My Most Anticipated January 2021 Releases!

This is a new kind of post for me to write. Today we are going to be looking at new releases in the historical fiction and historical romance genres! I never used to pay attention to new releases as I would get to them when I got to them but now I think that I will purchase one every month with my monthly Barnes and Noble trip, which has been done online since April. There are so many new and diverse books coming out this month and later in the year as well. I am glad that authors of different faces and those in the LGBT+ community are being heard. I can only hope that reading from people with these experiences can help bring us as people together and realize that we all walk different paths in life and that we all need to treat each other with kindness.

Historical Fiction

Isaiah and Samuel were slaves on a planation in the Deep South. The barn that the two boys worked in together was a sort of escape from the harsh world around them, there it was just the two of them and the animals that they tended to. One of their fellow slaves begins to preach to the other slaves, leading them to turn against one another. Isaiah and Samuel are no longer safe as their love for one another is now seen as a sin. This novel shows the pain that was so prevalent during this time in history, but yet the hope that the people had as well, and what the power of love can do. This book was released on January 5, 2021.

Ada is seventeen years old in the year of 1894. She lives a happy life, she loves her husband and enjoys the job she has, helping the midwife. Things start to go downhill though when it has been over a year of marriage and Ada has not given her husband a child of their own. The act of being barren in their town often leads to women being executed in thoughts that they are witches. Ada joins a gang of outcast women as a source of safety in this patriarchal society. Ada has to decide if she really wants to live the life of an outlaw. Outlawed is one of the five choices this month over at Book of the Month if you guys would like to check it out there but at other locations it was put on the shelves on January 5, 2021.

Find Me in Havana is based on the true story of Cuban singer, Estelita Rodriguez. She started her career out at the young age of just nine years old by singing in the smoky bars of Cuba in the mid 1930s. Her voice and talent takes her to places like New York and Los Angeles, it is the one thing that belongs to Estelita, no one could take it from her when the revolution happened in 1933, and all the other tragic events that happened throughout her life. Thirty years later, Nina Rodriguez is left with the mystery of her mother. Nina has to go through mazes and mazes to seek out the truth about her mother’s path. This book will be published on January 12, 2021.

Pheby Brown is born on a planation in Virginia, into slavery. She has been promised she will be freed once she becomes an adult. Things do not go as planned, she is sent against her will to work as a slave at a prison that is known for its brutatlity and torture to its slaves. Pheby is forced to become the mistress to the owner of the jail. This story is powerful and shows her fight to freedom once and for all. You can pick it up on January 12, 2021.

The Walters are seen as the picture perfect, good Christian and Texan family. Victor is the main man, the leader, of the family. He is a preacher and now for his conservative values, that seem to be falling away in the 1970s. His daughter starts telling stories of having a baby that somehow died but the story keeps changing and no one knows what is true. However, the granddaughter, Lily, has as secret that could bring her whole family and its charade down. This book with be available for purchase on January 19, 2021.

Historical Romance

Sarani Rao is an Indian princess, she has everything that a girl could want; wealth, jewels, and beauty. However, her mother is English and that makes Sarani seem less than perfect to her peers. Her father is then killed which makes her life turn upside down, she is no longer safe without him. Then, there is Captain Rhystan Huntley, a duke rather he like its or not. He is with an English fleet in India and the one girl he has ever loved needs to escape that country. She must leave with him on his ship. This one will be released on January 26, 2021.

Sir Henry March is out on a cold London night and stumbles upon a girl who has appeared to be beaten. Eliza Broad escaped the abuse of her evil stepfather. Henry has agreed to take care of her until she has recovered. During her time of recovery Eliza is shown the world of culture that she had no idea existed in the same place that she lived. A romance soon sparks between the two of them. Throughout their romance dark and sadistic secrets of the elite are revealed. You will be able to find out for yourself on January 12, 2021.

My Highland Warrior is the start to a new historical romance series. Magdalene is one of the most beautiful women in all of Scotland the younger sister of a lord. She is known for her madness. One man feels as though he has to marry her for his peoples’ sake. She comes from a powerful family and he has to keep his people alive. Gabriel MacLachlan agrees to marry her but is scaredof how the curse on his family name might impact her. This title will be published on January 19, 2021.

