Cover Image: Not All a Dream

Not All a Dream

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I kept waiting for something to happen, and it just … didn’t. I really wanted to like this book but it needed a little more plot than just the day to day journaling of what happened during a natural disaster. Not a bad book, but not the best I’ve read either.
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“Not All a Dream” by Sophia Kell Hagin is a dystopian book set in the near future, post-Covid and soon after a massive nuclear bombing on the other side of the world. While this isn’t my usual fare, I really enjoyed this book. 

Hester isn’t having a good year. Her partner of 45 years has just died after making it through the first year of the Covid pandemic. Shortly after her death, there’s a massive nuclear bombing that has worldwide effects. The likes of which the modern-day world has never seen and includes ‘the cold dark.’ 

Hester has been grief-stricken and living a solitary, depressed life since her partner’s passing. However, her circumstances and the circumstances of her small Cape Cod community won’t allow that for long. Food and other supplies are on short supply and Hester has to figure out a way to live with no sun. Hester’s neighbor’s have to come together and pool their resources if they want to survive. 

What I really enjoyed about this was the fact that Hester isn’t your typical main character. She’s 75 and isn’t much of a people person. The first 20% or so is pretty bleak and sad as she’s basically just trying to figure out if there’s even a reason to keep going. As this was told from her first-person point of view it was interesting and sometimes sad to see her go from being alone and depressed to being embraced by the others in her community. 

This is realistic in that I can see this kind of thing happening and it made it even more gripping for me. I want to say I read this in one sitting but it scared me a little and I would have to take breaks to go and appreciate the sun. 

I recommend this book if you’re looking for something different. This is about survival and community and learning how to adapt to a new world. While there is no romance there is love and touching moments as well. 

I received an ARC from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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What an interesting book! As a woman of a certain age it was nice to be able to relate to a main character, sad though the storyline is for her. I love the prepping and survival aspects, especially since the story validates my own stock pile. I am always amazed at the richness with which this author writes. Aside from the extra lengths of her books, there is just more. The storylines never feel rushed and the in depth details allow for a very pleasant experience. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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An exquisitely written novel, set in a dystopian future, with a 74 year old heroine, Hester. The book opens with the loss of Hester's partner after 45 years and her grief. As the weather takes a dangerous turn following a nuclear war on the other side of the world, Hester begins to look beyond her grief and follows her survival instincts. It's a dark, literally and figuratively, opening and not an easy read especially in these chaotic times but slowly a different book emerges where a community forms, accepting of the ethnic and sexuality diversity within it. I was drawn to a book with an older lead character and was rewarded with a richly drawn portrayal of survival through community and working with nature. Recommended

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Sophia Kell Hagin started her career as writer with a flash bang - giving us Gwynnmorgan and the harsh realities of soldiers, imprisoning, torture and survival.
Her newest epic drama about bleak and harsh survival and the hopeful budding of a new community in nuclear winter on the Cape lives up to the high expectations set by her former awardwinning books. Again she doesn‘t spare the reader and their sensibilities. The new reality is stark (and very cold) and Kell Hagin chronicles it with her superb story-weaving and eye for details be it of people, the needed skills or the upheaval of society. She walks effortlessly the fine line between too harsh and too optimistic thus giving the story a palpable realism.
I esp. loved that the story is told from the point of view of Hester who is 74 and just lost her wife and how the community slowly comes together around her. Kell Hagin captures the grief, the slow realization of the new Normal, the incremental coming together to form a new community, the slide of societal norms. The characters, esp. Duka and her backstory, are memorable. And I loved how the infusion of energy by including the kids. The end is a joyful reunion when the grounds for a new future are secured.
Very notable is how masterfully Kell Hagin wields the English language. She forges and tempers it towards a riveting reading experience.

PS.: My inner and outer gardener rejoiced that biochar was given its rightful place for the rejuvenation of soil.

Copy received via netgalley.
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4.5 stars. Beautiful, haunting and scary realistic. I didn’t really know what to expect from this book, but this was a very good surprise, the writing is was excellent and captivating. I won’t lie this was not the easiest or lightest book to read, but I soon couldn’t put it down. This was my first book by Kell Hagin, but I’ll be looking up some of the author’s previous books.

This is a dystopian (cli-fi) novel, which is one of my favorite genres, but it is very different from let’s say a zombie ridden gore fest and total anarchy. This was so very realistic and really well thought out. I can believe this could happen, from the disaster that shrouds the world in an extreme cold to the effects it has on the people and the slow changes that ensue in (governmental) control. The MCs face problems and dangers, but in contrast to many dystopian stories this story focuses more on the characters and their reasoning in solving these problems than on action and/or violence, not to say there is none of that. 

The book is written in first person from the perspective of Hester, the 75-year old MC. There are not too many books with MCs in this age category (and most certainly not dystopian) and I liked seeing the world through her eyes. I appreciated that she acts her age, and with that I mean that she has a different outlook on the world and different expectancies for her life and the future than someone who’s 30 or 40 years her junior. 
Hester has just lost her wife of 45-years and is almost immediately plunged into the “cold dark” as they call it. The first 25% of the book were hard to read for me, Hester is grieving and the world as she knows it is changing for the worst, she becomes depressed and turns into a hermit. This was so sad and gloomy and I don’t always deal well with this, but I kept on reading and it was worth it. The way Hester has to claw her way out of this dark place and adapts to survive is what makes this book so good. Furthermore, there are many other characters that play an important role in this book and they all have their own stories that were interesting and made me hunger for more. 

