Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Hunger Games "Burning Question"

Thanks to Shelf Elf

If you go here, you have an opportunity to submit one question that you would like to ask Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games. Leading up to the release of Catching Fire in September, Suzanne Collins will answer the three top questions.

Question submission ends on August 17th.

**edited to add:

Steph over at Reviewer X is hosting a contest to win a copy of Catching Fire! More details here.

Books I've Been Reading

I did one of these back in January, and since I've been reading so many terrific books lately, I decided to do another one.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is a fantastical retelling of the fairytale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." In the story, a handsome soldier by the name of Galen finds a job in the palace gardens as he attempts to discover the curse put on the twelve princesses. Filled with unique magic, evil villains, and a touch of romance, this book will leave you begging for more.

In Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Lia and Cassie were best friends, both competing to become the skinniest girl ever. When Cassie dies, Lia is haunted by hallucinations and vivid, ghostly images of her best friend. Lia's health takes a steep decline as she strives to lose weight, going from around a hundred pounds to the high eighties in an attempt to "get rid of all the fat." This book was frustrating and disturbing, but painfully honest and wrapped up neatly at the end.

Mia is a talented musician. When she plays the cello, she feels like she is transported to another world. She sees the cello as a human, begging to be played. But when a disastrous car accident lands her in the hospital with fatal injuries, Mia's whole life changes. The question is no longer what she wants to do with her music, but whether or not she wants to continue living. If I Stay by Gayle Forman was a quick, touching story about realizing what family, friendship, life, and death mean. The story was a mix of past memoirs and current thoughts, which just made the book more interesting. This is something to definitely check out!

Jamie Carcaterra is fat. And she's not ashamed of it! Disgusted by the way America discriminates against "fat people," Jamie goes on a quest to show the truth to everyone. She starts a column in her school newspaper, Fat Girl Manifesto, in which she rants about her unfair life. At the same time, she is dealing with a loved one's bariatric surgery, afraid that he might die of something or other. Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught was an intriguing book, and I definitely learned a lot from it, but reading it made me feel uncomfortable. I'm not sure if it was the content or Jamie's sassy attitude, but either way, I wouldn't completely recommend this book unless you are prepared to read something intense.

Monday, May 25, 2009


by Beth Kephart

Elisa has always been the girl in the shadows, the "undercover" agent who knows about everyone and everything and never breathes a word. She spends her time among nature, ice-skating, discovering new words, and forming strings of beautiful sentences. But when her family seems to be falling apart and a snobby girl at school threatens to ruin her dreams, Elisa is forced to step into the spotlight and quite simply, "save the day."

Undercover is one of the freshest and most invigorating books I've read in a while. I took a longer time reading this than I do most books, wanting to absorb each word and savor the sound of them put together. The writing was clear and beautiful, and the poems scattered among the chapters were thoughtful and original. Some lines made me gasp with their honest simplicity:

You know how a song is time,
and how you turn and you turn on the blades of time,
and you close your eyes
and maybe you leap
and you are the girl with the wild hair
and the big parka
on the hard and complicated ice.

The only small thing that nagged at me at the end was the ending. It was left open for interpretation, which I suppose was to make the reader create their own ending, but I wished it wasn't so abrupt. I wanted to know what happened; I wanted to know if Elisa made it through all her troubles, managed to bring her family together, and overcame all her problems at school.

But overall, a terrific book. It's definitely on my favorites list for "Books read in May."

Friday, May 22, 2009


the melancholy whisper of sparrows’ wings
distracts me from
sunshine on bare feet and
leaning over wooden decks

your hair is waving like flags on a windy afternoon
at the carnival, red and white popcorn stands
decked out in pink cotton candy and rainbow lollipops
hearing “can you make it purple?” and “I want that!”

the sky is dark with the flight of a thousand birds

you remember the icy winter nights in city penthouses
the black of a thunderstorm in the middle of nowhere
the forbidding candles in the window of a haunted house

while I am stuck in
summer mornings at the pool
picnic evenings in fields of sherbet
watching the opening and closing of butterflies’ wings
classy black splendor with splashes of amber

I am submerged in rusty oranges,
finding no way to get back to the blue.

© Priya Ganesan, May 2009

(Poetry Friday roundup here.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Sound of Music in a Train Station

Just something I saw at school today and wanted to share with all of you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shakespeare, anyone?