Gilded Age America, Arizona to be precise. Evan Rounsevell is on the run from the responsibilities back home. He has always been fascinated with the American West and the cowboys that come with it. He would rather be a cowboy than and English lord. Daniella is left with her ranch after her fiancé fled from a draught a few years prior. Evan has no money left to his name so picks up work at Daniella’s ranch even though she is convinced that she does not need a man in her, especially this snotty English one. The adjustment is hard for Evan but he is desperate to win Daniella’s affection and her seeing his work on the land that she loves so much might cause her to have a change of heart. You can download this book on the Kindle app starting on January 30, 2021.

Which of these books would you choose? You can check out my Youtube channel, I will have a video with my selection at the end of the month! Izzy Rain

‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ Book Review

In January 2021, the world has long since had a nuclear war and dust falls over the plant. Most have immigrated to Mars but those brave enough or unfit to travel stay on the planet Earth. If you are an immigrant to the red planet you receive an android, they look human so much so most of the time you cannot tell that they are not one. The main difference is that androids lack empathy. The government on Earth has banned these creations but some have escaped from Mars to try to live lives as normal humans. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter his mission is to kill eight of the androids that have escaped from Mars. It’s a difficult task as the androids or “andys” know that they are being hunted and go a sophisticated route to stay hidden. This story goes through the minds of the androids, a man who might help them along the way, and the man who is hunting them.

I picked this book up as it is actually January 2021. Now, you might be thinking that plot sounds crazy, 2021 is nothing like how it is described in the novel. That’s because this is a science fiction novel published in 1968. It was so surreal to be reading something that takes place when we are living but was written over fifty years ago. Obviously, life is nothing like how it is in this book. It just fascinates me to see what people in the past thought the future would be like.

“Everything I’ve done has been wrong from the start.”

Chapter 20.

The main point of views in this book are the bounty hunter, Rick Deckard, and a ‘chickenhead’- someone who the nuclear dust has impacted, J.R. Isidore. The read gets to see how both of these men survive in this dystopian San Francisco and how they both feel about androids plus how they deal with those beings. The character’s were not really likeable or unlikeable, I did not really care what would happen to them. However, even though this book only takes place in a few days, I feel like their was great character growth in these men. Their thoughts on society really change throughout the story and they often have to question why they do what they do, if what they are doing is right or wrong. The characters get a four out of five rating.

The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are.”

Chapter 22.

The early chapters do a good job at worldbuilding in the sense by explaining the war that wiped out most of the population of animals. It does not go into detail why there was a war or what countries were involved, as the characters do not seem to remember. The religion is something that I thought needed a little more building though. Every time ‘mercerism’ was mentioned the plot just went crazy like it was some kind of drug trip. I honestly do not know what was happening in those paragraphs. I am still very much confused as what the meaning of those points were, maybe the next books explains better. I also do not understand why animals are so important in this world even to the point where there are electric animals. It seems the wealthy have real animals while those who are less fortunate have artificial ones that like androids look just like real ones. Atmosphere gets a three out of five.

The writing was not anything special. It was not the best writing that I have ever read and it was not the worst either. It was not too lengthy which is really nice. My pet peeve was thought that it would randomly change perspectives in a chapter without a break or anything. Just an average writing style, it got the job done. Three out of five rating.

I really liked this plot. The idea of androids escaping slavery on Mars and trying to live and hide among humans is super interesting and then you add in the idea of them being hunted. I wish there could have been a POV from one of the androids but we did not see that in this installment. The plot gets a four out five.

I was wanting to know what would happen next and who would survive but repeating myself, from the character section, I did not feel emotionally connected to the characters so whatever would happen would not really have a big impact on me. This book was not predictable but it was not shocking either, I won’t go into that any more as I am scared that I might give too much away. Intrigue gets a three out of five rating.

Ah, logic, this section is always fun for fantasy and sci-fi and one that is always fairly difficult to judge. I think sometimes for the characters things just went too easy, maybe that is why this book was relatively short, less than three hundred pages. Again, I do not know the logic behind the religion and I don’t know a lot about nuclear waste so I do not know if all the science behind that held any truth. Logic will once again get a three from me.

I did enjoy reading a classic science fiction novel, I think this is the first of it’s kind that I have picked up. This book did have an interesting plot and I liked that for a sci-fi the characters actually got to grow and that all the focus was not just on the plot of the novel. This 2021 world is fascinating but I think it could have used a bit more backstory, I will have to do some research on this book. I most likely will be picking up the next book and other books by Philip K. Dick. If you were interested in this story you might want to check out the Amazon series ‘Electric Dreams’, each episode is based on a different story from the author and there are well known actors on the show. It was what brought this author to my attention!

