Thursday, April 26, 2018

Buddy Read Update No. 1! Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation
(Dread Nation, Book 1)
Justina Ireland
Hardcover, 464 pages
Bilzer + Bray
April 3, 2018
African-American Fiction, Alternative History, American History, Diverse Reads, Fantasy, 
Feminist Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Horror, Humor, Paranormal Fiction, Satire,
Social Justice, Southern Gothic,
Young Adult Fiction

Chapters 1 to 10.

Be sure to visit Barb's blog to read her half of our "chat"! You can access her post HERE!

This post, as well as that of my fellow 
buddy reader, may contain spoilers!
Read at your own risk!

So here I am, actually reading a HORROR novel! Well, actually, I would call this "horror lite", as the darned zombies are not really the "stars" of this novel. So it's surprisingly tolerable for a non-horror lover like me! Lol.

As I stated in last week's buddy read announcement post, I have embarked upon this brave journey right along with Barb, who is Mom to two lovely Boxer pups, and blogs @ Booker T's Farm -- Books and Nails and Puppy Dog Tales.

Barb and I have a running joke about how I'm such a BIG CHICKEN when it comes to reading horror novels. I really can't stand them! However, this one caught my eye when she featured it in one of her "Can't Wait Wednesday" posts, so I left a favorable comment about it. Then Barb suggested we do a buddy read, and I went for it! And here we are!

Here's our latest "chat" about our progress!

Barb: What do you think about the parts of the letters to her mother at the beginning of each chapter? They kind of bother me, but I am getting used to them more and more.

Maria: I think they're an interesting addition to each chapter. And they make me laugh, too, because what Jane tells her mother is happening at school is the exact OPPOSITE of what's REALLY going on. Lol. These letters highlight Jane's snarky humor. Like when she wrote that she was VERY happy at Miss Preston's, and was learning SO much.... I can picture her tongue firmly in her cheek as she wrote these things! 

Barb: What happened to the family down the road? I have no clue and I feel so sorry that Red doesn't know what happened to his sister.

Maria: Yeah, I know.... Red is not exactly a nice character, where Jane is concerned, but the fact that he's so worried about his sister's whereabouts makes me like him more than I would otherwise. It seems that the mystery of that family is the central theme of this novel. And it's precisely the one that Jane is so determined to solve. This is one of the things that has really intrigued me about this novel, and thus, has kept me glued to the pages!

Barb: I NEED to know more about the Native American that keeps showing up!

Maria: Yeah, that's ANOTHER mystery! I don't like him, by the way. I don't like that HE doesn't like Jane. I wonder why that is.... And I wonder what his connection to this whole business is. WHY would he be involved in whatever is going on? What's in it for him? The inquiring minds of Barb and Maria (and their readers) want to know!!

Barb: I love the dynamic between Jane and Kate (Katherine). I love that they aren't friends but are. I mean, they will be the last to admit it, right?

Maria: This is yet another aspect of this novel that I love! And it's even funny, too. I think Kate really likes and even admires Jane, but, of course, she won't admit it. As for Jane, she thinks Kate is silly for actually WANTING to become an Attendant. She also thinks Kate is much too interested in fashion, when there are more important things to worry about -- such as zombies. And yet, Jane is very nice to Kate. But no, she won't admit to being Kate's friend, either. 

Justina Ireland has actually created a nice twist on "the mean girl at school" stereotype so often found in YA novels. So yes, I love this strange "friendship", too!

Barb: I felt so badly for the people in the theater, and that poor guy who had to stick his hand in the cage. I'm so glad the doctor got what he deserved.

Maria: This was a pretty horrible scene, and I'm even AMAZED it didn't send me running off screaming..... Instead, I kept right on reading the book! Can you believe it? I think what saved me from possibly having a nightmare because of this scene was that my mind automatically blocked the images evoked by the author's descriptions. And I kind of just flew right over the words. I concentrated more on Jane's courage during the whole thing, both when she raised an objection to the doctor's "experiment", and afterward, when all HELL broke loose!

This specific scene was a brilliant description of human obtuseness, as well as the deliberate denial of what one doesn't want to accept. The doctor, being a racist, was firmly convinced that his theory would work. He refused to admit that it might not, either, even when an unexpected person pointed out the common sense result that would inevitably ensue. Yes, he got what he deserved, but it was a tragic thing, nonetheless. I feel even more sorry for the poor "guinea pig"..... He sure did NOT deserve such a fate! I wonder why he didn't turn tail and run out of there! As for the people in the theater, they were innocent bystanders, so to speak, but SOMEBODY in that audience should have noticed and mentioned the HUGE risk involved in the doctor's "experiment"!

