What I Read and Wrote in June

Hi there, it’s almost the end of June, holy shit, time is going super fast lately. I used to do monthly (and weekly) updates on what I’m doing reading/writing/blogging wise and I realized I actually kind of missed it. I want to share with you what I’m reading right now before I begin my reviews, because sometimes those can take months, and I want to talk a little about what I’ve been posting! So here it is, and I think I’ll keep this up every month, but we’ll see 😉

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Rereading The Hunger Games Books Part 3: Mockingjay

Note: I had prepped and scheduled this post a while ago, and in light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, was hesitating to post at all. Then I realized, anything tagged with ‘Hunger Games’ is going to get a lot of views, so I might use that for good.

This fictional world that has been so incredibly popular for a decade, shows police brutality and corrupt government. Remember the outrage you felt at the Capitol when you read it? Realize that it happens in real life, too. To real, actual people. It’s not just fiction. It’s real. And it has been happening for a long time.

Let me tell you about this website where it says how you can help the Black Lives Matter cause, even if you don’t have any money to donate. Please do what you can, even if it’s as small as retweeting resources or play a playlist on mute in the background.

And now to the post.

 

Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy. This blogseries are not really reviews, but more collections of loose thoughts I have about the books. You can find the first part here and the second part here.
 

This last book is where everything is going down. Everything has been building up to this last installment. And boy, does Collins deliver.

I love how she depicts Katniss’ mental breakdowns from her multiple traumas, early in the book but also at the end, and that’s she’s so often in hospital for physical injuries as well. These things are too often just skipped in books, making the characters seem untouchable, when they’re just human. IMG_20200606_134358_537.jpg

What’s also good is the depiction of Hyamitch and Katniss’ friendship/mentorship. For the first time we see how truly alike they are and how much they do care. Even in the midst of their worst fight Katniss still worries if he’s dead or alive and when she finally breaks down because she realizes how the Capitol is punishing Peeta for her actions, it’s Haymitch who she looks to for comfort. I think maybe Haymitch might be the only person in her life she doesn’t feel she has to protect. Like the cat, Buttercup, Haymitch is too tough to just die.

But what I find most interesting is the nuanced discussion of power and the people who hold that power that this whole book is.

In the beginning of Catching Fire, Snow lets slip that the system is a fragile one, and he’s described as looking tired. It gives a sense that he’s not just a power hungry monster, but also convinced he’s doing the right thing, saving people’s lives, even, by keeping such strict control on the districts with the Hunger Games. But the rest of the time, he’s a distant monster who the country needs to be saved from by the rebels. In Mockingjay, we’re slowly introduced to the idea that abuse of power can happen anywhere, that people can do the cruelest things if they’re convinced it’s the right thing to do. Even among the rebels.

The very first sign, I think, that something’s wrong, is when Katniss Capitol prep-team is tortured for taking a piece of bread. They’re not told the rules, not given any food, and forced to just do what they think best, and are tortured for it. They’re being set up, and made an example, made into a message from Coin to Katniss. Coin was always preoccupied with power, and showing that she’s still holding it, even when Katniss tries to twist her arm. The rebels are not above torturing innocents if they think it’s right. Also the extreme control Coin has over the people of District 13, from the schedules to not having any art, apparently, or holidays. The Capitol has as much control over its citizens, but just in a different way.

But actually the first sign is way before that, because they’re not telling Katniss about any of the rebel plans, using her image without her consent, treating her just like another pawn in their own games. There’s not a lot of difference between District 13 and the Capitol, except the Hunger Games, and the extent of their power.

There’s this bit right after they blow up the mountain in District 2, when she talks to Gale (p. 247).

“Katniss, what difference is there, really, between crushing our enemy in a mine or blowing them out of the sky with one of Beetee’s arrows? The result is the same.”
“I don’t know. We were under attack in Eight, for one thing. The hospital was under attack,
 I say.
“Yes, and those hoverplanes came from District Two,” he says, “So, by taking them out, we prevented further attacks.”
“But that kind of thinking… you could turn it into an argument for killing anyone at any time. You could justify sending kids into the Hunger Games to prevent the districts from getting out of line,” I say.
“I don’t buy that,” he tells me.
“I do,” I reply, “It must be those trips to the arena.”

This short exchange just shows all of it so clearly. What’s especially interesting is that Gale never had to fight in the arena, like Coin never even had to worry about her going into it. And they think they’re completely justified in doing the most awful things to people, things that have never been done to them, in order to overthrow the regime. But do they really understand what they’re doing? How far can someone go if they’re convinced they’re in the right? Coin keeps showing more and more she is as cold and calculating as Snow, eventually killing those children and the medics, and Prim, and reinstating the Hunger Games.

What’s so interesting is that Peeta represents the other side, the ‘I don’t want them to change me’ side, like he has from the beginning. He’s been there with Katniss, he understands the extent of the cruelty of the oppression, and he doesn’t want it to happen anymore. The books are about Katniss shifting between these feelings, and eventually landing on Peeta’s stance, so she chooses Peeta instead of Gale, because that’s the kind of world she wants to live in.

But, Collins being the amazing nuanced writer she is, it’s never completely condemned to be ‘as bad as the villain’. Because of course you have to fight for your own life. You can’t just calmly and quietly demand your oppressor doesn’t oppress you. Blood will have to be shed in a situation like that. But what Coin so perfectly shows in the end by wanting to reinstate the Hunger Games but with Capitol children, is that you have to be careful that the world you try to change actually does get better, instead of just different.

So Katniss shoots Coin.

And it’s so damn powerful.

And I think she was planning this. I think voting yes on another Hunger Games was just a way to make Coin feel safe and secure, to make her let her guard down, so Katniss could have the opportunity of killing her. Because there’s this moment at the voting that Haymitch looks at her and she thinks, this is the moment we’ll see if he truly understands me. They’ve been having non-verbal communication throughout the whole series, so that moment right there HAS to mean something. Katniss has a plan, right then and there, that she isn’t even sharing with us, is my theory.

Have you recently reread these books? Let me know in the comments! I’m currently reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, so a review will be coming soon.

 

 

Before you go, please remember to visit this website to see how you can help the Black Lives Matter movement, and even donate without any money. Do what you can.

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Rereading The Hunger Games Books Part 2: Catching Fire

Note: I had prepped and scheduled this post a while ago, and in light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, was hesitating to post at all. Then I realized, anything tagged with ‘Hunger Games’ is going to get a lot of views, so I might use that for good.

This fictional world that has been so incredibly popular for a decade, shows police brutality and corrupt government. Remember the outrage you felt at the Capitol when you read it? Realize that it happens in real life, too. To real, actual people. It’s not just fiction. It’s real. And it has been happening for a long time.

Let me tell you about this website where it says how you can help the Black Lives Matter cause, even if you don’t have any money to donate. Please do what you can, even if it’s as small as retweeting resources or play a playlist on mute in the background.

And now to the post.

 

Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy. This blogseries are not really reviews, but more collections of loose thoughts I have about the books. You can find the first part here.

 

There’s so much going on in this book. Everything gets more and more complex. We get deeper and deeper into this world with every book, deeper into the depths of twisted cruelty and corruption. We get to see for the first time how deep the rebellion goes. Like how angry all the victors are, that they have to go back. But it’s such a good symbol of how even if you ‘win’ the system, you’re still not safe, because the ones ruling the system don’t think you deserve to be safe (something we see even more in Mockingjay). It’ll never be fair. You can’t win a system not set up for your benefit. You have to dismantle it.

But it’s not just victors. The first hint of any large organized rebellion Katniss gets is when head game maker Plutarch shows her his pocket watch that has a hidden symbol of her Mockinjay. I think this might be the first hint that even the rebellion is not perfect (and we will realize in the last book) because how can a head game maker, who, has had to construct literal prisons for children to die in, in the most entertaining ways, be an actual good guy. Even if he is in favor of the rebellion, he must have had to repress some of his humanity in order to be game maker. What are his motivations for a rebellion? More power? Self-preservation? IMG_20200606_134733_574.jpg

Something I realized while reading Catching Fire, is that while these series apparently sparked a whole wave of books about ‘teenagers overthrowing the government’ to the point it was made fun of, Katniss does very little overthrowing. Yeah, she’s a symbol, an image, a spark, and she DID do the berry thing, but most of the time? She has no idea what is going on. Not in the beginning when rebellions are starting up all around her and she sees her Mockingjay pin stamped in a cracker, and not when she is in the arena and people are literally dying to keep her alive. Not her fault, nobody tells her anything, but she’s not really the one overthrowing the whole system.