This novel gets the rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2fN0pKnNYQhyA_hRCYm8tg

“Pirate Women” Book Review

Laura Sook Duncombe saw that there was a lack of books on pirates about the females who also sailed ships and looted for treasure across the seven seas. So, she decided to write her own and that is how we have “Pirate Women”. I picked up this book at the Pirate Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. I was not expecting much as it was just one, I had picked up at random with no research on but Duncombe blew me away with this book. This is not just a pretty cover with cool colors, there is so much information inside that I never about before.

This book does go in chronological order, I am so thankful for that as it does not confuse the reader at all. That being said we start in the ancient world on the Mediterranean with the Greeks and Romans, these were ancient queens like most women throughout this book we do not know if they were fact or fiction or somewhere in the middle. That is a common theme here, women were often written over in history and there is not a lot of information to be found on these women. They were just supposed to sit there looking pretty and baring children to their husbands not fighting against other Greek city states.

The next step we take is towards Ladgerda and the Vikings who are trying to reach the halls of Valhalla. The writer debates on if these warrior women should be listed as literal pirates. Most of the fighting was done on the shores of England or other states on the North and Baltic seas. It was fighting and raiding on land and then back on the ship to Scandinavia.  Nevertheless, the tales of these female Viking warriors are interesting and had been pasted orally for hundreds of years.

I did not find the pirates of Brittany in the middle ages as interesting as the Vikings, but I do think some will. There should be a television show or at least a historical fiction book on these women and what they did to protect their thrones and rights. Throughout this chapter I could not help but think that George R.R. Martin, the author of A Game of Thrones, took inspiration from some of these women for his universe in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

And then on and on we go throughout history, the Barbary era of pirates with the sultans, Queen Elizabeth I with the sea dogs she hired to take on the Spanish Armada. The Golden Age of piracy taking place in the 1700s with the likes of Anne Bonny and her crew. The story takes us all the way to China in the twentieth century. There was so much to learn in this book that is so small that it is less than three hundred pages long.

Enough of the summary for now, lets get to my likes and dislikes. As I stated previous, I like that this is in historical order, so I did not have to sit down and write out a timeline for myself. seriously, if you are writing a nonfiction book, please go in chronological order. One thing I loved that the author is a woman, writing about women, and most of the sources that she used were also female. It was just awesome to see! The book was easy to understand and I was never confused. The chapters had a good page length, usually around fifteen pages long. (Another bit of advice if you plan to write a book, never make a chapter fifty pages. I will lose interest.)

Duncombe also does a good job at setting the scene. Yes, this is a nonfiction piece of work, but she does a great time at describing the world that these women were living in and how it might have attributed to their actions. The author also reminds us time and time again that we do have enough information on these women to know their stories full and well. We also must remember that the things we learn in history are never one hundred percent certain as we are not hearing all the sides of it and we were not there. That information is so important to remember as we learn or read anything that is nonfiction.

I only have small complaints. The last chapter about actual pirates, chapter 13. I felt like it was rushed. We had so many women to discuss and only got a few short paragraphs about them and I feel like I did not learn as much about them as I did about the previous women and that is strange as these female pirates were all in the last century, some in my life time. Then there was the last chapter about pirate women on the big screen. I felt this chapter to be unnecessary as these are all known works of fiction. The chapter was basically the full plots of movies that I will never watch. It was a waste of time.

I really enjoyed this book. It is probably my favorite nonfiction that I have read this year and I will have to look and see if Laura Sook Duncombe has any other books out that I can have the pleasure in reading. Just learning about how these women got into these situations rather it be that they were born or married into it, joining the sea life, dressed as a male to get out of societies standards. It was just so interesting to read and I definitely want to read more about pirates in the future. Five out of five stars read.

‘Game Seven’ Review

Game Seven tells us the story of Julio Ramírez Jr., a teenage shortstop from Cuba. His father has already defected the country by playing in an exhibition game in Baltimore and leaving the team to get signed by the Miami Marlins. Julio is given the choice to leave Cuba like his father, to find freedom in the United States or stay in Cuba with his mother and sister. It is the hardest choice that he will ever have to make.

Let’s start out with the characters. At first, Julio really annoyed me and I felt like all he did was complain. I had to remind myself that he is sixteen years old and going through crazy life changes. That really put it into perspective for me. I think the characters in this book are greatly realistic and relatable even though they are not all likeable. I really liked Luis, Julio’s cousin, though! Characters get a four out of five.

