Archive for March, 2012

Book Signing & Meet the Author: Tahereh Mafi

That’s right, Tahereh Mafi dropped by at a bookstore near me and signed copies of her debut novel, Shatter Me,  as well as spoke with the little audience that gathered, answering any questions that came up.

She is super nice and, in my opinion, very genuine from what her actions said and how she spoke to everyone. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of the questions and answers, but there weren’t too many and nothing “surprising” was discussed. Some talk about how she came up with the concept, how she was able to write in this particular style, about Warner.. [hands down the most intriguing character in the book].

Her book is written in the first person, present tense, and has a very unique style of writing that will not appeal to everyone. But if you can get a hang of reading it… you’ll be sure to love it. I read it and couldn’t put it down until I finished (See my review here). Below is the official trailer for the book Shatter Me as well as a couple of my personal pictures from the signing.

The visit was a lot of fun and I’m glad Tahereh was so down to earth and genuine. I am definitely awaiting her second novel in the series: Unravel Me, which is set to be released in February 2013 [ah! too long a wait].

~C

Shatter Me Book Trailer

Pictures!

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Movie Adaptation: The Hunger Games (2012)


Directed by Gary Ross
Screenplay written by Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens
Drama, Action, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 142 minutes

Disclaimer: I have read The Hunger Games and the rest of the series prior to watching this movie so my opinions may have the basis of having the experience of being able to “read” the characters’ thoughts and emotions. There may be spoilers in regards to the movie adaptation, but no spoilers of the book/story.

I headed to see The Hunger Games on Saturday afternoon. The theatre was packed with teenagers, families, and adults [mostly teenagers though]. We were lucky to be seated around people who weren’t whispering and eating loudly [yay for a good movie atmosphere].

Characters:

First off, I thought all the characters were nicely cast and very well acted [I’m not going to be able to mention all of them in this post]. Jennifer Lawrence playing Katniss nailed it for me. She was full of emotion and emotionless all in the space of an hour and I found it in sync with how I imagined Katniss to be. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta was great, especially during the “interview” scene. Charming, funny, and adorable – he was an awesome choice for Peeta. I loved loved Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman! He was so so good – that’s all I can really say. I imagined Haymitch to be more unrefined but Woody Harrelson did the job, especially when he shows that he actually does care for Peeta and Katniss. As for the tributes, stand-outs for me were the actors for Rue and Thresh, they were almost exactly as I imagined. Cato (played by Alexander Ludwig) was a little too “pretty” for my image of him as a “killing-machine”. And damn! Lenny Kravitz can pull off a mean gold eyeliner!

Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson)

Rue, played by Amandla Stenbery

Setting:

I did not have an issue with how the setting of the movie looked. The Capitol was as flamboyant, ignorant, and insane as I imagined it to be. And the districts were nothing special – which I guess is what it’s meant to look like. The arena was done really well, I thought. The cornucopia and the forest surrounding was perfect for the atmosphere.

Scene specific:

The individual training scene was done perfectly and Jennifer Lawrence’s acting was absolutely great there. The bread flashback scene wasn’t explained, however well done it was, there was no significance to audiences who haven’t read the book. The “trackerjacker” scene, I thought was really well done and one of my favourites of the entire movie. I think the shakiness of the camera and the hallucinations and blurriness really brought it to life. The death scene (yes, THAT one with THAT person) did not make me tear up when I was reading about it. But –crazily enough– it did bring tears to my eyes when I was watching it on the screen. The “cave” scene wasn’t as deep emotionally as I expected it to be. That relationship needed to develop and although it did, in a way, it was not enough to satisfy my take on it from the book.

Katniss & Peeta in training

Book-to-Movie – The Good and the Not as Good/Different:

[this will be a list of random words or phrases other than what I’ve already mentioned above that will hopefully not spoil much, if any, of the book if you have not read it]

Good: President Snow’s creep-factor, tribute opening ceremony costumes, cornucopia battle, the “feast”, tracker-jacker hallucinations, mockingjays, Peeta’s camouflage, Effie Trinket, forest fire, salute from D11

Not as Good/Different: cave scene, gore (I know, PG-13, but still would have added a real-ness to the movie), hovercraft at the end, Peeta’s leg thing, cough syrup, Avox girl, muttations, Rue/Katniss relationship development, Katniss/Peeta relationship development

Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie! You can’t fit an entire book into 2.5 hours and expect to please everybody. I think Gary Ross did an excellent job with the help of Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray (screenplay co-writers w/ Gary Ross). It definitely wasn’t a disappointment and I am already awaiting Catching Fire (my favourite of the trilogy).

