Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

in a handful of dust

Title: In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink #2)
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date/Publisher: September 23rd 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
Finished: August 8th 2014
Pages: 384-eBook ARC-given to review
Series:
1. Not a Drop to Drink
2. In a Handful of Dust

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

What I Thought:

I was approved to read an Advanced Review Copy from Edelweiss. Continue reading

Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

not a drop to drink

Title: Not a Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis 

Release Date/Publisher: September 24th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Finished: November 5th 2013

Pages: 320-Hardcover-Library

Series:

  1. Not a Drop to Drink
  2. In a Handful of Dust

Synopsis:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

What I thought:

This book had so many good things going for it. First of all, it’s a stand-alone! No series or continuations here which is kind of a nice change. Second, it’s not all about some teens who fall in love and try to keep their love alive by avoiding governments and all that fun stuff that so many books these days have. So in other words it’s not Dystopian.

This book is plain and simple; it’s all about surviving in the wilderness. Water is expensive to those that live in the cities and the only way to escape that and truly be free is to live on the land. Problem with that is it’s even harder to find water out there, and if you do everyone will be wanting it. Lynn and her mom have a great place with a decent pond but even they have to deal with shortages and proper rationing and of course sanitation. The fact that Lynn has to work hard to survive really shows us how good we can sometimes have it.

The other thing that made this book awesome is that it was also a little bit scary. Not like ghosts and monsters though, but with harsh reality. The way the world was built really made it seem like this could happen in the future. It’s not futuristic but more realistic with the explanation of how it all happened as if it could start tomorrow.

This book was well built and I loved that it was a little out of the box for a post-apocalyptic type book. I also liked the break from romance and enjoyed just having the characters try and survive together. The characters were also well written and I liked that Lynn was strong although harsh at times, but she wasn’t whiny!

A great choice if you want a good post-apocalyptic book!

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Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Title: For Darkness Shows the Stars

Author: Diana Peterfreund

Release Date/Publisher: June 12th 2012 by Balzer + Bray

Read: September 12th 2012

Pages: 402-Hardcover-Library

Synopsis:

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” “For Darkness Shows the Stars” is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

What I thought:

I really loved this author’s other series about Killer Unicorns, so I had no idea what to expect when diving into this book. I was definitely wowed that she could write something so different, and I really liked it!

The division between events that happened in the past and the present was so well done. I usually dread past scenes in books sometimes but this was just perfect for the story. Between the chapters are letters that younger Elliot and Kai sent each other. Not only did they explain things wonderfully about what had happened and how the Reduced came to be, but it really showed how the two characters bonded and were so close.

I was confused at first with the different class systems and what exactly the Reduced were, but it doesn’t take long to learn all of this. The letters of the past say the humans at the time were very involved with technology, to the point of changing themselves with enhancements and experiments to their bodies. Another group thought this was wrong and that they were changing what God gave them. The Lost (enhancers) ended up with Reduced babies (who can’t talk much and can only do basic commands), and started wars that destroyed just about everything. The Luddites went into hiding for years, and then rebuilt everything and took care of the Reduced who work on their land for a living. The Reduced eventually produced children that were normal (CORs or Posts), although they are still low in the class compared to Luddites.

Posts have been known to leave their lands, and some fail while others prosper. Kai left the land and Elliot behind, but when he does returns with the Fleet as a rich mechanic, there’s so much anger, tension and some angst between the two. Elliot still has feelings for him and she has no idea what/if he feels anything for her anymore. Elliot also has to deal with taking care of the land her father rules and the Reduced and Posts that live there.

On top of that, there are conflicting issues that she has over staying true to her Luddite ways or whether it’s okay to deviate from them and develop and experiments with things like people did in the past. Moving on and changing or staying the same without knowing what’s going to happen is one of the topics that keeps coming up in this book, and I think it was perfect to see Elliot and others struggle with this, as change can be very hard.

The characters had lots of emotion, secrets and hopes for a bright future and I loved reading about them. Elliot and the way she thought and acted was so strong, but she was also caring of others and their well-being.

