Friday, December 23, 2011

Beautiful Chaos-Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

And I thought that things would be okay for Ethan and Lena. Holy moly…was I wrong…

“Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin? For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask. Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.”

When I read Beautiful Creatures, I wasn’t too sure about the story of Ethan and Lena. As I read Beautiful Darkness, I got more drawn into the world that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s created. This third book, Beautiful Chaos, was by far the best in the series. “Oh really?” you say? Yes. It is the best.

My main issue with the books have always been that I felt that Ethan was a bit of a whiney girl and depended too much on Lena to define him as a person. In this book, we see Ethan, in a clichéd term, turn into a man. I loved the psychological mind games that Ethan is being forced to face. Since he died and resurrected in the first book, little things about him are slipping away because half his soul is in the afterlife while the other half is stuck in the land of the living. The tricks of the mind that Ethan is experiencing adds a great creepy twist that leaves the reader turning the pages, hoping that the next set of words will reveal what is happening to our hero. But, while all this is going on, he is still some how facing the end of the world from when Lena broke the Order to claim herself. Ethan goes through trials and tribulations, searching for truth that is unsavory and acting bravely to those facts. I loved that Ethan finally took control of his own fate, and didn’t depend on anyone but himself.

Oh! And then there’s Ridley and the mystery of her Casting abilities. We get to see Serafina’s past as she struggles being claimed to the Dark. And we see that there is a deeper side of Link. And then, Amma uses bad juju in an attempt to save Ethan. Action, suspense, doomed love…and not just Ethan and Lena.
Best part of this book? The ending left me screaming for more. Like screaming: “Wait?! What?!” To me, that is a sign of a great book. And I totally know there will be one final book in the series. How do I know? Well, I got a Tweet from Kami Garcia herself telling me there will be one more book.

My oh my. What will Ms. Garcia and Ms. Stohl will have in store for Ethan Wake in the fourth book? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I hope it’s something I don’t see coming.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Great and Terrible Beauty-Libba Bray

So what would those girls from the movie “Mean Girls” look like in Victorian England?

“A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy--jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel. Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order.”

I read Libba Bray’s “Beauty Queens” before reading this, and at first, I was totally excited. I loved Beauty Queens. But as I started reading, the more bored and frustrated I became. We meet Gemma Doyle, and at sixteen years old, she is introduced as a brat. Not the best way to introduce our hero. She is arguing with her mother, begging and wishing to be sent to England. But then, a mysterious force appears and her mother is murdered. Then, in a strange turn of events, Gemma gets her way. Sent to England and to Spence Boarding School for girls, where she is bombarded with mean girls. Then, things take a turn for the gothic when it is revealed that she is has a special power that lets her access a different plan of existence called The Realms and magic. But, there is also a mystery revolving around two girls from many years ago who died in a fire in the east wing of the building. By the end of the book, one of the girls has chosen to stay behind the Realms of magic, her body dying, while the other girls are tasked to rebuild The Order, to bring back balance to the Realm of magic and the mortal world.

How Bray created a mystical Victorian Gothic novel is amazing. The mannerisms of the characters, the historical imagery of an older Imperial England, and the air of creepiness, emerged me into a potentially exciting world. Potentially: key word. I couldn’t fully emerse myself into Bray’s Victorian England because the main characters, Gemma, Anne, Felicity and Pippa are well, not nice girls. They are suppose to develop this friendship between each other but they all hide secrets and are back stabbing each other. I have a hard time believing these girls are remotely nice, even Gemma.

Despite the downfall of the characters, I am interested in seeing what happen to Gemma and her crew in the next two books. Do they rebuild the Order? Does anyone else die? How about do any of the girls go bad?
I’m hoping that the next two books, Rebel Angles and The Sweet Far Thing, will be a little better in that I don’t despise our hero, Gemma.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Percy Jackson & The Sea of Monsters-Rick Riordan

Cyclopes, Monsters, Bermuda Triangle...oh my!

“Percy Jackson’s seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get…well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of his friends Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods with be destroyed. In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to The lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family-one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son in an honor or a cruel joke.”

