Fireborne | Review // A Delightful Dragon Read

Greetings readers!

Lately with my romance binge, I’ve shifted away from my fantastical adventures. But with the quarantine going on it was time for me to switch it up and get back to fantasy! I received an ARC of this book months ago from Penguin Teen CA and because I am a fool I haven’t read it yet, until now obviously.

That being said, I am very excited to be sharing this review with you today because I went through some emotions with this novel!

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Oct 15th, 2019
Publisher: Putnam

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

The Likes

These characters..well well well. This book stars a socially awkward and shy main character and I was living my best life. Annie is great at dragon riding but she is not so great at being in the spotlight and public speaking. She is considered lesser for not being able to exude confidence so easily and is constantly put down for it. And well I adore her. I truly do. And I relate to the struggle. She’s still flawed in many ways and her past is tragic on so many levels, but I really liked reading about her growth and development to making a voice for herself. Then there is Lee. The golden boy. He’s all confidence and smarts and pizzazz and he is totally being raised into the regime that slaughtered his family. Yeah, he is in a sticky situation and it is a constant push and pull with him. I liked Lee well enough although I must admit I was not his biggest fan at some points. But in the end I did like him and admired his ability to muster the courage and face the things he had to do. 

Other characters…made this story all the more fun. At first I thought Duck was a little irritable, but he pulled through in the end. Crissa was fabulous despite um being a little intrusive in my ship plans. Actually both of these last characters were. But the support that these characters have for the MCs is admirable! In addition with a few more secondary characters, I liked the sense of found family among the students. Except for Power. Oh Power. He was a dick and we loved to hate him

The family drama. Gosh wow. So much trauma and tension in one theme. I can’t even begin to explain this without spoilers, but the choices that these characters had to make!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A choice of found family between blood. A choice in which you find both sides disappointed in you in the end! I loved how the book explored the difficulty of this decision. I loved how we got to see both sides and be torn just like the characters. IT WAS SO SOUL CRUSHING!

The political mess. Let it be known that trading in one kind of extreme for another is not always righting a wrong. I could smell the corruption from a mile away, but then again I have the advantage of being the reader. That characters had to figure it out for themselves and I am quite surprised about who actually knocked some sense into Annie and Lee. The political intrigue of this story is a phenomenal. It never stops giving from beginning to end. Truly fantastic.

The dragon goodness. This book promised dragons and it delivered. These majestic creatures were important in every part of this book. From the character development to the political machinations and the history of the culture, dragons just made it more intense. The addition of a tournament with these creatures only added to the fun and suspense!

The romance was tripping me in every which way and I loved it. The synopsis promised romance and boy oh boy did I make a ship and then fear for it! I never expected a slow burn friends to rivals to lovers to questionable relationship kind of thing from this book but that’s what I got and I loved it. It made me wait and yearn and worry and we appreciate that in books.

The Questionable

I was a little confused here and there with the politics and social hierarchy. Basically we have to learn two at a time, the old regime and the new, and unfortunately the systems could get a little convoluted at times. Eventually I was able to get the difference, but it took a while and it gets more clear towards the end. That being said, a glossary or like an index of how the social order worked would have been amazing. If I had that I certainly wouldn’t have been that lost at times.

The pacing was also a bit crazy. The book is told through a dual perspective but the author would switch POVs within chapters. That would not have been a problem if the timelines matched up better. That’s not to say that the timelines were wildly different but it was just a little disorienting how we had to go back and revisit something that happened that we were told about in passing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. While it is not perfect, I think it is an incredible story. The dragons and the characters will have you loving every minute. The political turmoil will have you on the edge of your seat. And the tragicish-happyish ending will leave you wanting more which is exactly what makes this book so great!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this book? What are your favourite dragon fantasy books? What are your favourite mythical creatures?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


The Last Namsara Buddy Read Review |Featuring the amazing SHA, and Canadian Dragon Tales!

Greetings readers!

Today I am partnering with the fabulous, Sha @ Book Princess Reviews to bring you a buddy read review! We decided to Buddy read The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli. A fitting choice as it is Canadian YA and we are both Canadian and we love dragons.

Thus I dub this buddy read (and a near future one)…


*if you do not know what Dragon Tales is please google and educate yourself.

