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

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne CollinsThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 19th May 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

It 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.

I wasn’t originally going to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as I didn’t really have any interest in President Snow’s backstory, and I thought that without Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games wouldn’t be all that interesting. I was correct.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes felt, to me, entirely pointless. I struggled from the beginning to connect with Snow’s younger self. It seems strange to me that Collins chose to write the story from Snow’s point of view, as presumably everyone reading this book will know what he is to become. I read books to connect with the characters, but I couldn’t do that with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes because I simply could not see the two Snows as two different people. I knew who he was.

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Guest Post: Five Quotes to Live By by Natalie Hibberd

Today I’m kicking off the blog tour for Natalie Hibberd’s debut book, Inside Out! I’m slowly getting back into dystopian books after wearing myself out on them (possibly due to the current political climate), so when I was contacted about this book I was intrigued, and also a little excited. The blog tour will be running all week, so be sure to check out the other hosts later on in the week.

For this kick off post, Natalie has written a guest post about five inspirational quotes, aka five quotes to live by. You can read about these below the divider, and hopefully they’ll provide some inspiration for you! Continue scrolling after the quotes to read more about Inside Out and the author. – Amber

Like many writers I know, I have always had a fondness for inspirational quotes. My room is plastered with them and I read at least one every day. They may not be able to magic away the hard times in our lives, but I have found that they sometimes provide just that tiny bit of extra strength needed to gather your energies and confront any challenges in your way.

I hope some of these may inspire you, as they did me.

“You Can Steer Yourself In Any Direction You Choose” – Dr Seuss

This tiny extract from Oh The Places You’ll Go has been a motivation to me for as long as I can remember. As a young, disabled woman whose greatest desire is to write for a living, I have been bombarded with people telling me ‘you can’t do that.’ I’ve proved to myself that I can make my own dreams come true. Believe that you can too!

“Of Course It Is Happening Inside Your Head… But Why On Earth Should That Mean That It Is Not Real?” – J. K. Rowling

This one might sound crazy, but I know that my fellow writers (and book, TV and film superfans everywhere) will understand its power. The way in which fictional characters can influence real people’s lives never fails to amaze me. Imagination matters. It can change the world.

“No One Ever Made A Difference By Being Like Everyone Else” – The Greatest Showman

Rather self-explanatory, this gem from one of my all-time favourite films means so much to me I dissolved into tears right there in the cinema when I first heard it. Being different is hard – but never once has anything been achieved by extinguishing your own spark just to blend in with everyone else. Whatever you do, do it your way. If you do that, anything can happen.

“No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

There are bullies in every walk of life and the scars they leave can do so much damage to your self-esteem. At my lowest, I viewed myself solely in the light of other people’s negative opinions. Self-confidence is something I continue to work on, and these words really spur me on. They also take on a new poignancy in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, as they remind me every day that we must fight to make sure these words remain true for everyone.

“When Things Get Tough… Make Good Art” – Neil Gaiman

I have been telling stories since I was two years old but during my most severe bouts of depression, I found that I couldn’t do it anymore, which broke my heart. This quote (and the whole Make Good Art speech) was the first lifeline I found to claw my way back to my art and – by extension – myself. The things you love are precious, fight for them.

About Natalie

Natalie Hibberd was born in Portsmouth and has wanted to be an author since she was two years old. She is publishing her debut novel Inside Out, independently with Matador, aged 21. Natalie was born with cerebral palsy. When she isn’t writing and reading, she enjoys singing, amateur dramatics
and listening to podcasts. Natalie lives in Petersfield, Hampshire, with her parents and her assistance dog, Chloe. You can follow Natalie on Twitter.

About Inside Out

Guest Post: Five Quotes to Live By by Natalie HibberdInside Out Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 30th November 2019
Publisher: Matador Publishing

In a divisive world of mistrust and murder, there’s only one thing that matters growing up: you’re either in The Inside or The Outside.

While the Insiders appear pampered and privileged, the Outsiders know only harsh realities. Believing themselves to be deprived of everything the Insiders have, the younger generation channel their rage into a terrorist group called The Freedom Fighters. Their
intent: overthrow the Inside at any cost.

Now the Insiders must watch as the world they love collapses around them while the government resort to increasingly desperate tactics to try and contain the Outside threat. When the latest initiative catapults one of the youngest into the heart of the war, everything is pushed to breaking point.

Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Rebel Heart by Moira YoungRebel Heart by Moira Young
Series: Dust Lands #2
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 30th October 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

Saba thought her world would return to normal after they defeated the Tonton and rescued her kidnapped brother Lugh. The family head west for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But a formidable enemy is on the rise. What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?

Rebel Heart was a massive disappointment of a book. I remember loving Blood Red Road when I read it, and I have been eagerly anticipating reading the sequel, even though it took me forever to get to it. But I almost wish I’d never tried to read it.

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The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera CassThe Elite by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 23rd April 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-star

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

A short list of things that happen in this book:

1. America reads diaries.

2. Maxon dates other women but still macks on America. She, having never listened to Destiny’s Child in her life, still somehow thinks this is okay behaviour.

3. Aspen…is a character, I guess.

4. Literally nothing else of note.

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UnSouled by Neal Shusterman

UnSouled by Neal ShustermanUnSouled by Neal Shusterman
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: November 7, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-half-stars

Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever.

Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human.

With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed.

The Unwind Dystology has turned out to be such a great series, although UnSouled definitely has that filler book vibe to it. Much of UnSouled is taken up by Shusterman building up to the grand finale in the fourth and final book. Nothing much happened, but since Shusterman is such a great author, I read this book fairly quickly and I wasn’t at all bored. Continue reading