Thursday, 15 August 2019

REVIEW - ASSERTION TRIALS BY MELAINA RAYNE

Title: Assertion Trials
Series: Wilder Series
Author: Melaina Rayne
Genre: Paranormal, Shifter, Romance
Release Date: 6th August 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
I am Shala Wilder. It is time for my coming-of-age celebration. Eligible males from every wolf pack have come to compete in the brutal trials of the Assertion.

When all is over, the victor will claim me as his companion. The problem? My heart isn’t set on a competitor, but on an off-limits guard who has no interest in me.

What fate awaits me at the end of the trials? Will I fulfill my duty as obedient pack member, or will I forge my own path?


PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon US
Amazon UK

REVIEW

Once again I found myself craving a shifter read! The dark mysterious looking cover caught my eye and then when I read the blurb this novella soon became a must read now choice! I would say the female on the cover is a good representation of Shala, the main character in the book.

The book begins with Shala hiding out, having some quiet, alone time to calm her nerves about what is to come soon. It’s not long until one of the elderwomen shouts for Shala to come down. Shala is nervous, its been ten years since she saw her parents. All female children go to the mountain stronghold until they become a woman and return to their families at the age of twenty. At age twenty it is time for the Assertion Trials where all the males fight until only one is left standing and then they claim their prize.

Shala is pleased that it is Nailana that accompanies her back to her village. Shala is anxious about seeing her parents again but that soon melts away when as tradition dictates her parent stand in the doorway and her mother, Eden breaks tradition and cannot wait for her daughter to walk to her so she meets her halfway. Shala’s father Arnou as Alpha is more restrained but its clear to see that he is proud of his first daughter to be home for her Assertion Trials. It’s not long until Shala feels somewhat stifled and decides she needs to wander outside and reacquaint herself with the area she grew up in. Shala ends up in the nearby trees of the forest and climbs a tree contemplating what is to come. Thinking about who will she end up being with for the rest of her life. Suddenly she senses wolves approaching but they are not pack wolves they are feral. One of the guards comes to her aid and it’s the one she noticed earlier. The one that caught her eye in a way none of the competitors in the Assertion Trials did. The guard being her companion is impossible, it’s just not done. The best she can hope for if she doesn’t get on with her companion is to join the guard. Though there aren’t many female guards. After the fight with the ferals, the head guard Kene, allocates two guards to be with Shala at all times. The two guards he choses are Wyatt and Decker. Decker being the one with the eyes that seem to be staring at Shala a lot. Those eyes that Shala is beginning to care a lot about.

I can’t really say much more without giving spoilers. There is plenty of fighting action in this book as each fight within the Assertion Trials is covered in the book. Shala has to sit and watch each fight. The one’s she wishes to be out of the competition as soon as possible are Resno and his two sidekicks Rafe and Lyall. Though not particularly interested in any of the competitors she does have the hope someone other than the three arrogant young men will be the victor. I really loved the way Nailana and Eden talked to Shala about the competitors saying that there will be some great specimens but there will also be some she would dearly love to slap around the head. Another part that made me laugh was how the women in the pack were drinking and encouraging Shala to drink her Uncle’s, well known moonshine drink. Poor Shala certainly needs it at certain points of the book. Things don’t turn out to be as straight forward when someone threatens the safety of Shala and a guard steps him to do his job protecting her. The one who wins the Assertion Trials ends up not being the one that wins Shala, thank goodness for her sake and safety. A challenger steps forward, which though unusual, it is allowed. Can this, last minute challenger beat the unsavoury Assertion Trial victor, or is Shala doomed for a life with a man she already detests?

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book was
that I had just snuggled up in bed and read it in one go, didn't want to put it down. Loved it! Please tell me there is going to be more...? ....A lot more to this ...series?

This book has action, fighting, wolf packs, feral wolves, love, honour, duty and a generous helping of romance too. I really hope there’s going to be more of this series.


REVIEW - THE BOOK OF FLORA - THE ROAD TO NOWHERE BY MEG ELSION

Title: The Book Of Flora
Series: The Road To Nowhere
Author: Meg Elison
Genre: General Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: 47 North
Release Date: 23rd April 2019

BLURB from Goodreads
In the wake of the apocalypse, Flora has come of age in a highly gendered post-plague society where females have become a precious, coveted, hunted, and endangered commodity. But Flora does not participate in the economy that trades in bodies. An anathema in a world that prizes procreation above all else, she is an outsider everywhere she goes, including the thriving all-female city of Shy.

