Review of ‘Dread Nation’ by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always had a tough time when it came to zombies, because majority of the time? They’re just not that interesting to me. I can’t help but envision the dead, shuffling along with their dead selves, wanting to eat every living thing in sight. And honestly, it just gets repetitive. But even though this book had a slow start, I did end up enjoying it a lot!

Let’s first talk about the zombies. In this, zombies are referred to as shamblers, so I will refer to them as such moving forward. Anyway, the shamblers obviously want to eat us, because humans never fail to be the main source of a zombie diet, so because of these jerks, more people are dying and turning into shamblers, leading our Caucasian friends to “need” an Attendant for protection.

What, you may be asking, is an Attendant? An Attendant is a young black woman who is trained in everything necessary for their charge to survive. These young girls are torn away from their homes and brought to school where they learn weaponry and etiquette. This is what our MC Jane is training to become. So, for maybe a good twenty percent or so of this book, she’s at this school, and nothing of note is happening. She gives her teacher a hard time, she gives a classmate a hard time. She reminisces about things from home, and she sneaks around. Blah, blah, blah.

It takes a bit for this book to pick up, but when it finally does, I’m fully engrossed! Jane, along with her classmate Katherine, are forcefully taken to a compound called Summerland, a “sanctuary” of safety. I feel like you can tell by the name that things are likely not going to turn out well…and the fact that it’s a compound… Katherine, being able to “pass” for white, is taken to the fancier part of town, while Jane is immediately out on work detail. This involves her patrolling the fence to make sure there are no shamblers breaches, and making sure to keep the citizens of Summerland safe. I like that she’s not the type to just give in to whatever lot has been handed to her, and she almost immediately finds out that Summerland is not quite the Mecca of sanctuary it’s proclaiming to be. With her knowledge comes more antagonism, and thus, more reasons to fight. She’s the type who speaks before she thinks, which I find leads to her being more entertaining. I know she could come across as annoying to some, but I found her endearing. I liked her brusk manner, and felt that it was big reason why she was so strong, I mean, you’d have to be if you were constantly angering people with your words, right?

But Jane wasn’t the only character I liked. There wasn’t exactly an influx of prominent characters, but I did like Katherine, who was kind of like the angel on Jane’s shoulder, making sure that Jane always knew what she was in for with her actions.

There’s also the character of Jackson, who at one time in Jane’s life played the part of the love interest, but has since become an annoying thorn in her side. I liked seeing him keep Jane on her toes, and though his parts were small, I enjoyed each and every one.

Finally, I should probably bring up Mr. Gideon, a young white man who happens to be in charge of all things in Summerland that involved engineering and the like. He also ends up becoming much more interesting as the book goes on, though that is all I’m going to say about him.

There are a lot of antagonists as well, some more so than others, and these people defintely did their parts in making sure our heroine was forever on her guard, as well as making this be more than just a zombie story.

I’m sure there are more points I could have brought up, but I’m kind of losing track of my thoughts, so I’ll just end this with saying that yes, I enjoyed this, and yes, I will recommend it to all my zombie loving peeps.

(Sorry I didn’t go on about how “life-changing” and “ground-breaking” this book was, being that it had a POC as the MC, as well as her being smart, strong, and independent… No, I wanted to focus more on what I liked about this book, and didn’t feel the need to pander on about the obvious.)

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Review of ‘Truly Devious’ by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a fan of Maureen Johnson‘s The Name of the Star series, that I will say I had high expectations when it came to this new series she was producing. Now, can I tell you how happy I was to find myself completely immersed in to this one?!

I think what ended up appealing to me when it came to this book, was how much I enjoyed the idea of a mystery centered on true crime. I’ll first say that I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that there once was a time when many murders went unsolved, just because science and technology were not yet able to produce results that could actually implicate the person to the crime. Persons like Jack the Ripper were able to go about their regular lives just because there wasn’t the technology to pinpoint evidence to anyone. That being said, I was very much interested in the direction this book was going, beginning with a cold case from 1936, and leading to modern-day MC – Stevie Bell – who has made it her mission to solve the crime.

I loved that Stevie really was a dimensional character. She is awkward. She is strange. She is intense. Yet, all of these “qualities” worked for her and made her all the more relatable. I think that her being so relatable definitely helped humanize her for me, thus leading to my being more invested in her thoughts and actions.

Now, can we address the fact that though I do enjoy series…I can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with them. Because the way this ended?? Ahhhhh!!! I need the next book, and I need to find out what happens next!! To be continued…? Seriously??

