Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NOW READING: THE LAST PLEA BARGAIN ~ RANDY SINGER

I have now started reading my first Tyndale Review book


My official posting date for the blog tour is 16 April 2012, so I'll share all my thoughts and comments with you then.   


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

REVIEW: THE HUNGER GAMES ~ SUZANNE COLLINS

At first I was hesitant to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as it was hailed the new Twilight. Now, I don’t have any major qualms with The Twilight Saga (other than, let’s face it, Bella Swan single-handedly setting the feminist movement back at least 50 years). My main concern was that I hate reading something I feel I’ve read before.  Well, like Twilight, The Hunger Games is a young adult book series by a female author, written in the first person. Like Twilight, the protagonist in The Hunger Games is a teenage girl. As in Twilight, our Hunger Games heroine is torn between her conflicting feelings for a possible new love interest and her best friend… but that’s where the similarities end.




The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic world in the country of Panem. The wealthy metropolis known as the Capitol has full control over all twelve of the poorer Districts which surround it. As punishment for a previous rebellion wherein District Thirteen was completely destroyed, the Capitol annually hosts the Hunger Games, an event where each of the twelve Districts must provide one girl and one boy, called Tributes, to participate in a televised fight to the death in a vast outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol.

Katniss: “Taking kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch – this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. ‘Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen”.

Over several weeks, the 24 Tributes must fight to the death while trying to survive in the outdoor arena filled with traps, poisonous creatures and plants, and some artificial disasters created by the Gamemakers for the audience’s entertainment. The last Tribute standing wins a life of wealth back home, and a precious supply of food and delicacies for his or her District. A lottery draw determines the names of the Tributes (ages 12 to 18) who must participate, and in the girls category District Twelve draws the name of 12 year old Primrose Everdeen. Mortified by the thought of Prim being subjected to the horrors of the Games, her 16 year old sister Katniss Everdeen steps up and volunteers to take her place. In the boys category District Twelve draws the name of Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son who once saved Katniss and her family from starvation - an act of kindness for which he was beaten.

In the arena Katniss and Peeta will not only face each other, but bigger, stronger killers known as Career Tributes, who illegally train throughout their whole lives in the hope that they will be chosen to represent their Districts in the Hunger Games, as these slightly wealthier Districts (District Twelve is by far the poorest) view it as an honour to be chosen as Tribute.
































The 24 Tributes in the movie version of The Hunger Games



Suzanne Collins’ description of a post apocalyptic world is very believable. I especially enjoyed touches such as Katniss’ first experience with a car, a high speed train, a hot shower, and her and Peeta’s first taste of hot chocolate. Another very believable aspect of the story is Katniss’ wary suspicion of Peeta’s attempts at forging a friendship. She can’t in good conscience turn her back on the boy who once saved her life… but how can she befriend or trust him now when she knows they might be forced to fight to the death, should they come to face each other in the arena? Her only hope is that someone else kills Peeta before she has to.

On the one hand, I would have loved if the book had been written in the third person. I was constantly wondering what Peeta was thinking, what his true motives were. I also couldn’t help but wonder what Gale was thinking as he was watching the Games, helplessly watching Katniss being hunted by others. On the other hand though, the first person narrative puts the reader firmly in Katniss’ shoes, and brilliantly captures her complete isolation. It also adds to the suspense of the novel – we don’t know any more than Katniss does. Maybe that’s better than having all the answers.



















The Hunger Games is a very exciting read; The story is action packed, fast paced and unpredictable. The whole concept around the Hunger Games is very well plotted, from the opening ceremony, the interview stages and the training to the Games itself. As far as futuristic televised fights to the death are concerned, The Hunger Games is as realistic as can be.



Product information:
Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Number of pages: 374
Publisher: Scholastic
Year: 2008
ISBN-13: 9780439023528


The Hunger Games is the first book of a trilogy, and is followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay.




The Hunger Games movie is set for release March 23rd 2012.  The very talented Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence has been cast in the lead role of Katniss Everdeen.





















Liam Hemsworth has been cast as Katniss’ best friend, Gale, and Josh Hutcherson will portray the role of fellow Tribute Peeta Mellark.























Other big names in the movie include the fabulous Stanley Tucci as host Caesar Flickerman, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Elizabeth Banks as Capitol Official Effie Trinket, Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’ designer and friend, Cinna, and Woody Harrelson as Katniss and Peeta’s drunken mentor, and District 12’s only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy.



The world will be watching.




Friday, February 24, 2012

J.K ROWLING IS FINALLY PICKING UP HER PEN AGAIN!

J.K Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter series, has revealed that she has signed a deal for a new book, almost five years after the release of the final Harry Potter book.  The new book, which title, details and release date are not being made public just yet, will not be another children's book.  Rowling is trying her hand at adult fiction!


In a statement released by Little, Brown Rowling says:

“Although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world. The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry's success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life."

