“Elektra” by Jennifer Saint – Review

By: Angie Haddock & Tory Tanguay

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?


While the Goodreads blurb gives some of the basics here, a little of the story might be helpful before we get into the conversation we had about this one!

We briefly meet sisters Helen and Clytemnestra in their home of Sparta, before they marry brothers Menelaus and Agamemnon. Helen stays in Sparta, and Clytemnestra moves with her husband to his kingdom of Mycenae.

Years later, Agamemnon is leading the Greek forces to Troy. On the eve of the Trojan war, he kills his and Clytemnestra’s oldest daughter, Iphigenia, as a sacrifice to the gods. Clytemnestra was tricked into taking the daughter to him, and lives out the ten years of the war waiting to seek revenge on her husband.

Tory and Angie both read this one recently, and here are some thoughts.

Angie: So, I guess the first thing that came to my mind is… we have 3 different perspectives. Was there one that resonated with you more than the others? Or, conversely, one you didn’t like as well?

Tory: I feel like I resonated more with Clytemnestra especially considering her understandably very heart-wrenching reaction to the loss of her daughter. I feel like her responses were something along the lines of what I would experience if I had been in her shoes.

What about you?

Angie: Same, at least at first. I felt like her situation was so horrific, and I wanted to give her a lot of leeway for the decisions she made. I also felt like Elektra’s perspective was very sheltered. She was young, and idolized her dad, but it came from a place of… well, of course, he’s her dad. So he could do no wrong, ya know?

Which made it interesting later, that she became more and more like her mom as she became an adult. Whether she saw it or not.

Tory: I felt the same about Elektra. Like she really wasn’t considering the whole picture. Sure you can idolize your dad and think he hung the moon but to totally absolve them of cold-blooded murder?

Now I’ve been a Greek mythology buff since I was a pre-teen. Did you have any knowledge of this storyline or characters before you read the novel?

Angie: And really, I think kids would be just as likely to idolize either parent? So the fact that she gave no grace to her mom… really came from Clytemnestra’s subsequent distractedness. Like, her dad wasn’t around for the next 10 years, so she could keep an idealized version of him in her mind… but not of her mom.

Tory: True.

Angie: I’m not really deeply versed in it. Like, I knew the basic plot points of the Trojan war, and I’d read “Circe” as an adult.

But I couldn’t say I remembered who Elektra or Clytemnestra was. The name Cassandra sounded more familiar to me, but I wouldn’t have remembered her story per se.

How did this stack up against your prior knowledge of these characters?

Tory: So I first became knowledgeable about basic Greek myths (like origins of the gods type stuff, basic how the world works things) when I was about 12-ish? But the story of Elektra (also spelled Electra) I really became familiar with after having to read the play by the same name in high school if I remember correctly by either Sophocles or Euripides. (Both of them wrote plays regarding the story but I don’t remember which one I read.)

Jennifer Saint’s version seems to stick to my knowledge and remembrance of the story but I thought it was interesting how she added Cassandra’s version in there too because she really has such a minor part in the whole thing.

It was nice for background information especially from the Trojan aspect of things but I wonder if she could’ve gotten away with not having her point of view at all.

Angie: Hers did not entirely fit with the other two. But like you said… I feel like having a voice within Troy just helped us, as the readers, keep tabs on Agamemnon and how the war was going?

I felt like her story was semi-interesting in its own right, but could have definitely been a different book.

Tory: I completely agree.

I sometimes felt like Cassandra’s version of events was just in there to make a fairly short book slightly longer.

Angie: Ha! Fair enough.

Tory: Now going back to Electra and what you mentioned about her having an idealized version of her father, I kinda get the impression that she is completely responsible for Orestes’ view of Agamemnon. Like if Electra didn’t exist then Orestes wouldn’t have had a real view of his father to begin with.

Angie: Agreed.

Tory: Does that make sense? He wasn’t even born yet when his dad left and then because of Electra he takes on the same view.

Angie: Yep, fair. And if anyone gets unfairly shafted in this book, I feel like it’s Orestes and Georgios.

Tory: Oh completely.

Angie: Cassandra, ok, I’ll say she didn’t create too many of the agonies she was dealt. But everyone else… kinda did.

Tory: If I remember the plays correctly I think Georgios is strictly made up for the story.

Angie: Ah, good to know. But, it does give Elektra a place to hide out for a while, so I think it’s an ok addition?

Tory: A “you reap what you sow” kind of idea?

I think having him in there works for the story.

