Dread Nation by Justina Ireland #bookreview #YA #zombies #TuesdayBookBlog

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.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems. 

I haven’t listened to many audiobooks, but when I had a long drive ahead of me traveling to a writer’s retreat, I downloaded Dread Nation, a book that has been in my TBR for a while.  Now I get why people have favorite narrators, because this one is excellent, in my opinion.  I’d listened to another audiobook not too long before this one, and was unable to finish it due to one of the narrators, who honestly ruined the book for me.

I haven’t read much YA historical fiction (more like alternate historical fiction, because, well, zombies), but I really enjoyed this novel.  The second I heard Jane’s snark, I knew we’d get along just fine.  Watching her enemies-to-friends relationship with Katherine was especially enjoyable, as was the way Jane deals with those who doubt her strength, intelligence, and worth.  Having read several zombie books, the world-building is done well, with its own unique spin.

When the setting changes from Baltimore to the west, I felt the pacing slowed a bit, but picked up again around 75%.

If you’re a zombie/shambler fan, or just enjoy books with strong, sarcastic female heroines and an intense plot, I’d highly recommend Dread Nation.  It’s a series I plan on continuing.

 

Book Signing, #BlogTour, and #ADiscoveryofWitches

So how’s your winter going?  We finally got a dusting of snow Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and the temps are below freezing today.  This is the most ‘winter’ we’ve had this season – makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing snow in March and April.

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you know The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi was in my top five reads last year (I had an ARC).  The book was just released last week, and on Friday, I learned the author would be at Parnassus Books in Nashville on Saturday afternoon.  Since that’s only an hour drive for me, you can probably guess where I was that day.  Despite the rainy day, there was standing room only at the bookstore, and Roshani was a delight – such a wonderful sense of humor, and she answered every question before signing books.

Next Monday, three other Black Rose Writing authors and I will begin a blog tour with R&R Book Tours.  I don’t have the schedule yet, but Shannon from R&R created a fantastic banner.  The books are various genres under the YA umbrella – contemporary, thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, and coming of age/semi-autobiographical.  Make sure to stop by and register for giveaways and show us some love!

So, I finished You on Netflix, and I’d recommend it if stalker/thrillers are your thing.  This weekend, I started watching A Discovery of Witches, based on the book by Deborah Harkness.  I’m such a fan of that book series, and was skeptical of the casting of one character in particular, but the actor is slowing winning me over.  Watch it on Shudder with a 7-day free subscription – only 8 episodes.

Craven Manor by Darcy Coates #bookreview #horror

Daniel is desperate for a job. When someone slides a note under his door offering him the groundskeeper’s position at an old estate, it seems too good to be true.

Alarm bells start ringing when he arrives at Craven Manor. The mansion’s front door hangs open, and leaves and cobwebs coat the marble foyer. It’s clear no one has lived there in a long time.

But an envelope waits for him inside the doorway. It contains money, and promises more.

Daniel is desperate. Against his better judgement, he moves into the groundskeeper’s cottage behind the crypt. He’s determined to ignore the strange occurrences that plague the estate.

But when a candle flickers to life in the abandoned tower window, Daniel realises Craven Manor is hiding a terrible secret… one that threatens to bury him with it.

I’ve seen Darcy Coates books all over Amazon and Goodreads, and her eerie covers always catch my eye, but I’d never read any of her work.  After Craven Manor was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the horror category, I knew it was time to change that.

My heart immediately went out to Daniel.  He’s down on his luck, with barely a penny to his name, but is so generous to others.  Maybe he’s a bit naive, but I awarded him bonus points for being an animal lover.  This author definitely knows how to set a tense, haunting scene – the imagery is wonderfully vivid, and the neglected grounds of the manor are easy to visualize.

The final battle, although furious, seems to stretch on for bit, but it leads to a satisfying ending.  I also found the relationship between Daniel and his cousin, Kyle, kind of weird, and never really understood it.

Overall, I enjoyed Craven Manor, and I’m sure it won’t be the last book I read by this author.

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black.  This came out a year ago, and the sequel was actually released earlier this month, so I’m way behind in the series.  The book club category for our next meeting is New Adult, so it seemed like a good time to get started with this series that I’ve heard so many people raving about.  This will be my first Holly Black book, and I’m shocked it’s taken me this long to get to her.

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

I recently finished The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson.  All I had to do was read the first line of the book description to know I wanted to read this novel.  Didn’t need to know anything else about it.  I can honestly say it’s one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read.  A dark, heartwarming, bittersweet look at death.

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.

Next, I’ll read an ARC from NetGalley, Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera.  Isn’t that a beautiful cover?  This is my first book by this author – and with a fierce, all-girl crew, I’m looking forward to it.

At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

Legacy (Project Renova #4) by Terry Tyler #bookreview #postapocalyptic #TuesdayBookBlog

‘Out of all the death and destruction has come the freedom to be who we really are.’

A hundred years after the world was devastated by the bat fever virus, the UK is a country of agricultural communities where motherhood is seen as the ideal state for a woman, new beliefs have taken over from old religions, and the city of Blackthorn casts a threatening shadow over the north of England. Legacy travels back in time to link up with the characters from Tipping Point, Lindisfarne and UK2.

