Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Published August 24th 2010 by Scholastic Press

More at: Goodreads

"Fire is Catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!"

     The nation of Panem is at war. The districts burn with the fierce flame of rebellion, fueled by the very spark the Capitol feared would ignite a revolution. Katniss, the victor of The Hunger Games, the girl on fire, has found herself once again in the midst of a most dangerous game. Now the prize for wining is not just her life, but the lives of those she loves, and the fate of the citizens of Panem.
     In this new game, just as in the arena, alliances must be formed in order to survive, but in a war waged not only with weapons but with carefully orchestrated propaganda, it is hard to tell what's real and who's side to be on. The old enemy, the Capitol has Peeta and President Snow destroyed District 12, but the new player, President Coin, who leads the rebels, may want more from the Mockingjay than just fueling the rebellion- she may want her to burn in the very fire she started.

And then it was over. This is the third and final book in The Hunger Games Trilogy. I tried to read this book as slowly as possible to savor every last word. If you are a fan of this series, you too understand the bitter-sweet feeling that comes with finishing it. While Collins has created a world in which I would never want to live, I now have some very good friends there that I will miss.

I suppose the big issue, for a lot of people, was who would Katniss choose? Peeta or Gale? And while she ended up with who I felt she would all along, she made the only choice she should have made- and chose Katniss. I loved this.
"Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without."

So she did. She chose herself. The love triangle in these books was never the story. The story was Katniss. When it was all said and done, I didn't give a flip what boy stayed in her life, he was only ever a supporting character.

The trilogy itself was epic. However, for me, the final book wasn't. I didn't like Finnick's confession. It seemed strategically placed for shock value when the story was all ready shocking enough in it's entirety. I thought it was overkill. I didn't like who Gale became. I always preferred to think of him as a good old soul, in contrast to Peeta's calculated and manipulative nature.

But I loved the twist. When Katniss let loose that final arrow it was all I could do not to scream! And I love stinky, grumpy old Haymitch. I love that we are given so many bad guys that you couldn't trust anyone. Except your hairdresser. Collins gets that a good stylist is worth fighting for.

And though I usually don't like story lines that take this direction- I loved the final "gift" Katniss gives Peeta. He deserved them.

I read an article last week in which some stuffy curmudgeon complained about the violence in Mockingjay and when are we going to examine violence in children's literature and I laughed. Stupid, the first book was about CHILDREN KILLING CHILDREN in an arena, basically for survival AND FOOD and then there is a WAR. What did you expect Mockingjay to be about? Bunnies? War is NOT kind- regardless if it's in fiction and it doesn't care if there are children involved. Collins stayed very true to human nature. She waged a war that was manipulated by scripts and make-up and put it on TV for the masses to gawk at. It's an ugly concept and she portrayed it beautifully. Well played Ms Collins. Well played.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Published by Penguin, 1990. Originally published: New York, Grossman, 1970

More at: Goodreads

"I houseclean my books every spring and throw out those I'm never going to read again like I throw out clothes I'm never going to wear again. It shocks everybody. My friends are peculiar about books. They read all the best sellers, they get through them as fast as possible, I think they skip a lot. And they NEVER read anything a second time so they don't remember a word of it a year later. But they are profoundly shocked to see me drop a book in the wastebasket or give it away. The way they look at it, you buy a book, you read it, you put in on the shelf, you never open it again for the rest of your life but YOU DON'T THROW IT OUT! NOT IF IT HAS A HARD COVER ON IT! Why not? I personally can't think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book."

I am ill equipped to accurately convey my love for this slim volume, which is pretty much just a regrettably few handfuls of letters between the writer Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, an employee at Marks and Co., a bookshop in England. These letters tell of a wholly different sort of love affair, one about the love of books.

Let me first say that I've seen the movie 84, Charing Cross Road with Anne Bancroft as Helene Hanff countless times, and a long time before I ever read this book. But I loved the story then, and I love it even more so now- if that's even possible. Now, I can say that it is one of the very, very few movies that truly does a story justice.

