Becky’s Forty-Fifth Book Review: “The Hunger Games: Book Two, Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE HUNGER GAMES SERIES AND ARE PLANNING ON IT!

The second book in “The Hunger Games” series went even quicker than the first book. I guess part of this is because that the first book gets the readers so attached to the characters. Book two picks up with Katniss and Peeta preparing to visit all of the districts to celebrate their victory—a cruel way for the Capitol to remind the people exactly who killed their children. Before the train ride begins that will take Katniss and Peeta to district eleven, President Snow visits Katniss and explains to her that she started something by refusing to play the games by the Capitol’s rules (when she pulls out the poison berries so that she and Peeta can die together). President Snow makes it clear that he will kill all of the people that she knows and loves if she doesn’t convince the world that the only reason that she did it was because she was so desperately in love that she couldn’t imagine life without Peeta. At this point, Katniss realizes that she will be playing the Capitol’s games for the rest of her life.

In a shocking turn of events, the 75th hunger games are announced with the special condition this year where the reaping will pick from the pool of those who have won the games in the past. Since Katniss is the only girl in the twelfth district to win the games she understands that the nightmare that she barely walked out of alive last year she will have to once again face. This all occurs in the first few chapters and things accelerate very quickly. I don’t want to give too much away because the book was a great read and I think that anyone would enjoy it. Collins definitely keeps her audience on her feet with different surprises around each corner. Some of the things that she imagines in this world that she has created are horrible and astounding at the same time.

Really good book—already I am well into the third book. I will more than likely finish it today. Yay for holiday weekends!!  

Becky’s Forty-Fourth Book Review: “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

Yesterday I started reading “The Hunger Games”. I did this partly because I had heard from multiple sources that the books were really good and so I wanted to read it for myself. I also started reading with the intention of getting my boyfriend off of my back. While he didn’t want to read the books himself, Adam wanted to watch the movie and knew that I would refuse to watch it until after I read the book. I now understand why the series is so popular. Collins has a way of captivating the audience with her writing.

 

I think there were several factors that contributed to why the series is so popular. First of all, Collins makes the main character very likeable. You can’t help but cheer for this girl who has risen to the task of caring for her family ever since her father died and her mother fell into a deep depression. The hunger games require two players from each of the twelve districts, one boy and one girl. Katniss is worried about how many times her name has been entered and when the girl name is called, it isn’t Katniss, but rather her younger sister Primrose. This is a crucial point in the story where Suzanne Collins makes the audience feel for Katniss. Instead of letting her sister go off to the games where a sure death lies in wait, Katniss volunteers to take her place.

 

The book just gets better and better. You feel sympathy for Katniss and you are cheering for her to win. At the same time, the boy who was called, Peeta is another character who is easy to like and you feel frustrated that only one can win. Of course, there are some changes made in the rules, but I don’t want to give too much away in case you want to read this book.

 

I’ve recently been reading Stephen King’s “On Writing” and from his descriptions, I have come to see more things in books that I haven’t noticed or appreciated before. A lot of the things that King tries to instruct upon is not over writing, but having enough description to allow the reader to finish the image in their own mind. I feel like Suzanne Collins kept a wonderful balance in “The Hunger Games”. The second that I finished the first book I started the second one and am already devouring it.

 

Would I recommend this book? Yes! I cannot think of anyone who wouldn’t like the series. There are so many emotions that Collins touches on throughout the novel that would appeal to so many different readers. I’m looking forward to watching the movie. Just might write a review on that as well!

Becky’s Forty-Third Book Review: “Love in a Nutshell” by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

 

I just finished reading “Love in a Nutshell” by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly. This novel follows two characters, Kate Appleton and Matt Culhane. Kate just went through a divorce and moved back to her home town with plans of opening up a bed and breakfast at her parents’ old property. Meanwhile, she plans to make the necessary renovations but is light on cash, so she gets a job which she is very quickly fired from, the owner blaming her for ‘flat beer’. Kate goes to the guy who makes the beer to say that it was his fault that she got fired and that he needs to give her a job. This is where Matt and Kate meet. Matt is encouraged by Kate’s strong personality and her inability to hear the word ‘no’. He decides that she would be the perfect employee and hires her—as a spy. Someone has been sabotaging his business and Kate is hired to get to the bottom of it all.

The dialog and writing in this book was very cute but very light. I actually thought that the first chapter or so was a little on the boring side and almost put down the book. Luckily for me, my kindle was out of battery and I was stranded at the train station so I only had this book with me and it got another chance. I quickly became hooked to the story.

I think that “Love in a Nutshell” is one of the better books that Janet Evanovich has written with a co-author. Pretty good book and if you are a fan of chic-lit and especially Evanovich’s novels that I would recommend this book to you.

Becky’s Forty-Second Book Review: “The Dark Monk” by Oliver Pötzsch

Yesterday I finished reading “The Dark Monk: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale” by Oliver Pötzsch. This is the second book that Oliver Pötzsch has written following the Hangman’s daughter. I enjoyed this book for the most part, although I still liked the first book in this series better.

“The Dark Monk” followed the same characters, Magdalene, Simon, and Jakob Kuisl. I am a big fan of Magdalene’s character, I find many similarities between her personality and my own. Oliver Pötzsch gives her a fiery passion and a short temper that I find myself relating to. I found myself disliking Simon more and more in this novel. Partly because of his behavior, and partly because he comes off as a pompous ass; he is always worried that his adventures will ruin his fancy clothing. Any guy who cares that much about his appearance is not someone worth being with (in my opinion).

