Wednesday, October 30, 2013

review: WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion

WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion
Random House Group: Vintage Books
Released: April 26, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 239

Rating: DNF

*edit: I did later finish this book and love it!*

* The white cover is the UK version. *

'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. If breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight . . .

My Thoughts

* The cover to the right is the US cover. *

I was a little hesitant to read this novel - because romantic zombies still really creep me out - but a glowing review by Carolyn from Book Chick City (and the blurb on the front by Simon Pegg) clinched it for me.

After Part 1, I was still a little unimpressed. Well, maybe that's not the right term. How about . . . disconnected? The story was interesting, but I was still waiting for things to get started. The setting is a little ambiguous - it's supposed to be somewhere in the U.S., but I looked up Oran Airport, which was mentioned by Julie, and it's somewhere in Algeria. Boo.

I started with Part 2, but then I stopped. I don't know what happened, I just . . . lost interest in the story. I wasn't invested in these characters.

All of that said, though, I might actually have to reverse my anti-zombie movie policy to see this in theaters next August!

Monday, October 28, 2013

review: DEARLY, DEPARTED by Lia Habel

Welcome to this week's PICK IT FOR ME post!

Only one vote again last week (Thank you, Rie!) . . . so I am putting the selections for next week at the top of the post, and hopefully that will increase voting. :) Remember, I will be reviewing the winning selection next Saturday!


Next week's selections:

Next week's selections are all books from my bookshelves that had covers that reminded me of fall. Check out the cover images! So pretty! Please write your choice in the comments.

1. Eon by Alison Goodman
2. Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
3. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
4. Supernaturally by Kiersten White
5. The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1) Shadow Hills The Vespertine (The Vespertine, #1) Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2) The Poison Diaries (Poison Diaries, #1)


Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
(Gone with the Respiration #1)
Publisher: Del Rey
Released: October 18, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 470

Rating: Loved it!

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid's arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead - or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria - a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique eta. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country's political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible - until she's nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she's suddenly gunning down raenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting "The Laz," a fatal virus that raises the dead - and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. but as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. Ad when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there's no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a truly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

My Thoughts

Thanks again to Rie from Mission to Read for suggesting this title!

Dearly, Departed was not at all what I was expecting, but I think I'm a little in love with this book! It's not your typical steampunk book (not that I am a steampunk expert or anything). The setting is actually futuristic - a sort of dystopian/post-nuclear war/global warming apocalypse. It's 2195, and the world is a completely different place. The United States is gone, and its people have moved south into Central and South America. I am still a little unclear about where exactly New Victoria is located, but Bram is from Brazil and there are scenes in Bolivia as well. Maybe New Victoria is in Peru or Columbia, then? Either way, it was a very interesting twist. I was expecting straight-up steampunk, meaning historical, but instead I got a futuristic society that had reverted to the Victorian era because of its "idealistic" behavior. Very, very interesting. Thankfully, Nora understands that the Victorian era was extremely misogynistic, and she doesn't act the way she's "supposed" to act. 

I have to admit that I am a little creeped out by romantic zombies, but Lia Habel deftly handles the balance between showing their creepy zombie-ness and making them human. I ended up relating to them much more than I thought I would.

The multiple viewpoints were well-labeled, but sometimes it was difficult to mentally switch between characters. That and the Victorian-era attitude were the only things I didn't like about this book.

Highly recommended!

Friday, October 25, 2013

review: THE ALWAYS WAR by Margaret Peterson Haddix

THE ALWAYS WAR by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster: Books for Young Readers
Released: November 15, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 256

Rating: It was okay

For as long as Tessa can remember, her country has been at war. When local golden boy Gideon Thrall is awarded a medal for courage, it's a rare bright spot for everyone in Tessa's town - until Gideon refuses the award, claims he was a coward, and runs away. Tessa is bewildered, and can't help but follow Gideon to find out the truth. But Tessa is in for more than she bargained for. Before she knows it, she has stowed away on a rogue airplane headed tor enemy territory. But all that pales when she discovers a shocking truth that rocks the foundation of everything she's ever believed - a truth that could change the world. Is Tessa brave enough to bring it into the light?