This scene even reminds me of the famous Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Emperor's New Clothes". People are just scared to "rock the boat" by stating the obvious. Unfortunately, in this case, it resulted in a tragedy that could easily have been avoided. I consider this scene to be great satirical writing by Justina Ireland!

Barb has just informed me that this book will have a sequel, so I've already "signed up" for the buddy read! I'm just crossing my fingers, though, that "Dread Nation" will continue to be the smart, well-handled satire, racist critique, and feminist-conscious powerhouse that it's been so far, and that the blood and gore will continue to be sort of in the background....

So stay tuned for another update next week, folks! By the way, Barb has also told me that her pups are expert zombie hunters, so I'll use their help if I need to!  :) 

What do you all think?
Have we piqued your curiosity
about this book?
Be sure to let us know!
Don't forget to visit Barb's blog
to get her side of the "chat"!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mini-Review/Giveaway!! When A Vamp Falls, by A.M. Griffin

Welcome to the tour for  
When A Vamp Falls,
sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

For my stop, I'm featuring 
a mini-review!
Be sure to enter the tour-wide
giveaway, too!!

When a Vamp Falls
(War of Blood and Bonds, Book 1)
A.M. Griffin
Kindle Edition, 250 pages
Evernight Publishing
March 13, 2018
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Danya Evans’s normal everyday life is turned upside down when one good deed lands her on the opposite end of fangs. The fangs happen to be attached to the sexiest man she’s ever seen.
She knows that she should stay away from the vampire who almost kills her, but everything about Ramsey calls out to her heart and soul.

Ramsey Moreau, a Vampire who has walked Earth for thousands of years, has two regrets. The first is underestimating the two new vampires who’ve found their way into New Orleans and the second is stealing blood from the trusting human he can't get off his mind. His world is mundane to say the least, but when Danya is around he finds a reason to live and love again.

He'll stop at nothing to keep her safe from harm—even go to war to protect the one he loves.

This mini-review is of the excerpt below, and not of the entire book. I do this type of thing on blog tours when the book being promoted REALLY interests me, and this one certainly does!!

This book sure sounds like LOTS of fun!! There are sparks aplenty between the two characters, that's for sure! This scene could even be part of a romantic comedy! While the topic of their conversation is a serious one, the way the author has handled it makes it sound more like a comedy of errors. And I think these two make a GREAT couple; Ramsey is obviously a HUNK with a wicked sense of humor, while Danya is not only beautiful, but a total spitfire. Oh, I can't wait to read this!! Bring on the sparks!!