The atmosphere was like nothing I had ever read before. It was very fascinating and different. I would give it once again a four out of five.

The writing in this novel was not anything great. First off, I am not a huge fan of first person perspective, please keep it in third person. The next thing, I felt like it was very much, “I did this and then I did that.” Just telling and not showing. The writing gets a three out of five.

A story of baseball in Cuba and how difficult it is to go from there to play in the MLB in America? The perfect plot. So many of the players we love and watch have gone through quite similar situations. I just cannot imagine being in a refugee situation. I think more people need to see how hard it is to come into this country, especially from one like Cuba. The plot makes this very much worth the read. That being said the plot gets a five out of five.

There is a downfall in this book though and that is the logic. I find it unrealistic a player around the age of forty would get a contract in MLB and be one of the great pitchers. There were a few other things but I won’t go into all of them here. The logic gets a two out of five.

Intrigue, definitely important. ‘Game Seven’, had me like most baseball series, wanting to know what was going to happen next. Maybe there was a little too much intrigue though. I was not really satisfied with the ending of the book. I think there should have been maybe another thirty to forty pages. Intrigue gets a four out of five.

I did enjoy Game Seven and I think that most fans of the game will too. However, I think you should at least be a casual fan of the sport so that you have a better understanding of what you are reading and know all the calls and positions on the diamond. What is your favorite sports book?

3.5 out of 5 stars.

‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Review

I took a week long break in the middle of this book so my thoughts might be weird and I am not going to be doing a deep synopsis.

Usually longer books are longer I assume that they are more character driven than plot driven but with this one, I really do not know. The story is told through Buendia family but the story is about the history of the town of Macondo. The town is the main character rather than the actual people. Back to the humans though, most of the characters had names of their parents or grandparents. The same names were being used over and over and I just kept getting confused if it was junior or senior. I understand that this is common in real life but I do not think it is wise in literature. Two out of five for characters.

I like the idea of following the town throughout its beginning to its end. I liked Macondo. I just do not know if it was executed properly. Three out of five for atmosphere.

Now time for the writing. I was surprised how good the writing was for this being a translated work, from Spanish to English. Some paragraphs were just absolutely beautiful. Gabriel Garcia Marquez really can put a picture of what you are reading into your head. Four out of five for writing.

The plot somewhat ties in with the atmosphere. (That seems strange to type.) I love the idea of the town being the main character and the story being the history of this town but I just do not think it was executed properly. Generational tales are my absolute favorite but when you have characters living to be 122 years old and having the same names it just gets confusing. Plot gets a four out of five.

Logic? Was there really any logic here? That like a lot of things in this novel, I truly do not know. One character living to be 145? I am not sure if that is possible in this time but who knows. Also, there were no dates in this book so I was having to guess when everything was taking place. I still do not know. Logic gets a two out of five.

Before I wrap things up here I want to say a lot of things in this book are unusual, and that is putting it nicely. We do have to remember this book takes place in the past when cousin marriage was common and arranged marriages as well. With that being said some of the things in this book did make me uncomfortable and I would recommend you up the trigger warnings before reading.

I would not say that I did not enjoy this book. It was a classic three star for me. I did enjoy getting to learn about a different culture that I had not known a lot about before. I got another classic under my belt and that feels pretty good. Have you read ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’? Let me know!

3 out of 5 stars.

Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica Review

Metallica became the biggest band in the world in 1991. The band was already ten years into their career but the were just now releasing their self titled album, more commonly known as ‘The Black Album”. This album was produced by more of a mainstream producer, Bob Rock, who had done albums with Bon Jovi and Motley Crue in the past. That sounds like a thrash metalhead’s nightmare.

The band received loads of criticism for this album. Some saying they were selling out to Hollywood and forgetting their metal roots.The band was growing and trying different things. The album did sell well, becoming one of the top selling albums of the decade. The band had to ride off of this high and continue the momentum. That was done by touring with huge acts of the time on giant stadium tours, making music videos for MTV, and a last making more music.

The 1990s was an awkward time for rock music. Glam was getting thrown out the door and the Seattle grunge was coming in. Bubblegum pop and bands that wouldn’t last for five minutes were taking over the scene. Metal prevailed, Metallica prevailed though while all others fell.

