Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Catching Fire Review

Author: Suzanne Collins
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
Characters: I have very mixed feelings about the characters.  On one hand, the main characters are lifelike enough that they seem to jump right off the page. I liked getting to find out more about Haymitch, and most of the new characters were interesting. On the other hand, some of the returning characters (read: Katniss and to a degree, Peeta) disappointed me with certain choices they made.

Location: Very good. Unlike the previous book, I was able to really get a feel for the locations in Catching Fire. I especially liked the Arena; it was much more interesting and much more easy to envision than the Arena from the first book.    

Plot: Ok. The plot is fast-paced, with plenty of twists. However, I almost think it moves too fast. Several times, I lost track of exactly how much time passed between events.

Other: Catching Fire, though a good book and worth reading, is definitely not as good as The Hunger Games. I’d also like to say that right now, I think that if certain characters die, I’ll go crazy.  

Overall Rating: 3/5

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Hunger Games Review

 Author: 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. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed."
Characters: Excellent. The major characters are written in a way that makes them seem to come to life, and the good characters have a way of really getting inside you. I also glad that you only get a feeling of a few of the tributes, since it would’ve been a supremely depressing book if you’d known any more of them.

Location: I have mixed feelings about the setting of this book. On one hand, it’s interesting and generally easy to visualize. However, inside the Arena, I had trouble figuring out where locations were in relation to one another.

Plot: Very good. The plot was exciting, even before they entered the Arena, but it’s not so much nonstop action that you feel like there’s too much happening, and there’s not so much detail about people dying that it turns into a depressing book. And while there was a bit of romance in the book, it wasn’t overwhelming.

Other: I was unsure about reading this book for quite some time, but now that I’ve read it, I don’t regret having done so. There were one or two spots where I had an “Uh, I didn’t need to hear about that” reaction, but overall, it was an excellent book.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Great Horned Owl

Hello, everyone! Sorry this took so long to get up, but I had a bunch of pictures I wanted to show you and therefore had to edit. So, this week I'm posting pictures of a Great Horned Owl.

I really enjoyed taking pictures of this owl for two main reason. One is their looks, especially their eyes. I actually did a color splash effect on the above picture, leaving just the owl's eyes in color.

The other reason is that Great Horned Owls seem to have expressions. You look at them and you can't help but think that they've got to be thinking something. Take this picture for example:

Doesn't he look like he's saying something? Maybe "And that's how you're supposed to do it!", or something else to that effect. 

Partway through the photo session, this owl decided he wanted to try and take off.

Being tethered, he couldn't get anywhere. However, he did grab onto the keeper's glove and just wouldn't let go.

Just look at those talons! I definitely would not want to be some small animal caught by that owl. (And yes, in case you were wondering, I really like the color splash effect.)

And that concludes my Great Horned Owl post! Thanks for reading, and I hope you liked my pictures!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crazy Dangerous Review

Author: Andrew Klaven

Sam Hopkins is a good kid who's fallen in with the wrong crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it's only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.

But one day, Sam sees these thugs harassing an eccentric schoolmate named Jennifer. Finding the courage to face the bullies down, Sam loses a bad set of friends and gains a very strange new one.

Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons, the devil, and death. And here's the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies of something terrible that's going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.

With no one to believe it, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous. 

Characters: Excellent. The characters are colorful and lifelike, though one or two did seem a bit on the flatter side. Sam is likeable and realistic, an average kid in a not-so-average situation.

Location: Good. The locations were clear and easy to visualize, but not so easy to visualize that the more frightening parts were too frightening. It was fairly easy to tell where places were in relation to other places.   

Plot: Incredible. This book grabs your attention from the very first page and drops you right into the story. It has more than enough action and plot twists to keep you reading, but not so much that you feel like you’ll never get a break.

Other: This book is a bit on the creepier side at times, so I wouldn’t advise reading it at night. It is an excellent book, though, one that I don’t at all regret buying.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Final Hour Review

Author: Andrew Klaven

""You're not alone. You're never alone."
Charlie West has held on to that belief, but now he's starting to wonder. He went to bed one night an ordinary high-school kid. When he woke up, he was wanted for murder and hunted by a ruthless band of terrorists. He's been on the run ever since. Now he's stuck in prison, abandoned by his allies, trying desperately to stay a step ahead of vicious prison gangs and brutal guards. And a flash of returning memory tells him another terrorist strike is coming soon. A million people will die unless he does something. but what? He's stuck in a concrete cage with no way out and no one who can help. Charlie has never felt so alone- and yet he knows he can't give in or give up . . . not with the final hour ticking away."

Characters: Amazing! The characters are written so you feel like you can see them, both the bad guys and the good guys. There’s finally a real sense of who’s on what side, and I enjoyed getting to see more of Sensei Mike.

Location: Good. The locations were clear and easy to visualize. However, like in the previous books, they didn’t strike me as spectacular.   

Plot: Incredible. This book is, if possible, even more exciting than the first three. We finally get the answers we want, and the ending is as satisfactory as an ending can possibly be.

Other: This book, even more so than the rest of the series, is the kind of the book you can’t put down. Forget what I said about The Truth of the Matter being the best. (Well, don't totally forget it, but you know what I mean.) This one surpasses it.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eastern Screech Owls

Last Saturday, at a photo expo, I got the opportunity to photograph some raptors courtesy of the Raptor Conservatory of Virginia. I'll be posting the pictures I took over the next few weeks, focusing on one type of bird each week. This week it's the Eastern Screech Owl, my current favorite type of owl. I think you can see why from this picture:

They're cuter in real life, mostly because they're so tiny. They also seem very expressive in many ways. I had a lot of fun taking pictures of them. Here are some other pictures I took:


Hope you like my pictures! Thanks for reading!