Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

4 out of 5 stars for Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Dread Nation

I wasn’t prepared to like this book as much as I did but the story concept and cover art definitely hooked me in the bookstore. I decided to give it a try. I am a big fan of Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies so I had high hopes for the Civil War undead and I was not disappointed, although the story had a few issues (as all zombie stories seem to have). The book is set in an alternate reality in which zombies rise up from the ground at Gettysburg and the United States is changed forever. Our protagonist, Jane McKeene, is finishing her schooling in combat and manners Miss Preston’s School of Combat.

Per the book description:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.
In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education 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.

I like to have a character to root for in my stories and Dread Nation gave me several, including Jane and her rival-turned-friend Katherine. In addition, the author makes some timely social and political points within a story set during the Civil War. She hits on racism, both systematic and overt, as well as laws that on the surface are for the good of society as a whole but really bad for the disenfranchised.

My issue, as mentioned above, is as always why clumsy, slow-moving brainless dead can only be killed by certain characters, while everyone else is helpless zombie/story fodder.  It’s nitpicky but I’m gonna keep picking at it. The author does try to address this later in the story, hinting at a deeper plot but it was an unsatisfying explanation. It didn’t keep me from devouring this book though.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loved Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies. Dread Nation was fresh enough to keep me engaged. With violence and mild sexual references, I feel this book is suitable for teens and older.

I apologize for the long delay between blog posts. As always, I’ll try to do better. Thanks for sticking with me.

Kind regards,

Anne

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

3 1/2 out of 5 stars for Uprooted by Naomi Novik

20180908_092334 (1)

As everyone knows, I loves me a reimagined fairy tale, and that’s just what Naomi Novik has given us with Uprooted. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I loved this particular fairy tale but there was enough to like about it that I have gone on to buy her second book set in her magical world, Spinning Silver. The protagonist of Uprooted is a village girl named Agnieszka, who grows up on the outskirts of a deadly magical wood and the tower of the realm’s protector, a wizard everyone calls “The Dragon.”

Per the book description:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I didn’t love this book, mainly because it would bog down in repetitive descriptions of Agnieszka’s torn and messy clothes and her country bumpkin upbringing. She didn’t really solidify as a coherent character for me until well past the half-way mark of the narrative. What saved this book for me? Well, the story kept giving me surprises just when it was feeling a bit predictable. The author then managed to pull out a hat trick for a very satisfying ending. I don’t want to spoil it for you.

As Uprooted was the first book set in this world, I think the author struggled a bit in the beginning with character development but I have high hopes that the next book. I would recommend Uprooted for a late teen to older reader as it does contain a few sexual situations.

It is back-to-school week here in my hometown and that means more time for my personal pursuits. Happy pumpkin spice to you all!

Kind regards,

Anne

Art Mosaics · Uncategorized

Summer 2018 Wrap-up

39878849_10156615648969181_4849174109050896384_o (1)My Glass-on-Glass Mosaic Project August 2018

I packed so much into this summer, the only thing I didn’t get to is this blog. I’m sorry about that. I had intended to be a much more frequent blogger than I turned out to be.
I packed in camping trips, family visits, cider pressing, final edits on our latest Renna Olsen manuscript, home improvements, and finished up with a four day glass-on-glass mosaic camping retreat with Kory Dollar of Marvelous Mosaics Fine Art. Now, it’s the final weekend before school starts, and I think we’re ready.

This coming week, I’m back on my head. I’ll be posting a review of the fantasy novel, Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. I’ll also be getting back to work on my current writing project. You can check out my writing wrap-up on our blog: http://litzophreniacs3.net

As for crafting, this week I’m working on tea cup pin cushions. My mom and I have booked our first craft bazaar for later this year and we’ll be working feverishly to get all our projects done before November.

Thanks for your patience. I promise to do better.

Kind regards,

Anne

 

 

 

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

4 out of 5 starsA Darker

Contrary to what my lack of posting implies, I’ve actually been reading books and watching movies these last few weeks. What I haven’t been doing is sitting my butt down at the computer and getting my reviews written down.  I promise to do better. And so this week, I present to you the fantasy novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab. This book is the first in her Shades of Magic series, and it introduces us to a world in which four alternate Londons exist in separate magical realities. Travelling between these realities is a skill only possessed by people born with special magical abilities, and Kell is one such person. Kell is a messenger and ambassador for Red London and he moves between three of the four Londons.

Per the book description:

Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes―Red London―and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

I really enjoyed this book and I definitely have the next book in the series on my to-read list. I think Schwab does a decent job of world building but, as the story revolves more around the magic systems in each London, as opposed to the locales, I didn’t feel fully invested in the Londons. She does, however, present the reader with a fully fleshed and well-thought out magic system, that varies with each one of the Londons and with the people wielding them. It looks as if the next book in the series will delve more deeply into the actual worlds outside of the Londons and will focus on the character of Delilah Bard.

I’m looking forward to the next installment. This week, I’m reading Mr. Flood’s Last Resort by Jess Kidd. I hope you all are having a good summer. It’s been busy around here, what with a family camping trip and a new puppy, but I hope to be more active online in the coming weeks.

Kind regards,

Anne

Book Review · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Forbidden City by Deborah A. Wolf

The Forbidden City

5 out of 5 Stars!

