Tuesday, January 24, 2012


It rained yesterday and I saw some pretty umbrellas. One umbrella that caught my eye was for its practicality:
The bubble clear umbrella
I have bumped regular umbrellas into branches. The bubble shape allows you to lower the umbrella for more cover without blocking your vision. Here's another clear umbrella approach for practicality:
I like the handle, but I worry about the strap around her neck.  What if you FELL?

The sight of umbrellas reminded of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, one of my favorite Fantasies, because the hero has an umbrella with a map of London Underground that he used as he walked. So as soon as I got on a computer, I searched to see if these umbrellas existed. They do. =)
London Underground map umbrella

There is also one for the Metro in Paris and a clear umbrella for the subway in New York:
New York subway map umbrella

Then I searched just clear umbrellas and saw some with designs like this one.
Fun in the rain!

My favorite is the one with fish, but three websites list it as unavailable.

Then I saw a blogger's cute umbrella that she decorated herself:
It's raining casts and dogs!
If I get a clear umbrella, I will follow this blogger's instructions. =)

I will end with one more umbrella:
Goggles Umbrella. Hahaha. Look at the top too.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Catching Fire: Likes & Dislikes

Hello. I felt guilty for most of December and so far in January, thinking I lacked a blog post for December. I did managed to write at least one blog though. December and probably November were busy for everyone--they were for me!

During that time, I finished Catching Fire (CF), the second book for The Hunger Games series. I can't say as much for that book as I did for the first one. First, I'll say what I liked, but there will be minor & major spoilers. I recommend that you have read at least up to Part 2 in Catching Fire:

  • Character Interaction: Generally, I think I liked the interaction between Katniss and other characters better in CF. Darius became one of my favorite characters. As for Peeta, he was sweet and cute in the first book, but it was too mushy for me. He shows himself to be more than a love star in CF with his reactions and speeches.
  • Revisiting District 12: I was happy to read about Katniss' hometown again. We get to learn more about characters such as Haymitch (a favorite of mine) and the district's history.
  • Revisiting Mother/Daughter Relationship: In the first book, we immediately see how numb and hardened Katniss is from having to keep her family alive not just herself. Taking on this role caused her to dislike her mother. So I am pleased to see that with all essentials covered, Katniss makes an effort to understand her mother and have a better relationship. Katniss gets along better even with the cat!
  • Twist in the Game (major spoilers!): When I first read that victors were safe for the rest of their lives, I saw a flaw for this dystopian society. The games demonstrate the authority's power over its subjects. Tributes are suppose to be examples of that power enforced, but the victors are actually examples of the districts' strength by beating the authority's obstacles and surviving. Allowing the victor such freedom and rewards in a dystopian society is illogical without a catch or at least behind-the-scenes punishment. Punishment is exactly what I expected and waited to read for Katniss and Peeta. Because the continued love story seemed to be the main punishment, I smiled from satisfaction and excitement when victors were re-entered into the games. I nodded my head to author Suzanne Collins for seeing that victors were a threat to the Capitol. I was also impressed with the game arena and that the cover of the book reflected it.

Wow. I am glad I decided to include spoilers because I had a lot to say for just those topics. I changed my blog title to the book's title and bumped off discussing other books.

Here are three problems I had with Catching Fire:
  • Who is Katniss? After surviving the game, but no longer fighting to survive in the district, Katniss does not know herself in this book. Therefore, the reader does not get to know Katniss better other than circumstances and history. Readers may still sympathize for her because she feels trapped and confused. I realized that I missed Katniss when she re-entered the game. Her attitude may not be as strong as in the first game, but her will returned. In CF, Katniss' cluelessness expands to more than love so readers may get annoyed. If you caught on more than she did, then the ending will not be a confusing turn in events.
  • Slow Burn (major spoilers!): I had expected enforced law, but the oppression felt too long for me to endure from Katniss' position and perspective. The plot starts to build once a certain character gets whipped, but then it draws on a bit. At this point, I took a break from the book because I was overwhelmed. When the new tributes were announced, I was thankful for the humor and thrill that was needed to balance the oppression, helplessness, and panic. The character Finnick contributed to this balance. He became one of my favorite characters. 
  • CF Feels Like a Bridge: The second book felt mainly transitional. Without reading Mockingjay, I can tell that CF is the bridge between the first and last books. Therefore, I do not see CF as a book itself. The direction changes numerous times, but overall the plot is about transition as well. The Capitol returns to stronger enforcements and people figure out if they are rebels or not.  The rest is confusion and fear.

Family and friends have told me that Catching Fire was the long, boring book of the series. So you have to finish the second book in order to get to Mockingjay and decide if the first or last book is your favorite.

My family warned me before I started the series that it got harsh with each book. I read Catching Fire sooner than I planned to do so; therefore, I will not jumped to Mockingjay yet. I also heard that Mocking is brutal so I am encouraged more to take a break from the series.

I am still looking forward to The Hunger Games movie and still hoping that the social commentary is kept. =)

If Catching Fire is actually your favorite of the three books, please tell me what you thought of it.