Yup. I really need the next book. And yup, I do recommend this.

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Review of ‘Fir’ by Sharon Gosling

FirFir by Sharon Gosling

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fir is either my fourth or fifth book from the Red Eye horror collection, and so far, probably my least favorite – not that I would really classify it in the ‘favorites’ category, but you get my point. For starters, this book took forever to do just that, start. A good quarter of the book was some nonsense about trees needing to be harvested, children running around, and a particularly nasty housekeeper, but I honestly can’t say I remember if there was really anything actually going on to allude to this being a horror novel in this particular section of the book (besides the housekeeper, maybe). Then again, my being unable to remember could probably just be because this book never quite pulled me in…so, there is that.

Anyway, when this book finally starts to roll along into the horror aspect, I find that I’m already pretty detached from the story and its characters. The MC was alright, but there were also a lot of moments that had me wanting to shake some sense into her. And her parents? One is mostly absent throughout the novel, while the other chooses to either ignore MC’s concerns, or shut them down completely as nonsense. The only other character to really mention is the housekeeper, but she was more so nasty than scary to me, so it was hard to get any genuine horror from her, because I was more so annoyed with how horrible she was to the ones employing her.

So, besides a dislike for characters, I didn’t really care for the “scare tactics”. This book just did not scare me, and that has to be one of the biggest disappointments for me. I kept hoping for something, but even with the potential of creepy children, this book was just not scary. Even mentions of an old Scandinavian folklore plaguing the forest around the MC’s home ended up doing nothing for me. I feel like there were so many interesting ideas introduced, but maybe there just wasn’t all that much time for them to be executed, because apparently, what we needed more was “character development”, and to see the family’s day to day life before things begin to happen.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t like this book. The only reason it’s a two star for me is because I still find myself intrigued by the folklore, and wouldn’t mind looking into it further at some point.

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Random Review of ‘The Retribution of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin

The Retribution of Mara DyerThe Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’d originally read this book closer to it’s original publication (which was around two or three years ago), and for whatever reason, I remember liking it more than I do now. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve read the same cliches so many more times since then, but this book (this series, really) is so stereotypical, that I could’t get past how annoying it really was the second time around.

I’ll admit that I did enjoy the first two books–cliches aside–and even rated them fairly well, but man, this last book underwhelmed me, and honestly, if I hadn’t already known the series continued with The Becoming of Noah Shaw, I would have probably hated the ending more.

Why did I feel this way?

Because the first two books seemed to have all this build up, all this mystery, that promised what would be some very interesting answers, but when the answers came, seriously, I was so disappointed by how unfulfilling they were. They were revelations, sure, but I personally thought them stupid, and oh-so-typical of YA, in the sense of needing to make things more “tragic” than necessary…more “over the top”, so that our emotions will be more invested. Well, I’m pretty sure the emotions the author was hoping for probably weren’t annoyance and disappointment, but that could just be me, and I can’t speak for the general population.

Anyway, what else could I mention…? There was a good amount of purple prose that I was okay with initially, but started disliking when events and the people involved in them started annoying me. Because they’re tied up with spoilers, I won’t pinpoint particular moments, but let’s just say there were moments where I was rolling my eyes, or cringing at the cheesy, overly flowery writing…

At this point, what did I like? Right? I liked friendships…I liked getting answers (even if the answers themselves sucked)…and…?? I think I’ll just end it there, since I’m not sure there’s really much more for me to mention, in regards to things I actually liked.

If I was going to rate the trilogy as a whole, I’d probably rate it a 3.5, because of my liking the first two well enough, but as a whole, I don’t really like it all that much, so on that note, not one I will be personally recommending.

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Review of ‘This Darkness Mine’ by Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness MineThis Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary provided by publisher:
Sasha Stone knows her place–first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him–smoke, beer, and trouble–all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well–too well–and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life–and heart–become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do–and who she’s willing to hurt–to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad.
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This is going to be hard to review! So many of the things I want to mention are spoilers, but because I’d decided a long time ago I wouldn’t post them, even if they are hidden, then I will have to review this book the best that I can without giving away anything crucial.

