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Reviews: March 2012

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>> MOVIES
“The Hunger Games”

(Lionsgate)

Wide Release: March 23
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
Trailer: www.thehungergamesmovie.com
Genre: sci-fi, action/adventure
Rated: Not Yet Rate

“The Hunger Games” is the first film to be adapted from author Suzanne Collins’ bestselling young adult trilogy of the same name. In the post-apocalyptic world of “The Hunger Games,” the nation of Panem stands where the countries of North America once existed. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in the poorest area of the country, known as District 12 — what was once the Appalachian region of the United States. With her father long dead from a coalmine cave-in, Katniss has spent years in the woods hunting game illegally by bow-and-arrow to feed her mother and younger sister, Prim. Life in District 12 is bleak, but Katniss has learned how to fend for herself.

Katniss’ home is the last of the 12 districts that comprise Panem. Each district is dedicated to supplying a different natural resource to the Capitol, a formidable metropolis whose military presence in the outlying lands and annual Hunger Games forces the districts’ continued submission through fear. The Hunger Games are a compulsory event in which each district, as reparation for its part in a long-past uprising against the Capitol, must hold a lottery to choose one girl and one boy from the 12–18 age group. Known as “tributes,” those selected must enter a custom-made arena and compete against tributes from the other 11 districts — and against each other — in a televised battle to the death. Only one tribute can walk out of the arena a champion, taking home the prize of food for his or her home district for a year.

When her 12-year-old sister is selected as the female tribute for District 12, Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. Along with District 12’s male tribute, Peeta Mellark — a boy who long ago saved Katniss’ life by feeding her when she was starving and who harbors a secret love for her still — Katniss must prepare to fight for survival like never before, and she’ll need more than a bow and arrow to stay alive in the arena as she contends with bloodthirsty tributes who have spent their entire lives training for battle. But as she goes deeper into the arena and comes closer to winning her life back, Katniss will find that her choices don’t center solely on her survival; they will also challenge her humanity.

Let the Games begin!

REVIEWED BY AMANDA STAFFORD

Watch “The Hunger Games” trailer:

> MUSIC
These Times”
Artist: SafetySuit

Four years ago, SafetySuit made a lasting mark on the charts with their pop-alternative debut “Life Left to Go.” Squashing any possible doubts of the band’s validity, their second release, “These Times,” packs an even stronger punch.

The first single “Get Around This” gives a hint of the quality to come. The track is a poignantly perfect soft-rock song that challenges the style range of the group. The apparent growth of SafetySuit continues in the reflective title track and “Believe,” a cut sure to inspire the soul. Each song delightfully blends Doug Brown’s soaring vocals with the melodic guitars, a combination that creates the band’s bone-tingling sound.

The listening experience takes another turn with the club-like “Let Go,” a cut strong enough to make it on the dance floor. The pinnacle of “These Times” lies with “Never Stop,” confirming it is possible to make a hard-rock love song.

SafetySuit is not a typical rock band, a concept proven in full force on their newest album, which is tinged in life, love and tenderness, all served over a steady diet of pop-rock. There is hardly a blemish on the record, except to say that it’s easy to get lost in the consistent quality. With memorable hooks, tender emotion and undeniable energy, “These Times” is an album sure to create smiles and warm the heart.

REVIEWED BY DAVE HICKMAN

Listen to “Never Stop” by SafetySuit:

BOOKS
Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon
By Dr. James Cole
(
St. Martin’s Press, 2011)

Most people live their entire life without ever needing the skill and knowledge of a trauma surgeon. For those who do, these doctors who spend their careers in emergency departments, operating rooms and on the battlefield can sometimes resemble superheroes in green scrubs. In Trauma: My Life as an Emergency Surgeon, Dr. James Cole reminds readers of the humanity of these elite doctors, taking readers into the exciting, albeit exhausting, world of the emergency physician.

If his guided tour of the nation’s hospitals was not enough, Cole also candidly describes his training as a member of the Marine’s United States Special Operations Command and the Navy Reserve SEAL team. The subsequent accounts of his time spent on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan give readers insight into the U.S. military and the conditions under which its members serve.

While Trauma’s beginning reads as if written by one used to dealing with the matter of fact, and therefore a little dry and stilted, Cole soon begins introducing readers to a few of the shooting, stabbing, attempted suicide, accident and other victims he has met in his careers, and both the pace and intrigue increase. The operations and procedures the author and his fellow surgeons perform are complex, and in his role as author, Cole does not talk down to the reader, yet still manages to make what he describes accessible to the average layperson. By far the most compelling, even sobering, section of the book is Cole’s writings on the life of young resident doctors and the exhausting pressure they endure for years.

Trauma is a bona fide page-turner, best avoided only by the truly squeamish.

REVIEWED BY SHARI LONG

Watch this video to learn more about Dr. Cole:

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