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains - except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay - no matter what the personal cost.

Rating: 

Cover Art: The mockingjay soaring through a clear blue sky? What an opposite to the story held within the cover.

Review:

[Book 3 in the Hunger Games Trilogy]

Hmm, was that the end? Somehow I feel like the end didn’t “end” properly. I feel like there are loose ends hanging on the end of the Mockingjay’s tail. Things didn’t wrap up like I wanted them to. Yes, I had my own speculations about the ending, but even if they were wrong, I was expecting what was actually written to go beyond the details of my feeble imagination. It didn’t, in my opinion. It felt… rushed. Yes. I’ll go with that as the main reason for knocking one star off of the rating.

But! The story leading up to the ending was a great read in itself. The dynamic of the book changes to a full-on war setting. The beginning sets the scene,  slow to start, yet again. Once the action appears, it’s page-turner after page-turner and I loved how the action sequences were written. The writing is detailed and specific – and that, to me, is what makes a book worth reading – when I can form pictures in my mind and play it in my head like a movie going along with the text. This book, like the rest of the series, fulfilled that imagination-inspiring requirement.

The characters… sigh. I was hoping for more from the characters, to be honest. Yes, Katniss had been through a lot, but she goes back and forth in her stability as the female protagonist, and that did not appeal to me at all. I was expecting her to grow and develop more strength after what she had been through. Her character is still fiery, the interactions with other characters are on par, and she is still strong in a sense – just that setback that I was not expecting of her. Peeta, well, I can’t say much about him. Just a surprising turn in his story. Getting more of Gale’s character was good. Learning about his thought processes and decisions was disconcerting, but I can’t fault Suzanne Collins for that – that was more of my own expectations of Gale [Hohum…]. His character’s story ending was one I didn’t get closure on -sigh again-. Also, who she ends up with at the end? I guessed it, but that wasn’t the path I was expecting. I wanted Katniss to CHOOSE him, not…  [Blarg! (sound of frustration)]

New characters were hard to connect with. Yes, they were minor minor characters, but this was very unlike the first and second book to the series. Characters died. I was sad. I was sad because when the characters died, that was that, and the story moved on. Too quick for my tastes for one/two/some of those deaths.

Overall, the book is great. Action, adventure, war, more twists and surprises. I know it seemed like I was complaining for most of the review, but as human nature goes – the bad stuff sticks the most. I had fun reading it and I’m sure the majority of readers will enjoy it as well.

~C

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

Rating: 

Cover Art: Loving the fiery colour and the token mockingjay on the front. Simple yet it works with the story itself.

Review:

[Book 2 in the Hunger Games Trilogy]

Can I just say ‘O-M-G’ and leave my mouth hanging open for a second?

Ahem. Excuse the internet slang and slack jawed moment, but this book is full of chapter endings and page turning scenes [and eventually the ultimate cliffhanger] that force your face into expressions such as these. I think what drew me in to this book was all the action-packed chapters, twists, and turns in the plot and character development. I could not put this book down and even if I had to I was literally dreaming about what would happen next.

The characters, both new and old, I am loving. Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are still, well… there. Not meant to sound disappointed. Their roles are the same, just some new additions to their story: Katniss is in heaps of trouble, Peeta’s along for the ride, and Gale’s developed into a much more rounded character. But as for the new characters that make their appearance, I just love the different personalities and conversations they have. They are so much fun and it makes going through the book an adventure where the reader can get attached to even these ‘minor’ characters. The relationships, glimpses into their back story, the dialogue, oh… essentially everything! And… I’m not sure what to think of the “triangle” thus far. It isn’t getting out of hand, that’s for sure, so I’ll leave it for now. I do have my own opinion as to who Katniss will end up with, but I’ll keep that to myself. And, I have to say, Finnick is awesome. That is all.

As for the story development… well who didn’t see that coming? Not the thing at the end, but ultimately the whole… thing. Anyways, if you read the book, you probably know what I’m talking about. I’m liking that it is going in this general direction and makes for the next book to be action-packed for sure. Catching Fire may start out a little slow, but it builds quickly and essentially stays in the ‘climax’ zone for much of the ending. I say the build up just makes the rest of the book that much more satisfying to read. No resolution to this book at the end, but I suppose that’s what Mockingjay is for.