Sha and I absolutely adored this book. Sha *literally* devoured the book within 6 hours. Less than a day! I myself am quite a slow reader, but boy oh boy if I had had the time on my hands I probably would have swallowed this one too!

The Last Namsara (Iskari #1)

The Last Namsara (Iskari, #1)
via Goodreads

Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Pages: 432
Release Date: October 3 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 (of 2,043 ratings)

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.



Amazon CAKobo | Audible | Abebooks | Alibris | | WorldCat

Asha lured the dragon with a story.
It was an ancient story, older than the mountains at her back, and Asha had to dredge it up from where it lay deep and dormant inside her.
She hated to do it. Telling such stories was forbidden, dangerous, even deadly.

Sha: The first three paragraphs of this book sent shivers down my spine. Within seconds I had everything I didn’t know I absolutely needed: dragons. Forbidden storytelling. I had to keep going.

Which is why I can only hope Rendz forgives me for speeding ahead.

Um yeah. I had a major bone to pick with Sha. I started this book two days before her and then she has the audacity to read the entire thing in one sitting!!!! LIKE I APPLAUD SHA’S EPICNESS OF BEING ABLE TO READ SO FAST–AND LITERALLY DEVOUR A BOOK–BUT SHE LEFT ME IN THE DUST!


SHA: Ciccarelli’s writing is perfectly suited to her world of dragon-hunting and poisonous stories. It reminded me strongly of Renée Ahdieh’s own lyrical prose, with a sharper cut to each line.

Rendz: Her plot twists were really well done! (Some were obvious, others less so) Some of them had me making faces. And yes, I was reading on a public bus. O-O

She did a really good job of leaving tracks and clues and then connecting the dots at the end. I’m still not over one of her revelations. She got me good.


SHA: Was there any character I didn’t love? (even the ones I hated, i loved hating)
Asha was amazing. But I actually want to rush forward and praise the supporting characters because … Ciccarelli fleshed them out so well and gave them all such important moments. Like, okay, WARNING, I’m about to ramble real quick:

I don’t dislike when a main character steals the show and does all the awesome things in a book aka spots the evil, plans the revolution, stops the villain. YAS we have a badass and I love! BUT what Ciccarelli owned in The Last Namsara was this whole “it takes a village to plan a revolution” theme.

Rendz: Asha was a QUEEN. Omg I loved her so much. Her journey was so heartbreaking and beautiful. I love her!!!!!!!!

⚔️ Safire : Asha’s cousin. Safire is better than Asha at strategy and close combat (which Asha praises within the book, YAS, support ya girl). Safire has a hard life in Firgaard and Asha helps protect her — but Safire can also hold her own. LITERALLY A QUEEN. 
⚔️ Dax : Asha’s brother. Asha often looks down on him because unlike her, he is not a warrior. TBH I thought he wasn’t so smarticle particle all the time either. BUT THINGS HAPPEN.
⚔️ Roa: A boss. Wow.
⚔️ Torwin : One of Jarek’s slaves. Also an adorable cinnamon roll who has some guts let me tell you that.
⚔️ Jarek : Ew. I NEED TO FIGHT HIM.


Rendz: At first there was a suspicion that Asha was gonna fall for her crappy betrothed and that was not gonna fly with us. But thankfully, it was only a weary inkling coming from us precarious readers. Then waltzes in a forbidden-romance plot and I–Rendz–am LIVING for it. Then my wariness came back because I really didn’t want this to be a slave-master thing. But I think that Ciccarelli stepped away from that when she really made Asha reflect on her way of thinking, her upbringing, other previous histories of interracial relations. It wasn’t insta-love…on Asha’s part at least, Torwin is another story *Is this spoilery??* I think they both had to really grow around one another, reshape they way they see the world and in turn each other.

Now let’s talk scenes. Because my goodness there were so many almost-scenes where I just wanted to chuck the book across the bus. And then the declarations that Ciccarelli made up for these characters and how they tied into legend…I was a puddle of tears.

Gosh they were just so good together.  

Sha: *Is currently too choked up to contribute words.*


Rendz: Major–and when we say major, we mean MAJOR–How to Train Your Dragon vibes. I absolutely adored the legend and Old Story elements and how they were tied back to these incredibly majestic creatures. I also loved that the dragons themselves had some personality to them. It added a lot more fun and not to mention a lot more adventure to the story!


