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    Book Thoughts: Mockingjay

    Mockingjay

    Title: Mockingjay

    Author: Suzanne Collins

    Publisher: Scholastic

    Release date: August 24, 2010

    Goodreads description:

    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.

    As with the two other books in this series, I decided not to review Mockingjay and instead simply post my thoughts about this book and series. This would have been the most difficult book, by far, in this series to review. And I definitely feel that my thoughts would have been inadequately expressed in a review format.

    And as with both other books in this trilogy, I have rated it on Goodreads, giving it 4/5 stars. Throughout much of the book I felt it was more of a “like” than a “love” and would have rated it a three, but for the ending. However, now that I’ve sat with it for just a bit, taking into account some of the messages I felt the author was putting forth, I would have given it a four regardless.

    While I very much enjoyed the author’s writing once again in this third book in the series, I wasn’t captivated by the story. I found myself easily distracted and set the book aside on numerous occasions. There were even points during the read that I was so frustrated with the main character, Katniss Everdeen, that I almost didn’t want to go on. But mostly I just felt no real connection to this book or series.

    I still blame much of this on being so late to the party. I’ve come to expect a lot more in the books I read in terms of making a connection with either the character or the story. And I expect a lot more depth to the characters than I felt when reading these books. Especially by the third book in a series. But I just didn’t feel that depth. And I had almost no connection.

    I also expected to care one way or the other for the main character. Love her or hate her, I expected to feel passionately about her. But again, I only felt lukewarm toward her. However, this may have had to do with the buzz. I had expected her to be an incredibly strong character. Someone who was brave and independent and sure of her decisions. I  kept waiting for that awakening by her character. But that, too, never came.

    After reading this third book I feel fairly certain, however, that the author didn’t create this character to be easy to connect with. She wasn’t incredibly likable. She was a hunter. She was a provider. She was a protector. She was a killer. She was calculating.

    And for some reason these qualities made her the perfect symbol for the revolution in this story even if she was really more of a figurehead than a true leader. Perhaps it was because they weren’t looking for a leader but someone they could control and manipulate.

    Katniss was indecisive. Her loyalties couldn’t be trusted. She lacked the passion that Gale had toward the revolution. She lacked the skill that Peeta had in rallying the people. She lacked the kindness that either of them had. And I think the author described her best when she said: “Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.”

    Except for where it concerned her sister, Katniss approached things like a predator. And I think this is why I just couldn’t connect with her. Even when she finally broke down I didn’t feel pity for her, when I felt saddened for everyone else.

    Again in this third book, I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened. I expected it to end pretty much as it did. I didn’t find myself getting caught up in the action, even when the characters headed to the Capitol. And I didn’t find myself falling apart when several of them were lost along the way.

    Even for the one character who I was very much hoping to see more of in this book. Everything happened so quickly, leaving no time to reflect or mourn and it felt as if the author was trying to create a distance from the character long before their demise.

    But I did keep expecting to become angry with this story. From all the chatter about this third book I anticipated a huge letdown with the ending. But that never happened for me. I thought it was the perfect ending for this trilogy.

    The way the author ended her series in this book made me like it all the more. It was believable. It felt real. It felt honest. There was no way this could have ended on a high note. Not if it were to stay true to the storyline. Just looking at Haymitch and Annie and all the previous victors told me that there could never really be that fairytale ending.

    And this was a story about war and cruelty and suffering. With everything that happened, everything that was lost, the burden that was placed on Katniss’ shoulders, there was no way she could have shrugged that off.

    While this series didn’t tug on my heartstrings like I had expected it to, I find it to be one of those sticky ones. One where certain elements affect me after the fact. One that felt sort of shallow while I was reading it, but actually is much deeper upon reflection. One where each book in the series didn’t grab me, but as a whole I find it to have much more meaning. But all of that came together in this final book in the series.

    I was fascinated by the gamesmanship. I was intrigued by the notion that everything was just a game. That these two political leaders were fighting a battle for dominance and that all the characters who thought they were of value were really just pawns. And no matter who the victor, history seemed doomed to repeat itself.

    I was not surprised about Coin’s maneuvering because of the hints the author gave throughout. From the moment I was introduced to District 13 I was suspect. About the leadership. About their motives. So I very much enjoyed seeing Katniss’ reaction as the truth came out.

    While I felt that many of the characters’ stories throughout the series felt incomplete, I loved just how well-developed the story arc was from first book to last and how well-developed the main character was. Her behavior was predictable because it was established very clearly at the beginning of the series. I had just hoped there would be some growth.

    And while I didn’t have too much of an emotional connection to the characters in this series, I did break down just a bit at the end thanks to my favorite character, Buttercup. That darn cat snuck up on me. He was the most expressive and emotional character in this story and where no other character could, he managed to bring on the tears.

    I have yet to read a review of any of the books in this series but I will have to check out the reviews for Mockingjay to find out just what people didn’t love about the ending. I think the way things resolved themselves with the love triangle felt right. After everything that happened, I don’t see how Katniss could forgive the boy she chose to let go.

    And I thought the way things ended for her was the right way to end things. She always was a survivor. From the very beginning. As wonderfully dramatic as it would have been to see her wither away to nothing, it wouldn’t have felt true to who she was.

    All the characters left standing at the end were coping in the only way they could. They lost a lot. They lived. They began to rebuild their lives. Or perhaps they didn’t. And they never fully recovered from all they experienced. I don’t know any ending more honest than that. But maybe readers were expecting the fairytale.

    I don’t typically enjoy epilogues that take place years after the story ends. I like to leave the characters where they were at the moment I last “knew” them. But I loved the epilogue in this story. It reinforced everything the story was trying to convey. That time passes, there is a rebirth and that remembering and honoring the past is important to not repeating it in the future.

    While I can’t say this will be listed among my favorite series of all time, I am glad I read it. Even though the war aspect felt a bit more real than I typically like to read about in fiction. And after finishing Mockingjay I’m left thinking of the cruelty of human beings, the senseless violence they will engage in and the devastating and long-lasting effects of war. So, yes, this story itself will stick with me for a long while, where the characters themselves may not.

    Oh, and yes, I am Team Peeta.

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    My Reading Pile #57

    That huge box of books I was expecting from a trade came in this week. As did an amazing box of seven books and ARCs from HarperTeen for the Rock the Drop event. As the RTD books were not mine to keep, I am not featuring them below. But if you’d like to, you can check out what I got (HERE) and how I dropped them (HERE).

    As I am sharing what I received in my mailbox this week, I’m giving credit to Kristi at The Story Siren who came up with the idea of sharing what’s in her mailbox each week.

    I received all ten books above from a trade with another blogger. Yes, that’s the third copy of The Immortal Rules that I received, but I have also promised this one to someone else once I finish reading it.

    I am so super excited to read Endlessly by Kiersten White and once I get caught up on the earlier books in the series I can’t wait to read Once by Anna Carey, Underworld by Meg Cabot and Destiny by Gillian Shields.

    I’ve heard that For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund is beyond awesome as is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. And I was so excited about Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard that I requested it via Edelweiss so I may end up passing along the print edition and just review the eARC.

    I hadn’t heard of Drain You by M. B. Bloom, but it definitely looks interesting and I hope I get time to read it prior to its release in July. And last, but not least I am super curious about Soulbound by Heather Brewer. I very much enjoyed the one book I read in the Vladimir Tod series and own all books in that series, so I can’t wait to check out this first book in her new series.

    Anyway, none of those books will be read this week, except perhaps just one. So….

    Here are the books I have in my reading pile this week.

    (April 15 – April 21, 2012)

    ***

    First up on the pile is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I bought the eBook as I apparently didn’t own it like I thought I did. I only had the first two books in the series. I had added The Girl Who Was On Fire to the pile last week, planning on reading it after The Hunger Games, but decided that I’d rather form my own opinions of the entire series prior to reading what the authors think.

    So I managed to sneak in an all-night read of Catching Fire last week and this week I’m going to be reading Mockingjay.

    I am extremely curious to see if I’ll be in the minority and love how this one ends. I tend to like unpopular endings. As long as they feel right for the characters I’m not so concerned about whether the endings are perfect for me.

    I wonder if Katniss will become the leader I hope she can be. And I am dying to find out just what each person’s part was in those “carefully laid plans.”

    And once I have discovered this series for myself I know I’ll be even more curious about what the authors had to say.

    Next up on the pile is Thumped by Megan McCafferty. I received a surprise copy for review from HarperTeen and I’ve been dying to read it ever since. I very much loved the first book in the series, Bumped, and I can’t wait to see how the series ends.

