Book Review: The Dawn Chorus

Title: The Dawn Chorus
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, Paranormal, New Adult
Year Published: 2020

The Dawn Chorus is a novella between The Song Rising (the 3rd book in the Bone Season series), and the upcoming 4th book, The Mask Falling. The novella doesn’t give anything away from the main story. It basically delves into Paige’s pain and suffering from the last book. It also gives us a glimpse more into Paige and Warden’s relationship.

It’s been awhile since I read The Song Rising so I really don’t remember exactly what happened. I do remember that Paige escaped to Paris and that she wasn’t doing well. If you are interested in how Paige heals and how she gains the strength to fight back, then give this novella a go, otherwise, it’s totally fine to just wait for The Mask Falling.

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Sci-fi, YA, Dystopian
Year Published: 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is a dystopian sci-fi about a young Coriolanus Snow before he became President Snow. The story takes place many years earlier, before The Hunger Games trilogy, when Coriolanus was seventeen and climbing his way up in the Capitol in Panem.

We follow Coriolanus through the 10th Hunger Games in which he is a mentor to a tribute named Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. It’s tough in the arena and Coriolanus does whatever he can to help Lucy Gray win. Outside of the Games, Coriolanus begins to fall for Lucy Gray and starts showing his attraction for her. She notices and reciprocates.

After the Games, it was revealed to a higher up that Coriolanus assisted Lucy Gray in unethical ways so that she would win. He was forced to become a Peacekeeper but was allowed to choose which district to work in. He chose District 12 to be closer to Lucy Gray.

In District 12, Coriolanus learns that Lucy Gray, along with a few others, including Lucy Gray’s ex-boyfriend, were planning an escape. One of the other members in the plan was Sejanus Plinth. Sejanus was originally from District 2 but moved to the Capitol as a young kid and became good friends with Coriolanus. Sejanus was also a Peacekeeper in District 12. After having seen how poorly the District people were being treated, he vowed to help the small group escape. A crime occurs during the planning in which Coriolanus took part in, thus causing the escape to terminate.

Lucy Gray still wants to run away so Coriolanus agrees to go with her. He was also afraid the crime would catch up to him and didn’t want to be hanged. On the day he was to sneak out to run away with Lucy Gray, he gets a promotion and is required to head to District 2 the next morning. He has to choose between his future and the girl he loves. He chose love, but while they were out of District 12 in an area where the Peacekeepers were not monitoring, he finds the weapon he used during the murder and attempts to discard it. He also learns that Lucy Gray had betrayed him and goes after her to kill her, but he couldn’t find her. He returns to District 12 and leaves for training the next day.

During the flight to District 2, they made a stop at the Capitol. It turns out that the Head Gamemaker, Dr. Gaul, wanted to train Coriolanus at the university because Dr. Gaul found Coriolanus brilliant with his Games ideas.

In The Hunger Games trilogy, Coriolanus is the antagonist and someone we detest because of his cold-heartedness and brutal ruling. In The Ballad, he is the protagonist and someone we are supposed to like and feel sorry for. He does come across as a decent person in Ballad. His love for Lucy Gray was real. He went out of his way to help her win, even doing things he shouldn’t be doing. It felt as though he wanted her alive because she meant so much to him. Even if he never saw her again, at least she’d be able to live her life in the District. However, because he was found out, he got the opportunity to be with her and to really know her. She was all that she said she was: a singer and song writer; a free spirit. She was also very clever. In the Games, her cleverness helped her survive and it also, at one point, helped save his life.

The story goes much deeper than a dystopian story about a young adult falling in love and learning about who he is. I read the QA, which included the idea behind the story, and was completely surprised. I did get the sense of a struggle between an authoritarian world and a romanticism or “freedom” ideal. It wasn’t about which character I liked better or who I should like more than the other. It was more about understanding people’s behavior based not only on their upbringing but also the environment they’re exposed to. It was a very powerful book with so many hidden messages and meanings.

I wasn’t expecting to say this, but I’m totally shocked by how great this book was.

Book Review: Aftershocks

Title: Aftershocks
Author: Marko Kloos
Genre: Sci-fi, Military Sci-fi, Space Opera
Year Published: 2019

Aftershocks by Marko Kloos is a military sci-fi novel following four characters. The main character, Aden, a POW on a foreign planet, is freed and makes his trek to a new home. Things don’t go as planned and he ends up working for another group of people under a fake identity.

The other characters are minor to Aden, but they equally share their stories: Solvieg, a young vice president of her father’s business has just started her position when terrorists attack her city. She’s also Aden’s younger sister; Idina, a ground soldier whose team was destroyed in an ambush; and, Dunstan, a fleet captain whose cargo ship also comes under attack.

