From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash, #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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“From this moment until the last moment, I am yours.”

At the end of 2020, I kept seeing this book all over book social media and it was being loved by such a vast range of bookish friends. And then it was the goodreads choice awards 2020 best romance winner! Up until this point, I had never really read anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout, but my curiosity was so very peaked! Then once I entered 2021, I still felt like I could not escape the hype of this series! Finally, I read a few reviews by friends and found out that this was a fantasy series,, with a paranormal romance, and that information, in addition to it feeling like higher powers were at work to get me to read this, made me finally give it a try. And one I read that first chapter I knew I couldn’t put this down.

From Blood and Ash introduces us to Poppy, who is a chosen maiden for the gods. She is not meant to be touched, to be looked at, or to experience anything that is not considered god-like. She is quickly approaching her nineteenth birthday and soon she will leave to the capitol and have her Ascension, where she will prove that she is worthy of the gods and will help protect her entire kingdom from a curse carried by those who are unworthy of the gods. Yet, there is another kingdom living in hiding, who will do anything to make sure Poppy isn’t able to make her Ascension and change anything. (I am trying to be kind of vague here, because I truly did not know before going in, or expect in my wildest dreams, the paranormal aspects of this book, and I believe it did heighten my reading experience!)

But Poppy has so many secrets, including her own kind of powers that are manifesting stronger and stronger to help read and sooth people’s emotions. And there is also the secret of what happened to Poppy’s family, that left her and her brother the only ones alive to carry out the will of the gods, while Poppy is also forced to carry so many scars, both physical and emotional, from that night.. And there are secrets in the palace where she is currently living with the Duke and Duchess and a lot of abuse going on behind closed doors that are only meant to protect her. But the weight of grief and expectations are getting too heavy for Poppy to bear, so at the start of this first book she decides to sneak away from the palace for one night where she can maybe experience things without being expected to be a pure vessel for only the god’s consumption. And when Poppy ends up at a tavern, and in a private room, with Hawke, a very young but very skilled guard, she gets a taste of what she has been missing and what she may want for herself, unapologetically.

“You’re a perfectly normal girl. What is expected of you is what’s bad”

I do think grief and abuse are a constant theme in this story, and we get to see how those two words can present themselves in so many different ways. Different fear tactics are constantly in play, both in this kingdom and in Poppy’s life, to keep people in check and to keep them abiding to a corrupt system. Serving evil can easily be masked by saying it is serving the gods. Ultimately, this is a swoon-worthy and angst-inducing paranormal romance story, but there are a few layers here that I hope people are looking and listening very closely to while reading!

“You deserve so much more than what awaits you”

This book has really good discussions about what it means to be a young person discovering your wants and needs, while also slowly growing into the person you want to be and how hard that can be to separate from expectations already placed on you. This book is very sex positive, and consent is always at the forefront. I am also just going to type this with my full chest and then pretend I didn’t but, for me and my body and my personal experiences, I thought that the building of orgasms (and just some body reactions in general) in this book were very realistic and very well done. But anyways, I loved seeing Poppy reclaim so many things, and this romance is the first one in what felt like years that I am trying completely head of heels in love with and rooting for. But, please allow me this one small mini drag for those of you who have read this book:

Overall, this book truly blew me and my expectations away and it was very much the perfect book for the perfect time in my reading life. I laughed, I smiled, I swooned, I cried, I gasped, this book truly made me feel so much and it was just an amazing journey throughout. I feel like the twists were very well done and laid, I feel like the romance was filled with yearning and angst on every page, and I was constantly left wanting more and more. And the last line of this book? Yeah, I will be picking up A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire immediately. This was a joy to read from cover to cover.

Content and Trigger Warnings: death, gore, talk of loss of a child, talk of kidnapping, talk of death of children, mention of loss of a child in past, loss of a loved one, mention of suicide, assault, physical abuse, blood depictions, mention of rape, anxiety depictions, self-harm to get blood, and general war themes.

4
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Top Ten Tuesday | 2020 Releases I Wish I Read in 2020

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

So many books and never ever enough time, right? I feel like 2020 was easily the year I read the least amount of books actually published in the year. Most years, the majority of my reading are that year’s publications, but 2020 turned into the year I comfort reread and backlist buddy read. No regrets, but I thought this would be a cool T10T to do, to keep a list of some 2020 publications that I still want to get to in this new year!

Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko
Lobizona (Wolves of No World #1) by Romina Garber
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (Feminine Pursuits #2) by Olivia Waite
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
Hollowpox (Nevermoor #3) by Jessica Townsend
Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katharine McGee
The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini
Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young
Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Truly, I feel like I haven’t seen many (or any) bad reviews for all of these books! And so many of my moots who have very similar reading tastes as me have put all these on their best books of 2020 lists! Let me know, out of these ten, which one you think I would like the most! But I do hope to get to many of them this new year! Happy reading, friends!

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Lore by Alexandra Bracken

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Finished copy provided by Disney-Hyperion

“Nine gods have betrayed me and now demand cruel revenge.”

Nine gods have been abandoned by Zeus as punishment for a rebellion filled with betrayal. Since the banishment, these nine gods are forced to walk among humans like mortals, while carrying out their bloodline. Yet, every seven years, the Agon takes place in a city for seven days, where all the descendants from all of these ancient bloodlines can kill the god they descend from and take their powers (and immortality) for themselves. And the start of a new Agon is finally here, and is going to take place in New York City, yet our main character is haunted by the last Agon where her family was brutally murdered.

➽ Melora Perseous (Lore) – of House Perseus, underground fighter, trying to block out the loss of her family in the past, and the recent loss of another loved one. Lore is also last of her bloodline.

➽ Castor Achilleos – of House Achilles, Lore’s best friend and fighting partner growing up, who had leukemia.

➽ Miles – Korean, queer, Lore’s roommate and best friend.

➽ Van – Black, queer, Castor’s best friend.

➽ Gil – Recently passed away, but the one who became a family with Lore and Miles these last few years.

➽ Athena – Betrayed by her sister, Artemis, and one of the last original gods, yet is wounded so badly at the beginning of this book that she makes a deal with Lore so they can both try to get revenge.

“I will help you survive this week, and you will destroy the god once known as Aristos Kadmou, the enemy of my blood”

And so, Athena and Lore’s lives in this Agon are forever intertwined, while they try to survive in New York City, and try to get the vengeance they so desperately have wanted these last seven years against a new god called Wrath. But things change even more so when Lore realizes she is a lot closer to another god than she realizes, and she also is quickly realizing that things are a lot more personal than she ever imagined. Especially when Wrath wants to kill all the gods, regardless of bloodline and regardless of transferring magical abilities and artifacts attached to those bloodlines.

The premise and set up was truly amazing, and I was invested after the very first chapter! But I will say, this book felt a bit too info dumpy at times for me, and I imagine if you didn’t know much about Greek mythos this story could get extra confusing, but I really did overall enjoy it each time I picked it up. Truly, it made me realize how much I do miss reading urban fantasy, and I think the New York setting was very genius for the Agon. I loved learning about all the different types of magic and all the different artifacts, but I do wish they were woven into the story a little better, even though I was being all sidetracked like “wow I love this shield and I’m going to spiral about Dota AND the Iliad because of it and my nerdy ways!” And even though I did love the New York setting, I would forget that this was set in modern times, especially any scene with Wrath and any scene showing us Lore’s past. Then we should see Castor’s medical treatment in the past, or they’d mention New York bagel styles and I’d be reminded, but a bit of whiplash while reading.

I also want to briefly mention, and I do not want to be too personal, but childhood cancer is something that is very close to my heart and something that impacts every day of my life, so reading a book about a boy who had to go through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and stem-cell transplants, for a cancer he had to fight twice, to get to see him be a modern-day Greek God… it was just very powerful. I can’t even think of another YA book where we get to see a young side character be impacted by cancer and see those around them be impacted by it too, and not have it be the focal point of a sad story starring it. I just wish we had more representation for this very real situation where people’s lives are so heavily influenced by this disease that impacts so many children every single day. (This is one of the few triggers I do personally have, but I thought it was very well done, and it made my heart very happy to read, and I wish more children and young adults living with cancer, or living in remission, could read stories that give happy and hopeful endings.)

“It’s okay to want good things […] and to believe that you deserve a good life.”

