General Fiction (Adult), Science Fiction

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The DreamersThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out January 15th!

Ok folks. Here is your first great read of 2019 so add it to your lists and hold onto your hats!

If you are at all interested in stories about pandemics/outbreaks/diseases taking over the planet, this book will be your new best friend. I have always had an interest in books, movies, and TV shows about pandemics. Think Contagion, The Walking Dead, The Crazies, World War Z. Ok… they don’t always have to be about zombies. But the idea that there is a patient zero and this sickness spreads like wildfire throughout a community has always amazed me. Because it could happen (and already has…. can you say Ebola? Zika? The list goes on). And the strategies we would have to take to contain the spread are also fascinating. I digress.

The Dreamers is a unique pandemic story that tells the tale of a sleep-inducing sickness that spreads throughout a small town in California. It starts quietly in a college dorm and slowly spreads throughout the whole town. The townspeople who are affected fall into an unwakeable sleep. Those who are lucky enough to be discovered will be tended to in the increasingly overcrowded hospital. Those who succumb to the sickness alone will die of dehydration. Nobody knows the cause of this sudden outbreak, but soon the residents of Santa Lora will find themselves in “quarantine,” forbidden from leaving the infected town.

The story follows several different townspeople as they try to weather the storm, fend to stay alive, and plan their next move. Their stories weave together beautifully.

My heart was thumping throughout this entire book. I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than 24 hours because I just could not wait to see what happened next. There was the perfect amount of tension, expertly crafted by Karen Thompson Walker. Several of the individual stories paused at just the right cliffhanger to leave me wanting more.

The ending was quite beautiful, and I loved the philosophical messages it sent. I have a feeling the end will not be everybody’s cup of tea just because it is not black and white and doesn’t give concrete answers to some of the questions presented throughout the book. But I think that’s the beautiful part. Just enough was left up to interpretation, and every reader will take home a different message.

This book would be a really great read for anybody who enjoyed Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It comes highly recommended from me with five big stars.

-I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley, Karen Thompson Walker, and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to review.-

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Audiobook Review, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Thriller

Vox by Christina Dalcher

VoxVox by Christina Dalcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s the future. Conservative Christian men have taken over the US with their “purist” movement. Women must be homemakers. Female children learn only home economics at school. And worst of all, women are limited to speaking 100 words per day. No written communication. No sign language. Just those 100 words.

My thoughts? Will not be everybody’s favorite. Has potential to be polarizing. Lots of political undertones consistent with the current political climate in the US. Thought provoking. Loved the concept. As an independent woman, I was livid the entire time. My review ends here. Exactly 100 words… let that settle.

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Audiobook Review, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One word sums up this book for me: NOSTALGIA

When one of the richest men in the world (on par with Bill Gates or Steve Jobs) dies, the contest begins. As the world’s most famous virtual reality computer programmer, he decides to leave his life’s fortune to whomever can find his “Easter Egg” hidden within the virtual reality world he created called The OASIS. Wade Watts, a young, antisocial high school student living in the impoverished outskirts of Oklahoma City, is obsessed with The OASIS, even attending high school via virtual reality. He is also obsessed with the contest, and has been searching for 5 years to unlock the clues to find the Easter Egg. One day, he finally stumbles upon the first clue and becomes the top scorer on the leaderboard. But he won’t keep the lead for long. There are plenty of people that would kill to get to the Easter Egg first, and Wade will find himself in a battle for survival and the ultimate prize!

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I also can’t go any further without mentioning the 80’s. The creator of the virtual world had kind of a think for the 80’s and there are no lack of references to 80’s pop culture. As an 80’s baby (okay, I was born in 1988, but still…) I loved the nostalgic feel of the story. It transported me back to when I was at my dad’s cottage playing Intellivision and Atari which were some of my favorite games growing up. There are also plenty of references to 80’s movies and music that transported me right to the decade.

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The best thing I can say about this book is that it was insanely creative. Ernest Cline wrote a novel that takes the reader on a ride through space, time, and reality. It’s really difficult to liken it to any other book due to it’s uniqueness but I would say the closest thing that I’ve read would be The Maze Runner. It was filled with really creative concepts and new ideas I haven’t read anywhere else.