The story is about interplanetary treaties and things going awry when one or more groups choose not to keep their word. Those on the planets agreed to work together due to limited resources, but due to power control, the planets with the most resources have the upper hand and those in charge then manipulate the others, leading to confusion as to who started what and who to trust.

This is book one of The Palladium Wars. The ending was a cliffhanger which makes sense being that it will continue in future books.

I enjoyed the military and space opera writing. Kloos is an amazing in-depth military storyteller. I loved all the details and space/military terms. It was well done. I thought Aden was put together well. I like how his story started and where it ended. Dunstan wasn’t so bad either. He didn’t have a lot of chapters but I’m guessing there will be more of him in the following books. What I didn’t enjoy so much were the two female characters. Idina was tough at the beginning but then her character changed. I wasn’t sure what role she played after the ambush. And, Solvieg seemed way too young to be vice president of a large company. She’s 23 and came aross clueless. Initially, it came across as though she worked hard for the position but then as her story grew, it felt more like she was handed the position. I wasn’t sure if that was the point or if she was meant to be a strong, intelligent character.

Overall, it was a good read.

Book Review: The Pale Dreamer

Title: The Pale Dreamer
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Sci-fi, paranormal, new adult
Year Published: 2016

The Pale Dreamer by Samantha Shannon is a prequel novella to The Bone Season series. It gives us a taste of Paige Mahoney’s first job with mime-lord, Jaxon Hall. The story takes place when Paige is sixteen, three years before The Bone Season.

In this story, Paige is given the opportunity to use her ability as a dreamwalker to prove to the mime-lord and her cohorts that she is worthy of working with them. The job was to track down a poltergeist as a team. It turns out, Paige did a lot more than what she thought she could do and what the others thought she was capable of. This gets Jaxon’s attention and he makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

I read The Bone Season series up to book three (The Song Rising). Book four is not out yet but should be later this year. The Pale Dreamer was a free download from the publisher on Instagram. I had plans to read this novella but kept forgetting and new books kept being added to my TBR list pushing this one even further back. I’m glad that I came across the ad. It was worth it to know how Paige joined Jaxon’s team of clairvoyants and how she became his most important member.

Book Review: The Last Man

The Last Man by Mary Shelley is about a plague that killed everyone in the world but one man. The story is through the eyes of a man named, Lionel. It is uniquely done with just mostly telling, but it’s done quite well. Shelley is a beautiful writer.

When I first started the story, I thought the MC was female. When I learned she was a he, I had to go back and read a few things I thought didn’t make a lot of sense (which then made sense afterwards). I found the technology lacking. It was the year 2098. They were still using horse and buggy, carriages, and horses to go places. And, lamps were used often. No electricity. This was all before the plague hit. Shelley hinted at technology but then said that horse and buggy was faster transportation. That kind of fooled with me since I tend to see cars and flying things (including flying cars and hover bikes, etc.) in 2098. Aside from these two things, I actually enjoyed it.

Book Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the book, The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood at Barnes & Noble. It was B&N’s book club pick and I’ve never gone to a book club before so I figured I’d give this one a go. The book club experience was really enjoyable. I was super nervous but the others made it very welcoming. Our facilitator was also pretty cool. Her questions got us all thinking. I wasn’t able to finish the book before attending but we still had good and debatable conversations about it. A few days later I finished the book and found myself completely immersed and loving it.

The Testaments is the second book to The Handmaid’s Tale. I read The Handmaid’s Tale five years ago and liked it but it wasn’t as powerful as this one. And since it’s been awhile, I really can’t remember the details or the characters. What I do remember is that it was from one character’s point-of-view and the world she lived in was completely controlled.

The Testaments is written in first-person point-of-view through three female characters and tells their story. At first, I wasn’t so sure I liked the idea but as the story moved along, I began to really enjoy it. The Testaments is right up there with 1984 and Brave New World, and even A Clockwork Orange. Atwood mentioned something along the lines of, “2+2 sometimes equals 4.” In 1984, 2+2 always equals 5.

The Testaments is a powerful story about totalitarian in a dystopian society in what was once New England. It’s about control going awry and how three women, but mainly one strong woman with a plan to save the two from losing their lives and bringing down the Republic of Gilead.

When I purchased the book, I saw this notebook with the cover from The Handmaid’s Tale and just had to have it. I don’t have the book though (borrowed it from the library). Not sure what I’ll be using the notebook for.

Book Review: The Song Rising

The Song Rising
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Paranormal, Post-apocalyptic

“We like to think we’re brave, but in the end, we’re only human.”

