Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book News: Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) Casting

This is new meme I've started consisting of recent book news.  I will try to post this every Thursday.

What I will feature?  Any kind of news, except tabloid features, regarding books, authors, publishing companies, anything related to books, and movies based on books that I find particularly engaging.  I hope you do, too! This is new so I'm working out the kinks, but I think I'll pick one big news story to focus on.  We'll see how it goes.

The Hunger Games is one of my favorite series and I thought we'd focus on casting for the second movie, Catching Fire.  If you have not read the book and/or the series and do not want to be spoiled, be careful about reading ahead!

The Hunger Games Movie Facebook Page: Catching Fire Cast

The newest name to be added to the bunch is Sam Claflin as Finnick.

Finnick is the male victor from District 4 to return to the 75th Hunger Games also known as the 3rd Quarter Quell.  He won the 65th games when he was 14 making him 24 in the Quarter Quell.  He's flirtatious but has a heart for only one girl.  Katniss was not fond of him when they first met, but after forming an alliance he gained her trust and I believe friendship.
According to Sam Claflin was born June 27, 1986 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, UK making him 26 as of this post's publishing and English which I don't think Finnick particularly was, but no matter.  Works that he's been in that people may be familiar with are Snow White and the Huntsman and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  He seems to be fairly new to Hollywood.

I'm not really sure how I pictured Finnick: dark hair, sort of skinny, someone who thinks he's a lady man, not unattractive but not terribly attractive.  I think Claflin can pull that off.  I've not seen his work (though I do want to see the 4th installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) so I can't comment on his acting, but looks alone I think he'll make a good Finnick.  I'm not quite sure he's the guy I would have picked, but I'm okay with casting.

Chosen for the role of Johanna Mason is Jenna Malone.

Johanna Mason is the female victor from District 7.  Which games she came from is never mentioned.   I see her as a girl trying to play tough.  She's hardened by tragedy.  It's hard for Katniss to want to form an alliance with her, but she does, even though there are times when she thinks Johanna is out to get her.  She is left with no one in her life as the Capitol has killed all her loved ones.  Some of their tactics to get to the victors in the Quell don't work on her because of this.  She's good with an ax mostly due to coming from District 7 the lumber district.  She and Finnick were friends prior to the 3rd Quarter Quell.
I remember Jena Malone from the movie Saved.  Other pieces people may know her from are the Hatfield and McCoys miniseries that recently ran on The History Channel,  Into the Wild, Life as a House, and Stepmom. Born in 1984 she's only 1.5-2 years older than Claflin.  Their characters will be around the same age.  Johanna Mason's age was never identified, but she is noted as being one of the youngest in the Quell. I think Malone can pull of the hardness needed for Mason.  In my mind, I see it as a hardness that's easy to crack, sort of like what her character in Stepmom had.  I'm happy with this decision and can't wait to see her in the movie.

Other new actors for the second installment: Alan Ritchson as Gloss, Stephanie Leigh Shilland as Cashmere, Bruno Gunn as Brutus, Meta Golding as Enobaria, Amanda Plummer as Wiress, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Lynn Cohen as Mags, E. Roger Mitchell as Chaff, and Maria Howell as Seeder

Not cast: Beetee, Tribute boy and girl from 5, Tribute boy and girl from 6, Slight, Woof, Cecelia, Tribute boy and girl from 10.

I think Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amanda Plummer, and Jena Malone are the most famous names of the bunch and they're not even that famous.   I like not having these huge famous names in the series.   It lets the movie be about the movie and not the actors.  The most famous names we have in the movies are Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz.  Famous names, celebrities, are fine, but when it's a book to film of a very popular book series it's good to let the films stand on their own, in my opinion.

Book Review: Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock

Kara and Lizzie thought they had the perfect life.  Their mother was no longer with them, but their father loved them with more than enough love for two people.  Plus, he found a new wife who loved the girls as if they were her own flesh and blood.  She couldn't have her own children, but having Kara and Lizzie was the next best thing.  No.  It was better than the next best thing.

Amanda, the girls' new mother, was all set out to adopt the girls when her husband, their father, died in a plane accident.  Right before his death came the death of his parents leaving him a massive fortune, which was now left to the girls when they turn 18 as it goes.

At the age of 3, the twins were swept from their loving home to live with their other grandparents, their mother's parents, that they had never met.  Amanda fought to keep them, but because the adoption process had not been finalized, I'm not even sure it had started, she had no legal right to the girls and their grandparents, being the closest living blood relatives, did.

They were pulled from a beautiful life of love to a life of filth and greed.  Deke and Eloise, the grandparents, were only after them because they were the "Billion Dollar Babies."  They received money every year from the girls' inheritance, but they squandered it on gambling.  Eventually, the girls forgot about Amanda and their previous life, believing that it was nothing they wanted to go back to.  This was their live now.

Amanda didn't stop.  She knew she had to wait until the girls were 18, but she kept watch, keeping the business, the money, and the mansion the girls inherited safe so she could turn it over to them as soon as they were of age.  She loved the girls with all her heart and wanted nothing more than to give them what was rightfully theirs.

The ending gives us a powerful message from God.  He tells us that He will always be here for us.  No matter what we do He still loves us.  Nothing can take that away.  Nothing!  This story shows just how far the love goes.  I was blown away at the end when I got the message.

Nominated for the Christy Award for Allegory in 2003.

I read this as a review request from Booksneeze using the Kindle App on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: Double Clutch (Brenna Blixen #1) by Liz Reinhardt

Brenna Blixen has moved back home after spending a year with her mom and stepdad in Denmark.  Being homeschooled allowed her to do a split schedule upon returning.  She spends her mornings at the regular high school and her afternoons at the tech school learning graphic arts.  Both places she meets a guy who steals her heart.

One guy she wants with her brain and her heart, while the other guy she wants with her heart and not her brain.  How can she decided what to do?  What are the secrets the two boys hold?  What is their connection?

I wasn't totally enamored by this book.  It was just okay for me.  I did want to know what was going to happen next, but I don't know.  I can't say it was predictable, but I also can't say it wasn't.  It's a typical young adult romance novel without the vampires and junk.  If you like cliche YA you'll like this book.

I hate thinking of self-published novels in this way, but I think this is one that would have been a lot better going through a major publishing company. I think it could have, too, though I'm no editor, just a book reviewer.  The characters needed some editing.  They were properly cliche.  We have Brenna, the "new" girl who is on the outside seemingly with no friends though she does have her best friend from when she originally lived in town and yet, two boys like her.  Hm.  These two boys are yin and yang.  They're good and evil with a splice of the other tucked inside.  Brenna has to choose between good and evil but there's a hidden layer so she can have both.

I will admit the cover is what drew me in.  Don't judge a book by the cover, but we all do. It's a picture of a pretty girl in front of a chain length fence.  That doesn't sound like much, but it was enough to make me want to enter the giveaway that I eventually won.

There are two other books in the series. This wasn't a great book for me, but part of me does want to continue on.

I won this book in a giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

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

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
In his mind, with a few brain cells not busy cataloging key facts about his environs, he was already counting the money.
P. 105 The Judge by Randy Singer 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Want to know more about the magical beasts in the world?  Newt Scamander has written the book for you.  He scoured the globe looking for creatures that classify under the Ministry of Magic's term of Beast.  However, some creatures, like the centaurs and mermaids are only classified as beasts because they refuse to be in the same classification as a few animals that have been labeled beings.

The book is not a boring encyclopedia of information.  It contains stories among the facts to keep the reader entertained.  The copy that Muggles have been fortunate enough to lay their hands on is a reproduction of the famous Harry Potter's textbook, which he shared with his pal, Ron Weasley.  Intermingled among Scamander's written word are notes written by the two boys themselves.

I liked the forward by Albus Dumbledore and the introduction which explain how the book came about.  Who is Newt Scamander and what is his motivation for putting this book together?

If you want to know more about the creatures inhabiting the wizarding world pick up a copy of Fantastic Beasts today.


In 2001, JK Rowling put together two books, one a text book and the other a library book, from Potterverse with the 20% of the proceeds going to her favorite charity, Comic Relief.  Fantastic Beasts is a fun way to expand one's knowledge of the world she created.  Information on these beasts can be found on the internet, but not in the capacity that they are in this book.  I truly enjoyed reading it and think that any Harry Potter fan will as well.

