Dread Nation

dread nation cover

 

The American Civil War comes to an abrupt halt at the Battle of Gettysburg when the dead begin to rise and attack the soldiers on both sides. Too busy dealing with the new threat to worry about each other or their differences, the issue of slavery is resolved. Or is it? Because former slaves are forced to be the front line in the new war on the dead, and Negro children are rounded up and sent to combat schools to learn the necessary skills. If they are lucky, like Jane McKeene, they are sent to a good school like Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore. There are far worse schools. But when Jane notices that several prominent citizens seem to have gone missing, she opens a can of worms that lands her and her friends in the soup. She is in far greater danger than she ever imagined and must find a way out of certain doom. But she can handle it. She’s a Miss Preston’s girl.

This alternative history has it all. Amazing, strong characters, evil villains, action, adventure and humor. And…zombies. Did I mention zombies?

4.5 stars.

DoloresS

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Stealing Snow (Book Review)

Stars- 4/5

Summary — First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.
Mine broke Bale.

Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric — but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent … when Bale, her only love, turns violent.
Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away — dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking — if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.

Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all. (Goodreads)

Thoughts —  Honestly, this was one of the best takes on a classic fairy tail that I have ever read. The only other fairy tail retelling I’ve read and enjoyed is the Lunar Chronicles. I haven’t enjoyed any of the others I’ve read.
My favorite character would have to be Jagger, because he just had that personality that I’m always drawn to. He was like Jace, or Thomas Cresswell, or Carswell Thorne, sorry, Captain Carswell Thorne. (Lunar Chronicles thing, read it, it’s freaking amazing!)
Snow was really awesome, when you think of ice powers I don’t know what you think of, but I think of Elsa. Snow was nothing like Elsa. I loved her character. She was strong, sarcastic, and pretty brave and loyal.
The only part are really didn’t like about it was how Snow had three love interests. I understand having two, the competition is nice, but with three it gets annoying. Especially when the first known love interest is okay at first and then it’s kind of like, okay, it’s time to stop. Like, okay Snow, you have two other amazing guys that are like totally in love with you, forget Bale and just stop. I mean I didn’t hate Bale, but I didn’t love him. He had an important role in the plot, but what he does to Snow just annoys me.

Age — 13

Another Day, Another Dungeon (Book Review)

DayDungeon

Another Day, Another Dungeon is a hilarious book by Greg Costikyan that describes a treasure hunt in the legendary Caves of Cytorax. Timaeus De’Asperge, a fire mage, and his companions fight Rog, a huge beast, and get its “nice comfy pile of gold”. They proceed to find a life-sized statue of a man in the altar of an evil temple. It is made of solid athenor, the most valuable metal in the world due to its ability to store mana. They bribe the guard to get in, but nothing of that value can be kept secret and soon their home is a battlefield, their friend kidnapped, and the statue gone — but only they know that. They find out that the statue depicts the last human king, Stantius III, and that the scepter of Stantius is glowing — the sign that a new king has arrived.

Suddenly, they are on a quest to not only find the statue, but to bring it to Arst-Kara-Morn, where the people will do anything to destroy them. They must somehow reverse a spell at Arst-Kara-Morn that has entrapped the soul of Stantius III inside the statue, preventing any more human kings from coming. This series is a great one to read and one I would highly recommend.

An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

Marthe leveled a cool stare at James Blakely. “The Wicked God’s dead. You were all at least willing to tell us that. If the Twisted Things are still loose on the countryside, don’t you tell me it’s not certain and we should just be afraid when you tell us to. I paid too much for that.” Her hand drifted to her belly; made a fist. “It was too much to have bought nothing.”

Six months ago, the men of the Lakelands marched south to fight a dark god.

Weeks ago, a lowly soldier named John Balsam stabbed it in the heart.

Hallie is just trying to save her farm. Marthe, her sister, is waiting for her husband to come back. They cover their fears with arguments that snap like a taut bow. The family is slowly crumbling, even as Hallie’s friends Nat and Tyler pitch in to help the farm survive.

What nearly breaks their relationship for good is Hallie’s decision to take on a worker – Heron, a scarred young veteran a long way from home. But what results from that decision is much more catastrophic than an ended relationship.

A Twisted Thing – one of the unnatural, acid-and-ashes monsters that burn everything they touch – crashes through Hallie’s window. Cryptic messages are written in the stones on the riverbank. The mayor of their village tries to take the farm.

Heron is hiding something important, the Twisted Things are arriving in greater numbers every day, and Hallie and Marthe must fix their family in time to fight the last battle of their war.

An Inheritance of Ashes is a story of the aftermath of war. There is nothing cheerful about the men who come home missing limbs, with their eyes blasted pale by the Wicked God’s fall. But the mending of the relationship between Hallie and Marthe gives readers hope that something can be salvaged – and many things are. (There’s even a little bit of sweet, slow-building romance.)

The intricate relationships between the cast, and a thoughtful portrayal of their flaws make this book realistic and touching. They come together to fight the Twisted Things despite their peacetime differences, standing up to soldiers who don’t understand how to stop the invasion. Even the main Big Bad is made… if not necessarily good, then understandable.

As the story moves on, it’s clear that the book is set in a post-apocalyptic America where technology is gone, but the people still have the same problems we have. In the prologue, it’s made clear that Hallie and Marthe have an abusive father. He’s dead by the time of the main story, but his influence rings in the sisters’ relationship.

What I loved is that the story is not focused on the invasion, but its results in the families of the village, the injuries of the characters, and the lives of the soldiers who came home.

In all the books I’ve read before An Inheritance of Ashes, the aftermath of the war was a side issue. The hero was in the limelight. Nothing was given to the side characters besides a few passing mentions.

Here, the real heroes are on the home front.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer

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“I’m meeting Thor?”

