Tag Archives: fiction

The Hunger Games: A Modern Fairy Tale?

The Hunger Games: A Modern Fairy Tale?

I have been caught up in the hubbub surrounding The Hunger Games. Members of my book club are planning to go see the movie after Spring Break, and I can’t wait. We’re thinking that this will give teens a chance to go see it, so we aren’t the oldest people in the theater. (We might be the oldest despite putting it off!) I’ve seen many movie adaptations of books I’ve read, so I used a gift card to buy the whole trilogy for my Nook to try to read at least the first book before I see the movie.

I first heard about The Hunger Games a while ago. I had been avoiding reading the books, mostly because I had heard that it involved a fight to the death among teenagers. Reading this post about the movie’s rating on BlogHer reminded me of this reason. As a mom and a teacher, I really don’t want to read about teens killing other teens.

I’m reminded, however, of the kind of stories I used to love. Original fairy tales held such allure for me, and were so different from the Disney movies. One of my favorite stories was Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”. This poor little child freezes to death at the end of the story, and is brought to Heaven to be with her grandmother. Fairy tales were told orally and passed down from one generation to the next, and so were changed by the tellers. One of the endings of Snow White has the wicked step mother dance to death in red hot iron shoes as her due reward for her wickedness. Hansel, locked up in a cage, uses a bone to fool the nearly blind witch that he is not getting fat enough for her to eat him. Fairy tales are pretty gruesome, aren’t they?

When I was in high school, I graduated to books like Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, about a group of teenagers involved in a hit and run scenaro. She also wrote Killing Mr. Griffin, a book about teens intended to scare a disliked teacher only to accidentally kill him off. These books were not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.

It is in remembering these stories that I know why The Hunger Games trilogy has become so popular among its readers. I was drawn to similar stories when I was young, too. Why are these stories so appealing? Is it because we are facing our darkest fears? Perhaps, although some of those fears are darker than the ones I face in reality. Is it because of the way we think of ourselves? That we would be the ones strong enough and good enough and wise enough to survive?

While I have yet to read these books, I think I will forge ahead despite my reservations since upon reflection they sound just like the kind of story I have been drawn to in the past.

Have you avoided reading The Hunger Games like I have? Or have you read the book and seen the movie? What did you think?

Diary of a MAD fat Girl {BlogHer Book Club}

Diary of a MAD fat Girl {BlogHer Book Club}

Picture yourself in a lounge chair wearing sunglasses, next to a glistening body of water, with a tall glass of sweet tea. Or a mint julep, if you prefer. This book is in your hands, and you will be unable to put it down. Diary of a Mad Fat Girl, a novel by Stephanie McAfee, is a book that you will give to a girlfriend to read, who will give it to another girlfriend, and so on, until it comes back to you with a broken spine, dog-eared and wavy from water damage.

Ace Jones does NOT lead a charmed life. Hence the word “mad” in the title. Not only does her best friend back out of a planned vacation to Panama City Beach at the last minute, but she risks losing her job because of her ill-tempered principal. Her other best friend is stuck in a love-less marriage, which has gone from verbally abusive to physically abusive. Throw in Ace’s tendency to devour pizza and guzzle beer when she’s upset, and you’ll know why she’s mad and fat.

Ace deals with all these problems and more in a hilarious way. Hilarious to the reader, that is. Ace’s love life is also full of twists and turns. Should she be with the coach she had an affair with, the surprisingly wealthy biker she met in the parking lot of a strip club, or her childhood sweetheart?? Warning to readers…this book does delve into explicit adult themes.

I had trouble with the descriptions of Ace as a teacher (no teacher can take a sick day on the spur of the moment without sub plans, and it seems as though Ace doesn’t teach in the entire book). I also felt like the book was about a hundred pages too long. I read the paperback edition, which had been expanded to 353 pages as opposed to the original 125 page ebook. While perhaps those extra pages improved the story, I felt the ending dragged on for too long.

Overall, though, Diary of a Mad Fat Girl was a quick, easy read, perfect for Spring Break.

Join the Diary of a Mad Fat Girl at BlogHer Book Club!

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Disclosure: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

My Favorite Read in 2011 {Book Nook}

There was a time when I stopped reading. I became so involved in blogging and being a mom that I didn’t have time to read a whole book to myself. Sure, I read books constantly to the girls, but I wasn’t reading books for me. When I picked up a book and started to read again, I realized how much I missed reading. So 2011 became the year of the book club! At the beginning of last year, I joined an online book club through the SITS Girls.

