Friday, September 23, 2011
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The premise is simple. At some point in the future, after almost obliterating ourselves the USA emerges as Panem. Panem is comprised of the ruling Capitol and 12 districts. Each year the Hunger Games are held for as a reminder to the districts and as entertainment for the Capitol. The players are chosen from the children from the districts, two from each, boy & girl, and the games are to the death. Only one victor shall prevail.
From the beginning I just couldn't shake the feeling that I've read bits of this story before. Take Shirley Jackson's Lottery, add to it Stephen King's The Long Walk, sprinkle with a dab of The Running Man (King again) and voila! The real problem I intellectually had was that the three stories I just mentioned were just hands down better than The Hunger Games. Now don't get me wrong. This is indeed a serviceable and enjoyable read, sure to be a revelation to young adults who've not read the stories I mentioned previously. There are certainly elements of the Game which are unique, frightening and compelling to Collins.
The story is told well, the characters are rather hollow though and sadly, the stay rather hollow through the rest of the trilogy. While I could review all 3 of the books separately, I won't. Hunger Games actually would have been better as a stand alone book. I have a perverse love of stories that don't wrap neatly up in a little bow as it allows my imagination to take over and spend time on what ifs. The other 2 in the trilogy are again serviceable but I can't say I was surprised by much in the plot "twists." Nor are could they be considered stand alone reads. I was further disappointed in Collins' choice to kill off the ones who had obvious targets on their back from the get go.
In the end,I'll have to settle on a 3 star rating (yes, I know that will make me unpopular). For the record, during the time it's taken me to type this, I've vacillated between 3 and 4 stars, but in the end will have to go with 3. I'll end with advice to read the other stories I mentioned in this review; particularly Jackson's Lottery and King's The Long Walk.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Get ready for some splashing good fun in the bath or the pool with this trusty tugboat. She floats just fine, but she's always ready to take on water with the help of the handy scoop-and-pour spout on her bow. Made from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs. No BPA, PVC, phthalates or external coati...
Tugboat = Tub Fun!
Pros: Durable, Well Constructed, Easy to Control
Best Uses: Young Children
Describe Yourself: First Time Parent
Was this a gift?: No
Our son (8 mos) just transitioned from his wash pod to the big tub and this is one of his first tub toys! It's perfect for rinsing his head/hair and he has already started pushing it around the water himself. We're firm believers that well made, simple toys are the best! This is both and sure to be a tub favorite for a long time.
Monday, September 5, 2011
I was thrilled to see one of my favorite vendors at the farm market had fresh peaches. Don't let anyone tell you differently, fruit and vegetable DO taste better the fresher they are from the vine/tree/plant. And the peaches I bought were picked that morning. We also got some snap beans (aka green beans), peppers and eggs.
But today was all about peaches! I made Mouse some peach puree and Mr. Mouse & I a peach crisp.
Peach Puree Baby Food
* Wash Peaches
* Cut peaches in 1/2 and pop out pits
* Place cut side down in glass baking pan (I used 2 8X13 pans. I suppose you could use metal, but I've always used glass) & add water to cover peaches by about 1/2 inch or just over. (Err on the side of extra water rather than too little)
* Place pans in 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes. More important than time though, is that the skin should start to wrinkle slightly. When that happens, pull them from the oven. Don't cook too long though because you'll evaporate your water and burn them.
* Pull peaches from pan (reserve excess water in measuring cup) and place on chopping board.
* Cut peach halves in half again. Peel skin from peach quarters. Use a small sharp knife if needed, but skin should really just peel off.
* Put skinless peach quarters into blender and puree. If needed thin with reserved excess water. Although I've never had to do that.
* Pour peach puree into clean ice cube trays. Cover trays with plastic wrap, gently pressing plastic down so it touches the puree. (This helps retard formation of ice crystals on the top of the peach puree cubes when they freeze.)
* Freeze over night. Then pop from the ice trays (can run warm water over bottom of trays if you need help releasing the cubes) and store in labeled freezer bags.
* Pop out cubes as needed; thaw & watch your baby's face light up when they taste peaches for the first time!
Now for the grown ups...try this recipe.
2 - 2.5 lbs of the freshest peaches you can find!
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBLS Flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg (optional)
* Wash the peaches
* Bring a saucepan of water to boil on the stove
* Fill a clean sink or large bowl with very cold water
* Place peaches one or two at a time in the boiling water and boil for 30-45 SECONDS
* With slotted spoon, transfer peaches from boiling water to cold water-let them sit in the cold water for a couple minutes then transfer them to your work surface-repeat until all peaches are processed
* Cut peaches in 1/2 and remove pits.
* Peal skin from peaches using a small sharp knife if needed.
* Slice peaches and put into a bowl
* Add 1/2 cup sugar & 3 TBLS flour to peach slices and toss or stir till coated.
* Place peaches into an 8 X 8 baking pan (butter the pan if using a metal pan)
* Slice up softened butter
* Combine flour, sugar salt & cinnamon in separate bowl
* Cut flour mixture into the butter using pastry cutter or fork until mixture resembles course meal. (OK...I admit that I put the butter into my Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, put everything else in on top and let the mixer do the work.)
* Cover peaches with topping and toss a dash of nutmeg on top.
* Bake at 375 degrees for about 45-50 minutes.
If you want truly country style (per Mr. Mouse), serve warm with covered with a generous helping of cold cream.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**Takes a HUGE drink of water; wipes sweat from brow**
Whew! THAT was an adventure! Those match my feelings exactly after blowing through the swift read, Run by Blake Crouch. As noted in my last book review on The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel, I spent much of the summer slogging through the entire Earth’s Children’s series. Run, was the PERFECT antidote to that exercise in perseverance.
The premise is simple, what would happen if for some inexplicable reason a large segment of the US population went completely bonkers and tried to kill everyone else. What would you and your family do? RUN of course! If this book were made into a movie, it would be a Bruckheimer summer blockbuster resplendent with killer (literally) chase scenes heavy on CGI, a fair smattering (pun intended) of gore, likeable and slightly too competent heroes, and dotted with plot points just a little too convenient.
Did I like it? Absolutely! I liked it for what it was. Keep in mind we didn’t walk into any installment of the Transformers movies expecting the type of storytelling and character depth found in movies like The Kings Speech or The Black Swan. No, we came to be entertained by a wild ride quickly allowing ourselves a period of belief suspension just so we could have a little fun. Open Run with that mindset and you’ll be just fine.
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