This book is about surviving, friendship, and trust, and about building a community. I definitely recommend reading this if you like a dystopian novel written from a different perspective. 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is not a romance novel but a futuristic Sci-Fi  story.  Its a story about loss and survival. How when you fall and think your alone. You learn that you can accept and give help to others.  In the end you will learn to pick yourself up and stand stronger than ever. Well done.

I receive an ARC copy from the publisher Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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What if? What if you survive a pandemic only to have a nuclear event plunge your world into “the cold dark”? What if you are still mourning the recent loss of your beloved wife
and wondering if survival is worth the bother when you are already seventy-five and all alone in this new reality?

I like a good dystopian read and have only begun to read cli-fi stories. My go to thrillers often feature preppers, those gun-toting mad men and women living in remote areas guarding their stashes of weapons and canned goods. Kell Hagan gives us a cautionary tale told through the eyes of an old woman named Hester. She honours her dying wife’s wishes and stocks up on essential items to get through the winter in her remote area of Cape Cod even though it seems excessive and foolish to stockpile so much for one person. As services dwindle in her community, Hester begins working with others pooling skills and resources. Leaving her hermit lifestyle seems impossible at first but her growing group of friends helps her deal with her own depression and find purpose in her life.

I enjoyed reading this primer on survival of the ingenious and well prepared in the event of a massive climate/nuclear event. I’ve read other post-apocalyptic books where very little is left to scrounge and the characters are lucky to survive the night without getting knifed for their container of water. This is a gentler tale with more resources available (at a price) and less violence. Danger still lurks but the focus is on the ability of neighbours to support and encourage each other and find new ways to exist in community. The writing feels effortless and the story flows well. Time to look up some of the author’s previous titles.

A copy of this book was received with thanks from the publisher via NetGalley for review.
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Repetitive......that's how I would describe this story.
The entire story is about how a small group of people pull together to survive after a worldwide tragedy. (You never actually get informed what that tragedy was)
The story was very slow. Pages and pages describing how to build a compost pile and what should be the ingredients and how to procure them.  I skimmed.  At about chapter 23 and wind turbines were going to be installed.....I gave up and jumped to the last chapter.  And it was predictable.
Futuristic, sci-fi, no romance.  Not my kind of story.
I was given this ARC in exchange for an honest review
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5 Stars!

Fantastic!!! I can not explain how good this story is!  The idea of the 'Not All A Dream' is odd and unusual and has a lot of depth to it as well. Not only is the storyline good, but the author managers to keep drawing you further into the storyline. You'll meet a great bunch of characters, I cant choose who I like the most as each character has their own story behind them. I actually craved for more. This isn't a romance... it's pretty much a story about surviving, trusting strangers and building friendships. This is the first book I've read by this author and I'm really looking forward to reading more. 

I was given an ARC for an honest review.
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This is a story about loss, and how you stand again afterwards, and how you do that when the whole world is going downhill... The main character Hester tells us how her world ended when her lover Cordelia, died and soon after that, exactly 6 weeks After, the world suffers a big blow, and since i don't want to give spoilers this is as far as i go with details about the story.

The characters have soul, Hester almost feels much Younger than 75 years old, we feel her pain for the death of Cordelia, but also her hope for the new people that cross her way, we learn of her doubts, fears, trust and leap in the future.

This is also a good example of a good world building,people start a comunity and try to trive, there is still some sort of governement, but people are mostly under their own devices. (Too far from the main cities) You mostly know what happened in the world (i know for some its really important to know what is going on).

Slow paced, but the right speed for me, thank you Sophia Kell Hagin for this story of loss and hope <3

I got an ARC of this book for free through netgalley and i am leaving this review voluntarily.
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I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review.

This story in the POV of Hester who spent forty-five years with her wife Cordelia before she past she knew something could happen to world where you might have to struggle to survive so over the years she got things you need if it happens. 

Hester has been depressed and mourning since her wife passing she surprise after everything that Cordelia had her to do comes into fruition when the world blinked and nuclear warheads were detonated halfway across the world. She has everything to survive but she starts to realize that she doesn’t have to go at it alone when stumble upon a group who struggling who show her it’s best to have people around to help you through the bad times and the good times.
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Sophia Kell Hagin you demolished me by the end of chapter two. No matter how many times I read the first two chapters again and again, you break me into pieces by your haunting depiction of love and love’s loss. 
Not All a Dream is a first person narrative by the character Hester who has lived with the love of her life for forty five years. Cordelia’s passing, though expected, has left her desolate and depressed in the home they shared on Cape Cod. Weeks into mourning her loss the world blinked and nuclear warheads were detonated halfway across the world. A climactic crisis ensues forcing Hester to face each day as a challenge to just survive physically.
Kell Hagin creates the voice of Hester as the “ get off my lawn, kid” gruffness neighbour while extending her hand to help others “for just a little while” to not appear as a softie. Hester is the “Scout” narrator for our generation. ( Scout’s voice tells us the story in To Kill A Mockingbird)
Over the course of composing this review I have reread multiple chapters as I fact check then get drawn back into the story. This post pandemic, post nuclear war story is frightening on how close it comes to the it could happen tomorrow scenario. This is the most compelling part of the novel which draws me back to reading it over and over. A survivalist guide to what will be eventually in my lifetime. 
The cast of characters Kell Hagin creates slowly come into focus as Hester learns that survival is made easier when shared. They are an eclectic group from vastly different economic and social backgrounds now all facing the same struggles. 
The story and writing are both brilliantly done. I should type that in capital letters to emphasize how emphatic I am. 
I cannot get Hester’s voice out of my head. She is a character who will stay with me for a long time and who I will visit often. 

 I received a free ARC from NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review.
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