Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hungry for More

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don't know why I avoid books that lots of people are reading, but I do. I was avoiding "The Hunger Games" because everyone was reading it, and worse - it's a trilogy. I'm not against serial books, but I usually like to wait until the whole series is out before I start. I really don't like waiting, but here I am - another one of those people who didn't just read "The Hunger Games," I devoured it. I confess that it wasn't love from page one. Collins style of writing is halted - the words don't flow together easily. As the first couple chapters progressed though, I found myself not caring about the style of the book anymore because I was so engrossed in the movements of the characters.

Collins' futuristic view of the United States is chilling. There are elements of today's society - our obsession with reality TV and being beautiful, our uncanny way to ignore others who are struggling when we have so much, etc - mixed with societal trends that have actually caused all those nightmarish things we only we worry about now. This book had flavors of Jackson's short story "The Lottery," Golding's "Lord of the Flies," and Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451," and yet "The Hunger Games" was totally unique in its plot development. This story of Katniss and Peeta is not a happy one (not surprising with references to those works) and their day-to-day existence is different from our own. Still, the sentiments feel real, and the concept of extreme government control and inhumane entertainment are not that far-fetched.

Everyone should read this book. Maybe wait until August 2010 before you start so you don't have to wait for the third book to be released. Something tells me though that we won't want that book to end either so, actually - don't wait. Get up and go get the book. Not tomorrow - right now. You won't be disappointed.

[I know this is my third review post in the last week - can you tell what I'm doing with my break? It's been wonderful.]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Losing the Magic

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3) The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I read Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code," I was transfixed. I ignored everything I had to do for two days so that I could know what Robert Langdon and the captivating Sophie would find out in the final pages. When I finished, I was left wishing there was more. When I finished "The Lost Symbol," I was just glad to be done. It's not the book doesn't have clever plot twists - it's Dan Brown - of course it does. It's not that the characters aren't compelling - hello, man covered from head to toe in tattoos that describe his belief system and his goals or the beautiful scientist who believes she has harnessed the power of thought. And it's not that Brown moved locations from Europe to Washington D.C. - D.C. is a fantastic city and the fact that it's our secrets (not the Catholic church, etc.) is fascinating. That said, "The Lost Symbol" doesn't feel original, and because Brown's name is so big, I know he'll come out with another book in a couple of years even though "The Lost Symbol" isn't fantastic....and I'll buy it because I want to be captivated again like I was when I read my first Dan Brown book. Sad thing is, I don't think I will be....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Glimpse of Southern Living

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Towards the end of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" Miss Skeeter says, "There is so much you don't know about a person." That information is not earth shattering - we all know it, and yet so many of the problems in our day-to-day lives center around the fact that we forget that we don't know everything about everybody. Everyone has a story - a reason why they do what they do. "The Help" lets us see not only the importance of each individual's story, but also how our stories bleed, bend, and fold into others' stories in ways that we can never anticipate.

Stockett's novel takes place during the early 60s and centers around the lives of Southern women and the lines that seemingly divide who has control over whom. It is a story about love - the love of one's self, the love of a child, the love of an ideal. It is also a story about flawed perceptions and how living by those flawed perceptions can crush others. Stockett's details are beautiful - you can smell Minny's perfect caramel cake, feel Abileen's worn hands reach out to hug you, and hear the clicks of Skeeter's nimble fingers moving over the typewriter keys.

The story is not perfect - the ending is not entirely fulfilling, but somehow it is more realistic that way. Stories about the 1960s rarely are fulfilling. American society was drowning in conflict and dissenting voices. Still Stockett doesn't dwell so much on "shoulda beens," but shows us what we can be and how much potential we have through narrators that start to find their own paths. Even though uncertainty looms and darkness sometimes seems sure to overshadow light, Stockett shows that there is always reason to hope. And being reminded of that hope is always something worthy of cheering about.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009


...I don't blog because I don't have anything positive to say and someone, who was probably on Valium, said if you didn't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all
...I don't answer my phone because I'm afraid the gap between what I'm saying and what I really think will be bridged by something that people don't really want to know
...I throw my Diet Pepsi cans away in different garbage cans to disguise how many I've had that week
...I think that I'll never figure out what I'm supposed to do with my life and it scares the hell out of me
...I love using the word hell
...I dream of writing something brilliant - a book, a movie, a play - and having it speak to people the way other great works have spoken to me
...I wonder if I have lost pieces of myself, but I don't know where to start looking for those lost pieces
...I lay in bed and imagine just picking up and moving to Europe and then I fall asleep and oddly enough, dream of California
...I say more than I should when it doesn't really matter and don't say enough when things matter the most
...I feel like I'm a character in someone else's story and wonder when I'll get to have my own

[Melodramatic Anon. - party of one >>> musings are unrelated to the holidays >>> Christmas was actually quite delightful. Bye for now.]

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holy Crow!

"Holy crow" came out of my mouth today, and I have no idea where it came from. I know I heard it on a tv show or a move at some point in my life, but ????. Urban dictionary lists it as a derivative of "holy cow." Not a very helpful definition if you ask me.

Anyway, the "holy crow" was an exclamation of disbelief about it being Christmas Eve. Where have the last few weeks gone, let alone the last twelve months?! But here we are just the same. 98 Degrees is singing "O Holy Night" (don't judge - you know you loved them once too). My siblings are playing Super Mario World on the Wii (yes, my mom broke down on bought video games this past year - she made it 26 years as a parent before giving in). Mae and Brett are sleeping. And I'm watching the sky change colors as another few Christmas Eve minutes melt away. We'll be reading stories soon and eating pizza. Then of course, as we Hutchins alway do, we'll be opening all our presents and making ourselves sick on Sees candy.

"Holy crow" is right. Christmas is here, and I could not be more grateful to be home. Love you and happy holidays!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Today while my sister and I were shopping at Roberts, a girl, who looked just older than I am, started staring at me. She was smiling in that "I know you" kind of way. I assumed she recognized Mae (who I was holding) or Jewels. Then I realized she was talking and pointing at me.

"Amanda? You're Amanda, aren't you?"
"Uh, no. Sorry."
"Oh, wow. You look just like a friend of mine. You have the same teeth and smile. What's your name?"

Our interaction went on for a minute or so more, and then I was off with squirming Mae in tow.

Here's the odd thing -- this is not the first time this has happened to me. I've been mistaken for other girls multiple times during my years in Provo - people swear I'm their friend (probably Amanda) and then say, "Wow, you have a twin out there then." Yeah, like Jewels and I don't look enough alike already - now I have a twin. But, what about the name thing? I've never loved Jaclyn. I don't not like it, but sometimes I've wished for a different name - for sure a different middle name, but most people match their names, and I don't know that I match mine. I've tried Jackie (because so many people thing Jaclyn is too formal). A few special souls (you know are) call me Jac. But, in the end I always end up with just Jaclyn.

Question of the day then - if you were meeting me, what would you expect my name to be? Maybe if I love your idea enough, I'll make a legal switch.... except that my sisters and I call ourselves J-cubed or J-squared. That would be a little hard to do....