Now navigating a blighted landscape, Flora, her friends, and a sullen young slave she adopts as her own child leave their oppressive pasts behind to find their place in the world. They seek refuge aboard a ship where gender is fluid, where the dynamic is uneasy, and where rumors flow of a bold new reproductive strategy.

When the promise of a miraculous hope for humanity’s future tears Flora’s makeshift family asunder, she must choose: protect the safe haven she’s built or risk everything to defy oppression, whatever its provenance.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
After finishing The Book Of Etta I felt I had to start the next book right away. It is really rare that I will read books in a series back to back, but this series …is addictive reading. I didn’t even write my review for The Book Of Etta before starting this one!
This book has these genres listed for it Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian which I agree with but, would add it also has action and suspense. The book also touches on LGBTQIA issues too within the context of the book and people being different. Due to content, violence and subject matter this book is definitely 18+.

This book is going to be difficult to review without giving away spoilers. This book begins with diary entries and the story being told from the view of Flora, who we met briefly in book two. Flora has kept records from the “beginnings” of “the dying” transcribed by the Unnamed Midwife, then there’s the parts penned by Etta and those she has come across who have added their stories to the books. Flora begins writing about Bambritch which is an island. Flora explains all the books/diaries are kept in a fire proof chest which is hidden under the floor so if they are attacked the books will survive for those in the future to read. Bambritch has been taking in survivors such as farmers, fishermen etc for some time. These survivors, scouts and raiders all come with the same message for the one named Flora, that “They” are coming! They are many, they have weapons from the old world. Old war machines that cannot be stopped, tanks, trucks with long guns mounted on them. Survivors are saying “they”, have missiles to destroy a whole village and also have plague weapons, like the ones that started “the dying”. Flora isn’t sure what to believe, then Speel, one of the raiders draws pictures of villages this army has destroyed. One of Speel’s drawings shows a large pit the army made villager dig, they then shot those villagers using the pit as a mass grave. The bodies weren’t even respectfully covered up, just left for the bugs and wild animals. Flora has no idea whether the rumours are true, exaggerated or plain lies all she can do is wait for this army to arrive and hope they can either negotiate or survive the armies onslaught.

The book then goes back in time to those that escaped from the Lion of Estiel and the remaining survivors of Nowhere travel to the underground community of Ommun. The Ommun community are quite religious and have a leader called Alma who is quite goddess like in how she presents herself and the way she says she has visions and speaks to the Heavenly Mother. They have a book of scripture and religious songs they sing. The Ommun scripture refers mostly to the heavenly father. It also says Mothers are special. Alma never refers to God as a man, though she speaks to her God regularly. Alma does welcome the survivors and tries to have them integrate into her community as quickly as possible. Alma is continually pregnant and gives birth to twins and triplets. Alma gives out “callings” which are jobs but gives nothing to Flora. Alma clearly doesn’t like Flora and what he/she is. It is clear Alma has no use for Flora and tries her best to ignore her.
The diary entries by Flora reveal there is also a distance between him/her and Eddy who is now identifying as a man most of the time. Flora thinks the reason Eddy is so distance is the fact the Lion of Estiel used Eddy as the woman she was born (Etta) and repeatedly raped her, resulting in her becoming pregnant. All Eddy can think of is ridding her body of its invader. Eddy is aware that Alice knows of some herbs she can mix together that when ingested will cause her to lose the baby. When Alma finds out she is furious as she believes all babies are gifts even those made during a rape.
It’s not surprising that some from the survivors from Estiel and Nowhere choose to leave Ommun in search of a less judgemental settlement. What does surprise Alma is that some of her Ommun settlers choose to leave with this group too. Though Alma allows this group to leave she will not help them in any way at all. This means that they have to climb the long, long ladders to the surface rather than being able to use the lift that they would normally which works with some of the stronger men using a pully system. The book then tells the story of those survivors and how Eddy leads them in a quest to see what the Unnamed Midwife saw on the beginning of her journey. Then the book will go forward to Flora being at Bambritch and the preparations they are making to fight the onslaught of an army with an unknown leader, some say it’s a man that leads, whilst other rumours say it’s a woman. The book keeps you guessing who is leading this army and what it wants to the time it arrives on the shore, across the water from Brambritch island.

