The Hunger Games.

I’m so torn when it comes to writing this review. I am disappointed because I wanted to love The Hunger Games. I wanted to experience what many readers had.

After much persuasion I finally decided to bite the bullet and read ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy. I was shocked by the fact that these books were geared towards young adults. I am not one who gets queasy by a little violence and I do not see why a few psychological twists can’t be thrown into a book… but when we’re talking about A LOT of violence, the readers should be a more mature audience. That being said, the story was somewhat compelling and entertaining. Since these novels were written with the young adult in mind, it would be generous to say that the writing could use a little work. The first novel had a good flow and a strong tendency to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Even though the themes in this novel had been done plenty of times before, this story brought in a few new aspects that gave the impression of a completely never before seen idea. The premise, as a whole, really seems to lack authenticity. In order to enjoy this book, you MUST accept everything at face value. You must accept that the people of Panem are so resigned to the barbarism that is the Hunger Games, they never question it. In fact, in seventy-four years, not even one tribute has questioned the mandate that they must fight to the death in some arena while their families watch and place bets on which teenager will be victorious.

Another issue I had with The Hunger Games was the personality of the main character, Katniss. I am just like many other readers in the sense that I like to be able to associate myself with the protagonist of the story. It is hard to find similarities with a character that is so oblivious of what is right in front of her. One of my biggest pet peeves is the design of a character that seems to not realize that impact that she has on the men who surround her. I despise when Katniss plays the ‘I didn’t realize that anyone ever noticed me’ card. Other than her unintentionally dense personality, Katniss does start to win the reader over with her compassion.
The Hunger Games are the violent way of showing the districts in the book that they have to sacrifice for what they have been given. One boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts are randomly drawn once a year to be thrown into an arena to fight for their lives while the cameras everywhere show their every move to their loved ones at home. Katniss and Peeta are the ones who are chosen to represent District 12. The twist that is thrown at the readers early on is Peeta confessing his undying love for the girl that he might have to kill in order to save his own life. The difficult part of the story is how quickly you fall in love with the brave and adorable Peeta. Knowing that they couldn’t possibly kill off the main character (or could they?!) I hated myself for cheering for Peeta since, unintentionally, he is the enemy.

This novel has been read and appreciated by readers of all ages across the nation, but in the rare case that we have people who have not jumped on the bandwagon, I will not divulge any suspenseful details of the compelling series. (Although if you decide to take my advice & read ‘The Hunger Games’ please, please stop there. Do not read the other two novels in the trilogy).

I feel as though I don’t need to say this, but I’ll go ahead just in case my readers are as dense as the main character: If you enjoyed these stories and have been fortunate enough to not subject yourself to the motion picture, I would strongly suggest you keep it that way. The movie ruins the book completely for any appreciative reader with half a brain. (Katniss is taller than Peeta in the movie, enough said.)

One more guilty pleasure..

Since you have probably already judged me admitting that I find Tucker Max to be funny, (if you didn’t read that post, feel free to judge now) I should just go ahead and tell you that I also indulge by reading the works of Chelsea Handler. Go on and laugh at me, I’m comfortable enough with myself to know how much respect I’ve just lost.

Let’s just chat about ‘My Horizontal Life’.. This being first of her books, Chelsea Handler set the stage for how people would view her for the rest of her career. It was refreshing to read something with so much honesty but, at the same time, this book reminds you why you were smart enough to not make the same choices as Ms.Handler.
This is about 200 pages of what happens when you grow up in New Jersey. I’m kidding, this is what happens when you grow up in NORTH Jersey. (Side note, people talk crap on Jersey girls all the time, all of that judgement is geared towards anyone who lives above Trenton). Chelsea Handler had the advantage of being the youngest child. From experience I know that having older siblings comes in handy when you want parents that really only care that you come home in one piece and not pregnant. Unfortunately, Chelsea did just about everything that parents try to keep you from doing. She goes through her childhood discovery of masturbation, with plenty of detail. It is fun and entertaining to be taken on a colorful tour through the crude love (or lack there of) life of Chelsea Handler.
It is quite a commitment for someone to publish material like Handler’s. Once this information is out there, you cannot take it back. Being fully aware that she would never gain back the respect that was lost, Chelsea Handler went on to publish her first book.

I would hardly call this (or any of her publications) to be intellectually scintillating, but it was successful in the area for which it was meant to be successful; it makes the reader laugh. If you have a sense of humor and can enjoy reading about the humiliation of others, I’d say that this book would be worth picking up.


everyone is going to judge me…

Ok, I’ll say it.. I think Tucker Max is funny. I do not have the slightest clue why, and I’m pretty ashamed of it, but I can’t help it.

I’ve read all of his books, because I am a helpless, dedicated fan. (Everyone has their guilty pleasures, I’m just open about mine). ‘I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell’ was, without a doubt, the best of all of the raunchy, outrageous books that he has published. I was disappointed with his later books due to a good amount of the stories being repeats from his premier best seller.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not the type of book that I normally read when I want to broaden my horizons… this is the type of book you read when you don’t want to THINK about anything, you just want pure entertainment.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the infamous Tucker Max:
He is a pig. He is THAT frat guy who is known by everyone. All the girls know they should just ignore him and steer clear (they never do). He is the guy who sleeps with all of those insecure girls and treats them like complete shit so that he has something to tell his friends. He is probably the raunchiest, most deplorable, misogynistic man on the planet. His stories get old after a while because it usually the same situation being repeated in different places with different people.
But, to be honest, it is a best seller for a reason. The man is pretty funny. People like disgusting, disrespectful men that they cannot bring home to their mothers. About 99% of people know what these books are about before they pick them up. They realize that the sexcapades of a college frat-boy who lacks humanity is the basis for this entire series of books. That being said, don’t read it if it is not your cup of tea.

This guy is proud of himself and made a boat-load of money from these books, that is quite an accomplishment for someone who is merely being himself. I will say that one thing that could be tweaked is Max’s writing. He went to school to be a lawyer, not an author, so at least he has that going for him.. but the books reads as if it has been written by a 15 year old. If you can tolerate bad writing skills and want to laugh at the misfortune of others, then I’d say to pick some of his books up. After all, what have you got to lose? (Besides your faith in humanity).


The Solitude of Prime Numbers

The one thing I will never stop appreciating about Amazon.com is the never-ending list of recommendations I receive after viewing or purchasing a book that I am interested in. There are many novels that I would have over looked had it not been for Amazon. There are also others that I wish I would have looked over.
When ‘The Solitude of Prime Numbers’ was suggested to be I figured I would give it try, after all I really don’t have much to lose. I was not familiar with the author, Paolo Giordano, mainly because this was his debut novel. Every new author should be given a chance. Sometimes, however, they have to do a lot of convincing for me to give them a second chance.

This novel starts out with the stories of a young girl, Alice, and a young boy, Mattia. You get a feel for the pressures and troubles that these young children had gone through and the emotional trauma that comes along with those decisions we make that can never be taken back, and never be forgotten. Mattia found himself responsible for the disappearance of his mentally challenged twin sister, which is only the beginning of the years of self loathing that he has to look forward to.
Alice and Mattia form a close bond when Mattia is moved to the same high school as Alice. From the very beginning, the relationship between the two is anything but ordinary. No one else ever seems to understand either Alice or Mattia, so they seem to be a pretty nice fit for one another.
The two young adults take separate paths once they are finished with high school. Mattia, a brilliant mathematician, goes off to the university to study, one of the things he prefers to do because he enjoys his time alone. Alice begins work at a camera shop with a small job of photographing weddings.
The two reconnect off and on. Mattia summed it all up by saying he and Alice were “twin primes” alone and lost, “close but not close enough to really touch each other” —lonely individuals forever linked but separated.

This story displays the worlds of two young adults who are forced to deal with their loneliness and try to find the right path to go down. The book has a very slow feel and it is hard to connect with the characters. The amount of unneeded detail that is added to the story gives you about an extra 100 pages of paper that are a complete waste. The story, in my opinion, could have been more satisfying if it had been a short novella.

This is not a novel that I would go out of my way to read again, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time since the novel is easy enough to get through.

“Choices are made in brief seconds and paid for in the time that remains.”

Oh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, you have a wonderful mind.

‘The Great Gatsby’ is one of those books that isn’t as appreciated the first time you read it, especially since it is usually ‘required’ reading when students are in high school. Most students don’t appreciate the delicacy of a novel that has been written by a decent mind. Many students usually just resort to renting the movie… I have never once seen a classic book turned into a movie and have it turn out to be better (or even equivalent) to the novel itself.

It is almost impossible to read an entire book when you absolutely loathe the main characters. It is even more impossible to actually enjoy the book when those shallow, self-deprecating characters continue to get worse throughout the entire novel. But in some weird, encouraging way it was made possible by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I dove into this story the first time around having my fingers crossed that the demented love story between Daisy and Gatsby would have a happy, rainbow filled ending. The second time around it gave me satisfaction knowing that my naive highschool mind was left behind when I graduated.

Gatsby is a newly wealthy man who accumulated his fortunes through dubious means. Daisy, on the other hand, has always led a life of privilege and could not let love stand in the way of her comfortable existence. She married Tom Buchanan for that sole purpose. With Gatsby’s ambition spurred by his love for Daisy, he rekindles his romance with Daisy, as Tom carries on carelessly with an auto mechanic’s grasping wife.
Again, you just begin to feel hatred for the characters, but at the same time you are rooting for them to be happy in the end.
Fitzgerald has a way with detail, he has a gift of making every sentence feel like it is an important part of the story. Some people can actually learn a lesson from reading this novel, assuming humans can learn lessons without doing things the ‘hard’ way. (ha ha)

Pick up this book and read it. Even if you read it in high school, there will be more satisfaction the second time around. You certainly won’t be disappointed. (hopefully)

“All right… I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”

Ok, just a little Sylvia Plath. just a little.

I find ‘The Bell Jar’ to be a fantastic read. Although Sylvia Plath gets a bad reputation because of her depressing writing and her, well.. suicide, I can’t deny that she was a very talented writer.

You don’t have to be depressed to be able to empathize with Sylvia Plath, although that usually does help. But the truth is, she was a hell of a writer.
When I first read ‘The Bell Jar’ I was a high school senior and did not take as much away from the book as I did the second time I read it. This book has a way of challenging any reader of any age. (Especially if you have had a bout of depression in your life, like the protagonist, Esther, has).

In today’s society we are much more comfortable with the topic of mental illness and we have much more insight into the minds of the “crazy”. It takes someone who has been in a rough situation to be able to put those thoughts into writing and just absolutely hit the nail on the head. If Plath could write about anything at all, it was depression. She has a way of drawing readers in. Plath wrote this book with a very contemporary feel, especially since it can be considered a ‘classic’. She takes you through the life and the mind of the young Esther Greenwood and the impossible struggles that set her mental decline into motion. Trying to fit in with the other interns, as well as dealing with boys and co-workers prove to be almost impossible at times for Esther. And later, when the real depression and suicidal thoughts set in, readers are invited into a twisted world which was created realistically and with honesty by someone who had been in a similar situation.

“So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state.”

John Green’s ‘Paper Towns’

This one is more geared toward a younger audience, but is still an interesting read for someone at any age.
John Green has a way of incorporating the perfect amount of details so that the reader can associate oneself with the characters in the story.

To everyone who associates with Margo Roth Spiegelman, she is an adventurous, unconventional, and intelligent person that everyone seems to place on a pedestal. So when Margo sneaks into Quentin Jacobsen’s late one night and involves him in her crazy exploits, he can’t help but feel as if he is living in a new chapter of his life, and just maybe he can be a part of the adventures that he has only ever dreamed of with the only girl he’s ever cared about; Margo.

But the next morning all of Quentin’s hopes are dashed with Margo’s disappearance. Her parents and the police think this is just another one of her stunts. Margo has left a string of clues in her path, one right after another, which seem to be left for only one person, Quentin. He’s not quite sure what he will find, but he is also determined not to give up.