The Song Rising is the third book in The Bone Season series. It begins right after The Mime Order ends. If you haven’t read the first two books, the third book would be a bit confusing. This series is dependent on each other.

In this story, the MC (main character), Paige, learns of a weapon that could detect clairvoyants and destroy them. Her goal was to locate the source of this weapon but she finds that it’s harder than it sounds. She’d have to make a decision that could lead to her death.

“The only way to survive is to believe you always will.”

I found this book to be more interesting than the second book. The second book was mainly about creating the Mime order, a collaboration between a clairvoyant group and some Ranthens, in order to defeat the Rephaite sovereign. It also felt a bit slow moving. This book was pretty fast paced. A lot happened and we blow through quite a bit of flashback/history. I’m glad for that because it adds to the world building and characters development, setting the story for what’s to come. It was done nicely. There was a lot going on in this book. The characters were more defined and Warden played a bigger role. I happen to really enjoy his character and every part he’s in. I’m fascinated by his kind, pretty much. We learn of a hidden world underground. We also learn a little more about Paige’s old boss, the mime-lord, Jaxon Hall and his role with the Rephaite sovereign.

The only downside for me was that there wasn’t much said about the Emite (aka buzzers). At first I got the feeling that these creatures were going to destroy the world if not controlled. It appeared as though the Rephaim had kept them under control but somehow, through a portal of sort, some escaped. I thought Warden was spending all his time tracking the escaped. In the end of the story when Warden was to leave Britain, it didn’t make sense. Who was going to do the work of keeping the Emite away? I hope to learn more about this part of the story in the next few books only because in the first book, when Warden was training Paige, the Emite seemed to have been the focus. I thought she was going to have some part in their demise or at least in keeping them from escaping.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It was one of those books where I had to almost read straight through because it’s that good.

“The wonderful thing about living in a morally bankrupt world is that every human being can be bought in one way or another. Everyone accepts a currency. Money, mercy, the illusion of power – there are always ways to purchase loyalty.”

Book Reviews

I finished 5 books within the last half of the month:

Title: Drop Dead Gorgeous
Author: Elizabeth Lenhard
Genre: Children, fantasy, paranormal

DropDeadGorgeousThis book is about a girl, Rachel, who becomes friends with a girl who just moved into her town.  The girl who moved in is a zombie.  Rachel learns to accept the zombie girl as they go through trials and tribulations.

Read this with my 8-year-old.  I found the story line a bit boring.  My daughter wasn’t too into it as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Zeroes
Author: Chuck Wendig
Genre: Sci-fi, suspense, thriller, paranormal

ZeroesThis book is about the government kidnapping some hackers to eventually overtake a computer-human liquid robot who tried to overtake them.

It started out promising but then went all over the place about halfway.  Too many characters were thrown in in the beginning.  Each with their semi-detailed specialty.  I didn’t mind that so much because I liked how a chapter was given to a character.  Eventually though it just became a big mess of people.  I believe there was supposed to be a transition from computer hackers to paranormal computer activity but it didn’t happen the right way.  I was set on believing that it had something to do with hackers hacking some huge powerful database, and that if they didn’t hack into it, the data would fall into the hands of someone who would use it to destroy the world or something.  But it turned out that whatever they were supposed to hack into was obsolete and that some lady (she entered the story about halfway in) who was a very intelligent person decided to hook herself up to some strange machine that allowed her to upload data and become this liquid human machine thingy.  Her reason for it was because she had heart problems and the only way to keep her going completely dead was to hook up to a machine.  Aside from not wanting to be dead, it was quite unclear what her motives were.  Yeah, very confusing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: The Nightingale
Author: Kristin Hannah
Genre: Historical Fiction

TheNightingaleThis book is about two sisters who survived the Nazi invasion of France during WWII.  The sisters are a decade apart in age and very different in personality.  This is a story about war and everything that war creates.

This was a well written story.  It was a truly amazing experience reading this.  I had no idea that the Nazi’s invaded France and that the French leader surrendered.  And, it made me wonder if there were really good and kind Nazi soldiers who only did their job because they had no choice or that they didn’t realize what they were doing until it was too late.  The ending got me good.  There was a twist that I had no idea was coming.  I guess if I paid closer attention I would have caught it.

This is a story everyone should read.  It really pulls at your heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Zombie Dog
Author: Clare Hutton
Genre: Children, fantasy, paranormal

ZombieDogThis book is about a family who moved next door to a vacant home.  The family’s daughter learns that there is a zombie dog living in the vacant home and sets out to figure out why.  In the process she learns the story of the family who lived in the home and finds a way to send the zombie away.

