Monday, December 26, 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks - #11

It's getting super close to the end of the year and I need to bust out a few more books to make my goal. After I finish The Girl Who Played with Fire, I will have 4 books remaining...and 4 days to finish them. I continue to drive myself crazy. But I do have some books on tap to finish out the year. Next will be The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to finish out the Steig Larsson trilogy. After that it's the two books I've won from Goodreads, Aftertaste and The Good American. I haven't decided on my last book of the year yet. I guess we'll see.

But for now...let's add some more books to the brackets!

This week's challengers are :

1. Mercy by Jodi Picoult

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

5. The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

This is the first time this year that multiple books from a series have been pitted against each other in the same round. It's slightly unfair, but what are you going to do? This is partially why I have revamped the system for 2012...nope...not telling you yet...

1. Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Finished : November 3rd.          Rating : 3 out of 5 stars.          Award : Jodi Picoult Overload

Cameron McDonald is the police chief of a small town. On an otherwise quiet day, the town is rocked when Jamie McDonald, a distant cousin to Cameron, shows up in the middle of the street with his dead wife in the truck announcing that he was the one who killed her.

Jamie contends that it was a mercy killing of his wife, who was terminally ill with cancer and not expected to live much longer. The town is torn in two by the case that ensues. One of Jamie's closest defenders is Cameron's wife, Allie, who owns a local floral shop. She is envious of the type of love that seems to have existed between Jamie and his wife. She is further burdened by the feeling that her own marriage is growing more distant.

Amidst all of this, a stranger arrives in town. Mia is stunningly beautiful and soon becomes an asset at Allie's shop. The connection between Mia and Cameron threatens to destroy several lives.

Despite the rating, I really did enjoy this book. The writing was superb and Picoult does manage to balance out each side of the story.  In a book like this I find that I do have to judge based on how much the plot moves me emotionally - for good or for bad. Unfortunately, some of the ways the plot let made me feel rather conflicted and uncomfortable, leading me to give a rating lower than it could have potentially achieved. If there were half scores, I would give it a 3.5.

I had quite powerful opinions that formed throughout the development of the story. The case of assisted suicide is presented quite well. Even though I found myself often torn about Maggie's death, I could understand the pain. I could never put myself in the position of either Jamie or Maggie, but I could see how such a tragic illness could tear two people apart.

I did find it slightly distracting that the book began to sway more heavily towards the relationship between Cam and Mia. I think that this was the primary reason behind the low rating. I felt that the focus left the Jamie story line too much and I was absolutely disgusted by Cam. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. I found it highly upsetting.

I would've changed a few things about the story to make it more palatable, but she does keep it realistic. Though I may not have liked the way things turned out, they certainly could've occurred this way in real life. I just felt disappointed in the development of Allie's character. I found her so charismatic and loving at the beginning. I hated to see her become more and more of a doormat as things progressed.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Finished : November 8th.          Rating : 5 out of 5 stars.          Award : Book I Should've Read Sooner

The world has changed as the result of a revolution and North America has become Panem, a land divided into thirteen districts, though only twelve remain. Each year, as a reminder to the residents of the damage that can be done by revolution, each district must send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. Only one of the twenty-four challengers will come out alive.

To save her younger sister, Katniss Everdeen volunteers as the female representative for her district. She is soon whisked away to the capital to prepare and take part in the games.

I LOVED this book. I didn't want to put it down. It was a fast and easy read - one that I think everyone in my family would enjoy. I was somewhat frustrated by the ending, but considering that I was able to jump directly into the sequel, I did just fine. If I had read this prior to the release of the second book, I think I would've been rather upset. It definitely leaves you wanting more.

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Finished : November 10th.          Rating : 5 out of 5 stars.          Award : Most Anticipated Sequel

President Snow is not pleased by the outcome of last year's games, nor the rebellion that seems to be brewing as a result. In an attempt to teach the populus a lesson, he changes the rules of the Hunger Games and it is decided that two prior champions from each district will compete rather than bringing in new pledges from each district. might as well reread my review for The Hunger Games, because this is going to be pretty much the same. I LOVED this book. I could not stop reading and I actually got made because I had to put it down in order to get enough sleep for work the next day. Yet, once again, the ending left me with a cliffhanger and I was really glad that I had the third book ready to roll.

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Finished : November 11th.          Rating : 4 out of 5 stars.         Award : Slightly Disappointing Series Ending

The final book of the Hunger Games trilogy is full of rebellion and war. President Snow has made it his personal vendetta to destroy Katniss Everdeen and everything she stands for in order to make a final attempt to regain power over Panem.

It's hard to give a true review of the sequels in a trilogy without revealing too much of what has happened in the prior books, so I hope that you will forgive me for being vague.

I honestly would've given this book 4.5 stars. Compared to the other two books in the trilogy, I just didn't enjoy this one as much. Don't get me wrong, I still really liked this one, but the action just didn't seem the same. I also got confused in a few spots and had to go reread - absolutely not a problem with the first two. The flow just wasn't the same.

This was still a great book and I read it pretty quickly, wanting to see where the story would go. To be honest, the ending didn't pack the punch I was planning on and I felt a little let down. It just seemed to peter off into nothingness.

5. The Secret Life of CeeCee Honeycutt by Diane Chamberlain

Finished : November 13th.          Rating : 3 out of 5 stars.         Award : Most Surprising Plot

CeeCee Wilkes is young and naive. She is conned into aiding her boyfriend Tim and his brother in the kidnapping of the Governor's wife, Genevieve. She is unaware that she is being used as a pawn.

When Genevieve's remains are found twenty years later, the child she was carrying missing, CeeCee's life turns upside down. She was there and she knows what happened. How much should she do?

It's difficult to review this book without giving away too much of the story. Though it wasn't what I was expecting, I found myself enjoying this book. There were a few uncomfortable moments and times when I would have written things differently, but the plot weaves a good sense of conflict among the characters. I formed very strong feelings about the main characters - their dynamics lent themselves to frustration.

I had a hard time deciding on my rating for this book. Once again, I am wishing that there were half stars. I would actually place this at 3.5. I did enjoy reading it. It just didn't suck me in as much as it had the potential to do.'s pretty clear which three are moving on, but here's the official decision:

The winner of this round is ;

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Runners up and taking the wild card slots are :

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Way to sweep the field, right?!

So here's the updated bracket...getting ever so much closer to being full...

Now it's back to the reading unless I want there to be some default bracket winners...


  1. I totally agree with you re: Mockingjay. It's a very good book, but pales compared to the others. Yay, I was rooting for the Hunger Games!

  2. Good to know that so far you're on my side...even though you did accuse me of rigging the system with my Anthony Bourdain nomination and Tina Fey snub. I guess I'll forgive you. We'll see what you think of the final bracketing!


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