    I found myself absolutely fascinated by Bumped. I thought the book was incredibly clever and a frighteningly real possibility for our future. I can’t wait to find out what’s happening with Harmony and Melody – to see if they are able to find true happiness or if they choose to live the lies they’ve created for themselves.

    I would love to have the time to go back and read Bumped once more but as it was an incredibly memorable book it isn’t necessary. I am hopeful that in this book both girls tell the truth and I can’t wait to see what the repercussions for that are.

    I just know that this book will be a super quick and easy read. But it’s all that stuff under the surface that takes awhile to absorb. So I may have to chew on this for awhile before I post my thoughts. But I will not be missing out on reading Thumped this week.

    Wishful Thinking reads:

    I am glad that Endlessly by Kiersten White didn’t arrive earlier so that I can officially add it as one of this week’s wishful thinking reads. I believe it’s the series ending book, which typically would mean that I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. But I really can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next with Evie, Lend and Reth and so I think my curiosity will win out.

    I also hope to start Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill. I’d been intrigued by that series since it crossed over into the author’s young adult series. But when someone gave this book a terrific recommendation on my other blog a couple weeks ago, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. And so I’m adding that as a second wishful thinking read this week.

    Those left behind:

    My reviews are falling farther and farther behind though I’m only slightly behind on my reading. I decided not to review the books in The Hunger Games series and just share my thoughts instead. But I haven’t posted an official review in more than two weeks and it’s stressing me out to no end.

    I have not read either book from last week, but I did read three books this week – The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and My Soul to Keep. I will be catching up with last week’s The Girl Who Was On Fire just as soon as I finish Mockingjay and I hope to read Shine immediately after that.

    I am in the process of writing my review for My Soul to Keep which I’ll be posting later in the day, so hopefully that will break me out of my review writing slump.

    NetGalley Pile Adds:

    I totally cracked under pressure when I saw the New on Netgalley post at Bookalicious. While I fought the urge to request all the books, I did end up requesting Crimson Rising, book two in the Skyship Academy series by Nick James.

    I own and still have to read book one, but this series sounds so awesome, and as there’s plenty of time to read both books I just had to grab it.

    ***

    I am still guilt-ridden for not having posted my overdue reviews. But it has been fun to post my thoughts on the Suzanne Collins books rather than trying to write them in my review format. Thinking about books in a more cut and dry way has been an interesting and refreshing change, even though I don’t typically like to think about books with that level of specificity.

    I also find that I am just a bit quicker of a reader when I know ahead of time that I won’t be writing a review. Maybe I should add in a few reads to just read every once in awhile. Hmmm… Anyway, I hope you have an amazingly happy reading week ahead of you!

    ***

    Do you create a reading pile?

    If so, what’s in your pile this week?

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    Book Thoughts: Catching Fire

    Title: Catching Fire

    Author: Suzanne Collins

    Publisher: Scholastic

    Release date: September 1, 2009

    Goodreads description:

    Sparks are igniting, flames are spreading and the Capitol wants revenge.

    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.

    In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before… and surprising readers at every turn.

    I decided not to write a review for Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. As with that first book in the series, it’s long past release date and there is really no need for a formal review. There is enough chatter and there are plenty of reviews already written to get an adequate picture of what to expect in this sequel.

    Although I’m not reviewing it, it would be much easier for me to review this book than The Hunger Games as my thoughts on this sequel are much clearer. There is no movie to cloud my judgment and it didn’t so closely parallel one of my favorite books of all time to come up just a bit short in comparison.

    While I am not reviewing it, I have rated it. And my rating for Catching Fire is 5/5 stars on Goodreads – which amounts to “amazing” on the blog. And while there were a couple of things toward the end of this book that did fall just a bit shy of perfection they were not enough to keep this from being a five star, though my reaction is more a “really, really, really loved it” than an “amazing.”

    From just reading the first few chapters I knew that I was going to enjoy this book much more than The Hunger Games. The worldbuilding I felt was lacking in that first book was more than present here. The emotional connection to the story and characters I wasn’t able to make in THG, was one I made early on and which continued to grow as the story progressed. The depth to the story I felt was missing in book one wasn’t absent in book two. And the strong similarities I felt to other books and films were almost non-existent until the end.

    I enjoyed getting a peek at the other districts in this book. It gave me a clearer picture of what this world was like, who the characters were that were sent to the games and what their true feelings were about what was happening to them.

    Seeing the reactions of the people in the districts from the glimpses the author gave, helped me to understand this dystopian society and to connect with the story. I was able to see just how different each district was – in size, level of confinement, strength of its people and its means of survival. And I could see just how the Capitol kept them isolated from one another in order to keep control.

    My connection with the suffering of the people in Rue’s district was immediate. It was the strongest connection I made to any of the districts, including District 12. I was able to get a taste of their strength, their resilience and their need to make a stand. And I was heartbroken when their show of defiance cost them. It stuck with me for the entire book.

    The obliterated District 13 that I felt most intrigued by in The Hunger Games was brought into Catching Fire. And while it hasn’t yet been fully incorporated into the story, I have a feeling that there will be much more about it in the final book in the series. And I’m very much looking forward to finding out just what secrets it holds.

    I grew to like Katniss much more in this story than I did in the first. While she’s still not my favorite character, I think by the end of the trilogy she just might be. I still don’t feel a strong emotional connection to her though, but I do now sympathize with all that she is going through and all that she’s had to face and will have to face in the final installment in the series.

    I admire her strength to survive and her instinct to protect. I love her stubbornness and her readiness to sacrifice herself for those she cares about. She is brave. She is stubborn. She is fiercely independent. And even though she hasn’t yet developed into the leader that she needs to be, I believe she will.

    But while she has grown as a character, she is still incredibly indecisive. Which is what frustrated me the most about her. She flip flops about almost every major decision. About Peeta and Gale. About staying or leaving. About the alliances she’s made. One minute she’s a friend, the next an enemy. One minute she is so sure about one boy, the next it’s the other. She’s impulsive at times and yet incredibly cautious at others. Sometimes she shows great intelligence and other times she’s completely clueless.

    While I love a flawed character, especially one that grows, I felt that the two sides to her were so at odds, so often, that it was like watching a tennis match. In one inner monologue she could change her mind so often it gave me no real sense where her loyalties lay.

    Yes, I was frustrated by her and wanted to shake her and tell her to stop blaming herself and to make a decision and stick with it. But the fact that I did want her to do all of these things made me realize that I had made at least some kind of a connection to the character. One that I didn’t have in the first book. I cared about her survival and the choices she made, where I was indifferent at the end of The Hunger Games.

    And where I didn’t feel like I really got to know Peeta in that first book, I felt like I got to know his character a lot more in this book. And he has become my favorite character in the series. I found him to be brave and selfless and smart and kind and caring. And not as much of an open book as I had thought.

    I also thought I would like Gale more. But after his actions in this book, I think he’s a bit too much like Katniss – impulsive and so quick to write someone off – and not nearly as likable or strong as she is.

    Finnick was a definite surprise. He added an exciting dynamic to the story that it didn’t have with just Katniss, Peeta and Gale. And while not part of that love triangle, he did bring a different energy and personality into the mix, which was refreshing.

    Once again, though, when things got back into the arena I felt similarities to other stories I’ve read and movies I’ve seen. It didn’t feel unique. I got that sense of déjà vu and found myself wondering what the author could have added to make it stand out.

    And it just wasn’t as detailed or developed as I thought it could have been. I didn’t get a sense of the horrors that awaited the characters in all of the sections of the arena. The deaths of a majority of the tributes were vague and unexplained. At times it just felt too quick, too easy and too rushed. And if it weren’t for Finnick, I think this last section of the book might have caused my rating to drop.

    I did love Catching Fire much more than The Hunger Games. I loved getting to know the characters from that first book just a bit more. I loved seeing the progression. I was excited to be back in the world. I was creeped out to no end by President Snow. I was devastated by the Peacekeeper’s actions in Rue’s district. My heart sunk when Gale was caught and punished. It sunk further when the new Avox was introduced. And it broke just a little bit for Katniss’ prep team.

    And while I just knew it was going to happen, I nearly screamed when the mandate for choosing the Quell participants came through. But my biggest heartache was for Cinna who was smarter and braver than just about anyone.

    If I were to write a review – which I’m not – I would say that this sequel had action, twists and turns, surprises and heartbreak. The world was intriguing. The story captivating. The characters more exciting. And the threats more numerous and even deadlier.

    While missing some of the complexity and depth to this story of others in the genre, it was incredibly entertaining, there were characters to like, love, hate and pity, the writing flowed beautiful and there was a cliffhanger that leaves you no choice but to read on.