First and foremost, I should state that Metallica are one of my favorite bands. I knew most of the facts going into this book, therefore, it was easy and fast for me to read and understand. I felt like this book did a good job compiling over twenty years into an almost three hundred page book.

This book is about the music and the industry that it is in. Don’t come to this for a juicy tell all but I really don’t think Metallica fans would be looking for that to begin with. At some points there were little personal paragraphs but only about James. I get that he is the frontman but do I really need to know that his eye sight was getting bad and he needed glasses? Just pure randomness.

As I said, I am a fan of this band, mainly their work in the eighties. I don’t think their later albums are bad, bands need to evolve and grow. I think it is important to try different sub genres. I know that Miley Cyrus gets a lot of hate but one of the awesome things about her is that every album is different, never the same. Metallica are the same and I applaud them for that. I learned a lot about that process in this book. I never realized how much criticism the band got for their more modern albums.

My few complaints are very minimum. The writers did get somethings wrong, example one being “[Lars] had flew from Los Angeles to California to see the band perform at the Woolwich Odeon in south London.” Okay, how do you fly from Los Angeles to California and I don’t think London is in California. Point number two, the paragraph is talking about Ron McGovney driving the band to San Francisco from Los Angeles.. on Interstate 95. I95, is the east coast connector and not the west coast. All these “typos” happen in the last twenty pages, I don’t know if the writers were rushing to finish or what. I thought the writers did at times sound cocky. They acted like Metallica were the only band in the world or better than everyone else. That didn’t leave a good feel with me. If you like heavy metal and want to know more, pick this book up.

4 out of 5 stars.

The Prince of Tides Review

The Prince of Tides is a tale of a family. The Wingo family from South Carolina. Heartache and almost every kind of abuse imaginable, happened to this family over their years on Melrose Island in Colleton County. It’s a tragic and unbelievable story that we go through following these characters.

Tom Wingo is told by his mother, that his twin sister, Savannah, has yet again, tried to commit suicide. The doctor would like a family member to come visit her in New York to see how they can try to help her and understand her better. Tom goes up north to the city that you have to be a special kind of person to love. (Tom isn’t one of those people.)

To help his sister, Tom meets Doctor Lowenstein, who is Savannah’s psychiatrist. Lowenstein wants to get down to the bottom of what is causing all these breakdowns in Tom’s sister. At first Tom is hesitant, in the South, he is taught to be loyal to his family and not expose to much as it will harm the family’s reputation. Eventually, Tom realizes he has to do something to help his sister and it might even help himself. Therefore, Tom tells the tale of the Wingo family. Tom starts by telling his parents’ backstories and then bringing it all to the modern day. All the twists and turns of how they became who they are and how they got into the situations that they are in now. It’s a great tale filled with sorrowful memories.

What Pat Conroy does best is writing characters. The two books, I have read by him, are very character driven. His characters are just so real, they all have their flaws and absolutely done of them are perfect. The reader can find something to relate to themselves in all of the characters. They will also feel very much an emotional bond with these characters.

Another thing that Pat Conroy is great at is making the setting of the book a character in itself. The low country setting is just beautiful and you can almost smell the salt in the air by how descriptive and lyrical the writing is.

The writing. The writing is beautiful, as stated earlier it is lyrical and descriptive. It has a nice flow to it and the reader will never have a hard time picturing the scene that is taking place. There is a catch though, with the book being so descriptive, it does seem to go on forever. I’m sorry, I do not care who you are, an almost fifty page chapter is never a good idea. I will just lose interest.

Once again, The Prince of Tides is a character driven story. There is a plot but it is not the main point. I do like the plot of Tom having to tell the doctor, the life story of the Wingo family for us to get that character development. I did predict some points, I won’t say them here as I do not spoil novels in my reviews. Some things were completely random and so out there, though. Trust me, the reader is in for a wild ride in this book.

I did struggle with the intrigue. I dreaded picking up the book at times knowing that it would be dense with the long chapters. I was even following along with the audiobook, so you would think that it would go by faster but it didn’t.

Overall, this was a good book. It did take me over a week to get through but I think it was worth it. The Prince of Tides will stick with me because of all the endurances that these characters had to go through. This was a beautiful book and it paints a picture in your head of life and the beauty of it even though we go through all sorts of times, dark and pleasant. I do recommend picking this one up.

However, do look around for trigger warnings that this book does have. There are quite a few of them.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Canterbury Tales Review

PhotoRoom_20200810_133634

This is a retelling of the Canterbury Tales. This is not the original. Barbara Cohen took four of the original tales and made them easier for us to understand in modern times. This is done in prose and not poetry like the original.

The first tale that we are told is the one of ‘The Nun’s Priest’s Tale‘. It is a fable which uses animals to get its point across. The reader learns in this that if someone is too prideful they might not see their own faults or anyone’s around them. This could lead to their downfall.

Then we come to ‘The Pardoner’s Tale‘, this is a tale to teach the readers about greed and what corruption that it can lead to. However I found that it could also teach us you get what you deserve and treating others how you want to be treated.

Ah, now the tale that I remember the most from reading this in high school, ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’. In this tale we really see how women were as people and how they were treated in fourteenth century Europe. I do think this is a feminist story, we see how women want to be treated in a relationship and also that there is more to a woman than just her face and body. Something that I really wish men would understand.

The last tale that we come across in this short book is, ‘The Franklin’s Tale‘. This is a tale on relying on someone else, having faith in that person. It can also be seen as staying true to yourself. It is a story of honor, very much Stark and Tully manner.

When I purchased this book on Amazon, a year ago, I thought it was all the Canterbury Tales and the original version. Not a version that is made for young readers to understand and get a general idea of Chaucer. This is my fault! This is all a me problem and not the book problem.

I found that the way the prologues are done to be awkward. They mention tales that the reader will not read in this bind up, I found myself being confused by this. I know that I did not go into too much detail about what the tales are actually about but when they are around ten pages long I feel like there is not much that I can say without spoiling it.

Should I find a copy of the actual Canterbury Tales to read it? If so, do you have a certain one that you recommend? Again, everything here is a me problem so I felt like I should just give the book an average rating of a three star.

Star Wars: Knight Errant Review

PhotoRoom_20200806_133609

Kerra Holt is a Jedi. She is known is an errant knight in Sith run space. All alone and not in her own galaxy. Her goal is to end Sith rule and the oppressions it has on the citizens on multiple planets. Rusher is a mercenary, he works for whoever will hire him and his crew. Usually his employer is a Sith lord. He does not like the Sith but it is a way to make money. Narsk is a spy, taking work for Sith lords just like Rusher. Those are our main characters.

Lord Daiman rules a few planets in Sith space. He is only in his twenties but sees himself as a god. He tells his people that they or their universe simply did not exist before he did. Most know that this is a straight up lie but they live in a dictatorship, where questioning that could end up with death or another kind of severe punishment.

Kerra is on a mission to kill this Sith lord and rid the galaxy of him. She will save his people and take them as refugees, back to the Republic. She lives undercover in this world to understand its people and investigate how it is ruled. She is one Jedi who has to take down many Sith lords. Can she do it?

Rusher is working for Daiman. There is a battle to come and he has been employed to have his group be the troops. Rusher knows that Daiman’s whole regime is a scam. He knows that the elites just play this game of power. He is just a piece in it. It gives him something to do and money to make.

Narsk is one of the few people who has a general idea why this war has been happening, what started it all. One of the ploys from his current employer, Daiman’s older brother, is to kill Daiman. He comes across a Jedi in this time as well. They both have the same goal but for different reasons and go about it very differently.

Are all Sith bad? Are all Jedi good? Is there a pure evil and a pure good? These are questions that go throughout many Star Wars novels.

*****

 Before starting this novel, I had no idea that it was an adaption of a graphic novel. I thought the book came out first and then the comic. So, I have to say, read the comic first! From reading other reviews I have heard that this is very helpful and adds more to the characters and the story!

John Jackson Miller’s books seem to very plot driven and not character driven. Kerra Holt was without a doubt our main character, she’s on the cover of the book and the title is about her. I still had lots of questions, how did she get to sith space? How long has she been there? Does she plan on going back to the republic? We do not really get any answers to those. Then we had other character POVs, who I did enjoy, but they were just a long for the ride. We did not get any real development with them. I would have liked to know more about the certain Sith lords in this story.

Characters were a three out of five stars. I enjoyed them and liked the tension that we had between Kerra and Rusher but we only really had development with Kerra and none of the others.

The atmosphere was like most Star Wars books set in the old republic era. I thought seeing how each government on the planets ran and I really like the tundra world that we see in the last part.

Atmosphere is a four out of five stars.

The writing was not anything special. The very last chapter, I do think was beautiful but the rest was just average for me.