Helene Hanff stumbled across an add for Marks & Co., a used book store in London and begins what will be a twenty year correspondence with the people in the shop, primarily Frank Doel. Her letters are her charismatic, funny requests for rare obscure English (and such) titles that she can't find locally or refuses to buy new. Her two decades of exchanges with Frank builds a unique friendship from across an ocean and portrays a love of books that anyone who loves literature can certain identify with. Helene understands the extreme emotions that a good, or awful book can elicit and how remarkably wonderful a life filled with them can be. Helene and Frank never meet.

It's a title that I sigh when I think about. Read it. You'll live with it forever.

"You'll be fascinated to learn (from me that hates novels) that I finally got round to Jane Austen and went out of my mind for Pride and Prejudice which I can't bring myself to take back to the library till you find me a copy of my own."

Smart Chicks Kick It Tour @ Lemuria Books, Jackson MS

I'm ridiculously fangirl excited about the upcoming Smart Chicks Kick It Tour, featuring a slew of fabulous authors! This tour, which features several of my favorite YA authors, and a few that I'm sure will no doubt become favorites, will be stopping in

Jackson, MS
September 16, 2010
Hosted by: Lemuria Books

The fabulous authors stopping by Lemuria will be:

Kelley Armstrong
Melissa Marr
Alyson Noel
Holly Black
Cassandra Clare
Jessica Verday
Sarah Rees Brennan

So you'll understand if I'm having to backspace a lot to fix typos because THIS WILL BE AN AMAZING AUTHOR TOUR.

For more locations and dates, check out the Smart Chick's Website.

I discovered Lemuria a couple of months back, through Indiebound and loved it! It's an unbelievably beautiful store filled with books (floor to ceiling) and friendly staff. See you soon Lemuria!

In My Mailbox (19)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
From Goodreads:
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 plans -- 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.

I don't have to tell you why I bought this one....and why I've already devoured it.

The Demon King (Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima
From Goodreads:
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can't sell. For as long as Han can remember, he's worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They're clearly magicked-as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history-it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father's family at Demonai camp - riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.

Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea-the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her--plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.

I believe Donna @ Bites was singing this book's praises on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and if she says read it, then you should.


Thanks to Teresa @ Splendid Sparrow I have this marvelous new layout!

Teresa doesn't know it but she's the Mike Holmes of web design and she really came through when I needed her. I purchased one of her lovely premade web layouts and in less than a week I had my new lovely. She was friendly, courteous, very fast and made everything seamless and easy. As I edit and add to my new layout I keep finding hidden surprises (such as widget titles just create themselves, all pretty and effortlessly) and I don't need to speak html to use it.

The entire transaction was exemplary and well, I needed that. If you are in the market for a new layout and can't spend a fortune for one, visit Splendid Sparrow and shop her premades department. She even has a special going on right now! Her designs are soft, simple and lovely. She will even give you a free quote if you want a custom design.

Thank you Teresa!

So yeah...

I haven't been around much and I have a reason. Looking back it's probably not a good one as it was only affecting me but because of it I just haven't felt like blogging.

You see, on May 26th I paid a fellow book blogger $50 for a premade layout. Now that's not a lot of money but as I don't generally spend any money on my blog (I prefer to save it to spend on the actual books) it was kind of a big blog purchase for me. I chose this designer because of her work on a few other book blogger's blogs, one of which is very popular and since she did her site I felt she must be semi-trustworthy. Boy was I wrong.

The premade layout, which to me means that for the most part the layout is already done, was said to take only two weeks to complete. So I paid her in good faith. Two weeks go by and nothing. As a hint I email her about some images, presumably of these fabled premade layouts that I'd like to look at when possible, hoping it will remind her of our transaction and in response I get a very curt reply that she has other clients to take care of first. But I'm a client right? And I was given a time frame correct? OK so time goes by.....three months go by and I get an apologetic email about how she's over booked herself (I've gotten this email a few times) and blah blah blah here is a header. A header that is a hastily thrown together jumbled photoshop MESS that looks NOTHING like this designer's work which has always been lovely. Three months mind you. I inform her that the header is not exactly my style. Two weeks go by...and nothing. Finally I'm long passed being understanding and I'm frankly irritated because I've basically been screwed. It just took her THREE months to do it.

