Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I was Madonna for a moment.

I told this story to my friend Alexis the other day and she said I had to blog here you go...

I'm from Michigan. My mother is from Bay City...where Madonna is from originally.

I am short, petite, and have some similar facial features to the goddess-of-pop-music. I also had curly blonde hair JUST like Madonna did at the time...what was it, the late 80's? Early 90's? Who knows...who cares.


I was in Bay City one afternoon with one of my gal pals. It was summer and we were in Bay City on the street by a bunch of shops. I think one was full of records and tapes (if you remember buying LP's...I love you) and I was dressed like Madonna. Probably more in the Desperately Seeking Susan style.

So you see, I was dressed like her, in a city she's from, by a record store, I had the same hair (cut and color), and I have a mole on my face so....when some Madonna fan saw me, they got confused.

She thought I was her. She was all a twitter and wanted my autography...well, actually, Madonna's autograph.

My brain said I shouldn't play along.
My brain said I should correct her.
I turned to my best gal pal, my answer stuck in my throat.

And what does my gal pal do?

"Of course she'll sign it, sweetie! Just don't go telling everyone she's in town. She's here to suprise a friend for her birthday."

I think my jaw dropped. But I turned back to the young, pre-teen girl with a smile.

Thank God it was before the internet.

Thank God it was before there were cell phones...hell, cell phones with cameras!

Thank God she didn't have a camera on her (we didn't wander the world with them back then, btw. I know, you're shocked.)

So I signed the record she put in front of me and chatted with her briefly, sending her on her way. I felt like a shmuck and Madonna would very likely kick my ass to know I did this. (Sorry, Madge!)

But my gal pal was like, "You just made her year."

For that, I won't apologize.

So yeah...I got to be Madonna for a brief moment. It was fun.

If you've not checked out Madonna's new album, or hell, her old albums, you should. I revisited them this weekend on iTunes as I inspected her newest one. Sadly, I don't own all my Madonna from back then anymore cause I had it on LP and tape. But I rebought an album or two and as I listen, I think about how she's been so instrumental and influential in much of pop music's progress as well as what female pop stars can get away with now (Can you say, Lady Gaga?). Madonna wasn't just a fad back then, and she's not now. She's an amazing performer and business woman and I'm proud to say I idolized her as a teen/young adult. Hell, I still sort of do.

So Cheers to the real Madonna! It was fun being you for a few minutes.


Tamsin :)

Mockingjay Review

Welcome to my review of the 3rd book of The Hunger Games Trilogy. If you've been keeping up with my previous thoughts on these books you already know the following...

1) I like Peeta more than Katniss.
2) I think our supporting cast is who makes the novel.
3) I feel that we only get the best out of our leading lady through the actions of that supporting cast.

And what do I have to add to that list after reading THIS book....

4) I like Buttercup more than Katniss.
5) I like Katniss more than the writer.

Let me explain.

In fact, I can explain in six words...

Ms. Collins has no follow through.

What a friggin dissapointment this book is. From start to finish.

Why? Oh...let me list it!


1) You know all those characters you've grown to love who make you like Katniss? Yeah...Ms. Collins removes them all from the book. That's right! No Peeta for most of it and even when he returns, he's not the same. No Cinna either. Thank God for Finnick (for as long as she lets him exist, that is), as he's the only one who gives Katniss the chance to be endearing to us...and he's gone crazy! What does THAT say?

2) All those characters she's mentioned in the other two books, THOSE characters plus a whole bunch of new people you can't keep straight half the time, get thrown into the mix. This includes, Gale, Prim, Mom, and a bunch of people from District 13. The only D13 person you'll like is Boggs...and of course Ms. Collins will kill him off.

3) You spend almost the whole book in what I call, "Katniss' head of doom." It's like hanging out with Bella Swan in "New Moon" and "Eclipse." Whining, crying, hiding, complaining, etc. Where did our independent girl go? Where is all that strength that she was based on?

4) Love story...yeah, so, you're thinking oooh Gale...that must get hot and/or emotional. NOPE. Well, unless you count arguments and snit fits and so on. I mean, honestly, as a reader I should be torn between the two men (if you're going to do the love triangle that is, and that's how she's set this up) and all I could think was, "Why is Gale even an option? Yeah, he's hot...but where's this 'connection' to Katniss?" You see it every now and again...but its fleeting AND all you can think is, "God, I miss Peeta!"

5) Speaking of my Peeta. What a waste of a great character. Jeebus. I could just... *sigh* Nevermind. I'll keep my anger in tow. I will however say that without him, the story is missing an element that isn't replicated by Gale and that's very likely on purpose so that we see how Peeta is better for Katniss, don't need to hit us with a sledge hammer. We're a smart audience. There could've been a little less anger between he and Katniss and a little more love/confusion/need. They fight almost all the time. If he was such a great guy...we don't get to see her think he is. She just is an angerball at him most of the time.

