Strain of Resistance

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Strain of Resistance

By:  Michelle Bryan
Published:  2016
# of pages:  314
Series:  Strain of Resistance (#1)

4Stars

Goodreads description:

My name is Bixby. I was 12 years old when the world ended. A mysterious mist had blanketed our world, turning most of the population into blood-sucking predators. The few of us left uninfected…well, we were the prey. Vanquished to the bottom of the food chain.

For eight years we’ve fought this alien war. Barely surviving. Not knowing which day would be our last. But now we face a new threat. The parasite that took us down is evolving. Becoming smarter. Stronger. Deadlier.

The infected took everything from me. My home. My family. The man that I loved. No more.

This is the story of our resistance.

My opinion:  I love a good “zombie” apocalypse novel.  This one has been on my TBR list for a couple of years.  I saw that it was 99 cents on the Kindle so I went ahead and bought it to read.  I don’t think the series is complete.  There are two books  so far and a 0.5 book, which I’m guessing is a prequel to Strain of Resistance.

The story follows Bixby, a young woman whose life has been shaped by the arrival of an alien species that takes over the bodies of millions of people on Earth.  Those bodies turn into predators that prey on the uninfected for eight years until things suddenly change…for the worse.  Bixby and her fellow survivors set out to discover just what has caused this change and encounter countless horrors along the way.  Bixby is also forced to confront her own emotions and learn to mesh her past, present, and future feelings.

I feel like this book borders on being young adult and adult.  There’s some almost graphic sex scenes, nothing too detailed, but it may be too much for some young adult readers.  There’s also some violence, but also nothing that solidly makes this inappropriate for young adults.  Overall, it was a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Strain of Defiance.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Quick and easy read, cool apocalyptic concept, Bixby is immaturely annoying at times.

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Sunbolt

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Sunbolt

By:  Intisar Khanani
Published:  2013
# of pages: 
142
Series:  The Sunbolt Chronicles (#1)
Challenge:  Monthly Motif (Feb. – 1 word title)

4Stars

Goodreads description:

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

My opinion:  Wow!  An author friend of mine recommended this book to me a few months ago and I put it on my TBR list.  I put off reading it because it wasn’t available at my local library.  Now that I have a Kindle I was able to buy it for 99 cents so I went ahead and bought it.  I wasn’t expecting too much.  The book doesn’t have many reviews on Goodreads and it isn’t very well known.  However, I was very pleasantly surprised by this novella that takes the somewhat overdone young adult fantasy genre and slightly twisted it into something more unique.

The story is about a teenager named Hitomi who works with an group that secretly fights back against the corrupt ruler who has taken over Hitomi’s land.  Hitomi soon finds herself caught up in more than she bargained for when she joined the Shadow League.  She’s far from home, surrounded by dangerous strangers, and is forced to use her hidden powers more than she ever has before.

I loved the relationships and interactions in this book.  Hitomi is reckless, but you can see her growth throughout the novel as she becomes more thoughtful while still retaining her bravery.  I also liked that she isn’t perfect.  In one part of the book she makes a choice that haunts her afterwards.  I completely understand why she made the choice, but also why she later regrets that choice.  I think it’s what most of us would do in her situation.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, but I’m very sad that the series isn’t complete even though this book was published 5 years ago.  I recommend to adults and young adults, especially if you’re a fantasy fan.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Unique story, understandable and likable characters, well written.  I just wish it was longer!

Ten Favorite Fictional Couples

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a love freebie.  I like a little romance in the books I read, but I’m not always a huge fan of the characters or the relationships.  But the couples I’m listing today have stuck with me through the years or are newer favorites that I can tell will remain in my mind in years to come.

EDITED TO ADD: How could I forget about Katniss and Peeta in the Hunger Games series!?!
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Alana & Marko in the Saga series  by: Brian K. Vaughan
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Inej & Kaz in the Six of Crows series by: Leigh Bardugo
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Jane Eyre & Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre  by: Charlotte Bronte
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Hanna & Nik in Gemina  by: Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
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Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice  by: Jane Austen
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Louisa & Will in Me Before You  by: Jojo Moyes
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Hazel & Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars  by: John Green
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Sorcha & Red in Daughter of the Forest  by: Juliet Marillier
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Beauty & Beast in Beauty by Robin McKinley
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Yelena & Valek in Poison Study  by: Maria V. Snyder
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Sleeping Giants

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Sleeping Giants

By:  Sylvain Neuvel
Published:  2016
# of pages: 
320
Series: 
Themis Files (#1)

4Stars

Goodreads description:

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

My opinion:  Sleeping Giants is a sci-fi novel told in the form of interviews and journal entries.  The plot is a neat concept and while I can see that the format may bother some people, I enjoyed it and thought it worked well with the story.

The interviews and journal entries center around a few main people, including Dr. Rose Franklin, who is heading a government department in charge of finding out more about the mysterious structure she inadvertently discovered when she was a child.  The structure is in the shape of a hand and was found in a pit lined by panels lit up by strange glowing symbols.

Years later Dr. Franklin works with military recruits Kara and Ryan, as well as a linguist named Vincent to discover exactly what the hand is and what it does.  We get to know the characters on a fairly personal level, but not as much as we would if this were written in a traditional novel format.  We do slowly discover what the discovery of the hand means for the world.  “Slow” is a pretty good description of the book.  I liked the format and the concept just fine, but I wish more had happened.  There were a few times the story seemed to jump around too much, but I think it was supposed to feel that way since it was written in pieces of interview transcripts and journal entries.

I am eager to check out the next book, Waking Gods!  I wish the series was already finished, but hopefully I won’t have to wait too long for the third book to be published.

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Neat concept and unique format, but a little too slow at times.

Salt to the Sea

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Salt to the Sea

By: Ruta Sepetys
Published:  2016
# of pages: 
393
Challenges: 
Full House (4 word title)

5Stars

Goodreads description:

Winter 1945. WWII. Four refugees. Four stories.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies, war. As thousands desperately flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. But not all promises can be kept…

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

My opinion:  I’ve heard a lot about this book over the past two years and I can see there’s a good reason for its popularity.  I was hesitant to read another WWII book after being so affected by Winter Garden a few weeks ago, but this novel was not only very well written, it was also strangely hopeful in spite of the horrifying events.

First of all, just like in many novels, I think it’s great that the author has brought attention to real events that happened during the war that may have otherwise remained buried in the past.  It’s important to remember history and hopefully learn from mistakes and atrocities that were committed.

This story follows four young adults as they flee East Prussia as the Soviet army advances.  The Nazis are organizing a mass evacuation on several ships, but first civilians need to make it to the port.  The chapters alternate between Joana, a Lithuanian nurse; Florian, a young Prussian man who assisted the Nazis who “acquired” art from conquered countries; Emilia, an observant Polish teenager with a secret; and Alfred, a young German in the Nazi army who helps with loading the ships.  There are other characters as well.  A cobbler, a young boy, a blind woman, and an outspoken woman named Eva.

The chapters are very short and jump between each of the four main characters.  At first I didn’t like that the reader spent so little time in each character’s head, but it ended up working just fine.  At the end I understood all of the narrators and what they had done in the past to survive.

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars:  Amazing storytelling, complicated but realistic characters, very emotional as well as informative.

Ten Oldest TBR Books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday by That Artsy Reader Girl is Top Ten Books That Have Been on my TBR List the Longest.

These are all on the first page of my Goodreads TBR list which I created in 2012:

 

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Half Broke Horses  
by: Jeannette Walls

I enjoyed The Glass Castle so I thought I would check this out as well, but it just hasn’t happened.

 

 

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  by: Seth Grahame-Smith

Isn’t there a movie based on this book? I watched a movie called “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” but I haven’t read that book.  My husband read this one and enjoyed it so I put it on the list…6 years ago.

 

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks  
by: Rebecca Skloot

My mom recommended this to me and I’ve seen it recommended highly on several book blogs.

 

 

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His Majesty’s Dragon  
by: Naomi Novik

Part of the reason this has been left on my TBR is because I didn’t really like Uprooted.  Not that it was bad, but I worry that this will be another 3 star book.

 

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The Stand
  by: Stephen King

I’ve been meaning to read this for the longest time.  I really should get around to it!

 

 

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The House on the Strand  
by: Daphne du Maurier

I’ve loved the other books I’ve read by this author, but I just haven’t gotten around to checking this out.

 

 

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The Double Bind  
by: Chris Bohjalian

I don’t know why this is on my TBR.  Some books by the author I like, some I don’t.  But just the cover and the name seem boring.

 

 

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Life As We Knew It  
by: Susan Beth Pfeffer

This seems like a book I’d really like so I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet.

 

 

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The Clutter Cure: Three Steps to Letting Go of Stuff, Organizing Your Space, & Creating the Home of Your Dreams  
by: Judi Culbertson

Hahaha, I should post a picture of the loads of clutter around my house to share with this.

 


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A Duty to the Dead  
by: Charles Todd

I’ll probably take this off one of these days.  It doesn’t look bad, but with a TBR list that’s 14 pages long, this doesn’t seem like a priority.

 

 

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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer  
by: Irene Gut Opdyke

This seems worth reading so hopefully I’ll get around to it someday.

Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Voluntarily Read

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This Top Ten Tuesday’s topic is “books I can’t believe I read.”  I’m listening books that I voluntarily read.  They were’t school assignments or book club choices.  Some of them were great and I’m glad I read them and some of them I didn’t enjoy all that much.  But they weren’t something I’d typically choose to read.

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Anna Karenina
  by: Leo Tolstoy

Yes, I voluntarily read this because I typically enjoy classics and I wanted to read more by Russian authors.  I didn’t enjoy it so much, but that’s okay, at least I tried!

 

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Fifty Shades trilogy  by: E.L. James

I knew what they were about and don’t ask me why I decided to read the first one.  And the second one.  And the third one.  And I rated them low on Goodreads for some reason, but I actually kind of liked them all. 😉

 

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Saga, Vol. 1
  by: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples

I never, never thought I would ever pick up a graphic novel, but the awesome cover drew me in and I’m super glad I started this series!

 

 

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  by: J.K. Rowling

I didn’t intend to read this for a couple of reasons.  I didn’t think an eighth book was necessary, it didn’t get the best reviews, and I don’t really like reading plays.  However, a friend of mine gave it to me as a gift so I read it a few months later.  Eh.

 

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Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker
  by: Gregory Maguire

I didn’t like the other books by Maguire I read and over the years I’ve had no desire to read any more.  The idea of a Nutcracker novel drew me in and I’m glad I gave this a chance.

 


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The Martian
  by: Andy Weir

I checked this out from the library after hearing it was good and it sounded like something my husband would enjoy.  He read it and said he didn’t think I’d like it because of all of the technical details.  I secretly didn’t think I’d like it either, but I gave it a chance and loved it.

 

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First Frost
  by: Sarah Addison Allen

I usually don’t like the magical realism genre, but my mom said she liked this book so I gave it a try.  I liked it enough to also read the first in the series, Garden Spells.  They weren’t amazing, but I’m glad I gave them a chance.

 


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How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (And They Will)
  by: Chuck Sambuchino

Does this really need an explanation!?  It was a gift from a friend (along with a gnome figurine).  It’s hilarious, but obviously not something I would have chosen for myself.