Last week I finally took the time to go and see the second movie instalment of The Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. Having heard how good it is all over the internet in blogs and reviews, You Tube, newspapers, TV shows, etc., I was swayed to go check it out. I’m usually put off by books and movies that are overhyped but this time my curiosity got the best of me. I felt the first film of The Hunger Games was all wrong and was sure that Catching Fire would be a disappointment too.
Happily, I was wrong. They really seemed to put in a real effort to capture the spirit and meaning of the book, which wasn’t so much the case with The Hunger Games. As a matter of fact, Catching Fire the novel ,as I think back wasn’t really that captivating until the last quarter of the story. That’s the part when they go back into the arena. The rest of the book was just a lot of teenage angst and going backward and forward between the love triangle Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. Don’t ask me because I’m team nobody.
I still believe that the majority of trilogies and series at the moment don’t always meet the criteria to be one. The stories often feel stretched beyond belief and grow stale way before the end. The Hunger Games trilogy was a valid trilogy, in essence, but it just seemed to be not as well executed as the story continued. The Hunger Games was really good although the writing at times was not as exact as it could have been.
So, Catching Fire was all everybody raved about – excellent scenery, beautifully creative costumes and make-up, and filled with suspense, brutality, intrigue, and emotion. It seemed to follow the story line of the book closely enough. The first hour of the movie didn’t feel at all as if it was dragging as I remembered when reading the book. The scenes in the dome and the new characters seemed to fit, except for Sam Claflin who played the role of Finnick. He just didn’t cut it for me physically. I’d imagined a different guy. Not to mention, the dubbed voices were terrible, especially Joanna’s. Her voice was squeaky and high-pitched. Strange! I couldn’t find a cinema near me that was showing it in English, so I had to watch it dubbed in French. Jennifer Lawrence’s acting was well-rounded and believable. The scene I preferred the most was the last-minute of the movie with the tight image of Katniss’s face and the change of expressions from fear to sadness and then to rage – excellent way to end part 2. Now what I’m not so keen on is that they are making 2 movies for Mockingjay. Why? What’s this some kind of formula for adapting YA novels to cinema? The last novel always has to be made into two films. That is definitely not a good idea. I feel a dud coming on…
This is a short story that Zadie Smith wrote and had published in The New Yorker. This is the short story more elaborated but it is being marketed as a small book. Actually it’s a short story or novella. I’m not so sure I agree with that, but it’s a good thing that as readers we are given a choice on whether we want to pick up the book (which is cute) or get the electronic version. Nevertheless I enjoyed it and wished it was longer.
The Embassy of Cambodia is the story of Fatou a live-in maid and baby-sitter that is working for a wealthy Arab family living in Willesden, which is a borough of Brent in North West London. They have taken her passport so she isn’t really free. Every afternoon Fatou steals free passes from a drawer in the hallway (which no one notices) to go to the Olympic sized swimming pool in town, where she passes the Cambodian Embassy. There she swims laps and observes the people around her. The book is only 69 pages and composed of 21 chapters, which are labeled 0-1, 0-2, etc. Each chapter is a look into Fatou’s life and a critique of society. Smith’s writing is minimalist but brilliant. She manages to tell this story with very few words and the meaning somehow shines through. That’s the genius of Smith’s writing. Smith touches on many themes such as religion, relationships between men and women, the plight of modern-day slaves, social class, illegal immigrants, etc. I’m thrilled to have picked this one up but as it was so short I was left wanting to know more about Fatou. Henceforth the problem I have with reading short stories. I recommend this one to lovers of Zadie Smith. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of the Smith experience, I suggest On Beauty since it is a story with a more typical story line, although I don’t think it’s one of her best works. As a whole, On Beauty is more accessible. The Embassy of Cambodia can be acquired gratuitously on the internet. I decided to pick it up because Zadie Smith is becoming one of my favourite authors and I wanted the physical book. So what about you? Are you a fan of Zadie Smith? If so what have you read from her that you liked? I’m due to read NW, hopefully before the end of the year.
The International Reads Book Club just had its first month in November 2013. We read The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya. The Slynx could be described as a Russian satiric dystopian novel. It will bring to mind while reading other great dystopian works like 1984, Fahrenheit451, and A Clockwork Orange. This was not an easy read and I was well out of my comfort zone, but it was well worth the discovery. It certainly wasn’t a waste of my time, even though there were a few things that went way over my head. Readers need to have good knowledge of Russian history and literature to really fully understand The Slynx. In spite of it all, I found the writing brilliant and the world building intriguing. There was definitely lots of room for interpretation. I think this book would make a great movie. I could really imagine what all the people who survived the blast looked like. Freaky!
This book club was started by Mercedes over at MercysBookishMusings on You Tube. She decided that this book club on Goodreads would focus on reading translated works and works from people of colour. So she united about twelve Booktubers and myself included to compose the core group of the book club. Each month will be dedicated to a different country so that things don’t get too repetitive and the members will post video discussions/reviews and discuss directly on the International Reads page on the Goodreads site during the month on the chosen book. At the end of each month, there will be a Google Hangout discussion with a few of the core members to work out the kinks and analyse. Spoilers! Spoilers! So if you haven’t read the book and are planning to don’t watch the Google Hangout.
This month of December we’re taking a trip to Japan, reading Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. In fact, I haven’t read very much Japanese literature so I’m looking forward to enjoying the perfectionist beauty of Japanese writing that I hear so much about. All I know is that there is a geisha, mountains, and a rich man involved. Sounds intriguing right? If you’re interested in joining, head over to Goodreads, sign up to be a member of International Reads and join in the discussion. Below are links to Booktubers that are in the core group that you might want to check out.
This was my book club’s pick for November. When this made it on our list of reads for 2013-2014 I must admit I wasn’t thrilled. It’s not the typical novel chosen for a book club discussion. I have this aversion to reading psychology and self-help books. This one seemed to be somewhere between the two. I decided to give it a good try. The first third of the book was really interesting and I learned some things that I didn’t know. However, as I continued to read I found the book a little boring and repetitive.
What did I take away from this book? Well mostly that introverts have qualities too. Being quiet can be a chance to reflect and maybe make the right decision. There is more than one way to skin a cat. The world needs introverts and extroverts. Most people aren’t just one or the other. They are definitely a mix of both maybe with a little more than one or the other. You see the thing is I really didn’t need to read Quiet to realise these things . So I’ve decided to stay positive and chalk it up to a new reading experience. Funny thing is one of my book club buddies made the comment that the book felt like Susan Cain’s therapy. I think she was right because it does feel little like it.
All in all it wasn’t my cup of tea and I won’t be repeating the experience anytime soon. I prefer devoting my time to books that I really want to read. I suggest you check out Susan Cain’s TED Talks presentation which is linked below if you’re like me and not interested in this type of book, but curious about it. That presentation pretty much sums up the overall view of the book very well.