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Archive for August, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Posted by Caitie F on August 30, 2010

Title: Mockingjay

Author:  Suzanne Collins

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher:  Scholastic

ISBN: 0439023513

Rating: +++++

Summary:

Yeah, you don’t get a summary going into this one either (at least from me). It was so great knowing nothing when I started it, so I don’t want to be part of what ruins it for someone else

Review:

If you have not read this book yet, please don’t read the review. There WILL BE SPOILERS. So don’t read this, go read the actual book! And again, it is so much better when you know nothing! Note: This review may seem a little disjointed, but so are my feelings and thoughts on the book.

Warning: This post is about 1,400 words so…be prepared.

Oh Mockingjay, how cruel you were. I was going to read a few chapters the day it came out. Then I decided I would read a part a day, so it would take three days…then I finished it that night because HOW can you put it down after part one? Seriously, to people who did . . . how did you?

The Katniss I love was present throughout this book. Poor torn but determined, brave but scared Katniss. She knew she needed to become the Mockingjay, but part of her couldn’t. She had already lost so much to the Capitol, she really did not know if she could do it again, but she could and she did . . . and she was brilliant. She is definitely not someone who could be a politician.  She could never fake the actions, so had to really feel it. When there were talking about the moments when they loved her the most, it really got me choked up. To be as young as she is and have people love her for her bravery and her sense of doing what is right, it was just a beautiful sentiment and beautifully written.

Speaking of beautiful writing, that last page of Part 1. Wow. Collins could have described what was happening in so many ways, but focusing on the image of the tiles and just using the sounds and the image of blood on the tiles was so good. That image has stuck with me all week. The hanging man song was also wonderfully writing. The image stayed in my mind and freaked me out, but it was great writing.

But back to that amazingness of Katniss. Katniss at the hospital. Katniss in the square. Those two scenes gave me so many more reasons to love her. Even in the darkest situations, she shows hope and love to others. She isn’t sure that she has the hope herself, but she is a light to all of those around her and I loved that her team let her do it.

When you talk about the light, you have to talk about the dark and the dark in this book was Gale. He was so violent in his thoughts. He had absolutely no compassion for anyone who was raised differently or thought differently than he did. I was hoping Katniss could change him, but there was no way that could happen. He was too far gone. I thought when they were in District 2 he would have a change of heart because it was so much like being trapped in a coal mine, but even there he just didn’t care. To him, an innocent person dying was not a big deal if the overall cause was achieved. I found him disgusting so many times, but especially in two spots. The first is obvious — when he was talking about the bombs that would explode when help arrived. The second was how he acted towards Katniss’ prep team. They just grew up in a different world than he did. They did care about Katniss and the idea of losing her again was awful for them. They were not creatures to be mocked, they were people. When the little girl told the one member that she would be pretty no matter what color she was, it made me so happy. There was a little girl without any prejudice in a situation where she could have been mean and nasty. I wish Gale could learn from that child.

I can’t talk about darkness without talking about Coin. She was a woman who belonged in the Capitol. She used everyone else, including Katniss, for her own gain, then saw them as disposable. That she was supposed to be the force leading the rebellion was a sad state of affairs. That anyone could be against the Capitol, then want to make them suffer in the games is just cruel (that said, I am 99.999% sure that Katniss just voted yes to make Coin happy). She was going to continue Snow’s rule with an iron fist and the people would not have been any more free than they were under Snow.

The war saw so many casualties. As the team went through the Capitol and were dying one by one, it was so sad. But at least it was realistic. People die in war – lots of people. The special operations teams are incredibly dangerous, and with the pods they were facing, I would have been a little disappointed with Collins if there hadn’t been a blood bath.

As I have said before, I was Team Katniss, but what happened to Peeta made me so sad. Before the book came out, I thought that while he was captured, they would do something to manipulate him and turn him against Katniss and the rebellion. I was sad when I was right. At first, I did not think that I was because of how he warned them of the bombing, which made it so surprising when he attacked her. I really liked the girl from their District who was so nice and so positive. She was great for bringing Peeta back and she was another good reminder of hope within a book full of despair. I thought it was great how, even though they were guarding him, everyone was pitching in on helping bring him back with the “real or not” game. I cannot even imagine not knowing what things are real and what was planted in my head to turn me into someone else. He must have been terrified, and considering that, he handled it very well.