Sha: When I saw that there was slavery in this book, I hesitated hard. I thought, “Oh no, there must be some controversy, it must be bad for some reason.” I read those scenes real close and analyzed from every perspective/the knowledge that I have and what I got was: Ciccarelli wrote those scenes well. She didn’t throw in slavery for kicks, I learned some lessons from the books end, nothing was played up for dramatics without consequences.

Rendz: I super agree, I was very apprehensive at first, but I think Ciccarelli handled it well. The slavery wasn’t just a present state, it had a history. It was a politically intense book, which I found I really liked.

representation: n/a
Content warnings: death of a principal character, killing of humans as sport, suicide, murder, whipping, mythical creature death, abuse

Rating: 5 stars!

Recommend: It’s a double YES from us!!

I think it is safe to say that you will hear from Sha and I again when we read the sequel, The Caged Queen. (When that will take place is another question!)

Let us know what you think! Have you read TLN? What did you think? Have you read its sequel The Caged Queen? What dragon books would you recommend to us?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz & Sha


Bentwhistle in A Threat from the Past Review

Greetings readers!

I finished this book a little while ago, but it isn’t until now that I can finally sit down and have some coherent thoughts about it. This book was provided to me by the author, Paul Cude. Thank you Paul for allowing me to read your work!

A Threat From The Past New Cover (Reduced)

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.


Well…hmmm…what can I say? It is just not for me. The dragons disguised as humans had potential to make a great story, but I just couldn’t mesh with this story in particular. It was too juvenile for me and I never found my self truly entertained.

What I Liked

It Was Funny: I will not lie there were some parts of this book where I was laughing. It wasn’t outrageously comedic, but some of the scenes or comebacks that the characters came up with had me cracking up. This definitely made up for some of the more boring scenes in the story.

Peter Was Not Broody but Still Fun: A lot of the main characters in a lot of fantasy books, especially those who are male, are typically dark, mysterious, cunning, know-it-alls . As much as I like that type, it is also a breath of fresh air to see and MC who is not all “Follow me, peasants. I actually know what I am doing.” Peter was different, he was very soft and unsure of himself. He did have times where his anger would cause him to make unwise decisions, but that happens to all of us, so we forgive him.

The Transition from Dragon world to Earth: It was fun to read about how the dragon world worked in relation to modern earth time. It was a neat setting to explore, although I wish it could have spent a little more time there.

What I Disliked

It Dragged On!: Holy cannoli. Geez Louis. I could have been finished this book a lot sooner if there weren’t so many unnecessary scenes. There were two problems. Either a whole lot of nothing would happen and a whole week would pass in book time OR one scene would stretch on forever and ever. This book should have been shorter.

Plus the chapters were so looooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggg. Rendz cannot do long chapters. That is a NEGATIVE.

I Could Spot the Plot Revelations A Mile Away: I knew who the bad guy and secret hero were as soon as they walked onto the page. There was no surprise. I knew how things would go down! There was maybe one thing I didn’t see coming, but still. One is never enough.

First Chapter Fumbles: I found the whole first chapter insignificant to the rest of the story. It DOES have a connection, but that connection could have been explained in a paragraph, maybe two. Instead it got a whole chapter!

The Writing Style: It was not my favourite. He would often put something in brackets to highlight certain expressions. (Like this!!! It would literally be in the book like this!!!) I’m not even exaggerating the use of exclamation marks. The writing was very juvenile, it was choppy and just not for me, sorry. 

Overall, it was just not my cup of tea. I had to drag myself into finishing it because I felt like I had already postponed this for far too long. So yeah…I am supposed to read the next two books as well, but I don’t think that will happen any time soon….

Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Recommend: I can’t really recommend anything under 3 stars…

Alright, so I am currently under a lot of blog stress as I have much to do in a short amount of time! This is what I get for Net Galley binges!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


Author Interview: Paul Cude!

Greetings readers!

I had the lovely opportunity to interview an indie YA fantasy author, Paul Cude about his dragon infested Bentwhistle series. Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from The Past is the first book in a YA fantasy series where dragons are disguised as humans in order to protect and guide them. Paul was so kind to me that he gave me the opportunity to read his novels and a chance to interview him. This is my first author interview, so I am excited to share it with you all!