Angie: I mean, yea… I guess to an extent, Clytemnestra losing her oldest daughter was only brought on by her husband (not her). Although, she talks about having that fear of his line being cursed, anyway. But after that… she basically loses her youngest two children because of her rage over the first one. And Elektra grows up to also live a life fueled by vengeance.

As did Aegisthus.

Tory: You’re right, Clytemnestra didn’t bring things on by herself at first but her reactions to the events did so. One thing you learn after reading a lot of Greek myths and tragic plays and such is that you can’t escape fate.

So if Agamemnon’s family line is destined to be cursed, it’s gonna be cursed no matter what you do or don’t do

Angie: Ok, so… since you’re more versed in it… does the curse continue? I honestly didn’t see Elektra becoming a mom herself, but she does in the end…

Tory: I feel like and through that and her response to her daughter’s death, like we’ve said, she brings on the continuing cycle through giving Elektra a need for vengeance.

Oooh good question! I think as far as we know it ends with Elektra and Orestes just cause we don’t hear anything else about the characters because the plays end. But I could be wrong.

Angie: It’s interesting to me that she did become a mom, but… I wonder if she really didn’t know that much about the history of her own family? She and her mom spent so much of her childhood avoiding each other, it’s possible.

Tory: And does the generational trauma end with her? It’s interesting to think about.

Angie: Right?

Tory: It’s an interesting choice by Saint to be sure.

Angie: Ok, so another thought I had… we agreed that Georgios and Orestes get the major shaft. So, could we say that, in this story, the men are largely used as chess pieces by the women of the book? Even though the men are technically in charge in their society… are they really?

And I think, along with that…we have to consider Helen! We don’t get her perspective here, but all these men went to war for her.

Tory: Oh that’s a great thought! At least in this story I would agree with that cause in the original tellings of these storylines it’s completely the opposite.

Angie: Interesting. So… ok, I’d say Helen gets off basically scot-free here. The rest of the women do see consequences to their actions. But overall, we might consider this to be a feminist retelling of the story? Just based on how these women wield their power over their lovers, brothers, etc.?

Tory: I could see that. At least it being the women’s side of the events of the Trojan war aftermath.

However, I usually think of feminist stories as women taking matters into their own hands with a better outcome and I don’t really think a better outcome happens in this case.

Angie: For sure, they all make a mess of things.

Tory: A large bloody mess.

Angie: Are there any other points you want to discuss before we wrap up?

Tory: The only other thing I’ve been thinking about since we first mentioned Georgios is that I saw him as a hopeful redemption arc for Elektra. Like, he agreed with her that Agamemnon was awesome but at the same time wanted her to let go of that idealized fantasy a little and just move on with life.

But Elektra sees the possibility of redemption so to speak (settling down, being a wife and parent with him) and just looks at it and is like “Nah.”

The cursed line could have ended there but it doesn’t.

Angie: So it’s like… that offer of living a redemptive, different life was right there, but she just couldn’t quite do it.

Tory: Exactly.

Angie: She is, for all intents and purposes, her parents’ child.

Tory: 100%.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – A Conversation

By Angie Haddock

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.

Description of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, from Goodreads.

When I joined up with Reading Our Shelves, I was already in the middle of a few selections. One of them was the audiobook version of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins. I found that another book blogger, Heather from Froodian Slip, was just going through the Hunger Games books for the first time! So, I thought it’d be fun to get her reactions to the new one, as we finished it around the same time.

What follows is our conversation. I guess neither of us gave it a “rating,” in a technical sense, but we both enjoyed the book.

Angie: I typed up a few of my scattered thoughts earlier today.  Did you have yours in any particular order?

Heather: I didn’t take notes as I went for this one. It got to the point where I just wanted to read and not stop every few minutes to take notes. But I have things to say. Hahaha! And I’ve been going through stuff in my head ever since we decided to do this so I wouldn’t forget the important points. So, we’re good.

Angie: Understandable!  And I’m going to rely on you for some details… I had read through the original trilogy between the first and second movie coming out, so it’s fresher in your mind.

Heather: Okay!

Angie: Perfect.

So, obviously, we start with Coriolanus as a teen.  And Tigris is a main character in this one, as well.  I know we met her in Mockingjay, and knew she was a longtime Capitol citizen… did we know she had any particular connection to Snow?