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Rereading The Hunger Games Books Part 1: The Hunger Games

Note: I had prepped and scheduled this post a while ago, and in light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, was hesitating to post at all. Then I realized, anything tagged with ‘Hunger Games’ is going to get a lot of views, so I might use that for good.

This fictional world that has been so incredibly popular for a decade, shows police brutality and corrupt government. Remember the outrage you felt at the Capitol when you read it? Realize that it happens in real life, too. To real, actual people. It’s not just fiction. It’s real. And it’s been happening for a long time.

Let me tell you about this website where it says how you can help the Black Lives Matter cause, even if you don’t have any money to donate. Please do what you can, even if it’s as small as retweeting resources or play a playlist on mute in the background.

And now to the post.

 

Warning: This post contains SPOILERS for THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy

In anticipation of the new Hunger Games book (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) I decided to read the original trilogy again and I have a lot of thoughts about them, so I thought I’d make it into a blog series, because why not. Now, this series will not really be reviews, but more loose thoughts I have about certain details. It WILL contain SPOILERS so be warned!

The last time I read these books was when I was about 15 to 17 (which is definitely not a decade ago, not at all) and I remembered still quite a lot from them (a good sign) but I had forgotten exactly how good they are. I had forgotten how effective Collins’ writing style is, even if it’s not exactly what I tend to go for these days. She manages to paint such vivid pictures it’s like watching a movie.IMG_20200606_134627_533.jpg

I had also forgotten how deeply cruel the Hunger Games actually are. Back then I was the same age as Katniss and Peeta it never fully registered how young that actually is. Not really. But now that I’m half into my twenties, it fully hit. 16 is very, very young. I felt so damn protective over these kids while reading it, something I didn’t feel as a teenager. There’s this moment where Haymitch tells Katniss and Peeta to go to bed to “Let the grownups talk” that felt especially jarring. They’re going into an arena to kill or die, how can you still treat them like children in this situation? There’s this constant forgetting of how young these kids are, pushed by the Game Makers and the presenters and everyone else involved. The way they’re dressed, the way they’re made up. The way how, in the second book, they first accept Katniss’ mother saying she’s too young for a boyfriend, and then celebrate their engagement only months later. They are 16! How!?

Something I also fully realized this time around is how incredibly persistent and ‘detailed’ the Hunger Games’ cruelty is. They don’t just put them in an arena to fight, they force them to be cheerful about it beforehand, to be like characters in a tv-show, and afterwards they are forced to watch a RERUN of all the BEST BITS! Talk about rubbing salt in the wound. And then they have to come back every year and mentor.  They don’t only traumatize these kids, they force them to pretend to be proud of it, or brainwash them to the point that they are. It’s so mind twistingly cruel and it goes so deep. Amazing.

Everything in this world is so incredibly crafted and detailed. Not just the cruel bits, but also the background stuff, like how the Capitol looks, the food, the technology, the training center. Everything is so vivid and well-described, because of the consistent details. Especially within the arena, how she makes up all the ways the Game Makers try to keep things interesting, from fire balls to those terrifying mutts with the dead tribute’s eyes.

And how genius is the presence of Career Tributes is, both story-wise and world-wise. Because can you imagine, if the games didn’t have them, it would be a bunch of scared and shy teenagers who suddenly have to kill each other. Who initiates the first fight? It would be too easy for them to just decide not to fight at all. But if you add a few tributes who literally trained their whole lives for this, whose whole life’s purpose is to win or die trying, who have no scruples at all at killing other kids.. No surprise the Capitol turns a blind eye to the Careers training, even if it’s against the rules.

By the way, I barely have to mention it, but I definitely cried again at Rue’s death. It’s so sad. Poor little Rue.

