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31 Mar 2012

March goodies

Is it me or did March go really quick? Tomorrow is April and I'm hoping to start reading the new book goodies I've added to my kindle.  I've been hunting down YA books mainly, especially ones that I can find printed.  So I'm happy that the kindle gives me the opportunity to read these books. 
Added to my YA section:

Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  I can actually get these in Waterstones but with the film coming out they're quickly being sold out.  So I turned to kindle to get my hands on them without having to wait for the shops to restock or order out. 

Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. 

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

A Spy in the House, The Body in the Tower, and The Traitor and the Tunnel by YS Lee.

Can't wait to read these!

What new books do you have on your list?

30 Mar 2012

Holiday resolutions

Time to enjoy the Easter hols! Work has broken up for Easter and it's nice to have more time on my hands to get things sorted.  I can blog more, write more, read more.  Jobs and chores can get sorted out properly.  And if the weather continues to stay hot I'm hoping some trips outside in the sunshine will happen! I'm starting to get into the BBQ mood. 

I plan to keep very busy and productive otherwise I'm going to come back to work feeling like I've wasted time if I procrastinate and I can have a bad habit of doing so.  So I've made a list of things I desperately want to get sorted out in the next two weeks. 

1) Spring clean.  I want to sort out my wardrobe and some drawers; the latter I'm hoping to get rid of because they're not really used for anything in particular.  Just junk that can easily go elsewhere.  And it's time to say goodbye to a few clothes that are getting worn out or don't fit me anymore.

2) Read more.  I haven't been a fast reader lately and I hope the holidays will give me more time to read more on my TBR list and get a few more books finished for my two reading challenges.

3) Finish editing.  I just want to finish the first editing round of my WiP.  It's driving me mad that I haven't buckled down and just got on with it.  That's definitely going to get finished. 

4) Train and exercise.  This year I'm entering the Race for Life, hoping to raise money for Cancer Research.  It's a way of doing something good for charity and getting me to exercise a bit and get rid of this winter weight.  I'm running in July but I want to start early with the training.

5) Sort out documents, shower, and curtains.  I've live in this flat for almost a year and there's still a few things I haven't got round to sorting out.  There are some documents that need to be shredded or filed away and I need to get a shower fixed in to the bathroom and buy some new curtains.  The ones we have now have been shredded by our evil, devil spawn of a cat.  Now that he's stopped climbing up them I think me and the bf are safe to replace them. 

What are your monthly or holiday resolutions?

28 Mar 2012

RTW: Book of the Month

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in March?
I may be cheating here because I haven't exactly finished reading it although I'm quite close to.  While I loved the concept of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith I have to give the vote to what I'm currently reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. 
I'm a fan of retellings because I love to see what writers can do with a famous tale.  And Meyer's Cinder is by far the most imaginative.  That's what I'm really loving at the moment.  I love the cyborg aspect, the threatening Lunar empire, and the plague.  It's futuristic and sci-fi which has turned me into a complete fangirl and squeeing.  I won't go into too much detail of the book because I'll review when I've finished it.  But in response to RTW, my best book of the month is Cinder by Marissa Meyer.
What's yours? :)

26 Mar 2012

Review: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an axe, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

I know it might look cheesy to some and a really terrible idea.  The trailer is making some viewers cringe on youtube and they're unsure about paying to watch the film adaptation or buying the book to try out.  I say if you want to try the book or the film out, go for it.  I found it a fun read. :) I actually got quite hooked on it, spending hours reading it.  I'd tell myself I'll finish the chapter off and then start the next one.  Of course I knew it was complete fiction but I was so fascinated by learning more about this fictional Abraham Lincoln. 

What makes the premise work well is how Grahame-Smith connects vampires with slavery, adding more motive onto the future president.  Again, I know it's not real.  But it fits in nicely with actual history, subtle so it's in the background and secretly hidden from the history we know about.  I liked the portrayal of vampires in the book.  They mingled in society, making connections with those of wealth and high status.  They hid but not completely in the shadows and most of them were very happy being by themselves instead of packs.  They weren't all evil, a mixture of good and bad.  And they still remained otherworldly with their strength and brutality in their attacks. 