I am always pleased to read a series that gets a little better with each book. Rick Riordan’s Sea of Monsters is an amazing sequel. It is just as fun and fast paced as The Lightening Thief. This book shows the growth of Percy as he grows from a kid into a teenager. Riordan shows the toughness of Percy, but always keeps the character grounded. Clarisse, daughter of Ares and rival to Percy, is chosen to go to the Sea of Monsters to retrieve the Golden Fleece to save Thalia’s Tree (what keeps Camp Half-Blood protected). Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson, Percy’s Cyclopes half-brother, sneak out of camp not only to help retrieve the Golden Fleece, but to save Grover, who sends Percy a message through a dream that he is trapped in the cave of Polyphemus, attempting to hide being a sader by sporting a wedding dress and veil.

But where is the Sea of Monsters? That’s where it gets super brilliant: it’s the Bermuda Triangle! Riordan has a gift for blending ancient Greek myths with the modern contemporary world. And the thing is, it total makes sense. The Sea of Monsters being the Bermuda Triangle makes since in that the place is shroud in paranormal theories and mysteries. Why not have monsters explain why boats and planes that enter those waters be the reason for the disappearances?

My favorite part of the book was when we discover more about who Annabeth is. We know she is brilliant, tough, and resilient. But, when they go by the Sirens and she manages to cut herself free and swim to their island, we see that she hopes for love and affection of her mortal father and goddess mother Athena, and her once best friend Luke, sitting together at a picnic, happy and together. We see how lonely she is, always stuck at camp, never being with her mortal family. And with Luke betraying her, she truly felt she had no one. I feel at the end of the book, Annabeth sees that she’s not alone in having Percy as a friend, but also is able to allow herself to try to be with her father and her step-mother and half-brothers. 

For me, Percy Jackson is one of two characters I have read that have been under the age of sixteen (the other being Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Material series. Amazing! That’s for another book review). What Riordan seems to do best with his characters is give them room to grow. Percy is a great pre-teen/teenage character with the right amount of snark, pride, and self-doubt that makes him a great narrator.  Pat yourself on the back Mr. Riordan. You got another person hooked on your series with your great action sense, how you inject mythology into the modern world, and have us still routing for the Olympians. Because even though they are sort of jerks to their demi-god children, the alternative, Kronos, is just not something we want in this world. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Lightening Thief-Rick Riordan

You know when you see a movie and then read the book and you are so happy you saw the movie first?

“After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.”

I am so glad I saw the movie first before starting to read the first book of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian series. Because, if I read The Lightening Thief before seeing the movie, well, I would have been mad. But we are not here to talk about the movie; we are here to talk about the book.
My husband read the entire series so I felt obligated to read it too. He was so excited describing all the action scenes and telling me all the stuff the movie left out. And, I totally have to agree: action packed with a hint of pre-teen snark. Percy is what we Mortal call a troubled kid, but all those Mortal problems equal to him being a demi-god, or what the book calls them, half-blood. To me, Riordan wrote Percy older than a twelve year old kid. He handled himself more like a teenager, moody and impulsive. Riordan’s descriptions of all the things that were happening to Percy drew me into the story: The Minotaur attacking him, his mom and Grover, The fight on the bus with the Furies. Percy hanging out at the bottom of the Mississippi, Percy and Annabeth being tricked into a trap that was meant for the god Ares. (FYI: None of these awesome scenes were in the movie.) All these action scenes were rich and well developed that it made it easy to forgot that Percy is just a kid battling huge monsters and on a quest to retrieve Zeus’s master Lightening Bolt.

But, unlike in the movie, we find out that there is not only did Zeus get jacked, so did Hades.  BUM BUM BUM!! That’s right. Hade’s Helm of Darkness (which make the wearer invisible) is stolen, there for allowing the thief to also get away with the stealing from Zeus. The chapters where Percy, Annabeth and Grover were in the Underworld were probably one of my favorite parts of the book. Not just for the plot twists and turns, but also for how the Underworld is described. The toll booths funneling in people to be judged for the kind of life they lived was an interesting take on how the afterlife might look. The guards around Hades’ stronghold were probably my favorite touch, in that they were dead soldiers from throughout time. The darkness that Riordan is able to inject into what is suppose to be a children’s book is the right amount of scare and action.