I just finished The Forbidden City by Deborah A. Wolf, the second book in her Dragon’s Legacy series. This book marks a glorious return to world she introduced us to in The Dragon’s Legacy. The prose is as elegant and artful as the story is raw and bloody. Wolf shows no mercy to her cast of characters, killing them off with abandon (although, spoiler alert, in a land full of dark magic, not all the dead stay that way.) This book will leave you ready for more.

From the book jacket description:

Sulema Ja’Akari is an elite warrior, one of the desert people known as the Zeeranim. She is also the daughter of the Dragon King of Atualon, whose magic is the only thing that prevents the earth dragon from waking. Should the dragon end her sleep, their world will be destroyed.

The Dragon King is dying. As heir to his throne Sulema must be trained to take his place, yet the more she learns, the less she trusts the sinister agendas that surround her. Knowing that her life hangs in the balance, Sulema seeks to return to the Zeera.

Salvation may lie with her mother, Hafsa Azeina, who walks the dark and deadly pathways of the Dreaming Lands. To save her daughter, the dreamshifter will be forced to strike a pact with her greatest enemy, a huntress who would rather kill her than assist her.

Upheaval stretches far beyond Atualon–to the forbidden city of Khanbul where the emperor rules with an iron hand. An elite cadre of rebel conspirators chafes beneath his rule and plots to overthrow him.

Among them is Jian de Allyr, the half-dae prince born of a human mother and a twilight lord. If they are to challenge the emperor in his stronghold, however, Jian and his co-conspirators must secretly raise an army…

If I have one complaint, it would be that I wished I had discovered this series after it had been completely written. The plot is complex and includes multiple story arcs. I had forgotten a lot of the details from the first book, which made for some moments of confusion on my part. Wolf helpfully includes a map, and appendixes to help you along. Not to mention, just as she did in the last book, she leaves you with many unanswered questions.

I can’t wait for the next book, scheduled for release in May of 2019.  This was a great read, and I highly recommend it.

Kind regards,

Anne

movie review · Uncategorized

A Puppy ate my homework.

Schnitzel
Where have I been you ask? Well, we acquired a little lad last weekend. Not having had a puppy in the house for 17 years meant we’d forgotten how demanding the little stinkers can be, and Schnitzel the Schnoodle is no different. Between his needs, family birthdays, the end of the school year, and various house maintenance, I didn’t get much done in the way of reading and writing.

As for movies, we hosted a family movie night this weekend to watch the 1996 classic, Mars Attacks!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116996/

I’d forgotten how many big name movies stars of the 1990s were in it. Annette Benning, Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Glenn Close, Michael J. Fox, Natalie Portman, even a very young Jack Black, to name a few.

The movie still got laughs from us and our boys were delighted with the campy CGI used in the film. Don’t get me started on the hammy overacting by some of these titans of the silver screen, either. It’s still comedy gold, even though a bit dated. Only cringeworthy moment, having our oldest child ask about Martin Short’s character talking to the “sexy ladies” standing on the side of the road in one scene. Ummm, a wee bit awkward, that…

As for this week, I’m almost finished with The Forbidden City by Deborah Wolf and I’ll post a review as soon as I’m done. I promise! We will also be trying to get out of the house to see Solo: A Star Wars Story. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Be cool, summer is coming!

Kind regards,

Anne

 

 

 

movie review · Uncategorized

Movie Review: Life of the Party

The weekend before Memorial Day, I went to see two movies, Life of the Party, starring Melissa McCarthy, and Deadpool 2. Needless to say, only one of these movies lived up to the hype and it wasn’t Life of the Party.

From the movie description on IMDb:

“When her husband suddenly dumps her, longtime dedicated housewife Deanna (McCarthy) turns regret into re-set by going back to college – landing in the same class and school as her daughter, who’s not entirely sold on the idea. Plunging headlong into the campus experience, the increasingly outspoken Deanna – now Dee Rock – embraces freedom, fun and frat boys on her own terms, finding her true self in a senior year no one ever expected.” 

I can only describe this movie as cringeworthy, chock full of vagina jokes and mining a one-sided sexual relationship with a callow frat boy for bawdy humor that just continually fell flat. It also had what felt like a few glaring plot holes.

Got some spoilers ahead, if you haven’t seen it yet.

The premise of this film rests on Deanna and her divorce from her husband, who leaves her for a real estate agent. The plot hole comes into play when Deanna apparently gets nothing in the divorce even though they’ve been married for twenty years and her husband is the one cheating. She decides to go back to college but doesn’t have the money to pay for tuition as her ex-husband cuts her off. Cue the “Keep Dee Rock in College Fundraising Party” plot device that culminates in a not-so-surprise cameo from Christina Aguilera.

I have to say that the movie did have some shining comedic moments, such as Deanna killing it at an 80s-themed college party but those moments were few and far between. I wish McCarthy had kept the storyline more sweet and redemptive instead of going for the low-brow humor that she did. Couldn’t Deanna have wound up with her old classmate, now her Archeology professor at the end instead? It was an opportunity lost.

I give this movie 2 out of 3 stars. Go see Deadpool 2 instead. Just sayin’.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Kind regards,

Anne