There are lots of great characters both in this book and within the whole series. As the title says “The Book of Flora”, her earlier life before Jeff’s City is revealed. Her first recollections of being with slave trader Archie. The things he made her do. There are times when Flora feels ashamed and compares herself to her slave trader master as she had to help Archie get the slaves ready to be sold. Then there’s the man who Flora calls father. The father who taught Flora how to hide in plain sight or hide as well depending on the situation.

I think this book deals with some topics that are still very relevant in todays news, with the continuing debates about abortion and a woman’s rights over her own body. This book series also covers subjects about sexual gender with characters that are  homosexual, and transgender characters that are females identifying as males (such as Etta/Eddy)  and males identifying as women (such as Flora). If I had known about all of the different sexualities, and the different references to distinctive religions within the book/series would I have read it? I am quite ashamed to say the different sexualities may have put me off a little but it would have been the religion would have had me doubting that I would have finished reading the books/series. Having said that I am venturing into reading genres and subjects I may have discounted before. I did enjoy reading this book and in fact the whole series. The differing religions and settlements of survivors gave views of how they dealt with the lack of females. Some settlements had women as possessions, or slaves for sex, purely for men to find a release. Some just saw women being there to breed to keep civilisation going and explained themselves as being right as religion said that was how it should be. Others had women in charge with men as the “slaves”. The book really did give a lot of different prospective on what would happen in such a situation in our present day.

The book was quite complex at times, for example, keeping track of female born Etta, who identifies more as male Eddy. This character has to switch from female to male quite a lot depending on whose company she/he is in. Occasionally it did seem like a chore keeping track of whether the character was Etta or Eddy. In the end this character does end as one person, the one they want to be the most. They find a place to be accepted as they are.

The book/series is a rather though provoking read, which sort of settlement would I wish to exist in? How would you protect yourself as a woman? The book had a lot going on and certainly kept you reading and hating every time you had to put the book down!


As for books I would compare it too, there is the Aftertime Series by Sophie Littlefield (I still have the last book to read), The Last Girl by Joe Hart (which I have read all of) and The Breeders Series by Katie French which is a fantastic YA series (I have read all of) and it’s spin off Second City Series that this book had some similarities too.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

REVIEW - THE BOOK OF ETTA - THE ROAD TO NOWHERE BY MEG ELISON


Title: The Book Of Etta
Series: The Road To Nowhere
Author: Meg Elison
Genre: General Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: 47 North
Release Date: 21st February 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Etta comes from Nowhere, a village of survivors of the great plague that wiped away the world that was. In the world that is, women are scarce and childbearing is dangerous…yet desperately necessary for humankind’s future. Mothers and midwives are sacred, but Etta has a different calling. As a scavenger. Loyal to the village but living on her own terms, Etta roams the desolate territory beyond: salvaging useful relics of the ruined past and braving the threat of brutal slave traders, who are seeking women and girls to sell and subjugate.

When slavers seize those she loves, Etta vows to release and avenge them. But her mission will lead her to the stronghold of the Lion—a tyrant who dominates the innocent with terror and violence. There, with no allies and few weapons besides her wits and will, she will risk both body and spirit not only to save lives but also to liberate a new world’s destiny.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
Writing my review for The Book of the Unnamed Midwife made me want to read the next book in The Road to Nowhere series as soon as I could. As I had put myself on a book buying ban, and I thought I would have to wait a while but when I checked on Amazon, I had already bought this book so I took it as fate that I was meant to read this book straightaway! As for The Book Of The Unnamed Midwife, this book has these genres listed for it Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian which I agree with but, would add it also has action and suspense.