Overall, I really liked this unique spin on Greek mythos, and I really enjoyed how this author intertwined this story in a modern day setting. I think it was a solid standalone, and I was very impressed with the characters, so many of the themes, and the central discussions of found family and second chances, and the constant reminder that there is no “right way” to heal from trauma and grief. Also, I will always love a good reclaiming of Medusa and her whole entire monster story. Be still, my Circe loving heart. But I really enjoyed Lore and Castor’s relationship. I loved the Van and Miles and truly were amazing side characters.

“And now history remembers her as a villain who deserved to die.”

Content and Trigger Warnings: a lot of blood depiction, murder, loss of a loved one, graphic torture depictions (some to children), graphic violence, gore, sexual assault, grief depiction, ptsd, child abuse, threat of pedophilia,, threat of rape, implied pedophilia, slavery, talk of cancer (leukemia), child cancer (and mention of chemo, radiation, stem-cell transplants, etc.), mention of heart attack, mention of cancer coming back, bombings, explosions, brief mentions of suicide, and war themes. This is a pretty dark book, and it surprised me a lot with the constant learning of the torture that happened to Lore’s family in the past, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right headspace.

3

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Buddy read with Maëlys! ❤

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

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“For almost the past year I’ve been in love with a girl named Laura Dean.”

Freddy Riley is a 17-year-old lesbian Asian-American who is seeking the advice of an online romance dating column, because her girlfriend keeps breaking up with her over and over. And each time Laura Dean comes back into Freddy’s life, Freddy feels more and more shattered when she leaves, and she is unable to see what she can do to change the situation.

“What is it like to love this person who keeps breaking up with you and then presumably coming back to you? What does your love with this person offer you? Does it make you happy? Does it give you what you need to be a better person?”

This graphic-novel has so many layers, but this is truly a story about an abusive relationship, and how sometimes it can be so hard to see even when the lows feel so low, because the highs are so high. Laura gaslights, manipulates, and emotionally abuses Freddy in so many different ways, while also fetishizing having an Asian girlfriend.

This is also a story about friendship and how sometimes those can be hard to maintain, especially when you are going through a lot in your own life. And sometimes, especially when you are young and discovering who you are and want to be, it’s extra easy to lose yourself while only thinking about being someone’s favorite. Yet, it is never too late to try to be a good friend. And life is truly full of phases, and all friendships are different.

The prose is lyrical and oh so beautiful. I feel like I could have highlighted more quotes in this story than any other graphic novel to date. And the art? The most beautiful black, white, grey, and pink pallet, with details that are insane. This combination truly is a tier above and feels like something of magic.

This is a very diverse graphic-novel. Again, Freddy is an Asian-American lesbian, but the rest of the cast are also queer and/or poc, with a lot of body diversity too. And this story never shames these teens for getting into hard situations. It’s also incredibly realistic, and even when the discussions are difficult, they always feel hopeful to the reader. There is also a good mention of how different seventeen and eighteen are when it comes to where you are at in life and dating, especially when one is in high school and one is in college. (Give me Vi’s spinoff, I am begging!) And polyamory is even briefly discussed and the difference between consenting healthy dynamics compared to dynamics of polyamory uneven power where people are being taken advantage of.

“Love is hard. Breaking up is hard. Love is dramatic. Breaking up is dramatic.”

Overall, I really loved this, and I think it is such an important graphic-novel that truly can change people’s lives, especially queer poc in high-school feeling like they are doing something wrong in their abusive relationships. Relationships can be so hard and so messy, and breakups can be even harder and messier. I truly so wish that I had a graphic-novel about a queer biracial Asian girl when I was in high school, living through toxic breakups, but I’ll still keep Freddy Riley in my heart forever and recommend Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me constantly. (And I really loved… the part with the mom!)

Oh, and lastly, Lea gifted me this for my birthday and I thought it would be cute to read it and review it on her birthday! I am very thankful for her and this story that I really will cherish forever and always. 💕

Content and Trigger Warnings: underage drinking, abusive relationship, emotional abuse, cheating, manipulation, gaslighting, microaggressions, racism, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and a relationship with a minor (17 + not sure how old but over 18).

