Tag: book rec

Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes


Ambition will fuel him. Competition will drive him. But power has its price.

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Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Author: Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Genre: YA, Dystopian

Format: Physical book

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


SYNOPSIS:

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-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 outcharm, 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.


MY REVIEW:

I have read so many mixed reviews on this book and for that reason I honestly went into it with really low expectations! I was ever questioning this book before reading any reviews at all. I felt like I didn’t need this prequel and just felt that The Hunger Games were over and done and didn’t need to be brought up again.

But you guys… I really liked it! Don’t get me wrong – THIS IS NOT A HUNGER GAMES BOOK. This is before the series and it is MUCH different. Do not go into this expecting the crazy action packed books like before. This takes on a whole new approach and new view of the games.

What I liked the most:

  • Seeing Snow’s character before he is the horrible president that everyone loves to hate
  • Finding out what the Hunger Games used to be like and how it evolved
  • Getting some information about what it’s like to be a Peace Keeper
  • Finding out why Snow is the way he is and piecing it all together!

For me, I like some good background information. This book did just that! We follow Snow while he is a student and also part of the very first mentor program for the games. It was interesting to see how the games unfold and learn how the games became this HUGE event later on. I loved seeing Snow change and evolve. Snow has quite a few personality flaws that really clear up why he is so horrible in the future but also his life was not some simple, easy, perfect life and a part of me felt for him and understood. Snow faces a lot of challenges in this story and a lot of them are moral and ethical dilemmas. As much as I love a character that is out there to make the world a better place, it is also fun to have a morally gray character too. Snow is the MOST morally gray character ever haha sometimes he seems “good” and other times he actually shocks you with his decisions. In the end, none of it is much of a shock because we all know who he turns out to be later on.

While there wasn’t a ton of action I still felt the story to be fast paced enough that I was invested in it. There were definitely sometimes I was on the edge of my seat! There was no lack of suspense at all. I will say though that there is a romance that happens during the story and for me I felt it could have been left out OR not had such a large part. It just didn’t seem important and at the end it didn’t really add anything useful. It was cute though at parts but… meh.

I would say read this book if you loved The Hunger Games and you are interested in seeing it from a different lens. Read this book if you want to know more about Snow and how the heck he became the man he did. Read this book if you like a good origin story! I think overall, if you liked the series, this is worth the read.


Have you read this? What did you think? If not, is this something you want to read?

Chat with me in the comments 😊

If you liked… You might like… [Truly Devious edition]

Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog! I have been seeing a lot of book rec posts on here and also booktube. I always love seeing what people recommend based on other books. It opens up my eyes to SO many other fantastic reads and also makes me think about how books are linked or why someone may like a book based on another book if they don’t seem to have a lot in common. I just love how people think and how people link things in their brains. It is is always such a great way to pass time and get a lot of new books to add to my TBR that is never ever going to end!

I decided to start this series (I guess I will call it a series because I plan on doing these a few times a month… but any-who…). I decided to start with Truly Devious because I really enjoyed that book and I’ve seen it pop up around the internet. I have to say I’ve only read the first book of the series but I do have the second one (Vanishing Stair) on my bookshelf. I have yet to purchase the last book in the series but I will be doing that as soon as I start the second book.

A little bit of a tangent but I used to always get the WHOLE series right from the start. Like if I knew I was interested in a book that was part of a series I would just grab them all. I did this for the Gone series. Its like 6 or 7 books lol I bought them all. Luckily I enjoyed the books or else I wold have had a lot of unread books on my shelf. I tend to only buy the first book of the series now. But I find that I normally finish a series regardless of how much I really enjoy the first book…. I just need the closure 😂

So anyways, back to the post you came here for…. I am going to recommend 5 books you might like, if you liked Truly Devious!

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Truly Devious – some themes/ vibes I got from the book that I will be using as links to the other book recs:

  • Murder mystery
  • Dual time periods
  • Set at a boarding school
  • Sherlock style mystery
  • MC is a true crime expert
  • Kids end up solving a mystery for the adults

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

I will start this one off by saying I may be a little bias because I LOVE THIS BOOK AND SERIES. It is fantastic and if you have been around my blog/ IG for any time at all you will know I talk about this book any chance I can get… sorry (but I’m not really).

Why you might like this book:

  • It follows two characters who are decedents from Sherlock Holmes and John Watson
  • This is a Sherlock retelling
  • The main characters end up solving a murder mystery that happens at the boarding school they are at (another one of those kids save the day style stories)
  • There is a lot of blackmail, multiple generations involved, and power families with lots of secrets!

Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey

This book is set in 1834 and follows a female main character who desperately wants to be part of a group called “Bow Street Runners” which is a very elite group of detectives in London! Of course, this is looked down upon because she is a lady and during that time there is no way a lady would be a detective. HOWEVER, she ends up being involved in a mystery and gets to prove herself.

Why you might like this book:

  • It is set in the Victornia Era London which is so famous for detective mysteries
  • The female main character goes againist the statuts-quo
  • This is a murder mystery
  • Possible romance
  • A deep twisted family secret

Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett

If you are like me, you enjoy a good cozy mystery. This story is about a town full of bookstores. All the bookstores are different genres and the main character opens up her own mystery bookstore. There is a suspicious death of another bookstores owner and it seems to be linked back to the main character!

