Belinda’s Book Nook’s Great Reads in 2018: Mem by Bethany C. Morrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: MEM
Author: Bethany C. Morrow
Copyright: May 22, 2018
Genre: fiction
Format: hardcover
Pages: 184

Discovering the book:

I heard about this book on a podcast sometime in May and I decided to buy it for myself as one of my books for my birthday back in June. I love that it was science fiction speculative fiction written by a black author and this was her debut novel. I made a conscious effort last year to seek out and read a number of debut books by black authors. I will have to go back and see how many I read last year.

Expectations:

So I went into the book with expectations built up from what I heard on the podcast description of the book. I’m always fascinated with the way people come up with concepts for books and then are able to tell a story and bring you someplace that you never thought about. This is especially true and the beauties of many genres but it is especially true in science-fiction and fantasy.

Experience:

One thing I noticed was that I was drawn into the story immediately.   I was fascinated with the idea of being able to get rid of unwanted memories. So my curious was peak from the start to learn what and how the author would handle the subject. I found the characters interesting and easily connected to Delores. I appreciated the subtlety that the author used to inform readers that certain characters in the book were people color. It’s not something that I normally experience in my daily reading and it was refreshing.

Premise of the story:

Set in the early 1920s in Montreal Canada when people that had the means could go to this facility and have bad memories or certain memories extracted from them. Typically the memories were bad memories and they would be put inside of a created “being”. This being would be referred to as a ‘Mem’ and would look like that person at that particular time they would have experienced the memory and would never age. The Mem would be that memory they lived and they would relive that memory over and over especially when they went to sleep. The reason that most people go to this facility was that they wanted to get rid of bad memories. The person going to the facility was called the Source. The Source then had all rights to the Mem but the Mem would reside at the facility.  What they noticed was that the Mem would not live very long lives they would eventually expire and they also noticed that the Source when they had these memories extracted that and that memory would then be gone from their memory but they would also lose more of them selves as well. So there was a price to pay to remove bad memories. The main character of the story was a Mem named Dolores after her source Dolores and she exhibited characteristics that no other Mem had before she experienced feelings and individual thoughts.

Final Thoughts:

There’s so much complexity to the various issues that I’m surprised it was fit in such a small book. A great read and I especially enjoyed at the very end the authors note where the author actually states that the character was black and that she chose not to include even though racism exist then and it exists now in Canada. But that she wanted to have the character and exist without having to deal with racism but as a responsible author, she wanted to make sure that she say did note that racism is still present. Then she recommended different resources to explore issues of race and race relations in Canada. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and give it 5 butterflies. This book was really great and I’m just so impressed with the concepts and the issues that it brought to the forefront for me. Read it!

Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

30223025

 

 

 

 

Title: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Copyright: April 3, 2018
Genre: fiction
Format: book
Pages: 455

 

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

About the Author (Justina Ireland):

Image result for justina ireland

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows. But what you may not know about her is that:

 Over the last several years, Ireland and others in the YA world have been using Twitter to call out what they see as an enduring tradition of racist nonsense in publishing…As Ireland has repeatedly taken pains to point out, the world of children’s and young-adult literature is overwhelmingly, disproportionately white. Of some 3,700 books for children or teens that were published last year, just 340 were about children or teens who were black, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin. Of those, just 100 were written by black authors. Ireland argues that the industry should publish more books by nonwhite authors, and that white authors should think more carefully about how they represent black and brown people in their books.

My Thoughts:

This book was fantastic. I heard about this book from the Book Riot podcast and I was interested because I liked how it was an alternate history during the civil war time. I was also thrilled that the protagonist was mixed race.

The cover art grabbed my attention and it appealed to me that the author was a black woman. As I quoted earlier, there is a disproportionate amount of non-white authors published in the industry today. I’m always trying to make a conscious effort to support black authors.  Because if we don’t buy the books written by people of color then the publishers can say that they didn’t create or generate the sales that they need to be publishing books and we will miss an opportunity to experience diverse talent.

I won’t lie when I say that I was a little hesitant when I saw the word zombie in the description. But the idea of an alternate history where blacks during the civil war were trained in weaponry and etiquette. Well, I just had to see this book through. The story was easy to get into I really like the main character, Jane, who was very strong and smart.

Structurally, I like how at the very start of each chapter you would see an excerpt from a letter Jane wrote to her mother. Since she had to live apart from her mother at the boarding school, she wanted to keep in touch with her mother and we saw this represented in the letters she wrote to her mother.

Of course, you get to see the boarding school experience through Jane’s eyes and hear a lot about how she gets along with the fella girls. You also get glimpses of her past where she used to live on Rose Hill with her mother and the story unfolds really slowly chapter to chapter. I like that it is spread out throughout the story. The author doesn’t throw all the information at you in the beginning. It is delivered at a pace that really enhanced the experience of the book.