4
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Favorite Non-Book Things | 2020

I always try to make one end of the year wrap up post about things that brought me a lot of new joy that year! This year, I did seem to find a lot of love and comfort in already established happiness, but I still thought it would be fun to make a list of just a few things that helped make 2020 a little brighter (even if #10 is truly the most cursed timeline and I have no idea so I got here but…)! 💗

➽ 01.) Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream

Dr. Jart+ - Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream 1.69 oz/ 50 mL

2020 was truly a year of me trying to find a good night time moisturizer after Drunk Elephant Lala Retro reformulated. (I still love CLINIQUE Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator and/or Tatcha The Water Cream for in the mornings!) But basically, I truly would buy a new moisturizer every two months in hopes of finding a new love, and then I finally found (my number two non-bookish 2020 happiness on this list, which lead to me finding…) Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Cream and fell so in love! But also, honorable mention to PURITO DEEP SEA PURE WATER CREAM, which my family gifted to me for Christmas, and I very much am loving it and it has a much better price tag! And I imagine the PURITO Centella Green Level Recovery Cream is similar to the Dr. Jart one, and might be better for the colder seasons!

➽ 02.) Beauty Within

BeautyWithin | sundays

Truly, my new favorite youtube channel of 2020 is easily, hands down, Beauty Within! Felicia & Rowena are two Asian women with two very different skin types, and they use, review, and give the best recommendations for all price ranges! They have helped me so much with my skincare journey and they are truly just the sweetest in general, on top of being the most helpful and inclusive that I’ve ever found! Rowena has also very much helped me in 2020 to stay organized, to be more productive, and even help sparked my love for Notion!

➽ 03.) Notion

How I'm Using Notion to Track my Life in 2020

This summer, May posted some of their Notion pages on twitter and I was instantly intrigued! I love any and all kinds of different mediums for organization, and I quickly fell completely down the rabbit hole with the rest of the book community! I won’t lie, I have fell off a little bit in December keeping up with things, but I blame that on setting up a lot of my 2021 physical organization methods! Hopefully lots of new 2021 pages soon!

➽ 04.) My Cat

The light of my days, always. She deserves her own spot on this list for her cuddles alone!

➽ 05.) Writing Letters

There are many, many reasons for this, but writing letters has been something that I have really adored doing all 2020. To my family, to my friends, to different trades in the kpop community, I just really love writing letters! And I forever want to let me loved ones know I love them in every medium. Also, save the USPS!

➽ 06.) Going Outside

I will never take just being outside for granted again, ever. I feel like I am still very bad at reminding myself to go outside, which doesn’t make sense because I always feel 100 times better on the days that I do. But a lot of times, when I am finally free to go outside, it is too dark. But that special time, right before it gets dark, and I can just breath in all the crisp air right now, while looking at the mountains, and hearing the river (with no boats on it, please god, I am begging), it feels rather magical and extra healing, and a lot of those afternoons have been my favorite of all 2020.

➽ 07.) World of Warcraft

It is so wild, because 2020 is the year I should have the most free time (from not being able to commute alone), but it is the year I played less videogames and I read less books than any other. It is very strange to think about, but I think most people were just kind of focused on surviving and learning how to live in this very different world, and valid. But I still plated a lot of vanilla wow, and my guild is still going hard in Naxx. I also play a little retail wow with the new expansion, Shadowlands, but I still don’t love it as much as classic wow.

➽ 08.) Jocie B ASMR

Jocie B ASMR - YouTube

Would this be a meltotheany favorites list without incorporating at least one ASMR artist? So, I started watching Jocie in 2019, but I fell extra hard in love with her in 2020, and her ASMR really got me through some shit™! She has such a range of ASMR styles, and is never afraid to try new things. I also think she is very inclusive with the items she uses, and I think she is just amazing. Also, she does do fairy ASMR, and it really works for her and I love it so much!

➽ 09.) jtotheimin

I couldn’t really think of how to include this, because I am still a little scared to talk about my other channel to the book community, but the last half of 2020 had a lot of happiness brought into my life because of my BTS (and a few other kpop group) youtube channel, jtotheimin. Not to get too real, but it does feels strange to be in a different online space away from books, but I feel proud that I grew something without a Goodreads following and without feeling like I will never live up to the faith people have in me. (Or… just feeling like I’m letting people down by not being able to control my anxiety better and film a new booktube video.) A lot of bookish spaces in 2020 felt really unsafe to me, and I didn’t know what to do, or if I was just going to give up everything, but learning to have confidence in myself again, and getting to talk about being seen in a different way, was really healing to me, and I am so very thankful for this channel.