There is so much I could still talk about – Annie and Finnick (wasn’t he amazing this book?), the stops in District 12, Haymitch (how could I have not mentioned him yet?), the horrible strictness of District 13, and so many other things. I am at almost 1000 words already. But I want to end on the other thing that I predicted, the thing I did not want to happen more than anything else.

Prim.

I had a feeling she would not make it out of Mockingjay. Everything Katniss has done was for her little sister. Not just stepping in for her so beautifully in the games, but also in the fight against the Capitol. She wants a world where he sister can be a doctor, can live the life she wants to. She does not think of herself through all of this, but thinks of Prim. Her death makes me think it was all for nothing due to the darkness in people like Gale and Coin. We don’t know if it was Gale’s bomb, but that he would even think about using the weapon that ended up killing Prim makes it impossible for Katniss to ever have a friendship with him. Katniss wonders if Coin sent Prim to the front lines on purpose and my guess is yes.

I loved how this book ended. Collins was not afraid to show war and its impact on children. She showed that it changed who they were and how they saw things, some for the better, some for the worse, but most as a mixture. Peeta wasn’t who we fell in love with, but he was someone who had a deeper understanding of life – and someone Katniss could love. She couldn’t love someone who didn’t understand that horrors or what she has been through. I think the book they made was a beautiful testament to all they had lost.

This was my favorite book of the series, and that is really saying something. I am going to have to read the rest of Collins’ books. She is a fantastic writer and I look forward to reading more from her.

Posted in Review | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Posted by Caitie F on August 30, 2010

Title: Catching Fire

Author:  Suzanne Collins

Hardcover:  400 pages

Publisher:  Scholastic

ISBN: 0439023491

Rating: +++++

Summary:

You don’t get one for this book! I read the second book in the Hunger Games series with knowing nothing about it, and you should do the same! These books are so much better when you know nothing.

Review:

If you have not read this book yet, please don’t read the review. There will be spoilers. So don’t read this, go read the actual book! And again, it is so much better when you know nothing!

I feel like I should have gone and read Catching Fire again, since I have read Mockingjay since finishing it…but I have so many books I want to read that there just isn’t time.

This book is almost as good as the first, which I raved about here. Collins is an extraordinary writer who takes young adult books to that next level. I didn’t really understand how brutal the Capitol really was until this book. Snow is a great villain – ruthless, terrifying, and manipulative (Michael Emerson in the movie?). If he feels any defiance among people he will do anything to crush it, something that was seen so many times in this book.

Tears fell the first time in District 11 when Peeta so generously gave money to the tributes families and Katniss said those wonderful things about Rue, then to witness a man get shot for a small act of remembrance and defiance. It made me realize how terrifying the Capitol is, and made me worry about what may happen in District 12.

I can honestly say I was not expecting Katniss and Peeta to have to go back into the games. I thought Prim and one of Gale’s siblings would be chosen to punish Katniss and that she and Peeta would have to really do something amazing to keep their tributes alive. Instead, the worst thing that could happen did, they got sent back.

Seeing the diverse group of former winners really was emotional. I thought the prep team showed what these people mean to the citizens of both in the Capitol and the Districts. Not only are they something to be proud of, but they are also signs of hope…but the Capitol wants to take about that hope. I loved the interactions before the games started and what they showed about Katniss. She automatically wanted to team up with the intelligent people who no one thinks has a shot. She is smart enough to see past strength and look at who people really are, one of the many reasons I love her.

Once the games started, I knew my heart was going to break. Having to read about Katniss and Peeta going through all of this again was so difficult, but so exciting because I knew something had to be coming, there had to be more to these games. The clock was brilliant – it was something they could figure out and defend against. I felt silly for not getting it before they did because of the GameMasters clue when he first met Katniss. I should have known right then that these Games would end in a very unexpected way.

