The Grace Year @Kim_Liggett

This summer has been the season of feminist books for me and I have loved each and every one of them! Adding to the latest feminist reads is The Grace Year by Kim Liggett. I have to admit that it was labeled as a “young adult” book but everything about this book is geared toward women of all ages. It is phenomenal!

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In this dystopian novel, the women live very subjugated lives along side men who rule with an iron fist. They are not allowed to gather and talk with one another in public, not allowed to hum or sing believing that they are using their “magic” to seduce or trick men – because we all know that men are easily seduced or tricked. Yes, we do. When they sixteen years old, the girls are sent away to a camp far in the woods to survive on their own for a year in order to rid themselves of their “magic” and come back pure and ready for marriage. The woods surrounding them are filled with “poachers” who are waiting for the girls to make a wrong move so they can skin the women alive, capture their magic and sell it back to the men in the county. There are outcasts and usurpers and these girls know that they do not want to become either of those women. Only a few will survive their “grace year” and those who do never breathe a word about what transpires in the woods. Until now. Tierney is determined to survive this year and prove there is no magic at all. As the girls become more insane and more of them are dying and being killed by the poachers, Tierney is targeted as one who much be cast out. Survival  becomes her only goal – will she succeed?

The Grace Year has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power but in all truthfulness I found The Grace Year far more interesting and realistic. We live in a world where women who once were gaining ground, marching on the road to equality, suddenly find themselves at the mercy of very angry, emphasis on very, men. Not just in the US but in so many countries all over the world. We now are marching backward with no say over our own bodies, no say over the world in which we live as we watch strong, intelligent women being mocked by those with half of their intellect. We are, literally, just shy of the ignorance that the males portray in The Grace Year. Sadly, we women are allowing this to happen without whimper.

However, what I found most refreshing was the end of this book. Without giving away what transpires, the women who were raging against one another form a bond. They begin making subtle changes to themselves and toward their group as a whole. They discover that there are men in their county who are willing to stand up for them, who help them and those who have been outcast. While the story itself is extremely dark, horrifically brutal – this really is a story of hope. If only we, as women, could or would bond together as a whole, stop tearing one another down, just imagine the power that we would have and the good that we could do for the world. That is the essence of this book: Hope.

This is a long-ish book and I thought, at first, that perhaps it needed editing to make it more palatable to those who no longer read longish books. However, there is nothing to edit. This book is perfect as it and well worth the time it takes to read it. In fact, I stayed up all night to finish it because I had to know the ending. It was beautiful! If you do not read another book this year, I encourage you to read The Grace Year and then follow it up with Athena’s Choice by Adam Boostrom. We’ll make a good feminist out of you yet.

My thanks goes out to #netgalley, @WednesdayBooks @StMartinsPress and #KimLiggett for allowing me to read and review this incredible book on sale October 8, 2019.

Athena’s Choice #AdamBoostrom

The year is 2099 and all of the men are gone…

In a near future world, a Y-virus has killed all of the men and a smattering of women. In the aftermath, women have built what appears to be a utopian society. Through scientific breakthroughs and frozen sperm replication, they are still procreating, have quite nearly eliminated maternal and fetal deaths and have found cures for nearly all diseases. The female population discovered that, when using technology for good rather than for empire building and war, there were amazing discoveries just waiting to be had – and so they did create them. It is a world that is, quite literally, at our fingertips today except, well, you know. Men. And war.

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Athena is a 19 year old young woman who is at the heart of a mystery. There are some women who wish to bring back men – their sons, brothers and husbands – not literally, of course, they just miss the male presence. These women have initiated the Lazarus Project but someone has “stolen” the genome and for a mysterious reason to be explained throughout the book, Athena is at its core.

This is a bit more YA, perhaps because of Athena’s age and narration, but never the less, I found the story completely captivating. The Science Fiction portion of the story was mesmerizing and, upon further research, I discovered that nearly everything mentioned in the book, we are on the cusp of having – if only funds weren’t diverted elsewhere, namely WAR. This is very much (!) a book about feminism. At my age, through my experiences, as an American living with a president who is gunning for yet another needless war, who has humans trapped in a concentration camp in hellish conditions where children are dying, who believes that Twitter rants are more important that dealing with mass flooding in one-third of our country, where newborn and maternal deaths are on the rise for the first time in over 100 years… I’m not so sure that living in a female utopia would be such a bad thing. Every war, every disease, every horrific thing in our world’s history has been the result of male ego. So I found it completely enjoyable to read a book where there was none of this. None.