➽ 10.) Survivor

Survivor28logo.jpg

Listen, I really don’t know how I truly got here, but I have currently watched almost ten seasons of this damn show and I can only blame only leaving my house once in almost a year. Basically, two seasons dropped on Netflix and one of those seasons was set in the Philippines, in the north province of Luzon (Cagayan), and I was like “why not?” but it truly awoken something in me. Well, after I unexpected cried my eyes out because Cliff Robinson was on that first season I watched, and it truly was the heartbreak I didn’t see coming. But the TL;DR is that I am not emotionally, unstable, invested in Survivor, and I am currently using my parents Hulu membership to continue on with using my precious reading time to watch this show and get upset when they vote the wrong people out.

The way I am truly giggling after writing that last one. 2020 truly just threw all the curveballs, aye? But I hope you enjoyed this post, and maybe something on this list will interest you and make your 2021 a little more fun. Tell me something non-bookish that made you happy last year! And I’m sending you all so much love and light always. Happy reading (and watching questionable shows)! 💗

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Top Ten Tuesday | January, February, March ARCs

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hello friends! Last week’s prompt, I told you about the releases I am most excited for that I did not have ARCs of! But this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about some ARCs I’ve already read and reviewed and completely recommend with my whole heart, and then some ARCs that I have and am planning to read and review before they release! 💕

➽ January 12 | ACROSS THE GREEN GRASS FIELDS BY SEANAN MCGUIRE ⭐⭐⭐⭐
➽ February 2, 2021 | THE PROJECT BY COURTNEY SUMMERS ⭐⭐⭐⭐
➽ March 16, 2021 | THE MIRROR SEASON BY ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

➽ February 2, 2021 | MUSE BY BRITTAY CAVALLARO
➽ February 2, 2021 | WHAT BIG TEETH BY ROSE SZABO
➽ February 9, 2021 | THE IRON RAVEN BY JULIE KAGAWA
➽ February 9, 2021 | THE GILDED ONES BY NAMINA FORNA
➽ February 23rd 2021 | HONEY GIRL BY MORGAN ROGERS
➽ March 2, 2021 | FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER BY ANGELINE BOULLEY
➽ March 16, 2021 | THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: FIFTEEN OF SHAKESPEARE’S MOST NOTABLE WORKS REIMAGINED EDITED BY DAHLIA ADLER

I am truly so excited for the stories I haven’t read yet! And I feel very thankful that I will hopefully be able to read and review them early! Which ARC on this list would you like to read a review of first? I hope you all are having happy days and nights, and I’m sending you so much love. 

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Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins | Chapter Breakdown Review with Spoilers

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1.) The Hunger Games ★★★★★
2.) Catching Fire ★★★★

Hello, I am here to finish off my breakdown reviews of The Hunger Games Trilogy! And ironically enough, Mockingjay was the last book I read in 2020! I will say, I feel like the series does get a little less enjoyable as I progressed through the trilogy all these years later, but I still think it is a solid series and I truly do think The Hunger Games itself is a masterpiece. But please use caution, because this breakdown will be filled with spoilers for each and every chapter of this book!

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

➽ Chapter One:
District 12 is gone, but Buttercup the cat is alive. Truly this opening chapter was so dark and really set the tone for this entire book, and Snow’s rose? Truly so scary and horrifying and a good reminder at how evil he actually is. Peeta is gone, and Katniss is officially with the previously thought dead District 13.

➽ Chapter Two:
Peeta is a guest being interviewed by Caesar for the world to see. And they are also showing the bombing of District 12 over and over to remind people what happens with you rebel against the capitol. We also get to see the hidden, unground District 13 base, and how they are very ready to rebel against the capitol and nothing will stop them. Katniss is going to officially be the Mockingjay to help rally as much support as they can get, while also trying to instill hope for a brighter future.

➽ Chapter Three:
We get to see what it is like to live in this new world that is the hidden District 13 and what is left of District 12, and we are easily seeing that things are very unfair here too.

➽ Chapter Four:
And Katniss is even starting to see how President Coin might not be too much different than President Snow, just a different guise for their evil.

➽ Chapter Five:
Katniss is getting fed up with always being used as a tool for someone else, but she finally has her bow back and is hoping the make the best of what she has left, even with Coin making her say lines to instill hope for the new war that is beginning.

