The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes

I finally managed to lay my hands on this one, and while I feared it might turn out to be the quick cash grab that authors and publishers try and do time and time again, I found that this installment did have some punch to it. And while it wasn’t anything like the three Hunger Games books that made Suzanne Collins famous, it actually gave us a wealth of information concerning the earliest hunger games and how they came into being in the first place. 

Coriolanus Snow is of course portrayed as a hero in this novel, and his character is laudable for most of the book except only in the very end when circumstances conspire to change him. He is eighteen and in his senior year of high school when game makers decide to recruit mentors from among his classmates, and as chance would have it, he’s paired with a feisty though small girl named Lucy Gray. The main object is of course to make sure that Lucy becomes the survivor and winner, though as this goes, at first he is more interested only in grabbing the huge benefits that come with victory but as things later progress, he actually becomes so attached with his mentee.

For the most part, the book presented itself as being largely concerned with character study, and the actual hunger games events only occupy a small portion of it: which could be disappointing to many, and I wasn’t an exception. Also the story is long too, and with little happening in terms of action, it comes off as a slooow read. All in all however, it seems quite worth it in the end. A solid three stars from me!

An Older President Snow, toward the end of the trilogy

First Lines Friday

Hello and welcome to this weekly meme that’s popular with a lot of bookworms and I am no exception. I have to confess right away though that I haven’t done this feature in a while and so it feels really great to be doing it again. Today I’m going to spotlight a YA title that made waves at the height of the dystopian era, one that started with the searingly popular Hunger Games trilogy.

Without any further ado then, here is today’s opening lines.

One

The most dangerous sicknesses are those that

make us believe we are well.

—Proverb 42, The Book of Shhh

It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty-three since the scientists perfected a cure. Everyone else in my family has had the procedure already. My older sister, Rachel, has been disease free for nine years now. She’s been safe from love for so long, she says she can’t even remember its symptoms. I’m scheduled to have my procedure in exactly ninety-five days, on September 3. My birthday…

Can you remember which famous YA book those lines are from. It should be pretty easy…here we go.

And the answer is: Delirium, yes Delirium by Lauren Oliver

That was easy, wasn’t it? Anyway thanks for stopping by, and have yourself a great weekend.

LightLark by Alex Aster

Can't-Wait Wednesday (Book Meme based on Waiting on Wednesday) | Wishful  Endings

It’s not usual that I get intrigued when I hear an author has been making waves on TikTok, because honestly TikTok is not something I’m too interested in right now but I have to say a report on this young author Alex Aster having a teaser on there that’s already raked 1.3 million views got me seriously hooked. I mean how is it even possible that a mere book concept, where there isn’t even a cover to sell yet can have such a huge audience. Well, Alex may be a YA author with one title published to date, and may be liked by thousands of young adults out there, but still. And for her efforts she has already scored nothing less than a three-figure advance from Amulet Books, a phenomenal amount for a relatively unknown writer in these days of belt-tightening by the industry. The novel is called Lightlark and isn’t scheduled to be published until fall 2022, but hey I already can’t wait because of all the buzz.

You can check out the video here

Lightlark centers on a once-in-a-century competition between the rulers of six realms, each of who is afflicted with a wicked, fatal curse. In a bid to break their curses, the six combatants do battle with one another, knowing that one of them must die so that the others may live. In the midst of it all is one woman, Isla Crown, who must pick her way through a deadly web of intrigue if she wants to make it out of the game alive — but soon finds her victory campaign waylaid by a romantic entanglement.

Well, I can only say good luck to Alex, and let’s hope the novel comes out right to justify all the hype, and that ultimately it gets all the success that it’s built up for.

Monday-what are you reading?

In my case, this weekly feature should instead be rephrased as Monday what are you listening to as I have been consuming far more fiction via recorded file rather than the traditional text. Truly the multitasking nature of audio makes it a far more flexible medium to dig into than other types, but I digress…

Back to the discussion proper I’m currently checking out Matched by Allie Condie, which I’m finding rather likeable now that I’m getting it via audio. To confess I read the ebook version of it last year and DNFed it around the 15% mark. Then, it just sounded so flat and predictable then, but definitely not so now, so I guess it was either a mood thing or that the audio narrator has brought on some new likeability elements not present in the text.

Given that therefore, I’m certainly planning to stick with it for a little while and we will see how things go.

Here’s the Goodreads blurb.

Can’t Wait Wednesday

I’m so hyped about this book from Crystal Maldonado and just can’t wait to lay my hands on it. Only just yesterday I was able to have the audio version put on my holds list on Cloud Library and should be able to get it in less than three weeks, which is great and I can’t wait. I have heard a lot of good things about this novel and reviews on Goodreads are largely positive, and that means I should be in for a treat when I finally start digging into it.

The story centers on a sixteen year old M/C named Charlie who is not just a person of color in a predominantly white neighborhood but is also fat–if you’ll pardon my usage of the offensive term. It’s those two things that make her life tough and she has to go through a lot before she overcomes. In truth this could very well be an own-voices story, although the book isn’t being marketed as such, and those diverse stories are the in thing at the moment.

My last read in which the main character is facing body-size issues was Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade and I so much liked that book, so I’m pretty positive I will like this one as well. We will see how things go, though. Keeping fingers crossed.