    I’m glad that I continued on with this series. And I most definitely plan to read Mockingjay in the next few days. While Catching Fire may not have blown me away as I had hoped it would from all the chatter, this sequel is one that I absolutely loved, was riveted to, connected with and had moments that I thought were pretty amazing.

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    Book Thoughts: The Hunger Games

    Title: The Hunger Games

    Author: Suzanne Collins

    Publisher: Scholastic

    Release date: October 31, 2008

    Goodreads description:

    Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

    In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, the shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh 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 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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

    I decided not to write a review for The Hunger Games for a few reasons. Mainly, though, it’s because I’m so late to the party that everyone – and I mean everyone – but me has read it. And the point of a review is to introduce readers to a book. I wouldn’t be doing that, since I am probably one of the last people on the face of the earth to have read it. But I did want to share my thoughts.

    Another reason I didn’t want to write a review is because if I were to wrangle my thoughts into a review format, I don’t think in that format they would adequately express my feelings and thoughts about this book, the characters and the world.

    And while I thought about doing a Quickie Review – because writing a synopsis is really pointless as everyone knows who Katniss is and what The Hunger Games is about – I still felt I wouldn’t be able to express myself in quite the right way.

    And so a thoughts post it is. But as they’re not random, I’m doing this as a Book Thoughts post.

    While I am not reviewing this book, I do have a rating for it. And I gave The Hunger Games 4/5 stars on Goodreads – which for me is a “loved it” review.

    There are many, many readers who have stated that this book is the best book they’ve ever read, that they were blown away by it and that they felt a connection to this book like no other. Sadly, for me, I didn’t quite make that same kind of connection or feel that same intensity of emotion.

    I wasn’t blown away by The Hunger Games, though I did love it. I think a lot of it had to do with the timing. If I had read it when it was released, or before I had devoured as many YA books as I have, it might have been different. I’m sort of likening it to the Twilight books – though not the quality of the writing – where I absolutely loved them when I read them, but if I were to have discovered them now, I might not feel the same way.

    It also might have had to do with the fact that I saw the film before reading the book. I know – HUGE mistake. And because I wasn’t blown away by the movie – which may have been because I hadn’t yet met the characters, but was more likely because I don’t connect with movies like I do with books – it did initially affect my reading experience. I had to set the book aside for a week and start it all over. And that actually helped, so in the end I don’t think the film had much of an effect on my opinion.

    And while I wasn’t totally amazed by this first book in The Hunger Games trilogy, I will leave my final judgment about my reading experience until I read the entire series. Because sometimes it takes more than just the one book for me to become so caught up in the characters’ lives that I don’t want to let them go. Or become so submerged in the world that I am devastated to have to say goodbye. It is very likely that will happen, as I found myself immediately picking up the second book the moment I set down the first.

    I found that Katniss was a tough one to like. I know she was written that way on purpose and I think the author did a wonderful job with her character, I just didn’t develop any connection with her. And while I sympathized with her plight, I didn’t feel an emotional connection to it or to the fact that she was undergoing it. At least so far in the series. Though, I think that, too, will change. She is starting to show more cracks in her armor and I think the more I am able to connect, the more likable she will be.

    The loss of Rue, however, brought me to tears. The way the author described her, I instantly adored her. I immediately felt afraid for her, as I knew right away that she wasn’t going to be among the final contestants. She was just so young and innocent and fragile.

    While The Hunger Games didn’t leave me in a daze, with my head spinning, what it did do was make me want to read more. And the longer I sit with the story, the more curious I am about where it’s headed.

    There was plenty of action in the story. A quiet sort of action. And I did get caught up in it, but I didn’t feel it was as pulse-pounding as I thought it might be from having heard the chatter. Nor did I feel that sense of heartbreak or devastation for the characters who didn’t make it – aside from Rue – as I thought I would.

    I was always hesitant about reading this book because of The Running Man by Stephen King. Their descriptions just sounded so similar – both have a dystopian setting, though King’s book is not YA, and the games themselves have more than a few similarities. Though not as many as I thought there would be. The film versions of both had more in common than the book versions. Especially as regards the televised portions.

    And while I also felt the society was similar to that in The Handmaid’s Tale, I found myself making more comparisons with Divergent, which I wouldn’t have, had I read this when it was released. I don’t like to compare books, but in this case I just couldn’t help thinking how much more exciting I found that story and those characters to be.

    But what surprised me the most was how often I thought of Stephen King’s The Long Walk, which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time and one that I read once a year. I hadn’t really thought about the parallels until I started reading The Hunger Games.

