Tag Archive for: 4 Stars

Review: Dread NationTitle: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #1
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Horror, YA
Pages: 455 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville--derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities--and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

My Thoughts

DREAD NATION was my IRL book club’s pick for April. I was really excited to read it as I’ve wanted to ever since I first heard about it. A zombie apocalypse during the Civil War? Yes, please. A strong black female character fighting to not only survive the dead, but also for freedom from the oppression during Reconstruction Era America? I say again, yes, please!

DREAD NATION is the first zombie novel I’ve ever read and I loved it. I loved how the “Shamblers” worked and how they changed the outcome of the Civil War and society in general. The Shamblers were so much fun to read about. I especially loved reading the fight scenes with all the different weaponry used against the dead.

There’s nothing white folks hate more than realizing they accidentally treated a Negro like a person.

The thing I liked the most about DREAD NATION, however, was the time period and how Ireland used the setting to discuss the oppression of black people not only during Civil War era United States, but in general. Even though the themes are blunt, DREAD NATION isn’t preachy. Ireland skillfully addresses issues of racism and inequality while delivering a complex, enthralling story.

Reading DREAD NATION was very eye-opening. I know I’ve lived a very sheltered and safe life (and I’m not talking about a life free of Shamblers). I felt like DREAD NATION wonderfully illustrates the perseverance and strength black people have while enduring horrific abuse at the hands of those who see them as lesser.

I’m glad I finally got a chance to read DREAD NATION. It was a powerful, entertaining story. I look forward to reading the sequel DEATHLESS DIVIDE.

Have you read DREAD NATION? If so, what did you think?

Review: Nine Perfect StrangersTitle: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 458 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

My Thoughts

I love Liane Moriarty. She’s one of my favorite authors. I was excited when my IRL book club decided to read another of her books. I was a little bit worried about what I’d think of NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, though, because I had seen mixed reviews. While it’s not my favorite book by Moriarty (that title will always go to WHAT ALICE FORGOT), I shouldn’t have worried. I really enjoyed reading NINE PERFECT STRANGERS.

I connected strongly with a few of the characters in terms of their mental health battles. I thought Moriarty did such a great job of writing about depression, suicide, suicidal ideation, psychedelic therapy, and the way we deal with trauma and setbacks in our life. I really appreciated how she explored all these tough subjects. (I especially liked how she flipped the psychedelic therapy on its head. If you’ve read NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, you’ll hopefully understand what I mean.)

She had not realized that grief was so physical.

I did think some of the plot was a little far-fetched, but the story and the characters were so compelling that I didn’t care. Moriarty’s a master at writing character-driven stories, which are my most favorite kind of stories to read. I wanted to keep reading and find out how the book would end, how each of the characters would act and feel after their experiences at Tranquillum House.

Have you read NINE PERFECT STRANGERS? If so, what did you think?

P.S. I personally know people who’ve had success with psychedelic therapy under the care of a psychiatrist. I had even considered it for myself before I found Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, loss of a child, and loss of a sibling.

Review: The Sound of StarsTitle: The Sound of Stars
Author: Alechia Dow
Series: The Starry-Eyed Universe #1
Genre(s): Romance, Science Fiction, YA
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Black History Month
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When young Ilori commander Morris finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. But Morris isn’t a typical Ilori ... and Ellie and her books might be the key to a desperate rebellion of his own.

My Thoughts

I really wanted to read a book or two for Black History Month this year by supporting a Black author. Goodreads had a post at the beginning of February showcasing a bunch of books written by Black authors and THE SOUND OF STARS and THE KINDRED by Alechia Dow, companion novels in her Starry-Eyed Universe, caught my eye. Time got the better of me and I didn’t finish reading either of them in time. Fortunately, I finished reading THE SOUND OF STARS this week. Better late than never, right?

It took me a little bit to get into THE SOUND OF STARS. Once I did, though, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late reading it a couple of nights, savoring the story I was reading.

One of my favorite things about THE SOUND OF STARS was its message of inclusivity. There were so many LGBTQ+ characters, including Ellie. Dow didn’t shove a pro-LGBTQ+ agenda in your face or anything; she just had characters that identified in different ways and the other characters were accepting and considerate of them and their pronouns.

Some people were always valued, and some people never were. … We asked for equality and they thought we were asking for more.

I also loved how Dow used the invasion of Earth by the Ilori as a way to talk about racism, prejudice, police brutality, and other current hot topics. It added to the story by giving it more depth, strengthened Ellie and M0Rr1S’ connection, and made the story more memorable.

I really enjoyed Dow’s creativity. THE SOUND OF STARS was fun and engaging. I look forward to reading more books not only in the Starry-Eyed Universe, but written by Alechia Dow as well.

Have you read THE SOUND OF STARS? If so, what did you think?

