Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Rosaria Munda: Fireborne

In her debut novel Rosaria Munda takes readers to a world where whomever controls the dragons controls the world:

Lee and Annie, from different castes in life, are both orphaned during a brutal revolution that changed their world but now anyone has the ability to be a dragon rider, not just the Dragon Born. Present day and they are both rising stars of the new dragon rider teams that have been formed, the only problem is that none of the Dragons have the ability to breathe fire yet. Lee is also hiding a secret, he was supposed to be killed the day the revolutionaries came to his home but he was spared, Lee is Dragon Born. This secret needs to be kept if he values his life, especially when rumours start that there are other Dragon Born still alive and looking to retake the throne. Lee must choose the family he lost or the regime he now believes in and Annie has to decide whether she should protect the boy she loves or become the savior her country needs.

What I appreciated in this book was that you could not tell that this book was Munda's debut novel. It was written and laid out like a seasoned author and I personally was shocked to find that it was her debut. Munda has some fairly complex characters and relationships within the novel, and while the plot in itself is fairly straight forward I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I found this book was much more about character development, internal struggle and political moves that there were times that it was a bit slow, but I was okay with Munda wanting to get all of this right and laid out. If you are looking for a book that is full of fighting dragon scenes you will be disappointed within this book. I do wish that there was more of an explanation about how the dragon riders are chosen by the dragons and what goes in to forming their bond. There is a bit of this in a flashback but nothing really descriptive about the process, so I hope to learn more about the dragon and dragon rider bond in future books.

There are two main narrators for this book Lee and Annie, who due to the revolution they find themselves to be orphans and at the same orphanage. There were many times within their youth that Lee protected Annie and she is eternally grateful and loyal to him for it. I like that Munda took the time to establish backstory for both Lee and Annie as well as the revolution that put them in the positions they are. Additionally, by having the two different points of view we get different perspectives on the current regime as well as their interactions with those who survived from before. Lee and Annie are also two very different characters and personalities so seeing how they interacted in the same scene or scenario was also very interesting. With that said Munda does not rehash each event that occurs from each characters point of view there is a bit of overlap to show a different preservative but then the story move along to that character's next action.

I guess my one main complaint about the book is that there is a somewhat typical love triangle or maybe triangle with another person offshoot? I don't really think that it added anything to the story by having it there and certain feelings could have been there without the addition of the third person, so I kind of feel like it was just thrown in there as hey that's what you have in YA novels these days. Maybe it will play out or be more important in the future but right now I do not think that is was needed

I really enjoyed Munda's debut novel and like the world and characters that she has set up, plus the political aspects really ramp up as you near the end of the book so I am very excited to read the next book in this series. Once again, really well done Debut novel.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

Angela Marsons: Child's Play

This is the 11th yep 11th book in Angela Marsons' DI Kim Stone series, and I highly recommend it. All of the books are unique and interesting and there is only one or two that did not live up to the high standards that I have set for Marsons' as an author. You also need to start at the beginning as the characters are shaped throughout the books; Silent Scream, Evil Games, Lost Girls, Play Dead, Blood Lines, Dead Souls, Broken Bones, Dying Truth, Fatal Promise and Dead Memories.

D.I. Kim Stone and her team are back and the killer really is a Child at Heart:

Kim Stone is summeded to a very disturbing scene. An older women tied to a swing with barbed wire, with an X cut into the back of her neck. The victim is a retired child psychologist, who was known for taking on tough cases and tough case studies. Then two more bodies are discovered with the distinctive X mark as well as having a history of working with children. Kim and her team are on the hunt for a serial killer, one that appears to have links to gifted children. Could Kim and her team finally met their match. This is a game of Cat and Mouse you do not want to loose.

The best part about this book was that I was not able to figure out who the murderer was. I went back and forth between many people within the book and I can say by the end of the book that I got it wrong. Trust me, I do typically figure books out before the end of a book, it's my super power, but I did not see this one coming. Marsons is able to achieve this through her well thought out plots, storytelling and really having the reader in the thick of the investigation with Kim and her team. It is very rare that something is kept from the readers and when it is it is to add suspense to the book. Marsons' is a master of red herring and really showing what detective work is like, following the evidence set before them and where this information leads the investigation.

