Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Hey all, Dani here.

We all have certain themes, tropes, or story elements that generally turn us off from picking up certain books/movies/shows. For me, I am not a big mystery or thriller reader, though I am okay with watching those kind of stories. I also typically don’t reach for zombie stories. But I will say that as long as a story sounds interesting, I am totally willing to give it a try. And that is totally the case for the book I’m talking about today.

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Summary

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.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

Let’s start with the cover. I love how badass Jane looks holding her sickle and that is a cool and powerful stance. It gave me expectations for how the story within the covers was going to go. Thankfully the story matched up with beauty of the outside.

Jane has spirit. Her spunk was great, even though her sass quite regularly got her in trouble. But she did also go out of her way to help others, even ones who hadn’t been the nicest to her at school.

The alternate history laid out in this book was well done and so interesting. It really makes you look at the sanitization of history, how often we try and bury the unfair treatment and blatant racism of the past. Actually if we’re being honest many in society today don’t seem to recognize the racism of modern times. Based on the notes in the back of the book, there were industrial schools where Native children were sent and “civilized” based on the accepted white culture of the times. Many of the comments made by white characters towards people of color in this book made me cringe; it was pretty atrocious and despicable.

Jane handles it in stride, though. Sometimes she even uses their expectations against them, by pretending to be less intelligent or civilized. Even Jane’s classmates don’t expect Jane to be as smart as she is, though she can read and write, while most of them can’t.

But this was a pretty adventurous story, and I am so glad that I gave it a chance. The zombies, or shamblers as they are known in the book, are not really romanticized in any way. They are mindless savages and a group of them approaching can be a terrifying situation.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this fantastic novel from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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Book Review, Books!, Recommendations, Signal Boost

Top Ten Reads of 2018 — So Far

Hey all, Dani here.

The wait is over. My list of favorite reads from the first six months of the year is here at last. Before I jump into which books made it, I first want to go over the rules that I set for myself when it comes to what can or cannot be considered for this list. As a book blogger, I do receive early copies of books for review, but it wouldn’t be fair to include books that have not been released to the general public. I also don’t include rereads on this list, because obviously I enjoyed the book enough to read it again, so those books have an unfair advantage.

The ten books that make up this list are ones that I read in the months of January through June in 2018. Overall I ended up reading 59 books in that time, so narrowing down to ten was something I thought was going to be difficult…but I read some books that just really stood out for me. As always, I am placing these books in the order I read them in, not any sort of last to first ranking order or anything. Oh, and if I have a review up for the book, I will also include the link, in case you would like to check out more of my thoughts.

Let’s get started.

  1. The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
    I am so glad that I was able to read an ARC of this book, because this series continues to blow me away. I love diving into Tea’s world, and seeing how her story unfolds. Overall I did not want to put this book down, and I am so looking forward to the third book.
  2. Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Novel by Melissa de la Cruz
    Well, the first book of this series made my list last year, so is it any surprise that my Hamilton obsession is still going strong? This YA version of Alexander Hamilton’s romance and relationship with Eliza Schuyler Hamilton continues to keep me hooked…even when certain elements of history have to be altered slightly to make for a better story. I’m not reading this for a 100% historically faithful tale. I can read Hamilton’s writings or any number of nonfiction books on Hamilton if I want the facts.
  3. Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
    Now that I have read this book, I am so sad that I didn’t try and snag a copy in 2017 at BookExpo. It was completely outstanding. I loved the magic system and the overall setup. Plus the characters were so interesting…even the ones that were so awful that I hoped for their death. I am very much looking forward to the second book.
  4. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
    Based on the way this book was described, I was sure I was going to enjoy it, but it ended up completely sucking me in, and I didn’t want to stop reading until I reached the end. I enjoyed the descriptions, the action, the character development…it was all so good. The only thing that upset me is that I feel like the ending wrapped up a bit too quickly. But there is apparently a companion novel coming (probably next year), so we’ll see what happens next.
  5. Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy
    I need to get a review written for this one, so I am adding that to my to-do list. But this was such a cute contemporary story, with a nice dash of fantasy since it was based on a movie adaptation of a beloved book series…and a romance between one of the film’s stars and the grand-daughter of the series’ author.
  6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    Why haven’t I written a review for this one yet? I read it during a 24 Hour Readathon, but I would have read it super quickly anyway. It was such a deeply fascinating series, with an amazing set of characters, a cool adventure, and an intriguing magic system. Needless to say, I am already counting down until the release of the sequel.
  7. The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde
    Jen Wilde makes my list again, with another cute and diverse contemporary novel, one that features cameos from characters who were in her debut novel. I loved following the three members of the band The Brightsiders, and seeing all the drama and issues that seemed to follow their lives. And the romances were pretty cute too.
  8. Furyborn by Claire Legrand
    Another fantasy book with great world-building and magic systems. This was also another book that I absolutely flew through. I admit that the cover design caught my eye, and then I read up on the book. I am so glad that I did, because it was an outstanding read, even at the hefty number of pages it contained. Seriously, I loved it.
  9. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
    Amanda Foody has written another wonderfully atmospheric and interesting fantasy read, and I can say that I also flew through this book. I read The Brightsiders, Furyborn, and Ace of Shades all in one weekend, and I’m so glad that they were all so interesting that I easily could have landed in a book slump, but they all stood wonderfully on their own merits. Amanda Foody’s characters and writing style have definitely placed her up on my list of favorite new fantasy authors.
  10. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
    The review for this book will be up tomorrow, but this was kind of a surprise favorite for me. While I do like the occasional historical fiction story, I am not as into books (or shows or movies) with zombies in them. But I was immediately drawn in by the narrative voice of our main protagonist, Jane. She was one awesome and spirited young lady, and I loved following all of her mishaps and adventures, all while fighting off the shambler plague.