It did have a lot of reference to video games, so if that’s not really your thing, you may not be as in love with the book as I was. However, I definitely would not consider myself a “gamer” by any sense of the word, and I loved it just the same.

If you’re looking for something completely and utterly unique, and unlike anything you’ve read before, this is definitely the book for you. The audiobook version read by Wil Wheaton was fabulous, and the narration was definitely engaging. It is pretty long (15+ hours in total) but worth spending the time if you have a long trip or commute. Highly recommended!

I cannot wait to see the movie that will be coming to video shortly directed by Steven Spielberg!

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General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Science Fiction

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Expected publication October 2nd!

Okay so listen. I know there are a lot of positive reviews for amazing books that I’ve posted recently. But, this book knocked my socks off. Diane Chamberlain truly hit it out of the park.

I won The Dream Daughter in a Goodreads giveaway a couple of months ago, 1 of 100 people to receive the book of 4,000+ who entered. It arrived alongside my Book of the Month copy of The Perfect Mother. Unfortunately my husband and I lost a baby in May and the combination of both books with such symbolic titles sitting on my kitchen counter was slightly heart wrenching. So I put them both away until I was ready to give them a read. I pulled out The Good Daughter just in time for our 4th of July vacation and figured I would read it while relaxing on the beach. Holy cow was it good!

I am honestly not even sure what category/genre I would put this book in. It was kind of a mixture between historical fiction, science fiction, and women’s fiction which sounds bizarre but was honestly fabulous. Diane Chamberlain wove a tale that spanned across decades with elements of time travel that were mind boggling and complex. But above all, the story is about the love between a mother and daughter, and the lengths a mother will go to ensure the health and happiness of her child. To be honest, I had no idea where the book was going half the time in the most wonderful way. I felt tense while reading every page, wondering how the main character was going to get through all the obstacles with which she was presented.

It’s difficult to give a synopsis of The Dream Daughter without giving away some of the important elements of the plot so I’ll leave you with the summary from the publisher:

“When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage she never knew existed. Something that will mean an unimaginable leap of faith on Carly’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.”

If you’re looking for a truly fabulous book, this is it. Pre-order it NOW and don’t miss out on one of the best books of the year.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sponsoring this giveaway. Your publishing house is incredible, and I enjoy everything you put out into the world.

Also, as referenced above, my review of The Perfect Mother here: https://homesweethouser.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/the-perfect-mother-by-aimee-molloy/

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Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

The Last Equation of Isaac SeveryThe Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a unique story! The Last Equation of Isaac Severy was much different than any other book I’ve read this year, and ended up being a refreshing addition to the list (thanks Book of the Month yet again!). The front cover says “A Novel in Clues” and that’s certainly how it felt.

One question: Have you ever played one of those escape games that are popping up in cities across America? If not, the premise is this…. You get locked in a room and a timer is set for one hour. Usually there is some sort of story to get you started about being kidnapped or needing to break out of prison or get out of a room before it explodes. When the timer begins, your goal is to get out of that room by using clues and puzzles that are stealthily placed throughout the space. Well, this book felt kind of like that. There were secret clues and puzzles throughout the story that both the main character and the reader had an opportunity to solve.

Overall, the story was about a brilliant mathematician named Isaac Severy who tragically dies. But in his passing, he leaves a cryptic message to his granddaughter, providing clues as to the whereabouts of his legacy, a mysterious formula which could be devastating if in the wrong hands.

I found myself constantly trying to figure out the cryptic messages and solve the riddles. And while it wasn’t the absolute best thing I’ve ever read in my life, it was certainly very entertaining. I would consider it a “page turner” for anybody looking for a quick read. Also a great book for my math and science people out there (although you don’t have to be a nerd like me to like it). I also did get a little bit of a young adult feel from the writing style so categorized it as such.  This is a great book for anybody who is feeling tired of reading the same old stuff and looking for something just a little bit different.

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