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profile-icon Dr. Brittnee Fisher

If you haven't heard, there is a Hunger Games prequel. The book is already being adapted to film with an anticipated release date of November 17, 2023. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has been on my TBR list for a while, but considering the film's buzz, I decided to pick it up sooner than later. Reader, I think you must know that I am a HUGE FAN of the original book trilogy. I also enjoyed the film adaptations starring Jennifer Lawrence. I went into this book with expectations. Unfortunately, they weren't met, and my disappointment was my own fault. 

Let me help you avoid similar heartache by helping you set realistic expectations for the book.

1. The most exciting part about the original series (for me) was learning about the Hunger Games. If you've read the previous books, you already know all about the games, and the feeling of excitement won't be the same. Don't focus so much on the games. That really isn't what the book is about. 

2. This book is the villain origin story of President Coriolanus Snow. That's it.

3. Collins missed opportunities for exciting connections to the original books. 

Now, don't get me wrong, there were good things about this book. You get background on the games and insight into how they became the games we saw in the original trilogy. You get to see who and what created the President Snow we all loath. There are characters that you can fall in love with and cheer for. 

Final thought: It was just an okay read. 

Let me know if you want me to track down a copy for you. You need to get this read before November 2023!


Cover ArtThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Call Number: Orange Park Popular Fiction PS3603.O4558 H84 2008
ISBN: 9780439023481
Publication Date: 2008-10-01
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profile-icon Michael Ramey

One book I finally got around to reading is Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember which is about the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. Titanic’s history – the ship, the mystique of being the largest ship in the world at that time, the sinking, and the cultural impact it still has on the world – has always fascinated me. As a historian, Lord interviewed survivors of the disaster and reviewed testimony from Congress and the British Court of Enquiry to paint a comprehensive picture of the tragedy (121). Even though the book was written in 1955, it is still the definitive account of the sinking.

This book is a fast and engaging read as Lord writes with vivid prose that makes the night’s events come to life. The book starts with Titanic’s encounter with the iceberg, the attempt to go around it, and the subsequent collision. Lord captures the disbelief felt by the passengers and crew after Titanic collided with an iceberg. Many of the passengers and crew came on the boat deck and saw chunks of ice scattered on the deck and heard the deafening sound of steam escaping from the ship’s funnels (Lord 17), but most thought the collision would be a minor inconvenience worth talking about when Titanic reached New York. Even with the collision, the belief that Titanic was unsinkable was not easily shaken. In one exchange between passengers discussing what had occurred, the other passenger responded with little concern, “I guess it’s nothing serious; I’m going back to my cabin to read” (18).

However, passengers and crew came to the realization that the situation was more serious than initially thought with the ship taking on water and gradually tilting forward. Lord expertly shows the urgency and panic of the passengers and crew as they tried to keep the ship afloat and evacuate passengers to the lifeboats. He captures the human drama as wives and children were separated from their husbands as they filled the lifeboats because the old maritime custom “women and children first” was enforced. With only twenty lifeboats available, there was not enough room to save everyone onboard the doomed ship. Maritime practices at the time often let ships get away with less lifeboat capacity because most assumed other ships would be close enough that lifeboats could make several trips from the ship in distress to the rescue ship.

Another aspect of the book that was well done was the Carpathia’s perspective once they received Titanic’s distress signals. The Carpathia, which was heading south with passengers, immediately turned north toward the Titanic as fast as it could. Unfortunately, the Carpathia was four hours away from Titanic’s last known position. Captain Arthur H. Rostron ordered the crew to get supplies ready to treat survivors and to not rouse the Carpathia’s passengers as they did so. One passenger of the Carpathia slept through the course adjustment and woke up wondering why there were icebergs floating around the ship (Lord 97).

When the Carpathia reached Titanic’s last position, it took some time before they were able to locate the lifeboats in the darkness and even longer to retrieve them. Once the survivors came aboard the Carpathia, the weight of what they witnessed became apparent – nearly 1,500 people went down with the Titanic. Survivors tried to help each other, and many found solace, but Lord referenced an instance where a woman tried to give two women who survived the sinking some coffee. “‘Go away,’ they said, ‘we have just seen our husbands drown’” (Lord 111).