And here are the worst parts of it all...

6) Once Katniss is involved with the rebels, except for the scene at the hospital in District 8, and her words to the President on TV, her "active involvement" is squashed by our writer by the concept that the rebels need to keep her safe. Then, when she finally DOES get to go to attack the Capital and face Snow...what we've been waiting for now for 2.5 novels...Ms. Collins drops the ball. How? Well, Katniss is on her way to the President's mansion to kill him, we're pumped, and then she watches someone important die and she herself goes up in flames. The next thing we know, we're stuck in Katniss' head of doom in the hospital and we're "told" how they won the war, caught the President, took the city, and had his trial. We don't get to experience it, we just get told. What a COP OUT!

7) So you forgive and you say, "Well, she'll give us a real ending with her killing Snow (or Coin, the leader of the rebellion, who I secretly want her to kill) and we'll be moving again." But oh no...she kills one of them and then goes back into her headspace of doom and the next thing we know...Haymitch gathers her saying, "Your trial is over...let's go." What? Wait. What trial? What happened? Why did we not get to experience it AGAIN? Quit Telling Me Shit! Every writer knows (correction, every good writer knows, Show, Don't Tell. DAMN IT! COP OUT X 2!

8) So again, you forgive the writer and you say, "Well, she'll give us a real ending with Peeta then." Will we never learn? *sigh* Oh no. That would be showing vs. telling and we just can't have that! Instead, we get BACK into her head of doom and we get a decent scene with the cat (Buttercup) and then she TELLS us the rest of the story. TELLS us she finally talked to her mom, TELLS us she spends time with Peeta and they "grow close again." TELLS TELLS TELLS. That's right...COP OUT COP OUT COP OUT!!!! Hell, I'm so sick of this book at this point I barely can get myself to read the Epilogue.

9) And's the marriage and babies epilogue. But hey, she and Peeta have two cute kids and are surviving (notice I don't say "happy") in District 12, which is rebuilding itself...blah blah blah...I so could care less by this point.

10) But...what about her best friend? You know, the one who has been there for her for all those years? Oh yeah...our author decides he's got to go. After ALL that? Yeah...we'll just send him off to another district and give that situation no real closure EXCEPT that Katniss can't forgive him for something that's not his fault. (Yes, I'm skirting a "Big Bad" in the book that I won't spoil.)

So those are my ten long comments on this book. I have more I could give, but ten is WAY more than it even deserves. I think you got a full ten cause I'm so mad at wasting my damn time on this series.

I give it 2 out of 5 stars, and that's me being nice.

The only UP side to this is that the movies, if we're lucky, will SHOW SHOW SHOW all that Ms. Collins only TELLS TELLS TELLS...and then, and only then, will we as the invested audience, get emotional closure to the three big points of the whole series. Or at least, that's my hope.

Normally I say "Happy Reading" but I warn you now...this book will NOT leave you happy. You'll be angry to have your experience stepped on and rubbed in the mud.

Maybe I like a Disney endings...and that's part of my problem. Maybe I wanted them to not ALL be as tortured and mental head cases as they were. But come the fuck on! I'm all about some angst...I'm all about some strife...but if you're going to ruin the lives of your characters you spend so much time having us care about, taking us step by step through their mental deconstruction, for the love of all that's holy, let us go step by step as its reconstructed too. That's all I'm sayin'.


P.S. The link for the blog title this time is NOT the Character List from's something funny I found with concern to the book. Enjoy!

In Mockingjay...

"Catching Fire" Review

As you know from my previous review of "The Hunger Games," I read all three books over the past few days and am reviewing each seperately.

BOOK 2 - Catching Fire

We were left off with Katniss dreading leaving Peeta to be on her own yet hating the fact that she's hurt him with being honest on how she feels...torn between her friendship with her handsome hunting partner, Gale, and her partner in the Hunger Games Area, Peeta.

The beginning of the story we're back in Katniss's head (not always a fun place to be) and its the dawn of the day the camera crews will show up at her house for the Victory Tour, so to speek, of she and Peeta to each of the 12 districts. Seeing as she and Peeta are estranged, though now living a house or two away from each other, we're stuck with only Katniss and her head of doom.

But, she's not far off. She receives a visit from the President, where they agree to no longer lie to each other and lay it all out on the table. Simply put, Katniss has to calm the districts down from her act of rebellion at the end of the games so as to not ensite a rebellion of the people of Panem. She must sell to the people of the country that she defied the gamemasters because she is in love with Peeta. She then realizes this means, "forever" in marriage, etc. There's a snag here of course, she doesn't want to get married, have kids, and so, she's still not sorted out her feelings for Gale or Peeta. Katniss is a little slow...we know, we know.