I think the book has also made Abraham Lincoln one of the most awesome fictional vampire hunters.  The story sees Abe grow from a young, naive boy to a committed, lethal vampire hunter, skilled with an axe and hatred for the undead.  He's quite a tragic figure with plenty of loss in his life and his reactions are completely realistic and human.  It breaks him.  He has times when he just wants to give up but he comes back until he knows it's time to retire and focus on his duties as president, husband, and father. 

The presentation of the book was the weakest aspect.  I think I would have liked to have seen more imagination put into it.  The narrative switches from Seth Grahame-Smith's biographical narration to a journal entry from Abe constantly throughout the story.  It could have been better if the author had got his hands on a larger collection of primary sources, using real speeches, pictures or journal entries that could suggest vampires in his history.  Maybe play around with things and add in the fiction where necessary. 

Overall, it was an interesting attempt at mixing history with fiction but the layout could have been more creative and fun.  Still, it's an entertaining read and something to take very lightly. 

25 Mar 2012

News to Novels #11

I was thinking of changing this feature a little bit because I'm finding more things in newspapers and online that I think could be used for inspiration.  Maybe an article isn't right but the pictures used spark something or the person involved in the article inspires a character.  The first thing I'm changing is the day I post on.  Instead of Saturday I'll post on Sunday as an end of the week post. 
I was thinking of trying to make themes for each post.  Find articles that are similar and then add on photos and characters that match.  So it's not necessarily just news now but also pictures and people that I come across. 

This week I found a couple of posts about the past:

The year of vengeance: How neighbours turned on each other and anarchy erupted in the aftermath of WWII

Perfect in 1976
A biscuit company this week announced that 1976 was the best year to be a child, and everyone's talked about nothing else since then. 

I've yet to read the book but one of my favourite films is Stand By Me.  I was really interested in the coming-of-age story and the nostalgia about it.  We all think back to our childhood and remember the good times.   For me, being a child in the 90s was amazing.  We had cheesy music but it was fun to dance to.  I remember getting up early on Saturdays to catch my favourite programmes.  I was glued to the screen watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Power Rangers.  I loved SM TV live and dancing to Steps and S Club 7.  Films like Hercules, Toy Story, and Jumanji were being released and their 20th anniversaries were far away in the future.  I was carrying around a Walkman to listen to music and at school I was running around pretending to be a power ranger or a Pokemon trainer. 

So what was life like in the 70s or the 40s? Was it really ideal in 1976 and how terrifying was it to be a young German in post-WW2 Europe? I'd love to see more coming-of-age MG/YA books set in the past, showing the highs and lows.  The ideal times and the hard ones.  Good memories, bad memories. 

21 Mar 2012

RTW: Just one single moment...

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
This Week's Topic:
A long-awaited kiss, a surprise ending, a character's sudden decision… these are the moments that make us smile, gasp, and LOVE a book for the rest of our lives.

What is your favorite literary moment?
This may sound weird but when I think about my favourite literary moment I turn to the death of one of my favourite characters.  When I was a teenager I adored reading The Saga of Darren Shan.  Darren Shan was the author who really inspired me.  At the time of reading I was absolutely devastated but looking back I really respect Shan's decision.

**************spoiler alert**************

In Killers of the Dawn we saw Mr Crepsley fall to his death.  By that book he had become a close friend, mentor, and father figure to Darren.  Such an awesome character and one of my favourites.  I was completely shaken.  I reread it over and over again because my naive little mind was thinking that was it was impossible for such an important character to just die like that and so suddenly.  My fourteen year old self was not impressed and quite hurt.  I was quite emotionally attached to Shan's characters. 

Now, looking back I just think I respect and admire Darren Shan so much.  I see how well he created characters, getting me to feel just as much hurt that the MC Darren felt.  And this is for someone who isn't even feel.  Kudos, Shan.  And what I also admire is that he wasn't afraid to really mess with his characters.  I love that in an author.  No one is safe, even the MCs.  I aim to be that kind of writer.  Main characters... don't guarantee that you'll survive one of my stories. 

