Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne CollinsThe Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #0
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 19th May 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Bought
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to out charm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined - every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

I wasn’t originally going to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes as I didn’t really have any interest in President Snow’s backstory, and I thought that without Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games wouldn’t be all that interesting. I was correct.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes felt, to me, entirely pointless. I struggled from the beginning to connect with Snow’s younger self. It seems strange to me that Collins chose to write the story from Snow’s point of view, as presumably everyone reading this book will know what he is to become. I read books to connect with the characters, but I couldn’t do that with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes because I simply could not see the two Snows as two different people. I knew who he was.

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Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy FoleyThe Guest List by Lucy Foley
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 19th March 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Set on a remote island off the Irish coast, this is one guest list no one would want to be on, just as no one would have wanted an invitation to the New Year's Eve party in Foley's previous novel, The Hunting Party . Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead, there are old secrets, and one of them is murdered.

The Guest List was a fast-paced and intriguing thriller, which was exactly what I was expecting from Lucy Foley after I read and enjoyed The Hunting Party early last year. I’m very glad that it lived up to my expectations on that front!

I was kept engaged by the mystery of what happened on the wedding night – I needed to know who had been killed and who the killer was. The fact that the book was written in first person added to the mystery, as the characters were clearly keeping things from the reader and I knew something was amiss.

That said, I think I would have preferred for the book to have been told in third person. I always struggle when thrillers are written in first, and then the author clearly goes out of their way to keep things from the reader and has the characters omit certain information. I find it quite irritating, and sometimes it can come across as lazy writing. It wasn’t a big deal with this book, as I still thought it was written really well, but I would have preferred for it not to have happened.

I loved the way Lucy Foley wrote the different points of view. There were a lot of characters in this book, but they were all very unique and distinct. She did a really good job with those.

I didn’t find any of the characters to be likeable apart from Hannah and Olivia, but to be honest they weren’t really supposed to be!

As for the twist at the end, I thought it was really well done! I liked how we were fed little bits of information that came together towards the end. I was able to put most of it together right before the big twist was revealed, and I love it when stories do that! I love being able to piece together information just as the twist is happening. It reminded me of how I felt with The Silent Patient, as I figured out the twist right at the last minute, almost along with the characters!

Book Review: The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty

Book Review: The Empire of Gold by S. A. ChakrabortyThe Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty
Series: Daevabad #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 11th June 2020
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

The Empire of Gold is, without a doubt, one of the best conclusions I’ve ever read. The City of Brass is one of the best series I’ve ever read, and I’m very glad that Chakraborty wrapped it up in this way. It’s full on perfection, so read my review below to hear my somewhat rambly thoughts on it.

If you’re interested, I’ve also uploaded a video review on Booktube, in which I almost cry on camera, get really protective of Nahri, and gush about how proud I am of everyone.

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Book Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Book Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil StamperThe Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 4th February 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-half-stars

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

Honestly, I had high hopes for The Gravity of Us and ultimately I feel really let down. If you’ve seen my reading vlog, you’ll have seen that I was very keen for this book, especially in the beginning. But the whole thing started to go downhill quite quickly.

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The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

The Sound of Stars by Alechia DowThe Sound of Stars Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 25th February 2020
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

The main selling point of The Sound of Stars was, to be honest, the illegal library that the main character is running. Janelle is a survivor of the alien invasion on Earth, and she’s running an underground library in order to help give people hope. Does that not sound like the best thing?

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