Seventeen-year-old Bree feels stifled by the restrictions of her village community, but finds a kindred spirit in Silas, a lone traveller searching for his roots. She, too, is looking for answers: the truth behind the mysterious death, forty years earlier, of her grandmother.

In 2050, Phoenix Northam’s one wish is to follow in the footsteps of his father, a great leader respected by all who knew him―or so his mother tells him.

In 2029, on a Danish island, Lottie is homesick for Lindisfarne; two years earlier, Alex Verlander and the kingpins of the Renova group believe they have escaped the second outbreak of bat fever just in time…

Book #4 of the Project Renova series rebuilds a broken country with no central government or law, where life is dangerous and people can simply disappear … but the post-Fall world is also one of possibility, of freedom and hope for the future. 

Most of us have read books and, upon reaching the end, wondered what happened to the characters beyond the scope of that novel.  What about the rest of their lives?  Did they live happily ever after?  Have children?  If so, what happened to them?  I was ecstatic to learn that Legacy provides those answers.

I’m not an overly emotional person, but this book gave me the feels in certain parts.  After spending time with many of these characters through three books, they almost feel like family, and I was anxious to learn what happened to them.  Some got their happily ever after, others didn’t, and a few got what they had coming to them, but when you’re living in a post-apocalyptic society, not everything is sunshine and roses.  With new characters, I enjoyed making those connections in the family tree, and learning which branch they came from.

The time jumps allowing the reader to see characters’ fates, connections, and the progress in rebuilding society are done so well, and aren’t at all confusing.  I loved seeing how actions taken by some characters affected the lives of so many 100 years later.

This has been a compelling series with superb characterization, and I was thrilled to read in the author notes that she’s considering spin-offs featuring some characters.  If you’re a fan of gritty, post-apocalyptic stories that don’t pull punches, add this to your TBR.

I received an ARC from the author.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

#Vacation, #Peanuts, and #YouNetflix

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts.  With NaNo, I didn’t have much time, then there were the holidays, then other posts were scheduled for Monday.  Anyhoo – nice to see you guys again!  Let’s catch up.

Back in early December, hubby and I took a long weekend and went to Clearwater Beach in Florida.  We’d never been there before, and someone recommended it to us.  The first day was absolutely gorgeous, and I spent most of it in my happy place – chair, beach, umbrella, and book.  Enough said.  And just look at the gorgeous sunset we witnessed that night!

The next day was rainy, but we were prepared, and spent a night at Universal Studios – my next favorite happy place.  Anytime I can be in Harry Potter World is time well spent, in my opinion.  Saw a magnificent light show at Hogwarts Castle that night – amazing how they can do that.  The trip was a nice distraction from all the holiday stress, and we had a great time.

Don’t know about you guys, but gifted baker isn’t part of my skill set.  If I’m making something, it’s either from a recipe, or I’m reading instructions on a box.  I saw these Peanuts gingerbread house kits at Kroger, was feeling adventurous, and thought it would be fun to give it a shot.  Two friends and I did them together (one got pretty competitive), and we had a blast.  I’ll never win any baking competitions or cake decorating contests, but it was fun.  Like my Snoopy on top?

Four different people over the span of a week recommended You on Netflix.  After my son texted me about it the other night, I knew I had to watch it.  And I’m hooked.  Have you guys seen it?  It’s based on the book by Caroline Kepnes.  Here’s the blurb:

What would you do for love? For a brilliant male bookstore manager who crosses paths with an aspiring female writer, this question is put to the test. A charming yet awkward crush becomes something even more sinister when the writer becomes the manager’s obsession. Using social media and the internet, he uses every tool at his disposal to become close to her, even going so far as to remove any obstacle –including people — that stands in his way of getting to her.

Have a great week!

 

Analiese Rising by Brenda Drake #bookreview #YA #fantasy

When a stranger gives Analiese Jordan a list of names before he dies, the last thing she expects to see is her own on it. Not. Cool. Her search for answers leads to the man’s grandson, Marek, who has dangerous secrets of his own. Both are determined to unlock the mystery of the list.

But the truth is deadly. Analiese is a descendant of the God of Death, known as a Riser, with the power to raise the dead and control them. Finding out she has hidden powers? Cool. Finding out she turns corpses into killers? No, thank you.

Now the trail plants her and Marek in the middle of a war between gods who apparently want to raise an army of the Risen, and Analiese must figure out how Aongto save the world—from herself. 

The beautiful cover first caught my attention, but the mythology theme clinched it for me – I needed to read this book.

Along with Analiese and Marek, I enjoyed trying to figure out the obscure clues left by Marek’s grandfather, and the beautiful and sometimes dangerous locations where those clues lead.  The pacing is brisk, with little downtime between action scenes.  As a mythology fan, the numerous gods and goddesses thrilled me – but so many of them are mentioned, I quickly lost track.

Analiese is likable, and finds herself in many intense, life-threatening situations, but her internal thoughts about Marek’s smile or how he looks at her during these moments pulled me out of the scene more than once.  Until almost the end of the book, I never got the feeling he considered her more than a friend.  Flying across the world with Marek, someone Analiese has known only a couple of days, then successfully hiding that fact from her mother requires a sizable suspension of disbelief.

If a fast pace, nearly non-stop action, quests, and puzzles are your thing, you may enjoy Analiese Rising, but I’d recommend jotting down the gods and goddesses names to keep them straight.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.  I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.