#TheMockingjayLives – Official Trailer of the newest Hunger Games movie

“You will rescue #Peeta at the earliest opportunity. Or you will find another #Mockingjay…”



Who else just got shivers????

YA 101: The ever popular “Dystopian”

I must confess I have used this word to describe books that are not dystopian.  While dystopian stories are very similar to apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, they are truly two different beasts all together.

“Dystopian” seems to be the catch-all phrase for novels that take place in the future after some disaster, survivors fighting against some horrible event.  It’s easy to confuse the two because a dystopian society can rise from a post-apocalyptic event; however, that doesn’t make it a dystopian story.  Here is how I would like to define the differences.

A dystopian society is one where  “social perfection” is obtained at the expense of something else, such as enslavement, loss of personal freedoms, or the surrender of some aspect of human nature.  The plot tends to focus on the slow process of societal change, or an abrupt change to a cataclysmic event.  The society that is in place is stable, strong.  That doesn’t make it a good place to be.  In fact, what’s in place is usually sickening and appalling.  There are usually two warring factions:  those in control and those who are oppressed.  It’s utopia turned upside down.  There also doesn’t appear to be an explanation as to why the current society grew the way it did; it is simply a story of the character’s struggle against an oppressor, whether it’s a government, enslavement or both.

In an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic story, the plot focuses on the instability of a society during/after a cataclysmic event shatters society.  The small society that is left is usually isolated and threatened.  There is usually very little hope, the future is bleak.  Humanity and existence is endangered.  These stories explore man’s struggle to battle Earth’s shattering events.  They take the reader on the characters’ quest for survival.  These types of stories explore the hows and whys of the apocalyptic event, they show the rebuilding of the society, who is put in charge and why.  There is nothing utopian about it.   It’s nitty, gritty and intense.  The world is in shambles and folks are trying desperately to survive and rebuild.

Examples of YA Dystopian novels:


Samples of Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic


“I really can’t think about kissing when I’ve got a rebellion to incite.”*

One of my favorite YA series of all time is  The Hunger Games.

I remember reading the series for the first time back to back.  For those not familiar with the books, they are: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay. I can still feel the numbness, the sensation of my gut being  twisted, my heart being wrenched from my chest.  I didn’t want the series to end the way it did, but it was the only logical ending.  I was too stunned to weep, and yet weeping is something I did during the series.  Rue’s sacrifice pretty much did me in.

Suzanne Collins’ writing touched a part of me I didn’t want to visit.  She toyed with my emotions and inflamed my motherly instincts.  Nothing can get a mom’s hackles up more than kids being used for government folly to keep the masses in line.  Children forced into committing murder to stay alive.  The story stirs our need for revenge, touches the dark, violent side we all harbor inside, but dare not act on.   Katniss Everdeen allows us to safely take that vengeful journey, to make those pay for the crimes against mankind and the most innocent of our world – our children.

Many people found it difficult to read The Hunger Games.  Many non-readers like my husband became incensed over the theme of the movie.  For him, it was too hard to process.  Too much to watch.  November 22 will bring all those emotions to the forefront again when Catching Fire hits theaters.  He is not sure if he can watch it.  I can’t wait.

Who else is ready for the revolution to begin?

*quote from Catching Fire


The Liebster Blog Award

A few days ago, the lovely Victoria at Victoria-writes honored me with the Liebster Blog Award.  Thank you, Victoria.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the award, here’s how Liebster works:

  • I list 11 random facts about myself.
  • I’ll answer the 11 questions asked of me by the person who nominated me.
  • I will then nominate my 11 picks for the award, along with my 11 questions for them to answer when they post a response.
  • If you’re nominated, your name/link will appear at the bottom of this post along with the questions I come up with.
  • Follow the same format; paste the award badge to your blog, give us 11 random facts about yourself, answer my 11 questions, and choose your nominees…but you cannot nominate the blog who nominated you.

I’m going to break the rules a bit and pop these out to all followers of my blog, You are under no obligation to participate, but if you do, please ping back to my blog so we can learn more about you.

Here are the questions Victoria asked me. I hope I don’t bore you.  🙂

  • What made you want to be a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  I always loved making up stories and weaving tall tales.  It was and is my way to escape reality.  I find it’s better on my body and soul that drugs and alcohol.

  • Where do you find the inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere.  In the breeze, listening to conversations, watching, reading, singing.  Inspiration is everywhere.  All we need to do is open our eyes and ears.

  • What are your goals for 2013?