The writing was  average so that is a three out of five stars.

The plot. Earlier I said that Miller’s stories are more plot drive than character driven. Now that I think about it, yes, there was a plot, but it was just a lot of action taking place. There was not any dull moments but it was always go, go, go, and I think that was over done. Then the ending, I just thought it wasn’t good. We did all this travel and fighting throughout the novel and then the ending was just bland. I wanted to know what happened next. Maybe I have to read the comics to find out.

The plot gets a three out of five stars.

Now time for the intrigue. I was intrigued. I wanted to know who characters were working for, what their motive was, would they be alright, and so on.

Intrigue gets a four out of five stars.

I have a lot of questions about the logic. This isn’t necessarily about the book but I just felt like this taking play a thousand years before the events of the Star Wars movies, nothing has really changed with the society. The technology has not advanced much.

Logic is a three out of five.

Lastly, did I enjoy Knight Errant? It was an average read for me. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read the comics before hand. I will read the comics at some point. I wish we would have learned more about the characters and that our plot was not always at such a fast pace. This is just one stop on my journey of reading all the Star Wars canon and legend books.

 

Song for a Whale, Book Review

77ca10235ea05c2c1592afd280e8b987-w204@1x

Iris was born deaf. It runs in her family as both of her maternal grandparents are deaf as well. The disability seemed to have skipped a generation, so Iris is the only one in her home that is deaf, her mother and older brother know American Sign Language but her father still struggles with communicating with her as he says that languages are not his thing but numbers are, eye roll.

She attends a regular public school that is full of “normal” kids, she is the only one who has to around with an interpreter, it is hard for Iris to fit in. One day, in science class the teacher plays a video about a hybrid whale who goes by Blue 55, he has yet to be tagged and is only followed by his unique song.

Blue 55 is the son of two different kinds of whales so his song doesn’t match any other whale songs. He cannot communicate to the other whales. Therefore, he is alone in the dark waters of the Pacific without a family or pod, a group of whales.

Iris cannot help but compare 55’s story to her own. Being so alone in the world, feeling like no one is listening or there to understand. She feels like she must help this whale who is four thousand miles away from her home in Texas. Iris must find a way to communicate with this whale and let him know that he is not alone in this universe, other’s relate to his struggle with communication.

The characters in this book were alright. I had to keep reminding myself that this book is middle grade and that Iris is twelve years old. I have to say most people that age are annoying, trust me, I know because I was an annoying twelve year old before. You think that you know everything but you don’t. That being said, I think that it is okay that Iris is this way as it is typical for someone her age.

Now, the parents, that’s another story. First, the dad not taking the time to learn sign language to be able to communicate with his daughter just makes me mad. In this book she meets a friend who wants to learn right away but her own father doesn’t!! Then there is the mother who does not want to let Iris go to the deaf school where she would be around her peers because the mother does not want to feel alone. What? Wouldn’t you want your kid to have friends? Come on. I gave the character’s a four out of five as I felt like our main character was realistically written.

The atmosphere in this book is nothing special. We start in Houston, I felt like it was a smaller town so maybe the family is out in the suburbs. Once we get to the traveling aspects of the book the atmosphere gets better. Nothing to write home about,   an average three out of five.

The writing isn’t great either, very, we did this and then we did that. I understand that this is middle grade so that writing style might be easier for the age range to understand. I also felt like we had jumps between chapters with no explanation of what happened between the two scenes, that leaves readers confused. Writing is a two out of five.

Throughout the story, I do feel like there were several contradictions. Yes, there are several similarities between Iris and Blue 55 but she has a family and he has none, she does have friends when he isn’t is in a pod. That is just one example.

With the main character of this book being deaf we do get that disability representation. As I am not deaf I cannot tell you if it was properly done but the writer, Lynne Kelly, does work as a sign language interpreter and seems to have a lot of experience working with those who do have hearing impairments. It really opened my eyes to how frustrating it must be to be deaf.

I would not say that I enjoyed this novel but it did not bore me either, God bless short chapters. The parents did bug me a lot but we are seeing them from the point of a view of a tween and I feel like most tweens do see their parents as annoying. All that aside, I do think this book would be something good for young people to read. As it does bring representation to the deaf community and that was something as an adult that I have never read before. It also shows you that nothing is impossible and if you really work than you can reach your dreams even if there are a few bumps in the road, they just make  you more determined.