Also, poor Peeta. Can you imagine being forced into this situation with your crush, getting through it thinking she likes you back, then being told just before you get home to a new life in a big empty house that she doesn’t? Definitely not blaming Katniss, because she was just trying to get them both out alive, and it’s all very unfair to her, but I guess I never fully saw it from his perspective.IMG_20200606_134659_037.jpg

Often when we talk about this series, the Capitol and its people is deemed as Simply Evil (and definitely the system is Evil and a lot of people in it are Evil), but there are also hints that life isn’t that great either for the more ordinary people living there. Yes, of course, they have it much, much easier than the rest of Panem, but there’s this scene in the beginning of The Hunger Games where Effie says something ‘daring’, then looks around the room all scared as if she’s afraid someone has heard and will come to arrest her. That’s not behavior of a free citizen. That’s fear. In Catching Fire, which I’m reading as I’m writing this, the same thing happens again when both Peeta and Katniss defy the gamemakers during their private training sessions. Effie is all upset because ‘that kind of thinking is forbidden.’ She’s deeply afraid.

Plus, the Avox girl who Katniss saw in the woods with a boy years before, why would they try to escape the Capitol to live in the wild if things are that good? Why would they run? What aren’t we seeing that’s going on in the Capitol? Because we rarely get any perspective on how life is in the Capitol except Katniss’ view of that they have enough to eat. There are hints of something that isn’t shown just yet, and I wonder if The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will talk more about this, since it’s going to be following a young President Snow living in the Capitol.

Okay, that’s enough, this post is getting too long already!

Have you read the book? Recently reread it? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

 

Before you go, please remember to visit this website to see how you can help the Black Lives Matter movement, and even donate without any money. Do what you can.

~The

~Also

~B

My Writing Got Published!

Hey so I have some really exciting news! As you might know by now, I write short stories, and have been posting some on my writing blog, but I’ve also been submitting them to magazines and competitions. And in the last two weeks TWO of my short stories got published.

The first one is in the Earth issue of Popshot, which is an illustrated literary magazine, which means my story gets its very own beautiful illustration! You can buy a copy here (print) or here (digital). And you can read it for free on their website!

My other story was published on Reflex Fiction, which is a competition that runs all the year. My story didn’t make the long list, but they liked it enough to still kindly publish it on their website. You can read it for free here.

I’m really excited about this and wanted to share it with you 🙂 If you read any of these stories, and liked it, please let me know 🙂

Cheers,

Lotte

Short Story | A Shadow Followed Me

A Shadow Followed Me

(200 words)

Last night I dreamt a shadow followed me.

It was dark, unobtrusive, lethal. Barely visible in the night’s colors. It had taken me for weak, for easy prey. But inside I was raging, boiling, powerful. So I turned into a dead end alley, and swallowed myself. Letting my corporeal body turn into the absence of light.

Hiding, just like them.

Cowardly creatures. Hopping from lampposts to cardboard boxes to trash cans in the blink of an eye, hiding their essence, only attacking when your back is turned. So fast, so deadly, so gutless. You have to catch them unawares.

Beat them at their own game.

It slipped around the corner, moved to hide, as they do, but I wasn’t there. It hovered in confusion. Hesitated just a bit too long. My rage grew and grew, faster than I, and I was a red, hot, flaring anger before my body ever manifested. The shadow fled into a cardboard box but I broke it. Tore apart anything it could hide in, raging in the night, this dead end alley.

I woke up in my own bedroom, the remnants of a wastepaper basket under my foot, and a weight off my shoulders.

Cowards.


Thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed it, if you did, please comment/like/share. If you want to read some of my thoughts on this piece, you can find them here.

And if you want to read more of my stories, you find them on my writer blog!

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Some Books You Might Not Have Heard of and That Definitely Deserve More Hype (Pt. 3)

All good things come in threes, right? So here’s my third post of books I think need more hype 🙂 You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Let’s get into it 😀

 