Liv over at Liv's Book Reviews is hosting a Shakespeare challenge for the summer. The goal is to read three Shakespeare plays from June 1st to August 31st, and then post a little something about each play. And just to spice it up, Lisa Mantchev is sponsoring the challenge! By participating, you are automatically entered into some drawings to win "cool stuff."

I decided to join, and I think it'll be fun. I've read summarized versions of Romeo and Juliet, and I read Julius Caesar this year in English. But I've hardly read any "real Shakespeare," and I'm dying to read the actual Romeo in Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and much more. I'm going to encourage all of you to join too. It's only three plays. You know you want to do it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Great Cookie Experiment

For the first time ever, my sister and I baked cookies. Sugar cookies. With vanilla frosting and everything. We were very excited.

Here are some pictures of our lovely creations:

And finally, our homemade frosting:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family.

(borrowed from the front flap)

I've seen so many fabulous reviews for this book, and obviously, if it won the Newbery Medal, it must be a terrific book. I agree that the story was unique and original, the ideas were creative, and the writing was absolutely flawless. The descriptions were elaborate and Gaiman's sentences were full of imagery. The characters were definitely well thought-out, especially the dead ones.

Yet for me, there was something that didn't click. Yes, I thought it was a great book, but I don't think it's on my favorites list. I felt that there was something lacking in the book- perhaps there were too many undead characters, or the story was just too perfect. I think the main reason why I didn't completely enjoy it was because until the end of the book, when all the action came in, I wasn't entertained by the story. Although Bod had some close scrapes and many adventurous moments, most of them seemed artificial and bland. I wasn't wholly captivated by the story until the climax, when I could actually feel all the emotions and adrenaline going through Bod.

Sooo...that was basically my overall impression of The Graveyard Book. What did everyone else think of it?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

From Imagine Angels

by Guillaume Apollinaire

I finally got a picture of the poem up! It's translated from French, I believe, and if you read it in a circle starting at the top, it's really cool. (Or, as Q pointed out, you can read it from its rightful beginning at the bottom left.)

I hope you can read it. :-/ If you can't, then drop me a note in the comments and I'll type it out for everyone.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Last Olympian and other thoughts

I think I have bloggers' block, as Summermoon mentions in her "not very coherent book review." My mind just goes blank when it comes to blogging. Any advice?

On a completely different subject, I finished The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan today and it was absolutely mind-blowing. It somehow felt kind of different from the other books, sort of lacking in something, but I think that was mostly due to the fact that the story was practically all battle scenes.

Several characters made heroic comebacks or had surprising personality changers, which just added to the excitement building throughout the story. A lot of minor characters also came into light in this book, which was great since we got to learn more about them. The ending was satisfying and wrapped up the whole series nicely, leaving no questions unanswered.

If you've read the other four in the series, you HAVE TO GO PICK UP THIS BOOK NOW. Seriously. It is so epic.


Finally, my sister got an...interesting email yesterday. It was from a mother who had heard of her book, and in one part of the letter she says that she was originally considering hiring me to teach her daughter piano. I guess I should be honored, but it's not like I'm a fabulous player or anything. I'm just thirteen.
It was nice to read, though. :-)

Monday, May 04, 2009


It is rainy and windy and cold outside. (Which is weird, because it was so sunny and warm yesterday and now it's hailing.) And that means that it's time for a nice, rambly post.

First of all, I'd like to post up the link to the winning Gallagher Girl widgets here, just because I thought they was so cool. They're both similar, but the second one has a Harry Potterish feel with the numbers and everything, and the word "countdown" in the block letters was great too.

Second of all, The Last Olympian is coming out tomorrow! Woot! Some of my friends were so excited today at school, it was scary. I'm not as enthusiastic as them, but I am eagerly waiting to see what happens. Although I'm sure everything's going to end up fine and dandy, since no author ends their series unhappily.

I also found an amazing poem that I really like, called "From Imagine Angels" by Guillaume Apollinaire. What's fascinating about the poem is not just the words, but the formatting. (You'll understand later.) I really wanted to post it up here, but the only place where I can find it is in A Family of Poems by Caroline Kennedy, which is a delightful collection of poems with bright, colorful illustrations. So anyways, I'll see if I can take a picture and post it up. Look for that soon.

Happy Monday!