Sunday, May 25, 2014

MockingJay, a review

Behind the counter sits the strangest person I've ever seen. She's an extreme example of surgical enhancement gone wrong, for surely not even in the Capitol could they find this face attractive. The skin has been pulled back tightly and tattooed with black and gold stripes. The nose has been flattened until it barely exists. I've seen cat whiskers on people in the Capitol before, but none so long. The result is a grotesque, semi-feline mask, which now squints at us distrustfully. 
From Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 
 Mockingjay is the the third book in the trilogy Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins.  The books were published a few years ago and have sat on bestseller lists.  There are movies made of the first two books in the trilogy and a movie of Mockingjay is currently being made.

I am a little behind the times in reading them, but that doesn't make them any less interesting to read.  Although classified as young adult fiction, this book can be read and enjoyed by any adult.   There are some violent scenarios that may scare children, therefore I would not recommend it for elementary age kids or below.

The underlying plot in Mockingjay is a country in rebellion against an evil central government.  The rebel leaders use Katniss Everdeen, a victor in the last gruesome, forced-upon, tragic Hunger Games, as a rallying symbol for the people to look to for hope in a better future.   Katniss has the nickname Mockingjay from her time in the Hunger Games.

Twisting sub-plots emerge and play out throughout the books.  There is conflict of human relationships, man-made dangers, and pure survival.  While the first book Hunger Games and the second book Catching Fire were more action-adventure type with fast moving scenes and danger around every corner, the third book Mockingjay is a little slower with fewer action scenes and more head games & strategy.  Collins also does a nice job of wrapping up the story lines and all questions are answered by the end of the book.  

This book would best be read after reading the first two books. However I think it could be read on its own too as the author reminds the reader of things that happened in the first two books to fill in possible gaps.  This book is inherently slower than the first two, and I found that I would set it down and not feel driven to rush and pick it up again.  Excitement does not drip off every page.

Movies, as always, of the first two books  although very good, did not come close to the quality of the written page.   I expect no different with the current movie being made for this book.  A book is always so much better!

* * * * * * * * *
It was a great book and I would rate it 9 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"They Grow Up so Fast!"

"They grow up so fast!"

This comment is muttered frequently this time of year as school-age kids are finishing up their programs.   It is a time of transitions.

Preschoolers become kindergartners and elementary students become middle schoolers who become high schoolers.

Seniors in high school are ready to gain independence and move on to college or make their way into the world.  Similarly college seniors receive their credentials and eagerly venture into"the real world."

This year I've got three moving forward to new things

  • Kristen is my cousin's daughter. She is independent and so intelligent.  She is graduating from her class of 30 and will head off to Drake University in the fall to pursue the sciences.  
  • Lexis is the daughter of my daughter's best friend.  She is smart and very athletic.  She graduates with honors and has plans to further her education in Wisconsin on an athletic scholarship. 
  • Dane is my grandson.  He is handsome, witty, and amazing.  (I may have a bit of a bias!)  He plans to play baseball, swim, and build things this summer then begin kindergarten in the fall.  

So to all the graduates everywhere I give the words of Dr. Seuss: 

Today is the day! 
Your mountain is waiting
so get on your way. 

Do you have any new graduates in your life? 

Sunday, May 18, 2014


It is our choices
that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities. 

JK Rowling, author 
Albus Dumbledore in 
  Harry Potter and the chamber of Secrets

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Who said Happy Hour?

That's right it is Frappuccino Happy Hour!  Through May 10  (that is today....aww, drats! It's almost over! )  You can get a Starbucks Frappuccino at 50% the regular price.   You must go between 3pm and 5pm.  

I got mine Friday when I got off work (around 3:30) and the drive-thru line was longer than I have seen it at that specific location.   Great minds think alike~ they were all there to get their half-off frappuccino.
Caramel frappuccino with light caramel --yum!  One of my favorites.  I may have to go back and get another one~

What is your favorite frappuccino?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Road Trip!

It's time for a road trip!  I'm packing the car full of snacks, got me a full tank and I'm off!   I'll be traveling through the blogosphere to visit as many blogs from the A-to-Z Challenge as I can and I hope to highlight a few of the blogs that I find as I mosey on down the road.  

When I was a kid, my sisters and I use to play a couple games while road-tripping.  We would play "On my way to Grandma's house I saw ......."  and another one was to keep track alphabetically of everything we saw.  We couldn't move on to the next letter of the alphabet until the previous letter was found.  Playing games may have helped the time in the car pass by faster and it probably helped to keep us from fighting.