Heather: We didn’t, I don’t think, but she made it apparent that she didn’t like him and that’s why she was helping them in Mockingjay. And this is actually one of my sticking points in the newest book, because I need to know how they went from such a close relationship to Tigris wanting him dead. Let me grab Mockingjay real quick and see exactly what she said (or didn’t say).

Angie: Well, I read a few reviews of this book and I know a lot of people think there will be more to the story – they also want to know how the two fell out – and some are hoping Collins writes a book with Tigris as the main character.  I’d be up for that.

Heather: I definitely want a book from Tigris’ point of view.

I also wouldn’t mind a book about Lucy Gray.

Angie: I mean… I’d read it.  Ha!  But I also kind of don’t mind her future being shrouded in mystery.  More on that later.

Heather: Oh, I meant more about Lucy Gray’s past. Or the past of the Covey in general.

Angie: Yea, if they went backwards, that’d be ok.  I know I’m not the only one who’s wondered what’s beyond the remnants of “America” at this point, and if the Covey has traveled far enough, it might give us a look at further regions.

Heather: So, Katniss tells Tigris that she’s going to kill snow, and Tigris just smiles. I think that’s the only reference to how Tigris feels about him.

And Tigris is one of Plutarch’s people.

Angie: Hmmm.  Interesting.  Yea, she’s a character everyone was so intrigued by in that one.  I like her inclusion here, even though we know there has to be more to her story….

Heather: And I could make all kinds of speculations about that, but not with any detail, obviously.

I think the first thing I’d like to say about this book is that I knew nothing about it going in aside from it being Snow’s backstory, and I wasn’t super intrigued by that.

Why Snow? Is she trying to make him more sympathetic?

Because it didn’t work.


Angie: I think a lot of people were originally turned off by the idea, when it was announced.  Most of us hate him and didn’t want to sympathize with his side of things.

Ha! So, did you like the book overall?  Hate it?  Just hate Snow, even in this one?

Heather: It’s not even that I don’t want to sympathize with him. I can’t sympathize with him. And I’m a total empath, so for me not to be able to sympathize/empathize with someone is rare. They have to be pretty stinkin’ bad. Ha!

I liked the book, yes. I didn’t love it.

I’m not sure it lived up to the legacy of the original trilogy.

And yes, I still dislike Snow. He’s a selfish jerk.

Angie: I liked the book a lot. But, as I said, it’s been a while since I’d been in this universe.  It was “fun” falling back into it, if you can call murder and starvation “fun.”

Heather: Ha! Yes! I kept telling people I was really enjoying the books and then saying, “Can I use the word ‘enjoy’ in this situation? It feels wrong.”

I guess I just feel like so many stories could have been told…and she chose President Snow.

Angie: I think she does a nice job of bringing you back in without it being overdone… you see some familiar last names and get the idea that some families have been in the Capitol for a long time.  But it’s not like she’s spelling out specific family trees here.

Heather: Yes. I did like all of the connections.

Angie: Well, he’s a big player.  And I feel like his story is as much a telling of how the Games have evolved over the years, too.

Heather: That’s true. And really, I think it also showed how much alike Snow and Katniss are in some ways, which was interesting for me to realize.

And so maybe it was meant to show that there isn’t much difference between Capitol kids and District kids (or something)? I’m still working on that line of thought.

Angie: I think a lot of us are a little naive as teens, yea?

Heather: It’s not the naïveté, though…it’s the selfishness.

Angie: And I think one of the biggest things I took away from it was that the Capitol… those in charge, I mean… uses EVERYONE as pawns, even other people within the Capitol.  They’re much crueler to the District folks, but they will still use everyone they can as pieces in their games.

I was thinking of that when I read your review of the first one, how you said you’d like to give Effie the benefit of the doubt but struggled to…

Their visions of reality are just so skewed and twisted.  And it’s been handed down to them by the generations before them.

Heather: So, okay, I have not been Katniss’ #1 fan throughout the series. I understand that they’re just kids and they’re just trying to survive (and really, by any means necessary). But you have a kid like Rue who is trying to survive by helping other people and being kind. Or like Peeta (and he’s not perfect, so this is just one aspect of his character) who would rather help Katniss survive than survive himself.

But then you have Katniss who is pretty selfish, if you think about it, and really is trying to survive by any means necessary.

Angie: I get ya.  Yea, Snow is definitely trying to keep his head above water at some points, and some questionable decisions come from that.

Heather: Peeta and Gale have that whole conversation in Mockingjay about who she might choose (between them), and Gale says something to the effect of, “whichever one helps her survive.”

And Snow is also selfish in that way.