So, this book centres on Etta, daughter of Ina who goes by the name of Eddy when out raiding and rescuing young girls & women. Ina still wants Etta to settle down and either have a child or become a midwife. Etta doesn’t want either of those things for her future, she wants and identifies more with the male Eddy who goes out raiding and/or rescuing women and girls and killing slave traders. Those who live in Nowhere think Eddy travels to Estiel to trade for old world goods and things they need. Eddy has not been to Estiel since an incident there when she/he was seventeen. Ina also strongly encourages Etta/Eddy to write in a journal to keep a diary of where he/she travels and who he/she meets along the way, but Etta/Eddy doesn’t do this for a long time. Etta/Eddy has a ritual for getting the raiding pack ready. Riccardo & Errol, had long since disappeared now but Etta/Eddy remembers what these older raiders who trained Etta/Eddy always told him, you must always carry enough, but never too much. Think about what you know you cannot replace. Etta/Eddy misses Errol & Riccardo they were like older brothers. When Etta/Eddy did begin to write in the journal he/she always wrote in it at the beginning of the day. It is during one of his raider journeys that Etta/Eddy heard music and felt drawn to follow it to find out it’s source. When he enters Jeff City the first person that speaks to him is a woman called Deborah & her daughter Myles. Deborah looks at Eddy as she sees a male in front of her, the identity that Etta/Eddy is presenting to the world outside of Nowhere. Eddy is also the identity that Etta/Eddy feels the most comfortable with being. Deborah asks Eddy what he wants to trade to which he replies reeling off Metals, Vegetables and herbs he doesn’t already have, information, skilled tradesman if they want to move to Nowhere. Deborah asks if he wants women, Eddy replies he wants women who wish to come willingly only, and states he is not a slaver and nor does he steal girls. Deborah shows Eddy cloth that has been made in Jeff City. Which is a good find as the raids for old world clothes will only provide for a short time. It is valuable to know how to make fabric for clothes, blankets etc. Later Eddy meets the elders/council of Jeff City and discuss teaching children, learning to read and write etc. They each learn more about the differences of each other’s settlement’s, how they rule and successful birth rates. It is here in Jeff City that Eddy meets Flora who is a horsewoman, and who becomes an important person in this book and the following one too. When the Lion of Estiel’s men called “the claws” come into Jeff City and simply take Deborah’s baby girl Etta as a woman and Eddy as a man has a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact no one stands up the claws. Those that live in Jeff City simply hand the little girl over without complaint and no one even attempts to trade or do a deal, let alone have a show of force to stop the baby being taken.

My favourite and the main character of this book is Etta/Eddy who though is born a female identifies more as a male. She actually hides her feminine attributes as the unnamed midwife used to. The thing about this character is that they are a she so Etta when at home in Nowhere but is a male so Eddy when outside of Nowhere. Both as a female and a male Etta/Eddy continually compares themselves to the Unnamed Midwife, the way she rescued females from slave traders and when she couldn’t do that she would provide the women with birth control to prevent them from becoming pregnant and losing their child and their own life as was the normal occurrence in her time. Etta/Eddy is a kick butt character whether presenting themselves female or male. Etta had been chosen as a candidate to become a midwife early in her life, it was sort of presumed that as her mother was a midwife so would she. Etta had read all the Unnamed Midwife journals and the handbooks that Nowhere had so could have been a midwife. In fact, it would probably been an easier way of life for Etta than what she ultimately chose to do. Even though this character sometimes struggles with being who he/she wants to be I found her interesting, brave and loyal to those who she cares for.

I don’t want to reveal much more about this post-apocalyptic set plot, but there are plenty of twists and turns and secrets to be found out or revealed that keep you hooked and wanting to continue reading. The book is fairly mixed pace and yes, I found myself wanting to shout get on with it a couple of times when the pace had slowed down but it is worth sticking with. I liked how the survivors of “the dying” kept the old-world phrases such as when people are introduced it is Etta, daughter of Ina, or David son of Jenn etc. The term for having a child is having a “living child”. You can’t help but laugh at some of the descriptions, such as, “Her mouth had the sunken look of a recently filled grave” The names of the places were kind of fun to think of their real counterparts, such as Florda was Florida and there was Manhattan and Womanhattan. There are lots of “traditions” some from the old-world others from the new world. In Nowhere the mother of a living child such as Ina mother of Etta wears a wooden pregnancy bump. Its kind of like a symbol to show respect. When girls have their first blood, they are presented with a journal to write in recording their stories for the future. The gun and the book were the tools of the Unnamed Midwife and the tools of Eddy, though he is better with one than the other.

Once again, I found myself pulled in and my interest held throughout. There were the occasionally “flat” or “slow” sections but I felt compelled to read on. The book and series certainly aimed at 18+ adults due to its content and the issues it deals with. Though the book is fictional but it does touch on some difficult scenarios and issues that are relevant to present day situations. The book certainly makes you think about what you would do yourself in the various situations the characters in the book find themselves in. I enjoyed discovering the different settlements as Eddy came across them. It was interesting to compare the places with each other, what they did the same and what was completely different. It’s quite intriguing learning the different rules, hierarchy and ways of the different communities.
I found The Book Etta to be another addictive installment in The Road To Nowhere Series. It still reminded me a little of the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield , The Dominion Trilogy by Joe Hart or an adult grittier version of The Breeders series by Katie French.

WISHLIST WEDNESDAY - SUMMERLAND BY LUCY ADLINGTON

THE BOOK I LIKE THE LOOK/SOUND 
OF READING THIS WEEK IS BY AN AUTHOR
I HAVE READ AND LOVED BEFORE
AS SOON AS I READ THE BLURB IT WENT ON MY WISHLIST!
TITLE: Summerland
AUTHOR: Lucy Adlington
PUBLISHER: Hot Key Books
RELEASE DATE: 5th September 2019

BLURB from GOODREADS

Brigid is one of a group of child refugees being escorted to England by the Red Cross in October 1946. She is a serious, silent figure, with worn clothes and shoes and a small cardboard suitcase containing all her belongings. On arrival at Waterloo station however, Brigid breaks from the group and runs . . .


Brigid has a secret which she has buried deep inside her. She also has an ulterior motive: she needs to find a place called Summerland Hall where she hopes she will find the one person left alive who is deeply important to her.

An extraordinary tale, with some events inspired by history, that encompasses truth, tolerance, racism and forgiveness.





PURCHASE LINK


The book I have previously read books by this author and felt incredibly moved by her book The Red Ribbon, here's the link to my review  & a little reminder below about the book.


Title: The Red Ribbon
Author: Lucy Adlington
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Teens & YA
Publisher: Hot Key Books, Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date: 21st September 2017

BLURB from Goodreads

Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.


As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive.

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?

Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud - a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.


PURCHASE LINKS




Monday, 12 August 2019

REVIEW - THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE - THE ROAD TO NOWHERE BY MEG ELISON

Title: The Book Of The Unnamed Midwife
Series: The Road To Nowhere
Author: Meg Elison
Genre: Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Publisher: 47 North
Release Date: 11th October 2016

BLURB from Goodreads
When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I had bought this one from Amazon UK back in December 2017 so it had been sat waiting on my kindle for me to get around to reading it for a while. I think it was one of those books I had bought and then forgot about! I had just finished reading a couple of books that had pregnancy as a major subject within them and I fancied reading something similar and whilst aimlessly searching by kindle for reading inspiration I came across The Unnamed Midwife and decided it was about time I read that!
The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-Fi and Literary Fiction, which I do agree with, though upon finishing reading the book I would also add Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic and maybe even a little futuristic.

At the beginning of the book we seem to be set in some sort of “future time” the prologue introduces us to Mother Ina who is wearing a false wooden nine months gestation pregnant belly even though she is clearly too old to really be pregnant. This detail sort of confused me a little and to a point I still don’t really know why Mother Ina was wearing a wooden pregnancy belly. Mother Ina is instructing the boys who are the latest chosen scribes to copy The Book Of The Unnamed Midwife. Mother Ina explains that it is not just one book but a collection of nineteen journals. She explains that the boys have already been taught the book of Canon which holds the story of dying and that it is a hard thing to read, it may make them feel sick, or upset. They have also learnt the book of Honus, which contains information about the hives. Mother Ina continues instructing them, that they will finish up with The Book of the Dreamless Ones then their training will be complete. Mother Ina drills into them that these books are very special and important. They are also very fragile and sensitive to light. It is the utmost importance that the information in them is kept and is to be handed down over the generations to come.

Then the actual book itself begins, the world in a state of widespread illness and panic. The main character of the book is the “Unnamed Midwife” whose real name we never really learn This strong female chooses a different name for every different person or group of people she meets. At the beginning of the book she is referred to “she” but the first time she uses a name it is “Karen” so I will refer to her as Karen now as it is easier to explain the book having a name for the character. It is her diary entries that form an important part of this book. Karen is a nurse and can’t remember the last time she had been at home, or even rested. Karen had been so busy with the constant influx of patients. Karen notices that the fever and illness seems, to be affecting women more. More and more of them are dying. Women that are pregnant are giving having stillbirths and then also dying themselves. Karen has hardly seen her partner Jack either. Jack is working non stop in the hospital labs to try and identify the infection and come up with a vaccine to prevent others succumbing to it or even to find a cure of some sort. The last time she saw Jack he had revealed to her that he still had a long way to go though he did think that this infection was autoimmune illness.

It’s not long until she herself falls ill and literally just finds a place to lie down and die. When she does reawaken, she doesn’t know how much time has passed or why she now seems to be fever free. She searches the hospital looking for Jack and in doing so finds lots of dead bodies, again she notices the greater percentage consists of women. She ventures outside of the hospital and is shocked by what she discovers. There are no buses, no cars moving, streetlights and no people. She makes her way to her apartment hoping Jack could be there as she hadn’t found his body in the hospital when she had searched. She is so tired she literally falls onto her bed and sleeps. Suddenly she is aware of the mattress moving as another body lies next to her. In her sleepy state at first, she thinks it is Jack and then realises it is some other man who is intent on raping her. She fights for her life and survives.
The first people she meets is a gay couple who give their names as Joe and Chicken, she gives her name as Karen. Karen is invited to eat a meal with them and spend the night. Later when Chicken goes out in search of water, he comes across other people and has to flee and ends up injuring himself quite badly. Karen treats Chicken’s leg and probably saves his life. They stick together for a while, going into office buildings to look for water, they survive a gas explosion and are almost caught by a gang of men. It’s then that Chicken bluntly tells Karen she is no longer welcome to travel with them as she will be putting them in more danger.
“Karen” soon decides she needs to hide the fact that she is a woman, as she meets different groups or lone survivors, she is all the more wary of trusting anyone with the fact she is a woman. So, she always gives a male name and says she was a field medic in Afghanistan and just leaves the fact that she is female out of her story. It is not until much later in the book that she reveals she is a qualified midwife. Her skills are certainly needed as some settlers are actively becoming pregnant thinking, they will be okay now the plague/fever seems to have died out. It is also towards the latter part of the book that, the then named Dusty comes across a settlement of what she calls Mormons though they prefer to be referred to as LDS. They believe they are doing Gods work in Huntsville, and they are going to repopulate the world. There are 59 settlers in total, 52 men of varying ages, 3 women consisting of an old woman (too old to have more children), a middle-aged woman and a young newly married woman. There are also 4 children comprising of 2 girls and 2 boys all under the age of 10. Dusty agrees to spending some time with the group as they try to convince her to stay with them. Dusty feels there is something odd and not right about the group and decides she would rather be on her own, though she does agree they can call on her for medical emergencies if needed.

The main character is female, what is turning out to be in scarce supply, making it hazardous to be a woman, especially a woman of child bearing age. She is hurt when Joe and Chicken turn their backs on her and I think she would have probably happily stayed with them. The fact they more or less abandon her gives her a harsh reality check, she has no one to rely on but herself. She cuts off her long hair, kits herself out in a vest to bind her chest and wears men’s clothing to disguise that she is female. She learns not to trust anyone. As she meets different people, she gives them all a different name. I wonder if it is meant to be that she no longer remembers her name as she was so ill. Or is it as she no longer identifies with the person she once was, and the world she now lives in that she gives different names. Or perhaps she simply doesn’t trust anyone to tell them the one thing she can keep to herself and that’s her real name. I really liked the “unnamed midwife” as a character, she is a tough woman determined not only to make it on her own but to help any women she comes across on her journey. She provides them with birth control, and any medical help she can give them without revealing herself as a mother.  

I loved the part of the book where “the unnamed midwife” ends up in a settlement literally called “Nowhere” and hears news of her partner Jack. It certainly makes both her and the reader go through a lot of “What if’s”. Things could have been so different if they had remained together, but then the realist part of her brain and the readers brain kicks in and thinks that the ending she has at the end of the book may never have happened. Had she been travelling with Jack maybe they both would be dead, or Jack dead and her a slave to the meant that would have killed him to get her.