I loved that the book was enriched with so many different fonts and inserts. Throughout there were advertisements for various products that Athena was seeing or thinking about purchasing. It was a method to introduce the world building without going through the entire world building introduction in the beginning. I appreciated this because I often do not read sci-fi or fantasy because the world building part is quite boring for me. There also were throw-backs to Athena’s school work and, if you paid attention to it, you were being given clues to how the book would end. I suspect that some of the other reviewers skimmed over these and missed key parts of the story. They were hidden gems.

In the end, we are left with Athena’s Choice. Men or No Men or ….. you’ll have to read the book to know the other choices. There is no answer in the book. The choice is one for us all to think about. I know what my choice would be, without any doubt at all!

Winner of the 2019 National Indie Excellence Award for Visionary Fiction.
Winner of the 2019 Maxy Award for Science Fiction.
Finalist for the 2019 NIEA for Science Fiction.

I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough! Thank you to #Netgally and especially to the author, Adam Boostrom, for such a remarkable, thought-provoking, visionary tale!

In Another Life #CCHunter #BlogTour

It has been forever since I’ve posted and I’ve missed you guys so much!! What better way to ease back into the groove than with a blog tour for a terrific book? That is exactly what I have for you today!

In Another Life_COVERamazonWhat would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life?

From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

In Another Life is written specifically for younger readers, I’m not the target audience. However, that did not quell my enjoyment of the book by any means, it only suggests that I had to read it from a different viewpoint. Chloe’s life going into her final year of high school (senior year for those outside of the US) is already depressing. Her loving. adoptive parents have gone through a horrible, ugly divorce due to her father’s cheating. Her mother is depressed and barely coping leaving Chloe to pick up the pieces. She doesn’t really have high hopes for a great year until she meets Cash. Naturally there is a romance between the two and it is sweet. He also has ulterior motives which I won’t go into and spoil the book for you. There isn’t a huge amount of mystery here, it is more a coming of age story and, truly, I think that is how I would have branded the book but I never agree with the genres that are slapped on books so this could just be me. It is a very well written contemporary, coming of age, discovery, teen romance book and if you like those and/or know of a teen who might, then I highly recommend In Another Life. The story, from beginning to end, is captivity and the characters are one with whom I identified and empathized. It is definitely a book I would have chosen to read when I was 14 or 15 years old, perhaps a bit younger or older depending on the maturity of the reader.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

CC Hunter_Author PhotoC.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She is lives in Tomball, Texas, where she’s at work on her next novel.

Christie’s books include The Mortician’s Daughter series, Shadow Fall Novels and This Heart of Mine.

ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR C.C. HUNTER: “Hunter deftly delivers a complicated back-and-forth point of view between Chloe and Cash, building suspense along with a steamy sense of attraction between the two teens.” — Kirkus

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In Another Life will be available at WEDNESDAY BOOKS on its publication day, March 26, 2018. Thank you to @Wednesdaybooks and Meghan Harrington for allowing me to read and participate in this terrific tour.

 

The Rain #ECFisher @BooksGoSocial

Beware of The Rain and what it will bring to your town….

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Thirty years ago, Charlie Hamilton was the owner of High Tide Camp, a youth camp for middle schoolers. However, that fateful summer, the kids took their bullying and pranks too far and one of them ends up dead. Now it is time for revenge and it is coming with…The Rain.

The Rain is a very short story or novella that is creepy and campy all at once. The descriptions and the characters are perfectly drawn allowing the atmosphere to be scary and a bit horrifying. However, the dialogue was a stumbling block for me. No where does it mention that this is a horror book for younger readers but the style of writing suggested that it might be and certainly that is the age level that I would recommend for this story. It is just too campy to be an adult horror read. It wasn’t that it was bad, just not up to the usual standards for adult horror. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy reading it. It had the aura of the old Twilight Zone television show – creepy, scary but a tad bit over the top. It will be book that I think of each time it rains and I bet you will too if you read it!

Thanks to #Netgalley and #BooksGoSocial for my copy of this fun read.