So, I will start off with our MC, Sasha Stone. As you’ve already learned, she is pretty much as perfect as one could get without getting Biblical, and initially, her “perfection” and “high standards” just come off as annoying. She’s such a snob, and she forces her ideology onto anyone who dares to speak to her. All in all, she sounds like a real winner when it comes to the MC lottery, am I right?? Well, she doesn’t become likable or anything close to that, no, it’s all in the fact that her character became more interesting to me. I still hated her guts, and would likely have pushed her into the path of a moose or bear if I needed a distraction to save my life (I live in Alaska, so, yes, this can be relevant), but I became more intrigued by this idea that she’s missing time, and happens to find out she’d absorbed her twin in the womb. Now, I hope you’ve Sherlocked your way into realizing that these various hints mean that because she’d absorbed her twin, she absorbed everything from her…including her personality. And if you hadn’t figured that out and think I’ve given away a spoiler, then I don’t think this book is for you…
Anyway, so because of this “introduction” of a twin to this story, Sasha definitely began to interest me more, leading to my enjoying this book way more.

Then there are the people in Sasha’s life. I’ll only mention some of them, because to say anything about the latter few will be too telling of a something big that happens, so henceforth, vague I shall continueth to be!

Where was I again?
Oh, people in Sasha’s life, right.
Okay, so there exist her parents, a mother and father each. Each have their roles, though neither seem to impart the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with being a family, they seem to be good enough people and take care of our annoying MC as well as parents can.
Then there are her two friends, Brooke and Lilly. Brooke is way more interesting than Lilly, and I think it mostly has to do with her fascination of morbid things. In comparison, Lilly is milk toast. She’s boring and I’m not really sure what she brought to this trio’s friendship?? Besides that, she does exist in this book for a reason, and that I do understand.
Finally, we have Isaac (there does happen to be a “perfect” boyfriend, named Heath, but I don’t really feel there is any need to talk about Señor Douchelord, so I won’t). Isaac is the “bad boy” who is thrown into the mix because that’s what you do in YA books. You have to have a guy who “sees what others cannot…who brings out the best in you” and all that yadda yadda, so of course he’s introduced as a possible romantic interest, because wouldn’t that make the book more interesting?!
But, of course.
I liked Isaac and have nothing bad to say about him, though I did question his thought process when it came to a few things…a few things I won’t be mentioning… (Again, cause as the fantastic River Song would say, ‘Spoilers’.)

I really feel like this book kept me hooked. I was surprised when I’d read so many reviews in which people either did not like this book, or chose to DNF it, because once I’d started it, I was committed to finding out what Sasha’s deal was, and more about the absorbed twin. And the more I kept reading, the more I realized where this book was going. And the ending? I LOVED it! I really wish I could say why, but I will say that it helped reinforce my dislike for Sasha, and if you read this book to the end, you’ll likely see why.

Honestly, I’m not sure you’ll like this book, judging by how many seem not to, but I really liked it and just found it to be really entertaining! So if my review interested you at all, then you should definitely read this book and let me know what you think of it!

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Review of ‘All the Crooked Saints’ by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked SaintsAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was by this book. Honestly, the only reason I gave it two stars is because I was still slightly impressed by Maggie Stiefvater‘s ability to tell a story in the most colorful way possible.

1. But colorful isn’t always an indication for amazing literacy. Nope, not when you’re reading a book and happen to come across a line like:
‘She had been wearing artificial eyelashes in the womb and when they had fallen off in the birth canal, she had lost no time in replacing them.’


???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

This wasn’t even written as a joke to somewhat tease this character for being described as ‘the most beautiful woman in Colorado Springs’, no, this pretty much only served to show you how quirky Stiefvater’s writing could be, and how unique/interesting the Soria family were supposed to be. It’s not like having a Saint in the family–with the ability to perform actual miracles–wasn’t already interesting enough or anything like that…

Why don’t we move on to other things I didn’t like? Yeah?

2. Boring characters
It’s kind of sad when not one character really stood out to me. The Soria cousins are pretty much the MCs of this tale, but the book never really centers on any one of them. We get some random moments with each, to incorporate them in to the moving storyline, but then we’re soon onto the many secondary characters that either belong to the Soria family, or those who are considered pilgrims.
Just a side note: These pilgrims are the ones who’ve had a miracle bestowed upon them, only to come to find out that miracles come in twos–the second taking much longer to accomplish. So the pilgrims are these people who live side by side with the Sorias, though contact by either side is not permitted (for reasons told in the book).
Like I said, none of them really stood out to me, so that made it harder for me to feel any sort of attachment to any of these characters, or to their stories.

