions and opens the door to an entirely new dynamic in the third installment in the Firelight trilogy. I am waiting on pins, needles, and dragon claws for Hidden.

It should come as no surprise that I give Vanish Photobucket 5 stars!

You can find the entire trilogy  and trailers at .
Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

     I have to say it right from the start - beginning with chapter one of Open Minds, Susan Kaye Quinn blew my mind wide-open!  The very beginning, her main character, Kira, has a point of view rarely seen in YA Paranormal. She's the one without the power. Even her best friend, Rafael, went through the change and can read minds, except hers. Kira's narration takes you through the grueling experience of trying to get through a day in high school where everyone else can read minds. Imagine not having a single private thought during your teens. No way to filter.....

     That is, until she meets Simon, who helps her realize how special she is.

     Soon after, Open Minds, takes a 180 twist, sending Kira on a tumultuous action-adventure with a heavy dose of paranormal powers.  Due to circumstances out of her control, she turns away from those closest to her in order to protect them all. She can't even share her most life-changing secret with those close to her because it could get them killed. She's never been so alone in her life - never been felt so betrayed.  Kira goes from being an insecure, powerless teenager to a Chuck-Norris level hero with her clever plans to rescue the youngest victims of a government conspiracy. Kira uses her uniqueness to her advantage, as well as her own intellect - and that's what I love about her most.

     Open Minds forces the reader to open their eyes and look around them and imagine the opposite. What if I was the opposite of who I am now, how would I live my life? What challenges would I face? Susan Kaye Quinn answers those questions for Kira in her non-stop action-packed paranormal-edge-of-my-seat thriller. I could not put this one down until I finished it. Praise is due for her uniqueness in Mindjack slang and in her portrayal of the value of family unit. And to tie a bow on it, she give a most satisfying ending, leaving you ready for book two of the Mindjack Trilogy.

     However, the title of book two has me worried - Closed Hearts. What could that mean? Emotional detachment? or has she cooked up a superpower that messes with emotions? Can't wait to find out!

I give Open Minds Photobucket 5 stars!

If you are a Kindle reader - you are in for a treat. Open Minds is available at for $2.99. Also visit Susan at
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

     If you thought Cassia in Matched was a good girl-gone bad, wait until you meet Vi in Elana Johnson's dystopian novel Possession! In fact, she's a bit on the snarky side so it took me awhile to truly like her. I had a hard time with her tendency to disconnect from people until I got to know her family and then it all came together for me.
     Vi comes from the Goodgrounds - where people do what they are supposed to. No one ever breaks the rules or fails to listen to their government. Especially girls, that is, until Vi sneaks out to see Zenn one too many times......
     Suddenly Vi finds herself abandoned by the Goodies and awaiting her trial and exile to the Badlands. But is it really so Bad? How could it be if Jag was from there - he was only a little bit bad. It's not like he was trying to control her or anything....or was he? Or were they?
     Elana Johnson possesses the reader with her unique conversational writing and pulls the reader right into their incredible adventure. She makes you feel like you are besties with Vi and tagging right along with her.  She makes you fall in love with both Zenn and Jag, making it impossible to choose. Possession is an extraordinary adventure filled with supernatural abilities (my favorite!),  futuristic technology, and old fashioned honor. Not to be overshadowed by all that amazingness, Elana shares a selfless long-suffering love story.
     I can't wait for the sequel, Surrender, to be released in June!

I give Possession Photobucket 5 stars!

Check out Elana Johnson's Possession webpage for a free excerpt download and find her book (discounted!) at
Monday, March 12, 2012

Hello, nice to meet you! My name is.....

......Mrs. M. Snack. I vaugley remember my maiden name, Mom, but I must've gotten married again because my children continuously refer to me as "Momwhatsfor Snack"!

What's your alter-ego's name?
Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Operative (Ganzfield book 5) by Kate Kaynak

     I am so excited to bring you my review of Operative by the amazing YA paranormal puppeteer - Kate Kaynak! Kate will guide you step by step on a paranormal adventure with the precision of a marionette master in this fifth book of the Ganzfield series.  She brings an entirely unique element to Young Adult Paranormal - so new that no other YA authors can touch it. This novel is riveting! Magnetic! Sir, Yes Sir!

     It's so great to be back with my Maddie and Trevor (and all of the private thoughts of every character in the book - thanks Maddie ;) Who knew it was so much fun to mess with the minds of military personnel? And for certain, nobody knew what Russian G Positives were capable of until now.....

     Operative is one of those novels where telling about it is telling too much. Trevor, Maddie and the Ganzfield bunch embark on another adventure - this time it's international with US government support. Unfortunately, the government support part can only go as far as not prosecuting G positives and aids little to the cause of protecting the world from people with abilities that make bad choices. That's where the good G+ young people with abilities come in.

     Kate's storytelling ability must have received a double injection of dodecamine this time because she blasted my mind. She made me fall in love all over again with Maddie and Trevor, made me sympathize with villains, terrified me,  and broke my heart when....well, you'll just have to read and find out.

     If you have no idea what the Ganzfield story is about, you must peek inside and pick up a copy of Minder at Amazon. com and don't worry, these novels are so gripping you won't be able to stop until you finish number five and are waiting on #6 Soulmate with the rest of us.

I give Operative Photobucket 5 stars!

Check out and look for copies of the series at

On a side note, way to go Sista' Hannah! Praying a follow-up from the same scripture section as Aunt Leah in Adversary!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Meet me at the Louvre in five!

     Some people have the privilege of travelling the world, others find careers that allow for them to get there and sneak off for a little exploration and then there are people like me who find that the county line is as far as I'm able to travel until my children are all old enough to vote.

      I guess that's what's so great about reading - it takes you there.

     But still, there's the element of being somewhere and taking in all there is to see in relation to everything around it, it's placement, the lighting. Looking at a masterpiece painting is pretty cool on a laptop - you can zoom in, zoom out, take your time without someone waiting for you to get out of the way. But even better is looking at a Monet in its placement - seeing the room it's in, the lighting, the paintings chosen next to it, feeling the distance intended for optimal viewing by the placement of the bench to sit on.  Enter.....

And you just might run into me somewhere in a museum looking like this: