Category Archives: Book Reviews

Flame away, okay?

Yeah, I read the damn Hunger Games.  And I liked it.  I won’t judge you for judging me.

But hear me out first.

I’m a sucker for a good story about freedom. And although the concept is simplified – dumbed down, really – in Suzanne-Collins land, at least it’s there.

Awkward fact: In high school, I was totally that kid who wandered around with a battered paperback copy of Atlas Shrugged tucked under my arm, smugly certain of – and obnoxiously vocal about – my position on every issue under the sun, no matter how trivial.

(Unfortunately, because someone decided it was a good idea to let me be Editor-in-Chief of our school newspaper, many of these positions are now recorded in print, for posterity.  Thank Galt this was before things went digital.)

Anyway, of course, I’ve evolved.  Beyond secondhand flannel shirts and thrifted Chuck Taylors.  And also beyond taking the ideological road on every single issue.  But deep down, I admit: I’m still rather smitten by rebellion and defiance, and by people taking a stand against governments that are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.

And although it’s a teen-oriented book, peppered with nauseating Twilight-esuqe romantic dialogue and populated by one-dimensional characters that push the limits of credibility, there’s a little bit of Ayn Rand in The Hunger Games.  A little bit of George Orwell.  A little bit of Aldous Huxley.  A little bit of all of the books that really fired me up about reading and learning and having opinions on things, back when I was a gawky adolescent.

In other words, there’s a skeleton of something meaningful and thought-provoking in The Hunger Games books.  They may not go down as classic pieces of literature, but at least they do more than paint a generic “goodies versus baddies!” picture.  They touch on an element of classic dystopian writing that many teenagers would probably never otherwise have exposure to.

So for that, Ms. Collins, I’m willing to overlook those awkwardly-written kisses and underdeveloped characters.

I haven’t read the last book in the series yet.  It’s in transit on an order from Borders. [SO HEY, no spoilers!]  I kind of hope it arrives tomorrow.  I have the weekend off, and I wouldn’t mind spending my Saturday curling up with a little Mockingjay.

So if you must, judge away.  Really, go ahead.  I’ll be sitting in the corner pretending to be as stoic as Dagny Taggart.

PS: Have you checked your wallet, purse, underwear drawer, etc for unused Borders GCs?  They’re about to go out of business, and I managed to rustle up almost $40 worth of books by combining a bunch of unused and partially-used cards that I had laying around!

PPS: Have you read any of the Hunger Games books?  No?  Do you want to?  I’ll happily send my lightly-used copy of the first book to someone.  Just tell me you’re interested in the comments and I’ll pick a random winner at beer o’clock on Sunday!

THIS Friday

Heya!  Happy Friday afternoon!  I have to work this weekend so it feels a little more like Sunday afternoon to me.  But I had the day off today and managed to be a complete waste of space, so I can’t complain too much.

Here’s a sampling of the random garbage orbiting my brain today:

1) THIS tomato…which might be edible soon!  (Maybe?)

Whoa.  I’m still blown away that an actual fruit has managed to grow and ripen under my care.  And this guy is one of four!  (The others are smaller and still green.)  I wish it were a little bit bigger (it’s tennis-ball sized; the guy at the nursery said they’d be softball-sized) but given the hot weather we’ve had, I have to say I’m pleased with the state of the Balcony Terra Cotta Farm Empire.

For reals: nothing has perished yet!  Nothing! I’m nine for nine on the life toll and everything is thriving.  My two hot pepper plants are even starting to grow baby peppers – although their leaves are looking a little jaundiced this week.  The rosemary plant has quickly grown in to a rosemary bush.

Oh, and remember my neighbor?  The one with the kick-ass plants that I was super jealous of when I first got this cracked-out idea about building a container garden?

Heheh.  Better luck next year, Mr. Fancyplants.

2) THIS article…from GrubStreet: “Sloshed: Maybe We Should Be Judging Wines by Their Labels”

Hilarious.  And a very important body of research.  Thank you, Matthew Latkiewicz.  (And shout out to Halah for the heads up on that one!)

3) THIS lazy cat...who is, in this case, symbolic.

In spite of the hellishly hot weather, I haven’t once awoken in the morning hours to go out and run.

In spite of the fact that I’ve had to run in the afternoon/evening, I’ve somehow made it happen.  Every day this week but one.

It’s a whole different ballgame when you only have to plod around for 30-40 minutes and you don’t give a hoot about your pace.

At some point, of course, I’m going to have to start getting up so I can get some longer stuff in, but for now?  It’s really comforting to know that I *can* go out there and plod around when the heat index is in the triple digits.  That, although it may be uncomfortable, it won’t kill me.

And as the picture indicates, this heat wave has clearly taken its toll on the felines.  In spite of the fact that they live their entire lives in a comfortable 72-degree air-conditioned bubble, all they do is lay around like a couple of drama queens.  The scene  above has greeted me every single morning this week.  So hot.  Cannot function before 10 AM.  Moar food plz. What a life.

4) THIS book…which was really good.

Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn

I took this to the beach with me, expecting a ripped-off Marley And Me to tear through on a lounge chair while sipping a daquiri.

Instead, I found a well-written and occasionally dark memoir on addiction and recovery.  With a background plot (light and funny) about training a boisterous and naughty Bernese Mountain Dog.  I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

And the are also some fascinating portraits (caricatures?) of the dog-obedience-training world in there, too.  Clearly, I’m more of a cat person (dear neighbors, please stop your dogs from peeing in the elevator) but I found it fascinating.

I wish I could send this copy along to one of you, but then the Wake County Public Library would hunt me down.  It’s definitely worth a check-out though!

5) THIS beer…which is currently being used as a bribe for me to clean my apartment when I’m done with this post.

Uh…I’ll let you know how that works out.

I picked up this Bison Brewing Organic Honey Basil beer earlier this week.  And then I saw it on Daily Beer Review this morning and got even more excited about it!

And…it’s delicious.  For me, this is a perfect drinking beer.  DBR Rob says that he wishes it were a little less sweet, but I think the level of honey is just right. The basil flavor is definitely noticeable but not overpowering.  It would be like if you took a Pale Ale, mellowed it out a bit, and added a little sweetness and herb-ness.  At 6.0% ABV, this beer will let you know it’s there, but it won’t knock you on your ass.

Bottom Line: Get it.  At $9 for a four-pack (at Whole Foods), it’s not the cheapest beer in the world, but for the unique flavor alone it’s worth the cash.

Alright, off to do that cleaning (riiiiiight) and then on to the workin’ weekend. But since it’s not here yet, I have a little movie date tonight with the hubs.  We’re going to see X-MEN or whatever that movie is.  I’ve seen the previews with the little lady that turns blue.  I hope it’s good.  And that I can stay awake.

What are you up to this weekend?