I would say this book is an 18+ read with the content and subject matter of rape, and sexuality. I would say that the section concerning the LDS and how they were choosing to live in Huntsville may be uncomfortable reading for some too. I enjoyed the sections that were in diary form initially by the Unnamed Midwife using the various names she came up with, then the section that “Dusty” copied into her journal from the diary Honus had kept during his time on her mission from the LDS. Then there are the diary entries of the people who have come together to live in “Nowhere” too.  There is, also the sections where the narrator is telling the story which kept my interest going when some of the diary entries were a bit too slowly paced or a little too drawn out. This is the first book in a series and though at times the book felt a little slow in pace, I still want to read more of this series. I am definitely glad that I finally got around to reading this book. It reminded me a tiny bit of Sophie Littlefield’s, Aftertime Series, Post-Apocalyptic for adult readers. I would say that it’s a decent start to a potentially great series. 

Friday, 9 August 2019

REVIEW - BANDED - BANDED SERIES BY LOGAN BYRNE

Title: Banded
Series: Banded Series
Author: Logan Byrne
Genre: Sci-Fi, YA, Dystopian
Release Date: 8th April 2014

BLURB from Goodreads
In dystopian Manhattan, society is divided into six zones, with each one representing a citizen’s benefit to society: Stalwart (strength), Astute (intelligence), Collusive (greed), Radiant (beauty), Quixotic (no life direction), and the Altruistic (willingness to help others). On a citizen’s sixteenth birthday, a computer suggests a new zone for them based on their inherent benefit to society. When Kalenna Slater is sorted out of her home zone Quixotic and into Altruistic, she thinks things can’t get worse. Life looks dismal until she meets Gavin, a boy also just sorted into Altruistic who becomes the light needed on her cloudy days.

During sorting she receives a device known as ‘The Band’. It’s a large watch-like device that never comes off, and it measures a citizen’s karma on a scale from one to one hundred. If a citizen does good, they gain points. If a citizen does bad, including breaking laws, they lose points. When your number reaches zero, the band acts as judge, jury, and executioner, and you are injected with toxins that kill you within minutes.

After sorting, recruits are taken to a three month long mandatory school named HQ. It’s at HQ she meets new friends from different zones, and finally begins to feel at ease. Everything goes well until a rare trip home makes her discover that her father, who has been missing for a decade, may have taken part in a terrible program that stands to shake the fabric of society.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
I’d had this ebook on my kindle for quite a while, I think I bought it when it was on offer. I read and loved the Branded prequel to this series. I just fancied reading some more of a series I had already begun so chose this book. I would say the female on the cover is a good depiction of Kalenna, the main character in the book. The genres I have seen listed for this book are Sci-fi, YA, and Dystopian. I agree with them all and would just add in Futuristic, and the fact I am so not in the YA age bracket, and the label YA doesn’t mean it is exclusively for young adult readers. I take it that the YA label means the content and language in the book are young adult suitable.

The book is set in a dystopian society that it divided into six zones. Each zone and its occupants represent that citizen’s benefit to society. At the end of the month you become the age of sixteen everyone must turn up to have their bands fitted and to have their future zone decided upon. Every one has to have a band fitted on their arm. This band cannot be removed and it starts off with 100 points and it is green in colour. Points can and are deducted for anything you do which is considered wrong. 100-66 starts off a bright green and goes paler the lower your points get, 65-35 is a bright yellow which also turns paler the lower your points total is and finally 35-0 is red and this time it starts out pale, but the more points you lose the brighter the red. If you commit some awful crime and all your points are removed, or if you lose your points and end up at zero, you are killed. Apparently, the band somehow pushes poison into your system and kills you.

Kalenna is very near to her 16th birthday, the day she will be given her band and her zone too. She may return to Quixotic where she was born and brought up. Kalenna lives with her mother and her ten year old sister Tria. Kalenna’s father disappeared when Kalenna was much younger, Tria doesn’t even remember her father, George. Kalenna and her mother keep George/dad’s memory alive by showing the wedding photograph and the other keepsakes that are hidden away in a box and then that is hidden too, as George insisted it contained something very important that the government must never find. Kalenna is surprised when her mother makes her a birthday cake, they are not a well off family so such decadent treats are rare. Today Kalenna will receive her band which will be bright green and have 100 points on it. She will also find out which district she will live and serve in. Kalenna is both excited and upset, her ideal scenario will be to be placed in Quixotic as then she can continue to live with her mum and Tria. Kalenna has to say her tearful goodbyes to Tria at their modest home as only the parents of the sixteen year olds are allowed to watch the ceremony.