And so the story plods along...without much going on (except for the amazing visit to District 11). We have this GREAT concept of visiting the districts in front of us, yet Ms. Collins skips it (except for listing Katniss' amazing dresses, of course). She gives you District 11 and then skims the rest, mostly. Hell, I couldn't tell you what every district does and I've read all the books. She skims through that section with angsty Katniss and Peeta trying his best to bring us back to liking her when the unthinkable happens...


President Snow decides the 75th Annual Hunger Games (which they confuse you by calling it The Quell and for awhile you think it's something seperate) will be played by victors of other games in the past.'re going BACK into the arena with Katniss and either Haymitch or Peeta by her side.

Well shit. There's now way TWO can be the victors again so you're going to loose one of them...and damn it, you know it can't be Katniss if there's a book three. The only charater we actually like and connect with and there's a chance he's going to be gone. Crap.

Needless to say, you're's the great part...once they're thrown back together into the situation you spend more time with Cinna, Peeta, her sobbing prep team, Effie (gotta love a well rounded crazy character like her, right?) and now a new fave, Finnick Odair. I'll be honest...I laughed so hard at the humor in the second half of this book that I was loving Peeta, Cinna, and Finnick a lot. They were so "on fire" that they made Katniss seem much more bearable as well. I was enjoying her again. What an amazing relief!

Side Note: How, after seeing the mockingjay burned into bread and the mockingjay on the watch does she not see they are trying to show her they are with her...that they are part of the rebellion? Especially after seeing the watch. To have her thinking he was showing her his expensive watch is just plain ignorant. The fact that she can't put two and two together just make me want to choke her. Just sayin'.

Anyhoo...moving on...

So after Katniss has to watch Cinna get beaten horribly (my heart was broken), the games begin! And the idea for the Arena is brilliant, interesting, and scary. Plus, we get to hang out with AND get to know MORE of the Tributes this time around. Which is wonderful! As they die we hurt...not like we did with Rue. It's differnt, but still moving.

Like I said before, Ms. Collins can write fight scenes! The slow plodding of the first half of the book has been forgiven for how great the story is moving along now. I'm riveted. I'm tense. My heart breaks as Peeta gives her the's just so well done...and then...

You guessed it...

It all goes to shit.

I won't spoil any further but I'll say this...Katniss is a crazy bitch. Her "jumps to conclusions" ideas and how to deal with them (I'm talking of the syringe, if you've read the books) is just ridiculous. Honestly. But, her anger at Haymitch for what he's done moves me and the news Gale gives her breaks my heart. Poor District 12. That's all I'll say.

I'd normally give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars because we have to wait so long for the goods to start...but because of the fun that ensues and the amazingness of the concept for the next set of games, I'll bump it to 4 out of 5 stars as my final score. Plus, you're DYING for book three...always the sign of a good book.

Happy Reading!

Tamsin :)

P.S. The title is again linked to the Wikipedia page of the characters list for all the books. In case you need them.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Hunger Games Review (Book)

So, I've heard all the buzz about The Hunger Games Saga...and I'm a fan of YA Sci Fi/ a lot of it, actually. Own rows and rows of them in paperback still. :) So, a few weeks ago I purchased a 3 in 1 set of the Hunger Games for my Kindle Fire. Last week, I started to read the first book and finished the 3rd book last night. After I've had the night to sleep on my thoughts...I'm going to review each book.

Here we go...w/o any real serious spoilers either.

BOOK 1 - The Hunger Games

Brilliant concept! Love the layout of the post apocalyptic world. There is a lot of very clear, thought out imagination at play here that wraps you as a reader into the story. It's barbaric for sure. Who has children kill each other for sport? It's almost too hard to swallow that people would allow this...almost. Suzanne Collins paints a world for us where the people have so little, being kept at a point where they aren't even strong enough to fight back, that you can just barely see how this is tolerated/allowed by the people on Panem, aka North America many MANY years later from now. It held my attention from begining to end and I was invested. I was willing to read them all.

One of the things this book has that Twilight is missing is that Katniss, our leading lady, is self sufficient. She depends on no one and nothing, almost to a fault at times. She independant and though there are two men vying for her attention who she totally can't make up her mind on (isn't that always the way?), instead of needing them to save her, she is up to the task of saving herself, and them if needed.

But...and if you're so in love with Katniss you can't hear a bad word spoken, now is the time to go to the next paragraph...I have HUGE issues with how stupid this girl is other than her ability to survive. I can understand she's closed herself off to show no emotion...but if so, how can Peeta even be in love with her? How can he say, "She has no idea the effect she has on people?" If she shows nothing and has low social skills (which really is our only explanation for why she's totally ignorant to the reason Peeta does things for her) how does she trade in the HOB and work with people? I was so turned off by her inner rambling where she questions things, but never questions it in a well rounded manner, that I wanted to strangle her...often.