  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
    Rowell is most famous for her YA books, and mostly for Eleanor & Park (which I LOVE) but I feel like less people know she’s also written two adult books, which are just as great. They’re pretty much still written in YA style, but about people in their 30s or late 20s. Landline is one of them, about a woman who works really hard, then gets the opportunity to write her own tv-show (or at least the pilot). But at the same time she struggles with her home life, then, after a fight with her husband she finds out that the old landline in her childhood bedroom connects to the past… Really cool concept and wonderfully written.
  • Notes From the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell
    This book is about a girl, I think set in the 90s, who loves film and embarks on a project of making a film. But after love and hurt and all the other things that encompass teenage life happen to her, the film becomes something the hadn’t expected at all. I really liked it when I first read it, which has been a few years, and I thought it was really cool set against this artsy scene.
  • Wake Trilogy by Lisa McMann
    This is a really, really cool series about a girl who gets stuck in other people’s dreams. It’s been a while since I read it but I remember loving it and being so impressed my the premise. Most people on Goodreads either love it or hate it, but I thought it was pretty well-done.
  • A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke
    This is set in the same world as A Shiver of Snow and Sky and it’s just as atmospheric, although a little less action-y, and really enjoyable and for some reason not that well-known online! It doesn’t have a lot of GR ratings yet and I think it definitely deserves more hype. Read my full review here.
  • I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
    This is about a girl who lives in a trailer park and feels there’s no way out of that place. But she’s hoping to get into art college and do something different with her life. It’s also about a boy who went to the Marine’s to escape this place, but had to return without his leg. It’s a really beautiful story about hope and love and resilience. Really one of a kind.

 

So, that was it 🙂 Hoped you enjoyed it! Have you read any of these books? Got any recommendations yourself? Let me know in the comments!

 

Author Appreciation | Emma Mills

Welcome to Author Appreciation, the blog series (perhaps, this is only the first one!) where I shout out my favorite authors and their books!

Emma Mills writes YA novels that are always funny, always sweet and always real. Her stories are dressed differently, sometimes about life lfirst & then emma millsong friendships, sometimes about new friendships, sometimes focused more on family and sometimes focused a liiiiittle more on romance. But what I love about them is that the romance part is never the main part of the story, even within the romance, there’s always a strong sense of friendship first between the two characters, and there’s always an overall emphasis on the importance and complexity of friendships.

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Calming Coloring Pages

Here are some happy coloring pages I made for these corona virus times. We had to entertain a couple of kids for a short time so I made them for them to color in, and I decided I’d put them online, too. I’m not a professional artist so there will be mistakes in them, but you might enjoy them anyway.

You can download them for free and print them and color them. Entertain your kids or yourself during your self-isolation or quarantine!

Garden Cat PDF

Sunflower Cat PDF

Mountain Cat PDF

coloringcatimg

Garden Cat

MountainCat

My Favorite Graphic Novels

I really love graphic novels, and I have a whole shelf dedicated to them because over the years I’ve gathered a modest collection. So today I thought I’d share my favorite graphic novels!

  • Nimona by Noelle StevensonIMG_20200315_160400_336.jpg
    This is my absolute favorite. It was originally a webcomic and it’s really cool you can still see that in the art as the artist developed their style over time. It’s also quite clear when you read the story that not everything was completely planned out from the beginning (at least, I think so!) and you can feel the plot and the characters and their relationships and backstories develop as you’re reading. The changing art style really complements that. Besides it’s also a lovely and exciting story, mixing fantasy and sci-fi tropes and I’ve just never seen anything quite like it.
  • The Adventure Zone, Here There BeThe adventure zone here there be gerblins Gerblins by McElroy and Pietsch
    I’ve talked about this graphic novel before, and you can read my full review here, but basically this is the graphic novelization of a comedy DnD podcast that I really love!
  • Lost At Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley
    O’Malley is famous for the Scott Pilgrim series, but honestly I like this little story much better. It’s a quiet story about feeling lost, cats, and finding something – even if you don’t know quite what – in a simple yet expressive style.
  • Through The Woods by Emily Carroll
    I think this is quite a widely known collection of short graphic stories, and it’s really one of my favorites. It’s creepy in a unique way and the art is just gorgeous, blown-out terrifying sometimes.IMG_20200315_160124_416.jpg
  • This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
    This is a very beautiful story about first crushes and growing up, and the heartbreak of life, seen through the eyes of a young girl in her early teenage years. A simple line-art style is both gentle and sensitive and raw in its storytelling. (tw miscarriage, abortion mention)
  • Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
    A girl does not feel like she fits in, then she finds a ghost, that seems to help her but might not be what it seems to be.. A really cool and slightly creepy story!

 

Have you read any of these graphic novels? What are your favorite graphic novels recs? Let me know in the comments!

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