Percy and his pals are successful in returning the stolen items to Zeus and Hades and they return to Camp Half-Blood victorious heroes. But, when leaving camp do they find that who they thought was their ally and friend, someone close to them, is a traitor and working for the Olympian’s father, Kronos: Luke. Yeah, Luke did it. Well he is the son of Hermes.
Now this little bit here is movie versus book discussion. Having read the book, I’m kind of sad they cut so much out that they weren’t able to put in the whole theft of the Helm of Darkness and Kronos rising to kill the Olympians. Which means no big final scene at camp with Percy and Luke . I felt in the movie, that they didn’t really capture the anguish and anger that consumed Luke.  He is for sure going to be a formidable enemy for Percy in the rest of the books. At least, that’s what I am told.
This is a great book for kids. It introduces Greek mythology to a younger audience  without it being well, boring. I know when I was in school, as much as I loved learning about Greek mythology, I always found it kind of dull. But even now, as an adult, I learned so much. I can’t wait till my nephew reads this book. He’s like a sponge and I know he’ll just gobble this story up.

It’s always awesome when you can do a bit of learning while being totally entertained at the same time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flip That Zombie-Jesse Petersen

Our favorite married couple surviving the zombie apocalypse are back…and they are open or business.

“The Zombie Apocalypse has been good to Sarah and David. Their marriage is better than ever. They communicate well, share responsibilities, and now, they’re sharing a business. ZombieBusters-for all your zombie extermination needs. There are lots of zombies and that means lots of customers…except one of them doesn’t want the zombies dead, he wants them alive and ready for experimentation. Mad scientists make for difficult clients and this time, Sarah and David might have bitten off more than they can chew.”

So in this sequel to Married with Zombies, it’s been four months since Seattle feel to zombies, and David and Sarah have gone south to Phoenix, AZ for the winter. All forms of the modern civilization have disappeared. We see that they have decided to open up a zombie extermination business. They hear rumors of “bionic zombies” and people are disappearing. However, when they meet a good doctor working in a secret bunker, Sarah is sucked into the hope of maybe finding a cure, while David doesn’t trust the doctor as far as he can throw them. Sarah is still sort of calling all the shots and though it seems to drive David nuts, he goes along with it. When they take a job to capture zombies versus killing them, it goes all down-hill from there.  Zombie hunts and truths revealed, and a close call for David, this book goes through the gamete of emotions. Where does this book leave us? David and Sarah head east with hopes that the zombie disease hasn’t reached that far.
I enjoyed the journey that Sarah and David take to further test their relationship. The book was funny, and there was action, but I feel that maybe Jesse Petersen couldn’t decide how to write this book. Is it a comedy? Is it action? Drama perhaps? It was a little all over the place. I felt that David was the only character that developed and changed. Sarah, as our narrator, stayed the same, which is good and bad. Good because we already know what she is like. She is the same snarky and sailor-mouthed zombie killing machine. Bad? She is the same snarky and sailor-mouthed zombie killing machine. She is the constant observer, describing the sadness of the refugee camps, the orphans, and the ragged and raw hope of the survivors. But I don’t see anywhere in the book where she really changes and grows. She just kind of the same. Which sadly, makes reading along with her a little boring.

My main issue with the book is the last big action stand-off scene. It’s like a scene from Resident Evil was laid in over David and Sarah. I have found that to be the case with some zombie books I’ve been reading lately that they have this Resident Evil feel to it: Evil Corporation/Mad Scientists, tough slightly snarky female hero, strong males that bend under the will of said tough female. Not that I don’t enjoy the Resident Evil franchise, I’m just always looking for a twist on an old favorite.

Though I found this book a little lacking and not as good as Married with Zombies, I am totally vested in this series and I must know what happens in book three, Eat Slay Love. I still love Sarah and David, but I feel that she may have gone a little off the track with this book. So let’s hope that I get what I want from the next book.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Working Stiff-Rachel Caine

So there’s an evil corporation that makes drug that brings people back from the dead. Unsuspecting women gets caught up in the middle of, well, everything. Hmm. Feels like I’ve seen this story before…

“Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.
With the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead…”

Now, don’t get me wrong. Rachel Caine’s first book in her new series is good. Really good. Well written. Easy to read. Nice developed characters. An interesting story line. My main issue with this book is that it is being marketed as a “zombie” book. And I suppose, technically, it is a zombie book. Bryn Davis is killed and then injected with the magic drug that brings her back to life. And then, for me, that is where the whole zombie thing ends. To me, this book is more of a suspense thriller that borderlines on being something similar to Resident Evil. Yeah. I said it. I’m sure some of you how read this had the words “Umbrella” and “Alice” pop into your mind. The idea of a drug being developed by a very powerful company is strikingly familiar. At least for me anyway.