 It will be interesting to see if Rowling can successfully make the transition from children's author to adult author.  I'm sure she will.  I've never really considered the Harry Potter series to be children's books.  I know many adults who have read it, and who agree.  J.K Rowling is a very gifted storyteller who always managed to surprise me with the conclusions of each of the Harry Potter books.  She always kept me guessing, and I always guessed wrong.  If her new novel is a crime drama as rumoured, I just know she will deliver another brilliantly written story with many twists and turns, and unexpected outcomes.



I, for one, am eagerly anticipating Rowling's new book, and I will definitely grab it off the shelfs as soon as it hits.



Thursday, February 23, 2012

NOW READING: THE HUNGER GAMES ~ SUZANNE COLLINS

After some internal debate, I have finally decided to go ahead and readThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When her sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place ~ as per Suzanne Collins' website.


Having read the Harry Potter series and the Twilight saga, I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for another young adult series, but lately I've just been hearing so many great things about this series. And with the movie trailer (which looks pretty awesome) doing the rounds, I've been convinced.  If nothing else it's a step away from the fantasy genre, and ultimately I do like to decide things for myself. 

So, let the games begin!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

MORE EXCITING NEWS FOR MY BLOG :)

Yesterday was another good day for my blog. The Marketing Manager for the HBO series Game of Thrones shared the link to my post on A Song Of Ice And Fire: A Clash Of Kings on Game of Thrones' official, verified Twitter profile,


and also shared my post on their daily paper!



Happiness :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

REVIEW: A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE: A CLASH OF KINGS

A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.
 
  As mentioned in my post on A Game of Thrones, at the end of A Game of Thrones, book 1 in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series, the Seven Kingdoms are no longer in harmony, or under rule of one King. At the end of book 1, we have four crowned rulers: King Joffrey Baratheon (*cough* Lannister *cough*), King Renly Baratheon, King Robb Stark and Queen Daenerys Targaryen, all having their eyes on the power seat in King’s Landing. A Clash of Kings starts off with King Stannis Baratheon declaring Joffrey Baratheon a bastard born of incest, sending this declaration throughout all the realm, and stating his intention to lay claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros. The clash of Kings intensifies when Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands also proclaims himself King. All these Kings, only one throne…

In A Clash of Kings we find the Stark family separated. Patriarch Ned has been killed, and a mourning Catelyn must be strong as she supports King Robb in his cause while Brandon and Rickon are stuck at Winterfell, feeling abandoned and alone. Sansa is trapped in Kings Landing, in an abusive relationship, and her betrothal to the boy King who had her father killed. Strangely, Joffrey’s hound, Sandor Clegane, seems to be ever so slightly protective of Sansa - this strange dynamic ensures some interesting scenes. Lastly, Arya escapes King Landing by masquerading as an orphan boy and making the journey North with dangerous captives meant for the Night’s Watch. At least she finds a friend in Gendry, King Robert’s illegitimate son (though they don’t know this) – the smith’s apprentice Ned met in A Game of Thrones (voluntarily joining the Watch). This friendship was by far my favourite storyline to follow, and Arya and Gendry were responsible for most of my favourite scenes.

Other storylines follow Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch as they march North of the wall to determine the cause of mysterious disappearances of Rangers, most especially that of Jon’s uncle, Benjen Stark. Tyrion Lannister takes his new job as Hand of the King very seriously, and actually tries to do some good in King’s Landing – a pity he is as surrounded by malice and deceit as Ned Stark was. Lastly we follow Daenerys Targaryen while she and her Khalasar try to survive the merciless Dothraki Sea, as she tries to find a way to return to Westeros to lay claim to her birthright.

In this new installment we meet a significant number of new characters. We finally meet Robert and Renly's brother, Stannis Baratheon and his army, including the mysterious Red Priestess, Melisandre.
 
We meet Theon Greyjoy’s family, including his pirate sister Asha – one of my new favourites.




We meet Renly Baratheon’s new bride, Marjorie Tyrell; Brienne of Tarth, the newest member of Renly’s Rainbow Guard; Tyrion Lannister’s new page, Pod; and Bran Stark’s new friends, two more of my new favourites, Meera and Jojen Reed.




In A Clash of Kings the lines between friend and foe shift so suddenly it makes your head spin. The thirst for power corrupts souls as quickly as coins of silver buy allegiances, and the only thing that is certain, is that nothing is certain. No character is safe, no character is too important – as Arya says, "Anyone can be killed".




As was the case with A Game of Thrones, this second installment of the A Song Of Ice And Fire series is just as unpredictable as the first. Any lovers of the fantasy genre will love this series. It is as huge and epic as J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy - perhaps even more so. The people of the realm are not only faced with the harsh realities of war, but also a looming threat from beyond the wall, the dangers of sorcerers, and the return of the undead white walkers, direwolves, dragons and giants. Will the people of Westeros stop fighting each other long enough to realise that it is not each other they should be fighting at all?



