THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins is set in dystopian Panem (formerly North America). In Panem, each of twelve districts must send two teenagers, a boy and a girl, to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised kill or be killed free for all. When Katniss Everdean’s little sister Prim is chosen by lottery to participate in the Game, a certain death sentence, Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. If you want to learn about pacing, read THE HUNGER GAMES. Wow, totally amazing. I think it would be difficult to put this book down even if you didn’t like it. I prefer character driven fiction, but THE HUNGER GAMES was a fast-moving story expertly told. For me the biggest flaw was Kat’s insensitivity to Peeta’s feelings. It’s clear early on he cares for her and Kat is an intelligent young woman. It’s hard to believe she could be so dim. Will I read book two in the series, CATCHING FIRE? Absolutely.

The final book for April is A TRACE OF SMOKE, the multi-award winning historical mystery by first time novelist Rebecca Cantrell. When Berlin crime reporter Hannah Vogel sees the the photograph of a naked corpse in the Polizei’s Hall of the Unnamed Dead and recognizes it to be her beloved gay brother, Ernst, she is determined to find who is responsible for his death. Cantrell’s depiction of the disintegrating Weimar republic is spot on and the book is a quick, easy read. Maybe too easy. Some of the dialogue is awkward and the prose repetitive. But the story is riveting, there are many surprises along the way, and I’m looking forward to the second book in the series. Not only because I expect a splendid story, but I want to see how Cantrell grows as a writer.