Re-Read Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins!

Re-Read Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins!

When the news of the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, came out I knew I wanted to re-read the original Hunger Games trilogy. It’s been six years since I first read the trilogy and they were really important in my journey of becoming a reader again and book blogging! My original reviews were.. sparse, and very much about my emotional response which is perfectly valid, I just wanted to do a bit of a deep dive into what makes these books so dang good in my opinion. So!

Contexts of Reading

I remember reading this series for the first time really vividly. Not so much the actual story, because I definitely forgot most of the plot points in the past six years. But my life surrounding reading this. I even remember the song I was listening to on repeat at the time. And I think that it’s really interesting that in however many years until I read this again, I might remember things like being in lockdown, playing a lot of Animal Crossing and working really hard at my last university essay. I think only a special kind of book can effect me in this way. I’ve re-read books before and mostly it’s just remembering bits of the story.

The Writing Style

I’ve mentioned a couple times this year that I’ve been struggling to read lately because I’m so focused on the act of reading. However, Collins writing style is so unique and crafted to be bare-bones that it’s incredibly easy to read. There’s no info-dumping or huge chunks of thinking, you’re just in Katniss’s head and immediately in the action. The story is left open just enough that your own thoughts and feelings can fill the gap. I thought that the pacing on the second and third books was a little weird, but by Mockingjay, I was locked in and finished it incredibly quickly.

The Epilogue

I’m not a big fan of epilogues in general. As a reader and an attempting writer, I prefer it when the ending happens and what goes next is left to the imagination. If you want the main character to live happily ever after, you decide what that looks like. But I do like the epilogue in this case, because I think that considering how much she mentions not wanting kids because they’d have to play in the games, it was important to see Katniss no longer have that fear. Plus, Collins got to talk a little about how best to teach younger generations about bad things.

The Messages

The Hunger Games trilogy are political books. Oppressed people hating other oppressed people instead of their oppressor, revolutions galore, people being used as pawns in a game they don’t understand. I mean- very applicable to almost every age of humanity.

Marking my books

I like to keep my books pretty neat and unmarked in general. I use sticky notes to mark them up for reviews and bits of writing I like. But this time I decided to underline, in pen! Mainly because I know these books are going to stick around on my shelves. I don’t have any immediate plans to re-read them, maybe I’ll wait another six years, or more, but when I do- I’ll get a little snapshot into this read and what stood out to me, and I think that’s pretty neat.

Do you re-read a lot? What is your favourite book to re-read?

Book Review: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir!

When I finished Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen I was convinced. Yes, she was the true Queen. And Anne Boleyn? Nope, I did not like her and never would, she was the villain of the story. Well- obviously Henry VIII is the villain but Anne Boleyn was a minor villain and while not deserving of being beheaded, wasn’t going to get my sympathy. Well, enter Alison Weir and A King’s Obsession! By the end of this, I ended up crying for a Queen long since dead. Again.

Book Review- Anne Boleyn- A King's Obsession by Alison Weir.

It is the spring of 1527. Henry VIII has come to Hever Castle in Kent to pay court to Anne Boleyn. He is desperate to have her. For this mirror of female perfection, he will set aside his Queen and all Cardinal Wolsey’s plans for a dynastic French marriage.

Anne Boleyn is not so sure. She loathes Wolsey for breaking her betrothal to the Earl of Northumberland’s son, Harry Percy, whom she had loved. She does not welcome the King’s advances; she knows that she can never give him her heart.

But hers is an opportunist family. And whether Anne is willing or not, they will risk it all to see their daughter on the throne…

Oh, Anne Boleyn. Did you know that decapitation isn’t an immediate death? I went on a Google deep-dive after this and science has some buck wild thoughts on the matter. I totally cannot un-read some of the details of experiments. But, even before this terrible end, I was feeling sorry for Anne Boleyn. She wants to marry for love, against her father’s wishes, and ends up with just the worst man so that the family can gain points. Reading her whole story from childhood, you connect with her as a character and it feels all the more brutal when she’s treated so badly.

There’s also the blending of contemporary ideas with the thoughts of the time. Anne was surrounded by women leaders and was a strong independent woman who thought that women could rule. She was taught- at least in this fictionalised world- that she had the feminine power to flirt and lead men that way. This endeared me to her and I just wanted her to get a happy ending, goshdarnit. The author’s note goes into feminism in 16th Century Europe and the women leaders Anne served, and it’s so so interesting.

And that Author’s Note. Obviously, any historical fiction is going to be that, fiction. But Weir’s Author’s Note at the end of these books show the detail of research and are often the most interesting part of the read for me- these books are fantastic so this isn’t a slight. I just love reading about how she went about writing. There is much less source material to use when it comes to Anne, in comparison to Katherine, and a lot of the material comes from a hostile source. This just makes the depth of the story all the more impressive.

