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text 2020-07-08 04:37
Suzanne Collins: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins, takes readers back to near the tenth Hunger Games, where President Snow, is anything But:

The once mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, well it had been hard times during the war and every year since the Snow family fortune was lost along with District 13. However, Coriolanus Snow has been given a chance which could help secure not only his but his house's future. He and his classmates will be the mentors to those who are chosen during the reaping. The mentor whose tribute wins will have their future set out for them and money to support it. Snow does not get the most favorable pick, a female from District 12, but he is determine to win at any cost even if it means breaking some rules, especially once he gets to know his tribute outside the arena and begins to get feelings for her. Can he help her enough so she can win so that they both can get their happily ever after.

I really enjoyed this book but due to the fact that it is a Hunger Games novel, I believe that people will either love or hate this book because it is very un-Hunger Games. Sure the Hunger Games exist in this time, but they are not the extravagant event that we see later and the reader does not have first hand account of what is going on in the arena. This book is much more of a political based one, in which Snow is trying to preserve himself and his family not only his family but the Snow legacy as well. Snow is trying to portrays that everything is fine in his life but the reality is that they are extremely poor and it is up to Snow to bring the family fortune back, which is a lot of weight on a teenagers shoulders. Therefore, Snow is forced to manipulate those around him to make sure they perceive him in a certain way, find out information he can use to his advantage and yet still be liked by his peers and teachers as these will be his cohort for the rest of his life.

I enjoyed that this book was solely told from Snow's point of view. You can see why he became that man he is in the other books, as well as, his growth in character and how some personality traits never really change from when one is younger. You also discover additional reasons as to why he truly did not like Katniss even from her name. I am sure that Snow saw a lot of Lucy Grey in Katniss. The only point in the book that I wish there was a change in point of view was the end, I wish there would have been something from Lucy Grey's point of view maybe in an Epilogue or something like that, I just needed something from her in the end. I don't know exactly what but something.

Speaking of Lucy Grey, she is a very interesting character but we only get to see her from Snow's point of view, so things are just a bit clouded, jaded and maybe a bit idolized at times. I think Lucy Grey knew what she was doing on several occasions throughout the book and is just as manipulative as Snow. She knows how to work her image and crowd to get those around her to like her and help her, so I was questioning her motivation throughout the whole book, besides her need to try and survive the arena.

As stated above I liked that this showed a very different hunger Games and that it was not always the event and it was not something that people from certain districts strive for.  It is really Snow and his classmates who first start to shape the Hunger Games into an interesting event that everyone in the Capital wants to be part of and the realization that no one in the districts really watches it. It is interesting some of the ideas that everyone comes up with and the ways to incorporate them into the area.

I enjoyed this prequel to the Hunger Games Trilogy. I am okay that it was a bit slower pace at times as this was more of a characterization of Snow in a novel and that there was next to zero first person action that Snow partakes in. I think if you are interested in Snow as a character you will enjoy this book, however, if you are looking for another "Hunger Games" book you may want to pass on this one.


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review 2020-06-21 11:40
'Girls With Sharp Sticks' by Suzanne Young - highly recommended
Girls With Sharp Sticks - Suzanne Young,Caitlin Davies

'Girls With Sharp Sticks' by Suzanne Young (2019), is about girls at the 'Innovations'Academy' who are being taught to be 'better girls', obedient, respectful, compliant and pretty. It's the story of one of the girls, Mena, waking up to the fact that the Academy is not what it claims to be and claiming her rage at what is being done to her and the other girls at the school.


The plot and pace of this book make is a compelling, I-have-to-know-what-happens-next and Oh-no-they're-not-going-to-do-that-are-they? thriller.


The first person narrative lets us share Mena's journey, investing the reader in Mena's struggle and binding us to her emotionally. It also lets the reader see, and often rage at, the gap between what Mena sees as going on and what we think is happening. Initially, it seems that Mena is just too nice, too passive, too inexperienced and too trusting to work out what's going on. Then, slowly we realise that Mena isn't naturally like that, the Academy is making her like that.