I hope you'll join me on the trip~
A-to-Z Challenge Road Trip 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Reflecting on the A-to-Z Challenge

I stumbled upon the A-to-Z Challenge blog in early 2014. I read about the challenge criteria and it looked like fun. I wanted to blog on a more consistent basis and felt this might be the catalyst for me.

Once before, a few years ago, I had joined a writing challenge that required daily posting of a blog. I made it about halfway through the month before giving it up due to competing time demands. I hoped as I registered my blog on the A-to-Z site that this time would be different.

Did you accomplish your goals? 
My main goal was to publish a blog post every day of the challenge. I also wanted to visit and comment on at least five participating blogs per day. These were some goals of the challenge itself.  I would say that I accomplished my goals. I published daily except for Sundays.  Some days I commented on more than five blogs and other days a little less. I wish I had more time to visit and comment on more blogs. I plan to visit some of the missed blogs now that the challenge is over.

Did you post every day? 
I posted every day, A through Z,  except for Sundays. {insert happy dance here}

Did you make new friends?
I visited and re-visited several blogs and left comments. A few people commented on my posts regularly.  I have some new followers and I have followed some new blogs. Yes, I have made some new friends.

Did you enjoy the challenge? 
I very much enjoyed the challenge.  Sometimes I suffer the "why should I write - there are more pressing things I need to do" mood. This challenge gave me the excuse I needed to write. I felt accountable.

I began right after signing up for the challenge to make a list of possible topics.  There was more than a month until the challenge began, so I thought I was being pro-active. What I didn't do, that I will do next time, is to go back and visit the A-Z Challenge blog. I didn't realize the blog was publishing tips and strategies for surviving the challenge.

A week or so before P-day (first publishing day-April 1) I got an email and also a comment that gave me great advice- which I wish I had heeded earlier in the game.  The gold-star advice was to pre-write and schedule blog posts.

At that point I went to the A-to-Z blog and discovered I should have been reading the pre-challenge posts!  I downloaded all the letter badges, fixed my comments so no one would have to verify, and learned how to put a link to my blog in my comments to others.  I also "liked" the A-to-Z  Facebook page.

I set up a draft post with the appropriate letter badge for each day of the challenge.  I tried to have three written posts scheduled at any given time.  I originally hoped to have a week written and scheduled, but that quickly proved to be too much to ask.  Having some posts written and scheduled before they are due was a great help and stress reliever. Who knows when something will happen in our offline life that will delay getting a post published on time?

I did not use a theme for my posts.  I didn't conceive of this possibility until I read about the Theme Reveal.  Using a theme for my posts would be too difficult was my thought.  In hindsight, I think using themes might make it a little easier.  I'll have to test that thought out next year.

I am glad the hosts asked us to comment on others' blog posts. When my posts are commented on it lets me know I have an audience and therefore I think it will help me become better at my writing craft.  I don't usually comment often on blogs that I read thinking I have nothing of much value to offer.  This challenge gave me the permission to step boldly into the comment box.

What are my plans from here? 
  • I plan to write regularly on my blog. Not sure yet what this will look like - posting at least two-to-three days a week on regular days.  I may theme the days as I have seen some bloggers do. 
  • I plan to re-visit the blogs I read during the challenge and follow some of them. 
  • I plan to visit new blogs from the challenge that I did not get a chance to read in April.
  • I plan to comment more frequently on blogs that I read. 
  • I plan to start thinking about the A-to-Z Challenge 2015.  
I am energized and excited about the blogging adventures that lay ahead.

Won't you join me?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

You can do it!

"Man often becomes what he believes himself to be.
If I keep on saying to myself 
that I cannot do a certain thing, 
it is possible that I may end by 
really becoming incapable of doing it. 
On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it,
I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it 
even if I may not have it at the beginning." 
~~ Mahatma Ghandi  

Is there something your unbelief is hindering? 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Finding Some Encouragement

The A-to-Z Challenge is over except for a reflection which shall be coming soon.  It feels wrong not to post something after posting nearly every day (except Sundays) last month, so I have found the following quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that seems fitting for the end of the blogging challenge.  If you are a blogger, may you be encouraged by it.  I know I am.

With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. 
   ~~ Eleanor Roosevelt