➽ Chapter Six:
But it is getting harder and harder for Katniss to rally the districts without Peeta, because she has never been the best speaker, especially compared to him, and especially because him being held captive is impacting her so greatly. But truly, the foreshadowing in this chapter is very insane.

➽ Chapter Seven:
A hovercraft takes Katniss to see the sick people at a hospital, and the capitol bombs them immediately after. Gale and Katniss fight, and we start to see that they are believing two different stories, but Katniss and her anger at the capitol is growing and growing and because its on public display it is automatically rallying more and more people.

➽ Chapter Eight:
The Cinna mentions truly rip my heart out every time. But Katniss also is sneaking watching Peeta’s clips that the capitol is showing and the more and more distrust of District 13 is building and building.

➽ Chapter Nine:
The infamous hanging tree song, that still makes me a bit uncomfortable, but we get to really meet Katniss’ camera crew and see the torture they have also endured. Katniss and Gale reminisce about when they were kids, but Katniss is truly proving to the reader this was never a love triangle more and more because she deadass is like “I like that Gale likes to hunt” and it makes me truly giggle. Also, Peeta is getting tortured for information. :[

➽ Chapter Ten:
But Peeta still is able to warn District 13 of an incoming attack. So much foreshadowing with Prim, but Gale helps her find Buttercup and they make it safely to the evacuation zone before the first bomb hits. Katniss and Prim finally have a moment just for them and just between them and it really broke my heart because I have read this book before, hahaha! And Katniss and her trauma and anxiety making her feel like she is having a heart attack? Heartbreak again.

➽ Chapter Eleven:
More bombings are happening, but this time it is just to ensure that Katniss stays off television so she and her message will stop giving other rebels hope! Katniss and Finnick finally get to talk and Gale is annoyed with Finnick for no reason other than Gale is truly stupid and the bane of my existence. But Katniss leaves the bunker and Snow has left her more roses and every time it gives me goosebumps in the most disgusting way. Truly harrowing each time. But the resistance has decided they are going to do a rescue mission for Peeta and Annie! Also, let me just note that Katniss is mean to Buttercup in this chapter and it annoyed me too, lmaoooo!

➽ Chapter Twelve:
Finnick goes on the broadcast and talks about how he was sex trafficked as a child alongside many of the victors of the hunger games, and how Snow would kill their loved ones if they did not “willingly” participate. After, they are able to rescues Annie, Johanna, and Peeta. But… Peeta, because of the torture and brainwashing he has endured, tries to kill Katniss.

➽ Chapter Thirteen:
We get to learn a bit more about Peeta’s torture and the tracker jacker venom they used to “highjack” his memories.

➽ Chapter Fourteen:
They send Katniss to District 2 and fake Gale love triangle angst ensues.

➽ Chapter Fifteen:
Rebels start fighting other rebels and Gale is just… stupid. And Katniss gets shot.

➽ Chapter Sixteen:
Katniss is healing up slowly after what happened in District 2, and she is helping Annie find a wedding dress with the things she still has of Cinna’s, so that she can get married to Finnick finally. Please, I am crying.

➽ Chapter Seventeen:
Katniss is getting stronger and stronger. This chapter really shows how different everyone lives and tries to heal after the hunger games they’ve been a part of. And Peeta just has so much anger in him still.

➽ Chapter Eighteen:
They are all fake practicing storming the capitol, with fake gas and everything. We get to learn how Johanna was tortured (with water) and how that has very much impacted every day of her life since. But they all realize that this will be their last arena ever, but it fills them with hope to storm the capitol for real.

➽ Chapter Nineteen:
Peeta’s memories are reconstructed and he goes with them to end this once and for all. But a bomb gets triggered once they are in the tunnel.

➽ Chapter Twenty:
An emergency broadcast announces to the world that Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, and everyone else are dead, and this could work in their advantage because Snow will not be expecting them, but they have to make it out of the tunnel with the mysterious black gel.