Kalenna soon has to say goodbye to her mum and then join the long queue’s that are leading inside to the ceremony hall. Everyone looks nervous, some look sad, and some seem excited, no one says very much. Kalenna looks around and a boy ahead in line smiles at her but that’s about all the communication she gets. It’s not long until the lines of 16 year olds are sitting on stage waiting for firstly their band to be fitted and then find out which zone they are going to be in.

I loved the descriptions and similes used in the book when all the sixteen year olds watch the first very nervous, timid girl get up and approach President Green for her band. We all watched her, our eyes glued to her and nothing else; she was like the sacrificial lamb up for slaughter." The descriptions are so good you can easily visualise and empathise with the individual characters and what they are enduring. The parents of the sixteen year olds are warned if there are any disturbances they will be removed so it really shocks Kalenna when it is her turn, she quietly accepts her band and then the computer delivers it verdict as to which zone she will be in…..it say’s I see a lot of benefits in this girl. She is definitely strong, stronger than most. She is certainly selfless in all aspects, yet also has a wandering, quixotic mind reminiscent of most in her home zone. It would be my recommendation that she be placed in—” The computer stopped, at least in my mind, as the only sensation I could feel was my heart racing out of my chest. I looked up at the Altruistic girl who was standing next to me, and she looked back down at me, giving me a quick, sly wink. “Altruistic,” the computer said. It’s at that point Kalenna’s mother shouts out!

It's not that the zone her daughter has been placed in is bad, as it is a good zone to be where most would become Doctors, Nurses or other Medical Staff. As travel between zones is not permitted unless it is in the course of your work it is unlikely, they will ever see their families again. Kalenna hopes for a medical job as those with that type of job do travel between zones and it gives a slice of hope that she could maybe sneak in a little visit with her mum and Tria sometime in the future. Once everyone has been fitted with their band and placed in a zone they are all taken to HQ, which is where they will do 3 months of training before being sent out to their individual zones.

There is so much happening in this book, it really is packed full of action along with some historical information about the society and why they live like they do. I really liked the different zones within the book and their names. Yes, I admit the cynic in me worried the book would slide down the exact route of Divergent but it doesn’t. Sure, there are some similarities but there is also a lot more to the book that is different. I enjoyed the fact the bands and zones were explained as you came to them within the book.

My favourite character was of Kalenna as it should be as she is the main character. Other characters that I liked were Gavin, the boy who had smiled at Kalenna whilst in line at the ceremony. There’s a hint of romance between the two of them but it does begin with them being friends within the Altruistic group. I thought the idea that the different zones had an initial 3 months training at HQ at the same time was a great idea. You get to learn about the different zones from the characters placed within them. All recruits to whichever zone they are placed in have lessons on the history of the nation and weapon and fighting training. Kalenna makes new friends quite quickly. Unfortunately gaining a friendship with Ivor, during a National History lesson costs her a point being deducted from her band! The first recruit at HQ to have a point taken. This friendship turns out to be very useful later in the book. Kalenna ends up with a group of friends she is willing to help as much as they are willing to help her. There’s Stalwart Hector, who goes by the nickname of Jericho, as well as Jasmine Brunner, whose father worked with Kalenna’s dad George on a secret project called “Project Gemini”.

I enjoyed trying to work out who the spy in HQ was, and what they were looking for. Then after the spy was revealed I started wondering about Project Gemini which we do learn a little about in this book that I am sure will continue to be revealed as the series goes on.

This book has certainly laid some solid foundations for a potentially brilliant series to continue to grow. It left me with so many different questions and thoughts, such as Does Warden Pumose really know Kalenna's father George or does he merely know of him? What else will the valuable mystery disc reveal? Why does it seem that Jasmine & Kalenna are being watched so closely? Are Ivan, Gavin & Jericho in danger along with the girls? How many more points is hot headed, impulsive, Kalenna going to lose before she realises she seriously needs to bite her tongue?

To sum up, I am definitely adding the next book in the series to my Want To Buy To Read List. I would recommend reading both this book and it’s prequel too.