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8.5/10
Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Fiction , Reviews / February 26, 2017

Title: Sharp Objects Author: Gillian Flynn Genre: Fiction Publisher: Broadway Books Release Date: November 25, 2014 Format: Kindle Pages: 272 Source: purchased Read Date: 21 January 2017 Reluctantly returning to her hometown after an eight-year absence to investigate the murders of two preteen girls, reporter Camille Preaker is reunited with her neurotic mother and enigmatic, 13-year-old half-sister and discovers secrets of her own past. By the #1 best-selling author of Gone Girl. Reprint. Admittedly late to the phenomenon that is Gillian Flynn, I decided to start with her first novel, Sharp Objects.  Her debut novel is no slacker in the thriller genre and she tackles not one, but two tough mental health issues in a sensitive manner, allowing the reader to sympathize with the main character. Flynn has created a flawed, often unlikable narrator that one can empathize with even as the reader shudders at the life she returns to and teeters on the edge of falling into her own past. Camille, a Chicago reporter fresh off a stint in a mental health facility, is asked to return to her hometown to report on a murder of a young girl. Her relationship with her mother and the death of her…

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8.9/10
Review: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Fiction , Reviews , Throw-back-Thursday reviews / February 23, 2017

Title: When She Woke Author: Hillary Jordan Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopian Publisher: Algonquin Books Release Date: 2011 Format: Hardcover Pages: 344 Source: purchased Read Date: 23 February 2013 In the future, abortion has become a crime as a series of events threatens the existence of the United States. One woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as punishment for having the procedure done. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society. With When She Woke Hillary Jordan has written a powerful dystopia that tackles, among other ideas, our attitude towards criminal justice, and what it means to pay for one’s crime, separation of church and state, and freedom.Combining Hawthorne’s public humiliation of sinners (even the protagonist’s name, Hannah Payne, echoes Hester Prynne and the opening chapter is titled “The Scaffold”) from The Scarlet Letter with reality TV, abolitionists’ Underground Railroad, the extreme religious/political right, big brother technology, and a personal awakening story, Hillary Jordan gives us a scary glimpse into an all too possible near future. The novel opens with two great sentences: When she woke, she was red. Not flushed, not sunburned,…

Best Dystopian Novels
Fiction , Listicles / February 21, 2017

Whether we read them with a wary eye to the future, or as a reminder of the good we have today, dystopian novels have been around for ages.  Here is a list of my favorites — some well-known classics and more contemporary pieces.*     10.  Station Eleven — Emily St. John Mandel A well-done novel that moves through the beginning of the destruction of society, back to before, then 20 years after a plague wipes out most of humanity. Mandel threads connections through various characters that we see before the plague and after.  The book however doesn’t focus on the world, but on the individuals and how they have come to view what it means to live in this world. Read my review            9. When She Woke — Hillary Jordan A creative novel where, in order to shame and ostracize those who commit acts society feels are morally wrong, chemically alter the skin so the person is forced to ‘wear’ their shame.  Relevant in today’s world of social media shaming and religious intolerance.  See: Review: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan         8. V for Vendetta — Alan Moore One of the great…

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9.8/10
Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go Author: Kazuo Ishiguro Genre: Fiction Publisher: Vintage Books Release Date: 2006 Format: Kindle & Audiobook Pages: 288 Source: Purchased Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Read Date: 29 January 2016 A reunion with two childhood friends draws Kathy and her companions on a nostalgic odyssey into their lives at Hailsham, an isolated private school in the English countryside, and a confrontation with the truth about their childhoods. Ishiguro, a master of subtle and understated prose, has another excellent novel in Never Let Me Go. The narrator, Kathy tells the story of her friendship with Ruth and Tommy, from their earliest days at their private boarding school to adulthood, through its ups and downs, until only Kathy is left. While many come to the novel knowing what makes these characters special, even those without prior knowledge should figure it out with little difficulty, early on. While never stating things explicitly, the clues are in plain sight, even if Ishiguro never tackles the topic head-on. What is the true focus and brilliance of Ishiguro’s novel isn’t the what, but rather, the how. The reader follows these three characters, raised to this purpose that unnerves contemporary audiences. In a masterful play…

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7.5/10
Review: The Confessions of Young Nero
ARCs , Fiction , Reviews / February 7, 2017

I’m a fan of Margaret George and enjoyed other novels from her. Confessions of Young Nero is, like her other work, is a balance of history and good storytelling, and provides the reader the opportunity to read what history may have lost or in Nero’s case, skewed towards the negative because those who first wrote his history had reason to make less of the Julian-Claudian rulers.

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8.5/10
Review: The Diabolic by S J Kincaid
ARCs , Fiction , Reviews / February 7, 2017

Title: The Diabolic Author: S. J. Kincaid Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi Publisher: Simon and Schuster Release Date: November 1, 2016 Format: ARC E-book Pages: 416 Source: Publisher Read Date: 02 January 2017 Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager and the galaxy’s most deadly weapon, who masquerades as Sidonia, a senator’s daughter, and becomes a hostage of the galactic court. Mash up I, Claudius with The Terminator and you’ll have a decent idea of the plot of The Diabolic. Set in a universe where religion has displaced the science that led to intergalactic colonization. No longer are advances made and the aging ships and technology are no longer replaceable. Kincaid’s novel presents a highly stratified society, with noble houses and wealthy families living decadence lives while controlling the Excesses (working population). Echoes of the Roman Empire abound. An understanding that their world is falling apart (literally and figuratively) because the religious zealots and those who use the religion to further strengthen their own position refuse to allow learning and science lead some to rebel. Thrown into this subtle, political game is Nemesis, a Diabolic. The rulers and powerful citizens created Diabolics, physically advanced humans bred and raised to protect and…