This time the story involves Jakob and Simon trying to solve a murder and stumbling upon a well kept secret involving the Knight’s Templar. The two have to work together to solve the riddles that seem to be never ending. Meanwhile Magdalene is off on her own adventures that inevitably lead her back to the same puzzle that Simon and her father are trying to solve.

I enjoy Oliver Pötzsch’s writing and I find it especially fascinating that he is building this world around his ancestors. At the end of the novel Oliver Pötzsch goes into how he has been contacted by many people who can trace their origins back to Jakob Kuisl as well which is really pretty cool.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think that Oliver Pötzsch is a very talented author who is worth reading. The next book in the series will be coming out in early January, 2013 (The Beggar King). 

Becky’s Forty-First Book Review: “Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn

Yesterday I finished reading “Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn. She has a very unique way of tackling the darker subjects in life. I am kind of disappointed that she has only written three books at this point in her career, I just have to wait for more I guess.

“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn is a novel about the Day family, focused largely on Libby Day. In the early hours of January 3rd, 1989 Libby’s mom and two sisters were brutally murdered. She was only seven years old and testified that her fifteen year old brother Ben was the one who killed her family. The novel takes us 25 years in the future where Libby is no longer the little girl who lost her family and survived this horrible thing, but a drifting, useless person. Libby never had a job and never needed one because she inherited a nice sum of money when she turned eighteen from all the well wishers around the country.

Libby has all but run out of money and turns to the ‘kill club’ to earn more. This is a group that is obsessed with the murders of her family and convinced that Ben has been wrongfully convicted. Libby decides to confront the horrors of that night for the first time ever. The kill club has Libby talking to various witnesses, re-reading court room testimony, and looking at memories from her childhood that had been boxed up under the stairs for years.

The story is told by a few different people, but it mostly focuses on Libby Day in present time and Patty Day (her mother) in the past, the day before she was killed. Ben Day also tells his story from time to time. I like when authors do this, it keeps things suspenseful and allows for the reader to uncover the truth of the story from different angles.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Flynn is a very talented author and while her topics of choice aren’t full of candy and bunny rabbits the writing is exceptional. This novel, just like her first one would be considered a thriller so I am sure there are those out there who wouldn’t appreciate the suspenseful nature of the novel. Overall though, the book was excellent. I am looking forward to reading her next novel.

Becky’s Fortieth Book Review: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

Yesterday morning I started reading “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn. Last night I finished it. The novel was truly addictive, a fast paced thriller that I could not put down. The story is about a woman named Camille who writes for a small Chicago newspaper. In the small town that Camille grew up in, a girl goes missing—the second one in nine months. The first girl had turned up dead with all of her teeth removed. Knowing that Camille is from this town, her boss asks her to cover the story. He thinks that it would be good for Camille to get home after her recent stay in a hospital where she was treated for cutting. Rather than cutting in the traditional sense (if that makes sense), Camille would cut words into herself. Camille is forced to return to the home she hasn’t seen in eight years and the town that she had hoped to never see again. Very shortly after arriving in town, the second girl turns up dead with all of her teeth removed as well.

We soon learn just how uncomfortable life was for Camille growing up. Her mother is a stiff, cold woman who never forgave Camille for being the daughter to live. When she was thirteen, Camille lost her little sister who was always sickly. Her sister was of course doted upon by her parents and the loss was devastating to the family. Now Camille is stuck in her old town in her old home in her old room and finding herself relating to the victims. In her old home is a new sister, thirteen years old herself and mother’s favorite. Amma goes back and forth between being a charming little girl to an out of control teen. Camille is forced to deal with the demons that she had been suppressing for so long.

While reading the novel I kept trying to figure out what was happening to these girls and I enjoyed how the end was a twist that I really didn’t see coming. Would I recommend this book? It certainly is not for the faint of heart, but I enjoyed it enough to dive right into Flynn’s next novel this morning. Gillian Flynn has a way of tackling dark subjects and making them truly fascinating.

Becky’s Thirty-Ninth Book Review: “Full Scoop” by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE EARLIER BOOKS IN THE ‘FULL’ SERIES AND ARE PLANNING ON IT

 

“Full Scoop” is the latest novel in the ‘Full’ series written by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes. I finished it last week but have not had a chance to write my review. This novel still featured Max Holt and Jamie Swift, like “Full Bloom” did, but once again did not revolve around the two characters. The main character in “Full Scoop” is a pediatrician named Maggie Davenport. When her ex escapes from prison she knows that she is in danger along with her thirteen year old daughter, Mel. The FBI send an agent to protect the two and Zack Madden soon finds himself caring a little too much about Maggie and Mel.

The relationship between Jamie and Maggie goes way back and Max does everything in his power to ensure Maggie and Mel will remain safe. Jamie and Max are trying to get pregnant in this book and loveable Fleas is still around.

I have to say, I was rather disappointed in this book but at the same time, I’m not surprised. When I was reading “Full Bloom” where Max and Jamie were secondary characters I figured that they were no longer going to be in the spotlight with this series. At the same time, I was frustrated that the books are still lumped into the ‘Full’ series without the same main characters. When Diesel was introduced to the Stephanie Plum novels, Evanovich made a new series. Besides the ‘Between the Numbers’ books, there are also “Wicked Appetite” and “Wicked Business”. I don’t know why in a series where Jamie Swift and Max Holt are supposed to be the main characters they end up only being the main characters in three out of six books! This series is a fun read, but it certainly is no Stephanie Plum series.