So I ask for a refund and she promises one by Friday....last Friday. It's now Thursday and I've been told that she will pay me when she pays me.


All of this has left me really not wanting to have anything to do with my blog, which is wrong because I love it. What I really want to do is name the scam artist who is doing this to me because I would never want this to happen to any of you. But I have taken the high road throughout all of this and I'm trying to stay with it.

What I did in the meantime is pay another designer for a layout. A beautiful one that was delivered yesterday after ONE WEEK and I'm kicking myself for not using her first because her designs were exactly what I was looking for. I'll give her credit when I post the layout because I don't want someone wonderful to have to share a post with someone who is an unprofessional, unscrupulous, lying cheat. :)

The offender has just announced that she will no longer except design requests from bloggers because of the amount of work that goes into them. What work? She didn't have to lift a finger for mine and she still has my money. Just be cautious of who you deal with lovelies.

ANYWAY. I'll sit down this weekend and put up my beautiful new layout and post all the things piling up in my drafts and get on with it.

Thanks for letting me vent :)

In My Mailbox (18)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren in which we share the books we received for the week.

Sorry for the lack of updates! Things have been hectic on my end but never fear, I have read lots of wonderful things (and one not so wonderful) and I've actually written up some book thoughts that well be up next week. But today I want to share with you the lovelies that have come my way!

The Enemy by Charlie Higson
From Goodreads:
They'll chase you. They'll rip you open. They'll feed on you...When the sickness came, every parent, policeman, politician - every adult - fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they're fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city - down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground - the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there - alive?

This book was a gift from a book fairy. It's sounds like it's about zombies and I freakin' love zombies.

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
From Goodreads:
Anke’s father is abusive. But not to her. He attacks her brother and sister, but she’s just an invisible witness in a house of horrors, on the brink of disappearing altogether. Until she makes the volleyball team at school. At first just being exhausted after practice feels good, but as Anke becomes part of the team, her confidence builds. When she learns to yell “Mine!” to call a ball, she finds a voice she didn’t know existed. For the first time, Anke is seen and heard. Soon, she’s imagining a day that her voice will be loud enough to rescue everyone at home—including herself.

I recently joined a discussion group on goodreads dedicated to Penguin's Point of View books (Speak, Wintergirls, If I Stay, Thirteen Reasons Why, etc...) and ran across this book in the list. It looks to be a difficult book to read but hopefully one that needs to be read.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
From Goodreads:
While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies’ throats. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth-birthday she’ll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla’s predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy’s secret will turn the young pack's world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches' War that surrounds them all.

I'm sure you've seen this one floating around on the blogs. The cover is AMAZING. So far I've heard really good things about it.

Radiance by Alyson Noel
From Goodreads:
Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley...

Though I was not thrilled enough with Blue Moon to read any further in The Immortals series, I enjoyed Noel's writing and a book from Riley's point of view sounds very intriguing. I'm halfway through it now.

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas
From Goodreads:
It Happened at the Ball...

Where beautiful but bold Lillian Bowman quickly learned that her independent American ways weren't entirely "the thing." And the most disapproving of all was insufferable, snobbish, and impossible Marcus, Lord Westcliff, London's most eligible aristocrat.

It Happened in the Garden…

When Marcus shockingly -- and dangerously–swept her into his arms. Lillian was overcome with a consuming passion for a man she didn't even like. Time stood still; it was as if no one else existed…thank goodness they weren't caught very nearly in the act!

It Happened One Autumn...

Marcus was a man in charge of his own emotions, a bedrock of stability. But with Lillian, every touch was exquisite torture, every kiss an enticement for more. Yet how could he consider taking a woman so blatantly unsuitable…as his bride?

I had to get this because I am now a Lisa Kleypas groupie fangirl.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
From Goodreads:
The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.