I loved how the book ended. Yes, it was a cliff hanger, which I know people take issue with, but I still think it worked. My jaw dropped as I read that last page. I couldn’t wait to read Mockingjay . . . and luckily I only had to wait a few weeks.

This book furthered my opinion of being on Team Katniss. These books are not about the romance, that is just a small part of the whole story. I didn’t care who she ended up with or form opinions about who is better for her. I think she is a strong woman who doesn’t need a man . . . but when she wants one she will make her own decision for her own reasons. I wanted her to survive and make the world a better place.

I wanted to write this before Mockingjay came out because I had a couple of predictions (that both came true), but I will talk about those in my post on that book that will be posted later this week.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

A Contest! Why? Because I Can!

Posted by Caitie F on August 14, 2010

Deadline is September 1.

It has been a while since I held a contest, so I thought it would be fun to go through my shelves and find some books to give away. You can see the possible prize if you go to my Prizes page. It is a pretty mixed set of books – a YA, some fantasy, horror, Middle grade, and a couple things that I am not quite sure how to classify.

This contest is pretty simple. Let me know what you have done in one comment. You don’t have to be a follower/subscriber to win. US only.

+1 initial entry

+1 for following/subscribing (and tell me how you do it!)

+1 for tweeting

+2 for posting a link in your blog about it (ex. adding it to a weekly wrap up post, putting it in a post about other contests ect)

+5 if you post a blog on the contest.

If I have 50 different people enter the contest (since that would be huge for me) I will give away two books!

Posted in Contest | 1 Comment »

Harry Potter Books vs Movies

Posted by Caitie F on August 13, 2010

So usually, the book is at least 10 times better than the movie. The only times that I enjoyed the movie more is if I really didn’t like the book. However, I usually give the movie credit and appreciate it for what it is.

With Harry Potter, that was a different story. When I read the first book, I thought about how it would make a really cool movie, and I thought that about all of the books. The first two movies disappointed me. I thought some of the casting was off (other than Harris as Dumbledore, he was exactly what I pictured!) and I thought they cut some story lines that I really like and emphasized some things that I thought were not as important. But they were decent movies.

I went to see Prisoner of Azkaban with a couple friends who had never read the books – and this was my favorite of the Harry Potter books at that point. I probably had read it over twenty times.. I ended up walking out of the movie and waiting for them outside. I hated that they were wearing Muggle clothes. I hated that they took out the Firebolt story. I hated the acting choices and I hated the new Dumbledore – he was nothing like the Dumbledore I loved in the books (and only got worse with the rest of the books).

I didn’t see the fourth movie in theaters because I was so disappointed. I saw it later and thought it was ok. The fifth and sixth movies were big improvements. I think David Yates really got the look and feel of the movies right. I also think the acting got a lot better – they were not just kids anymore, they were good actors who brought the books alive with their characters. The minor characters were excellent. The movies were not perfect by any means, but they were better than I expected.

I really hope that the last two movies don’t disappoint. There are certain moments that I am really looking forward to seeing in the movies and I think they will do those moments justice.

Do you like the Harry Potter movies? Were you really disappointed with a movie version of one of your favorite books? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Conferences

Posted by Caitie F on August 11, 2010

Conferences are not something unique to Harry Potter. Comic Con has been going on forever. A few friends of mine just got back from Gen Con (a game conference). While they are not the only conferences there are, I really think they are something special.

I went to one conference, Terminus, in August of 2008. It took place in Chicago and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. There were meals, discussion groups, concerts (both planned an impromptu), a dance, and so much more. I loved seeing the papers presented and discussed.

I never thought about how much Harry Potter had my thinking about different issues. My favorite discussion was about education in Harry Potter and the benefits and drawbacks to the system. We talked about how the sorting is good for classrooms because the students tend to have similar learning styles if they are in the same house, but also that students who learned differently from there peers are even more disadvantaged because they are one of the only students learning in a different way. We also like that students have the same teachers for subjects every year and that in most cases it made for better education because the teachers knew them (but on the opposite side, they got stuck with Professor Binns every year). It was a fascinating discussion that had me thinking for days!

