Friday, April 27, 2012

TGIF@ GReads # 2: Reading Blues!

TGIF is a weekly feature hosted by Ginger of GReads, where she proposes a bookish question to which we reply on our blogs! This Friday's question is,

 "Reading Blues: We all get them from time to time. What helps you overcome those reading slumps when nothing seems to grab your attention?"

Reading is always an awesome experience for me, but definitely there are days when I face a reading slump; when there's been too much of the same genre, similar plots and continuous reading! Or when I've just finished a series I enjoyed a lot and don't feel like starting something else for I might lose the magic of the series and characters' lives somehow. So, what do I do to drive away these reading blues?

Well, taking a break from reading is definitely hard, but I can manage a day or two. Not without reading at all, but I'll shift to reading magazines, a copy of Reader's Digest and newspapers! (Hardly ever the news, I go for interesting articles on lifestyle and living or anything else that seems interesting).

Or I shift to some other genre for a while. Maybe some classic I haven't read or a very light book. I like re-reading Nancy Drews- they're fast, quick and short! Sometimes I like to go through the Harry Potter books! I've read all of them at least seven times each! :P

Another thing I like to do to get over the reading slump is indulge into some sort of art and craft. I know, not related to reading and it can be considered a break, but it's still something that freshens up the imagination and creativity. I'm not a people person and prefer to do things on my own, or without talking a lot. Like crafts! I could be making cards or stuff using paper mache (I love that!). I enjoy making stuff that Neil from Art Attack (Disney Channel) makes! :D It takes just a day or two and I'll be back with my nose in my bookshelf! :P

And of course, I don't read during college exams. Though that is totally against my wishes. :|

So, what do you do, if you want to get over a reading slump?

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins

Author Website
Price: Rs. 295 (discounted to Rs. 227 at Flipkart)
Publisher: Scholastic Books. Published in September, 2009
Pages: 391

*This review might contain spoilers for those who haven’t read the book yet*

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games series, continuing with the story of the nation of Panem, ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol’s furious at sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen for being smart enough to challenge the power of the Capitol in the annual Hunger Games. Even though what Katniss did was more from instinct and humanity, it started lighting the spark among the people in different districts, especially District 11, where Rue had belonged.  There’s a threat of rebellion and the Capitol would do whatever it can to subdue it.

A visit from President Snow from the Capitol is enough to make Katniss realize that the games aren’t over yet. They’re keeping an eye on her every move and it seems that her family, Gale and Peeta’s families aren’t free from risk either. The Victory Tour shows evidence that the other districts are trying hard to keep patience with the Capitol. Katniss’s sub-conscious move against the Capitol has stirred feelings of rebellion in the districts. The bomb’s dropped when the Quarter Quell is announced- a version of the Hunger Games that take place after every twenty-five years. That’s when the action begins! A new, dangerous arena where unique threats lurk at every corner, powerful tributes who have survived before and lots of surprises!

Catching Fire book cover
Catching Fire being the second book, it took no time in re-introducing the characters, the situation and the danger. Readers can instantly connect with the book as soon as it begins. Though I thought it went a bit slow in the beginning, with lots of descriptions about people, places and what not. For me, the real thing began after about 100 pages, with shocks and surprises thrown at you at every page. That’s when I was totally hooked on to the book!

We come to know so much more about the different characters in this book, so that we can easily create a mental image of them. I liked the way Peeta’s been portrayed- strong, yet sensible, silent and understanding. He’s not impulsive like Katniss and takes it upon himself to keep her alive in the arena. Haymitch does a turn as well- boy, is he smart and clever! I could connect really well with the way Katniss feels all the time- vulnerable and lost before the Quarter Quell and confused during the games and after. Gale was pretty much lost from the book, only making an appearance in the beginning and the end, so I haven’t been able to understand him much. I so loved the way Katniss was being projected as the Mockingjay, the symbol of rebellion!

I loved the way the districts begin an uprising, how the Capitol tries hard to subdue them, the secret about District 13, the fear and desperation among people to survive, the love for each other that they feel, the breathtaking action, new discoveries in the arena and the intellectual way they tackle the difficulties. Though I personally found the arena in The Hunger Games far better. In Catching Fire,the Games had more of the ‘Sinister Game’ element. This time it was very short and far more cruel. But maybe that’s what it was meant to be. Now I can’t wait to read the final book in the series, Mockingjay, which will explore more on the uprisings, the secrets of District 13 and more action!

Recommended for: Teens and adults, those who love action and heart-pounding surprises!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox # 2!

