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.


Alt. History 102 (The Future Chronicles) by various authors #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview

Alt. History repeats itself… From the creator of the #1 bestselling Future Chronicles anthology series comes a 28809351collection that turns the world you know upside down.

In Alt. History 102 – the follow-up to the bestselling Alt. History 101 – twelve top speculative fiction authors re-imagine the world – as one where a beautiful actress becomes a spy for the Allied forces, as one where the Internet is tightly held only by an elite few, as one where the Native American population is resistant to European diseases – and nine other compelling stories charting the histories of our world.

Enter worlds so much like our own, yet so different – where everything you know… is history. – Goodreads.com

The concept of alternate history is fascinating when you think about it.  But setting history aside for a moment – just the fact that so many things could have changed on a personal level if you’d answered the phone, gone left instead of right, left 5 minutes earlier, agreed to go out on that first date, majored in something different – a person could spends countless hours just thinking about it.  But with history – there are endless possibilities and directions these authors could have taken – and it’s a fascinating collection of stories.  All of them will get your mind churning, thinking about what if?  A few that stuck with me are:

The Blackbird Sings by Therin Knite – This story gives us a glimpse into what could have happened if the Cold War had ended differently.  Knite always creates some powerful, kick-ass female characters and Kara is no exception.  With cybernetically enhanced agents chasing an assassin, The Blackbird Sings moves along at a brisk pace and comes to a rewarding conclusion.

The Tesla Gate by Drew Avera – Nikola Tesla is attempting to build the Tesla Gate that will traverse time and space, but he stands to lose a part of himself.  I’ve always been intrigued by anything having to do with Tesla and Samuel Clemens being in this story was just a bonus.  I enjoyed the dialogue between Tesla and his other personality and would like to see this story continue.

The Black Network by Adam Venezia – In this story, computers exist, but only a select group are given the means to access information – something that’s just downright scary to me.  This was an admirable portrayal of how far some people will go to gain information and better their lives.

Requiem by Will Swardstrom – What if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Marie Antoinette had fallen in love as children, that love carried into adulthood, and Mozart attempted to save the French queen?  Excellent writing and an engrossing, bittersweet story.

With such a variety of imaginative, thought-provoking stories, there’s something here for everyone.

I received a copy of this book from one of the authors in exchange for an honest review.



Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles

Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed 22095753upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away. – Goodreads.com

With an alternate history where Hitler won the war and the Nazis ruled, this book had so much promise.  Unfortunately, it was a DNF for me and I was disappointed in the direction it took.

After reading 100 pages, I grew tired of Sophie, the MC, talking about ‘my vampire’, someone she ‘fell in love with’ completely based on his looks, knowing nothing about his character.   Through flashbacks (there were numerous flashbacks in this book), the reader sees how their relationship developed, but with such little information given about the vampire, his character felt flat, and their relationship never rang true for me.

Once Sophie’s best friend was murdered, I hoped the pace of the story would pick up and pull me in, but it didn’t happen.  I’ve seen some great reviews for this book, but it just wasn’t for me.  If a book hasn’t grabbed me in the first 100 pages, it’s time to move on.  I felt like I gave it a fair shot.

Becoming Darkness is scheduled for publication October 1, 2015.  This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.