That said, I am in LOVE with what we'd call the "supporting cast." Cinna and Peeta being the faves. Do you know why they're the faves for most who read this book? Because they bring out actual personality and emotion from Katniss. THEY make HER look better. They make us care about her. The more we get interaction with them, the more we enjoy her. Added to that is of course Rue and Prim, but as we spend more time with Peeta and Cinna through out the first two books, they are who we connect to in order to like our leading lady.

I don't know about you, but I fell in love with Peeta. How does she not? You can't help but fall in love with him. He's such a good guy and he'd do anything for her. He's our hero, if not the typical one. And because of that, you love who he is. He makes every scene he's in carries a strength of emotion we don't receive from Katniss (unless her sister is involved). So you fall in love with him. My question does she not? How can she not even question if she is? It never seems to occur to her that she's having feelings for him past the "I can't let him die, I owe him for the bread." My only 'tsk tsk' at him is that he's a wee bit too wrapped up in his love of her that he puts up with her cluelessness...but he's a teenage boy, so he's excused.

In the end, she breaks his heart and yours with her honesty...but you understand it's for the best. She honestly is torn between her budding feelings for Gale and her on screen love for Peeta that also is taking root in her heart, or so we hope. And you're left anxious to see who she will choose, what the world will do with the way the Games were won, and the fate of the boy you love so much.

Not so anxious with concern to Katniss herself though...she's likeable, don't get me wrong. Strong female characters are likeable and admired. I admire her. However, she's just not endearing enough to care about as much as Peeta. If he'd been our main love for this book would've been much grander. But, as it's not him...I give the book 4 stars out of 5. AND...the boost from 3 to 4 comes from the imagination fo the world, the concept, and the amazing writing that comes into play during the games. This woman can write battles! Wow!

I recommend reading it! I am looking forward to seeing the movie. I know I'm going to cry my eyes out when the mockingjay's sing Rue's song. I will drink in Peeta's character and I pray to like Katniss more on screen than on paper.

I'll review the movie when I do! :)

Happy Reading!

Tamsin :)

P.S. If you click the title of this review, it'll take you to the character list on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hard Day's Night by John G. Hartness - A Review

Children are missing.

The police are stumped.

Halloween is coming, with an ancient evil on the horizon.

The vampires are the good guys.

This is not your ordinary fall weekend in Charlotte, NC. Vampire private detectives Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood have been hired to keep a young client from being cursed for all eternity, but end up in a bigger mess than they ever imagined.

Suddenly trapped in the middle of a serial kidnapping case, Jimmy and Greg uncover a plot to bring forth an ancient evil into the world, and enlist the help of a police detective, a priest, a witch, a fallen angel and strip club proprietor to save the world. This unlikely band of heroes battles zombies, witches, neuroses and sunburn while cracking jokes and looking for the perfect bag of O-negative.

What a fun read! Well written with a great pace and hilarious yet endearing lead characters. Hard Day's Knight holds twists and turns that will surprise you over and over again.

As the book starts off you find yourself in the head of James Black (where you stay for the whole novel), vampire extraordinaire, who is in quite a predicament. He's been kidnapped! As my character Sean, from "The Betrayal," would say, "Now why did you go and let that happen?"

Have no fear, as it turns out, the kid who has taken James has an unusual request...which leads he and Greg (his spandex and cape wearing side-kick) to help the kid out. But what they thought was a simple curse...turns out to be so much worse. (Sorry, couldn't resist the rhyme).

As if vampires aren't enough, Mr. Hartness throw in some witches, a priest, evil/possessed children (as if there really are any other kind?...JK), demons, and even fallen angels! It makes for a fantastic adventure. You will find yourself saying, "Well it can't get worse than this"...oh, but it can and will! James and Greg will attempt to save the world, as only they know how to do. With witty banter, help from their friends, courage, and their devotion to what's right.

Something I love about this story is that these two guys are your average Joe's. They're not super pretty or suave...or sparkling (thank God)...they're comic book lovin, computer wizz'n, nerds who got stuck that way. Think of that guy from the movie "Revenge of the Nerds" as a vampire...and you're on the right track. It's a brilliant concept! And, instead of taking place in LA or NYC, it's in the Queen City herself, Charlotte, NC. I spent ten years there myself...and it's a perfect backdrop for this fun, witty, fast paced, story of friendship, love, courage, acceptance, and forgiveness.

The only bad thing I can say is that at only 176 pages, its over too soon, leaving you wanting more! Luckily, there is more! Go HERE for more on all three books in the series. The next two books are called Back in Black and Knight Moves.

In closing I want to say this, even if you're not a "vampire book"'ll enjoy this book. It's a great ride you won't want to get off of. So jump on board! Click the title of this blog to go to Amazon to buy this book for your Kindle for ONLY 99 cents or check out John's website HERE for more about him and his different books!

Happy Reading!

Tamsin :)