{Book Review} The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes{Book Review}

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

By Suzanne Collins

It’s the 10th anniversary of The Hunger Games – the annual games held in the Capitol in which children (tributes) from the 12 districts of Panem (formerly known as North America) fight to the death, until only one remains. This year, things will go a little differently. In an attempt to spice things up, students from the prestigious Academy will mentor the tributes. 

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{Book Review} Now, Then, and Everywhen

Book Review: Now, Then and Everywhen by Rysa Walker - the first in the Chronos Origins series{Book Review}

Now, Then, and Everywhen
Chronos Origins Book 1

By Rysa Walker

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from Wunderkind PR for my enjoyment. All opinions are mine alone.

A few years ago, I blogged about a series of writings by Rysa Walker, called the Chronos Files. The Chronos Files were a set of novels, novellas, and short stories about a girl named Kate who is told that she must travel through time – like several of her ancestors have done – and prevent history from being changed. 

Now, Then, and Everywhen is the first in a new series – Chronos Origins – that will eventually reveal the origins of the time travel organization from Kate’s era, Chronos. 

In this first book, two characters from different points in time meet up in America’s South in 1965, in the middle of the American Civil Rights Movement. Madison Grace (Madi) is from 2136. She stumbled upon her Chronos key and time travel quite by accident, and is trying to figure out not only how it works but how her ancestors may have been involved in time travel. Then there’s Tyson Reyes, a Chronos historian from 2304, trained in the art of time travel, observation and research. 

The two are in the middle of a jump back in time when they feel time shift, changing life as they know it. History is different; some people cease to exist while others are born. Both think that they accidentally changed history during their jump, and both go back to try to fix it – that’s when they meet up. Did either of them cause the time shift? Or is something else going on? Can they reverse the change? 

Review: When I was a kid, I was an avid reader. I had a whole list of authors who I loved, and would immediately read their new books as they were released. Sometimes I’d reread a previous one, but more often than not, I’d jump right into the new one. The older I get though, the more this has changed. I still have my list of authors that I love and watch for, but I’ve realized that I much prefer to read a series in its entirety, once it’s finished. I don’t have the time anymore to reread books, and I just don’t want to wait to find out what happens next. 

I tell you that little story because in this case, I do wish I had reread the Chronos Files before jumping into this one. There were just so many references back to characters from the Chronos Files that I do think you have to read it – at least once – to really appreciate Now, Then, and Everywhen. It’s been a couple of years for me, so I remembered a lot, but there were definitely some moments of deja vu, where I couldn’t grasp what I was missing. The further in the book that I got,the easier it got to put those pieces together, but if you haven’t read the Chronos Files, please read them before picking this one up. You’ll have a greater appreciation for the characters and stories within the novel, and better understand their significance to this story line. 

As for Now, Then, and Everywhen itself, I enjoyed it. I did find it to be less of a young adult book than the previous series. The main characters were all adults, and seemed very real. They were all likable and relatable (their personalities, not their time travel experience!). The dialog had an ease to it that I appreciated – no teenage angst, no over-the-top romance. All of the characters and their interactions felt very natural. 

Another reason this book seemed less young-adult than the previous series is that a good bit of time was spent on the science of time travel throughout the book – which was fairly complicated, addressed from the point of view of a physicist and geneticists. It was peppered throughout the book, so don’t think that science dragged down the pace, but from this perspective (verse the teenagers in the Chronos Files), it was just more complex.

I will say that the constant flipping back and forth, the references to things from the Chronos Files that I only vaguely remembered, meant that this book required a bit more focus than the previous series. Definitely not a mindless read. But that being said, I continued to enjoy the unique story.

In short, if you have read (and enjoyed) or plan to read the Chronos Files, this would be a good book to come next. But if you haven’t, then I’d probably skip this one. 

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from Wunderkind PR for my enjoyment. All opinions are mine alone.

 

{Book Review} The Delphi Trilogy

{Book Review}

The Delphi Trilogy

By Rysa Walker

The Delphi Trilogy consists of three books:

  1. The Delphi Effect
  2. The Delphi Resistance
  3. The Delphi Revolution

There is also a novella – The Abandoned: A Delphi Novella (#2.5) that I did not read prior to writing this review. (The novella is available on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited – see affiliate link at the bottom of this review – but I read several of Walker’s short stories and novellas that were paired with previous series, and enjoyed them thoroughly. The short stories and novellas usually provided insight into the lives of secondary characters.) 

Do you believe in psychic powers?

The world in 2019 didn’t either, until presidential candidate Senator Ron Cregg showed the world what a couple of kids were capable of on national television. Not only did Cregg reveal that psychic powers were real and potentially very dangerous, but he revealed that psychics were created by a mix of military and governmental programs, most commonly known as the Delphi Project. Cregg’s revelations terrified the nation, creating an environment of fear and mistrust that just kept growing.

As Cregg worked the public into a panic, others sought to kill those that participated in the Delphi Project, and capture any of their children, known as Delphi adepts, who inherited psychic powers as a result of the experimentation on their parent or parents.

The Delphi Trilogy follows seventeen-year old Anna Morgan and a group of friends – almost all of whom possessed some sort of psychic power – who did their best to escape capture, to debunk Cregg’s conspiracy story, and to find some sort of safety for Delphi participants and adepts alike.