           The door opened.
Ramsey stared in awe at the beautiful woman in the doorway. Danya’s dark hair hung past her shoulders. Her bangs were severely cut above her eyebrows. Generous lashes framed vibrant green eyes. He’d thought that he’d imagined how pretty she was. But no, she was even prettier.
While he looked at her, drinking the sight of her in, she however, startled, screamed, then tried to slam the door in his face. A well-placed foot stopped her before she could.
“You. You.” She grunted as she pressed her body against the other side of the door.
When that didn’t work she kicked at his foot, trying to dislodge it. “No. No. No. You aren’t real.”
He glanced down at his body. “I’m very much real, sweetheart.”
Her eyes fluttered closed. “This is all a figment of my imagination. I am delusional. This is a symptom of anemia. One. Two. Three.” She took a deep breath, then opened her eyes again.
He gave her a wicked smile. “Still here.”
Danya screamed.
Ramsey cupped his hand over her mouth and wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her body close to his. She smelled of vanilla and brown sugar. He leaned in to take another languid whiff. Delectable.
She opened her eyes wide, and panic was behind them. He didn’t allow himself time to enjoy how her soft body was against his. He had to get her back inside before she had everyone on her floor spilling into the hallway to see what all the commotion was about.
Ramsey walked her back into her room and used his foot to kick the door closed behind them. He stopped only when her back was pressed against the wall. She shook with terror.
First attack her. Then scare her to death. Perfect.
A sharp pain hit his palm. He pulled away from her mouth to see the red bite mark. “You bit me.” Her bite didn’t do any damage, and the pain was gone already. His body worked quickly to make the repair. It was confusion that made him pull away. He hadn’t expected that.
Another pain, worse, like lightning, hit his groin. He doubled over and backed away.
Being kneed in the balls felt the same whether he were human or vampire. It hurt like hell. “Why did you do that?” he asked in disbelief.
The scared woman that she’d been just moments before was gone, replaced by spit and hellfire. She balled her fists and took a step forward to kick him in his chin. He’d let her beauty distract him but recovered quickly and caught her bare foot mid-air and pushed it, slamming her back against the wall. Before she could react, he was against her body again and in her face.
“Why. Are. You. Trying. To. Hurt. Me?” His nose was less than an inch from hers.
Her stare turned icy. “Because. You’re. Trying. To. Hurt. Me.” She punched his sides then winced. “Ouch. What the hell are you made of? Steel?”
“Dammit. Stop that.” He pinned her hands above her head.
She wiggled in vain, doing nothing but making his body react to hers. He lifted her arms higher, raising her to her tiptoes. She tried to knee him again, but he blocked her by maneuvering his hip and sliding his leg between hers.
He tried to ignore her warm heat spreading over his thigh. “I’m not here to hurt you.”
She stopped struggling long enough to glare at him. “Really? What do you call this or what you did last night?”
He let out a curse. “If I let you go do you promise not to attack me again?”
He didn’t believe her. “I only came to make sure that you had recovered from last night. I didn’t mean to take as much blood as I did.”
“Everyone thinks that I’m crazy because of you.”
“And for that I apologize.” She relaxed a little. “So can I let you go now?” He really wanted to keep her where she was, pinned against him, and take her. And if he didn’t create space between them that’s exactly what he would’ve done.
She gave a short nod.
He let go of her hands and stepped away and kept going until he was against the wall, giving them both space.
“You bit me,” she said again. “Why? I was just trying to help you.”
“And you did, by giving me your blood.”
She held up a finger. “Let’s make things clear. I didn’t give you anything. You took it.”
Yeah, that sounded about right. Hearing her say it made him feel even worse. “If I had asked?”
“The answer would’ve been no.”
“It was a life or death situation. Without you I wouldn’t be standing here now.”
She snorted. “And that’s a good thing?”
“That I’m alive? I should think so.”
“Alive and coming back to finish what you started?”
He raised a questioning eyebrow.
She pointed to her neck. “To kill me.”
“I hardly have intentions to kill you.”
She crossed her arms and leaned against the wall. She looked causal, even relaxed, but
her muscles were tight. She was getting ready for a fight.
“Thank you for saving me.”
“I could’ve died. You left me with a hemoglobin of 4.4!” Then she pulled her eyebrows together in thought. “What is it supposed to be normally?” she mumbled.
“Humans should have a hemoglobin of—”
“I’m not asking you, mister,” she snapped.
“Ramsey Moreau.”
“That’s my name.” She clenched her jaws. He let out a light chuckle. “Nice to meet you,
Danya Evans.”
She took a step to the side, sliding further away from him. “How do you know my name?”
He winked, giving her a devious smile. “I heard your conversations with the officers last night.”
“Creep much?”
“And I suppose that you couldn’t have found it in your heart to corroborate my story to save me from the humiliation of being labeled crazy?”
“Ah, no.” She cursed under her breath and kicked at the carpet. “But if you would let me,
I’d like to make it up to you.”
She turned her head. “And how could you do that? You can’t give me my blood back.
The transfusions took care of that.”
“I want to take you out to eat.” That hadn’t been his plan, but suddenly he didn’t want to leave her. Yet.

Purchase Links

A. M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She's a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

For the complete tour schedule, just click on the button below!

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Book Lover's Den No. 24: Books That Give Me Mixed Feelings, Part 2

Welcome to my renewed literary musing feature! I have decided 
to post it on Mondays now!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

This Week's Topic
Books that give me mixed feelings,

Having explored my thoughts and feelings on this topic last week, I've decided that this week, I will feature some of those books that gave me mixed feelings, as well as explain the reason(s) for these feelings. Should anyone be interested in more details, I will also include links to my review of each book. All of them are YA novels. I might do a third post, dealing only with adult novels.

So here they are, in alphabetical order, by author. Click on each cover for the Goodreads page.

This book does have a VERY beautiful, romantic cover. For the most part, the plot was very appealing. However, I did not love it as much as I could have. What bothered the most was that Bethany, the angel, was not depicted as being as powerful as an angel would be expected to be. Furthermore, throughout the novel, she acts more like a human teen. Here's a quote from my review: "Her angelic powers are rarely in evidence, except for the scene in which she reveals her true nature to Xavier, her body glowing as she flies off the edge of a cliff.  The rest of the time, however, the reader would think this was a typical, non-paranormal YA romance." Mostly, I did like this novel, as there were other elements I did enjoy. However, I was expecting Bethany to be a kick-butt angel, and she most definitely was not! Neither was Ivy, a more mature female angel who was also part of the plot. For the full review, click HERE.
As an obsessed Twilight fan, I looked around frantically for similar books after I had read The Twilight Saga twice (there was a third reading later on, lol). I thought I had found what I was looking for in this series, but nope! Yes, the plot was very imaginative, even exciting. But..... What REALLY bothered me about this book was the marked anti-Christian bias, as well as that one instance of oral sex was mentioned, early in the book. Excuse me, but oral sex, in a YA NOVEL? UGH. Although there were no graphic details, the mere mention was totally inappropriate for YA, and really didn't contribute much to the story. 