Although the story is a fantastical alternate history of the civil war era, the issues of race ring familiar today. We aren’t in that great “melting pot” that we often talked about when I was growing up. We can’t be when people have racial bias and laws that govern exacerbate those feelings. There were many action scenes much of which took place in the last quarter of the book and I just couldn’t put it down had to finish it. I believe it is the start of a series. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and looking forward to the next one.

I give this book 4 1/2 butterflies.

Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Obama: An Intimate Portrait, Deluxe Limited Edition: The Historic Presidency in Photographs

Hello, my bookworm friends! I thought I would share another book review

Title: Obama: An Intimate Portrait, Deluxe Limited Edition: The Historic Presidency in Photographs
Author: Pete Souza
Copyright: March 2018
Genre: non-fiction, biography
Format: book
Pages: 352

Summary (from Goodreads):

This is the definitive visual biography of Barack Obama’s presidency, captured in intimate, unprecedented detail by his official White House photographer.
Pete Souza began photographing President Obama on his first day as a U.S. senator, in January 2005, and served as the chief official White House photographer for the President’s full two terms. Souza was with President Obama more often, and at more crucial moments, than any friend or staff member, or even the First Lady–and he photographed it all. Souza captured nearly 2 million photographs of Obama, in moments ranging from classified to disarmingly candid.

About the Author (Pete Souza):

Pete Souza is a freelance photographer and assistant professor of photojournalism at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication. He has worked as an Official White House Photographer for President Reagan, a freelancer for National Geographic, and as the national photographer for the Chicago Tribune based in their Washington bureau.

My Thoughts:

I was just out of the recovery phase of the flu and visiting the library with my son and the children’s librarian ran over to me and picked up this magnificent book and told me she just finished it and I should read it. I hesitated because I had already gathered 3 other books to check out for myself and this book looked like a chunker to carry out of the library. But then as we talked, I told her this book might just be what I need.

Boy was it ever. This photographer did an amazing job of capturing much of President Obama’s presidency. Each photo was accompanied by more information. So much I never saw before and I was often moved to tears.

I will definitely be purchasing a copy for my personal library.

For these reasons, I give this book 5 butterflies!


Happy reading!

Belinda

Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

 

Hello, my bookworm friends! I thought I would share another book review for the Literary Voyage Around the World Reading challenge.

462033

 

 

 

 

Title: Maisie Dobbs
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Copyright: May 25, 2004
Genre: fiction
Format: book
Pages: 309

 

Summary (from Goodreads):

Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.

About the Author (Jacqueline Winspear):

 

Truth walks toward us on the paths of our questions. As soon as you think you have the answer, you have closed the path and may miss the vital new information. Wait awhile in the stillness, and do not rush to conclusions, no matter how uncomfortable the unknowing.”

– Jacqueline Winspear

While looking up Ms. Winspear’s information online, I came across quite a lot of wonderful quotes from her. If you don’t know it, I am a quote hoarder!! I love writing quotes in a little book and in my journal. So I thought I would share the one above with you.

Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education and in marketing communications in the UK.

Jacqueline found her inspiration in the ordinary people of wartime from her grandfather who was severely wounded and shell-shocked at The Battle of the Somme in 1916, and it was as she understood the extent of his suffering that, even in childhood, Jacqueline became deeply interested in the “war to end all wars” and its aftereffects.

My Thoughts:

I have been collecting the books in this series prior to reading this first book for some time from thrift shops. I love the covers and I liked the premise of the story so I was hoping that I was investing in a good series. Now that I finally read the first book, and I now know I am happy I have been collecting them.

The first book provides readers with Maisie’s backstory. Some critics say that it spent too much time on her backstory but I found it both interesting and helpful for me to understand her character. It helps to develop the reader’s investment in the character. It also provided us with a mystery to keep things interesting.

The story is told alternating back and forth in time and I kept coming back to see what next was in store for her.  I liked that Maisie was such a strong and independent character throughout the book and it was great to watch her confidence grow as the story develops.

Being an avid reader, I have come to the realization that not everyone’s first book might wow you but quite often if you stick with an author, you get to witness them grow and you connect more with their stories. I feel this way with this book. I enjoyed the story and I switched back and forth between reading the printed edition and listening to the audiobook. Which also provides a different experience. I love series because I always feel like with each book you are visiting a old friend. The beauty of starting this series so late is that I believe there are already 13 books in the series so I have plenty more to explore. I look forward to tagging along with Maisie in her next case.

For these reasons, I give this book 3  1/2 butterflies!
Happy reading!

Belinda

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: