The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins: A Conversation

While I was reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Angie of Reading Our Shelves contacted me to say that she was also reading it, and asked me if I’d like to do a joint post with her about the book. So we got together on Tuesday, had a (great) chat about the book, and we’re posting that conversation on our respective blogs.

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Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions

‘My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.’

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Though she’s long been a part of the revolution, Katniss hasn’t known it. Now it seems that everyone has had a hand in the carefully laid plans but her.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the cost.


Like The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I’m going to provide my reactions, as they happened. I’m reading the series with a crew who has already read the original series and we’re discussing the books on Discord. Here were my reactions as I read Mockingjay:

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Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest that she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying. Katniss is about to be tested as never before.


Like The Hunger Games, I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I’m going to provide my reactions, as they happened. I’m reading the series with a crew who has already read the original series and we’re discussing the books on Discord. Here were my reactions as I read Catching Fire:

Continue reading “Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions”

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.


I’m finally reading The Hunger Games series, and I’m quite impressed. Not that I thought I wouldn’t be, but the first one, at least, is deserving of the Hype Monster. I really got into it.

I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I think I’m just going to provide my reactions, as they happened. I’m reading the series with a crew who has already read the original series and we’re discussing the books on Discord. Here were my reactions as I read THG:

Continue reading “The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins: Reactions”

Book Review: Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson

Lillian and Madison were friends when they attended the same boarding school. They came from very different backgrounds: Lillian was raised in poverty by a pretty uncaring mother, while Madison came from a relatively wealthy family who cared about her future. Without saying too much, their time together at boarding school came to a problematic end, but they stayed in touch for a while through letter writing.

As adults, Lillian and Madison haven’t been in touch for some time when Lillian receives a letter from Madison asking for her help. Lillian’s life hasn’t changed much. She’s still living in her uncaring mother’s house, working at a dead end job, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. Madison has married a politician and is living in luxury. So Lillian decides to visit Madison to see what she wants.

Turns out Madison’s politician husband has ten-year-old twins (Bessie and Roland) from a previous relationship, and their mother has recently died. The twins will be moving into Madison’s house, and she needs a nanny to take care of them. Why can’t she take care of them herself like she takes care of her own son? Well, because the twins spontaneously combust when they get upset. Flames erupt from their skin even though it doesn’t hurt them at all. And of course, Madison doesn’t want to deal with this, and their father certainly doesn’t want anyone to know about them since he’s a politician on the rise.

Lillian can barely take care of herself, but she agrees to become a nanny to Bessie and Roland and the three of them end up living in Madison’s revamped pool house…they’re not even allowed to live in the main house.

The rest of the story is about Lillian taking care of the twins and deciding to be a positive force in their overturned lives. And she ends up becoming very attached to them and really caring about what happens to them.

Turns out Lillian needs those kids just as much as they need her.

I had a good time reading this. There were things about Lillian that I really connected with, including her wry sense of humor and her love for bacon (heh).

“I can make anything you want,” the woman said, her accent possibly British. Or maybe just so elegant that it felt European. It wasn’t Southern, that’s all I knew. She wasn’t smiling, but maybe she wasn’t supposed to smile. I kind of wished she were smiling. It would make it easier to ask her for a giant bacon sandwich.

Right, Lillian? Just give me a bacon sandwich.

Her lack of knowledge about — and discomfort around — kids also made me laugh (because I totally feel for her)…

“Goodbye, Tim,” I said, hoping that the boy would be annoyed by this abbreviating of his name. And already I was fucking up. I needed to get Timothy to like me. Or I needed to learn how to like him. He was practice. Until the twins arrived, he was my one shot to figure out how to talk to, how to behave around, how to tolerate a child.

Hahaha! You work on being tolerant, Lillian, because tolerance is a must when it comes to dealing with kids.

I also really liked the twins and their propensity for bursting into flame. I have a short temper and have learned to control it well over the years, but let me tell you, at times when I’ve been REALLY ANGRY, it felt like I could burst into flames. For real. Imagine temper tantrums turning into full-on house fires. Whew! And all Bessie and Roland really want is for someone to love them and care about them and treat them like human beings instead of monsters or animals.

Madison is an asshole. Even at the end when she is forced to *kind of* redeem herself, I still think she’s an asshole. She’s a spoiled rich girl who only cares about appearances and self-preservation. Friggin’ rich people.

I enjoyed Nothing to See Here quite a bit. I like the way Kevin Wilson wrote a very realistic book about growing up and relationships…and then used spontaneously combusting kids to bring it all together.