So now I consider the death of Mr Crepsley one of my favourite literary moments.  It shocked me but it just shows you how good a novel and character it was.  If it can spark some emotional reaction in you, the author has done his/her job in bringing a character to life and getting you to feel for them, whether it's negatively or positively.

19 Mar 2012

The Lucky 7 Meme

Theresa tagged me in the Lucky 7 meme so it's time to stop being a coward and actually start showing a small bit from my recent WiP, Beast Inside.  It's the only project I'm working on at the mo and I haven't reached page 77 in terms of editing yet so excuse the poor first draft.  Big thank you to Theresa for tagging me and giving me encouragement. 

The rules of the meme:
1) Go to page 77 of your current MS
2) Go to line 7
3) Copy down the next 7 lines as they're written--no cheating
4) Tag 7 other writers
5) Let them know

You'll find info on Beast Inside on the WiPs page of the blog.  By page 77, Caleb's dead and not so gone.  He's now el nosferatu and his brother Luca and best friend Josh are tracking him down immediately to kill the newly fanged teenager.  Will they succeed? Can't say!

"I am Caleb, you know." It chuckled and tapped its head slowly. "Got the memories."
"You're not him," Luca snapped.
It nodded, still laughing.
"You're not!"
"Don't speak to it," Josh whispered.
The monster gestured to itself. "I think I changed my mind about all this." He began circling the two boys. "You know that person I killed last night? It was fun." He ran his tongue along his fangs, smirking.

It honestly will improve.  I really think the dialogue is cheesy at the moment so lots of work needed there.

So the people I want to tag are:

Susan Francino @ The Feather and The Rose
Tyler-Rose Counts @ The Feather and The Rose
Sarah Enni
Emma Maree
Kyra Lennon @ Write Here, Write Now
Ann Elise Monte @ Coldfire Writer

I'm really sorry if you've been tagged by others as well.  Can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

17 Mar 2012

News to Novels #10

This has become my favourite website for the past week.  Paranormal database documents places around the UK with creepy tales and spooky sightings.  Perfect if you write horror and supernatural.  These are a few of my favourites:
Hanged People
Location: Antrim Town (County Antrim) - Corner of the Belmont Road and Cunningham Way
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A number of residents to the area have spotted ghosts of people hanging from the trees. Local folklore says that this was once the location of a hanging tree.

Location: Beckermet (Cumbria) - Nursery Woods
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: January 2006
Further Comments: A witness reported a large pterosaur-like creature flying above Nursery woods.

Woman in Black
Location: Blackpool (Lancashire) - Ripley's Odditorium
Type: Curse
Date / Time: 1970's
Further Comments: When the skull of a local girl was displayed here, several people reported seeing a spectral female figure standing by it. The skull's owner was convinced the item was cursed, and died a week after finally giving it away.

Bell for the Dead
Location: Blaenporth (Dyfed) - General area
Type: Crisis Manifestation
Date / Time: Before a death in the village
Further Comments: If the phantom bell is heard to ring three times at midday or midnight, someone of importance is due to die.

Setting/location inspiration:

'The Botox Botticellis': Disturbing portraits of extreme plastic surgery patients
New book featuring portraits of surgically enhanced models aims to challenge what we consider to be aesthetically pleasing. Phillip Toledano's A New Kind Of Beauty asks whether human faces and bodies redesigned using extensive surgery could ever be considered a paragon of beauty.
The New York-based artist, whose photographs have appeared in the New York Times, GQ and Esquire, says his objective was to challenge what we see as beautiful, questioning whether one can redefine what we see as beautiful - and wondering whether we can choose to create beauty ourselves.
Think this is the future of human appearance?

Apocalypse inspiration:

And the weirdest things google maps seem to be picking up. 
Imagine if they could pick up the most sinister images, things that are telling us humanity or the world is screwed.  The picture of a possible Atlantis really intrigued me.  Could we use google maps to try and find the world mysteries? Loch Ness, Big foot, sea monsters... and what could we find? Would we want to know what's really out there?

14 Mar 2012

Road Trip for Road Trip Wednesday

Welcome to our 121st Road Trip Wednesday!
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
In honor of the release of Kirsten's WANDERLOVE yesterday--which is amazing, by the way; get yourselves to a bookstore if you haven't!--we bring you a travel-themed RTW prompt today! If you could wander anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

I'll just post the same answer I gave on YA Highway for Kirsten's giveaway.