The mystery in Paper Towns is clever, and will leave readers searching for more while a close group of friends struggle to piece together the clues with some frustration and tons of humor. But these teens are just as quick to get serious as they contemplate what has actually happened to Margo. Quentin is at a stand-still when he has to deal with his own torn feelings when he finally sees her in a completely different light… with a little help from the poetry of Walt Whitman.

‘Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.’ For me, that really sums up what this book is about, our expectations of one another, and the way in which we can never truly understand other people. It’s one of those instances where it can pretty much sum up what being a teenager is all about. And all of the confusion that went along with it.

A personal favorite

I’m not sure what motivated me to pick this book up, since mystery novels are not usually my cup of tea, but I am forever grateful that I made that decision. I have read and re-read this novel a few times and it never ceases to amaze me. The way Dean Koontz presents the content, yet odd, characters is a perfect way to rope someone in. It is quite difficult to drag your tired eyes away from this novel (even when it’s 4am and you know you have to work in the morning).

 

Odd Thomas lives up to his first name; he is a 20 year old short-order cook with the ability to see the ghosts of the dead and the shadowy faceless spirits he calls “bodachs,” who gravitate toward scenes of horrific violence and evil. Odd is a very likable guy whose ideal future rests with his girlfriend (and soul mate) Stormy Llewellyn and with a career in tires or footwear. Aware that his sixth sense is a burden that sets him apart and makes him appear otherworldly to others, he knows that he has received this gift for a reason. He feels a responsibility to make sense of the ghosts he encounters and to thwart the violence that the bodachs portend. When he spots a large congregation of bodachs converging on his hometown of Pico Mundo, he has a premonition of great disaster. He hones in on a villainous and twisted “Fungus Man” who he senses will most likely cause the violence. He must now discover the time and place where the bloodshed will occur. He races against the clock to prevent a tragic outcome. Narrated by Odd, this story is at times gory, at times inspirational, at times funny, and at times bittersweet. But the entire time it is flawless even though it can be unsettling, because it is worth it.

“We are not, however, a species that can choose the baggage with which we must travel. In spite of our best intentions, we always find that we have brought along a suitcase or two of darkness and despair.”

 

 

You can’t help but start with a classic..

Oddly, I’d never read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was a high school student. Nor had I ever seen the film version with Gregory Peck. Somehow I was lucky enough to avoid learning the plot of the famous story until I decided to pick the book up one day and read it cover to cover in one day.

I sank into Harper Lee’s only novel not knowing what to expect. And I was certainly not disappointed. I was also not discouraged by the slow movement of the first few chapters. Jean-Louise Finch, better known as Scout, is the protagonist of the story (with the keen eye of an adult looking back on a childhood rich with incidents that shaped who she has become. Her adventures with her older brother Jem, and their exiguous friend Dill (his real name being Charles Baker Harris. “Your name’s longer’n you are,” Jem points out) evoke the timeless place of childhood.

Dill set the stage for the entire story to unfold. He encourages Jem and Scout to begin a quest to seek out the infamous Boo Radley who, naturally, turns out to be nothing like you’d expect. It takes a tremendous amount of talent for an author to be able to develop two plots for a book. As Harper Lee begins it is with the journey of the young Finch children through Maycomb, and she gracefully builds up the story of the trial that will change the feel of the entire story and build up to a well thought out and perfectly planned ending to a phenomenal story.

As for Atticus Finch (I certainly didn’t forget about him), what can one say about a Pulitzer Prize winning father who seems to embody the greatest of virtues? He is tolerant, patient, kind, and understanding. He does not meddle with his children’s affairs, he always speaks to them as his equals, as fellow adults (he even allows them to call him “Atticus”), and his infamous skill as a lawyer is legendary. Lee presents Atticus in a tough and sensitive manner, so that his believability is paramount.

This novel is, and always will be, a must read for any age. This legendary classic is one that is recognized by everyone, even those who have never read it show some familiarity with the timeless, ever-popular characters.

 

“I wanted you to see what real courage is….It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”