3.Here is a thing I want:, Here is a thing I fear:
These two statements were attached to most(?) of the characters, and I found them to be unnecessary. Who cares if Judith wanted two gold teeth that no one could see but that she’d know were there? Or that she feared having to fill out medical forms before appointments? Not me.

4.Pacing getting thrown off by some random, nonsensical moment
Yes, please explain to me the process of how Antonio attempts to grow black roses, and the steps he takes when it comes to gathering seeds or how he marks the flowers that will be used–because I care.

Finally:

5.The ending
What an unsatisfying end to a very unsatisfying book. Sure, it was a real ending that didn’t leave you with a cliffhanger, but again, it was so boring! I really feel like this book just coasted all the way through, then suddenly we’re closing in on the end, so it’s like ‘hey! The book is ending now, let’s gather everything together and call it a day’, so then the end is wrapped up in a neat, little bow of boringness, and thus, I’m left unsatisfied.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: What did I want from this book? I pretty much said it was boring/boring/more boring, so why did I even bother at all? For starters, I felt like I had to finish a Maggie Stiefvater book, it’d be a travesty not to. But then, after I’d slowly realized how much I was disliking this read, I felt it necessary to finish it so that I’d be able to write my own review of it.

So there, I sacrificed myself for you.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that I wouldn’t recommend this book, but who am I to stop the curiosity of a Maggie Stiefvater fan?

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Review of ‘The Town Built on Sorrow’ by David Oppegaard

The Town Built on SorrowThe Town Built on Sorrow by David Oppegaard

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Release date: September 26, 2017

*This review was actually written a few months back, when I used to attempt to write my own book summaries, so after this one, I’ll be going back to attaching the ones provided by the publisher.*

A strange book that features a pioneer girl’s diary, a serial killer, and a long forgotten skull. (Yes…a skull…).

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In Hawthorn, Minnesota, a serial killer is dumping his victims into the town’s river, and the police are no closer to finding out who it could be.
While this is going on, Harper Spurling is becoming more and more obsessed with the locally published diary of Sofie Helle, a young pioneer girl and one of Hawthorn’s original settlers.
Sofie’s diary describes the settler’s journey to Hawthorn, as well as the strange things that happen when they arrive. But the strangest thing has to be the way it ends–abruptly, and then there’s the fact that no one knows whatever actually happened to Sofie, since she’d disappeared not long after.
Harper’s obsession has her delving further into this mystery, and doing so also unwittingly brings her closer to the serial killer as well.
But will Harper survive long enough to solve the mystery of Sofie’s disappearance?
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The title of this book is what initially drew me in. Not only did I like the way it was worded, it also intrigued me enough so that I had to request it from Netgalley. But how sad was I to find this book not quite as interesting as I’d thought it’d be?

Anyway, so there are three MCs in this book, Harper, the serial killer (whose name I won’t mention, just because I feel it’s a bit spoiler, though you do find it out fairly quickly), and Sofie Helle’s account, as well.

I thought that Harper’s interest in Sofie’s diary was refreshing, since not many people her age would usually care about an old diary that seemingly has no relevance to the modern teen. It was kind of strange how her accounts in this book pretty much revolved around the diary. For example, she had a party she was going to one night, but after telling her friend she has a date to said party (and being told the things she should do to get ready for it), she grabs the diary to read, and honestly, though the diary had some strange things going on in it, the entries weren’t really all that interesting. Harper mentions that she likes how Sofie ‘notices things most people do not, and that she describes things so well, you can see it in your mind‘…but these things that so impressed her? Yeah, I didn’t quite get the same impressions…

Really, this book just read so random for me in regards to the fact that most of it seemed so…unnecessary…
Harper’s obsession with Sofie’s diary; Sofie’s accounts of the early days in Hawthorn, and the disconcerting/bizarre things that had seemed to plague those settlers; and finally, the serial killer.

Seriously, this town just needs to call the FBI, cause the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit for those not in the know) would have had this case solved so fast! The killer was by no means complex, so I’m surprised the police had nothing. Psh.

Along with the whole ‘reading random’ thing, I feel like I have to add that when we get an explanation for the skull I had mentioned earlier, it ended up being so…simple. I had expected something more–anything more–but the answer was just so not satisfying.

Anyway, at this point, I think it’s safe to say that this book was a little too all over the place, the characters weren’t fleshed out enough, and the whole wrap-up was just disappointing for me.

Because of my own response to this book, I will not be recommending it.

Thank you to Flux, via Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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