Get a publishing contract for my YA novel, finish the second in the series.   Write a few more shorts and have them published. Find a job.  Find my inner peace and joy.

  • What’s your favourite quote?

I have so many.  The first one that pops in my head is “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” ~ Dr. Seuss

  • Where in the world would you most like to visit?

Ireland/Scotland.  I also want to go back to Neuschwanstein.  I have a strange calling to return to that castle.  It’s a deep in my gut calling.  I also want to go to Italy.

  • What five things would you take to a desert island?

a yacht full of fuel.  champagne and orange juice (gotta have mimosas), laptop, friends & family, my pups.

  • What is your biggest strength and your biggest weakness?

I’m a huge champion for others.  I’m not a huge champion of myself.

  • If you could met one author, who would you choose?

Wow.  Ummm, toss up.  John Green or Cassandra Clare?  If Ayn Rand were alive, I’d pick her, too.

  • What’s your favourite film?

Oh, I have so many.  My Fair Lady ranks right up there at the top with While You Were Sleeping, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

  • If you went into The Hunger Games, what would be your most useful skill?

hiding.  I’m not big on confrontation.  My family tells me I have a knack for disappearing.

  • Which fictional male would you most like to marry?

If you’d asked me that question when I was ten, it would be Frank Hardy from the Hardy Boy mysteries.  Now, I could totally go for Mangus in my Chronicles of Fallhollow series.  I’m also very enamored with Caleb in Raymond Feist’s Midkemia novels.

I liked these questions so much, I’m passing them on to each of you.  Thanks for playing and don’t forget to link back!!

Breaking Dawn Part 2

If you saw The Hunger Games, then you saw the preview for Breaking Dawn – Part 2, the final installment in the Twilight saga.  Just in case you’re one of the few that hasn’t seen the trailer, you can find it below.

Now some of you may not understand the whole Twilight appeal, but if you’re a girl between the ages of 14 and 18, odds are you’re  grasping at every bit of information you can find to satiate your hunger for these films.

I’m a musical score kind of person and have been scouring the net for any info on possible artist contributions to the final film.  I know that Rob Pattinson is to perform a piano/singing duet with his on-screen daughter, Mackenzie Fox (“Renesmee”).  That news has been out for a while and you can read about it here.

What really got me excited, however, is the rumor of another song that may be part of Breaking Dawn Part 2 Soundtrack.  It’s called “Gone” by The New Velvet.  Now, I don’t know if the rumors are true, but I really like this band.  If you’re into Maroon 5, you’ll probably like them, too.  Even if the song isn’t in the movie, I still LOVE it!   Take a listen.  What do you think?

Doesn’t it have such a ‘Twilight” sound?  Are you looking forward to seeing Breaking Dawn Part 2 in November 2012?

The Hunger Games – a movie review


By now, many of you have read at least one review of The Hunger Games movie, either through a blog or newspaper or some other media outlet.  I’m about to add one more to the pot.  Be warned.  There are some book and plot spoilers so if you don’t want to know what happens…don’t read.

First, kudos to Gary Ross for pulling off what I didn’t think could be done, at least as well as he did it.  Suzanne Collins had so many plots and subplots in this novel that I didn’t think there was any way anyone could do this novel justice in 2 – 2 ½ hours.  I was pleasantly surprised at how close this movie followed the storyline.  You can tell the film was handled with love and with the respect the story deserved.  It definitely gets your pulse racing.

Let’s get to the technicalities first.

The film is excellently cast.  Jennifer Lawrence is superb and Katniss and I couldn’t think of a better Cinna than Lenny Kravitz.  Donald Sutherland pulls off the role of President Snow as only Donald Sutherland can.  Gale, (Liam Hemsworth) looks exactly as I pictured him in the book, and Josh Hutcherson pulls off an amazing Peeta Mellark.  I was a little apprehensive over Woody Harrelson as Kaymitch, but he pulls off the roll very well.

Ve Neill (Pirates of the Carribbean, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and SyFy co-host of Face Off), and her team of 41 make-up artists outdo themselves with the make-up.  Seneca Crane, played by Wes Bentley and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket probably wear the most artistically construed makeup designs in the entire film.  The blood, the gore, Katniss’ and Peeta’s wounds are well done without being overdone.  I was prepared for a lot of blood since the books are riddled with it, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the brutality was handled.  It wasn’t too hard on the younger crowd and left the older viewers feeling they hadn’t been completely cheated.

