Ballads of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

How I Read It: Print/ Audibook

Dates Read: 8/15/20-8/27/20

How I Found It: Goodreads

Okay, so I was genuinely upset when I first started reading this book because I didn’t want to humanize such a monster as President Snow. But as I kept reading, it took all I could do to get through the whiny ramblings of the 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. I personally don’t think that this book was as good as the trilogy and here’s why:

We flash back to the 10th annual Hunger Games. In an effort to make the Hunger Games more of a spectacle, the Capital is making a group of seniors as the mentors. Corialanus was chosen to be the mentor for District 12’s female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy Gray was the most well-liked tribute for the year, mainly due to her ability to sing. This year is also the first year where Capitals can bet and send gifts to the tributes, two aspects of the Games that will continue for all Games to come. So Coriolanus does everything he can to get Lucy Gray in front of a spotlight in order for her to get a lot of sponsors.

Here’s the thing about Coriolanus, his family is broke. While he had standing before the war, most of their money was in District 13, which means that he is now the only male heir and the only person who can try and salvage his life into something worthy in the Capital. The mentor to the winner of the Games gets a scholarship to University, so Coriolanus is pushing for Lucy Gray to win. And at some point he claims to “fall in love” or whatever dumb bs he says, but really he is just a horny 18-year-old who has power over this girl and therefore thinks that since she is dependent on him to succeed, he has ownership of her (can you tell I don’t like him?).

While all this is going on, Coriolanus is in a special class where he gets to work alongside the Head Gamemaker (sorta). He spent a lot of time with her, learning about the Games and making suggestions along the way, and this puts him in a position where he knows too much about how the Games work, thereby giving him the power to cheat. Oh, there is a guy, Sejanus, who grew up in the Districts, but became the heir to an ammunitions dynasty after the war. He thinks the Games are stupid, especially when one of his childhood friends is reaped as a tribute. And Coriolanus ends up having to clean up Sejanus’ messes, including when he sneaks into the Games, Coriolanus finds himself dealing with a lot more than he could bargain for.

In comparison to the series, I think that this book is the worst one. I personally don’t think that we needed another Hunger Games novel, and the prequel didn’t do much for the series as a whole. And while I am being really negative, I also think that the writing for this book was incredible. I understand why she wrote this book, but I personally was not a huge fan. I would, however, love a history of the Games book, where she described each of the Games as the victor for each, I think that would be really cool. But she made Coriolanus so unlikable in the trilogy that I couldn’t even try to get into this book.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Let’s Talk… Team Peeta or Team Gale?

Heads up: this post includes spoilers. If you still haven’t read the series or watched the movies, I truly encourage you to read/watch before reading this post.

Here’s the thing about being old, I remember this question as a huge topic of conversation when I was in high school. But now that I have a blog where I can actually talk about this question without having a bunch of teenage girls telling me I’m wrong (at least for now), I am finally going to say my thoughts on this important fandom decision.

I have always said that I am Team Peeta, which I think at the ripe old age of 16 was a good place to align yourself. But I’m almost 25, and it is time that I reeducated myself and made a more informed decision. So having just reread the books, here are my new thoughts on the matter:

So let’s start in the first book. Initially, I am Team Gale. Gale is her hunting partner, he agrees to take care of her family, and throughout most of the first book, Gale is the first person Katniss is thinking of. Obviously, compared to the relationship with Peeta which is more or less fake, it is easy to jump on the Gale bandwagon. And before people come at me, every single second that Katniss was having her romantic moments with Peeta while in the cave, she continued to think “what would I need to do in order for Haymitch to send us stuff?” and that’s why she did it. That’s why she told the story of the goat, that’s why she kissed him, and that’s why we have two victors in the 74th annual Hunger Games.

When it comes to the second book, that’s when we start thinking that maybe there is a choice to be made. While we spend a lot of time thinking about Gale before the games, but there is a huge drop-off once we are in the Game with Peeta. The first moment when we all kinda think “okay, maybe this thing going on between Katniss and Peeta is real” is when Peeta hits the force field and Katniss loses her mind as Finnick saves his life. And while should more or less be up in the air, at this point, I am exclusively on Team Peeta.