“I’m afraid so. The gods don’t even  pretend to deal in good and evil, Magnus. It’s not the Aesir way. Might makes right. So tell me… do you really want to charge into battle on their behalf?”

The ship trembled under my feet. Fog rolled across the deck.

“Time for you to go,” Loki said. “Remember what I said. Oh, and have fun getting mouth-to-mouth from a goat.”

“Wait… what?”

Loki wiggled his fingers, his eyes full of malicious glee. Then the ship dissolved into gray nothingness.

The latest series from Rick Riordan, author of both Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles, promises to be every bit as good as (and maybe better than) the other two.

Magnus Chase is living on the streets of Boston when his strange uncle Randolph drags him off to find some rusty sword that can apparently save the world. And apparently his father was a Norse god.

After an encounter with a fire giant that leaves him dead (don’t worry, that isn’t the end), Magnus is brought to Valhalla by his personal Valkyrie, Samirah al-Abbas. When he gets there, he learns his father’s identity, meets up with his old friends Hearth and Blitz and figures out what, exactly, he’s supposed to do with the Sword of Summer.

This story has severed heads, Thor, Valkyrie Vision, Fenris Wolf, sign language, giantesses, death squirrels, multiple afterlives, an invisibility hijab, and World Serpent fishing. Not necessarily in that order.

It also has the craziest family ever – Blitz, a fashion-loving dwarf, Hearth, a deaf elf with rune powers, Sam, who’s a Muslim, shape-shifting Valkyrie (what), and Magnus.

They are a family, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

I loved the plot. I won’t say much – but it’s great. There is a very interesting plot twist at the end that SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER. I would gladly invite the characters over to my house, and I think they have the best backstories of any Riordan character so far.

I give this book a 9. Read it now.

The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

8th day

“But I thought we – Transitioners – were the good guys. You know, we made the Eighth Day spell to capture the bad guys…” Wasn’t that what Mr. Crandall had said?

“‘No,’ Riley said forcefully. ‘I told you. These days, most Transitioners use the extra day for their own selfish purposes. It used to be that honor and chivalry mattered. But the world changed, Jax. It’s all about power and greed.’ Riley crossed his arms over his chest. ‘Not to me, though. I’ve got a job to do, and I plan on doing it the way my father would have. It’s my business to make sure the Emrys girl stays hidden and safe – the business you were supposed to stay out of.”

  • The Eighth Day

When Jax Aubrey woke up to a world without people, he was fairly sure it was the zombie apocalypse. But Riley Pendare, his clueless eighteen-year-old guardian, knew for a fact it wasn’t. It was something very different.

The Eighth Day, colloquially known as Grunsday, created by Merlin. Jax can exist on all eight days, one of which normal people don’t know is possible, because he’s a Transitioner, one of an ancient bloodline with strange genetic powers. Riley can force you to obey him. AJ Crandall, Riley’s best pal, can create tattoos that strengthen your powers. There are sensitives, people who are immune to the powers of others, weather workers, prophets. And Jax can suddenly ask anyone any question and get a truthful answer.

All this power comes with danger. When Jax disobeys Riley and meets the girl he’s only seen on the eighth day,he becomes, through his own meddling, seven days, leaving only the eighth day.

This series has it all. Secret societies? Legends of – descendants of –  Merlin and King Arthur? Magical powers! New races of human beings, gun battles, Transitioner crime syndicates and danger around every corner. This book never really slows down once it takes off, slowly but surely getting up to nonstop action, and lands with a not-so-neat ending that leads into the next book.

And the next book is even better, as Jax finds his family, but they may not be what he expected. He’s made many enemies, and the world is still in trouble, but he doesn’t know where his loyalties lie anymore and if he really wants to fight… Narrated, this time, from alternating points of view as Jax and his cousin Dorian tell you everything, in a slightly different style but with all the same action.

I truly liked this book, and it’s on my very short ‘reread often’ list.. The eighth day is a simple and elegant change in the world that leads to a whole host of problems for Jax and his friends. The series reminds me of 39 Clues and Harry Potter thrown into a blender with something I don’t have a name for yet, coming out fantasy adventure.  Jax is 13, and the books are about the right level for 11-14 year olds. Don’t pay too much attention to the labels, though, as you don’t have to be in this age range to enjoy everything about this series.

Bleach #1 – “Strawberry and the Soul Reapers” by Tite Kubo

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Series Plot:

“Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but his ability didn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display physic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family: but much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia – who is slowly regaining her powers – it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirit themselves find peace.”

Review:

When my mom had to read this book as one requirement for her library job, she didn’t get into it and asked me if I’d like to read it. I said yes, and before I knew it, I was hooked – I wanted to read every book in the Bleach series. I believe this first book is the best in the series because it shows how Ichigo turns into a Soul Reaper and his commitment to his family. Orihime is one of Ichigo’s friends, and the story revolves around a Hollow named Kakei, who is Orihime’s older brother. Ichigo knows he has to destroy Kakei so his soul can get into the Soul Society, yet  Kakei is passionate for Orihime and doesn’t want to leave her. Ichigo has to make a tough choice: whether to perform his duty and cleanse Kakei’s soul, or care for how Orihime is feeling and leave him be.

After I finished this book, I knew I had to read the second one, then the third one, and more! The series have to be read in order, and the books have to be read from right to left, but without the first book I never would’ve liked it. While reading the book, I felt like a Soul Reaper myself; I felt like I was part of the story. It exposed me to some Japanese literature and some traditions. There were a lot of characters introduced, and the plot was confusing at first, but overall I liked this book enough to read it over and over again. “Strawberry and the Soul Reapers” is definitely one of Tite Kubo’s best works, and I recommend it to any teenager wanting to read manga for the first time.

Ashley, 10th Grade