Let’s also give a round of applause to costume designer Judianna Makovsky.  To quote Booth Moore, from the Los Angeles Times:  “The Hunger Games” is a visual smorgasbord of a movie, a cast of hundreds dressed in everything from utilitarian garb with Depression-era grit to glam-gone-grotesque Gaga get-ups inspired by the latest haute couture. Then there’s that dress worn by the young heroine Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) that goes up in flames.”  Ms. Makovsky excels in portraying the poverty of the districts and the clownish, pomposity of Panem.

This review would not be complete without a massive shout-out to set designer Larry Dias and the hundreds who worked in the areas of art design, special and visual effects, and all the other departments who made this film work as a whole.  People tend to forget about those folks in the wardrobe department, casting, animation, that contribute so much and go unrecognized for their amazing contributions to films.  I applaud each and everyone one of them for their hard work to bring this story to life.

Okay, onto the storyline.

Overall, I was impressed with how well the movie script stuck to the storyline, and never once did it become cheesy or flippant.  There were no added scenes (like they did with Harry Potter) and it definitely left you feeling as if you were spinning off your axis.

There were several things I didn’t like that I thought should have been made better.  The love triangle between Gale, Peeta and Katniss should have been fleshed out more.  It is vitally important to the storyline.  I remember at the end of Mockingjay wishing and praying and hoping beyond all hope that Katniss would end up with Gale, but when she returns to District 12 and finds out Gale has moved on to District 4, my heart broke into a million pieces.  Up until then, I had a sneaking suspicion she was going to end up with Peeta but that’s not the way I wanted it to end.  Neither did millions of others.  We wanted the perfect ending.  Suzanne Collins doesn’t deliver.  This film doesn’t explore the depth of either of Katniss’ relationships with Peeta or Gale. There are hints , but the emotion is lacking.  When Gale sees Katniss and Peeta kiss, we don’t get the hurt, the anger, the betrayal he feels.  We don’t see that Katniss is only participating in the kiss for the sponsors.  I understand that there are many subplots and not every one could be explored in the course of time that was given, but this was a vital piece of information that is now missing. There is no ‘Team Peeta’ or ‘Team Gale’ and there should be. There HAS to be, for Mockingjay to work.  Thumbs down to the writers, including Ms. Collins, for not giving more weight to this.

I thought Haymitch’s drunkenness was resolved way too soon.  Then again, we only have 2 ½ hours to plug in so much information.  I will forgive the writers for this one.

The chariot scene (the famous girl on fire) seemed to be missing something. Either the shots were too close or too far away.  They didn’t seem to hit the perfect spot.

Many of the other characters were not fleshed out enough, either, especially Cato’s.  His character is so pivotal.  In the end, when Katniss and Peeta and Cato are fighting on the cornucopia and the dogs forged from the souls of the dead tributes were ready to tear them apart, I wanted to see more of Cato’s desperation.  I wanted to cry with him.  I had the same feeling when I watched the last Harry Potter film and I was looking at Draco thinking, I want to feel sorry for him.  This wasn’t his choice.  He didn’t want to be this way.  Same thing with Cato.  He’d been trained to be a killer, and in his final moments of life, I wanted to feel sorrow for him.  I didn’t get it.  There was the brief second, though, when I said to myself, Katniss, please, please end his pain.  Now.  And she did.  Well done, but I wanted the tear.  It didn’t come.

There was one other character issue I had and that was with Rue.  She, too, wasn’t developed enough.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t sob.  I did.  I cried my eyes out when she died. Could the scene have been better done?  Yes.  Could her character have been fleshed out more?  Yes.  Again, there was only so much time to work with and I thought the writers did well considering the time they had.  I forgive the writers for these small issues.

There were some small changes that I thought were kind of silly to make.  The main one goes back to fleshing out the relationship between Peeta and Katniss.  Peeta’s love for her started when they were kids and Peeta burns the bread, is hit for it and then instructed to throw the bread to the pigs.  The flashback to this scene unfolds differently than the novel, thus taking away the emotionality that existed then and now between Katniss and Peeta.  Katniss doesn’t come off  as the starving kid from District 12. She’s older and Peeta tosses the bread to her like she’s a pig.  How hard would it have been to show the scene the way it really happened?  It would have added so much more depth and held true to the book.