Review/Recommendation: The third book in this trilogy was released in early October and unlike other series, I waited until the whole trilogy was out before starting to read them. I find that I prefer to binge-read a series – especially when they’re good ones! – rather than read each book as it is released.

This is the second series that I’ve read by Walker and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. I fly through her young adult/fantasy novels, which provide an escape from reality. I get totally sucked into the worlds she creates and have a hard time putting down the series until its read. The Delphi Trilogy was no different. The story told throughout the three books was good – fast-paced, not super predictable with lots of twists and turns.

Unlike some young adult books, the dialog is not quite so… corny, the characters not quite so full of teenage angst as you might encounter in other young adult series – which is one of the reasons that I was able to enjoy the trilogy as a adult.

Looking to lose yourself in a story for a few days? Walker’s series will do it.

 

Like this series? Have you read any other of Rysa Walker’s books? If not, check out my review of The Chronos Files here.

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{Book Review} Smoke and Iron

Book Review: Smoke and Iron (4th book in Rachel Caine's Great Library series)Disclaimer: This book review may contain spoilers, for those that haven’t read the first three books in the series. If you haven’t read them, I’d suggest you read my review of book 1 and 2 here, and my review of book 3 here.

{Book Review}

Smoke and Iron

The Great Library Series Book 4

By Rachel Caine

Like each of the preceding books in the series, Caine drops the reader right back into the story where she last left off. Smoke and Ironstarts with Jess Brightwell, just separated from his friends, leaving them in the dark as to how he plans to win their freedom and overthrow the Library. Jess ends up in Alexandria in a last ditch effort to take down the corrupt leadership of the Great Library. Each of the friends has a part to play in Jess’ grand plan… the question is, will they figure out what that part is before it’s too late?

In this action-packed book, Jess and his friends certainly increase their momentum and develop powerful allies in their quest against the Library, but we’re left waiting until Book 5 (release date TBD but I’d assume 2019 sometime) to find out if Jess is successful.

Review/Recommendation: Man, does this series suck me in. I waited a year for this book to be released and I’m not looking forward to the wait for the final book in the series. But the wait was worth it. Smoke and Iron was the best book I’ve read in a while.

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{Book Review} The Grisha Trilogy

This review covers the three books in The Grisha Trilogy: 

1 – Shadow and Bone
2 – Siege and Storm
3 – Ruin and Rising

This series also consists of a number of short stories (you can find the list on Goodreads). I did not read any of the short stories prior to writing this review.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

Book Review: The Grisha Trilogy

Book Review

The Grisha Trilogy

By Leigh Bardugo

The Grisha are a people endowed with special powers, a people who are considered Masters of the Small Science. Each Grisha is able to manipulate a certain type of matter to achieve extraordinary results. Some, Corporalki, work with what’s in the human body. Others, Etherealki or Summoners, are able to manipulate nature’s elements (wind, fire, water). The final set, the Materialki, are gifted scientists and builders, working with elements such as steal.

Many Grisha – persecuted, experimented on, sold as slaves in some parts of the world – make their way to the land of Ravka, where their unique gifts are nurtured. Here, the Grisha, considered to be part of the country’s elite, learn how to use their gifts and then serve in Ravka’s Second Army, led by the Darkling. The Darkling is the only known Grisha who is capable of summoning darkness, a leader with no equal. That is, until Alina reveals herself. Alina is the Darkling’s opposite – she is the Sun Summoner, a woman who can manipulate light.

This trilogy is largely centered around Alina and the Darkling. In the first book, Shadow and Bone, Alina’s powers are revealed. Throughout the book, Alina struggles to find her place among the Grisha and how to summon light. She is unsure of who to trust, feeling very alone. By the end of the book, Alina comes to realize that the Darkling’s intentions are not what they seemed; that her destiny was not to lead along side him, uniting a country ravaged by war, but rather to oppose him and defeat his plans to rule Ravka.

The second two books in the series, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, chronicles Alina’s fight against the Darkling. She’s helped by both new and old friends as well as amplifiers, magical items intended to strengthen her power. She still struggles with who to trust, as everyone seems to have a hidden agenda and multiple sets of loyalties. Will Alina and her group of friends be enough to defeat the Darkling and rebuild a war-torn country?

Review/Recommendation: Although a couple of the books (particularly the third) was hard to get into, the trilogy was an enjoyable, quick read. This young adult series (fantasy genre)  has something for everyone – love stories and love triangles, action and deceit. For the most part, the story was fast-paced (I found the beginnings to be the slowest part) and kept me wanting to turn the page and read just one more chapter.

As a former student of Russian language and culture, I’d be remiss if i did not mention the similarities to the Russian culture throughout the series. For starters, the word “grisha” is the diminutive of Gregory, which means watchful. (Bardugo states in the Q&A in the back of book 1 that the word also visually and aurally evokes the word “geisha,” enforcing the sense of beauty and secrecy that surrounds the Grisha people.) The names of people (Nikolai, Morozova, Misha, Aleksander, Sankta Alina) and places (Tsibeya, Novyi Zem, Dva Stolba) were some of the most obvious examples that will resonate with those familiar with the Russian culture. But certain scenes in the snow, of the characters drinking kvas, the troika arriving with holiday gifts to the orphanage etc. reminded me of my Russian studies.

If you like young adult/fantasy books, this series is worth a read. While  I didn’t love it as much as I loved Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Daughter of Smoke and Bones or Divergent books (to name a few), it’s an enjoyable read if you’re looking for another series in the genre.

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