Category Archives: literature

“A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain Book Review

Mark Twain was one of the first authors I ever claimed as my favorite. I fell in love with his humor by reading a collection of short stories left over from my mother’s college days. As I grew older, I read the requisite famous Twain works. I pored over The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn like every good English major should.

For some reason, I had never before read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court until this year. I must have been under the mistaken assumption that the novel would deal with courtly matters in medieval England, not my favorite genre.

In fact, the novel is set primarily in medieval England, but the story is told through the eyes of a time-traveler from Twain’s present. Hence, the title.

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Mockingjay (Hunger Games Book 3) by Suzanne Collins Review

In this last installment of the Hunger Games trilogy, Collins seems to have run out of steam. Perhaps it’s because I read the three novels in quick succession, but Mockingjay seems to lack cohesion.

I thought The Hunger Games was a good start to the series, and Catching Fire improved on what the first book lacked, but I have to admit Mockingjay is a bit of  a disappointment. Rumor has it, Collins was busy churning out the script for the first film while finishing up Mockingjay, so I supposed the rushed nature of the writing and plotting in this book was to be expected.

Still, there is plenty to talk about regarding the final book, though more plot translates to more plot holes.

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The Hunger Games Book Beginnings (First Thoughts)

Book Beginnings is a fun little series hosted on A Few More Pages. Bloggers post the first sentence (or two) of whatever book they happen to be reading, and their thoughts. It’s an intriguing look at the impact a cold beginning can have. Here‘s the link to the post for Friday, April 29.

I’m reading a few books right now, but I decided to post on The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (not my usual genre, I know). I know my full review already went up, but I thought it’d be fun to share my first thoughts as well, so you can see how they differed (or not).

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress.”

Dreary, eh? It gets worse, especially in the beginning of the book.
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Catching Fire (Hunger Games Book 2) By Suzanne Collins Review

I keep saying I’m not usually a fan of YA fiction for adults, but I must admit I’m really liking this series. It’s a fun, fast-paced page-turner. A light, pleasurable read with plenty of fuel for the imagination. Plus,Collins is a master at chapter endings.

Check out my review of the first book, The Hunger Gameshere. To sum up my thoughts on the first novel in the trilogy, I enjoyed the book, but thought the world building lacked detail.

I liked the second book much more than I did the first. Without the constraints of the somewhat tired Battle Royale/Long Walk set-up, Collins finally made the world come alive for me. We gain much more insight into the protagonist’s mind, and to the characters in the village.

The romance (or whatever) between Katniss and Gale gains momentum, as the awkwardness between Katniss and Peeta (really not a good name there) continues.
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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Review (Plus, Why I Support This YA Series)

First, a brief overview of the series, and why I was a fan long before I read a single page. [Edit: I review the second book, Catching Fire, here. My review for the final book, Mockingjay, here. Also, for my initial thoughts on this novel, check out my Book Beginnings post here. ]

The Mockingjay series by Suzanne Collins has taken the Young Adult literature world by storm. The film rights were sold before the book appeared in stores, so you can guess the impact this series has had on the YA audience.

The series features a strong female protagonist in Katniss Everdeen, which is admittedly a terrible name. Hearing about this book’s success enthused me; the main character is the polar opposite of Bella in Twilight. I’m not quite the target audience for any of these books or movies, but I appreciate the younger generation having the option of following an intelligent, plucky heroine instead of a faceless girl who relies solely on male figures.

I’ve read so many great reviews from authors and critics I trust, that I gifted this series to many of my female relatives and friends interested in YA fiction, long before I read it for myself*.

After finishing the first novel in a manner of hours, I am happy to report that the book lives up to expectations.

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The Plague by Albert Camus Review

These dots apparently represent plague.Have you read The Stranger? Please, read that first and then come back to this novel. The themes inherent in Albert Camus’s The Plaugue amplify the simple story of The Stranger, and it was a pleasure to see those themes through a story containing characters one can admire.

The Plague follows Dr. Rieux and his colleagues, as their town is attacked by a resurgence of the plague. The town is described as mercantile, drab, and lacking in passion before the plague. As the sickness escalates and the town is quarantined, cut off from the world, the novel’s nameless (until the last chapter) narrator describes the plague’s effects on the town’s denizens.

Camus–or, perhaps, the narrator*–repeatedly cautions the reader against viewing any of the characters as heroes. However, in the face of mass suffering, many of these characters fight a losing battle for the sake of their fellow humans. How can we not view these men as heores?

It may not come as a surprise to learn that this novel deals with existentialism. Camus, existentialism? Shocker, I know. Continue reading

The Red Pony Review

I was never much for horses, myself.

Steinbeck’s The Red Pony is a series of stories centered around one boy’s coming of age, growing up on a farm in the early twentieth century. The book is less of a collection of short stories than a longform story, told in parts.

I liked it, but I generally enjoy Steinbeck. I found approx. 17 copies of this thin book at my local library. No doubt some middle school in the neighborhood has chosen this book as assigned reading. Or perhaps the library chose The Red Pony for their teen book club, assuming such a thing exists.

The language of the book is direct, with Steinbeck’s usual clear, strong sentences. I can easily see why this book, with its short length and ease of reading, would be recommended for young adults. I am sure I would have found the book profound but a tad obvious, in my own sarcastic, easily dismissive youth.

Slightly older now, I can see the beauty in simple statements and raw emotions, both of which The Red Pony certainly has a surplus.