The other thing was that I didn’t leave the film feeling devastated.  The book left me devastated.  These are kids that are dying for the amusement of the government and citizens of Panem.  For me, I didn’t think the film gave that horror, that sadness to me, that 22 other children died.  I think it was because I read the books first. I knew what was coming and I was trying to get a film to make me feel what I read.  I should know better.  After talking to some folks afterward who hadn’t read the books, their take was much different than mine.  They said they felt completely devastated, angry and disturbed by the message of the film.  YES!  That’s exactly what Suzanne Collins wanted us to feel when we read the novel.  If that message came across to movie-goers, then Gary Ross and this cinema team did an excellent job!

As a viewer, taking in the comment from those who hadn’t read the books, this movie gets an A – A+.  For someone who has read the books (I’m sorry, I can’t help but compare), I give the film a B+ to an A-, primarily for the lack of development of the relationship between Peeta, Katniss and Gale.  It was just too important to hop over it like they did.  Will I see it again? Probably not in theaters (because tickets are so expensive), but it is on my DVD list of ‘must buy’ when it’s released.

Conclusion:  Amazing film. Well worth every cent of the cost of admission.  Fans of the books will not be disappointed.  Check it out.  You’ll be glad you did.

Heading out to the Hunger Games

Will be taking off in a few for dinner and a movie.  Will check back in tomorrow with my full review.

Who else is indulging in “the games’ tonight?

Hunger Games Trailers

The Hunger Games red carpet premier is tonight.  I wish I was there.  I have not been this stoked about a movie’s release since The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series‘s.  Sadly, I have to wait with the rest of the world until March 23 to see this awesome story come to life on the big screen.  For those of you who haven’t seen the trailers or have seen them but can’t get enough (like me), here they are.  Enjoy.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Paperclip Award

Thanks to the amazing Victoria who got this award from ElvishJesusFreak who  got it from its creator, teenagejesusfreak, I have been given the Paperclip Award.  From TeenageJesusFreak’s blog, “this award shall be presented to wonderful and amazing bloggers who inspire… well, whoever awards it to them.”

 Isn’t it pretty?

The award comes with some questions so, here goes:

1.When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian.

2. What is your ultimate favorite place to be?

Anywhere peaceful and tranquil where I can hear birds, and the rush of the ocean or the babbling of a brook.  Mountains or sea, it doesn’t matter.  I love both.  I also need to be with my family, friends and my little four-footed critters to make my world complete.

3. Name one famous person who inspires you. (Just one!!!)

J.K. Rowling (love her rags to riches story), and Gabrielle Giffords.  What an amazing story of heartbreak, perseverance and triumph.  She is a miracle.

4. Tea or Coffee?

I like both.  Coffee (Godiva French Vanilla and Chocolate Truffle = heaven on earth) definitely in the morning, Green tea during the day and Chamomile at night.

5. If you could be any other person for 48 hours, who would you be?

Does it have to be a person?  If I had a choice, I’d really want to be my spoiled-rotten kitty, Oliver, for the day.  He’s got the life.

6. What is your earliest memory?

Going to a polo match in SC at the age of 4.

7. If you could ask anyone in the world, living or dead, anything, who would you ask, and what would you ask them?

Bill Gates.  Will you adopt me please?  🙂

on a serious note:

Elvis Presley:  If you loved Jesus and God so much and you truly believed God was the reason for your talent and success, why in His name did you throw it all away and hand your life over to drugs?  Such a waste.

8. What is the scariest thing you have ever done?

Flying down a hill in a 1976 Ford Maverick doing 110 mph!  I was not the driver and I was so PO’d  after the jerk I was with peeled me from the floorboard!

9. What is your favorite book?

Great Expectations with the Hunger Games series and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix coming in right behind.

10. Briefly explain one of the weirdest dreams you have ever had.

I was on a ferris wheel on the beach and all of a sudden it started going really really fast and the cars flew off into the ocean.  They were the seats that were like cages.  Anyway, the car I was in sank, and then something came up beneath me and pushed me to the surface.  I bobbed there for the longest time, watching the lights of the fair.  I could still hear the music, the people laughing.  No one seemed to care that the ferris wheel seats were gone. That’s when I woke up. Weird.

11. What one song best describes you? (Feel free to post a link to a Youtube vid)

I can’t decide.  It’s a toss up between 2


 (with the ‘one’ I let go being doubt and negativity)

12. Pen or pencil?

Depends on my mood.  Usually pen.

13. Is 13 an unlucky number or not?

I don’t like it.  it’s odd.  🙂

Now to give the award away.  I think I’ll give it to some folks I haven’t awarded to before.

Shiloh’s Secret



L.A. Freeland