Why you might like this book:

  • Amateur sleuth – the main character has to solve the mystery to clear her name (very similar to Truly Devious)
  • Book about a town full of bookstores (whats not to like about that)
  • Town secrets that make it hard to trust anyone
  • Bookish cozy mystery

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This is a paranormal story following a main character who comes from a family full of psychics. The main character meets a group of boys that she is supposed to stay away from BUT obviously she doesn’t! She goes on this quest with them to solve some sort of magically mystery and starts to unravel a lot of secrets and also finds out things about herself and her powers in the meantime. There is so much more about this book but I would be here all day to explain it!

Why you might like this book:

  • Mysterious private school boys
  • A quest to solve a mystery + a murder is discovered which is quite a shock
  • A prophecy
  • The main character is stubborn and does what she is not supposed to do
  • Magic, secrets, paranormal

This one is less like Truly Devious but I feel like the mystery solving aspect is still there and with the added magic and prophecies, it takes this on a darker turn.


Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

This story is super interesting!! This is about a bookseller who writes up a list of the most perfect, unsolvable murders from the books hes read which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders.” He later becomes a suspect of a series of murders that are exactly like the ones from the list. Oh no!

Why you might like this book:

  • The main character is framed and has to do some mystery solving to clear their name
  • FBI involvement
  • Ultimate mystery story as the author ties in iconic mysteries to the book
  • Suspenseful – the killer seems to know so much about the main character that no one can be trusted!

What do you think? Would you read any of these books? Have you read any of them?

I know these lists can be a bit subjective, so let me know if you have any book rec’s that are similar to Truly Devious!

BOOK REVIEW: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

A feminist Lord of the Flies about three best friends living in quarantine at their island boarding school, and the lengths they go to uncover the truth of their confinement when one disappears. This fresh debut is a mind-bending novel unlike anything you’ve read before. – Penguin Random House

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Title: Wilder Girls

Author: Rory Power

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: YA, Horror, Mystery

Format: Physical book

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐/5


SYNOPSIS:

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.


MY REVIEW:

I would describe Wilder Girls as a mix of YA horror, survival, and dystopia. The author did a great job of writing the gruesome horror aspects! I would say that was the strongest part of the book.

The story follows 3 girls who are at a boarding school on an island. The girls at the boarding school all get sick and start to form all sorts of different deformities. Its unclear why this is happening to the girls and therefore, the island is under quarantine while scientists try to cure them.

The idea of this book is awesome! I really enjoyed the characters. I loved the main character Hetty and her friend Byatt. I have to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of Reese 🤷🏼‍♀️ I liked that there was little to no romance in this story. There was some hints of romance but it was really kept to a minimal.

Survival was a big part of the story. Probably 99% of the time the story focuses on the girls just trying to survive another day. It was quite desperate at times and did keep me on the edge of my seat.

BUT this story just lacked something for me. Maybe it was the fact that no real action happens until the end of the book. Maybe it was ending that felt totally unresolved and just finished with nothing answered. The characters really kept me in this book. The story itself was interesting and unique but wasn’t AMAZING!


Have you read this one or is it on your TBR? I’d love to hear what you think of this one!! Chat with me in the comments!

BOOK REVIEW: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

“The versatile Johnson is no stranger to suspense, and this twisty thriller will leave plenty of readers anxious for more.” -Booklist

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Title: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Mystery, YA

Format: Physical

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


SYNOPSIS:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 


MY REVIEW:

I really enjoyed this book! First of all, I LOVE a good mystery! I didn’t really know what to expect from this one because I didn’t read anything about it beforehand – I just saw so many people liked it and I enjoy Maureen Johnson so I just picked it up! I was not disappointed at all!!

This book was everything I enjoy in a fun mystery. The story is set in a school (Ellingham Academy) that is deep in the forest in Vermont! It’s secluded and hard to reach so OBVIOUSLY it’s the perfect spot for a mystery. The best part is that the school has a past history of bad things happening there and while the story unfolds the reader discovers all these clues that piece together not only the current mystery but also the mystery in the past! I enjoyed that part 😊

Stevie!!! She is MY GIRL. I loved her. She reminded me very much of the female version of Sherlock Holmes (which was totally the point). She was so smart and I loved her confidence in her abilities. She knew she had skills and she didn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. I found myself really cheering her on throughout the book. I especially liked that she stuck to her goal which was to solve the mystery but also let herself explore being a teenager and feelings that come with that.

The book had a little bit of romance (maybe romance?) and it was enough. This was one of those stories that you don’t even need any romance or relationship stuff happening because you are just so into the plot, it didn’t even matter to me what the characters were doing to be honest. I was so engulfed in the mystery, nothing else mattered!

I liked the characters! I think the author did a good job of being descriptive but also leaving enough out that everyone was kind of mysterious and questionable! At times I felt like I was part of the game Clue! I also found that while the mystery was not overly complicated, I was always kept on my toes. I did not see really any of the twists coming and I DID NOT see the last twist coming, I was thoroughly shocked (which is what you want with these books)!

Overall, this was super fun and a great read! I found I was trying to solve the mystery alongside Stevie and I think those are the best stories – where you are so into the story that it feels like you are right there with the character. I don’t really have any negative things to say about this one. The only reason it didn’t get 5 stars is because it didn’t leave me “shook.” It was a good story with good characters and an interesting plot, but I didn’t put the book down and go “woah the heck happened there.” BUT still so good and I’m so excited to read the rest of the series!!


Have you read this book? What did you think of it?