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Update

30 Apr

An entire month has whooshed by here on Blue Truck Book Reviews, like the breeze from the dance floor at a  wedding when you are small and playing under a table covered in a long white cloth. I haven’t been hiding in any secret places or doing much playing, but I have been very busy preparing for a huge and important event coming up on May 14: I’m graduating from college.

Because it’s taken me ten long, hard, rightful years to get here, this is an emotional achievement for me. So while I’ve been working hard doing all the things I normally do plus all the extra things I must do to walk across the big stage, I’ve also been careful with myself: making sure I’m getting enough rest and exercise; making sure my soul is fed with good books; making sure I’m allowing myself to be in the moment instead of feeling guilty about x, y, z, including  posting reviews here. I have been pleasantly surprised (One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming), utterly riveted (A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor), and left gasping with heartache and recognition at one of the best books I’ve read so far this year (You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon), but mostly I have been burrowed into reading for comfort, and for me, that’s one of the best being in the moments there is.

I may post reviews of these books and the others I’ve read since the end of March eventually, but right now, I simply want to enjoy my accomplishment to the detriment of most of my various pursuits (my job, my writing, and my new vegetable garden notwithstanding). I hope you are all well.

As always, happy reading.

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Book review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

22 Oct

I get really tired of explaining that I’m busy, stressed, and yes, tired. Almost as much as you get tired of hearing it, I assume, especially because who isn’t busy, stressed, and tired, and who isn’t tired of hearing about it from others?

But I digress. (See? Busy, stressed, and tired.)

So when one of my dearest friends told me I should The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – that it’s just the mental break I’m looking for – I just shrugged. I’d tried to read it before, of course. I doubt you could be a person interested in books and somehow magically avoid hearing about The Hunger Games trilogy over the past few months. But when I picked it up last year, I couldn’t get past the first 20 pages. I wasn’t expecting fantastic writing – my standards adjust accordingly when I know I’m reading YA, though there’s really no reason they should – but beyond that, I was totally uninterested in the story. I seem to recall I gave it a try because a reviewer I like and respect said it has everything: action, adventure, romance, suspense. But I didn’t see it.

Turns out, I just hadn’t read far enough. Or, I wasn’t busy, stressed, and tired enough, which is more likely.

The writing is still not fantastic. But the plot grabbed me this time. And this past Sunday, five hours after cracking the first page, I finished it pretty satisfied. (Satisfied enough, in fact, that I couldn’t wait to borrow the next two books from my friend, and instead went out and bought  Catching Fire and Mockingjay the next day. Catching Fire isn’t as gripping, but you know how it is when you’re having a busy, stressful, and tiring week.)

I do think The Hunger Games deserved to win every award it won when it first came out. I know nothing about Suzanne Collins – I don’t even know if she’s written other books – but her mastery of plot and pacing is clear here.

If I had one complaint, it’s that I dislike Katniss, the main character. This opinion seems to go against the grain of all of the Hunger Games devotees out there, but like that’s ever stopped me. I find Katniss to be obnoxious, self-centered, and overdone. Of course, this book was written for teenagers, and I was nothing if not obnoxious, self-centered, and overdone at that age, so perhaps I will cede a point to Collins, again.

The Hunger Games is not great literature. And thank god. If I never read anything The New Yorker would snub its nose at, I wouldn’t know greatness when I finally picked it up.

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This book was published by Scholastic in September 2008. The Hunger Games   For more information about the author and the trilogy, visit Scholastic’s website here. If you’d like to purchase The Hunger Games, or the following two books in the trilogy, please click the IndieBound link below in support of independent bookstores.

Shop Indie Bookstores

FTC disclosure: This review was based on my own copy of this book.

(Something less than two) Book reviews: One Day by David Nicholls and The Space Between Tress by Katie Williams

10 Aug

This is what happens when you have a full time job: things get busy. You read two books in five days and they’re both fabulous, and you want to review them, you do, but you don’t have time because there are these things called paychecks and responsibilities that take up all the damn time in the world, and also (hey there!) precedence.

Loyal, patient readers, I tore through both One Day by David Nicholls and The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, and not only because reading is my favorite mental break but because they were excellent.

Nicholls wrote an amusing, humorous, bright and sad novel that reminds me of Nick Hornby with a less distinctive style but just as much wit. The formulaic ending was, nonetheless, surprising; one that left me aching and recommending this book to anyone who’d like to get lost in the lives of two charming, interesting people before the summer ends.
Williams penned an equally engaging book, though her subject matter was much darker, more disturbing, and spot-on for readers, YA or otherwise, looking for a breath of fresh air unpopulated by vampires.

Oh, that I could create more time! But let’s face it: I’d just end up reading more.

What have you been reading? Any books you’ve been unable to put down?

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For more information about One Day, which was published by Vintage Comtemporaries in June 2010, visit http://www.oneday-twopeople.com/, featuring some excellent YouTube “episodes” that exactly match the emotional tone of the book. To purchase this book in support of independent bookstores (which you well should), click here.

For more information about The Space Between Trees, published by Chronicle Books in June 2010, hop on over here, where you can get a free download the first seventeen pages of this gripping and excellent novel. You can also check out the author’s website here. Lastly, to purchase this book in support of independent bookstores (which you should do, again), click here.

Happy reading!

FTC Disclosure: The review of One Day was based on a copy of the book I won in a giveaway from the publisher. The review of The Space Between Trees was based on a copy of the book I borrowed from the public library.

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