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix writes a thrilling novel about an all-too-recognizable future.

My Thoughts

Amazon always releases books at funny times, so this one actually showed up on my doorstep last night even though it was released today. I had been looking forward to it for a while, so I managed to finish both this and the other book I had been reading last night before falling asleep at 9:30! (I know it's lame, but I was tired!)

The Always War did not at all live up to my expectations. As a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children series, I expected her world building to be much better. I was also incredibly unimpressed with all of the characters, finding them all flat, boring, and unrelatable - except sometimes Dek. This book felt thrown together and as though the world, plot, and characters had not been thought through.

Younger readers - pre-teens who haven't yet read a lot of quality YA books - may enjoy this book for its fast plotting and the "surprise" twist at the end. However, I would not recommend The Always War for anyone who has already had a taste of good dystopian books. Better options include Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (also released today!) and Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (coming soon!).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

review: TIGHTER by Adele Griffin

TIGHTER by Adele Griffin
Random House: Alfred A. Knopf
Released: May 10, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 216

Rating: Didn't like it

Why did I come here? The easy answers are: to mend my broken heart, to earn somemoney, to escape my night terrors. in some ways, Littl eBly is the perfect island paradise - beautiful, and far away from my parents' endless worries. For the first time, because of Isa, I feel needed. And I've met Sebastian . . .

But the secrets buried in these walls are too frightening, and if it weren't for Isa, I'd be long gone. Every day, J & P move closer. Every night, the trap they've set draws tighter around me.

When seventeen-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that preceded her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl - and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly?

As Jamie's perception of the paranormal tests the limits - and expanses - of her core beliefs, she must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Brilliantly plotted, with startling twists, here is a thrilling page-turner from the award-winning Adele Griffin.

My Thoughts

Tighter is one of those books that comes off as one thing from the jacket flap but actually turns out to be something completely different. I took a chance on this title because I had really enjoyed Griffin's Vampire Island, and this looked like another paranormal title. Unfortunately, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. From the beginning, I couldn't bring myself to relate to the narrator, Jamie - who is addicted to various pills, including painkillers and antihistamines. I am not a fan of "damaged" narrators. Quite honestly, the only reason I forced myself to finish the book was because I was only forty pages from the end! Had the book been more like the description on the jacket flap, I would have loved it. However, I can't even describe this as a paranormal title, because all of that boils down to the events uncovered at the climax of the story. So much for truth in advertising!

Monday, October 21, 2013

review: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Welcome to this week's Pick It For Me post!

The winner from last Saturday was Divergent by Veronica Roth! Sure, only one person voted, but hey, that's still a vote! Haha. Anyway, my review for Divergent is below, and beneath that is a list of next week's selections.


DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
HarperCollins: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: April 25, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 487

Rating: Really liked it!

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are - and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the DIVERGENT series - dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

My Thoughts

I had avoided reading Divergent because of all the hype, because my experience is that hyped-up books tend not to live up to the publicity. [See Legend (super hyped, didn't love) vs. Shatter Me (not as hyped, absolutely adored]. Also, I met Veronica Roth earlier in the year and would hate to not like a book written by such a lovely woman! However, curiosity finally won the battle, and I put it on last week's list of choices. Rie from Mission to Read voted for Divergent, and I certainly can't say that I was disappointed by the selection!

I found Divergent a little difficult to get into at first. Beatrice/Tris is very much in her head most of the time, and, while there is training to get through, not a whole lot happens in terms of plot advancement for the better part of the book. Divergent is driven by the romance and Tris's development as a Dauntless rather than by action. Unfortunately, that's really not what I'm looking for in a book. I would have preferred to have Tris stumble upon things earlier in the book and have the big plot point unravel throughout the story rather than be condensed mostly at the end. The last seven chapters had a very different feel than the first thirty-two, and the change was so abrupt. I don't really know how to explain it, but it just didn't work for me.

However, for fans of romance, I did enjoy Roth's portrayal of Tris and Four's romance. They did rush into things a little, but I can understand the intensity in a story like this. Also, the timeline was a little unclear to me, so maybe more time passed than I realized? It's hard to say.

