The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – by Suzanne Collins

25 06 2020

When a trilogy has been such a huge hit as The Hunger Games was, both as books and films, then a prequel published a decade later is going to be one of two things – excellent like the originals because the author has waited until they have a good story, or awful and they’ve just written it for the cash. I would say this falls into the former category – I really enjoyed reading this!

It’s set about 65 years before the original books, with President Snow an 18 year old in his final year of school, and following the tenth annual Hunger Games competition. The event is far more primitive than the high tech entertainment we were familiar with in the original books, and is just run in an amphitheatre with a few weapons lying around, though the same revolting basic rule still governs it – last alive wins.

Ten years of the games means it’s ten years since the war, and as yet folk haven’t really got into following the games which were created to remind the Districts who is in charge. The Head Gamesmaker is looking for ways to engage both those in the Capitol and in the Districts more, one way they do this is to have final year students in the Capitol mentor a tribute each, and this is where Snow comes in, mentoring the female tribute from District 12. His family has fallen on hard times since the war, but is trying to keep it quiet for the sake of their position in society, and a good result in the games could get Snow a University scholarship to secure his future.

I won’t give anything away, but even at over 500 pages I flew through it! I have one issue with Snow’s character that I’d like to discuss with anyone who’s read it, but won’t leave spoilers here!! But essentially, if you enjoyed the original books, I think you’ll like this.





The Eve Illusion – by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

19 05 2020

I was a huge fan of Eve of Man when it came out two years ago, but due to the gap between the two books, had forgotten a lot of the plot when it came to this! It turns out, the first couple of chapters help recap what was happening in the last couple of chapters, but given that I couldn’t remember how they got to that point, I decided to do a full re-read of Eve of Man, firstly to get me up to speed properly, and secondly, to just enjoy the full story running together. I haven’t re-read a book in a long time as my “to read” list is always so long, but it was a really nice experience 🙂

A third narrator is added to the story in this book, so as well as Bram and Eve, we now have Michael, who we briefly met in the first book, but we see much more of now. It’s a fun way to tell a story, and fortunately as I binged it, it wasn’t too confusing, but on the occasions I did pick it up mid chapter, I did have to flip back to see who was talking!

Avoiding spoilers (though maybe not of the first book) the story continues as Eve and Bram leave the tower, the only place she’s known, and join the Freevers in their hideout. It was another really gripping read, crazy twists I never saw coming, good people stuff, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! As it’s part of a trilogy, it of course left on a massive cliffhanger again, and I can’t WAIT to see how this is going to resolve!

(That said, I do have a couple of technical questions about one of the plot points, and if anyone else has read it, please let me know so we can discuss!)





Looking For Alaska – by John Green

21 10 2019

I read a load of John Green when The Fault In Our Stars was a big thing, and at the time bought several of his books, this one has sat there a while, but at only 260 pages it seemed a good one for my Dark Materials break!

It’s a John Green book, so of course it’s got teenagers and drama. Miles hasn’t got many friends at school in Florida, so at 16 goes off to boarding school in Alabama. He has a thing about famous peoples last words, and reads a lot of biographies to collect them. He quickly makes friends with people very different to his previous life (think stereotypical smoking and drinking), one of whom is a girl called Alaska, who is a bit unpredictable. I won’t go any further because of spoilers, but I read this in 3 or 4 days – crazy fast!

A couple of days ago I saw an advert on TV for a series they’ve made of the book which literally went live on Friday and is available on iPlayer, so that’s something else to fit in!

He writes books that are so easy to read and just enjoy. I have one more of his books on my shelf, so I think I’ll be picking that up again in the not too distant future.





Re-read: Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

26 04 2014

The first time I read this I didn’t enjoy it that much, and I read it so quickly so as to find out what happens that I forgot most of it! My housemate would talk about a major plot point and I wouldn’t even remember that it happened, so ready for the first part of the film release later this year, I thought I should read it again!

I enjoyed it much more this time, and I did exactly the same as last time in that I read the last 150 pages (“part iii”) in pretty much one sitting other than stopping for lunch.

I still don’t like the end, I wanted it to end a little differently, but the story is strong, it still twists and turns right up until the end. Definitely a book that hooks you in.

But as we’re due the film soon, I still think I’ll avoid spoilers and just say I misjudged it a little last time, and it really is good!

mockingjay2


Edit: 2nd May 2014

I can’t believe in my re-writing this, I forgot the major bit I intended to mention!

There’s a conversation between a couple of characters relatively early on in the book, which is set in the future. It seems to be to be a very direct comment on us:


“If we win, who would be in charge of the government?” Gale asks.

“Everyone, “Plutarch tells him. “We’re going to form a republic where the people of each district and the Capitol can elect their own representatives to be their voice in a centralized government. Don’t look so suspicious; it’s worked before.”

“In books,” Haymitch mutters.

“In history books,” says Plutarch. “And if our ancestors could do it, then we can, too.”

Frankly our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet.Clearly they didn’t care about what wold happen to the people who came after them. But the republic idea sounds like an improvement over our current government.

“And if we lose?” I ask.





Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

7 04 2013

The final Hunger Games book! As a trilogy these books are phenomenal!

This book I’d say was the weakest of the three, but that does NOT make it bad! The speed of time jumps around a lot which gets a bit confusing. There’s a lot going on, but I just didn’t feel it flowed as well as the first couple, the plot was a little more juddered.

This doesn’t mean I still didn’t exclaim out loud at some bits, and yesterday afternoon as I finished it I think I read about 150 pages straight, it’s still one that’s hard to put down!

Again, don’t want to put any spoilers here so won’t discuss the whole outcome with the various elements – but do read it!!

mockingjay





Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

31 03 2013

This book definitely fell into the category of can’t-put-it-down; I read the first half in 2 days, and 3 days later had finished it!

Following the first book we’ve moved on a little while, and deal with the fall out of the events. There are so many twists and turns, I don’t want to write anything for fear of giving away the plot, but just to say, in places this book actually made me gasp audibly – very highly recommended!

catching fire





The Hunger Games – by Suzanne Collins

29 01 2013

Wow, I don’t know when I last read a book this quickly! I saw the film earlier this year, and it was great, but the book (as always) just tells you so much more.

The whole concept behind it is truly horrific. Twelve districts, under rule of “The Capitol”, each year, a girl and boy are taken from each district and put in an arena to fight to the death. All for TV.

And yet it’s told so well, I literally couldn’t put it down. It’s written in the first person, and so it’s just like she’s chatting to you, telling you her story. It makes the relationships and feelings infinitely more believable.

Just a fab book – can’t wait to read the next one!

the hunger games