Lord’s A Night to Remember remains a gripping and chilling account of that fateful night. The writing is crisp and full of detail about the most well-known maritime disaster in history. I usually take my time with books, but I could not put down A Night to Remember. It is excellent historical writing and highly recommended.

Note: In-text citations are from the e-book edition.

Cover ArtA Night to Remember by Walter Lord
Call Number: G530.T6 L6 2005
ISBN: 0805077642
Publication Date: 2005-01-07
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profile-icon Dr. Brittnee Fisher

I was craving another excellent love story after finishing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I decided to scour some “Greatest Love Stories of All Time” lists on Goodreads. After seeing Jane Eyre on all the lists and remembering that I had a copy, I decided to jump right in. I know many people were forced to read this title in a high school or college literature class, but I was one of the few who managed to avoid it. In all honesty, I’m not usually a fan of “the classics” and generally avoid them due to my track record of mostly hating them (except for The Great Gatsby, which I love). Occasionally, I get my nerve up to tackle one, so I decided it was time for Jane.

I think it’s important to note that I didn’t hate the book overall. But I did hate it as a love story. This, my friends, is not a great love story. In fact, I feel like this is a shining example of what love is not. I understand that this is just my opinion and that there are probably tons of people that were just dying for Jane to end up with her beloved Mr. Rochester, but I was not one of them. The only character that I found myself rooting for throughout the book was the poor “lunatic wife,” who seemed to be cast as the villain but, in fact, I felt was very much a victim. I’d probably be acting out if I was locked in the attic my whole marriage.  

Going into this book, I expected more Pride and Prejudice but got more Flowers in the Attic (and yes, *potential* incest makes an appearance)Instead of a great longing for the reunification of the main characters, I mostly got cringe mixed with the ick. And don’t worry, my disgust also extends to the backup love interest who was equally as unworthy as a leading man for swooning.

This will be a good choice if you are looking for a book that offers drama by the boatload and plenty of characters to loath. If you are looking for a great love story, I would not recommend this. I said what I said.

The 2011 film adaptation starring Michael Fassbender was pretty enjoyable. Artistic liberties were taken. 


Cover ArtJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; Beth Newman (Editor)
Call Number: St. Augustine Circulation PR4167 .J3 1996
ISBN: 0312127952
Publication Date: 1996-02-01


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profile-icon Michael Ramey

For this entry, I am not going to talk about a book I have read. Instead, I want to share a book series I am interested in trying out: Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series.

The Aubrey-Maturin series is a historical fiction series set during the Napoleonic Wars which follows Captain Jack Aubrey of the British Royal Navy and Stephen Maturin, the ship’s doctor, as they serve on various warships. The Aubrey-Maturin series took its inspiration from C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower books which also follows the titular character’s growth in the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

The first book of the Aubrey-Maturin series, Master and Commander, was made into a film in 2003 starring Russell Crowe as Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Maturin. While the movie features a cat-and-mouse game between Aubrey’s ship and a French warship that fired upon them at the beginning of the story, the friendship between Aubrey and Maturin takes center stage. Aubrey is a typical British naval officer, duty bound and mission driven, while Maturin is more intellectual and introspective about the world around him.

Despite these opposite personalities, the characters gravitate toward each other. The relationship between the main characters and the ship as the primary setting reminded me of Star Trek, especially the original series, which also explored relationships among the three diverse characters – Captain James T. Kirk, Dr. Leonard McCoy, and Lieutenant Commander Spock – as they serve on the Starship Enterprise.

I am looking forward to trying the Aubrey-Maturin series out. If the books are as good as the movie, I think I will be in for a treat.

Cover ArtMaster and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
Call Number: PR6029.B55 M37 1990b
ISBN: 0393325172
Publication Date: 2003-10-17

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