I guess you could say that my biggest issue was the portrayal of this society as perfect. How could anyone think that living like this is a utopia? Clearly, I didn't buy the whole "discovery that things are actually wrong" angle. I also wished that there had been more references to actual buildings/parks/etc. in Chicago, because Navy Pier and a couple of buildings were the only things that made the setting recognizable. I wanted to know how society had changed. What is different besides the fence around the city? And what the heck is the fence for!? To me, there is a difference between a slow reveal and simply leaving readers in the dark. Divergent leaves its readers in the dark.

My favorite character was Tris's mother. She has a hidden strength that most people never get to see in her, and I loved how supportive she was of her daughter even though Tris's choice meant essentially abandoning her family. She doesn't show up much, but in every scene I found myself liking her more and more, especially at the end.

Hopefully, Tris will become a little more sure of herself so we won't have to read so much about her constant internal struggle between doing what's right and saving her own butt. I liked the action scenes at the end of Divergent, and hopefully those will continue in Insurgent.


Next week's selections:

I know this will sound nuts to some of you, but I feel like different types of books have certain months or seasons when they should be read. November feels like a historical / fantasy type of month to me. So, for this week, please vote on my first foray into steampunk! Also, it would be really great if you could also write out what you liked about the book or why you're recommending it in addition to the title you chose. Thank you!

1. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Cady Cross
2. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
3. The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
4. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
5. Corsets & Clockwork anthology edited by Trisha Telep

Friday, October 18, 2013

review: SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Series: Shatter Me #1
HarperCollins: HarperTeen
Released: November 15, 2011
Source: A wonderful bookish friend!
Page Count: 338

Rating: Loved it!





In this electrifying debut filled with pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as the Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as the X-Men.

My Thoughts 

This is by far one of the best dystopians I have read in a loooong time!!!

Tahereh Mafi has created a truly unique voice with her main character, Juliette. Cloaked in mystery, Juliette's secrets are slowly revealed to readers as she comes to terms with them herself. The romance between Juliette and Adam is very intense, but I never found it to be inappropriate.

And that ending? WOW! I am SO FRICKING EXCITED for the next installment in this series!

I am a big fan of no-spoiler reviews and letting each reader find out about the plot on their own, so that's all I'm going to say. On that note, though, I hope you go pick up a copy of Shatter Me and read it for yourself! This is such a great book, and I hope you all love it as much as I do!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

reviews: GRACELING by Kristin Cashore // BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris

Welcome to the first Pick It For Me review post!

Last week, I wrote this post asking for help getting out of a reading slump. Since there was a tie, I read both books - and they were both pretty darn good!  Since they were so enjoyable, I decided to try this out as a weekly feature. My reviews are posted below. Beneath that, I have posted some choices for next week. The winning choice will be reviewed next Saturday!


GRACELING by Kristin Cashore
Series: The Seven Kingdoms #1
HMH: Harcourt
Released: October 1, 2008
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 370

Rating: Loved it!

His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened eyes face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn't shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn't seem human . . . 

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill - called a Grace - are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, Kind of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Thoughts

Lah from Lazy Girl Reads and Nomes from inkcrush both recommended Graceling. Thank you, Nomes, for the warning that the beginning was a little slow! It really helped to know that things would be picking up as I trudged through the beginning. The first few chapters were interesting, even if they were a little slow, but by the middle of Part 1 I was hooked!

Graceling is not at all what I expected. I usually find fantasy books to be quite boring, as the characters usually fit into typical societal molds, and that's not exactly exciting to read about. Katsa, however, was a surprisingly sympathetic character, and Po was even more likable. If I ever make a list of my favorite male protagonists, Po will definitely make the cut! Additionally, I loved the fight scenes between Katsa and Po. I started taking karate lessons when I was seven years old (and continued all the way up until age eighteen, when I couldn't put off getting my own class, at which point I left because I am a terrible teacher!), so those scenes were incredibly enjoyable to read! I felt like the story was more about the characters and their adventures, trials, and tribulations rather than a society-based fantasy that has too much emphasis on regular day-to-day life, which was probably why I liked this book when most others I haven't even been able to finish. The revelations at the end of the book are a little bittersweet, but I liked that there is a definite air of hope for the second book. Overall, this was a great read!