The one thing I loved the most though, was the people. If I was walking someone alone and someone saw my badge, they would run over and say hello and ask if I wanted to join their group. It was great. especially since I went only having talked to a few people online before the conference. We stayed up late in rooms that were having acoustic shows and really got to know each other very quickly. I met people from all over the world – a few girls from Australia, some of the nicest people from England, and two people I had been talking to online for a while, one from Germany and one from Ireland. I also met some amazing people from the US who I have seen since.

The conference that is coming up that I am most excited about is LeakyCon 2011. LeakyCon is a conference that is for charity and hosted by the Harry Potter fansite, The Leaky Cauldron. They will be doing an event at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, having concerts, doing panels, and have a YA Lit Day, where they will be bringing in YA authors and agents for an all day event. It looks like a great time. I am going to try to make it (we will see how finances look later in the year) and hope that some of my friends will too.

Even if you don’t love Harry Potter, I would really recommend going to a conference of some kind. Find something you love, there is probably a conference for it somewhere (or it is combined with other interests in another conference). They really are a great experience!

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Harry Potter Week Postponed

Posted by Caitie F on August 6, 2010

I will finish the last posts for HP week, but I started a new job this week and my parents are in from out of town, so it will have to be next week. Thanks!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Wizard Rock

Posted by Caitie F on August 3, 2010

Yes, this actually exists. It is music about Harry Potter and songs from the perspective of characters from the series. No, the songs are not called “I Love Harry Potter”, they are songs about the things all music is about – love, friendship, life, and hardships.

There is also a lot of humor and commentary on social issues – several bands write songs on gay rights and the importance of being yourself.

It isn’t all child appropriate , one band is called The Whomping Willows and is from the perspective of the tree. He is one of the more “adult” bands and has songs called “I’m a Whore for Dumbledore”, “I’ve Had Harry Potter Inside of Me” and  has done a rap EP that is quite entertaining.

A lot of the bands are fantastic musicians and write songs that are not about Harry Potter and it has really gotten me into a lot of different types of music.

There is one site (http://wizrocklopedia.com/) that has a LOT of information including bands broken down by location or name. The sites all have music on the pages (usually MySpace) that you can listen to.

Here are some of my favorites highlighted

Creevey Crisis
– Russ does harder rock

Draco and the Malfoys – Brian and Brandon do a lot of funny songs

Ministry of Magic – They do dance music – the “boy band” of wizard rock (complete with fangirls!). They also do some awesome collaborations with other bands.

The Moaning Myrtles– Lauren and Nina do a lot of comedy (I mean their character is dead..) and have great harmonies. Lauren and Nina are doing solo stuff now, which is also awesome (Lauren has a Firefly song)

The Mudbloods – just retired, but has great pop music – both HP and not

The Remus Lupins – Alex writes mostly pop songs with rock influence and is one of the biggest bands out there. He and some guys from the Ministry of Magic have started recording a few songs calling themselves The Oceanic 6 and had Lost songs

RiddleTM – Sisters from the UK. (For Jo is their best song)

Tonks & the Aurors – Steph is the Bruce Springsteen of wizard rock

It is a really fun genre of music full of amazing people. Do you know any wizard rock? What do you think of it (it is okay if you don’t like it, I won’t judge you!)?

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Harry Potter Top Moments

Posted by Caitie F on August 2, 2010

I thought I would share some of my top moments with you. I have set it up with different categories and shared my top three. There are spoilers.

Top three characters and why

3. Luna

She is such an independent and confident character. She is a little out there, but that is what I love about her. She loves her friends more than anything, which is something I completely understand. She also showed us a different side of Ravenclaws.

2. Weasleys

Okay, so they aren’t one character, but it is one thing that makes me love them so much – they are an ideal family. They don’t have much money, but they would do anything for each other. Molly and Arthur support their children no matter what and welcome others into their family and home. I ❤ the Weasleys!

1. Harry Potter

I know, I actually like the main character! I just love his struggle and his journey. I love to see how he grows into his responsibility.

Top three fights/battles

3. Ron/Harry in Goblet of Fire

Seeing them fight showed how important they are to each other.

2. Fight at the ministry in Order of the Phoenix

It was so cool to see the inside of the ministry! I also loved how the DA members were there.