I did enjoy the idea of Bryn having the worst first day of work ever. First day as a Funeral Director and then sees her boss selling zombie drug to desperate families. She is of course caught and then that’s when, well, she dies. Thanks to Joe, who is basically a mercenary working for Evil Corp (that’s not the name of the company, that’s just what I call all faceless corporations that are betrayed as evil), she is brought back to life. She is then put into servitude for the pharmaceutical company in trying to sniff out who old boss’s supplier. Crazy action and suspense in sews and we are left at the end of the book thinking what will happen to Bryn and Patrick McAllister, the double agent working for said pharmaceutical company.

Here was my major issue with the book: Bryn. I had an issue with the main character. I loved her at the beginning of the book. There is some background information revealed about her time spent in the army and how she did a tour in Iraq. Great, I thought, a strong female character that is going to kickass and take names. But hell no. Instead of taking control of things for herself, she allows Joe and McAllister, two men she has absolutely no reason to trust, to take her by the hand and lead her down the deadly path. I felt Caine just kind of crapped on the back story that she built up at the beginning of the book. Now I get it, Joe and McAllister are the ones who give her the shots, blah blah blah. But to me, there was kind of the build up of her being tough and resilient that didn’t really appear. And I don’t mean physically. Bryn does get her ass beat quite a few time. Hell, she even gets shot up, but I didn’t feel like there was any struggle on her part to take control of the situation herself.

But, even despite that, this book was very entertaining and I totally enjoyed myself. It’s a nice departure for Rachel Caine from her Weather Warden and Morganville Vampire series. It shows that she was range to write in a different style and genre. The book had great dark humor and action and I loved the whole funeral home angle of the story because I have never read a book where there was a drug hustler using a funeral home as a front for his extra monetary income.

I have to say, I was hoping that Mr. Fairview, the owner of the funeral home and seller of the zombie drug, would still be around. I felt that Caine put a quite a bit of time in making him only to be killed off kind of lame. He was an interesting character for sure. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll reappear, though I’m really not getting my hopes up.

So do I suggest this book? Yes. I do. But don’t start reading this book like it’s a tradition zombie book, because it isn’t. But I will say, it is defiantly a new look at what it means to be a zombie. : )

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Second Grave on the Left-Darynda Jones

Oh Charley Davidson, you are one bad ass chick! Can we be friends?

“When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out of the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously? Cookie explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. But Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message. Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?”

So I believe I have found a new book series to add to my “Keeps Getting Better and Better” list. Truly. I believe Jones has developed a character and a series that could go on for a long while, like Kim Harrison’s The Hallows and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Charley is still so much fun to read and she is still always getting her butt kicked in some form or another.

In this installment, we see Charley trying to locate two bodies: Mimi, Cookies missing friend and Reyes. It should be said, that in the first book I had an issue with Charley allowing herself to fall prey to Reyes sexiness. I mean I get it: Satan’s gift to hotness and well, being the son of Satan, it makes it very difficult to resist. I felt that Jones’ made Charley kind of a slut around Reyes in the first book. But, I have to say I was super pleasantly surprised that Charley held her ground in this book and told him no. Good for you!

The two plots flowed really well, each story getting equal face time for the reader. I felt that Mimi’s story of why she hid was well executed. Kind of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" kind of thing but like 1000 times better written and characters you actually care about. Though honestly, I didn’t see the political intrigue side which was a nice little twist.

The Reyes story, of course, is part of a much bigger plot that is going to carry on through out the series. I can tell. We find out many truths about Reyes growing up, but we also learn more about Charley’s ability as a Grim Reaper that even she didn’t know through her interaction with Reyes and his past. I enjoyed the part at the end of the book where she finds Reyes’ body and to beat off demons she amplifies her aura and burns the demons away. The way it’s written makes it easy to visualize her ghostly side kick, Angel, running so not to be caught in the blast of her light, and the way the demons surround her and then BOOM! They are turned to demon dust, sent back to the depths of Hell. Pretty awesome stuff.

Now, I won’t spoil anything for you fine folks by telling you what happens to Reyes and his body, but lets just say this: poor, poor Charley. She made a choice and now she’s gonna have to live with it.