➽ Chapter Twenty-One:
They have their first death with Boggs :[ and they get to see this funeral for Katniss being broadcasted while they are all trapped and not trusting anyone.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Two:
Peeta is whispering “Katniss” all creepy-like, but they are able to break through this tunnel that they were trapped in with lizard-like people monsters. But… Finnick dies protecting them and it truly is the most sad and unnecessary death in this book and him and Cinna just deserved so much better. But Katniss kisses Peeta and I’m still giggling that people think this series has a believable love-triangle.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Three:
Katniss gives Gale stitches, and then Gale and Peeta have some sort of weird heart to heart together. This story really doesn’t have the “who will Katniss pick in the end” vibe so many people lead you to believe it does. We also meet the “tiger woman” and I was side eying a little while reading about her ten years later. But they are ready to finally go head to head with the capitol once and for all.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Four:
Listen, I don’t mean to laugh, but Gale trying to get Katniss to shoot him and her being like “no, you’ll be fine” and lets the capitol take him sent me a little bit, I am sorry. But we get to see how Snow has tried to protect himself by barricading the capitol with children, because he is banking on no one being cruel enough to kill them while trying to get him. But, parachutes come and… when I say this is the most harrowing and fucked up thing in this book… I mean it. The way these parachutes have been seen as a symbol of hope and healing for the recipients who get them in the hunger games, so the kids are happy to see them…. Only to have them explode and kill them, like… truly I don’t even have words for how heartbreaking that is to read and think about. But then, to add more heartbreak, Katniss sees a braid and a duck tail and… I truly am crying typing this. All this, everything, Katniss being selfless, Katniss willing to do everything to protect her sister, Katniss proving over and over she will do anything, only for the resistance to kill her so heartlessly. I truly weep. Prim’s death truly will always stick with me, and it is why I was impacted so viscerally when rereading The Hunger Games earlier this year and seeing the foreshadowing in that very first chapter.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Five:
Katniss is told that she is “lucky” to be alive after the bombs detonated, but she truly feels lost and that everything feels a little hopeless even now at the end of this war. Snow is to be executed, but Katniss visits him and she realizes that he is not the one who killed the children and Prim.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Six:
Katniss is questioning everything, including who chose to put a 13-year-old in combat. She goes to talk to Haymitch, but he is drunk. Katniss is stuck with her own thoughts, thinking about what life would have been like without the games, and if her and Gale ran away from District 12. She is also very much questioning if it was Gale’s bomb that killed Prim, and she knows she will question that for the rest of her life. But once she thinks at least everything is over, Coin states that she wants one last hunger games, for revenge, and it will star the kids of the people who were for the capitol. Katniss is supposed to be the one to finally execute Snow, but when her arrow flies, it flies straight into Coin, killing her and her idea for a new plan for evil.

➽ Chapter Twenty-Seven:
Katniss is captured and thinking of suicide. She learns that the people “crushed” Snow to death, and maybe not ripped him apart like in the movie. But we get to see Katniss grieving and finally feeling like she can grieve unapologetically for everyone she has lost, Prim, Rue, Cinna, Finnick, everyone. We also learn that Annie and Finnick got pregnant before he passed away, and maybe that is a new symbol of hope.

➽ Epilogue:
Katniss and Peeta have two kids, and it took Katniss a very long time to actually have them, even though Peeta really wanted them from the start. The games are still over, but we see the grief and PTSD will always be in their lives. And even though they are trying to do the best for their kids, it haunts them that they are playing on a graveyard they will never fully understand.

Truly, this series is haunting and there are a lot of parallels that can easily and obviously be made to the world we are living in 2020. My heart does go out to Katniss and I do really like her as a character. I do feel like the series got a little less and less enjoyable as they went on, but the basic premise is just so unique and solid and really helped start the dystopian (and YA) surge. And Katniss and Prim’s relationship just really settles heavy in my heart, and it truly makes you think about a lot of things you’d be willing to do for the people you love. I do still giggle at the people who ship Katniss and Gale, because they must really like eating crumbs and my heart goes out to them too. But Finnick and Cinna are truly the brightest shining lights for me, and I’m so sad Suzanne Collins didn’t give us a proper spinoff of their past! But maybe one day.

3

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Trigger and Content Warnings: torture, death, murder, war themes, blood depiction, talk of (fake) miscarriage, bombings, anxiety depiction, ptsd depiction, loss of a loved one, forced drugging, thoughts of suicide, talk of alcoholism, talk of rape in the past, talk of pedophilia in the past, talk of sex trafficking in the past, and slavery.

Buddy read with Lea! ❤