The Lux Series

Definitely not the greatest of any YA series I’ve ever checked out, but I found the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout to be quite interesting, well, for the most part anyway. It features a romance or a series of romances between humans and aliens—said aliens who, except for the occasional glow of a little light among other tiny peculiarities, look very much like humans and could easily be mistaken for some. The main heroine is Katy, a Floridan who has moved to West Virginia with her mother after the father has sadly died of cancer. Mother and daughter are looking for a fresh start after a period of mourning, and Katy gets hers in the form of a couple hot aliens who live right close to their new home. She falls hard for the alien boy Daemon who, according to Katy’s spicy descriptions, is insanely, insanely  handsome, but also moody, protective and unpredictable—in short, a cute douche-bag.

The series pretty much follows all the usual twists and turns of a teen drama, but I did find it quite readable, although I only made it up to book three and then couldn’t continue with the rest. One thing I must not forget to mention about this author though, is that she quite excels at writing steamy scenes, and she definitely knows how to show the deep chemistry between love interests. I did adore many of the side characters, too, particularly Dee and Adam.

Have you had a chance to take a look at this series, and if so how have you found it?

Can’t wait Wednesday

Just like I do the beginning of each year, as a way of getting stuff to put on my ever-soaring TBR pile, I’ve been combing through lists of this year’s most anticipated books, and in YA this mystery/thriller by Ash Parsons just caught my eye. Not that it matters much but the author isn’t new to this genre and has published a couple titles, which though to be honest I’m not sure how well they’ve been received, but like I said before hype isn’t the big thing here. You’re So Dead centers on a character Plum, an Instagram influencer who goes to an influencer-only convention where it turns out there’s a killer on the loose. I have read a lot of novels in which the M/C is either a social-media star or blogger and I’ve enjoyed them all quite a bit and so I probably should like this one as well, especially with its inbuilt Agatha Christie vibe.  What I am not sure of however is how much drama will come from the fact that Plum is at the festival possibly while pretending to be her older more-celebrated sister, and tropes like that, or something similar, have been employed many times before and might get a little cheesy, but I guess we will see.

Here’s the whole Goodreads blurb…

Plum Winter has always come in second to her sister, the unbelievably cool, famous influencer Peach Winter. And when Peach is invited to an all-expenses paid trip to a luxurious art and music festival for influencers on a private island in the Caribbean, Plum decides it’s finally her time to shine. So she intercepts the invite–and asks her two best friends Antonia and Marlowe to come along to the fest with her. It’ll be a spring break they’ll never forget.

 

But when Plum and her friends get to the island, it’s not anything like it seemed in the invite. The island is run-down, creepy, and there doesn’t even seem to be a festival–it’s just seven other quasi-celebrities and influencers, and none of the glitz and glamor she expected. Then people start to die…

 

Plum and her friends soon realize that someone has lured each of them to the “festival” to kill them. Someone has a vendetta against every person on the island–and no one is supposed to leave the island alive. So, together, Plum, Antonia, and Marlowe will do whatever it takes to unravel the mystery of the killer, and fight to save themselves and as many influencers as they can, before it’s too late.

Monday-What are you reading

 

I have been following Jael Richardson on Twitter for long, and I’m also on her mailing list as she runs the Festival Of Literary Diversity, FOLD, and I was so thrilled to learn she is publishing her first novel. Titled Gutter Child, I went on to order this book on Amazon, and have already begun to read it although I’m not going as fast with it as I might have wanted.

Its major theme is race in a dystopian era, where the country—possibly the US or Canada—is divided into two, the Mainland for the over-privileged majority and the Gutter, for the oppressed minority. We follow our M/C Elimina Dubois, a fourteen-year-old child of the Gutter as she enters into a school on the Mainland, and the earliest vibe I got is that it might be brutal for her there.

The book is certainly promising to be a thought provoking read, but what got me into buying it at first is that it’s from a diverse author, one who literally has been left, right and center of the Canadian publishing scene fighting for diverse voices to be heard. For all this brief is worth though, I haven’t gone too far into the story for me to be able to say how great or how bad the book is but I guess we will see.

How about you, what are you currently reading?Jail Ealey Richardson

 

Where There’s A Witch, There’s A way- Victoria DeLuis

 

An interesting introduction to the magic world of Eira Snow, who recently has returned to small-town life after a bit of a messy divorce. Eira is a witch—who can work magic—and now she has opened a shop that sells potions, and it is while she is on a business errant that she fortuitously comes across the dead body of one Tanya. To the ordinary eye, everything is set up to look like the perfect accident, but then Eira is one of a kind: she can see and talk to ghosts. Immediately on discovery, Tanya’s ghost appears to Eira and tells her that this death was no accident but rather a carefully calculated murder. Consequently Eira is then sucked into the mystery as she investigates what happened.

I liked Eira a lot, though I cannot give the details of how she went about solving this one, because that would be so spoilery. A supporting character to really like is Fleur, a teenager who soon comes into Eira’s employ, and has witching talents of her own. Other side characters aren’t as fully developed.

The book is short, and a fast reader can finish it in a day. Try this one for a little bit of magic and murder.

Cover Fridays

An abundance of Katherines.

I have just begun checking out this book, which is one of those titles by John Green that I hadn’t picked up but always meant to, and now have gotten around to doing. It’s a bit of a slow burn for me and some elements of it seem rather pointless, as though John was just trying to find out whether the story idea would work or not, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have worked. I will probably end up giving it two stars.

What amazes me more about the book though is that it comes in a lot of cover versions, making it one of the most attractive books to feature on Cover Friday. Below are a few more of the versions I liked. Please tell me which one looks best.