In that way, they are very much alike.

Angie: Right.  And in this story, you see Sejanus… or even Tigris… who don’t act that way, even if they’re in dire straits themselves.

Heather: Exactly.

So, you have these two people who hate each other (Katniss and Snow), and they really have a lot in common.

Angie: Do you think that was what Collins wanted to present here?

Heather: And I agree with what you said about the people in charge of the Capitol.


That’s something I’ve been thinking through.

Angie: Gotcha.

Ok, let’s tackle the Games.  I thought this was one of the most intriguing aspects, as we’d become so familiar with the version of them that exists in Katniss’ time.

Heather: Yes. The development of the Games was maybe my favorite part of this.

Angie: Here’s what I had written down:

I always felt that, in Katniss’ time, the lavish attention they got was kind of cruel in a psychological way… like, here’s all the food and clothes and nice things you don’t get back home, enjoy them because you’ll probably be dead in a few days.

BUT the way they treated the tributes in Coriolanus’ time was actually Crueler.  They brought them in on cattle cars, kept them in an abandoned zoo, and never (like, NEVER, for days) fed them.  They didn’t give them anything to go into the arena with except the clothes on their backs, which were the same clothes they’d been wearing since their names were called in the reaping.  Most of them were half-dead by the time the games even started. This was torture in an actual, physical way (as opposed to merely psychological).

Heather: YES.

I actually took note of that, too, in the same line of thinking.

Angie: So, when we read through the originals, the Games seemed so cruel.  And now that we’re mentally used to the set up, they had to up the cruelty. But seriously, it almost hurts to think that some of the changes made (some, even, by Snow himself) were for the better!

Heather: In the beginning, the Games didn’t really do what I think the Capitol wanted them to do. Many of the districts didn’t watch them, because they didn’t have the means to and it wasn’t mandatory, and so it really was just about torturing the kids that were in the Games (and their families). I don’t think they had the same OOMPH that the more developed Games had.

I think the early Games were really just giving the Capitol some form of entertainment.

And not even good entertainment. (I can’t believe I’m saying that, but you know what I mean.)

The Victor of the early Games really was the kid who managed to survive the longest…not necessarily the kid who could fight the best or better the other players in some way.

Angie: Yes, they added more “flair” as time went on.  But also, the means Snow introduces to make the Districts have an interest… everyone in the winning District getting food, and the victors getting a house… are kind of good perks.  Like I said, it hurts to admit that his way… while definitely for the sake of adding more TV hype… is also kind of more humane?

Heather: I totally agree.

Even if being more humane wasn’t their focus.

Because they added more perks for the Capitol, too, like the betting and such.

Angie: It’s such a double-edged sword.

I also noted:

There was one old arena, used yearly for this event, and it was not well kept up in the interim.  They had to post guards outside, because there were places the kids could escape otherwise.  The place was not in good shape.  They also just expected them to kill each other or die from starvation – there weren’t really other twists planned by the gamemakers.

So, this intrigued me because we see how much planning goes into the arenas later on.

Heather: I said in one of my latest “reviews,” for Catching Fire, I think, that it would actually be really fun to design one of the new terraformed arenas, just not for the purpose of the Games.

Think about how much work and technology goes into the newer arenas, where the old arena was like a Roman Colosseum.

Angie: Yes!  It’s a big part of that universe, I think.  The arenas are kind of their own… artform?

Heather: Yes.

Angie: And let’s just be realistic… the only “gamemaker” in this book is really Dr. Gaul.  I know Highbottom had a periphery role, but he hated it.  She was the one in charge and the only one invested in creating new ideas for the Games.  She is basically evil incarnate.

Heather: I thought it was interesting that Highbottom’s falling out with Snow’s father was over the original idea for the Games.

Angie: His role was… hard to decipher.

But yea, it didn’t surprise me to learn that Snow’s dad had a hand in beginning all this.

Heather: I also love that he blamed Snow’s father for the whole thing because Highbottom was “drunk and it was meant to be a joke.” Well, Highbottom, alcohol takes away your inhibitions, so you obviously already had the idea for the Games somewhere in the back of your mind. You aren’t blameless.

Angie: Agreed!  But I do think he regrets it later in life.

Heather: Dr. Gaul was actually pretty terrifying. I’d like more of her story, even though I’m not fond of her.

Oh, I’m sure he regrets it. I don’t doubt that for a second.

Angie: Like, we can infer that her taking Coriolanus under her wing is – at least, in part – what makes him into a sadistic jerk.  But where did she learn it from?  Ha.

