Review of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (digital arc)

 

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

 

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.

Continue reading “Review of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (digital arc)”

ARC Review of Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Invictus was the first book I’ve read by Ryan Graudin and I’m really glad I gave it a try. The book was a little slow for me at times, but overall, it was really interesting. I absolutely loved the time travel parts.

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Invictus takes place hundreds of years in the future.  Faraway (Far) McCarthy is training to be a time traveler.  During his testing, there are always issues with his date of birth. Far’s mom gave birth to him on a ship while they were in void between time.  She did the one thing she wasn’t supposed to do during time travel, interacted with someone from the past.  Not only did she speak to a gladiator in 95 AD, she got pregnant by him.  During Far’s final exam, he is spotted by Marie Antionette in the Sim.  She winks at him and Far is positive his Sim was hacked, but he fails.

Far receives a message to meet someone about his future.  He goes and ends up signing on to go into the past to steal things no one will miss.  Far not only wants to time travel, but he’s hoping to go on missions to find his missing mom.  He chooses the ship’s name, Invictus, and his crew.  His cousin Imogen was my favorite character in this book.  She is the ship’s historian and is very colorful and happy.  She also has a pet on the ship, a red panda. Far’s friend Gram is the engineer and his girlfriend Priya is the medic.

The Invictus crew goes back in time for heists and all go well until they get to the Titanic. Things are weird with the numbers and they land four hours later than they have planned.  While looking for a book, Far spies another time traveler from the future who steals the book before him.  Eliot ends up on the Invictus and says she wants to work with the crew.  However, Eliot is there for reasons Far and his crew will have a hard time understanding. They must find a way to make things right because Far should have never been born. 

I haven’t really read books on time travel before.  Historical fiction and science fiction are genres I’m pretty with.  I don’t read them often.  But this book ended up being better than I expected.  I enjoyed the writing and details and will definitely be picking up another book from the author in the near future.  I loved the future slang.  The swear words were hashing great. 

I received a digital arc from Netgalley for review.  It did not influence me in any way. Invictus will be released September 26, 2017. 

My top ten favorite reads of 2017 so far.

Not all of these books came out in 2017, but I read them in the first 6+ months.  There are technically more than 10, but I’m counting series as one book for this one.

1.  This Savage Song & Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

I’m not even sure I can begin to describe how amazing these books are.  This was my first time reading Victoria Schwab and she’s already become a favorite author and these are on my all time favorite books now.

I’ll try to briefly describe each book without spoilers.  These books follow Kate Harker and August Flynn in a city called Verity.  Verity is split with Kate’s dad running the side where people pay for protection and August’s dad runs the other side and a small army.  Kate is human, but August is a monster.  There are three types of monsters living in Verity (book two partially takes place in another city with other types of monsters).  August is a Sunai which is the rarest type.  They steal souls of sinners with songs.  August is a very gentle person who really wants to keep some humanity.  Kate is trying to prove herself to her dad and is a bit more vicious.  Kate and August meet and find themselves working together to bring peace to Verity after some monsters try to take control.  I’m doing a horrible job trying to explain it, but it’s so good.  The first book starts a bit slow, but there is a lot to the world and monsters that is important.  The second half of the book flies and the second book picks up right away.  So many emotions in this book.   Loved them both so much (the second even more than the first).

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2.  The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

This book is adorable and I love Becky Albertalli.  This is one of those books that just make you smile.

Molly Peskin-Suso has loved many boys, but none of them have loved her back.  Not really love because most were just crushes. She’s a little chubby and it makes her a bit insecure with boys.  Her twin, Cassie, falls for a girl and finds herself in a serious relationship.  She starts pushing Molly to finally kiss a boy.  She ends up meeting two boys and one might just be one who will finally love her back.

This book is full of cute quotes and fun characters.  There is even a small cameo by Simon. Molly’s parents are both women and they are sperm donor babies.  I love the mixture of cultures and sexuality in this book.  There really isn’t anyone who is unlikeable.  I can’t say enough how adorable this book is.

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”

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3.  Illuminae & Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Yes, this is another with two books.  I recently wrote a review for both here on another blog, so I won’t really get into it much here.  You can read that here https://confessionsofayareader.blogspot.com/2017/07/combined-review-of-illuminae-and-gemina.html

These books are so unique and different from anything I’ve read before.  They are told in e-mails, chats, pictures, journal entries, etc.  It’s a great science fiction series with book three coming out sometime next year.  Not soon enough for me!

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4.  Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalo

This is a great book for anyone who loves forensics and Jack the Ripper.  Audrey Rose is a 17 year old girl who doesn’t fit in with the females of her time.  She studies forensics with her uncle who is the local coroner.  Bodies from the ripper start showing up and Audrey wants to solve the mystery.

