Book Review: The Hunger Games Series (Spoilers)

Book Review:

The Hunger Games Series

By Suzanne Collins

I decided to review this series as a whole because much like the Harry Potter books, once you start this series, you won’t want to put it down. In fact, not since Harry Potter has a young adult series grabbed my attention quite like this one.

There are some spoilers below. I tried to keep the descriptions brief so that I don’t give away too much, so forgive me for the short descriptions!

Background: Set in the future, the nation of Panem took the place of what was once known as North America. The Capitol rules Panem, made up of the Capitol and 12 surrounding districts, with an iron fist. Each year, the Capitol reminds the districts of how powerful they are by forcing each district to send a boy and girl (drawn by lottery) to fight – for survival, for a better life for their district, for love – in the annual Hunger Games. Only one tribute will survive.

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Book Review: Life As We Knew It

Book Review:

Life As We Knew It

By Susan Beth Pfeffer

Life As We Knew It was the latest book for our little book club. A young adult book, once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

This book was about the life of a 16-year old girl and her family living in Pennsylvania after a meteor hits the moon and knocks it out of orbit. This spurs off a series of natural disasters – tsunamis, storms, droughts, blizzards, effecting the lives of everyone. Ordinary life shifts rapidly to a life with spotty or no electricity, little to no news about the present circumstances or predictions for the future, and limited food supplies (whatever you have stocked up on). The family struggles to cope with these challenges and prepare for an uncertain future, sacrificing so much for each other.

This book really makes you realize just how quickly things can change, and how we should remind ourselves how lucky we are. There are so many things most people today take for granted – a never-ending supply of food and gas; electricity; heat and air conditioning; telephones; etc. Life As We Knew It takes away all of these things, and reminds us of what is important – family.

I found Life As We Knew It to be a quick read but highly recommended.

If you liked this book… there is one other in the “series.” The Dead and the Gone has a similar storyline but is written from the perspective of a cityboy, and of what life is like in a city at this time. I have not read it, but have been told that it is a bit more graphic and darker than Life As We Knew It.

A third related book, This World We Life In, is also expected to be published on March 31, 2010.

Pfeffer’s Blog

Book Review: two young adult books by Avi

So after my first experience with a book on tape, I decided to try out a couple more. The first book was a bit odd, and probably not the best choice for a book on tape. Since I do mostly local travel, I decided to listen to a couple books by Avi, who writes for young adults. I remember reading his books when I was in grade school, and enjoyed them, so thought I’d give them another whirl. Both books were easy to listen to (only about 4 hours each), so perfect for my local drives.

About the Author: Avi began his career in writing as a playwright, but I know him best for his young adult books. However, when I was checking out Avi’s website, I discovered the Avi also has written all sorts of works, including picture books and short stories.

Don’t You Know There’s a War On? : This book tells the story of a boy who has a crush on his teacher, who is fired. As the boy, Howie, follows and tries to help his teacher, you get glipmses of what it is like living in NYC during WWII – war bonds & stamps, rations, air raids, etc.

My favorite part of the book, however, was not the story but the language. Howie, both the main character and narrator, speaks in slang for most of the book. This completely took me into the book!

Poppy: Poppy is a young mouse that first gets in trouble for going into the forest without the great horned owl’s permission. When her family asks the owl permission to move to New House, they are denied because of her actions. Poppy then goes off on her own to seek out the real reason for the owl’s refusal, encountering many adventures along the way.

I did not enjoy Poppy as much as Don’t You Know There’s a War On? Perhaps it can be blamed on the narrator of the story (since I was listening to it), but I felt like the story was told incredibly dramatically, considering it was a mouse. I’m not sure what I was expecting out of this book, but as I was listening to it, I felt like it should be a picture book, like the Peter Rabbit stories, and not a young adult book, as I thought it was.

Book Review: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

My blog has been pretty heavy on the cooking lately, so I thought it was time to do a more formal book review. Still learning as I go with the blogging, so we’ll see how this goes.

Book Review:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

by Julia Alvarez

This is the second book I’ve read by Julia Alvarez, the first being In the Time of the Butterflies. Both books were very good. Both are fairly quick reading (being classified as fictional young adult books) although the topic of In the Time of the Butterflies makes it a bit harder to get through (but completely worth it!)

Alvarez was raised in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, and both books reflect that heritage. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is the story of four sisters who fled to the U.S. with their parents, after their father took part in a plot against the Dominican dictator, Trujillo. It is a book about family, culture, and adjusting to a new country and way of life. (In contrast, In the Time of the Butterflies is set in the DR and tells the story of the Mirabel sisters, founders of an underground opposition movement – their detention by the secret police and ultimately their murder.)

I enjoyed both of Alvarez’s books and appreciate the insight she gives to this part of the Dominican Republic’s history.