Heather: I just felt that he was being too high and mighty about it around Snow instead of taking some of the blame, but I also understand that he’s a Capitol man, so…

Angie: They are pretty entitled, as a whole…

Heather: Yes.

I would really like more details about the country falling apart…I would like an entire book about that.

Angie: The war and all that?  And how Panem even came to be?

Heather: Yes.

Angie: Let’s talk a sec about the structure of this book.  I’ve seen a lot of complaints online that it’s too slow.  I listened on audiobook, so maybe I just had a different experience, but I thought the pacing was ok.

Heather: I was fine with the pacing. I didn’t think it was too slow at all.

It was meant to be a character study more than a plot-based book.

At least, I assumed that was what Collins intended.

Angie: There are three distinct sections of the book.  I was surprised that the Games was only about one third of the story.

And I also think Collins does a good job of having those little mini-cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, that entice you to keep going.

Heather: I agree.

Angie: The only transition I found really jarring was going from Part 2 to Part 3.  But I suppose we shouldn’t skip ahead too far.

Heather: I don’t remember exactly what was going on there.

Angie: Oh, I’ll bring it back up then.

Ok… Lucy Gray.

Heather: Okay.

Angie: My written thoughts on Lucy Gray:

Lucy Gray was SO country.  From the first time she was introduced, she made me think of a young Brenda Lee, or Loretta Lynn even… country singers who went out on tour when they were still kids basically.  Teen girls singing songs about cheating and drinking, or having hard lives, and stuff that should have been “too old” for them.

Then, when we learned more about “The Covey,” it kind of made me think of the Carter family… traveling in a big band of relatives or similar.  This idea was solidified later in the book, when we find that Maude Ivory’s signature song is “Keep On The Sunny Side.”

One other pop icon came to mind, also.  It’s insinuated that Lucy Gray (and Tigris) might use their feminine wiles to trade for food for their families. This brought to mind the fictional family in Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.”

Heather:  Yes!

Because of my love of fantasy, I didn’t really think about the Covey in those terms. I thought about them more as traveling performers in a fantasy novel, but I totally see your connections.

Angie: Well, I live in Nashville. HA!

Heather: Ha! That makes sense, then!

Angie: But yea, we could liken them to bards of earlier eras.  Or the Carter family in the 1950s.  Just depends on what era we’re likening to.

I loved that they introduced a strong female co-lead, if you can call her that.

A kind of balance to Coriolanus’ character.  Someone you could root for… maybe?

Heather: So, in the original trilogy, you have Katniss who is kind of…meh. Then you have Peeta and Gale who are more…noble? And in this one, you have just the opposite.

Male and female-wise.

Angie: Well, I am not sure I would go that far.  She definitely has a goodness to her, but it’s often questioned… like, how much is for show?  Since she is a performer, right?

I almost think the truly honest noble person in all this is Sejanus (male).  But Lucy Gray is definitely presented as less selfish than Coriolanus, at least.

Heather: I think she’s mostly genuine, though. At least, that’s how I felt about her.

Oh, I agree that Sejanus is the only totally noble person in this one.

Angie: Right.

So, how do you feel about Coriolanus questioning Lucy Gray’s intentions now and again?  Fair, or just him being paranoid?

Heather: Hmmm…a little of both? I mean, how does anyone trust anyone else in any of these situations? Right? You’d always have to be watching your back.

Angie: This is where I think… he’s being a smitten teenager.  It’s kind of realistic for his age, and his lack of experience with… anyone different than himself. His Capitol circle seems pretty insulated.

Heather:  But on the other hand, I don’t really think he loves Lucy Gray. Not in any real way. He talks so much about her belonging to him and being his…that’s gross.

I think he really sees her as more of a possession.

And then of course he drops her as soon as he realizes he can become something more, so then it’s obvious that his feelings for her aren’t anything like love.

Angie: Ah, fair point.  He’s a person who values control, though, right?  It’s brought up a few times.  And so, might he not be able to differentiate between control and love?  Like, to him, those might go hand in hand?

Heather: Maybe.

Angie: The part you bring up about the end… I have a different take on that!  But yes, he does do a pretty quick about face.

Heather: I don’t think he sees it that way, but I can see that from the outside looking in, yes.

Angie: Right, he definitely isn’t that self-aware.  That’s just sort of how I took him.

Heather: I can agree with that.