The third book cements those feelings for me. With Peeta stuck in the Capital, it is no wonder that Katniss can’t get him out of her mind. But even in District 13 with Gale, she doesn’t really cling to him as much as we would expect. In fact, I think she had more romance with Finnick than she did with Gale. But once Peeta is back, the immediate reaction to seeing him is tampered by his torture from the Capital. But even when Katniss is saying that she is not interested, that she hates him, whatever, she still thinks about him all the time. By the time we reach the end of the book, Katniss is forced to make her decision. Even if Gale wasn’t the brainchild that killed Prim, I still think that Katniss would have chosen Peeta. Every second that she kept him alive, even after he tried to kill her, even after he begged for death, I am sure that she was always going to choose him.

I think if you based it off the movies, you could be Team Gale because A) Liam Hemsworth aka Thor, God of Thunder,’s brother and B) the movies don’t give you as much access into Katniss’s thoughts. But, based solely on the books, I think the ultimate winner is Peeta. I said it, I meant it.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/8/20-8/16/20

How I Found It: Word of Mouth

An oldie but a goodie, I recently picked up The Hunger Games trilogy because a prequel named The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (expect a review later this month) came out in May of this year. After finally getting my butt in gear and writing reviews again, I felt like now was the time to write my thoughts on the series, so here I am. Side note: it’s been a hot minute since I have picked up a book are read it in one day, but man, have I missed it.

The Hunger Games

In a future United States, called Panem, the Capital declares a Hunger Games, where 2 tributes from each of the 12 districts are forced to compete for the death with one victor remaining in reminder of the former rebellion made by the districts. These tributes are chosen from all the children aged 12 to 18 using a lottery-type of method. Our focus is on the tributes from District 12, where Katniss Everdeen volunteers in place of her younger sister, Prim. Forced to go compete in the games, Katniss proves to be a challenging and cunning competitor, which leads many to wonder if her relationship with fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark is just an act or if they have feelings that surpass the Games. Fighting for their lives against all the other Tributes, only person can make it out. Who is it going to be? But more importantly, what is the cost?

Catching Fire

Following the end of the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have to come to terms with their victory. Forced to go through a Victory Tour, the victors must keep up their romantic façade in an effort to curtail the growing rebellion within the districts. President Snow (leader of Panem) announces the Quarter Quell, which marks every 25 years after the rebellion, where the twist for the Games this year is that the tributes would be selected from the living victors. Forced back into their nightmares, Katniss and Peeta must compete for their lives again, but they know this time that they can’t get away with having 2 victors again. With both of them making deals to save the other’s life, they must do everything they can to keep each other alive.

Mockingjay

After being rescued and healed in District 13, Katniss has to come to terms with the new reality in front of her. District 12 has been destroyed, Peeta is a Capital prisoner, and Katniss is the face of the revolution as the Mockingjay. I’m kinda at a loss as to what more to say, but essentially we spend the book watching as Katniss has survivor guilt, the rebellion continues to barrel through, and we sit helpless as we watch how people in this position make decisions that would affect Panem history forever.

What I remember from my experience of reading this trilogy the first time (which has almost been a decade at this point), I devoured the first two books and spent a lot longer reading the last book. I didn’t have the same issue this time, but I also had a ongoing reminder of the movies, which may have affected my speed.

I really enjoyed the series as a whole, and it is one of the first series that I truly got into the fandom of. I even made my dad take me to the movies so I could see Mockingjay Part I, which if you know my father, was a big deal. I also had a year of crippling anxiety, and the movies from this series really helped ground me.

I feel like I am probably too emotionally invested to be able to give an objective review, but I would probably give this series 4.75 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t say that universally these books would be well accepted, but I think that there is a huge nostalgic factor, a large fandom, and the ability to make an enterprise out of them, which makes them ranked very high. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

These Witches Don’t Burn Series by Isabel Sterling

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/29/20-10/2/20

How I Found It: Instagram

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

As far as I know, this “series” is only two books, and will only be two books. But, if I’m wrong, I will definitely be reading any other additions to these books.

