Monday, February 8, 2010

More Awards!

Thank you to Christine Danek for the Honest Scrap award! I just love her site, and I hope you visit it today!! For this award, I'm supposed to tell you all Ten Honest Facts about myself. (*gulp*) it goes:

1. I worry I'm delusional and my writing actually sucks. (All right! We're off to a great start, lol!)
2. I won't join FaceBook because (with the exception on one or two examples) I'm horribly un-photogenic.
3. I've lived on three continents with my husband.
4. Even though I push my kids to learn French, I quietly regret letting them in on what has always been my husband and my secret code.
5. I have, on more occassions than I care to admit, eaten an entire pound-bag of M&Ms.
6. Rap music is my guilty pleasure and I can sing most of Ludacris' lyrics.
7. I hate housework.
8. I was sad both times I saw my children's first sonogram images and learned they weren't twins.
9. If I could afford to buy all the clothes I wanted, I would dress everyday like Jennifer Aniston in "Along Came Polly."
10. I support my kids' desire to try new things, but at her request I signed my daughter up for softball today...and I'm so not looking forward to the upcoming season!

Yikes -- now you know a lot more about me (*blush*). I'd like to pass this award on to:

Terresa Wellborn
Sarah Ahiers
Emma Michaels

Thank you so much to Kimberly Conway for this awesome award! Visit her site, if you haven't met her already, it's a beautiful blog!

I'd like to pass this on to some of my new BlogSpot friends, each of which has inspired me this week:

Natalie Bahm
Julie Dao
Tiffany Neal
Natalie Murphy

Also, I want to thank my friend, Piedmont Writer for the Happiness Award! I had just gotten it the day before, but I will be sending it out to blog friends this week. In the meantime, visit Piedmont's blog -- she's got a wonderful, authentic voice and her documentation of the query process, where she is right now, will help writers of all stages in the game.

Thanks to all of you for these awesome blog awards!! I appreciate my new friends so much :))

Review: The Hunger Games

[Book cover blurb:]
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 weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Acclaimed writer SUZANNE COLLINS, author of The New York Times bestselling Underland Chronicles, delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, advernture and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

I couldn't put The Hunger Games down. Collins created a harsh, post-apocolyptic world where a cast of vivid characters captured my attention in the first chapter and clung to my fancy until the final sentence. Heroine Katniss Everdeen was smart and adept, fiercely loyal to her sister and best friend, and a true survivor. I rooted for her unwaveringly. Her allies became my friends: Gale, Prim, Cinna, Peeta and Rue. Her adversaries became my enemies: Cato, Clove, Glimmer, and the other tributes. I was drawn into Katniss' world where oppression and deceit were the norms, and the near-constant tension was excruciating. This was one exciting read!

Collins is an author who clearly understands the concept of high stakes in fiction. The premise for The Hunger Games could have been inspired by the realily television show "Survivor." It's plausible to imagine Collins thinking, I could write a book about a survival game where instead of voting players off the island, you eliminated them by actually killing them. The last player standing wins more than a million bucks, she wins her LIFE.

Like "Survivor," her version includes a television audience (viewing is mandatory) and all the pageantry that goes into an Olympic-level sporting event, including stylists whose job is to project through the player a certain character; costumes that portray the personality of that character; and constant surviellance by camera crews that capture every moment, real and construed, for the audience.

As if the concept of watching a fight-to-the-death game of survival on television weren't intense enought, Collins raised the stakes again: She made the players children. In her futuristic country of Panem, the totalitarian government requires that one girl and one boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen be chosen from each district to participate. No child can refuse; no parent can protect his family. And everyone must watch or be cruelly punished.

This was one of those stories where I constantly found myself thinking, How the hell is Katniss going to get out of this situation? And each time her thought process worked through what I fathomed as hopeless, and she came up with a clever course of action that, with some luck along the way, got her through to the next crisis.

The only time I questioned the narration was in the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. It was hard for me to answer Collins' calling to accept whole-heartedly Katniss' naivity towards Peeta's feelings for her. Katniss misreads every look, every inkling that pointed to Peeta's true emotions. Although her whole life growing up in District Twelve was bleak and carnal as far as finding food and other means to survive, I couldn't help thinking these kids were nonetheless teenagers. Where were Katniss' raging hormones? How could she be so physically close to Peeta, kissing him, with his energy so tuned into hers, and not react to him? It was hard for me to buy into, even though I found myself believing all along (even if Katniss was, again, clueless) that her heart belonged to Gale. In fact, I can't wait to read Catching Fire to learn what happens next with Katniss and Gale.

I'd read many shout-outs around the blogosphere from YA writers, accolades for The Hunger Games. I officially lend my voice to their cause: Read this book! You won't be disappointed. But beware, don't start it if you can't devote time to reading that week. I devoured it in two days, and I'll bet you'll find yourself unable to put it down too.

The Hunger Games, Copyright 2008 by Suzanne Collins
Published by Scholastic Press
ISBN - 13:978-0-439-02348-1

Did you read this book? What did you think of it? Would you recommend it to others?