Sadie

Oh Sadie, Sadie, Sadie…. how you stole my heart. I give Sadie FIVE stars and FIVE moons too!

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Sadie is a young girl set on revenge against the man she is certain has murdered her sister. Her life has been hard, the daughter of an alcoholic mother and non-existent father, Sadie has raised herself and her sister with the help of an older, loving neighbor. After her mother’s disappearance from their lives, Sadie continues to take care of her sister alone until the fateful night that her sister is savagely murdered. Sadie knows who did it despite the fact that the police have done nothing and followed no leads. Sadie disappears into the night looking for the killer, leaving no clues behind and telling no one her destination.

This is where the story begins: Sadie is missing and the loving neighbor wants to know where she is, what has happened to her. She elicits the help of a very skeptical podcast reporter who has done some podcasts about interesting people in rural areas. The author uses both first hand accounts from Sadie and the podcast episodes. While I’m beginning to think that the use of blogs and podcasts in literature are becoming a crutch and a little too overused, in this particular instance it works very well. The author uses the reporter to ask a question and then, seamlessly, flows into the character’s response on the podcast. There were times that I could easily imagine how this would have sounded and what it would have looked like “on air.” Rather than being a crutch, it became an enhancement to the story. The book also is specially geared toward “young adults” and I think this type of writing works for them.

With that in mind – the “young adult” aspect of this book – I think this is the first time I’ve read something within this genre in which I truly felt that the story had merit. When I was a young adult or younger, we were offered amazing stories that told the grittier, darker side of being a teen. S E Hinton’s series, The Outsiders, or the horrific tale, Go Ask Alice,” were required reading for teens and young adults. Somewhere along the way, Harry Potter became the norm, for adults and kids alike, and I think that books with substance took a back seat. Sadie, however, is a real coming of age story about rural America, alcohol and drugs, runaways and the horror that far too many young people and young adults must deal with as a regular part of their existence. There is no sugar-coating here, no happy endings for everyone: this is life and it is told expertly. Sadie is a book that I will read again and again and recommend to every reader I know. It is a must read for teens and young adults. It is a story for this generation in today’s society, a story that will stand the test of time.

A million thanks to #CourtneySummers for writing such an astounding book; to #Netgalley and #StMartinsPress for my advanced copy.

 

Angels Can’t Swim – a novella

Sundays

I don’t often read books from first time authors who are not represented by a publishing company; however, lately I have found that many of these books – while a bit more roughly edited – are like finding diamonds in the rough. Angels Can’t Swim is a perfect example!

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There are three girls, competitive swimmers, each holding secrets inside of them that have the potential to destroy their swimming careers and, ultimately, their lives. As the novella unfolds, we learn about each of the girls: their passions, their fears, their innermost thoughts and feelings.

One is beautiful, talented but holding back in the pool because of her secret.

One is gay, barely out of the closet and not yet comfortable in her own skin.

One is seemingly “perfect,” not the best swimmer on the team but the one who appears to have her act together.

However, before the book is finished each of these girls must confront a pregnancy, bulimia and rape.

In a very straight forward account of these three girls, you will become engrossed in their stories. There was a part of me, the editor/proofreader in me, that wanted to edit the writing, but then I realized that this very blunt, unvarnished account is what makes this story so compelling – and it is very gripping. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother of diver who competed with the US Olympic Diving team, but these stories were so real that I simply could not put it down. From start to finish, which only too a few hours, I never once stopped reading!

The author was a competitive swimmer and she writes as only someone who has been there/done that, can do. I suspect that she personally knew girls who experienced each of these things and I hope that they, too, came out on the other side as a whole and not in pieces. Sadly, I watched too many female divers who did not.

Angels Can’t Swim is not just for athletes, although their lives never are as wonderful as you would think. It is for women of all ages who struggle with self-perception. However, it is specially written for young women who need to know, absolutely should know, that always are people who are willing to help, listen and care. This book affected me deeply and I encourage all women to read it. Again, it is short, only 100 pages, and each page is well worth your read.

I’m giving it 4 stars simply because it did need editing – the story, however, is a solid 5+ stars! You can find this book now at Amazon. Angles Can’t Swim at Amazon  My appreciation to Alexandra McCann, the author, for sharing this book with me.