If you want to know more about Paul and his novels be sure to check out these links!


Twitter: @paul_cude
Book Site
Author Blog

The Interview!

What made you want to become a writer?

Oddly it just happened. Sounds a bit crazy really, but one night, when my elder daughter was just a baby (she’s not far off 11 now), I had the single most realistic dream I’ve ever had. I didn’t remember it until the following day, but when I did, I swear it was just like watching a movie in my head… graphic, so intense, so…..mesmerizing. Anyhow, I told my wife, who was gobsmacked to say the least. And so was what she said to me, “You have to write it, you just have to.” Initially I just laughed off her idea, bearing in mind that at the time I could only type with two fingers. But over a period of I suppose months, I kept getting more dreams, flashbacks into the story…….sometimes little details, sometimes insights into the characters, sometimes twists and turns to do with the plot. In the end I suppose it was inevitable that I would write it. First I taught myself to type properlyA Threat From The Past New Cover (Reduced)…..3 months, and then, well…….I began. At first I needed complete silence to be able to write, something there wasn’t a lot of bearing in mind I was taking care of one young child, with another on the way. But over time I’ve learned to filter it all out and can now write with the kids playing around me if I need to, but I still think I do work more efficiently in total silence. It has taken a long time, and I was surprised how hard and crucial the editing process was. But in the end it was most definitely worth it.

That sounds amazing! A dream book (literally)!  This book was definitely meant to be if the idea came back to visit you so often. There is no shame Paul, I wasn’t a very fast or efficient typer when I started out!

Can you name any authors that inspired you growing up or who inspire you today?

When I was in my late teens, I mistakenly ordered a Tom Clancy book…..Debt of Honour. I was too lazy to return it, so it sat on my bedside table for weeks, until one evening, when I picked it up and started to read it. Many hours later I put it down, only because I needed a few hours of sleep before I went to work. I was hooked. After finishing that, I went out and bought all the other Tom Clancy books I could find. His legacy still lives on in the form of the adventures of his characters, now written by Mark Greaney. Not only have I continued to enjoy the Tom Clancy books that he writes, but have gone and bought all of Mark Greaney’s other books. Also in my teenage years, the Star Wars expanded universe books started to appear. I caught sight of the first one while working in a book shop in my role of service engineer. I can remember it clearly: Star Wars Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn. It had a striking blue cover with some of the Star Wars characters on it, and I had to buy it there and then, in the middle of doing my job, much to the amusement of the owner of the bookshop. My love of the expanded universe has continued ever since, and as soon as the next book comes out….I have to have it. It seems my love of books goes in phases. If I have nothing to read, I wander around a bookshop until I find something I like the look of and then read it. If I get hooked, I go back and find other books by that author. Examples of this for me are Terry Goodkind and Christopher Paolini……I love all their books. The detail, the plot…..the characters.….are just all amazing. I can only dream of writing as well as they do. Other authors I’ve found and loved this way include Robin Hobb, J.V. Jones, David Gemmell and Trudi Canavan, to name but a few. I love the way they use their imaginations and the worlds that they create on the pages of the book. They’re all very easy to visualize.

My favourite author of all though, is the wonderful Terry Pratchett. If you haven’t read one of his books you really should. While I love pretty much all the books he’s written, the ones about the guards of Ankh-Morpork, Captain Carrot, Sam Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Angua and of course the Lord Vetinari, are easily my favourites. The characters themselves are described in magnificent detail, all with their own funny little ways. The plots twist and turn like a raging river, and the humour…..well, let’s just say that is exactly on my wavelength. I’ve cried with laughter on many occasions reading some of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I can’t recall doing that for any other author I’ve read. If you’re a reading fan, you really must try one of his books.

*lists Terry Pratchett on to be read list hurriedly* I have heard only good things about Mr. Pratchett, I will definitely be picking up his work.



Your novels deal with human social issues through a “dragon-like” perspective. Can we know a little more about the kind of issues that will be addressed?