Alison Weir continues to amaze me. She completely turned my opinion on Anne around, my emotions were all over the place and even with 500+ pages, I always want more when it comes to this series.

she added her name, so that anyone finding the inscription in years to come would know who had written it. By then she would either be famous or forgotten.

Have you read any good books about Anne Boleyn?

Series Review: The Harper Connolly Mysteries by Charlaine Harris!

If there is one author who makes me sound like a broken record, it’s Charlaine Harris. I loved her Aurora Teagarden series, I loved her Sookie Stackhouse series, and unsurprisingly- I liked her Harper Connolly series. I reviewed the four books in the omnibus separately (1, 2, 3, 4), but I’ve finally put together my series review, where I tell you a few things I thought about the series as a whole.

Book review- The Harper Connelly Omnibus by Charlaine Harris

Harper Connelly has always been unique: ever since she was struck by lightning she’s had the ability to locate the dead. She can sense the final location of a person who’s passed, and share their very last moment. The way Harper sees it, she’s providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living – but she’s used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech.
She does what she can to put her unique ability to good use, with the aid of her step-brother Tolliver, but it’s not always easy. Her cases can be heart-wrenching, complex – and sometimes, if someone would rather the body wasn’t found, they can even even be dangerous…

The Premise
The premise was what originally drew me towards this series although, admittedly, Charlaine Harris could write a VHS manual and I’d want to read it. Harper is able to sense the dead, and when she finds them, she can see their final moments. I love a paranormal story that’s a little different and I’ve never read anything like that before. Plus, the living characters can be just as interesting in how the death affected them. As Harper points out; The dead could wait forever, but the living were always urgent.

The Romance
This is the part that I wasn’t as much of a fan of. It’s no secret that the romance in this series is, at best, semi-incestuous. You can write it however you want, but the majority of people are always going to find that a bit icky (a word borrowed from an interview Harris herself did about the couple), even if it’s ‘just’ step-siblings. I try not to judge but no thank you.

The Writing
This wasn’t Charlaine Harris’s usual. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a complete shake up, but it felt weaker. I loved that she took the opportunity to talk about some of Americas problems, while Harper faced serial killers, rapists and torturers along with the run-of-the-mill murderers. But the character development and the actual mysteries wasn’t up to her usual standard. I actually find it really interesting that this series was written a few years after the Lily Bard mysteries, which I’m currently reading. They both deal with dark subjects but Lily feels much more real- of course, she doesn’t see dead people so…

Overall, this was very much a three star series for me. Not bad by any means! Readable and fun. Just not the high level that I usually put Charlaine Harris at and I didn’t immediately want to jump into the next book. 

I couldn’t fathom people who longed for the past. They weren’t thinking about the absence of antibiotics, that was for sure.

Have you read this series? What did you think? 

Series Review: The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown!

Three years. Three books. Over 1200 pages. The Red Rising trilogy has been a big part of my life over the past few years. Red Rising was one of the first books I got sent to review as a book blogger and I was invited down to London and got to meet Pierce Brown in February. Beware of slight spoilers in this not completely positive series review…

The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown and a red rising tote bag

My original review for Red Rising is here and my original Golden Son review is here with re-read reviews for both books here. And my Morning Son review is here. Phew! Now that’s out of the way.

Here’s the thing I’ve discovered about re-reads; sometimes when you get past the immediacy of how exciting a book is, what’s left is perhaps not what you remember. It’s like watching a movie for the second time and picking up all the little hints that were there all along. It can be good. It can be bad.

For the Red Rising trilogy, a lot of things were hidden under the excitement that were actually pretty questionable. It makes me sad that even fictionally 700+ years in the future, a woman is still a ‘bitch’ by acting exactly the same as a man. That the word ‘Queer’ is thrown around like it doesn’t have a huge amount of history. That being gay or acting effeminate is grounds for being insulted or discredited. That ‘they howl like mentals’ was ever written and isn’t alone in the use of being ‘mad’ to invalidate.

Yes, the world is obviously a bad one and the class system is the big bad guy that the protagonist is fighting. But there were other things, things that weren’t questioned, or were part of the narration that made my stomach twist. Luckily it petered out as the series went on but it did sour the experience for me when I re-visited the world. Hopefully they’ll not feature in the movies at all.

On the other hand, the way the Sons of Ares planned to bring down the class system was great. A lot of series like this take the bad guys head on, openly going to battle, whereas in this the protagonist goes deep into the world of the Golds to bring them down from the inside. Admittedly, this all goes to hell at the end of book two and I think it would’ve been more unique if it hadn’t, but it was a good thought.