Miz Amelia of The Authoress mentioned this book in a comment on my WoW post about Razorland and I looked it up and had to have it.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
From Goodreads:
The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and hard beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong - not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become.

Ran across this in a used bookstore. Though it is apparently required reading in some schools I seemed to have missed this one.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
From Goodreads:
Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial, ruler of the Dark Court, is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.

Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.

The tattoo does bring changes; not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures, and helpless to withstand its perils. . . .

I devoured Wicked Lovely but have yet to read the rest of the series. I have no excuse! That's just bad!

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
From Goodreads:
When Sophy goes to stay with her cousins in Berkeley Square, she finds them in a sad tangle of affairs – some romantic and others of a more pecuniary nature. Perhaps the Grand Sophy has arrived just in time to save them.

I've visited my friend Georgette on two previous occasions and it was just time for us to have a chat again.

Artemis Fowl
From Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old Artemis is a millionaire, a genius and above all, a criminal mastermind. But Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories -- they're dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.

Who hasn't read this series??? Me.

Ruined by Paula Morris
From Goodreads:
Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There's just one catch: Lisette is a ghost.

A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.

As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend -- and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey -- she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

I bought a book about New Orleans because I was in New Orleans. If you've ever been and you've driven by the cemetery, then you understand why I was drawn to this book.

Have a wonderful week and I hope some book love arrived in your mailbox too!

Waiting on Wednesday (9) Beautiful Darkness

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the book that we are anxiously waiting to be released.

I just finished Beautiful Creatures and loved it. I can't wait to find out more about Ethan! They keep alluding to him being something more than he seems and I want to know what!!

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
From Goodreads: Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

"Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share a few “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!"

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl

"The headlights flickered, for barely a second, and a pair of huge green eyes stared back at me from the middle of the road. At first I thought it was a deer, but I was wrong.
There was someone in the road!"

Booking It: Downtown Books, Apalachicola, FL

So this was by no means a book trip. Beloved and I took a few days off of work to join some friends for a relaxing stay in a beach house on Cape San Blas in Florida. Now there is NOTHING out there. No stores, no cell service (oh the horror) just sand, sunshine and scallops. We spent two days searching St. Joseph's Bay for scallops and ended up red as lobsters. On the third day, when asked if I wanted to go back out in the bay, my answer was "&!#@$!#! NO!" I hurt, my skin was on fire, it was hot as you know where, I was bored and was in desperate need of SOMETHING ELSE so we went on up a few miles and went to the little downtown shopping area on the water in Apalachicola, FL.

It was not the kind of place you would ever expect to see one, but I have built in bookstore radar detection so when I saw the sign that said "BOOKS" from two blocks, some trees, and some buildings away, I had a small fit until Beloved was able to pull the truck over and I promise I didn't jump out until it came to a stop. Promise.

I love little bookstores. You never ever know what's going to be inside. Ever. My preconceived idea of what this bookstore would hold, based on it's location and the theme of the surrounding area: It's going to be Florida books, local stuff. Blah. But it's just so gorgeous from the outside that I had to go in anyway (like I wasn't) and I got the nicest surprise. It's a charming little bookstore, neat and tidy with a surprisingly varied selection of books. They had all the latest new releases, and while there were lots of local books they were beautiful books, like about the wildlife and sea glass and pictures of the beach. They had a shelf of children's books, and to my delight and joy, because somehow I've pretty much become a YA reader, there was a whole YA shelf! Right there in front of me, in a bookstore on the beach was a copy of The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells- I considered that to be fate and bought it. In addition to some lovely books, the store also carried knitting materials. How cute is that. The lady who rang up my books was very sweet and friendly which just made the whole experience complete for me.

We had a very nice day after that. I'm always in a better mood once I buy a book so we walked around downtown for a bit, had lunch, that kind of thing. A pet shop lady gave me some puppy potty training tips for my Shimmy girl (who is starting to catch on) and I bought a soap shaped like a giant moonstone. :)

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Laura @ A Jane of All Reads
I read excessively and hoard books like a greedy dragon. Theoretically, I also plan to use them to barricade myself against the forthcoming zombie apocalypse.

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