1. Final battle

Do I need to say more?

Top three spells

3. Accio

The one I wish I could use every day!

2. Expelliarmus

It was overused, but I am so glad that Harry was able to defeat Voldemort without an unforgivable curse.

1. Expecto Patronum

I love the idea of the protection of a Patronus.

Top three shockers

3. Quirell being Voldemort

In the first book, I never expected it!

2. Hagrid survived

From the beginning, I was convinced he would be a goner.

1. Dumbledore’s death

I was so sad and shocked that he was killed, but I think it was the best thing for the story.

Top three times I cried

3. Sirius’s death

2. Dumbledore’s death

1. Harry walking through the woods with his family

Top three villians

3. Draco

He was so conflicted in the last book, which made him a much greater villain

2. Bellatrix

She scared me more than Voldemort. She was so evil and ambitious – going after her family members specifically and pure evil.

1. Snape

Yes, I know he wasn’t really a villain, but he was written so well that I didn’t really know what side he was on or why he was on it.

Top three lines

Honorable mentions – “I’ll join you when hell freezes over.” (Neville)

“You are nearly there,” said James. “Very close. We are…so proud of you.” “You’ll stay with me?” [Harry] “Until the very end,” said James.

3. “Dumbledore’s man through and through,” said Harry. “That’s right.”

2. “Will it hurt?”

1. Not my daughter you bitch!

Top three disappointments

3. Neville didn’t get to kill Bellatrix

Molly Weasley was pretty awesome, but I wish Neville could have gotten revenge for his parents.

2. Grawp

He just seemed like a waste

1. It ended

Overall top three things

3. Harry finding out he was a wizard

2. Marauder’s Map

1. Hogwarts

Top three fandom

3. My first wizard rock show

2. Terminus

1. Friends

Posted in Editorial | 2 Comments »

Harry Potter Survey

Posted by Caitie F on August 1, 2010

What house do you claim to?
Gryffindor and Ravenclaw

Why?
Intelligence, creativity, bravery, and friendship

Who are your favorite characters?
Luna, Hermione, George, and Snape

Which characters do you think you would befriend?
Hermione, Ginny and Harry especially…but most of the good guys

Who are your least favorite characters?
Probably Grawp and Madame Maxime – they seemed kind of pointless

What would your patronus be?
Something tough, but friendly

What would your favorite class be?
Charms!

What would your least favorite class be?
Potions – I am not good at science.

Who would be your favorite teacher?
McGonagall – she reminds me of my favorite teacher ever!

Least favorite teacher?
Umbrige and Lockhart

What wizarding career would you choose for yourself?
Editor or librarian

What kind of wand do you have?
Willow and Unicorn hair

Any pets (owls, cats, toads)?
Owl

Favorite magical item?
Wand

Favorite magical candy?
Chocolate frogs

Magical drink of choice?
butterbeer…though I think I would like fire whiskey too!

Favorite store in Hogsmeade?
Honeydukes

Favorite magical creature?
Hippogriffs

Scariest magical creature?
Dragons and Acromantulas

Who would you ask to the Yule Ball?
Lee Jordan

Favorite magical location?
Hogwarts

——-
How long have you been a fan?
Since 1998

How did you first become introduced to Harry Potter?
See last post!

How do the movies compare to the books for you?
Will get into that later in the week!

Do you play any of the video games?
The Lego one…it is amazing

Favorite book and why?
Half Blood Prince – loved everything about it

Least favorite book and why?
Chamber of Secrets. Not that I dislike it at all.

Favorite film and why?
HBP – thought it kept true the best

Least favorite film and why?
PoA I walked out

Listen to the audiobooks?
No, I don’t do audiobooks

Listen to any podcasts?
I still listen to Pottercast

Favorite aspect of the Harry Potter community?
The love.

Favorite ship(s)?
I like all of the canon ones
Do you do any Potter related art/music/writing, etc?
Nope

Ever cosplayed or dressed up as a character?
No

How many midnight releases have you made it to?
No books and HBP movie

List some favorite Potter-related memories?
Will do all week!

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