When my aunt was in her twenties and had just finished university, she got her friends, tents, money, and sleeping bags together, packed them into her car and drove off to Europe to travel all the way to Italy.  She kept stopping at different places in different countries to stop and look at the sights.  At night she camped out in fields with her fellow travellers.  She had planned to take lots of music with her but ended up forgetting all of them except one: The Best Of The Mamas And The Papas. So for all the time she spent driving to Italy and back she listened to just that.  Now she always associate the album with her trip to Italy.

So my goal is do the same one day.  I want my boyfriend, close friends, tents, sleeping bags, money and a car.  And I want to drive through Europe taking in the sights she saw and visiting them, seeing how different it is doing so in the 21st century.  I'll try remember to take more music but not too many.  Just enough to be able to associate particular songs with special trips.  Everywhere I've travelled I've always had music with me and afterwards also associated that song with the trip I've been on.  It's part of my memories.  And any songs that I listen to on the trip would be burnt onto a CD.  I'd make a mix of songs from my Italy trip to keep listening to in the future.  I think The Mamas and The Papas would have to be on there somewhere. :)

And when I get to Italy I'm eating all the Italian food I can manage.  That would be heaven for me!

And if I could travel in this I'd be made up:

It's so prettyful! I want one!

Where would you love to travel? 

Competition and bad weekends

RTW isn't up yet but here's something you might be interested in over at YA Highway.  Kirsten Hubbard is celebrating the release of her second novel Wanderlove with some loverly prizes.  There will be up to five international winners so I recommend racing over there and join in the fun!

In less interesting and not so happy news I had to skip any blogging this weekend thanks to a horrible bladder infection.  Saturday night was spent in A+E (fun!), freaking out because my gran thought it would help to tell me all about appendicitis and operations.  That's what she thought it was.  And Sunday was spent in bed, unable to move.  I'm okay though.  Got some meds for it which I'm hoping will work.  So if RTW comes up I'll definitely be taking part in that today.  If not, I'll see you at the weekend with News to Novels and another post I've been itching to write for a while. :) I haven't disappeared completely.  Just taking it easy. 

7 Mar 2012

RTW: Story of my Life

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
NAME THIS LIFE: What would your memoir be called?

I think the title 'Well, This Wasn't Planned' really fits my life so far.  I've always been the type to have a plan.  I plotted out every detail of my life from being a young girl.  I knew what career I wanted to do.  I knew where I wanted to live.  Well, some things ended up exactly like I planned.  I got a short story into an anthology and got published for the first time.  I went to a university in Leeds, the destination I had my eyes on since GSCEs.

But that's pretty much it. 

What I never planned out:

1) Studying English and Writing.  For a while I had my heart set on studying Journalism at LTUC.  I ended up finding out more about their English and Creative Course and instead went for that. 

2) Calling my closest friends in high school former friends after slowly realising they didn't want to know anymore.  I'm still in touch with one friend who will always remain close and that's enough for me. :)

3) How hard it would be to find a job after graduation and staying up at night worrying that I'll never get anywhere. 

4) That journalism is actually not the career for me. 

5) That teaching of all things became my new goal and my calling.  If you had known me as a teenager I would have gone cold at the thought of working in education.  I can't see myself in any other job now.

6) That I would end up graduating with the most amazing guy I've ever met and living with him and our cat in a flat of our own.

7) I was sure the grunge Rock'N'Roll look was forever.  I didn't expect the girly girl in me to appear and start giving me a taste for more feminine attire, chick flicks, make-up, and a love for the Body Shop.

5 Mar 2012

Editing Lessons

Editing is going smoothly :) but also quite slowly.  I feel a bit guilty for not disciplining myself as much and just getting on with things.  The first chapter is all done and I'm happier with the way it moves.  Much better than the first draft I wrote which seemed clunky and had a lot of flowery prose in when I was describing settings.  I have a better idea of who my characters are too.  Yay for editing! I'm not embarrassed of chapter one anymore!