I will definitely be picking up Fire to read soon.


BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris
Series: Kate Grable #1
Random House: Delacorte Press
Released: July 12, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 201

Rating: Really liked it! 


Super-smartie Kate Grable gets to play doctor, helping out her high school football team. Not only will the experience look good on her college apps, she gets to be thisclose to her quarterback crush, Aaron. Then something disturbing happens. Kate finds out that the coach has given the team steroids. Except . . . the vials she finds don't exactly contain steroids. Whatever's in them is turning how gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating . . . zombies.

Unless she finds an antidote, no one is safe. Not Aaron, not Kate's brother, not her best friend . . . not even Kate.





My Thoughts

Nomes from inkcrush and Chandra from Unabridged Bookshelf both voted for Bad Taste in Boys because they had heard good things about it. Well, they heard right! BTiB is a cute, smart, quick read populated with great, easy to relate to characters. The back cover text describes the story fairly well, so I won't bother going into the story here. I will, however, tell you what I liked and didn't like about BTiB.

Honestly, the best part about BTiB is the characters. Kate, especially. I loved that she had such drive. It feels like a lot of teenage female characters, especially in paranormal stories, tend to be complacent with their lot in life after they get with their crush, but Kate is ambitious, and I don't see her letting go of her dreams. She is really a breath of fresh air. Her crush, Aaron, is not the least bit douchebaggy like some of the jocks I knew in high school; to the contrary, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Things seemed to  move a little fast with Kate and Adam, as he hadn't seemed to notice her before. However, I think part of that may have been simple ignorance on Kate's part, as Adam had probably noticed her more than she realized. I loved Kate's brother, Jonah, the best. He is adorable! He kind of reminds me of one of my brothers, because he can be annoying as all get out and completely impossible to understand, but then he does something sweet and selfless and you just want to hug him.

My only complaint is how short the story is. BTiB clocks in at just 201 pages. The plot wasn't rushed, per se, but I wished that it had been a little more fleshed out. (Zombie pun not intended!) Things moved along so quickly that I sometimes had a hard time believing that they would progress at such a rate; plot holes abound, and that took away some of the enjoyment for me and ultimately lowered my final rating.

Next week's selections:

I'm a little over paranormal books for the moment - I've been reading them all semester for my Vampires, Wizards, and Superheroes class. I need something totally different. How about . . . dystopian? Here are some books on my shelf that I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say about these books!

1. Exodus by Julie Bertagna
2. The Declaration by Gemma Malley
3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
5. Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Monday, October 14, 2013

review: LEGEND by Marie Lu

LEGEND by Marie Lu
Series: Legend #1
Penguin: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Released: November 29, 2011
Source: BEA
Page Count: 320

Rating: Liked it

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy committed to her country.

Born into the slums of the Republic's Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal.

From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered. And Day becomes the prime suspect.

Now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival while June tries desperately to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

My Thoughts

Legend has had a lot of hype, and even outlets that are not exclusively bookish have gotten in on the action. I have heard about this book everywhere. Honestly, though, it did not live up to the hype.

The best thing going for Legend is that it is fast-paced enough to keep your attention. The storyline switches between Day and June, which is easy enough to keep track of because the font type and color also change with the characters. (Of course, the gold is a little hard to read, but if you could handle the colors in Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver series, you should be fine.)

However, this still does not distract from the fact that the world-building is flimsy at best and there is little to no explanation - or even speculation - as to how things became the way they are today. The characters are rather bland, and I felt no attachment to them. Sure, I'd feel bad if something terrible happened to them, but I'm not going to be disappointed if I never follow up on the rest of the series to find out what happens to them.

If you're a big fan of dystopian books and are willing to look past this book's faults simply to enjoy it for the genre, then, by all means, pick it up. Otherwise, pick up something better like Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Eve by Anna Carey, or Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Friday, October 11, 2013

review: CROSSED by Ally Condie

CROSSED by Ally Condie
Series: Matched #2
Penguin Group: Dutton Children's
Released: November 1, 2011
Source: BEA
Page Count: 367

Rating: Liked it


Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

Narrated from both Cassia's and Ky's points of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever.