    In both stories the characters were young adults who were put in a pretty horrific situation – they entered a contest in which there could be only one winner and the only way they could win is if all the other entrants died. In both, the families of the contestants were in desperate need of the prize – riches that would allow them and their families to live in comfort.

    But where I didn’t feel a connection to twenty-one of the twenty-four contestants in The Hunger Games, I did feel a connection to many of the one hundred in The Long Walk. Their back stories were more fully developed, making them much more sympathetic, making the loss of each one that much more heartbreaking.

    Though perhaps it was because this is a young adult story that those other characters weren’t as developed. As this is aimed at a young adult audience, maybe the brutality of the situation had to be softened. Although having been assigned Lord of the Flies to read in grade school, I’m not sure if the age of the audience was the reason here. But I had almost no sympathy for the other contestants who lost their lives. And regardless of how cruel they may have been, I felt that there should have been something in the story that made me feel the loss of their deaths.

    Another difference that kept me from becoming as emotionally tied to The Hunger Games as I’d have liked, was that the characters were chosen by lottery whereas in The Long Walk their participation in the event was on a volunteer basis. Which made The Long Walk that much more heartbreaking because the characters didn’t know what they were getting into until it was too late. Their youth, and the invincibility that comes with it, was used against them. Facing the reality that their lives would end based upon their own choices made that story much more devastating.

    As mentioned, I don’t typically compare books. If I were to compare the bones of the various books I read, I’m sure I’d find quite a few similarities. But I don’t look at books with that level of specificity. And I never make comparisons if I can read a book and connect with the story or characters without feeling a sense of deja vu while reading.

    But there were so many instances in this story where I did find myself thinking about The Long Walk and the fate of the characters in that book. I found myself missing that emotional connection that I had to Ray Garrity and the other Long Walkers. I kept waiting for some kind of depth to the story that either I missed or that just wasn’t there. And where I found myself haunted by The Long Walk, I didn’t have nearly as strong of a reaction to this one. But I did love it.

    If I were to write a review for this book, I would judge it solely on what I thought it had to offer and not how it compared to another book. And my rating reflects this.

    I thought the writing was gorgeous in The Hunger Games. I found myself intrigued by just what happened prior to the events in this book – with District 13 and how the world got to be the way that it was. I am curious as to just what repercussion Katniss will face in Catching Fire for doing what she did. And I would like to get to know Gale a bit more.

    I think Katniss is someone I could grow to like. I already know that she is strong, she is smart and she has a vulnerability that she doesn’t like to show. And I think that now that the series has moved past the arena I can begin to see it as its own story.

    I just think I got to this one too late to feel amazed by this book rather than simply being in love with it. But again, I have a feeling the longer I live with these characters, the more deeply I might fall for them. So I am reading Catching Fire and will see just how connected I become.

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    My Reading Pile #53

    This was a happy surprise kind of week. For one book in particular, anyway. While I am awaiting a few books from a trade, I don’t expect them for a few more days. So the books I received this week were totally unexpected.

    As I am sharing what I received in my mailbox this week, I’m giving credit to Kristi at The Story Siren who came up with the idea of sharing what’s in her mailbox each week.

    I received a finished copy of Forgiven by Jana Oliver from St. Martin’s Griffin which I am so, so, so, so, so excited about. This series is one of my favorites and I had no idea I was on a list to receive an early copy.

    I am such a fan of this series, that getting this book just over a week-and-a-half before its release means the world to me.

    The rest of the books on the pile are ones I received from a trade with Alex of Electrifying Reviews. I have a few of these as eBooks, but a few are new to me, so I’ll definitely be checking them out.

    And because of the surprise book I received this week, I have made just a small change in this week’s reading pile.

    Here are the books I have in my reading pile this week.

    (March 18 – March 24, 2012)

    ***

    First up on the pile is Forgiven by Jana Oliver. Yes, I just received it this week from the publisher and I’ve immediately moved it to the top of my pile. But I am such a huge fan of this series and I just can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen in this third book.

    After that the ending in Soul Thief, I thought I’d die at some point during the wait for this next book. That’s the only drawback to reading an ARC – you have a much longer wait until the next book’s release.

    I was extremely envious of those readers in the UK who received their copies much, much earlier. But I am super thrilled I have mine now, and I do plan on taking full advantage of the opportunity to read this one early. Even if it is just a week or so early.