There are spoilers for THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER in this post.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A Discussion

THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is the third book in the Narniad (in published order). I finished reading it for the Narniathon21 I’m participating in on Monday. (The Narniathon’s hosted by Chris at Calmgrove.)

This is my favorite installment of the Narniad. I love how Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace get to Narnia, and I love reading about their adventures while sailing the Dawn Treader with Caspian and his crew. I think all of the different circumstances they find themselves in on each of the islands are interesting. My two favorite islands are Dragon Island and the one with the Dufflepuds.

I’m glad Dragon Island is one of the first islands they sail to. I don’t think I could’ve taken Eustace’s constant nagging, complaining, conceitedness any longer. The interesting thing is that Eustace actually becomes one of my favorite characters in the Narniad after his time as a dragon. I love getting more of Reepicheep in this adventure. He’s such a fun character. If I had a chance of meeting him, I’d be exactly like Lucy, wanting to pick him up and cuddle him. I him so much.

I said this with LWW and PRINCE CASPIAN, but I think every one of these books in the Narniad ends kind of abruptly and a little bit weirdly. THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is probably the least out of the three so far because it at least winds down unlike the previous two.

As with the previous two, a few things regarding the allegory stood out to me during this read. I thought the way Eustace explained how he transformed back into a human with Aslan’s help was really interesting. It was almost like he was baptized and had his sins washed away. And, instead of Aslan bleeding like Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane, CS Lewis turned it around by making Eustace hurt and bleed after Aslan cut through his dragon skin with his teeth or claws (I can’t remember which).

The other thing I noticed about the allegory is how Aslan was really only in THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER via second-hand accounts and the characters seeing visages of him when they were in danger. It was almost like CS Lewis was trying to portray Aslan as those of us who believe in Christ talk to Him through prayer.

I do like the ending when Aslan tells Lucy and Edmund the reason the Pevensies came to Narnia in the first place was so they’d recognize Him in their own world. It helps me make sense of why Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are now too old to return to Narnia, even though in my mind no one is too old to be in Christ’s presence since, you know, Aslan is Christ.

Also, over on Chris’ blog, he asked what we thought the significance was of the characters sailing east. I think the significance is part of the allegory. There are many scriptures that say when Christ comes again, He’ll appear in the east. Chris commented:

“I’ve no doubt that the journey to the east is meant to allude to Eden. Most medieval graves and many modern ones are literally oriented towards oriens, the ‘rising sun’ so that on the Day of Doom the faithful are facing the Second Coming. Lewis signals the symbolism very strongly with his references to the sun getting bigger, and the very name of the ship alludes to the theme.”

I didn’t even think of the name of the ship alluding to the theme of going toward the rising sun or pointing toward Christ, if you will. I think THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER has a lot about it that is very interesting to think about in terms of the allegory, again making it my favorite installment of the Narniad.

I’m looking forward to reading THE SILVER CHAIR this month. I don’t remember anything about it, except that Eustace returns to Narnia.

Have you read THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER? Did you like it? Why? Why not?

Review: Rock Paper ScissorsTitle: Rock Paper Scissors
Author: Alice Feeney
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 0.5 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Every anniversary the couple exchanges traditional gifts--paper, cotton, pottery, tin--and each year Adam's wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

My Thoughts

I love thrillers. Love them. When I read the synopsis of ROCK PAPER SCISSORS, I knew I had to read it. I especially had to read it when I found out that Adam Wright has prosopagnosia or face blindness.

Like Adam, my husband has face blindness. He doesn’t recognize people when he looks at their face. He uses their voice, hair, mannerisms, and other features to help him recognize them. Unlike Adam, he does recognize facial expressions and facial features while he’s looking at them, but he can’t recall what he saw when he looks away.

I really liked the premise of ROCK PAPER SCISSORS. I liked the alternating POVs and I liked reading the secret letters from Adam’s wife. The story was suspenseful from the get-go and I wanted to keep reading so I knew what was going on, what was going to happen, and how it would all come together in the end.

The scariest haunted houses are always the ones in which you are the ghost.

As I read the story, I figured out some of the mystery. I didn’t figure out everything … and I was a little disappointed in the ending. Only a little disappointed, though, because I thought it was kind of confusing. If Alice Feeney had stopped it one chapter sooner, I think the ending would’ve been better. Maybe, I’m wrong and I missed the point of the last chapter. If you’ve read ROCK PAPER SCISSORS and you disagree, please tell my why.

Even though I was slightly disappointed, I still had fun reading ROCK PAPER SCISSORS. I stayed up way too late one night feeling the suspense and not being able to put the book down. Needless to say, I’ll look into Alice Feeney’s other books.

Have you read ROCK PAPER SCISSORS? If so, what did you think?