The end of the book left me screaming, “What? Aggh!” Truly, that is a sign of a good cliffhanger. When trying to find the location of Reyes’ body, Charley and Cookie stumble across a psychic’s website that seems to be a little too interesting if you know what I mean. The psychic is searching for a grim reaper. And wouldn’t you know, Charley is a grim reaper. So trying to figure out what the hell this pyschic’s deal is, Cookie sets up a fake email account for Charley for her to contact the medium. The final scene in the book ends with checking the fake email and we see a response that is (and I’ll sum up here) pretty much telling her about time you sent me an email. And that’s how is ends! Aggh! I love to hate cliffhangers!

This book has left me waiting with baited breath for the third installment Third Grave Dead Ahead because, well, I have to know what happens!!

Darynda Jones: damn you for creating a kick ass story that I am totally addicted to know. You have written a book series that is original and fun and sassy and sexy and all those wonderful adjectives that I can't help but love you're creation, Charley Davidson.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Warm Bodies-Isaac Marion

Point of view from a zombie? What? POV. From a Zombie? And the zombie falls in love with a living girl? What in the hell?!

“A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel. R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.”

First let me say: I was looking over some reader reviews and I have to say at first I was kinda put off because most of them seemed to be hung up on R and Julie falling in love. I believe the word one person used was “skeeved out.” But I went ahead and found it at my local library and after reading it, I have to say to those people: get over yourself and your tunnel vision.

That being said, R is a zombie who prefers a different kind of life than the one that was forced upon him. Though he lacks memories of his life when he was alive and some of his basic functions are stunted by being the living dead, he brain functions like that of any deep thinking philosophic character. I think that’s what drew me in from page one, R’s admittance for needing something more than hunting and brains. At first he doesn’t understand the yearning in his gut, but when he eats poor Perry’s brain and gets his memories, he falls in love with Julie, the dead guy’s girlfriend. R saves Julie and through their time spent together at the zombie hive and at her home, they realize that there is more to what the world has become, that it has to get better. Right?

Isaac Marion creates not a zombie novel, but a philosophical romp down the path the of the metaphysical whose protagonist just so happens to be a zombie. I mean, what better example of the modern world? At least here in America. We are slaves to a commercialism and materialism that this country shoves down our throats each and every days. We crave it like zombies crave for brains.
Totally sorry about the soap box rant there. My bad. Back to the book.

Marion’s play of words fits the world he had created. I liked how Marion didn’t bother with back story of how zombies became zombies, because, really, we’ve heard all the stories. The how is not important, it is the characters that are crucial to this story. It’s nice to read from time to time character driven pieces. And R is the kind of character you can’t help but get behind.

The love story that developed between Julie and R I felt weren’t gross. I mean, wasn’t like they were having sex with each other. They were both searching for something and they ended up finding each other. Julie found someone she could really talk to and be honest with. R found someone who saw more than a zombie. And aren’t we all just trying to connect in this life? I think that’s what Marion was doing with Julie and R. Two complete and total opposites, and yet, they found each other and what was what they needed to move on and live.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Parts were a little slow and I felt that Marion might have made Julie more of a bitch than need me. But I enjoyed turning the pages and reading about R’s self discovery through eating pieces of Perry’s brain. And then I got to the end, and there I simply said, “what the hell is this shit?” Let me explain this statement. The whole book is great combination of action and philosophy of what it means to be alive. Then you get to the end and it’s a slap in the face of supernatural mysticism. The only mention of mystical forces through out the entire book is from a group of zombies that are called Boneys. Hence there name, there is not much left to them but they manage to walk around. So when R and Julie kiss, there is this weird surge of energy exchanged between them and then the Boneys are powerless now? What? I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like Marion might have written himself into some corner. I felt the ending was contrived and a little forces, like maybe it wasn’t the real ending? It was a little too convenient and frou frou happy trails for me.

Maybe I’ve been made jaded by reading just one too many zombie books where it doesn’t go so well…

But I know love and I know what it means to make a deep, spiritual connection with someone. So good job, Isaac Marion. Too bad you're letting Hollywood turn your book into a movie...Le Sigh...

Beauty Queens-Libby Bray

Narcotic teen beauty queens + Lord of the Flies – adult supervision + political conspiracy + TV show pirates =

“The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner. What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?”