Through this online book club, I read some amazing books, including The Bird Sisters, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, and Secret Daughter. One of the big advantages of joining this book club was being able to participate in the Twitter parties. Several times the author joined in our discussion of the book we had read. It was so fun to ask questions and get an answer from the author herself! The disadvantage of this type of discussion was commenting on these wonderful books in 140 characters at a time. Challenging, to say the least.

Source: tumblr.com via Ginny on Pinterest

 

Then, my neighbor asked me to join her book club. A night out with other women, in real life, to discuss books with as many words as I wanted? Absolutely!

And so I read even more. Being in a book club encouraged me to read books I never would have picked up on my own. This is one book that I might not have read, and I’m so glad I did.

Major Pettigrew's Last StandMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Sometimes you love a book because of the relevance to your life. While it doesn’t seem like I would have much in common with a retired Major living in a quaint English village, amazingly, I did.

Major Pettigrew is obsessed about the heirloom gun set in his family. As I read about his obsession, I remembered my grandma. When I would visit my ninety-year old grandma in her apartment, she would go around the room and point to each piece of furniture. She would tell me the history of the piece and remind me that it should stay in the family after she was gone. Just like Grandma, Major Pettigrew comes back to the subject of his family guns time and time again, and how this set of guns should be owned by him after hisĀ  brother dies.

The death of the Major’s brother comes as a shock to him; just a few years earlier, he lost his wife. Surprisingly, it is a shopkeeper in town who becomes a comfort to Major Pettigrew. Mrs. Ali has also lost her spouse. Their unexpected relationship grows from a fondness for literature and their enjoyment in each other’s company.

Here enters more relevance to my life at the time that I read this book. This past summer, 18 months after my mother died, my father married again. Through the eyes of Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali, I was able to accept the idea of love after loss. The Major and Mrs. Ali’s new relationship doesn’t diminish the love they felt for their respective spouses. Major Pettigrew at one point even tells Mrs. Ali that he wishes he had known her husband. With grace, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand explores the idea of a second love in life. Quite different than a first love, as my own father would say, but also worth pursuing.

While I think I would have liked this book no matter when I read it, 2011 was the ideal year for me to read this enjoyable book.

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State of Wonder {Book Nook}

Blogging every day has taken away the time to read, but when the library told me a book I have had on hold for a couple of months was available, I had to take the time to read it. As I read State of Wonder, I could hardly put it down to feed the kids.

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dr. Marina Singh lives a life of secrets. She cannot divulge that she is having an affair with the CEO of her pharmaceutical company, Mr. Fox, to anyone. The reason she became a lab doctor instead of a practicing medical doctor is also a huge secret; a secret she would rather forget.

One day, a letter arrives at the lab. It is from a secret research facility in the Amazon, and the doctor leading the research tersely reports that a colleague of Marina’s has perished in the rainforest. Mr. Fox and the colleague’s wife recruit Marina to go down to South America to investigate.

As Marina prepares for the trip that she would rather not take, it is important for her to take Lariam, an anti-malaria medication. As she does so, she remembers taking her malaria pills as a child when she goes to visit her father who lives in India. The medicine’s side effects affect her greatly, and the nightmares she had as a child return. Before she goes on the airplane, she throws the Lariam into a waste basket.

Once she arrives in Brazil, Marina’s search for the truth begins, and she discovers more secrets that she must keep. These secrets go beyond the research lab in the rain forest and the secrets the doctors who work there keep. She also discovers the secrets she has been keeping from herself.

While the ending seemed a bit rushed and I yearned for the story to continue, I highly recommend adding this book to your “to-read” list.

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Hallowe’en Crafts

My three year Emmy wanted to decorate this baby pumpkin. Thinking that I am crafty, I had her paint it first, and told her to let it dry. The next day, I found it on the kitchen table, with most of the paint scratched off by little fingernails. Crafty pumpkin — off to a great start!
She knew what she wanted this baby pumpkin to be, and I tried to pull it off using some supplies we had at home. What do you think it is? A crazy spider pumpkin with six legs? A crazy mustached man? A crazy tiger? (Notice the theme of crazy!)

Um, no, it’s none of those things! It’s supposed to be a black cat. 
Here’s a Halloween (fall) craft that actually worked and looked cute. 
At our last MOPS meeting we made these autumn luminaries. Our craft leader always find the greatest crafts for us! She found this idea on Martha Stewart’s website.

Here are my luminaries, all lit up!

It’s Halloween! The SITS Girls are sponsoring a Canon Rebel giveaway this weekend…it’s their way of throwing a Halloween Blog Party!

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