These Witches Don’t Burn

A lot happens, so bear with me on this one. Our main character is Hannah, who is an Elemental Witch in Salem, MA. She just recently ended a relationship with Veronica, who is also an Elemental. They had a really bad experience with a Blood Witch, so when things started acting weird, they immediately think that a Blood Witch is out to get them. So they fight the whole time, but suddenly extremely dangerous and scary things start happening, which puts everyone’s lives in mortal danger. Turns out, a Blood Witch isn’t the problem, but a Witch Hunter is. But who could be the Witch Hunter, and can Hannah stop them before they kill her?

This Coven Won’t Break

Going from book one directly into book two, I don’t remember the cut off point very clearly. So we spend this book dealing with the grief of losing a father, the PTSD of almost being burned to the stake, and the pure hatred Hannah feels for the people who caused all of this pain. With everything that happened, Hannah is struggling to regain control over her powers. Despite this struggle, Hannah works along with the agents of the Council to find and destroy the Witch Hunters’ plans to strip all witches of their magic.

There is a prequel to these books, but I am going to be reading that on my personal time, and not making it part of this post. Firstly, having gone through the process of losing a parent, I totally understood the pain that Hannah was experiencing, and the complete dread of thinking you will lose someone else. Secondly, can we please normalize having YA authors featuring less famous work in their books? Truly feels great to see that. Thirdly, I am so happy when I get to read works that feature non-hetero-cis relationships. There’s no better way to increase acceptability than to continually include a wide range of people into your literature.

I definitely had fun listening to this series, but there were some moments where I just wanted to facepalm. At the end of the day, I think I would rank this series pretty high, so I am going to give this series 4.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy by Jenny Han

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/22/19-8/24/19

If you are wondering where you have heard that author from, you probably have heard of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the wildly popular Netflix movie franchise and/or the wildly popular trilogy. I read the TATBILB (okay, that was a lot harder to make than necessary) trilogy around the time that I saw the movie, and it was okay. I loved the first book, but it quickly fizzled out for me. I bought this box set around the time I finished the first book for (please don’t make me type that all out again), so I figure it’s time to get a crack at it. Plus, the summer (for all my friends still in school), just ended, so let’s relive that feeling a little bit!

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

On Cousins Beach, there is a summer home filled with 3 boys, 1 girl, and 2 moms. Isabel (Belly) has been in love with her mom’s best friend’s son, Conrad, since she was 10 years old, much to the chagrin of her brother and his. This summer, Conrad has been acting very strange (partying, drinking, smoking, etc.) and Isobel realizes that she can’t wait around forever. She goes to a party where she meets Cam, a super sweet guy from her past. As their relationship blossoms, Belly finds herself stuck between Cam and Conrad, but she can’t have her cake and eat it, too.

It’s Not Summer Without You

After Susannah’s death, Conrad and Belly’s breakup, and all the drama of the past year, Conrad goes missing. Jeremiah calls Belly to help him find Con, which leads them back to the beach house at Cousins. Turns out, Conrad found out that the beach house was being sold, and he went there to try and stop the sell. But, there is always more to the picture. Both Conrad and Jeremiah have feelings for Belly, and she finds herself in the middle over and over. She isn’t over Conrad (how can you be “over” the boy you loved for 6 years?), but he isn’t the boy she fell in love with anymore. Trying to make sense of everything that is going on is a lot for a 15-year-old, but she is trying her best. The hardest part? Not letting her heart completely shatter while she is still picking up the pieces.

We’ll Always Have Summer

After 2 years, Belly and Jeremiah get into a huge fight because he slept with someone while they were on a break. In an effort to prove his devotion to Belly, he proposes, and she accepts. Belly’s mom doesn’t support what is happening, so Belly goes to the summer house, where Conrad happens to be staying. As they are living together, Con and Belly are trying to understand all the feelings they still have. But with the wedding at the end of the summer, Belly has to finally choose, Conrad or Jeremiah.

