Tag: 5 stars

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Author: Octavia E. Butler
Published: June 1976
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 18-26, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity.

Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given: to protect this young slaveholder until he can father her own great-grandmother.

Jessica’s Review:

I came across Kindred when I was looking for books for First Line Friday, and this one has a doozy:

I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.

That first line, the book description, and the fact that it is the first science fiction written by a black woman piqued my interest in Kindred. My library also offered it in audiobook format:  SCORE! The only thing I was worried about was when I borrowed it was the age of the book. Written 30+ years ago, some sci-fi books do not ‘age well’ and become dated quickly.  This did not end up being an issue for me as I felt this could take place now. You guys know by now that I am selective with sci-fi and even more selective with fantasy. And did you say TIME TRAVEL!?!?!?!    That is the kind of sci-fi and fantasy I can read! 

Kindred blew me away.  This novel will be in my top reads of the year.  I was intrigued the whole time listening to the audiobook and had no idea how it was going to end.  It twisted in ways that I did not expect and then that shocker of an ending: OMG, I would have never expected that! This needs to become a limited series that stays true to the novel.  Octavia Butler wowed me with Kindred, this is a novel everyone needs to read!

If you are looking for answers to why or how Dana time travels, you will be disappointed.  Kindred does not explain the time travel, but the strength of the novel is on the time, location and people of the antebellum time period. Butler must have heavily researched for the novel.   Dana interprets the how and why her time traveling happens, hoping she is correct in her thoughts.

Since Kindred takes us back in time, we get a clear picture how slavery was from the view of the African American.  Yes, the ‘N word’ is used a great deal in this novel, but that was how people spoke in antebellum times.  Parts of the novel will be difficult for some to read. This is a novel that will have you thinking about it long after you have finished reading it.

Kindred is very highly recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Birthday by Meredith Russo


Author: Meredith Russo
To Be Published: May 21, 2019
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 7-12, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this unconventional love story about two teens bonded for life when they are born on the same day at the same time by award-winning author Meredith Russo!

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other.

Jessica’s Review:

Morgan and Eric are born on the same day in the same hospital during a freak September snowstorm, thus beginning their bond for life. Birthday is told from both Morgan and Eric’s point of view every year on their birthday from ages 13-18.  Neither boy has had an easy life for various reasons, and Birthday shows both Morgan and Eric coming into who they will become, with Morgan coming to terms in finding her true self. 

You can’t help but adore and root for both Morgan and Eric as they discover who they are. They face various individual challenges, including living in small town Tennessee where the only way you may get to leave is through a football scholarship and Morgan’s dad is the high school football coach. Everything about Birthday including Morgan’s anguish and Eric’s confusion felt real.  The characters are so well written, yet Birthday is a very easy and quick read.

Meredith Russo brings these characters to life in a way she knows as she is transgender. As with reading If I Was Your Girl, I felt Russo put herself in the character of Morgan.  Some of Morgan’s emotions must have been hers as she went through her transition. Thank you for bringing these stories to the page. They are important stories that those who are transgender may need and will help those of us who are not transgender understand what it is like.

There are some tough scenes in Birthday including a suicide attempt but the ending is a good one.  There are touching moments throughout dealing with Morgan’s mom.  I actually finished reading Birthday on Mother’s Day and that was perfect timing on my part!  I would love to read continuing stories for Morgan and Eric.

I feel I can’t give the book a good enough review, this book is that important and powerful. Give Birthday a chance and read it on May 21st.

Many thanks to the publisher Flatiron Books for sending me an arc copy.

Pre-order Links:
Amazon US 
Amazon UK 

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Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Authors:
Neal Shusterman

Jarrod Shusterman
Published: October 2, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 10-17, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

Until the taps run dry.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.

Jessica’s Review:

Between reading Hanna Jameson’s The Last and now Dry and watching ‘Walking Dead’ type shows/movies I now want to stock up on everything and be ready for the end of civilization! Especially water: You cannot live without water after a few days.  Dry has totally freaked me out and I want to be prepared!  Everything about Dry felt real to me. It takes place in southern California (OMG, this happened in the USA!) and the water has run completely out.  The desperation of everyone is captured brilliantly and we see how people become in impossible situations. 

Our protagonists are young adults, so they will come with immaturity, but I was completely drawn into the story! You don’t know what is going to happen and who will die or live.  For a while I thought we were going to have a ‘Mist movie type ending’ and OMG, that would be jaw dropping as it is so realistic and not a happy ending. 

Shusterman does such a wonderful job making you think about things long after you have finished his books.  He continues this with Dry.  Dry has you thinking about what you will do and who will you become when the Tap-Out eventually happens.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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