This book isn’t part of a series but an independant one, which is a nice break from what I usually read. It doesn’t leave you hanging at all and everything is explained too which was a bonus. Highly recommended!

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Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Title: Masque of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #1)

Author: Bethany Griffin

Release Date: September 27th 2011 by Greenwillow Books

Read: August 17th 2012

Pages: 319-Hardcover-Library

Series:

  1. Masque of the Red Death
  2. Dance of the Red Death

Description:

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.

What I thought:

The world has been attacked by a plague, and the survivors are having trouble living daily. Men with carts go around and collect the dead from the houses daily (I thought of the ‘Bring out your Dead!” scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail for this part!). Most people wear protective masks to keep themselves free of the disease, but most can’t even afford it let alone for their kids.

The Prince that rules the area is ruthless, keeping the patent for himself and his scientists under a tight leash. Araby’s father is the one that invented the mask, but was too late in saving one of his own children. They moved from the streets in hiding to an expensive apartment where he continues to work, and Araby just kind of coasts through life. April and her dress up, with lots of makeup and shorter skirts (now fashionable so they can see if the plague has attacked your legs) and go to clubs to pass their time and lose themselves in this new world.

Along with groups that want to overthrow the Prince, those trying to gain religious power, and those who follow you in the shadows, there are so many threats and a lot going on in this book. Araby gets involved through Elliot and what he plans, and then it seems that everyone has their eyes on her, even the prince.

I had some issues with the main character. I found it hard to connect with Araby through most of the book. Yes, she went through a lot when she was younger and her brother’s death was traumatic, but I just didn’t expect her to be like that, so numb and seeming like she didn’t care about anything. She blames herself for everything including her brother’s death, and believes that her parents don’t love her. When she finally does start to change a bit, it’s late into the book. I think I just had different expectations of what was going to happen with this story, it was a pretty boring too.

For me the characters are an important part of making me enjoy it and this book was lacking and bored me a bit.

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Review: Waiting for Daybreak by Amanda McNeil

Title: Waiting for Daybreak

Author: Amanda McNeil

Release Date: June 4th, 2012

Published by: Amanda McNeil

Read: June 21st, 2012

Pages: 108-eBook

Synopsis:

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

What I thought:

Frieda is an interesting character, and we first meet her in a bathtub with her surrounded by books, a kitchen knife, and her cat. What could be better than that combo? And the cat’s name is Snuggles, too cute! Frieda also suffers from depression, which makes her feel different from others before the outbreak. She says she suffers from Dissociation once in a while, where she pretty much blacks out and becomes more violent and angry.

Another thing I liked, was that she lived in an apartment. A lot of the zombie books I’ve read center around houses or forts, and so on. But I myself live in an apartment, and it makes me wonder how I could survive if an outbreak happened, so I’m glad for this!

The zombies in this are called the Afflicted, they seem to be almost human with speech at first, but change in a second if they see or hear someone who is living, and then try to kill them and go for the brains to eat. They also seem to be falling apart and oozing grey goo, which was one of the warning signs of someone changing into one.

I won’t give away too much of the story, but Frieda decides to go on a dangerous scavenging to find something for her cat. On the way, she meets Mike, the only guy she’s seen in ages. There’s attraction of course, but they get what they need and head home, him going with her. Mike seems to have his own issues and depression, and he doesn’t talk about his past or what he went through. Something seems to be eating up at him (no pun intended) but we don’t see what he’s thinking until the end.

The ending was a bit of a shocker, I wasn’t expecting that to happen, but I’m glad that Frieda has learned to become strong in a weird world. She starts to like herself, and realizes she can do just about anything.

The one thing that I would have liked for this book, was if it was a little bit longer, gone into Frieda’s struggles with the zombies in the beginning a bit more. Or maybe there being a continuation of Frieda’s journey after this book. Even a novella of how Mike became the way he is would be awesome!

This book is recommended for Zombie fans, there are some sexual scenes and violence, but it’s not over the top which is good. This was a great first debut book for the author.

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