Tag Archives: audio book

Review of Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

I borrowed an audio copy of Justina Ireland‘s Dread Nation through the library.

Description from Goodreads:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. 

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Review:

It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did I really enjoyed it. It can be uncomfortable at times, but it’s also a worthy reminder of the overt evils of our recent past and the myriad ways it’s still evident in society today. While the Survivalist in the story speak openly about their supremacist beliefs, I whole heartedly believe it realistic of the sorts of arguments slave owners used in their time and modern day racists mimic today. It would be hard to read this book and not relate to Jane’s rage and indignation. 

I also simply really liked Jane. I liked that she’s self-reflective and honest with herself (even about the fact that she sometimes lies to herself). I liked that she’s smart, resilient and loyal. She made a superb heroine. 

On a side note, I have reached an age where I actively avoid books likely to contain rape scenes. I’ve just gotten truly intolerant of it in my entertainment. There are times it’s instrumental to plot, but FAR too often authors toss it out lightly and I just can’t with it anymore. So, when it became apparent that Jane and Kate were going to be placed at the mercy of a group of men, I prepared myself to grit my teeth through the obligatory ‘woman is victimized’ scene. I am happy to report it never happened. So, if you’re like me and try to avoid such things, know Ireland go there. A plus in my mind. 

All in all, I happily recommend this book. I know the fact that it has zombies in it will put a lot of people off, but I hope people do give it a chance. And if you’re interested in audio books, Bahni Turpin did a great job.

Review of Anatomy of a Miracle, by Jonathan Miles

I initially won a paperback copy of Jonathan MilesAnatomy of a Miracle through Goodreads. But lacking in time to sit and read lately, but interested none the less, I opted to borrow the audio version from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Rendered paraplegic after a traumatic event four years ago, Cameron Harris has been living his new existence alongside his sister, Tanya, in their battered Biloxi, Mississippi neighborhood where only half the houses made it through Katrina. One stiflingly hot August afternoon, as Cameron sits waiting for Tanya during their daily run to the Biz-E-Bee convenience store, he suddenly and inexplicably rises up and out of his wheelchair.

In the aftermath of this “miracle,” Cameron finds himself a celebrity at the center of a contentious debate about what’s taken place. And when scientists, journalists, and a Vatican investigator start digging, Cameron’s deepest secrets–the key to his injury, to his identity, and, in some eyes, to the nature of his recovery–become increasingly endangered. Was Cameron’s recovery a genuine miracle, or a medical breakthrough? And, finding himself transformed into a symbol, how can he hope to retain his humanity?

Review:

As I said above, I won this book and I’m really glad I did, because I almost certainly wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. I’ll grant that it’s a little overly long (though I think the fact that I listened to it made this a little more bearable) and slow, but the subtitles of the story are well worth the read. This book hands you nothing, it lays things on the table and invites you to consider them. I appreciated that a lot.

Were there times I wanted Cameron to open up and speak more, so that I could understand him better, for things to be a bit more obvious? Yes! But that wouldn’t have fit his character and honestly, this isn’t a story about Cameron. It’s the story of his miracle, if a miracle it be (this being a crucial question). And if the author had taken the easy route of allowing Cameron to hand the reader a pat answer, it wouldn’t be anywhere as good a book.

I did spend a lot of time afraid it was going to go the way of so much literary fiction and end in unbearable tragedy, but it didn’t. And the huge sigh of relief at the end was worth the anxiety.

I don’t think this will be a book everyone will enjoy. But I really did. And Edoardo Ballerini’s narration was no small part of this. He does an excellent job.

Review of How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center

I borrowed an audio copy of How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment . 

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. 

Review (with spoiler):

To my complete surprise, I really enjoyed this. Plus, even though I have the paperback, I’m really glad I decided to go with the audio version. Because I think Plummer‘s performance only contributed to my enjoyment. 

How to Walk Away deals with some tragic topics. There’s the accident and subsequent paralyzation of the main character, but also all of the innumerable ways she is further victimized by the people around her; most without ever intending to be cruel. But these were balanced with a wry humor and the lightness of support from unexpected (and often resented) corners. Maggie’s sister especially was a star of the book for me. 

I of course realize that in real life Ian falling in love with Maggie would cross some serious ethical lines (and this is addressed in the book), but in the confines of fiction, I thought the romance was very sweet. And I can not say how happy I am that Center chose not to give Maggie any miraculous recovery. Maggie learned to happy with life with her injury, to live life and find meaning while in her wheel chair. This makes for a much more meaningful story than one in which a character is “fixed.” All in all, a true win in my opinion.