So far it has been a pretty great year for reading, and I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 brings. Thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying some great reads of your own, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Manga, NetGalley, Signal Boost

What I’m Reading (21)

Hey all, Dani here.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow citizens of the United States.

Okay, so on Monday, the place where I work announced that inventory was still too high and we needed to have a couple more shutdown days. They had already decided on a plant wide shut down for this Thursday and Friday (which just means Thursday for me because I work four shifts of 10 hours each week), but now they have added on next Monday and Tuesday as days off as well. This does not bode well for my paycheck (or my fiance’s, since we work at the same place), but thankfully we plan to spend our time wisely…by staying at home and reading and playing games instead of going out and spending money doing things. With any luck I will definitely kick this month off with a decent number of books finished.

So that means I may need to plan ahead for my reads for the next week. I am totally okay with this, because I am in a reading mood.

Let’s start with books I have finished since my post last Wednesday. I finished two more volumes of My Hero Academia, which means that I am all caught up with the series until the next volume is released in August. I also managed to finish Bookish Boyfriends: A Date with Darcy by Tiffany Schmidt, and I’ll have a review up for that soon.

My current reads are The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. Going is still slow on the latter book, but I am absolutely loving the newest release by Mead–though it is making me want to reread the other two in the trilogy to try and piece together other connections I may have missed.

Finally, as for what I’d like to start reading in the next week. Oh man, I can make an intimidating list right now because of all these days off work. Okay, I think I have it figured out. I would like to start reading (and hopefully finish) Save the Date by Morgan Matson, From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon, Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone, and All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor.

That looks like a pretty decent list, and they are all contemporary (ish), so I should fly through them pretty quickly. And that about does it for today. I hope you all have a lovely day, and I will be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, NetGalley, Signal Boost

Review: The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, I didn’t really think ahead when I was planning my upcoming reviews and posts…because I have another superhero based tale to talk about. Oh well, what can I say? I enjoy superheroes.

Oh, and before I get too far into this post, I need to thank NetGalley and Swoon Reads for granting me early access to this book for review. As always, this privilege in no way affected my rating or review for The Supervillain and Me. And now, let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Never trust a guy in spandex.

In Abby Hamilton’s world, superheroes do more than just stop crime and save cats stuck in trees—they also drink milk straight from the carton and hog the television remote. Abby’s older brother moonlights as the famous Red Comet, but without powers of her own, following in his footsteps has never crossed her mind.

That is, until the city’s newest vigilante comes bursting into her life.

After saving Abby from an attempted mugging, Morriston’s fledgling supervillain Iron Phantom convinces her that he’s not as evil as everyone says, and that their city is under a vicious new threat. As Abby follows him deeper into their city’s darkest secrets, she comes to learn that heroes can’t always be trusted, and sometimes it’s the good guys who wear black.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

Overall, this was a pretty basic superpower hero/villain story. Some elements were very predictable. Honestly, that does not at all mean that this was a bad book, or that I didn’t enjoy it. Obviously I read and watch a bunch of hero/villain books and TV shows and movies. It is a tale I enjoy, no matter how many iterations of the same ideas and themes I take in.

Oh, and I can also say that I did like that Abby wasn’t treated as some super beautiful and awesome female protagonist. Nor was she some badass martial artist who could take care of herself. No, she is sometimes awkward and clumsy, and her dad–the mayor–tries to help by sending her a bunch of self-defense videos so she can learn some techniques and hopefully be able to protect herself on the dangerous streets of Morriston.

That being said, this book didn’t blow me out of the water either, despite the costumed heroes. Maybe it was experiencing it through someone who didn’t have any powers but was connected to the main powered individuals of the story. Maybe it was that I didn’t feel very invested in the characters. Maybe it wasn’t as action-packed as I might have wanted. It was a good read, but not a great one.

Still, I guess this is the first book in a series that will follow heroes in the fictional city of Morriston. That being said, this book gave me just enough of an idea about the city and its inhabitants to be prepared for more. And I’m hoping that more will mean more super-powered action and more overall development.

Where to Buy

You can pre-order this book now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. It will be available on shelves July 10, 2018.