Angie: Ok, so a good portion of their relationship develops in the third part.  Do we want to say anything else about their relationship before/during the Games, or about the Games themselves, before we go into Part 3?

Heather: I don’t think I have anything special to say about the Games, no.

That’s where his idea of her being his possession really settles in.

Angie: So, the Games end and Lucy Gray is technically the victor… but they aren’t making any announcement of it.  At this point, I’m worried for her, thinking they’re going to pull some sort of last-minute stunt… and they cut to Part 3 where Coriolanus is unceremoniously shipped off to the Districts as a Peacekeeper.  Grrrrr.  That was the transition that slayed me.

Heather: Aaahhh…yes.

Angie: Total change of setting, and no mention of what happened to her when the Games ended.  Frustrating.

Heather: Yep. That was very frustrating.

Angie: But he didn’t know, either, so I guess we were feeling that with him.

Heather: Sure, because the book was from his point of view, so that’s how we had to go through it, too.

Angie: Ugh.  It was still killing me, though.  Haha.

Heather: Hahaha!

Angie: The third section was even more country.  Love triangles, mysteries, murders, guns, fishing by the lake.

Heather: I kind of figured that the heartbreak would be bigger than him finding out Lucy hadn’t made it back to her district, though.

Yes, and since District 12 is in the Appalachians, that all makes total sense.

Angie: Yea, and I enjoyed meeting the Covey.

Heather: So did I!

Because it struck me right away that the Covey has to be connected to Katniss in some way, but I won’t get ahead of myself here.

Angie: In a lot of ways, though, it also seemed like fan service to go into 12, see the Hob, etc.

But it might also be a set-up to Snow having a particular hatred of 12?

Ah, interesting.

Heather: Oh, that’s where stuff got really heavy-handed in reference to the original trilogy, for sure.

Like, she talked about the katniss, and used the phrase “catching fire,” and stuff like that. I thought that got a tiny bit cheesy.

Angie: Right.  I loved this section, though, for various reasons.

Heather: So did I.

Angie: Yea, I could see it being “too much.”  One of the reasons I liked this section, though, is that it has a lot of music in it.  Which is weird for a book, but we all know this is going to be a movie.

Heather: It’s going to have to be a musical! Hahahaha! Which I would actually love.

Angie: Oh my.  I see it more like “Walk the Line” … a heavy movie that happens to have a lot of singing in it?

Heather: Yes, I can see that. But I can also see it as kind of a dark musical movie. I don’t know if that makes sense. Like, not singing all the time, but lots of musical interludes.

Angie: Fair enough.  “The Hanging Tree” was already in the other movies, so it’s great to see it come alive…

Heather:  Right. So, this is where my ideas about someone in the Covey being Katniss’ ancestor got more solidified.

Angie: Ah… any specific ideas, or still kind of just a thought floating out there?

Heather: I mean, someone in District 12 has to be an ancestor, and someone in the Covey makes total sense.

Well, a friend and I were talking about this (she read the book with me), and we’re thinking it has to be Maude.

Lucy Gray is too obvious, and we don’t know what happened to her.

Angie: Ok so you don’t think the song just sort of became a classic in 12?  There are songs we all know here, in our time, right?

Heather: No, I don’t. Because the only person Katniss ever talked about singing that song was her dad. The other books didn’t say anything about anyone else singing it.

And my friend and I were also speculating that the house/shack the Covey lived in might be the house Katniss grew up in.

Angie: Hmmm… interesting.  This is one of those times where you having read the books more recently does you the favor of having the details in the front of your brain.

Heather: And then there’s the special place by the lake (that was special to her dad).

We’re wondering if Maude is Katniss’ grandmother? Would the timeframe be right for that?

Angie: Surely, as Snow has a granddaughter about Katniss’ age in the original trilogy… So, these teens in this one would be 2 generations before Katniss’ generation.  100% possible.

Heather: Yes, that’s right. And again, I think Lucy Gray being a direct ancestor would be too obvious.

It would almost be like Maude keeping the song alive in memory of Lucy.

And that might explain Snow’s hatred for Katniss.

Angie: I mean, even if she was related to anyone in the Covey, though, it’d probably make him uncomfortable.

Ok, another note I took on this section:

I don’t read a lot of romance, but I absolutely loved the scene where Coriolanus finally meets up with Lucy Gray in the field.  Ok, the setting is hella contrived. But – maybe it’s just because it’s been really hot here already, but – I could feel the setting on a visceral level.  It’s his day off, and it’s sweltering, and he has nowhere else to be, and time is just moving slow.  That felt very realistic to me.