I'm not going to disclose what's really happening at the Academy as part of the fun of the book is guessing the nature of the malfeasance, being sure you've got it right and then having to guess again, so I'm going to focus on how reading the book made me feel.


The dominant emotion I felt throughout this book was rage. Rage at the men running the Innovations Academy. Rage at the men funding them. Rage at the soul-crushing cruelty of what is being done to these girls.


One of the things that fueled my rage is how believable the Academy is. The lessons being given on how to be 'better girls' are not so far from what would have been taught in a Finishing School sixty years ago. Although the teachers at the Academy are misogyny incarnate, weak, angry men who hide their hate for women behind a mask of patriarchal concern expressed through punishment, they are not cartoon monsters, they are the kind of men we've all met. Giving men like this with absolute authority over girls like Mena is deeply wrong. This is the core truth that the rest of what is happening at the Academy simply amplifies.


My rage as a reader was like a bow wave, always a little ahead of the rage that slowly builds in Mena, moving from disquiet to outrage. I loved Mena's rage. By the time I was a quarter of the way through the book when I still wasn't sure what was going on, I was already looking forward to the revenge I assumed Mena and the girls would eventually take on these men.


I loved the idea of that a poem, 'Girls With Sharp Sticks', was the wake-up call that unlocked Mena's ideas and emotions, that let her see who she was and what she wanted.


The plot went into a different and better direction than I expected. When Mena awoke, her focus wasn't on revenge. Her focus wasn't on men at all. Her focus was on regaining her own agency and on freeing and protecting the other girls.


What the Academy was really about was also more complicated and more interesting than I'd initially assumed and I admire the skill with which I was led and misled to the journey's conclusion.


If you're looking for a light, exciting, speculative fiction read, 'Girls With Sharp Sticks' will deliver it to you but along the way, my guess is that you'll also find that you're reading something that challenges the humanity of patriarchal misogyny and makes you question what a 'better girl' would really be like.


The book works very well as a standalone, but it also made me hungry for more, so I'm glad to see that the sequel 'Girls With Razor Hearts', is already available.


Caitlin Davies does a great job at narrating 'Girls With Sharp Sticks'. I recommend listening to the audiobook if you can. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.



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text 2020-06-20 02:49
Hunger Games Trilogy - reread (listen)
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins,Tatiana Maslany
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins



After reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I was inspired to reread the Hunger Games trilogy. I was amazed by how much I forgot or misremembered. Then again, my last exposure to this world was probably the movies. :)


I still love these books so much!!

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review 2020-06-17 00:13
The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes - audiobook
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins

Audience: Young Adult

Format: Audiobook/Library Copy



Coriolanus released the fistful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water and swore that one day it would never pass his lips again.

- first sentence


This is a prequel to the Hunger Games series, set during the tenth Hunger Games (Katniss volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games). Coriolanus Snow is a teenager and in school. He and some of his classmates are selected to mentor the 24 tributes. Snow is irritated when he is chosen to mentor the girl from District 12 - Lucy Gray Baird.


Snow's family is poor (a result of the war with the districts) but he doesn't want anyone to know. He sees himself as better than pretty much everyone else, especially people from the districts. His chilly attitude and selfishness make him difficult to like, then again we aren't supposed to like him, are we. 


The book wasn't as exciting or page-turning as the original series, but I enjoyed it. The ending was expected but still sad and unfortunate. The one thing this book did was make me want to reread the original series.



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review 2020-06-12 06:17
Devil Dance (Jade del Cameron #7) - Suzanne Arruda
Devil Dance: A Jade del Cameron Mystery (Volume 7) - Suzanne Arruda

This book being the end of the Jade del Cameron series was the book equivalent of the 10th season of Friends. Or that stupid made for TV movie that was supposed to be the big wrap up for CSI.


So disappointing. 

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