Tag Archive for: Own Voices

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: 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?

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, YA
Pages: 368 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 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

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she's ever loved. The letters are for her eyes only. Until the day they are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My Thoughts

I’ve wanted to read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE ever since it became a huge phenomenon because of the Netflix movie. Yet, I’m only just reading it now because it’s my IRL book club’s book for February. (I’m excited that I can finally watch the Netflix movie at least! Woot woot! ) There are minor spoilers in this review.

I really liked Lara Jean and her sisters. I also really liked the interaction between Lara Jean and the two main guys, the boy next door and Mister Cocky-Handsome-Everyone-Loves-Me. What I didn’t like is that two main guys meant that there was a love triangle. I despise love triangles. They’re my least favorite YA trope. They’re the main reason I don’t read as much YA romance anymore.

Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk.

Even though TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE had a love triangle, I decided to be optimistic. I even told myself, maybe Lara Jean will end up with the boy I want her to. Of course, all kinds of chaos ensued and it was a lot of fun to read and witness. I actually really enjoyed the story, but the ending, or non-ending I should say, almost ruined it all for me!

I like choosing to read the next book in a series because I want to, not because I have to. I understand series have cliffhangers; I’ve just never read one quite like this and in the first book. At this point, I’m not sure I’m going to continue the series. I’ll probably just see if I can get what I need from the Netflix movie(s).

I’ve been trying to decide if I want to rate TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE 3 or 4 stars. I’m settling on 3.5 stars. (I find myself giving out more half-star ratings.)

Have you read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent.