The Hunger Games of the CBA: My Favorite Reads of 2011

I wanted to read more this year. I wanted to read every book on my TBR (to be read) list, but I just didn’t have time.

So I’ll add that to my New Year’s resolutions–make time to read. I’ll put it in between “exercise more” and “hire a nanny.”

Anyway, with what little time I could devote to my favorite pass-time, I hit the jackpot with some great reads this past year. I usually try to keep track of them under my “Recent Reads” page. 

And I did have some favorites, so I thought I’d highlight them.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

 The Hunger Games

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

So, I was a little behind the times in finally getting around to reading this series, but I’m glad I waited because I loved it, and now we’re even closer to the movie (for the first book–The Hunger Games) being released in March!

**Yes, I’m excited!!**

Here are my thoughts on The Hunger Games:

Although they are categorized YA, I wouldn’t let my young teen read them. The violence is pretty gory and the themes are very adult, and pretty much the only thing setting them in the YA category is the fact that the main characters are all teens.

I don’t usually enjoy any sort of sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic stories, but these gripped me and drew me in. Yes, they are set in the future, so you have to make exceptions for the possibilities of what technology and science might allow someday.

And yes, Ms. Collins, I totally got your anti-war propaganda, but the story was so compelling and action-packed that I could ignore it and just enjoy the characters you created.

When I say action packed, I mean it. These books are serious page-turners.

I will say that I was devastated horrified annoyed angry very disappointed with the ending of the series. I could go into a lot more detail, but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

I enjoyed these books so much that after I finished them, I was in a serious funk for a few days because of that ending. Even now, I don’t want to think about it. The writer in me wants to re-write that ending, but I don’t do fan fiction. I’ll just settle for hoping that the change it somewhat in the movies.

Someone once asked, can books like The Hunger Games be written for the CBA (Christian) market?

Well, I argue that they already have.

And so, I introduce you to

The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren
Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent

While most American teens would kill for an Italian vacation, the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. And they’re not happy to be back. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds…until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century. Gabi emerges in the middle of a dream–or nightmare?–with hot Italian knights in a fierce battle. And so begins her quest to return home…while wondering if she wants to at all.

–Are those covers not absolutely gorge??

Of all the books I read this past year, this series was my favorite. An there’s a 4th book coming!! (yay!! *does cartwheel*) Again, it falls into the YA category (CBA market), but as a grown woman with children, I could still get into the story and enjoy every single moment of it.

The one thing I most wanted from the Hunger Games series was for Katniss to consider or acknowledge a higher power, even just once, during the many ordeals she faced. If I put myself in her shoes, I would have been doing an awful lot of praying.

And yet what was lacking for me in the Hunger Games was done with perfection in the River of Time series. Gabi, our heroine, has an understanding of a power greater than herself. It’s nothing overwhelming or would be off-putting to a non-Christian, I think. But the subtleties are there, done with ease and the lightest touches of that desire every human has to understand the greater meaning of it all.

These books are serious page turners with non-stop action. Being a history person myself, I loved the setting of medieval Italy, even if I had to allow for the fantasy of time-travel. It was all done so well that I could totally believe Etruscan tombs with “magical” properties.

Yet, because they were historical, I found them much more realistic than The Hunger Games, to include the violence, which was not only historically accurate, but necessary. 

Did I mention romance? Again, done with perfection. Lisa Bergren includes just enough steam to get the blood boiling without going overboard. I don’t do “sweet” romance, so what I love about these books is that the romantic encounters are realistic without being inappropriate. Bravo. I could actually believe that the characters were passionate about each other. And I’m not gonna lie– there were a few times when all I could think was, “Wowza.”

Oh, and did I mention that the books also made me laugh? Lisa’s characters are infused with wit and charm.

So, why do I say that these books are the Hunger Games of the CBA? 

Because they push the envelope.

Although the River of Time books are very different from The Hunger Games, both are full of intensity, deal with the idea of violence for survival among teens, and require you to step outside your view of reality for their settings and events.

I enjoyed both, but the River of Time series definitely gets my vote for my favorite read of the year. I hope you’ll check them out and recommend them to those who like to read romance, historical, fantasy, or YA. There’s a little something here for everyone.

Thanks, Lisa, for entertaining me in 2011! Can’t wait to read what you’ve got in store next! Check out her website at here.

Share with me: What was your favorite read of 2011?


Filed under Books, Cool Stuff I Recommend

6 responses to “The Hunger Games of the CBA: My Favorite Reads of 2011

  1. Wowza, Jen. That's one seriously heady comparison! Thank you so much for fully strapping on your She-Wolf battle gear this year with me, and for telling your readers about my books. I appreciate you!

  2. Thanks for the tip! Saw a trailer for the Hunger Games and wasn't really sure about it. Good to know the ending disappoints.I'll definitely put the River of Time series on my TBR list!

  3. I LOVED the first Hunger Games but I've heard way too much on how disappointing the end of the series is to read the rest. I'll just rest happy knowing Katniss won in the first book.I'm going to look for the Bergren books. They look awesome!

  4. I'll have to look into these. They aren't my normal genre, but they look great. I loved Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evan (a nonfiction). It's one of those books that have stuck with me.

  5. Thanks for introducing me to these books, Jen. This isn't usually my genre, but they look interesting! Happy New Year!Melanie

  6. I still need to check out that Series of Time series. It's on my list.

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