    The Goodreads description has me so nervous about what is going to happen with Riley, Den and even Ori. But I can’t wait to dive into this book this weekend to find out.

    Next up on the pile is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’ve had the eBook for this first book in the series for quite some time – ever since my friend Nic insisted I should read it.

    Well, with the film release right around the corner, I’m finally going to see what all the fuss is about. I suppose it’s about time I meet Katniss and Peeta.

    Besides, I never like to see movies without having read the books first. And I don’t want to have to delay seeing the film that’s been hyped beyond all belief. Even if the actor playing Peeta isn’t who everyone imagined him to be.

    I haven’t actually read the description for The Hunger Games for quite some time, so I don’t remember exactly what it’s supposed to be about. But I’m glad. I want it to be a complete surprise.

    Wishful Thinking reads:

    Wishes do occasionally come true. I will actually be reading one of my wishful thinking reads this week. I never imagined having the chance to read Forgiven early, but I am super psyched that I do. So, of course I will.

    I also wish I could read Scorched Skies by Samantha Young. If I can’t read it this week, then I definitely want to add it to the pile next week. I desperately want to find out what happens in this sequel. Especially since the description made me incredibly nervous.

    Those left behind:

    I’m still behind. Though I am not going to be playing catch up this week as I will be reading the books I have on this week’s pile and finishing the one I’m currently reading, which is Sweet Evil. But next week I plan on adding a few missed reads back to the pile.

    And as I still haven’t written my review for Dreamless, I will have to read it again as too much time has passed and I’ll need to reconnect to the story in order to properly express my thoughts.

    But I am happy with the fact that I read two books this week and wrote three reviews. Though I have taken two days off from reading since then to get some much needed downtime. Which, of course, feels just slightly counterproductive.

    NetGalley Pile Adds:

    Just one new request this week though I shouldn’t have any. I requested The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross on NetGalley. I’m not sure what possessed me to log in and check, but I did. And when I saw it there I just knew I had to have it.

    But one new request isn’t such a bad thing, is it?

    ***

    I have been heartbroken to have to turn away a few books this week that sounded really, really interesting. It was tough, but I managed to say no. My review piles are totally out of control and I can’t possibly manage them if I keep taking on new books.

    And with all those lovely books coming out in May that I’m so excited about, there’s no way I could think of adding even one more book to the pile before then.

    For those of you who are tackling your reading piles this weekend and next week I wish you good luck and happy reading!

    ***

    Do you create a reading pile?

    If so, what’s in your pile this week?

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    GUEST REVIEW: Mockingjay (Book 3 in The Hunger Games Trilogy)

    Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – reviewed by Nic

    Description from Goodreads:

    Young Katniss Everdeen has survived the dreaded Hunger Games not once, but twice, but even now she can find no relief. In fact, the dangers seem to be escalating: President Snow has declared an all-out war on Kattnis, her family, her friends, and all the oppressed people of District 12. The thrill-packed final installment of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy will keep young hearts pounding.

    Pre-ordered the final book in the series expecting an “OMG – I can’t believe it” sequel, and was sadly disappointed.

    Although I’m glad I read it, and enjoyed it, it was not heart pounding, as the summary suggests.  The book was uneventful for more than half… and then kind of cold and violent for the rest.  Katniss isn’t as strong a character in this one, and is idle in much of the book.

    The greatest thing about Peeta is his wonderful personality, and you don’t get to see that.  The “love triangle” was pretty much ignored (and was a significant part in the first 2).  Things happen, exciting things, but it’s just not the same as the others.

    Read it, definitely, but only to see where the story goes…

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    GUEST REVIEW: Catching Fire (Book 2 in The Hunger Games Trilogy)

    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – reviewed by Nic

    Goodreads synopsis:

    Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the annual competition described in Hunger Games, but the aftermath leaves these victors with no sense of triumph. Instead, they have become the poster boys for a rebellion that they never planned to lead. That new, unwanted status puts them in the bull’s-eye for merciless revenge by The Capitol. Catching Fire maintains the adrenaline rush of Suzanne Collins’s series launch.

    The second installment of The Hunger Games series was much anticipated… I was expecting a filler book until the 3rd, but this was anything BUT a filler. Another nail-biter with more shocking things happening. How does Collins keep shocking us?!?!? Not QUITE as good as the first, but it’s still definitely a MUST-READ!

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