Mockingjay part 1The third motion picture in the Hunger Games franchise will hit the library in March, but you can reserve your copy today. Watch Katniss as she takes on the Capital in this action packed dystopia phenom.

Mockingjay Part 1 was  released into theaters November of last year and has 333 million dollars in sales in the United States! Due to the high demand of this title, the Davenport library has ordered 30 copies on DVD and will order 3 additional copies on Blu Ray when they become available. The quickest way to get a copy of this title in your hands is to place a hold in the online catalog as soon as possible. Once you make a hold, your name will be added to the list of holds. A copy of this title will be sent to the Rivershare library location of your choice when it is your turn.

Don’t want to wait your turn? Well you are in luck! When the library can anticipate a high demand for a title, we set aside what are called BROWSE copies. These are copies of a title that live only on the New shelves. They cannot be reserved. Every time you visit the library check out the New Books and New Movies shelving to see what BROWSE items are on the shelf. They will have a green tag that says BROWSE. You might just get lucky and find that Mockingjay Part 1 is sitting on the shelf.

Also available at all three Davenport libraries are the The Hunger Games and Catching Firethe first and second movies in the franchise.

The Verdict: Mockingjay will not disappoint! Three yeas ago I was one of the many Katniss crazed readers that devoured all three Hunger Games books in the weeks leading up to the first movie release, and I have patiently waited year after year as each new movie slowly hits the big screen. Mockingjay was great! The movie follows the book well but includes insight to things happening in other districts that aren’t as clear to visualize while reading the first person perspective of Katniss in the books.

Award Watch: Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) is nominated for best actress in an action movie by Broadcast Film Critics Association. For a list of other awards and nominations visit IMDb Mockingjay.

Fun Fact: Jennifer Lawrence also plays the mutant Mystique in X-Men First Class and X-Men Days of Futures Past and won an Oscar for Best Performance by a Female Actress for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.

This year there have been a lot of fantastic books adapted to the big screen: Twelve Years a Slave, Catching Fire (The Hunger Games trilogy), The Great Gatsby, Warm Bodies, Admission, World War Z and The Book Thief  — just to name a few!  Right before an adapted movie comes out, many scramble to read the book first. In that rush it becomes difficult to find a copy that isn’t checked out.  To prepare for the new year and start planning your reading, here are some of the books that you may want to read before you watch (who doesn’t want to get to yell, “The book was better!” in a crowded theater?)

Following successful film adaptations of Twilight and The Hunger Games series, movie studios are continuing to bank on YA dystopian sci-fi and paranormal romance series. With planned releases of  Divergent by Veronica Roth, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, The Giver by Lois Lowry (finally!),  and The Maze Runner by James Dashner (the first part of the third book in The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay is also due to be released in November) fans of speculative teen fiction have plenty to read in preparation.

Realistic fiction and a stand alone, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is another popular YA book set to debut next year (if you want updates, John Green has been pretty open about the process on twitter), and will star Shailene Woodley  (who is also staring in Divergent).

Not all of the books adapted for the big screen next year will be targeted at young adults. In August, Helen Mirren is set to star in what has been described in the New York Times as Slumdog Millionaire meets Ratatouille, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais.  Gillian Flynn’s massively popular Gone Girl  is due for an October release, starring Ben Affleck and directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club).  And if you really want to get a head start, the release of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James is planned for February of 2015.

boneseasonI read a lot about The Bone Season before I started reading the book, which means that I read a lot about the book’s author, Samantha Shannon.  A twenty-one year old recent graduate from Oxford University, Shannon has been marketed as a literary wunderkind. Every interview and review mentions her age or her status as a “young writer”.  As a first-time published author, that is to be expected (here I am doing the same), and I would be lying if I didn’t say that influenced my decision to pick it up.