God, I would have to be really lousy to post the second IMM after weeks of the first! In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren as a way to blog about the books you've received over the week (or month, as in my case :P). These are the titles I've had the opportunity to get my hands on. For some books, I was particularly excited. Others I got as freebies, some of which were actually good!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- Awesome would be an understatement! Read review here.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins- I haven't reviewed it yet, but I loved it too! Maybe not as much as the first; I thought the action began only after about 100 pages.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins- Due to read, after I finish with A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern.



Beyond the Sea by Emily Goodwin
Fearless by Tawdra T. Kandle (Book one of the King Series).
City of the Falling Sky (The Seckry Sequence) by Joseph Evans
Confessions of a Cake Addict by Emma Kaufmann
Surface Tension by Christine Kling
Spur of the Moment by Candace Bowen Early
Awaken by Sarah M Ross

That's a lot of e-books! I SO want to read them all, but the darned exams are here again! :| I'll still manage a few, I know. *wink, wink*

So, what did you get in your mailbox?  

PS- Click on the book covers to go their Goodreads description! You might like the sound of some and add them to your TBR list! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins
Author website
Price: Rs. 295 (discounted to Rs. 221 at Flipkart)
Publisher: Scholastic Books (Published in September, 2008)
Pages: 374

I'm so glad I finally got around to reading this book-which was quite obvious, considering it's been made into a movie and many have tagged it as their favorite! I'm turning into one of those as well, I loved this book SO much! It's a book based in the future, with emphasis on poverty, oppression and reality TV, narrated from the point of view of sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen.

**Spoiler Alert: Ending + story revealed**

From the Book Cover
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with every one 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, 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 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 death 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.

The book predicts a future where thousands of people are living as poor, where hunted meat and strawberries, blackberries, plants are traded for necessities like grain, oil and bread; where sugar is a luxury to be afforded only by the wealthy. Katniss, a sixteen year old is a strong teenager, who takes up the responsibility of taking care of her mother and sister when she loses her father in a mine explosion when she was eleven. I liked Katniss right from the beginning- strong, responsible, clever and a rebel (which is kind of like me! I am so opposed to anything unfair). The way she deals with her father's loss, her mother's inability to take care of them and her love for her sister, Prim, the way she takes up the challenge of surviving through each day in the Games, shows and proves her inner strength. 

The Hunger Games book cover
The story goes deep into the way reality shows are held. Maybe everything isn't true, but it pretty much explores what really happens- how participants are prepared for TV, for being charming enough to get supporters even though what they really feel is a thousand miles away from reality. In The Hunger Games, however, it's death sentence for 23 of the 24 participants, as the lone survivor at the end is the winner. Above everything else, I just loved the concept. A futuristic world with so many probable problems, the thrilling action and the desire and will to simply survive by a group of teenagers. The writing is such that all the while I was reading I thought I could understand what Katniss was going through, and that is really powerful writing! It made me feel as uncertain about Peeta and Gale as Katniss was and if the author's able to keep you in the characters, I think it's pretty awesome! I was totally hooked, going without food and water for hours and oblivious to what's happening around. I know it wasn't that awesome for some people, but for me it was 'I-haven't-read-an-awesome-book-in-a-long-time-and-this-broke-the-curse'! :D

What I adored
* Katniss. The general character, her mind, her actions.
* Peeta Mellark. Okay, I hardly ever read love stories, especially the mushy ones. I always go for action. Maybe, maybe that is the reason I somehow liked the story going on between Katniss and Peeta. I know, the first love story I've ever liked! That makes this book all the more interesting. ;)
* The descriptions about everything. I had the whole story running in my head as a movie and peculiarly, it matched the real movie. :P These are called amazing descriptions. :)
* The reality about reality TV. How everything's done for the audience and so not what the participant actually does.
* The arena. Thank God for trees, or really, where would Katniss sleep? :P
* Rue and the emotions associated with her.
* The point when the trumpet announced that there could be two survivors- from the same district. (I was 'Yay'! Now both can live!)
* The way Katniss is so easily able to understand what Haymitch, their mentor means to convey through the gifts.
* That Katniss and Peeta win the Games! :D
* The message in the story- of how hard it can be for some people to simply survive, to ensure their loved ones don't die of starvation, to keep on going till the end for those you love. And I've learnt so much about living in the wild that I guess I'll be able to spend a couple of days there myself :P Minus the killing part, of course.

What I didn't like
* The thing that kids in the Game have to die. That's gruesome, and the thought that other kids have to do it. But that's what the Games mean, right? :/
* Some grammar errors. I usually find them irritating, but I somehow let this one pass, I don't know why. I was just so into the story I didn't want to stop reading!

Quotable Quote from the book: "I've spent so much time making sure I don't underestimate my opponents that I've forgotten it's just as dangerous to overestimate them as well"

My rating: 5/5 !
Recommended for: Teens and Adults alike. There's some great story-telling. :)


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