This was a cute story I read with my 8-year-old daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Author: Philip K. Dick
Genre: Sci-fi, Post-apocalyptic, paranormal

DoAndroidsThe movie, “Blade Runner,” was based on this book.  I haven’t seen the movie yet but I will soon.

This book is about a bounty hunter who’s job is to track down and destroy human-like androids.  For each android he kills he gets a good sum of money.  For three androids he’d get enough money to buy a real animal.  In that post-apocalyptic time, it is rare to see a real animal, or own one.  To own one is a status symbol.  The androids are supposed to only live on Mars with their human owner and work for them but some find their way back to earth.  They are hunted down because they are harmful to humans.  There is really no way to differentiate a human from an android except for an empathy test because androids apparently have no empathy.

This was a very intriguing story.  I’m amazed that this book was written in 1966 about the far future…aka, January 3, 2021.  A lot of things were outdated but overall I got the feel for that bleak and dusty radioactive world they lived in.  There were parts of the story that didn’t make a lot of sense to me like the godly-like man, Mercer, Mercerism if you believe in him.  Or the double world in which the bounty hunter found himself in.  Overall though, I enjoyed it.

Blood Memory Book Review

Title: Blood Memory
Author: Perrin Briar
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, paranormal

BloodMemoryEP1This book is about a group of people out at sea who’ve survived a zombie apocalypse but realize that they are running out of food and need a new alternator for their boat.  They see a ferry in the distance and decide to see if they can take the alternator from it knowing that there could still be living zombies on that ferry.

This was an okay story.  It was easy to read and had some enjoyable action scenes.  World building wasn’t so bad.  It was basically around the sea and the boat but I got a good feel for it.  What it lacked was pacing and character development.  The story moved from one thing to another pretty fast and moved in steps which was unrealistic and predictable.  Character development was minimal.  Right up front we learn their names and age and a sentence or two of their characteristics but aside from that there was hardly any personality or depth.  Dialogue was a bit cheesy and didn’t really add to the characters.

Overall, I’d say read this book if you want a taste of zombie apocalypse.  It’s a short read and as mentioned earlier moves along at a pretty fast pace.

Note: This book was given to me to read and review by the author’s publicist.

The Infinite Sea Book Review

Title: The Infinite Sea (2nd book in The 5th Wave Trilogy)
Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: Sci-fi, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, dystopian, paranormal, YA

theinfinitesea[Side note] Today is the opening of the movie, The 5th Wave, and I wish I could go see it today but I’ve got a busy schedule.  I hope to get my chance sometime next week.

This is the second book to The 5th Wave trilogy.  This book delves deeper into Ringer.  She was not a main character in the first book and we only got to see a little piece of her at the military camp.  She came across as someone who added depth to another character. She was portrayed as mysterious, tough, and excellent with weapons, but otherwise there wasn’t much to her.  In The Infinite Sea, we get to see her weakness.  We get to be inside her brain and understand who she really is.

The story begins with the cast: Cassie, Ben Parish and his buddies from the camp including Ringer.  Ringer leaves their hideout and gets captured and returned to the camp where she is inserted with a head device and gets alien data downloaded into her brain.  Part of the download included some superpowers which allowed her to see in the dark and heal quickly from injuries.  In essence she becomes a carrier of alien knowledge, alien control, and super strength.  This “upgrade” to Ringer was Commander Vosch’s plan to use her to track down Evan Walker.  Evan is the guy Vosch wants.  This becomes an alien vs. alien thing.

There is a lot of action and suspense throughout the book.

I enjoyed this book just as much as the first book but there were a few things that I felt could have been explained better/deeper such as:

  1. Ringer’s character.  Even though we got to read from her first person, I didn’t feel that I could relate or even understand her.  There was back story to her past but it just didn’t feel very strong.  It didn’t feel believable.
  2. The upgrade to Ringer could have been explained better. I guess I wanted to know more about how she felt.  She had fevers and physical pain but it lacked emotional pain.  She had this “so what” attitude as if she accepted whatever was happening to her.  I felt that she could have fought it more.  Cried more.  Screamed more.  I thought she should have shone more anger toward these aliens and what they were doing and what they’ve done to humans.
  3. The soldier that aided and assisted Ringer was intriguing but there were things about him that I didn’t understand like when he stared blankly at Ringer when they had escaped. How was he controlled in that way?  Why weren’t some of the other humans controlled the same way?  When he came out of his control, he and Ringer just continued with their conversations as if it was normal.  He continued to take care of her as per directives and she just went along with it.  That was hard to believe.

Overall, this was a great read.  The humor was still great.  The weapons descriptions and actions/fight scenes were superb.  There was a bit of Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road, writing style in the book.  I’ve grown to like the no quotations conversations and was excited to see it in this book.  I cannot wait for the 3rd book!