My Thoughts

I'm sort of hoping that I end up feeling the same way about Crossed that I do about Matched. When I first read Matched, I wasn't exactly a fan. It took a few months of thinking about the premise and understanding just how invested I was in the story and the characters to realize that I actually did like the book, I had just gone in with different expectations and let those color my view of the story.

I am not a huge fan of Crossed. Hopefully just for now. It's not that I didn't enjoy the story, or that it wasn't well-written. It was. However, it just didn't do for the series quite what I was hoping. It wasn't disappointing so much as anticlimactic. After the ending of Matched, I was hoping for a little more action and a lot more answers. Instead, Crossed fell into the classic trap that many second-in-a-trilogy books fall into in which nothing really happens except for set-up for the third book. It just . . . was.

It certainly didn't help that the last page could have been referring to either of Cassia's love interests, and I won't find out which one it was for another whole year!

If you enjoyed the first book, Crossed is worth reading. However, if you can wait until the third book comes out next year, it might be worth marathoning them both together.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

review: YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME by Stacey Jay

Series: Megan Berry #1
Penguin: RazorBill
Released: January 22, 2009
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 263

Rating: Really liked it!

Q: How many zombies does it take to ruin a social life?

A: Not many.

Megan Berry is a Zombie Settler by birth, which means she's part-time shrink to a whole bunch of semi-dead people with killer issues. All Megan really wants is to go to homecoming, but when you're trailed by a bunch of slobbering corpses whenever you leave the house, it's kinda hard to score a date. Let's just say Megan's love life could use some major resuscitation.

Megan's convinced her life can't get any worse - until someone in school starts using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into scary, hardcore flesh-eating Zombies. Now it's up to Megan to stop the Zombie apocalypse. Her life - and more importantly, the homecoming dance - depends on it.

My Thoughts

Megan Berry is a Settler, meaning that she helps the dead to find peace in the afterlife by giving them one last outlet for whatever they left undone in life. It's sort of like a medium, except instead of ghosts she's dealing with zombies who will kill her if she doesn't help them. As if that's not scary enough, Megan thought this was all behind her, and her powers would never fully manifest. So when a zombie shows up on the night of her big date with the most popular boy in school, she's a little upset. She soon realizes that her zombie problems aren't just from her powers awakening - someone's out to get her . . . maybe even get her out of the way forever. If she's going to survive til the Homecoming dance, she's going to need to take a long hard look at everyone around her.

This was yet another cute story from Stacey Jay! I loved the unique angle on the zombie genre with the concept of Settlers. It was refreshing to see another author besides Daniel Waters give some actual intelligence and humanity to zombies. I've been waiting for this trend since vampires and shifters both became sympathetic characters in the paranormal romance genre, but it's only just recently starting to catch on.

The rating would have been in the solid A- range had it not been for the whole bit with Ethan and Monica. Sure, I could see where it was going. But not only did it frustrate me as a reader to see Megan so upset, it was also frustrating to get so attached to Ethan as a character and then suddenly only hear about him in internal dialogue. I really enjoyed his character and wish that we could have spent more time with him in the last half of the book.

Anyway, Stacey Jay has a whole bunch of great books! If zombies don't appeal to you, you should check out The Locket and Juliet Immortal.

Monday, October 07, 2013

review: LOVE SUCKS! by Melissa Francis

LOVE SUCKS! by Melissa Francis
Series: Bite Me! #2
HarperCollins: HarperTeen
Released: July 27, 2010
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 285

Rating: Really liked it!

AJ Ashe may have gotten rid of her vampire stalker and her evil ex-teacher, but things are hardly back to normal. For one thing, she still has to maintain a strict look-but-don't-touch policy with Ryan, her hot ex-boyfriend-turned-stepbrother. For another, she has to learn to control her vampire superpowers - which means more than a few dates with Lex, mind-reading professional vampire trainer and too-sexy-for-his-own-good bad boy. And as if that's not enough, she happens to be the key to her father's plans to take over the world . . . and he'll stop at nothing to get what he wants.