This is my review I wrote right after finishing the book:  I loved this book and it was just what I needed right now. Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me and I loved how the author wove this story and changed small things to fit. Audrey Rose is the perfect protagonist. She was smart and feisty, not wanting to fit into the mold for a proper girl. She is ahead of her time and wants so much more. I also loved Thomas and they were a perfect match for each other. I loved his sarcasm and flirting. The book is not for the squeamish and does discuss a lot with the bodies and murder scenes (as you would expect when studying forensics). I did guess pretty early on who Jack was, but it was still a great mystery. It does make you realize that so many people during that time were looking at everyone in their lives wondering if they might be the Ripper.

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5.  Eliza And Her Mosters by Francesca Zappia

I recently wrote a full review for this book https://confessionsofayareader.blogspot.com/2017/07/review-of-eliza-and-her-monsters-by.html, so I’ll keep this one short, too.

Eliza And Her Mosters is about a girl who writes a super popular online comic series.  She doesn’t really talk to many people in real life and no one knows she’s the author.  Eliza meets the new kid at school, Wallace, and finds out that he’s the most popular fan fiction writer for her series.  She doesn’t tell him who she is, just that she loves the series, too. Wallace starts getting Eliza to do things more often and they become close.  But then Eliza’s secret gets revealed and things don’t go well.

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6.  The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

This is a powerful book.  I read it early this year and I still find myself thinking about it. Warnings for violence, sexual assault, and teen drinking.

Alex Craft’s sister was killed and while everyone knew who the killer was, he was never convicted.  He went unpunished until Alex got to him.  Alex has some issues.  She is violent, but she feels it’s just for vengeance.  She does try to hide who she is, but ends up making some friends.  Peekay and Jack are nothing like Alex, but they all end up spending a lot of time together.  There is a party one night that gets out of control and everyone starts to see who Alex really is.

I won’t get into any more so I don’t ruin the book.  I will say that this is a book everyone should read.

“But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.”

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7.  Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

This is just one of those super cute reads.  It would be perfect for a summer book if you haven’t picked it up yet.

Bailey (Mink) has been living on the east coast with her mom and talking with a boy, Alex, online.  Alex lives in California and has been trying to get Bailey to visit.  She ends up moving with her dad to the same town Alex lives in , but she doesn’t let him know.  Instead, she tries to figure out who Alex is.

Bailey finds a job working at this local museum and meets this cute surfer boy, Porter.  They don’t get along right away and are always fighting, but Bailey finds herself falling for Porter. She’s torn because of her feelings for Alex.  They share a love of old movies and this book has tons of cute book quotes throughout.

Porter quickly became my new book boyfriend.

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8.  The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

This is a series of five main books.  The first three is sort of like a trilogy with another two books that take place much later.   There are a lot of mixed reviews for these books.  People either love or hate them, but I found them fun to read.  I did like the first three best.

I don’t want this to get too long, so I won’t go into each book separately.  The first three books are about a boy, Maxon, who is the prince.  He must find a wife soon and the royal family participates in a “selection” to find the right match.  They bring girls from different castes to make it more fair, but Maxon’s father expects him to marry a higher caste girl. America Singer is from the lowest caste brought there.  She already loves her childhood friend and doesn’t fit in at all.  Over time, she finds herself falling for Maxon and is often times conflicted and torn between the two boys (I was team Maxon for this one).

The fourth and fifth book is about Maxon and his selection pick’s daughter.

These books were a light, fun read and I read all five in a row earlier this year.

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9.  Dumplin by Julie Murphy

This one is a little older and I finally got around to reading it just in time for a book signing with Julie Murphy.  I’m not sure why I waited so long.

Willowdean “Dumplin” is an overweight teenager with a beauty queen mom.  They live in a town in Texas where the beauty pageant is everything.  Her mom still runs it.  Willodean is usually pretty content with her weight, but she finds herself freaking out when a boy who likes her touches her.  We see her struggle with her feelings of normally accepting herself with her feelings of insecurity in certain situations.  Her mom is always trying to get her to lose weight, but it usually doesn’t bother Willowdean.

Willowdean is obsessed with Dolly Parton.  Her aunt who died was and she also bonded with her best friend over it.  But Willowdean is finding herself alone a lot because her best friend has started hanging with the more popular, skinny girls.  Willowdean decides to enter the beauty contest and finds herself as a role model to some of the not so pretty girls who enter with her.

Dumplin is a fun book.  I loved the drag queens and wish there was a bigger part with them. But I ended up really enjoying this book.

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10.  Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

I was a little torn on which book to make number ten.  I chose this one because of how different it was.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love reading about other cultures and diversity is a huge reason why I read YA.

Alex is a Bruja, but she hates magic and doesn’t want to come into her powers.  She does a spell on her deathday hoping to keep her real powers away, but it backfires and takes her whole family to Los Lagos.  Alex must travel with a boy, Nova, who she doesn’t know well to Los Lagos to try to get her family back.

This book is full of magic, a neat world (Los Lagos), and family.

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Were any of these your favorites, too?  If not, what were yours? Comment below and let me know.  Please make sure you follow my blog, too.