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






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.

Ebook Bargains: Scifi and Fantasy Edition

ebookscififantasy1Let’s face it, I have plenty of books in print that I own and have not read yet. But the booklover I am, I can’t pass up good eBook bargains. I bought these three within the last two weeks at deep discount. Although some of them may have gone back up in price, most aren’t too much higher than what I originally paid for them. They don’t take up physical space in my home so it’s quite easy to collect a heap of books. These three are the latest in the scifi/fantasy category.

The most recent is called “A Mortal Song” by Megan Crewe. Is a stand-alone fantasy that some have described it as “Japanese folklore meets Percy Jackson/Harry Potter-ish” story.  I was first drawn in by the cover art and then the description and then the price of 99 cents sealed the deal. The author has won some awards and has written quite a few books so that also was a selling point.

The second one is called Curse” by Dale Furse, an Australian Female Science Fiction author. This book is the first in a trilogy. The cover is more stunning in person, the three books all cost $2.99 each and I can loan them to others on Amazon Kindle accounts. The book is a bit of Scifi/Fantasy and maybe coming of age story. The main character finds out that she is a mix of two warring alien species. I think it will be fun to give this one a go.

The final one is called “Fool’s War” by Sarah Zettel. I bought this one for 99 cents a few weeks ago. This blurb kind of sold me on this one:

“Displaying “the influence of Asimov’s robot stories and C. J. Cherryh’s elaborate, sophisticated spaceship adventures,” this is a science fiction masterpiece that asks the thought-provoking question, “What if the next great life-form with which we must contend isn’t from the stars but from our hard drives?””

So those are three. I will try to pull together my finds by genre to make it fun and easy to share with you all. Perhaps it will get me to read them sooner when I pull them out and take a look. In my mind, they can always be read on the go (trips, appointments, in-between print books) so I don’t mind collecting them at such deep discount.

Happy reading my bookworm people!


Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Copyright: April 28, 2015
Genre:  fantasy, fiction
Format: book  Pages: 464

I remember last year when the hype from this book was so over the top. It had a big display at our local Barnes and Noble and some sort of survey thing going on and I kind of got turned off. So although I was curious, I didn’t buy into they hype.  Since then, I have heard only great things about this book and recently it was selected as a book club read. So I started looking for it on Overdrive because forking over $19 wasn’t in my plans.

Much to my surprise, while on a girl’s weekend a few weeks ago, I stopped into a used bookstore and scored a hardcover, new copy of the book for a dollar!! Yes, the book goddess was blessing me for sure. I couldn’t believe it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Thoughts:

Wow. I loved it. I was drawn in from the start. Which has been hard lately so it was a pleasant surprise. Let me start by saying I love ancient feeling movies set in exotic places where the cast have elaborate costumes with Roman Legions like the movie Rome or fantasy films like Thor.  So this book was filled with rich detailed settings that captured my attention to the vary last page. I could see this book easily turned into a film and one of my bookclub friends told me the rights have already been bought so it won’t be long.

I think this debut author did a fantastic job of character development. I liked how strong Laia, the main character was throughout the story.  Of course there was a love triangle but it didn’t overpower the story with sappiness. It was woven in nicely.  I think I’m definitely a team Elias.

I am really happy that I didn’t read this book when it was first released in April of 2015 because I would have a long wait for book #2 (A Torch Against the Night) which is slated to be released in August of 2016 so I don’t have too long to wait.

I enjoyed this book so much I even recommended it to Leao to read after I finished it. Highly recommend it but must warn you there is some violence in the book. You can get it from Amazon in paperback now for less than $7!

I gave this book 5 butterflies!

Happy reading!



Belinda’s Book Nook Book Review: Walk on Earth a Stranger


Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Author: Rae Carson
Copyright: September 22, 2015
Genre:  historical fiction, fantasy
Format: book  Pages: 432

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

My Thoughts:

I just finished this book and wow, what a pleasant surprise. This is my first book written by Rae Carson that I have read. I remember hearing about this book all over booktube and thought the concept of a person that could sense gold in the ground was really cool. So I took a chance and pre-ordered it this summer. When it arrived, there was definitely insta- cover love! Very pretty cover and I dived right in.

The characters:

I really liked the main character Leah. She was both strong but still retained her youthful innocence when it came to her love interest.She of course couldn’t read her friend Jefferson so it allowed for a slow burn romance.

I also like how it touched even if lightly on the treatment of the Native Americans and Slavery in the story. Their encounters with the Native Americans were not stereotypical from the part of the Natives. However the ignorance of the whites was represented a bit with regards to the Native Americans and I think this was important for her to include that rather than ignore the prejudices that were prevalent during this time period (1849). Her inclusion of a free-black man was also a pleasant surprise and I liked that he played a big part in the story too.

The setting:

The book initially takes place in Leah’s hometown and then moves on the road towards the west and I truly enjoyed how the book took you on this journey with her. I know little about the American Gold rush and so historical fictions are my fancy for peaking my interest in different aspects in history. I felt like the author did a great job with the details of the atmosphere.

The story:

I was not disappointed in this book. I think it quickly built a foundation of characters and drew me right in. I felt the pacing was also great. I especially love reading author’s notes at the end of their books. Carson Rae expanded on some of the thought behind her characters and her reasons why to include them. Her decisions reminded me of Sue Monk Kidd’s author notes in that she chose to include a free-black man and they in fact were real people.

The rights of women which were pretty much non-existent set up the stage for Leah’s struggle and eventual decision to dress and pretend to be a boy in order to make her journey. I found it both sad and fascinating to witness her journey as a girl pretending to be a boy and all of the rights the boys received.

Overall, wow, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to book 2.  So I will be giving this book 4.5 butterflies.

4.5ratingHappy reading friends!



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