All this and she's still got to plan the prom. Being a teenager is tough, but being a teenage vampire just flat out sucks!

My Thoughts

I have a love/hate relationship with series - I love reading more about the characters, but I hate being disappointed by lackluster sequels. That's why I waited so long after Bite Me! (review here) to read Love Sucks! - and now I want to kick myself for waiting! I should have known that Melissa Francis wouldn't let me down.

Poor AJ just can't catch a break. She's trying to move on from Ryan, but it's tough to get over a guy when you live under the same roof and constantly catch him canoodling with his new girlfriend. Add to that her mom's pregnancy that may or may not be the center of a vampire prophecy and, well, it's clear that AJ's life is stressful. She so doesn't need to hear that her crazy ex-teacher, Mr. Charles, is back in town! Between bad guys who want her on their side, her dad lurking around in the shadows, and a bad boy vampire trainer who she can't get out of her head - literally - AJ's life is only going to get tougher.

I loved the family dynamics in this book. It takes places a few months after the first book, so they have settled into a rhythm, but they're also still coming to terms with each others' "otherness," as revealed at the end of book one. They really are a paranormal Brady Bunch!

The ending was a little rushed, and I would have preferred to read a bit more about the characters' reactions to the revelations of the last few chapters. Overall, though, it was quite well-written. Love Sucks! is not nearly as predictable as the first book. Francis's writing style has definitely improved, and I look forward to reading the new young adult series that her website lists as in the works!

Friday, October 04, 2013

review: ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre

ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #1
Macmillan: Feiwel & Friends
Released: April 12, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 259

Rating: Really liked it!

In Deuce's world, an enclave deep underground, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed "brat" has trained to join one of three groups - Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear - to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading the ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a brooding hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning.

Fade doesn't like following orders. Deuce has never known a boy like him before, someone as likely to touch her gently as use his knives with feral grace.

As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat due to their sheer numbers, now show signs of cunning and even strategy . . . but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. No matter how hard she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known.

My Thoughts

Enclave is a little tough to get into in the beginning, mostly because, as a reader, I knew that Deuce's perception of the world was skewed, but she has no clue just how wrong her world view is. Once the story moved forward enough that she had begun to question her surroundings, I really got into it.

This book has all of the elements of a great zombie book without all of the unnecessary grossness and horror that I hate so much about zombie movies (and every book by Mark Henry). There are hidden societies, secrets and lies, gangs, and danger lurking around every corner. Seriously, it's awesome. I'm having a tough time putting it into words, because I can't put my finger on why I like it so much. I don't even particularly relate to Deuce, which is usually the clincher. It's just a great story, and I can't wait to read more!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

review: JINX by Meg Cabot

JINX by Meg Cabot
HarperCollins: HarperTeen
Released: August 1, 2007
Source: Bookstore / Library for audio
Page Count: 262

Rating: Didn't like it


Jean Honeychurch hates her boring name (not Jean Marie, or Jeanette, just . . . Jean). What's worse? Her all-too-appropriate nickname, Jinx. Misfortune seems to follow her everywhere she goes - even to New York City, where Jinx has moved to get away from the huge mess she caused in her small homeworn. Her aunt and uncle welcome her to their Manhattan town house, but her beautiful cousin Tory isn't so thrilled . . .

In fact, Tory is hiding a dangerous secret - one that could put them all in danger. Soon Jinx realizes it isn't just bad luck she's been running from . . . and that the curse she has lived under since the day she was born may be the only thing that can save her life.

My Thoughts

I should preface this by noting that I love Meg Cabot - her Mediator series was amazing!

Jinx, however, was an odd book, and I'm still not 100% sure what happened. It certainly felt like nothing happened . . . and I'm really not sure that anything actually changed by the end of the book. There is a witchcraft aspect to the story that might or might not actually be real. It feels more like a way to move the story forward, or maybe to add a little sexiness and a sense of the forbidden, rather than an actual part of the story.

And we can't forget Jinx. Poor, poor Jinx. Her life would be so much easier if she would just stick up for herself - even if it was only enough that she would stop being a doormat for the entire world. I could not relate to her at all.

This story is a letdown. I would recommend skipping it.