Heather: I agree.

Angie: Now for heavier things…

I think Coriolanus hadn’t really thought through the jabberjay thing, where he set up Sejanus.  He knew what he was doing, but he was still going back and forth about whether he should have or not, even after it was already done.  He didn’t have his mind made up totally.  But I think he is one for following the rules. He never had a rebellious bone in his body, even if he did have a lot of resentment for those in power (Highbottom, Gaul). I think he saw “following the rules” as his way of keeping his place in the Capitol, redeeming his family and keeping them taken care of.

Heather: He didn’t think it through at all, aside from trying to come out on top. Snow comes out on top.

And while I know he feels some duty to his family, again, I’m not sure it’s for the right reasons.

Angie: I think it was pure instinct, to be the tattle tale, because he thinks that’s what would be expected of him.

Like I said, I think he lives for strict rules.

Heather:  I don’t know if it’s because he truly cares about taking care of his family as individuals, or if it’s more about making sure his family looks good. An embarrassment thing.

Angie: Yes, taking care of the NAME.

The reputation.

Heather: Yes. And I think that’s where the disconnect between him and Tigris is going to come into play eventually.

Angie: Possibly.

Heather: Because he never really thought of Sejanus as his “brother” or his friend. He played that up when he had to, but he was totally embarrassed by Sejanus and afraid of what any connection to him would mean.

Angie: Agreed.  I do think he was tired of Sejanus always getting him into whatever trouble Sejanus was in.  He was, if anything, like that little brother Coriolanus was sick of having around.

Heather: He wanted that Plinth money. Heh.

Angie: He wanted Ma Plinth’s cookies.  Always goes back to hunger.

Heather: That, too.

Angie: So, he either set him up because he thought it was the right thing to do (not morally, but by the Capitol’s rules), or because he was ready to get him out of his hair.

Probably a little of both?

Heather: A little of both, I think.

And boy, did that work out for him when the Plinths “adopted” him at the end.

Angie: Ok, that leads me to my thoughts on the ending… of his decision to leave Lucy Gray behind.

In line with that, Coriolanus would have never made it in the wild.  Not that he’s overtly spoiled… I mean, he is kind of spoiled, but he’s also faced hardships… but he is so Capitol.  There’s a line in there, when he and Lucy Gray are running away, where he asks how a roof is even made.  I’m with him there, I couldn’t build a house from scratch!  It makes me think of the adage “Love is Blind,” except in this case I think his love was blinding.  He wanted to go with her, so he wanted to believe he could make it work no matter what as long as they were together.  And then he started actually thinking about it, and realized he had no clue how to survive.  He got disillusioned with his choice really quickly, but I think he was right to be… he wouldn’t have survived.

Heather: Hmmm…I think if he hadn’t been made an officer and sent to the Academy, he would have gone with Lucy Gray.

Angie: Yea, from your thoughts earlier, I knew we’d have different takes on this part.

Heather: At the point where he decided to go with her, he thought he had nothing left to lose. But as soon as that carrot got dangled in front of him, he changed his mind.

Now, I’m not sure that he would have made it all the way to District 13. I’m not sure their relationship would have lasted anyway, but he changed his mind because of the offer of power.

I don’t totally disagree with your thoughts about it, but I truly think he left her when he did because of the offer made to him.

Angie: See, I kind of look at it the opposite direction… he was convincing himself he could do it because staying meant that, if the gun that killed Billy Taupe was ever found, he’d be found out as the murderer.  But he hated being out there almost immediately.  Like, they hadn’t even gotten to the lake and he was questioning it.  Once he found that gun, and could see how he could keep it from being found… I think that’s what changed his mind.

I think he would have turned around after hiding the gun, whether or not he passed the officer’s test.  That was icing on the cake, for sure.

Heather: Oh, that’s true, finding the gun definitely had something to do with it.

Angie: Once again, protecting himself was kind of the biggest factor.

Heather: But if he truly loved Lucy, he would have at least tried. She knew enough to get them pretty far, I think, and he knew that.

Angie: Sure, that’s why he was willing to at least make a go of it.

He was never 100% sold on it, though, and he was waffling the whole time.

Heather:  Well, sure. He’s a Snow. Heh.

Angie: I was not sure if I believed that he would hurt her, but… I don’t know, it could have gone either way.

I think him thinking she tried to kill him put him over the edge there.

Heather: Well, he definitely shot at where he thought she was.

