Friday, May 22, 2020

Book review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Book Summary
t is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined - every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Flo's Non-Spoilery Review
I am a HUGE Hunger Games fan. But when I heard the new book was going to focus on Snow, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was just excited to spend time in Panem again. The other part of me, which is not huge on villain tales, didn't know what to think. And it is ultimately that fact that made this a 4 star instead of a 5 star book for me. I have said again and again that I am not good at books where I don't like the main character, and Snow has always been and will always be unlikeable to me. But Suzanne did such a good job with him. His character development and growth was illustrated well and made complete sense. She still made him human, to where we might sympathize with him at some points, but then he shares a thought that reminds you, "Oh yeah -- this guy is horrible."

One of my fandom friends noted that reading this book was like going home again, and that is so true. This story is so connected to everything in the original trilogy -- we see how so many things, not just the Games, came to be. There is even a shoutout to Katniss! Suzanne does such a great job of building her characters. They are the type that you could do essays exploring the motivations, actions, etc. of so many of them: Snow, Sejanus, Dr. Gaul, Mr. and Mrs. Plinth. And like the original trilogy, I feel the that this is a book about which I will be engaging in many conversations about the many different aspects. All the deep questions that come from reading the original trilogy also come into play here, and perhaps even more.

I'm drying to talk about this! Let me know if you've read it so we can chat! (Just no spoilers in the comments!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Book Review: The Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Goodreads Summary:

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

Teri’s Review:

I picked up Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner for a summer reading challenge I am participating in. I have seen her books in the stores but just have never picked one up for some reason, and honestly, for the books listed in the month of May for the challenge, this sounded the most interesting, plus I thought it would be great to branch out with my reading a bit.

The book mostly centers around Daphne Berg, her ex-best friend Drue. Daphne is a 20-something overweight Instagram Influencer who becomes somewhat famous when a video of her lashing out at a guy at a bar goes viral. Daphne is fun, is insecure like we all are, especially when her weight is concerned, yet at times she is very accepting of herself and does a great job of putting herself out there on social media and faking it, even when the comments are hurtful. I do however think the writing with Daphne’s character is where I found the most fault in the book. I love the way Weiner celebrates Daphne’s weigh and how it is embraced, I think it is a great encouragement for a lot of readers, however, I also felt she focused on it a bit too much and almost made it what defined Daphne. I just felt that Daphne had so much to offer as a character.

Drue, Daphne’s ex-best friend is your typical spoilt rich bitch, she and Daphne haven’t spoken to each other since the bar fight, mostly because Drue had a large part in it. Drew has burned a lot of bridges with people and has very few friends. She walks back into Daphne’s life and Daphne gives her a second chance.

The first of the book was entertaining, it had a lot of back history between Daphne and Drue, and felt like your typical woman’s fiction or Chick Lit, but about halfway through she shook things up in the most unexpected way. As I said earlier I have never read Jennifer Weiner before so I am not sure if she normally twists so tightly in all er books, but this one moment, this place in the book that totally throws a whole new light on the story kept me reading all night wanting to see how it ended.

Big Summer is entertaining, surprising, funny, and well written and is the perfect book to throw in your bag for a quick read or to add to your list of summer beach reads.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Good Reads Summary:

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body.

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. And then someone turns up dead.

Tee's Review:

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year between the beautiful and successful magazine owner Jules Keegan and the gorgeous TV star Will Slater. They are the couple you will love to hate, they have and fame, and they are getting married.

The main point, or so I thought, was a murder. It happens rather soon in the book...kinda...but not really. It isn't until the end that you know who is the murderer or even who the victim is. The book flips back and forth between the action of the guests finding out a body has been found, these chapters take up about two pages and the viewpoints of the five main characters, each getting chapters throughout the book to tell their history. It was a bit confusing to me at first. but I quickly got us to it.

The book centers around The Bride Jules who is worried about who wrote her a note telling her not to marry Will who is a cheat, and Wills her soon to be husband who has plenty of secrets. Along with them is Jule's sister Olivia, a bridesmaid who's secret has caused her a few mental issues such as cutting and not eating. Hannah, who is wife to Jule's best friend Charlie, they also have their own secrets that will intersect with the bride and groom. Best friend Johnno, who was at a posh private school with Will and the other groomsmen. He has had nothing but failure since leaving the school and holds secrets that both he and Will do not want to be known.

The wedding takes place on a remote Irish island that is perfect for, maybe not a wedding but definitely a murder and mystery. Caves, tall cliffs that fall to the wild ocean, bogs that you can sink in, and very little cell service are all intensified by an approaching storm. It gives a good creepy feel to the story.

If you are a fan of Agatha Christie or any other who-done-it, The Guest List will certainly keep you guessing until the end with all the twists and turns