Monday, December 30, 2013


By the end of Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games Trilogy, I was pretty ready for the series to be over.  The first person present narration had grown tedious, the bizarre love triangle held no interest for me, I'd grown weary of Katniss whining.  But there were some bright spots and I'd still categorize it as an enjoyable read.

The book picks up shortly after the events of Catching Fire.  Katniss and some of the other victors have been rescued by the rebels of District 13.  Peeta and a couple others were captured by the Capitol and are being subjected to who-knows-what kinds of torture.  Although she feels no particular affinity for them, the rebels want Katniss to serve as their Mockingjay - a sort of figurehead for the rebellion to keep them fired up.  She eventually agrees, as the book's title implies.

Life in District 13 is something of a drag, but the primary point of these scenes seems to be Katniss rekindling her relationship with Gale.  Which doesn't do much for me - yeah, he seems like a way hotter choice than Peeta, but a couple of tongue kisses followed by petulant pouting a romance does not make.  Soon, though, the Mockingjay and her security forces (which, of course, includes Gale) need to head into battle for some propaganda filming. 

The war has some very violent, bloody action, and the plot moves quickly through some exciting scenes.  Katniss has her own goals, which don't always align with the rebel forces.  She is, however, something of a force herself, earning the loyalty and respect of her fellow soldiers much the way she earned allies in the Hunger Games arena.

The near-final scenes were great, suspenseful and emotional, but the epilogue should have been jettisoned.  In all, it was a fun conclusion to the series.  But perhaps it would have been better to have taken a break between installments.

Next up: Santa left The Gormenghast Novels, a trilogy that's considered by many to be the preeminent grotesque fantasy classic, on a par with The Lord of the Rings.  I think Santa has my reading tastes pegged, and am very excited to dig in.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins' follow-up to The Hunger Games started out leaving me cold.  That romantic love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale dominated the first section of the book.  Or so I thought.  Just below the surface the reader begins to learn about a rebellion building up in a number of the outlying districts.  A rebellion brought on by Katniss' move at the end of the prior Games that allowed her and Peeta both to win.

This rebellion is where things begin to get interesting.  Panem's Capitol controls the media, so it's not like it makes the news.  Ordinary citizens in the Capitol hear, for example, that weather in District 4 has caused a shortage of seafood.  But when Peeta and Katniss embark on their Victory Tour across the districts, they start to see and hear things.  Unrest has begun, and Katniss is its hero.  Also, they see adults get killed.  Seems like the shit just might be gettin' real.

The action begins in earnest when the premise of the Quarter Quell - a twist in the rules for every 25th Hunger Games - is announced, and Katniss and Peeta learn that they'll be back in the arena along with other former victors.  This means their mentor - and all of Panem - already knows (and, in many cases, adores) their competition.  The action during the Games is pretty exciting, and there are some twists I honestly didn't see coming.  And the ending does quite the opposite of wrapping things up in a bow.  It - surprisingly, I might add - sets up for a very interesting conclusion to the trilogy.

Another quick and enjoyable read.  Another sad use of first person, present tense.  [N.b., perhaps that style appeals to young adults for some reason?  I couldn't imagine.]  And yes, I'll finish the trilogy next.

Next up: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I've come too far to stop now!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ah-choo, sniffle-sniffle, cough cough

So our household has gotten a bug, and gotten it good.  Not the nice Bug, although she was the first to come down.  Poor little thing had a fever for hours on Sunday night, barely budged from the couch on Monday... and *still* had a temperature last night so is on day three of stay-at-home.  Luckily she feels pretty fine, so I picked up her missed class work to keep her busy today.

The Bunny got it last night.  After a great day of school, she was whiny and crying during dinner (which was pasta; the food clearly could not have been the cause).  Lo and behold, fever there, too.  So she's home, too.  And she also feels pretty fine.

I might be the most pathetic.  I'm all sniffly, achy, freezing (especially in my office, where I have on snow boots, my hat, a warm sweater and a scarf - no joke - it's terrible), coughing, feverish and headachy.  So I'm a somewhat lousy Doctor Mom.  Which I suppose is why I'm at work and Joker is home with the girls.

Joker's been home free.

On the plus side, with any luck this will be long gone before Christmas celebrations begin in earnest.  (Although let's be honest here... there's a fairly good chance of Joker contracting it right before we leave for my extended family party on Sunday afternoon.  Right?)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Game. (The Harvard one, of course)

The weekend before Thanksgiving I hopped on a plane and headed east.  The destination?  Sunny New Haven, CT where the Game (or, if you didn't go to Yale, the "Harvard-Yale Game") was being played.  I was all set to meet up with my girlfriends and enjoy a kid-free weekend of fun.

It started with a truly terrible day of travel.  Although that started with me cruising through security with my boots on my feet, so I had no clue it would go awry.

Anyhoo, I finally arrived at the hotel, put down my stuff and met Lynne, Maureen and Aldina at the bars.  We drank some beer.  Then we ate late-night pizza.  Perfect.

In the morning, we got up, threw on our oh-so-cold-weather tailgating clothes, chugged some coffee and hit the fields.  Tailgating was a blast.  The Game itself?  Well, let's just say Yale isn't the football powerhouse it may have once been.  We lost with aplomb.  We (meaning my friends and me) did, however, manage to situate ourselves inside a skybox that was rolling with beer, wine and old friends.  It was great to reconnect, see the inside of the Bowl again... and (of course) return to the tailgates.

After that, we hit Yorkside for chow, old school style.  Then the hotel bar for drinks and conversations about zombies.  That part is new school style.  So was the fancy brunch on Sunday, complete with oysters and mac and cheese.  I guess that's the way to roll when you roll back to campus.