Book Review, Books!, Manga, Signal Boost

Manga Review: My Hero Academia Vol 8

Hey all, Dani here.

It is Manga Monday time again. This is where I continue on with my reviews for all of the manga I was reading at the end of last year. In particular this includes one of my favorite series, My Hero Academia, which is a superheroes-in-training story. Of course there is so much more to that, but I greatly enjoy both the manga and the anime, and would recommend both to anyone who enjoys a good story of students with powers learning how to use them and become heroes.

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Summary

Midoriya inherits the superpower of the world’s greatest hero, but greatness won’t come easy.

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks”? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

The U.A. students have reached the practical portion of their final exam, but they didn’t expect to have to beat their own teachers in order to pass! Paired with his archrival Bakugo, Midoriya has to try to take on none other than All Might himself. Working with Bakugo is one thing, but is giving everything he’s got to beat All Might more than Midoriya can handle? And in a nearby arena, Yaoyorozu and Todoroki endure a similar struggle. All the while, a sinister new adversary prepares to make a move… 

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I feel so sorry for Midoriya, consistently being put in a position to work with or against Bakugo. They already have enough encounters and issues without the school putting them in these positions. But I also realize that looking at the talents of both Bakugo and Midoriya, if they actually did legitimately team up and work together, they could be a very powerful duo…not that I actually anticipate that happening.

Seeing how the different pairings worked together (or didn’t) to take on the practical portion of their final exam was interesting. It was also cool to see the strategies all the teachers formulated for taking on their chosen duos.

I also love how we get to see the villain perspective too, especially since sometimes I can’t exactly figure out what they’re up to.

And of course, I love that this volume is leading us up to the summer camp, and all of the training and growth that is sure to come from it. Through this series I have found that whenever they have an internship or an event like the sports festival, the students tend to learn quite a bit, as well as grow quite a bit in their Quirks and their techniques.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this and all other available volumes from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Manga, NetGalley, Signal Boost

June Wrap Up and July TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

We have officially made it halfway through 2018. And I have to say that I actually didn’t read as many books as I would have liked in June, but that’s okay. I had a bit of a weird work schedule, being sent to different departments and different areas to fill in. Some days it really wore me out, which led to my fiance and I watching TV or movies instead of doing a lot of reading. What I can say is that now that we have caught up on a couple of shows, we plan to take a little bit of a break from Netflix to read. I predict a better monthly wrap up for July.

Okay, let’s get started.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara — 3.5 stars

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland — 5 stars —review coming July 6th

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin — 5 stars

The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas — 4 stars — review coming July 3rd

My Hero Academia, Vol 12 by Kohei Horikoshi — 5 stars

My Hero Academia, Vol 13 by Kohei Horikoshi — 5 stars

I also want to take a little time right now to mention the TV shows and movies that my fiance and I devoured in the month of June, because that honestly helps to explain why I didn’t read as many books. Plus they are still stories to take in, so though they are not enjoyed in the same way as books, I think they will count. And if you like me including this as part of my wrap-ups, let me know, and I’ll continue keeping track of what we’re watching for future posts.

Love, Simon — 5 stars, Tomb Raider — 5 stars, The Last Airbender — 2 stars, The Incredibles 2 (twice) — 5 stars, Legends of Tomorrow (season 3) — 5 stars, The Flash (season 4) — 4.5 stars, Peter Rabbit — 5 stars, Black Panther (again) — 5 stars, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant — 3.5 stars, John Carter — 4 stars, Batman: The Killing Joke — 4 stars, xXx — 4 stars, Warcraft — 4 stars, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb — 4.5 stars, Dungeons & Dragons — 3 stars, Mythica: A Quest for Heroes (again) — 4 stars

And now it is book haul time. It was a pretty good month for buying books. First up, we made a trip to Half Price Books, and I found three books in really good condition, including one I have been wanting to have a physical copy of for a while (Blood Bound). Other than that, every one of my books came from Barnes & Noble, except for the hardcover of Hounded by Kevin Hearne, which I got from Subterranean Press. It is an exclusive limited edition, and I absolutely love the cover. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the rest of the series.

 

Next up is my monthly Owlcrate unboxing. It was such a fun box, and I am very much looking forward to reading the book, because it sounds like a great summer contemporary read. My other favorite item is that Mason Jar mug, and I will definitely be using that for my at home drinks while reading.

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Finally, I guess it is time to come up with my TBR. My friend Kathy over at Books & Munches is hosting Sci-Fi July, and while I am not dedicated myself solely to books in the science fiction genre, if I can read at least one of these books, I will consider my participation a success. Obviously, between the four sci-fi picks and the large stack of other books I’d like to get to, I don’t expect to get to all of these, but hopefully I’ll be able to read a decent number of them. Oh, and I’m also trying to read some of my Netgalley backlog as well, so I have a lot of books to choose from. Expect plenty of reviews to come after all of this.

That is all for today, I do believe. Well, I am off to read some more. I already started The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead, and I am really enjoying it so far. Happy Reading everyone, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.