I did feel the book was too UK centric.  I had to think about it.  Newt Scamander is from the UK so of course he would know more about that area than any other part of the world.  But, too many beasts live in the UK and not spread all over the world.

I was skeptical when I first heard of the book back in 2001, because I was not a Harry Potter fan and didn't know about the charity.  I thought Rowling was just trying to make more money, but this is a great thing for charity.  Harry Potter fans do buy these books.  Rowling writes something Harry Potter and the fans lap it up, even back in 2001.  I bought this as a collection of both books, so look for my review on Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp coming soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet #5/O'Keefe Family #4) by Madeleine L'Engle

The final book in the Time Quintet series deals with Meg and Calvin's daughter Polly.  It is also book four in the O'Keefe Family series.  I have not read the first three books in that series and do not feel I missed anything to carry this story along.  Polly mentions things that probably took place in previous novels, but nothing felt spoiled if I plan on reading that series.  As this story deals with time travel akin to the four previous Time novels, it accurately fits in the quintet.

Polly comes to her grandparents' place for schooling.  She has lived with her parents and siblings on a small island and they decide it is time for her to get a better education.  Perfect.  What better place to do some time traveling than around the star gazing rock and the fields that created time travel for Meg, Charles Wallace, Sandy, and Denys?

Walking around the Murry land Polly visions a man and his dog near a tree.  Later, when she's swimming in the Murry's new (since the last book) pool, she recieves a visit from a girl.  At one point she accidentally visits the time of the man and the girl.

Dr. Louis is a friend of her grandparents.  Currently living with her is her brother, Bishop Nason Colubra.  He has made trips 3000 years into the past, the time of the people Polly has seen.   No one really believes Bishop and Polly, but they do not want Polly time traveling.

A friend of Polly's visits her and lays upon her some bad news.  This news makes him want to go back in time himself.  Polly has promised that she would not go, but she follows her friend for an adventure.

I love how the story mixes science and Christianity.  It doesn't ignore one for the other.  Neither seems more important or dominant.  They work together.  I love that about the series.  This doesn't make the series Christian fiction or anything like that.  It just, in my opinion, makes it real.  Science and Christianity can and do work together whether we realize it or not.

I read this book for pure pleasure.  All opinions are my own.  I recommend reading this series.  It took me until I was an adult to read the stories for no real reason, but I think it's great for older elementary and middle school children to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: True Light (Restoration #3) by Terri Blackstock

It is winter in the electricity deprived town of Oak Hollow.  A pulsar has caused the electricty to go out in the entire world.  Winter is upon the inhabitants of the northern hemisphere and it is not creating a very hospitable living environment.  This is the third book in the Restoration series by Terri Blackstock.

A boy, a child, has gone hunting for his family and managed to knock down a decent size deer.  Someone else comes along and decides he wants that deer for himself.  Food is hard to come by in these times.  He shoots the boy. It is the duty of the sheriff and the town to find out who did it.

The Brannings become attached to the case through their daughter Dani and their kind hearts.  Mark Green's father kidnapped Dani and dealt in pornography.  He had a bad reputation around town before his death and it spread to his son.  Mark is nothing like his father and formed a very meaningful friendship with Dani.  His reputation and the fact that he hunted down a sizeable deer the morning of the shooting leads many in town to believe he is guilty.

Again Blackstock has done a great job of creating the atmosphere of the inhospitable environment created by the pulsar.  She writes believable characters.  Each character has their own identity and go through their own trials and tribulations.  Beth, Dani's younger sister, deals with starting a new local home school for kids her age as well as witnessing brutal fighting between neighbors and Mark.  How it affects her is not the same as how it affects Jeff or Dani.

Mark's character is amazing.  He has taught me so much about what it is to be a Christian and how one should live.  He makes me want to be a better person.  I don't know what else to say.  He's amazing.  He can forgive and do for others what they do not deserve because he knows in his heart that it is what God wants. His tale is the moral of this story.  Tragedy does strike him and leaves us with a cliffhanger at the end.

I've been drawn in from the very beginning and I cannot wait to see what the final book in the series has in store.