But I am learning a few things about what I've written for the first chapter:

1) Apparently I like alliteration in names.  Not only does history repeat itself in this family but even more so if you have the same letter for your first name and surname.  It means you're pretty much screwed.
2) When I go through the second editing I need to stop mentioning the vampire's skin colour.  Even I'm yelling at myself going 'yes, he's all pale and looks like death - you've mentioned it like 100 times!'
3) All the families I ever make up have a pattern when it comes to naming their children.  I need to come up with different parents. 
4) It's set in Yorkshire.  Again.  I've got a bad habit of doing that. 
5) Somebody is forgetting they're a vampire and touching a cross.  Oops.  That's gotta hurt. 

3 Mar 2012

News to Novels #9

Adding to the articles I usually look for as WiP inspirations I actually came across one that could inspire a futuristic setting. :)

The new American Dream: Stunning designs for the suburbs of the future
The financial crisis left large swathes of the the US derelict and decimated, leading many to question the pursuit of the American Dream.  And with the problem of widespread foreclosures embodying the issues faced by families and communities across the county, leading designers have now offered a new vision of the future.  The 14-month initiative at the the Museum of Modern Art examines new architectural possibilities for American cities and suburbs in the context of the foreclosure crisis.
Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream will enlist five teams of architects to envision a rethinking of housing and related infrastructures that could drive urban transformation, particularly in the suburbs, with each focused on a specific 'megaregion', a metropolitan area that lies within a corridor between two major cities.

Brother tracks down RAF hero's body 62 years after crash in Malaysian jungle
Their bodies have been lying in the dense Malaysian jungle since their RAF plane crashed during a ferocious conflict in 1950.  But now the 12 victims are to be given a full burial after a painstaking search inspired by the brother of one of the dead airmen.  Eight military personnel and four civilians were on board RAF Dakota KN630 when it plunged into the rainforest on August 25, 1950. Flight Navigator Geoffrey Carpenter, 23, was among them. 
All those years of not knowing what had happened or where they went.  It's still sad to hear of their deaths but at least their loved ones can have peace of mind and bring them home to bury.  But what if they had survived? Could it have been possible? What lives would they have lead if they had adapted to their surroundings and made it their home?

Lessons in proud history of England
A £2.7 million drive to make kids proud of England's rich past will be launched today by Michael Gove.  The Education Secretary wants more pupils to visit historical spots such as castles, monasteries and old factories.
You know what would be awesome for history lessons? Imagine time travel is finally possible and people can hop around time.  How cool would history lessons be if you could actually go back and travel to the period your studying? Of course there would be risks like changing time but that's the fun of conflict and things going wrong. :)

1 Mar 2012

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I'm a bit late with this trilogy.  I knew about The Hunger Games for a while but I never really lept to read it.  I think by the time I had found out about it the third and final book had come out and all I was hearing about it was the love triangle.  Those two words usually make me dart back in to my hidey hole because by then I had read too many love triangles and was kind of sick of the idea.  It put me off.  But then I read the summary, read more about the book - what is was about, who it revolved around, how the idea came about and I was interested.  I knew it was going to be more than a love story.  It had other focuses which intrigued me.  So last Christmas my boyfriend bought me it and it was finally time to read it, seeing what people had been raving about.

I'll go through my favourite things to begin with.  First on the list are the games.  Part One of the book was quite slow, mainly because I was dying to read about reading the games.  I was intrigued to see how it played out.  What things can happen.  How brutal are the deaths and what do they do to young teenagers.  I felt guilty about wanting to see the games start, feeling like I might as well be part of the Capitol but the build up was so gradual and tense that I was itching to see it all begin and read how the players do anything to survive.  

The games turned me into an emotional, tense wreck.  I was reduced to nail biting during Katniss' first night and reading how she was almost caught.  I think at some point I was holding my breath with her.  And sadness for that unseen tribute getting stabbed.  Hardly twenty four hours in the game and she was dead.  For a particular young tribute I was in tears.  For someone so young to be involved in these games and meet a horrible death was quite upsetting.  This was somebody who had hardly lived.  Hadn't even reached their teens and that was it.  I liked the character because they proved they could hold their own despite their age, height and strength.  They lasted longer than most, although sadly not to the end. 