I do like when there is more than one case occurring within the book as I think that speaks to how detective work occur, you never really have one case on your desk. I just wasn't a fan of Penn going off on his own back to his old squad, even though I get that he was in charge of the case that is now before the courts. Really that whole case could have been a whole book to itself. I did like that it showed more of Penn as a character and the squad that he came from and how much he was appreciated there, but how he feels he is more at home with Kim's team. I just felt that as a whole that Penn story was very disjointed from the other characters as it only involved Penn and no one else.

One Character that I really with there would have been more Alison Lowe in this book. I like her preservative, her constantly reading her coworkers, as well as how she pushes Kim's buttons, constantly. I get she cannot be in every book, but I actually thought she was going to be a permanent member of the team after the last book and I missed having her there. Though I will admit I did like the addition of Tink, add some overeager cheerfulness to the mix and I look forward to see what Kim does with that in the long run, if she is allowed to stay (Please let her stay Marsons).

Well 11 books in and I'm still a huge fan of this series and Marsons's work. It takes a lot to have a reader stick around this long and to keep each book refreshing with new mysteries to solve. Does this have some similar elements to some of her other novels, Yes, but Marsons' creativity with the plot and mysteries makes it new once again. I always look forward to reading her novel and I am looking forward to book 12. 

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Suzanne Collins: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Suzanne Collins, takes readers back to near the tenth Hunger Games, where President Snow, is anything But:

The once mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, well it had been hard times during the war and every year since the Snow family fortune was lost along with District 13. However, Coriolanus Snow has been given a chance which could help secure not only his but his house's future. He and his classmates will be the mentors to those who are chosen during the reaping. The mentor whose tribute wins will have their future set out for them and money to support it. Snow does not get the most favorable pick, a female from District 12, but he is determine to win at any cost even if it means breaking some rules, especially once he gets to know his tribute outside the arena and begins to get feelings for her. Can he help her enough so she can win so that they both can get their happily ever after.

I really enjoyed this book but due to the fact that it is a Hunger Games novel, I believe that people will either love or hate this book because it is very un-Hunger Games. Sure the Hunger Games exist in this time, but they are not the extravagant event that we see later and the reader does not have first hand account of what is going on in the arena. This book is much more of a political based one, in which Snow is trying to preserve himself and his family not only his family but the Snow legacy as well. Snow is trying to portrays that everything is fine in his life but the reality is that they are extremely poor and it is up to Snow to bring the family fortune back, which is a lot of weight on a teenagers shoulders. Therefore, Snow is forced to manipulate those around him to make sure they perceive him in a certain way, find out information he can use to his advantage and yet still be liked by his peers and teachers as these will be his cohort for the rest of his life.

I enjoyed that this book was solely told from Snow's point of view. You can see why he became that man he is in the other books, as well as, his growth in character and how some personality traits never really change from when one is younger. You also discover additional reasons as to why he truly did not like Katniss even from her name. I am sure that Snow saw a lot of Lucy Grey in Katniss. The only point in the book that I wish there was a change in point of view was the end, I wish there would have been something from Lucy Grey's point of view maybe in an Epilogue or something like that, I just needed something from her in the end. I don't know exactly what but something.

Speaking of Lucy Grey, she is a very interesting character but we only get to see her from Snow's point of view, so things are just a bit clouded, jaded and maybe a bit idolized at times. I think Lucy Grey knew what she was doing on several occasions throughout the book and is just as manipulative as Snow. She knows how to work her image and crowd to get those around her to like her and help her, so I was questioning her motivation throughout the whole book, besides her need to try and survive the arena.

As stated above I liked that this showed a very different hunger Games and that it was not always the event and it was not something that people from certain districts strive for.  It is really Snow and his classmates who first start to shape the Hunger Games into an interesting event that everyone in the Capital wants to be part of and the realization that no one in the districts really watches it. It is interesting some of the ideas that everyone comes up with and the ways to incorporate them into the area.

I enjoyed this prequel to the Hunger Games Trilogy. I am okay that it was a bit slower pace at times as this was more of a characterization of Snow in a novel and that there was next to zero first person action that Snow partakes in. I think if you are interested in Snow as a character you will enjoy this book, however, if you are looking for another "Hunger Games" book you may want to pass on this one.

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