I don’t know if I have an opinion on how that would have gone had the snake not bit him.

I think he might have just said, “I’m not going.”


Angie: Right.  That part was tense. But after the snake. Like, it was a 50/50 thought for me when he was looking for her.  But once he thought she was trying to get him, all bets were off.

Heather: Yeah, I agree with that.

Angie: Ok, those are the notes I had.  But, a few more thoughts that sprung up… when they first brought up the mockingjays, I thought it was just more fan service.  But they really fledged them out into an important part of the story!  And, also, built up a huge hatred of them for Coriolanus.

Heather: Yes, I was glad that they were given more of a story than just a mention.

And they almost had to be because of Katniss’ connection to them.

Angie: I think that’s another part that’s gonna be haunting in the movie version.

Heather: Yes. I can’t wait to see how they do that.

Because I think the Mockingjays sound awesome. I wish they were real.

The jabberjays, not so much. Those would be kind of scary. Haha!

(Not that I don’t love a good scare, but that would be so creepy in real life.)

Angie: (YES, no jabberjays in real life please!)

So, we leave Coriolanus under the apprenticeship of Dr. Gaul.  I think that this will definitely warp him even more than what we’ve seen here.

Heather:  Most definitely.

Although he had no problem poisoning Highbottom on his own. And so begins his reputation for poisoning people and getting those nasty sores in his mouth.

Angie: Exactly.  He’s become quite the killer in a few months.

And we know he’s working directly ON the Games.  I was thinking his involvement in that might lead to his falling out with Tigris?

Heather: That’s what I think. I think Tigris is finally going to see him for who he really is in all of that.

Angie: I don’t think it’s a line of work she’d respect, really.

Heather: And I think he’s going to screw her over somehow in all of that. Because she ended up being one of the stylists in the Games.

Angie: Truth.

He also mentions that he’d never want to be in love again, but would marry for power/image.  And we can assume he does do that, as he has a granddaughter later.

Heather: Yep.

Angie: The poor soul he marries… must be as twisted and power-hungry as he is.

Heather: Or very, very naive. I can totally see him taking advantage of someone who is very weak for whatever reason. Someone he can easily control.

Angie: Maybe.  But we know she’d be Capitol, and so… she wants that Snow name and money, most likely.

Heather: Maybe.

I’m looking forward to seeing if she continues this story.

Angie: There are definitely some other threads she could pick up.

Heather:  It would be kind of cool if another book picked up the story where this one leaves off…but from Tigris’ point of view.

Angie: That is what I’m hoping for. Oh, I had saved two quotes… the one I felt described Coriolanus best:

“What was there to aspire to once wealth, fame, and power had been eliminated? Was the goal of survival further survival and nothing more?”

Heather: Yeah, that’s a good one.

Angie: And one Lucy Gray one:

“I think there’s a natural goodness built into human beings. You know when you’ve stepped across the line into evil, and it’s your life’s challenge to try and stay on the right side of that line.”

Heather: YES.

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“The Princess and the Fangirl” by Ashley Poston – Review


Welcome readers to the inaugural Reading Our Shelves review.

This first review is of Ashley Poston‘s latest book “The Princess and the Fangirl.” It is a companion/sequel to “Geekerella” so this review will have spoilers for both books. Not too many though.

Now, enjoy the review.


Nisha, you told me about this book coming out. I read “Geekerella” last year but didnt know “The Princess and the Fangirl” was coming. It totally snuck up on me.


Goodreads actually told me about it initially and I had it marked on my calendar. Even then, I hadn’t quite realized it was there because I had been so consumed with the Avengers premiere the week before.


Yeah, it did come put around then huh? It was a nice surprise.


Which book journey did you like more? The adventures to the con or con itself in the sequel?


The first book “Geekerella” had all the world building. Not only the lead up to the con world but Starfield. Its history as a show and the shows canon. I loved the world building it gave enough uniqueness to take away from the Cinderella vibes. Though I still loved those elements too. I’m have a bit of a fairy tale obsession. That’s why I picked up “Geekerella” to begin with.

As for “The Princess and the Fangirl,” it seemed both fast and slow. Some parts were drawn out and others needed more time. My main issue with this story is the pacing. What did you think of the pacing?


I agree with you about the pacing. Sometimes I like reading about Imogen and sometimes I really just wanted to get done with Jess already. Her script plot seems to just drag sometimes. Or maybe I just enjoyed Imogen more because of we’re all on that side of life and want to spend time with Darien and Elle.

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