Overall, if you’re a fan of worlds with districts, fractions or any manner of class systems then this might be for you. If you like YA dystopians but feel they’d be better with more gratuitous violence, it might be for you. But if you prefer your books with a better gender balance and fewer negative connotations around mental illness then maybe look somewhere else.

Have you read any of this series?

Series Review: The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris!

Thirteen books. This is officially the longest series I’ve ever read. The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as the Sookie Stackhouse series or the True Blood series is set in Bon Temps, Louisiana and follows a Telepath; Sookie in a world where vampires have just ‘come out of the coffin’. All my original reviews for the books are here; Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead, Dead to the World, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead Reckoning, Deadlocked and Dead Ever After.

Series Review- The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris!

Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood through the trees, or in this case, the overarching great bits of a series when you’re reviewing individual books. This is why I like to do series reviews sometimes when I complete a series because I’m not quite finished talking about them yet. I’ll keep it spoiler-free though!

I really like this series, it’s not my favourite and there are definitely some books that are better than others but I don’t regret the time I spent in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse world. It’s not for everyone and unlike some series I wouldn’t shove the first book into anybody’s hands, but here are a few of my favourite things that might convince you to pick the series up.

The World.
You’re sometimes left with such a belief in the world that it takes a second after putting the book down to realise- nope, vampires aren’t real. Or are they? Either way, that’s the great thing about the mix of contemporary, domestic drama and fantasy, it puts together the everyday with the extraordinary. Harris manages the delicate balance really well for the majority of the books with the completely believable main character. Leading onto…

The Realistic Problems.
Sookie deals with money issues, friendship problems, men problems. Harris even approaches the issue of sexual assault, something faced by 1 in 6 of American women. Don’t let the fact that there are vampires and werewolves distract you from the fact that this is based in a contemporary world where being a barmaid doesn’t always pay well.

The Romance.
These are not the books for people who don’t want a little lovin’ between the pages, and probably not for people that want a character to settle down with the first guy because Sookie plays the field. The same way most 20-somethings do. She may not end up with who you want- I was a little iffy on that myself- but she goes through relationship problems most women do. The wrong guy, the right guy at the wrong time, the guy your friends hate, the clingy ex. You know the types.

The Supernatural.
I couldn’t not mention this when it’s literally a series about vampires but I really like the mythology in the books. Yes, there are some classic vampire ways: drinking blood, can’t enter a house unless invited, general stuff. But there’s also things like the werewolves can only have werewolf babies when it’s the first child, and that bites just turn people into weird wolf/human hybrids on the full moon. And the main character can hear peoples thoughts, it’s a neat dynamic.

Overall, I really like the series and I’ll probably read it again in a couple years. But I have other Charlaine Harris books to read before then!

Have you read the Southern Vampire Mysteries?

Series Review: The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris!

You know that feeling when you pick up a book and you’re so drawn in that you just want to be the character and live their life despite all the… Murder. Well, Aurora Teagarden is that character for me. I couldn’t stop myself being drawn to these books and it took me about ten months to read the eight books despite how much I tried to spread them out.

Real Murders, A Bone to Pick, Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, The Julius House, Dead Over Heels, A Fool and his Honey, Last Scene Alive and Poppy Done to Death by Charlaine Harris.

There are eight books in The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris! Here are all my original reviews; Real Murders, A Bone to Pick, Three Bedrooms, One Corpse, The Julius House, Dead Over Heels and A Fool and his Honey, Last Scene Alive and Poppy Done to Death! And here are the reasons I love the series so much.

The Protagonist. 
Aurora is normal. An honest hard-working normal American librarian. She loves reading and old murders, her small town and her mom. She’s just hugely relatable and I like reading about her reading nooks, her glasses choices, and her domestic troubles because it really grounds the story. Aurora is a normal women who is skewing the odds of how many people know somebody murdered.

The Writing.
I’ve read 18 books by Charlaine Harris in the past year. I really like her writing. She is to the point. She is the perfect example of showing, not telling. She doesn’t sound like she writes with a thesaurus by her side making her work so easy to read. Honestly, I think she’s one of my favourite authors and I am slowly and steadily working my way through all of her books.

The Murders.
I love a good conclusion. And every murder in the Aurora Teagarden series gets a conclusion with every loose end tied up. I loved trying to figure out who the murderer was and more often then not, I was completely blindsided and amazed at who actually did it. With few exceptions it is satisfying to close the book and know how the story played out.

The Aurora Teagarden series is actually being continued. Charlene Harris announced on her Facebook page that two more books are joining the series and you can bet your life savings that I’ll be picking them up as soon as they hit the shelves! And there’s a TV movie series too, which is a real blast!