I checked this book out of my local library and read it for pure pleasure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Release date: October 23, 2012

A bookstore of love. ;)

The Bridge isn't really a bookstore of love.  It's a used bookstore, a dream for the owner, Charlie Barton, in Franklin, Tennessee.  It also happens to be the place where Molly Allen and Ryan Kelly met.

Molly and Ryan met in the bookstore and fell in love, but it was not meant to be.  Both college students had commitments to people back home.

Five years after they last saw each other, their favorite bookstore is in trouble.  After a devastating flood, the store is left with nothing to sell, and Charlie Barton is left with rising debts that will cause him to lose the store.  Due to the stress and struggle, Charlie considers taking his own life.

From the description (which I think accurately describes the function of the bookstore for the town of Franklin better than anything I could say):
"For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of middle Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books—even through dismal book sales and the rise of eBooks."

Karen Kingsbury knits together a wonderful tale of lost love.  If you are a fan of Karen Kingsbury you will enjoy this book.  It is set around Christmas and the cover is Christmasy, but it isn't so much a Christmas tale.  Christmas just plays the scene setter, if you will.

One funny tidbit that I noticed: Molly has a male first name as her last name and Ryan has a female first name as his last name.

I read this as a review request from on my laptop using Adobe Digital.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Teaser Tuesday

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

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
He was thinner than last time.  If he was clean and shaved, then he probably wasn't living on the beach.
Kindle Loc. 913-914 Kicking Eternity by Ann Lee Miller 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: I Feel Only You by Cadence Donovan

The marriage of a movie star and a non-famous non-celebrity girl.  Jackson, the movie-star, has kept his marriage under wraps, hidden from the prying eyes of Hollywood.  He's managed to keep his wife, Chalice, and his daughter, Claire, as well as Chalice's older children from a previous marriage, hidden for five years, at Chalice's request.

This is Chalice's coming out party.  She lives in Texas with her daughter while her husband makes movies.  She wanted to be out of the spotlight, but felt it was right for Jackson's career to let herself be known to his fans.

Chalice and Jackson have a very Christian marriage.  I love the Christianity throughout the story.  It isn't in your face, but it is there on almost every page.  I did, however, feel that some things were too explicit and pulled away from any intended Christian message.

The major problem I had was with Claire.  She's three years old in this story but acting like she's 25.  I get that she is mature and smart.  She is being shown beyond the levels of Dakota Fanning and Emily Mae Young.  She's not written well.  She is only three, so while she may be very mature and very smart, I feel there is so much she should not be able to do at this time.  It's okay for her to be able to sing and play the violin like nobody's business.  She can read novels on a fifth grade level.  She keeps up with her mother's schedule better than she does and that includes eating the right kinds of  cereal for breakfast.  It's not so much that she doesn't allow herself such-and-such cereal.  It's how she presents it.  She feels too grown up.

I digress.  While I say it's a major issue, it's really minor in the scheme of things.  The story wrapped me up.  I wanted to know what would happen next.  There's one bit at the end that I think was overly dramatic.  Chalice suffers from an accident and I feel the result doesn't match up with the incident, but it creates tension and a good cliff hanger for what I think will be a sequel (this is, after all, labeled Shared Senses #1).

I read this as a review request using the Kindle app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Giveaway Winner Announced!

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Book Review: The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall

Annie Martin is a Mennonite not getting along with her mother or her wayward brothers.  Her mother sends her to spend some time with her grandfather who lives near and is business partners with the Amish.  Going back she rekindles a friendship with an Amish boy, Aden Zook, as she helps him with the diner his father co-owns with Annie's grandfather.

Mennonites and Amish are not allowed to date each other, especially if they made a vow to their church as Annie has.  Annie and Aden have to keep their relationship a secret lest her grandfather find out and pull his funding from the diner.

The Amish cannot use electricity.  State code does not allow a restaurant to be open without electricity.  The only way the Zooks can have the diner is if they partner with a Mennonite.  If Moses, Annie's Daadi (grandfather), pulls out from the diner, the diner loses electricity and the Zooks lose the diner.