Bullying is one of the main issues. Peter Bentwhistle, the main character has been bullied during his time in the nursery ring (a school where dragons spend the first fifty years of their lives) and we get an insight into how much that affected him, and just how it impacts on his life today and how he chooses to deal with it. Needless to say, his friends play a big part in all this. As well, fitting in is a major theme throughout the books. It sounds odd when you think of dragons, disguised as humans, having trouble fitting in, but it’s more than that. They have vast amounts of training to fall back on, but still suffer the same problems that everyday humans face, and still have the same worries and insecurities that any normal member of our society would have.  Greed and criminality feature, showing up deep within the dragon world below ground, somewhere supposedly free from these kind of issues, highlighting the fact that the dragons and humans are not so different after all, despite what the prehistoric creatures think.

Intriguing. I like books that make you think of the human condition, I like books that have dragons even more. It’s a win-win. 

I noticed that the characters on the cover are each holding a type of sports equipment; will sports be playing a role in the lives of these characters?

Peter and his two best friends all partake in human team sports. Richie Rump, the superstar lacrosse player, introduced Peter to playing field hockey, and Tank to playing rugby. Unfathomable to almost every other dragon on the planet, both Tank and Peter soon come to appreciate everything there is to love about playing in a team, something that strengthens the bonds of their friendship even further, if that is at all possible, as well as providing inspiration for some of the unusual and life threatening situations they find themselves in.

I am a big fan of floor hockey (which is similar to field hockey!) The Dragons are now playing sports, even cooler!

Fire-breathing beasts. Protectors of the human race. Why dragons? Was there ever a time where another type of mythical creature roamed through the pages of your story?

For me, it always seems to have been dragons. I’m not sure if it’s because of their power and magnificence, or because they are instantly recognizable, but always dragons. That’s not to say I don’t have a love of all things mythical. Nagas feature heavily from book two onward, with book four (my current work in progress) feature a whole host of unusual and bizarre creatures, going on a complete and utter rampage in exacting detail.  Nifoloa, Skrikers, Camaheutos, Echeneis, Gaki, Pixiu, Asena, Conaima, Myrmecoleon, Asag and Ra-hoon just to name a few. Anger knows no bounds when it comes to scorned magical creatures that quickly come to the realization that not only have they been trapped, but completely and utterly fooled for a very long time. Revenge is certainly on the cards. More than that, I just couldn’t say.

OH my…that is a mighty list of creatures! Hoorah! I love mythology and all things magical. I cannot wait to explore these creatures in the squeals. 

What was your favourite part about writing your novels?

I suppose for me it was the last two chapters of the first book. From writing the very first words, I always knew in precise detail just what would happen in those last two chapters. And whether it was because it was the first time I’d written a book, or just my naiveté, I had to write it all in order. So there was no going ahead and writing something, and then coming back to a part I’d got stuck on. That’s the only time I’ve done that. But it was a total and utter relief to suddenly reach the point where those two chapters began, and the words just came flowing out of my like a dam that had unexpectedly been breached. When you think that the second from last chapter is over twenty thousand words long….it took me very little time to write that. A few days at most. I remember feeling very satisfied once all the words had found themselves on the pages.

How wonderful! I look forward to reading those two epic chapters. I can totally relate to that, with my own stories that have a crystal clear ending with no solid beginning or middle!


Apart from Bentwhistle, do you have any other stories you plan on writing one day?

I do and they’re something far removed from the YA fantasy genre that I love so much. Stand alone books with just a hint of a connection, that although fiction, are based very much on real life events. Whether I’ll get round to writing them is something else entirely. Perhaps something to keep me busy in old age.

Best of luck on your writing, dreaming and imagining Paul. I’m sure those words will make it to the page. Especially if your typing has improved hehehe. 

Rapid Fire Round!

Favourite childhood novel?

I’m not sure I had one. It was more comics for me.

A fictional world you would love to visit?

It would have to be the Star Wars Expanded Universe

Hardcover or Softcover?


Doggy-eared pages. Efficient or Criminal?


One author you would love to have coffee with?

Christopher Paolini

What is your current read?

On Target by Mark Greaney

Last, but certainly not least, describe your book in 10 words!

Dragon-packed adventure featuring team sports destined to make you smile

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat From the Past

Goodreads summary

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.

Thank you so much Paul for answering all my questions. I look forward to reading Bentwhistle and exploring all the magic, adventure and fun that is waiting for me. I hope you all consider picking up Bentwhistle if you are craving a fantastical read. Also dragons, so yeah!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


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