errantreads's reviews
157 reviews

Deathless Divide, by Justina Ireland

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adventurous dark hopeful sad tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


This is a sequel. Much like its predecessor, I liked the book. And there need to be more books like this, by authors such as this. You will like the book. So read it!

But I have much criticism. This was traditionally published, but the editing is rather poor. I'm not talking about grammar or spelling (I found only one typo in two books!). It's the developmental editing that was so . . . slapdash. There are outright errors (a poker scene really screws up which hand beats another, for example) but then there are other major errors that a good editor (or team of editors, or beta-readers) should have caught.

Spoilers . . .

The geography is messy and not well understood. For example, not for many pages did we understand that they were downstream of Sacramento when they were on the Sacramento River. The reader is left wondering what the characters are thinking on this.

The antagonist. I didn't know he was the main antagonist until act 3. I didn't buy into him being the bad guy. His crimes were not sold well. Sure, he made really REALLY bad choices, but we didn't know that he was doing Nazi-like experimentation until near the end. Plus, the cure would have saved millions. So, for the entire book, I just felt that the thrust of the story was that the main protagonist was in the wrong about him—that she would discover that, no, the scientist's quest for the cure was far more complicated than she thought and he really isn't a terrible person. I was wrong. But I blame the writing and the editing. The writer could have developed this better, for sure, but I lay this on the feet of the editorial staff failing the author and the readers.

World-building: If the entire east and mid-west is wiped out . . . how is everyone not starving to death and dressed in rags. All materials would be extremely scarce. And humans would be MAJORLY more violent towards each other. I'm not buying the world as it is described.

The main character murders a lot of people. This is not addressed well enough IMHO. She even swapped out one body for another to get a bounty. Execution without justice . . an odd choice for a book such as this. I mean, it can certainly work, but I don't think it is explored nearly enough and the main character doesn't earn it. IMHO.

The magic. The penny was unnecessary and seemed out of place. It think the author realized that after the first book and that is why she invented a way to make it a non-factor in the second book. But then she added a ghost. Ugh! The ghost was really her conscience, but it was not sold on the page as such and was simply not well done. Cut out those scenes entirely and it would have been a better book. This is a sci-fi western, really, not a fantasy. Just didn't fit.

Murder, mayhem, torture, prostitution, and sexually charged language here and there. And yet still, the unbelievable amount of racism of that era is only given a lukewarm treatment for the YA audience (though they are moving outside of White America for much of this sequel). Much like the previous book, I think the YA audience could be treated a bit more maturely and this historical fiction made a bit more historical.

Criticism aside. I want to see more from this author and more books like this on the bookshelves. The self-published world is so much richer in this regard, but I want to see it from the trad-publishing world as well.
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

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adventurous tense fast-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


Zombies in post Civil War America. Adventurous and tense. But ... a very young Young Adult so not very "brave" IMHO. I like it plenty, but it was a neutered narrative. It should have been more . . . true to life, zombies or not.
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, by Howard Schultz, Joanne Gordon

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I liked this account of the rise, stumble, and re-rise of Starbucks. Schultz is passionate, and he honestly cares about all aspects of how Starbucks effects all that it touches.

But this book bothered me and I had a hard time finishing it. I just had to plow through. Schultz is very passionate and caring, but from this book, I got the impression that he is more than a little in love with himself.

As a small business owner...
I found his approach to business interesting. I found his approach both inspiring and disagreeable all at the same time.

Inspiring: He really truly cares about his employees. Health care for all? Awesome. Just... awesome. Yeah, they had to downsize at one point in time, but he did not give up that position... health care for all employees. Just. Wow.

Inspiring: He cares about the growers... though it was a bit murky about how far he goes with this. They are involved with Coffee and Farmer Equity practices, which are good. Regardless, they are doing more than anyone else their size.

Disagreeable: If you are not nearly 100% as passionate about his business as Schultz is... He doesn't get it. Schultz loves what he does and it is his life. From the book, I get the impression that he expects that of everyone from manager on up.

Disagreeable: Growth Growth Growth. He is so focused on growth and then wonders why the nature of the business has changed. He often repeats that he wants to mimic the personal nature of an Italian coffee shop. If that is the case, he wouldn't have gone public and spurred growth to 10s of 1000s of shops.

Anyway... it is a good read until it becomes a tiresome read. It is worth reading just to get in the brain of a successful businessman who is also civic-minded.

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love, by Kristin Kimball

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Awesome memoir.

Kristin captures the passion farmers have for their work both as an outsider (big city hip gal) and then as an insider (farm girl). Nothing is hidden from the reader as she describes their struggles ... and their eventual success on this more-than-organic, very unique CSA operation.

Core to the theme of the book is the farm as the rock on which the author and her husband's relationship stands. Farming, arguably the most noble profession, is also unforgiving - both of their body, spirit, and relationship. But they endure and thrive.

Great book.