The Series

Here’s the thing. This series is meant for someone half my age (12 and up), and I have to treat it like such. But dude, this series is completely messed up. Firstly, this girl is choosing between 2 brothers. Like that’s messed up in itself. But then on top of that, this girl is pining for her boyfriend’s brother. That is completely messed up, and this series romanticizes that feeling. I can’t support this series purely by the unhealthiness of the relationship.

HOWEVER, this series was incredibly easy to read. I literally read the last 2 books in 1 day. It is obvious that it is written for a younger audience, so the comments are naïve and innocent. The last book does touch on some topics that may be inappropriate for the younger members of the age range, but otherwise, I think that the books are good for kids, especially romantics. I would give the overall series a 3 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 7/15/19-7/20/19

Caraval was a book that had been sitting on my TBR pile for a while. I had seen it on Goodreads and was interested mainly for the cover (I know, I know, the cliché is real) because I couldn’t tell you any part of the synopsis. In a moment of weakness, I purchased the books on Audible, and then in a more pressing moment of weakness, bought the books on Kindle. Figuring that I had busy days at work that required me to be by myself A LOT (aka more reading time) and a day off, I figured this is the week to GET IT DONE! And here we are!

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

Book 1: Caraval

The story begins in Trisda as Scarlett Dragda (plus guest) and Donatella (Tella) Dragda get invited to Caraval. A sailor, named Julien, took Scarlett and Tella to the Caraval island, dropping Tella off first before he came back for Scarlett. Scarlett, with the help of Julien, gets into the Caraval game. Given only 5 nights (during the day, the doors to the hotel are locked and everything is turned off), she must find her sister who seems to have been kidnapped. But every chance at help comes at a price, and everything is not always what it seems. Every time Scarlett thinks she has figured it out, another twist in the road comes into play, making finding Tella more and more difficult. Will she find her? And more importantly, will she find herself in the process?

Book 2: Legendary

Tella is reeling from her experience at Caraval. Soon after the after celebration, news spreads that there will be another Caraval in a few weeks in Valenda, the capital of the Meridian Empire. Unlike the first Caraval, everything reminds the players that everything that happens in this game are completely real and have real-life consequences. So I didn’t mention him in the synopsis of the first book because he didn’t play THAT big of a part in it, but there is this performer, Dante. He ends up convincing the people at the hotel that Tella is the empress’ heir’s fianceé, so she gets a special room. Turns out, that heir is the Prince of Hearts, a Fate who is has the power of killing someone with a kiss. He strikes a deal with Tella that he will give her her mother in exchange for the Caraval prize, Legend. But as the game progresses, Tella begins to fall for Dante, causing her to be put between a rock and a hard place between her fianceé and her love.

Book 3: Finale

This one is hard to explain, so bear with me. Okay, so this story is told from both Donatella’s and Scarlett’s POV. Now that the Fates are released into the world, Tella and Scar must find a way to remove their powers in order to save humanity (and Legend). Both Tella and Scarlett are caught up in their individual love stories, which continues to get more and more complicated as their individual plots deepen. For Scarlett, that means discovering the Fallen Star (aka the maker of all the Fates) is her father, and then having to try and find a way to follow his plans to then kill him. For Tella, it means getting caught between the obsession from Legend and the obsession from the Prince of Hearts, when really all she wants is love, WHILE also trying to protect her sister. Yea, if you haven’t figured it out, it is kinda a mess and a lot of the time I felt like:

Image result for always sunny solving meme

The Series

As for my personal feelings, I enjoyed Caraval, the book. I thought it was a cool idea and while I saw a lot of people on Goodreads say it was similar to other books (I specifically saw Hunger Games, the Lunar Chronicles (which I haven’t read yet, but own, so I’m not sure how true that is), and The Night Circus (which I purchased because I wanted to see the connection that people listed)), which is up for interpretation. Whatever the first book may be like, the second book is basically a carbon copy of the first book except it was now in Tella’s POV. The third book was so incredibly convoluted and un-directional that I found myself thinking we were going one way for ANOTHER twist to magically be added. I am glad I read the first book, but I could have lived without the rest of the trilogy. As a whole, I would list the Caraval trilogy as 2 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!