~C

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

There are a few things Jeremy Marsh was sure he’d never do: he’d never leave New York City; never give his heart away after barely surviving one failed marriage; and never become a parent. Now Jeremy is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, engaged to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the start of their family. But just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, a mysterious and disturbing e-mail sets off a chain of events that will change the course of this young couple’s relationship. How well do we really know the ones we love? How do we handle the inevitable doubts, fears concerning parenthood, and stumbling blocks that are sometimes placed in our way? Continuing the story of the young couple introduced in Sparks’s bestselling True Believer, this novel captures all the heartbreak, tension, romance and surprises of those who are newly wed. An astonishing tale about the love between a man and a woman and between a parent and a child, At First Sight is about endings that bring new beginnings . . . tragedies that lead to unexpected joy . . . and, most of all, the magic of everlasting love.

Rating: ★★

Cover ArtNothing too special about it – typically Nicholas Sparks~

Review:

I had only read Sparks’ Message in a Bottle and picked this up on a whim from the library. I only found out after reading a couple of the reviews here on Goodreads… some indication that the story was continuing from True Believerwould have been nice~! [Most likely will not read that book now that I’ve essentially read the ending]

The title of the book suggests that the characters fall in love at first sight. And though the story indicates that they did, there were hardly any “lovey-dovey” scenes that are to be expected when a couple first gets together. The story begins with the plan that the characters get married. The planning process is supposed to be a happy, exciting event, but all I felt that was conveyed through the characters was stress and regret. The story has its ups – like those random short sweet moments that actually happen in life. But all in all, there were more sad and angry moments than I expected. Unfortunately this was a book I could put down before finishing.

As for Sparks’ books in general, all I can say is “Next!”

PS: Am I starting to see a pattern to the endings in Nicholas Sparks’ books?

~C

The Hunger Games Movie

13 more days until the anticipated movie comes out. [March 23rd!]

I know I have just finished the book. But I am already totally excited to see the book on the big screen. I’ve watched the trailers and everything looks super awesome already. The cast looks great and the main characters are almost exactly how I pictured them. The main cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. Let’s just hope the rest of the movie has the same tone and intensity as the trailers.

Watch the official Hunger Games trailer here.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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 steps forward to take her sister's place 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 weight survival against humanity and life against love.

Rating: ★★★★★

Cover Art:  The simple design works great for the book; gold mockingjay pin on a black background. Nice.

Review

[Why did it take me so long to pick this book up?]


This story is filled with action, character development, twists and turns. Everything I love about books is included in The Hunger Games. It’s violent, yes – but that just puts it on a different shelf apart from books that are all lovey-dovey, sweets and candy. If you don’t want to read about violence, don’t pick this book up. Simple as that. Is it predictable? Yes. But really, it’s a series of three books, what did you expect? Is the writing imperfect? Yes. But it’s written from a teenager’s perspective. How many teenagers have a writing/English/journalism degree?

The book is a capturing read in spite of all the “issues” that, if you are completely immersed in the story, you will not notice. Suzanne Collins develops the setting in such a way, that nearly all elements of today’s world are gone and something completely new has emerged. Details, creativity, new ideas… She developed the setting very well and the reader can easily jump into the novel with Katniss and the others.

The characters are nicely developed for the first of three books. I wasn’t expecting much out of character development, but what did show, was that each of them have their own unique personality. Katniss is a great female protagonist. She’s strong-willed, clever, and puts her heart into everything she does. [Plus, those archery skills? Pure awesomeness.] I was really rooting for her to do more than she did in the book, but what happened was semi-satisfying in the end. Peeta and Gale, the boys of the story, have yet to be more developed, I hope, by the end of the series. I think characterization is a huge part of what makes the story something worth reading.

The action in this book, however, happens when you least expect it. It’s hard to empathize with Katniss, seeing as none of us have ever been in that type of situation. But it’s easy to imagine her fear, the conflict, what she is seeing, and what she is feeling because it’s written well. The suspense can make your heart beat faster and you just want to keep turning the pages to see what will happen next.

It ends on a cliffhanger [of course], but I’ve already opened Catching Fire, the second in the series. I have a feeling I’ll need Mockingjay, the third book, awaiting on my shelf as well.

~C