The games showed a society that I can see developing now.  We already have Big Brother where the creators really like to screw with their contests psychologically, purposely picking out the emotionally unstable ones and deliberately choosing people who will contrast with others.  And audiences watch them argue and scream at each other until some can't take it anymore and leave the house willingly.  We have I'm A Celebrity where celebrities are signing up to eat insects and go on dangerous tasks.  And if there is a particular task that the audience knows would upset a contestant they'd vote for them to do it.  It's cruel and it will probably get worse.  To the point where people fight to death? Who knows? I hope not but it could happen.  And see how it warped some of the tributes was shocking.  There were contestants who reluctantly accepted that they'd have to kill to go back home.  If they wanted to see their loved ones like Katniss they knew that they had to play the games, although hoped that most of the tributes would be killed by others before they took lives themselves.  And then there were ones who had trained for this.  I would say probably to have a chance to go back home but the pack that got together seemed to enjoy the hunt and that sickened me.  They didn't act like training was a necessary to have a chance to live.  It was a game to them as well and they were pure animals. 

Katniss was a smart, careful and compassionate heroine who I was glad to be introduced to.  Her life revolved around her family, taking care of her mother and sister to the point where she volunteered herself in order to save Prim.  Now, the argue could be that it was still silly of Katniss because she could die and then where would her family be if she was the main provider? But Prim was going to be a tribute and nobody of course was going to volunteer.  Prim's healing skills may have benefited her but I doubt she would have had a chance.

Katniss did.  I could already see from her hunting abilities and knowledge of D12 plants and trap setting.  She wasn't a fighter like Cato and Clove but she at least had a chance of surviving by herself in the arenas, hidden away from other tributes.  She was wary and I don't blame her for being wary of Peeta, thinking that he could be acting friendly to fool her.  They were about to enter a deadly game with one survivor and she was right to question his behaviour.  I liked how observant she was towards other tributes and previous Hunger Games.  She checked out the opposition, trying to figure out how they could be a threat to her and remembered previous tactics of tributes.

The relationships she developed with others was touching.  There were few people who she developed any kind of connection with but the few she did open up to (Rue, Peeta, Cinna, Gale, Prim) you could see she cared about them and they became her world.  She trusted them and looked to them as well for comfort.  Prim for being there as her sister and Rue as a reminder of her family.  Gale for the being the best friend she opened up to and the new feelings she was currently developing for him.  Cinna for teaching her to not judge somebody so quickly.  Cinna was going to be yet another silly OTT stylist for the games, ridiculous and part of the Capitol.  But he became a close friend to her, talking to her and encouraging her all the way; completely the opposite of who she assumed he was.  Peeta and Katniss together were up and down but when they realised they could be on each other's side they worked together and gradually looked out for one another, not just because of romantic feelings but because they were ready to be equals and work as a team to survive. 

It wasn't all perfect though.  I did see more telling than showing in the writing, feeling that Katniss told us what she was feeling most of the time, rather than trying to show it.  And I found the beginning to drag because of a lot of info-dumping about the country and its history.  It did sound a bit textbook and Collins could have built up the world throughout the three books gradually rather than all at once.  But we'll see what the next two brings because new aspects of Panem might need to be focused on.  Still, I could have done without the info-dump, just to make Part One move a little bit quicker.

I wish I could have heard a little bit more from the other tributes.  I understand that with 24 tributes Collins couldn't have focused on each one to flesh out completely but they were still important characters that I would have liked to have known a bit more about.  It was quite sudden how most of them died in the first few minutes of the game but then again when the games started it was a rush for weapons and dangerous for the ones who weren't going to be much competition.  So I guess it was realistic for there to be deaths immediately.  I think I just felt a bit sad that I didn't get a chance to know them.  They were unknown tragic characters who were doomed in the first five seconds of the games.  Maybe that was done to reflect how they appear to President Snow and the viewers who are entertained by this.  They're nobody.  Just faces that they won't bother to think about and don't really want to know anything about them.  It's all about the last eight or six where things get really interesting in their opinion.

Overall, I'm so glad I read the book and now I'm counting the days till the film comes out.  Here's the trailer for your eager eyes. :) Doesn't it give you chills?