To make matters even worse, there were quite a few "F bombs" sprinkled throughout the book, which is unusual for the YA genre.

Another problem was that some of the characters were stereotypes, such as The Mean Girl and her Gang. As for an example of the anti-Christian bias, here's a quote from my review: "What is most offensive, however, is the characterization of all Christian men as “pedophiles”.  Here’s the actual quote, from page 27 of the book, so anyone who doubts me can look it up for themselves: 

'…by another equally hysterical call that would activate the dreaded People of Faith prayer tree.  Within thirty minutes our house would begin to fill up with fat women and their beady-eyed pedophile husbands.'  (emphasis added)" 

By the way, the name "People of Faith" refers to Christians. I guess the authors figured that, by NOT using the word "Christians", no one would feel they (the authors) were unfairly stereotyping and judging ALL followers of Jesus. Well, that sure didn't work, because, if I picked this up, it stands to reason that other readers would, too. For the full review of this book, please click HERE.

One of my biggest complaints with this one is that the characters didn't seem as vivid as they were in the first installment. Also, the pacing was much slower. Cavallaro took a bit too long to set up the story, and the mystery was not as page-turning as the one in the first novel. 

Although I did enjoy finding out more about Charlotte Holmes's family, one thing that REALLY bothered me in this book was that Watson began to try doing detective work himself. Here's a quote from my review regarding this: "I also disliked that Watson kind of began to eclipse Holmes in this book, as he attempted to do some brilliant sleuthing of his own. That struck me as a bit of a sexist, male chauvinist type of attempt on his part to somehow be 'worthy' of someone as brilliant as Charlotte Holmes." Click HERE for the complete review.

This novel had been SO 'hyped up' by the time I got to it, I was SURE I was going to LOVE it! Not so! Although there were some similarities to The Twilight Saga, I did like the two MCs. The novel's pervasive darkness finally got to me, though. I just had this overall feeling of OPPRESSION as I read this book. I didn't like most of the other characters, although I did like the storyline itself, as well as the love between the two MCs. 

I also disliked that some of the characters were stereotypes. 

Basically, though, this story and its setting were just much TOO creepy for me. This book comes very close to belonging in the horror genre. Not for me at all! If you're interested, you can find the full review HERE.

This book was very interesting -- at first. It had to do with the Salem witch trials, although there was a modern storyline, as well. Ultimately, however, the book fell flat. There were the usual Mean Girls involved, and the romance was not all that exciting. 

I also had some issues with Abby, the female MC. Here's a relevant quote from my review: "Yet, once she discovers she's a witch, she decides to use magic to win her old crush's adoration, because she wants to exact revenge on the mean girl who has been making her life miserable, and happens to be Travis's girlfriend. This is not the type of thing a protagonist should do, if an author wants her readers to identify with this character." Check out the full review HERE.

Although I did like the main characters in this novel, they were a bit too much like the MCs in The Twilight Saga. And Ever, the female protagonist, has issues with self-esteem, just like Bella does in the Twilight books. 

One thing I did like about this book was the male MC's interactions with historical art figures, such as Van Gogh and Picasso. That was really fascinating! 

The villain in the book was defeated much too easily, in my opinion. However, I did enjoy the writing and the plot.

Here's a relevant quote: "I thought it was very well-written, the plot did keep me in suspense (I managed to avoid the temptation to read ahead), and the characters were very engaging, although somewhat flat -- especially the villain.  The romance was pretty good, too, although I think it could have been even better." For the full review, click HERE.

So here they are -- six books that gave me VERY mixed feelings. Thus, I could not wholeheartedly love them. With some, the writing style was what first hooked me. There were other elements, though, that spoiled my reading experience. I am not at all tempted to go back and re-read these books, except for one -- The Last of August. I'd like to give this one "a second chance". Maybe I missed something the first time..... Lol.

By the way, have any of you read any of these books? I'd love to know what you thought of them!

What are your thoughts on
 this topic?
Please leave me a comment
and let me know!

Sunday, April 22, 2018



This giveaway was 
It started at midnight, 3/17/18, 
and ended at
midnight on 4/18/18!!!

And the winner is.....
Megan @ Book Birds!!!
She has already claimed her prize!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to everyone who participated!! Please stay tuned, as I have giveaways going on ALL THE TIME, whether my own, through blog tour companies, or as a member of a giveaway blog hop!!

Be sure to check out my current
blog tour giveaway!!