Product information:
Title: A Song of Ice and Fire: A Clash Of Kings
Author: George R.R Martin
Number of pages: 752
Publisher: Bantam
Year: 1998
ISBN: 0553579908


Season 2 of HBO’s series Game of Thrones will start airing April 1st. Season 2 is based on book 2, A Clash of Kings.




* All the fan art featured in this post was found in a Google image search. Any possible copyright infringements are completely unintentional. I am not responsible for creating these beautiful drawings, and ALL credit goes to the talented artists who created these works.








Friday, February 10, 2012

RECOMMENDATION OF THE MONTH: CASTLE

This time around my recommendation of the month is not a book, but in keeping with our theme of literature, one of my favourite television shows. To my surprise and befuddlement, not many people I know watch this show. If you are one of them, I would like to tell you a little bit more about Castle.



Castle is a comedy-drama series produced by ABC Studios and Beacon Pictures, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. At the start of the series renowned mystery writer Richard Castle (Fillion) kills off his main character in his most popular book series. Suffering from writer’s block, Castle mentions to his daughter that he wishes something new and exciting would come across his path. Enter NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (Katic). Crashing Castle’s book launch party she walks up to Castle, flashes her badge, saying something along the lines of “I’d like to ask you a few questions”. Castle is questioned as copy-cat murders are taking place, a serial killer imitating murders from several of his novels.


Acting in an advisory capacity, Castle assists the NYPD in solving the case. Fascinated by the cops he got to work with, Castle finds his muse for his next book series in Beckett. Using his friendship with the Mayor, Castle gets permission to act as a consultant for the NYPD homicide investigation team, for research purposes, using Beckett as a model for his new heroine, Nikki Heat.


Initially reluctant to co-operate and uncomfortable with the idea of having an author in their midst, Beckett and her team (Kevin Ryan, Javier Esposito and Lanie Parish) soon realize that Castle’s years of writing crime novels have honed his skill as a criminal profiler, and Castle turns out to become a valuable member of their team, helping the NYPD solve murder cases.



Every episode has subplots concerning the characters’ private lives, mostly Castle’s relationship with his precocious teenage daughter and eccentric mother. Another important storyline throughout the series is Beckett’s reason for becoming a cop: solving her mother’s cold case murder. Adding a theme of romance for us hopeless romantics, the show also explores the obvious chemistry between Castle and Beckett and the question of whether or not they will ever admit their feelings for one another.


Castle has been running for three years, and has recently entered its fourth season. Just this year Castle won the People’s Choice Awards for Favourite TV Crime Drama and Favourite TV Drama Actor (Fillion).


The studio has also very cleverly released tie-in works. The three novels Castle has written based on Beckett and the NYPD, namely Heat Wave, Naked Heat and Heat Rises, have actually been written by a ghost writer, listing “Richard Castle” as the author. All three books landed on the coveted New York Times Bestseller List, Heat Rises debuting at the number 1 spot.


The books' covers and content are also in keeping with the show, true to the images shown on the show and plot lines Castle weaves.

A scene from the series where Beckett supports Castle at a launch party for Heat Wave.

Castle also introduced a graphic novel based on Derrick Storm (the character he killed off in Season 1) in the final episode of Season 3.  This graphic novel Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm was published by Marvel Comics(!) and also landed a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List.


Richard Castle even has his own page on the FantasticFiction website!

Lovers of literature will appreciate the way the show handles Castle's career as an author.  The brainstorming, the drafts, the deadlines, the interviews, the launch parties.  The cast will also win you over, and you will undoubtedly come to love them and their quirks.  I can't say a single bad thing about this show.



Bottom line: Castle is awesome.  Watch it!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

MY FIRST BOOK TO REVIEW FOR THE TYNDALE BLOG NETWORK

As previously mentioned I am now a reviewer for the Tyndale Blog Network!  I have just been given my first book to review: The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer



Prosecutor Jamie Brock is known in the legal world for her refusal to plea bargain with criminals, no matter the stakes. But despite her legal toughness, Brock is fighting her own demons as she awaits the execution of Antoine Marshall, who sits on death row convicted of murdering Brock’s mother and wounding her father. Marshall claims to have experienced a religious conversion while in jail but still holds fast to his claims of innocence.

Brock’s nemesis, powerful defense attorney Caleb Tate, represented Marshall in his intial trial, but now faces his own challenges as he’s indicted for the murder of his wife, Rikki, for allegedly poisoning her with a lethal cocktail of drugs. Tate maintains his innocence, claiming that Rikki, a former Las Vegas show girl, was an addict, and even takes an on-air lie detector test.
 
Brock leads the fight against Tate for the prosecution, wanting nothing more than to nail him on the charges. But things get crazy when Tate allegedly comes up with a way to logjam the system by convincing criminals not to plea bargain, overwhelming prosecutors and styming their ability to work effectively. Fueled even more by a desire for justice, Brock pushes on in her fight against Tate. But what she doesn’t realize is that things aren’t always what they seem and people aren’t always who they claim to be.

There is also a book trailer on Youtube:


I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you in a few weeks!

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