Will Annie and Aden find a way to be together and not lose the diner?  Will Aden's brother, Roman, learn to get past the accident that left him in a wheelchair?  Where do the cherry blossoms play into all this?

Cindy Woodsmall has created a short, sweet, romantic story of two people from the same side of the tracks and yet so far away.  The side story of Roman (whom I kept wanting to call Ronan) was appealing as well.  A farming accident caused him to not be able to properly use his legs.  He used to feel higher than his brother, but now he feels unworthy.  His struggle was very real and honest.

Usually with stories like these it's an Amish girl and an English boy (English is what they call non-Plain folks). It was refreshing for both of them to be Plain, but just different faiths: Amish and Mennonite.

I read this Blogging for Books Review Request using the Adobe Digital app on my laptop.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Winner Delayed

My birthday giveaway ended last night.  I am going for an out-of-town overnight trip and will not be back until late tomorrow (Thursday) night.  I'll have the winner posted on Friday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

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

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
Her grandparents did not scold her for going to the stone wall.  They were all unusually silent as they ate lunch.
P. 115 An Acceptable Time (Time Quintet #5) by Madeleine L'Engle 

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review: The Lady is a Champ by Carol Polis

I am no longer implementing the MPAA rating system in my reviews.  For many books it is too hard to figure out exactly where it fits.  It all depends on the maturity of the reader, really.

It was never her goal in life, but it came to be.  Carol Polis was the first female judge in boxing history.  She grew up not caring for the sport.  Her dad and brothers watched it on TV, but she didn't really pay attention.  However, she ended up marrying, her second marriage I believe, a boxing referee.  Watching him he encouraged her to keep score.  It kept her interested in the matches.  Seeing her scorecard, they knew there was something special.  They were her husband Bob Polis and Zach Clayton, the Philadelphia State Athletic Commissioner at the time.

What helped Polis as a judge was that she wasn't a fan of boxing, so she wasn't distracted by getting to see so-and-so box.  Only once did she get swayed by a "crush" on a boxer.  She learned from her mistake and focused in between both boxers rather than on one in particular.

Through her career as a judge, which was not her full-time "day" job as there just wasn't enough money in it, Carol Polis got to do many things.  She met many famous boxers.  She traveled overseas and over hemispheres, her favorite place being Italy.  Sadly, it caused her to divorce Bob Polis.  She kept getting jobs and he didn't.  Though they, people in charge of boxing, I think it was the WBA, did not say it, they did not want the two working together.  She was a judge and he a referee, but the two positions were connected.  I think this caused anger in him which in turn caused their marriage to fail.

Nothing deterred Carol.  She did her job.  She loved her job.  Her entrance into the boxing world allowed other females to becomes boxing judges.  It was a step in the right direction for women.

A wonderful story has been told of the boxing world from the eyes of the first female judge.  We get to see the insides of a world full of corruption and mayhem.  We meet the shady characters attracted to this sport, but we also meet good guys along the way.

Not being a fan of boxing I found this to be a fabulous read.  Carol takes the reader into her life and on the sidelines of the boxing ring.  The only problem with her storytelling is sometimes she would go on a tangent and lose us, or well, me, in the timeline of events.

I read this book as a review request using the Kindle App on my laptop.  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Giveaway

My birthday's coming up, August 11 to be exact.  For my birthday I am hosting a special Happy Birthday Giveaway running from August 8 to August 14.  One winner will get to choose from this selection of books.  I hope there is one in here you will enjoy!

Winner will choose one of the following:
Selected Short Stories by D.H. Lawrence, Spring Break (Pacific Cascades University #4) by Wendy Nentwig, Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming, Delicacy by David Foenkinos, A Hole in the Ground Owned by a Liar by Daniel Pyne, Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman, V. by Thomas Pynchon, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Here Today by Ann M. Martin, Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard, A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok, Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce

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Teaser Tuesday

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

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) "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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
Even now seven years later, with Thanksgiving dishes put away and another lonely December rushing up at her, Molly Allen knew the truth.  Her year, her life, her Christmas ... all of it might be different if only she'd said something.  
P. 2 The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teaser Tuesday Delay

I've been so addicted to the Olympics that I forgot about Teaser Tuesday yesterday!  I'll get it up some time today.