Have you read this series?

Series Review: The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld!

I was going to say that I was late on the bandwagon to read this series but considering that Uglies was published in 2005, 10 years ago, I’m going to go with- So I completely missed the bandwagon when it comes to the Uglies/ Pretties/ Specials books but I have a couple friends who love them. In fact, when I hauled the books I got several texts telling me to read them immediately. My reviews in this post for the second and third book contain slight spoilers for the previous book, be warned. So here we go!

Review- The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld! Uglies Pretties Specials

This is a really strong start to the series, the world is set up easily and the story is fast-paced with our main character, Tally, denied the ‘pretty’ surgery until she goes and fetches her friend Shay from outside the city. There’s a lot of dilemmas in this that are a more dramatic version of what happens to teenagers. It’s a lot of high school drama but on a different scale which I loved, a lot of it is familiar as things most people go through at that age- friend loyalty, a relationship getting in the way, standing up to authority.
I wasn’t much of a fan of the writing, it wasn’t bad by any means, but it didn’t really impress me although I have to mention Scott Westerfelds great use of imagery. The sky is the colour of cat vomit and the squeaking of shoes is like a herd of panicked mice was amazing.
Overall though, this book really impressed me, I can see why my friends loved it.

Again, the writing didn’t stand out to me; more great imagery, and a few really poignant moments but pretty simplistic throughout. It reflects the intended audience. The story was as strong as the first but despite a similar plot line, it wasn’t tired. A pretty strong second book, I can say with almost certainty that if you liked Uglies then you’ll like Pretties. I marathoned right through these books quite happily.

What I really admire about this series is that it shows most of the point of views of the world within one character. In Specials Tally is, you guessed it, a Special. The only point of view not covered is the older pretties and the little kids, so it shows the problem with this dystopian world, and all it’s problems, from almost every side unlike others. The writing evolves on a little but not by much. And we finally get an answer for the love triangle, admittedly one that I hated but still.

Spoilers! Beware!
I want to talk about a couple of things here.
I really didn’t get the whole ego thing. Maybe that says something bad about me but it didn’t seem like Tally had much of an ego as Shay kept saying, as much as bad things kept happening to her and she did the best she could in the situation she was in. Does anyone else feel this way or?
Shay, oh my god. I loved her at the beginning of the first book because she challenged Tally’s ideas about the whole pretty society and was the voice of reason- but it really went downhill from there to the point where she became the villain to me. Dr Cable and the society were the obvious villains but Shay was something worse- a really poisonous ‘friend’.
Zane, just- Wah!
I do worry about a negative effect, there’s really nothing in these books that says- hey, some people get plastic surgery and really, that’s okay too. The whole pretty-head thing could be seriously skewed.

Maybe the fourth book will clear up a few of these things for me. I’m really glad I read this trilogy though and it really made me think about the nature of beauty, plastic surgery, and what is important. In the words of my physiotherapist; ‘Everyone is weird looking as a teen.’ I wish I had read these when I was younger but even now at twenty-one, these books made an impact.

Have you read the Uglies Trilogy? What did you think?

Fiction Friday: The Georgia Nicolson Series by Louise Rennison: Review and Giveaway!

Now I’ve done separate reviews of these books but I thought I’d do one big overview since they’re split up into many blog posts and my opinion on if you should start this series at all since 10 books can be quite an investment of time and money if you’re a completionist like me! I reviewed the first book here, the second and third here, the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth here, and the ninth and tenth here!

The Georgia Nicolson Series by Louise Rennison

Louise Rennison has said; “I wrote the book to make myself laugh. I always wrote what I remembered making me laugh when I was that age. I didn’t attempt to teach. I didn’t attempt to do anything except I wanted Georgia to be a decent person. I wanted her to be someone who is a bit stupid and self-obsessed and difficult and funny and rude, and a bit jealous and all those other things. But I wanted her to have a good heart.” 

And I think that is what she has done! They’re not Moby Dick but they’re funny, genuine books that remind me a lot of my school years too. As horrifying as those years were; I had to wear a uniform, I went to an all-girls school and while I may not have had to wear a beret, the introduction of the compulsory blazer in my tenth year was more highly debated than anything in debate club.

Do I think people should read them? Yeah, if you want a bit of nostalgia- especially if you were a teenage girl at some point- then these books are just what you need. They’re a guaranteed laugh.

So if you fancy them I have a giveaway! Of all ten! If you read my book haul then you know I bought these to re-read, then a couple days later while clearing out my storage unit- I found my old copies so. I have all ten to giveaway today to one lucky UK reader, just fill out the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you read the Georgia Nicolson books when you were young?