But this novel stands on its own (well, at least until the next six books in the series are released.)  Shannon has created a fascinating near-future paranormal fantasy novel that includes elements of revisionist history and dystopian science fiction.  Set in Scion controlled London in 2059, this fast-paced novel introduces readers to Paige Mahoney, a member of the clairvoyant criminal underworld.  Scion was formed to find and eliminate clairvoyants like Paige, so being a member of Jaxon Hall’s Seven Dials based gang keeps her a protected and fed member of a family.  But when Paige commits a crime that leads to her arrest and capture, she finds herself in Sheol I, a penal colony for voyants run by Rephaim, a race of non-human clairvoyants.  While in Sheol I, Paige is assigned to the Warden for training and care and she has to decide if she can trust him, as she tries to find a way to save herself and the other humans imprisoned for life in Sheol I.

Shannon has been called the next J.K. Rowling (pressure anyone?) and The Bone Season has been compared to the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games series.  I understand why, and I would recommend that fans of both series check out The Bone Season.  But I think that while there are elements of each in this book (magical powers, dystopian future, strong female protagonist), Shannon has created something different.  She has said that she was influenced by Margaret Atwood, and this is apparent in her intelligent, literary take on urban fantasy.  This might be my favorite read this year (but there are two more months to go, so don’t hold me to that.)

Shades of Grey by Jasper FfordeIf you could only see one color, which one would you choose? Blue, so you could see the sky? Green, so you could see the fields? Purple, so you could see the bloom of a delicate orchid? Red, so you could see a person blush at the sound of your voice? Well, that is the world you would be born into if you lived in Jasper Fforde’s latest novel, Shades of Grey, only with one big difference: you wouldn’t get to choose what color you can see. Nope, that would all depend on your parents.

In Shades of Grey, Fforde creates a rather bright & colorful dystopian society where spoons are sold on a black market, doctors use color swatches for healing, and genetics determine one’s color vision which in turn determines a citizen’s place in society. Citizens are expected to marry within their colors, be obedient to the colors higher in the Spectrum and never ever go out after dark. Eddie Russett can see, and thus is, Red, and has always been satisfied with his lower place in the Spectrum. However, soon he finds himself in love with Jane Grey, a rebellious Grey at the lowest point in the Spectrum, who causes him to question everything he sees and doesn’t see. This novel is completely different from Fforde’s quirky meta-literary universes in his Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series, but it still contains his same nonsensical and snarky humor while addressing bigger issues of individualism, government/corporate power, and spoon shortages.

On a tangent: I experienced Shades of Grey in the audiobook format (although I may reread it in the text format–I wonder if there was any visual wordplay that I missed) and I tend to listen to listen to audiobooks while I wash the dishes, so I created a very, very complex formula to determine how much I enjoy listening to a particular book:

[(# of times I wash dishes) + 2(# of times I wash dishes despite it being my husband’s turn) – (# of times I listen to a Shakira playlist instead of audiobook)] / (# of weeks I listen to an audiobook) = x

if x < 1 then I probably never finished the book.

if x = 1 then the book was solidly good.

if x >1 then I enjoyed the book so much that I changed my dish-washing habits just to listen to it more often.

The audiobook for Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde was about a 2.25, thus I REALLY ENJOYED this book!

The real challenge for this blog post is how to go about describing the plot of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro without spoiling the plot twist.  Because really, I can’t even say what the book is about without spoiling a surprising fact that you’ll discover about a quarter of the way into it.  So  I’ll do this as cryptically as possible.

The story is being told by Kathy, who is now in her 30s and is reflecting on her childhood at an English boarding school called Hailsham.  The students, completely isolated from the outside world, are all….special.  All I will say is that they have a unique origin and purpose, and they are constantly told that their well-being is very important.  After reconnecting with her two best friends  from Hailsham, Ruth and Tommy, Kathy looks back on her time at the school and how it prepared her (and didn’t prepare her) for what was to come in her future.

I know, that’s very cryptic.  I will say that it’s a dystopian novel with some sci-fi elements, but don’t let that turn you off if you’re not a sci-fi fan.  It’s really an interesting and thought-provoking story about friendship and what it means to grow up knowing your future is set in a certain way.  Kazuo Ishiguro writes in a very conversational tone, which I enjoyed because I felt as though I was having a conversation with Kathy, personally hearing all her old tales from Hailsham.  It is particularly a good book for a book club, because it opens up a lot of discussion possibilities on a controversial subject matter.