I tried to win a copy of this on GoodReads, but alas, no. So I ended up checking the book out from my wonderful library. Libby Bray needs to thank whoever came up with the cover of this book because it’s clever and smart marketing. A bandolier of lipsticks?! Agh! Brilliant!

But onto the meats and potatoes of the book: The story. I was skeptical of reading this despite its awesome cover. Its been awhile since I’ve read a young adult book that didn’t offer a pallet of spooky supernatural characters and plots. I have to say: totally surprised! Actually, pleasantly surprised!
Let me sum up for you fine folks:

Plan crashes on the way to a beauty pageant run by the Big Brother-esque company called The Corporation. Only a handful of the girl survive and, with no adult supervision, and they are wrangled by an alpha female, Miss Texas, who insists that they continue their beauty pageant routines because they want to look good when they are rescued. The remaining girls discover not only who they are as individuals, but also, a secret Corporation compound and that they do not plan on saving the girls. Then we meet a dictator named Momo B. Chacha, a U.S. presidential candidate and Corporation head honcho Ladybird Hope and a whole slew of Reality TV show pirates.

I think what I loved most about this book was that despite the crazy plot, the characters seemed relatable. Sure, they were all basket cases, but having once been a teenage girl, emotions and hormones are always running on overload. It makes you a little unstable. Ask my folks and my brother. I mean, they had to deal with three teenage girls who are eighteen months apart. I’m surprised there wasn’t some kind of hormonal angst ridden nuclear fallout at my house growing up.

What I think Bray did best was to make this book is make all the main girls have secrets. They range from their past, their true intentions, and who they really are. Not going to give the secrets away though. Because I’ll just ruin the book for you! This is a reflection on all of us always wanting to be accepted, so we cover up who we are and mix with the flow of conformity. But who is to say that people wouldn’t like us for who we are? I think that this is the subtle message that the Bray weaves in her story. And if some people think you’re a freak? Who cares? There is always someone out there who gets you. Nice message in a world where everyone is always lumped into some social group.
Bray’s writing is easy to read and made the book go by really fast. I was kinda bummed when I got to the end and it was, well, done. I liked how she interested little breaks between the chapters: commercial breaks, questionnaire sheets the girls filled out, the “classified files.” There were a couple parts that I had to go back and read because I got confused with the sudden shift in the 3rd person narrative, but that is my only complaint about the entire book. Oh! And a total bonus: This book is so funny. They things that happen to these girls and what they do to in response made me laugh out loud.
I think Libby Bray tricked us in marketing this book as a young adult novel. This is, in fact, a book written for adult females so we can look back on our awkward time as teenagers and say “thank god we made it!”

Friday, October 7, 2011

First Grave on the Right-Darynda Jones

Grim Reaper? Say what? Damn. Why didn’t I think of that?

"Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely."

So this is what I was doing for a majority of the time while I was reading this book: HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, this book was so much fun to read. I have added Charley Davidson to my list of awesome characters I wish I thought of (yes, Harry Dresden and Rachel Morgan are on that list). Darynda Jones gave the basic requirements for Charley in the paranormal urban fantasy heroine: sassy, smart, strong, supernatural ability, and sexy. But Jones has managed to give Charley such a unique voice that is so hilarious and nerdy and sarcastic that it helped set Charley apart from the other fantasy heroines. Charley doesn't take herself seriously, knows her flaws and accepts them, and is loyal to all her friends, coporeal and non-coporeal. She's the girl that I would want backing me up in a bar fight because I know she's have my back no matter what, even if we were getting our asses kicked. But at least we'd have fun.

Oh, and she’s a grim reaper. Damn that’s brilliant. But she’s not so much a collecting souls to deliver kind of grim reaper, she is a portal for souls who are still on Earth for some reason on another that helps them cross over to the other side. They can see her from any where in the world. They are drawn to her. I think my favorite scenes in the book is when Charley is describing the experience of a soul crossing through her, and how each soul has their own unique smell.

I enjoyed the multiple plots and who they intertwine with each other though they have nothing to do with each other. Three dead attorneys from the same practice is the first plot, and the second plot is the mysterious Reyes Alexander Farrow (he’s very dreamy and the son of Satan. Yay!). I enjoyed the tale of the attorneys helping Charley solve their murder. I did feel that the Reyes’ plot overshadowed really good story just a bit, but after reading the second book, Second Grave on the Left (review coming soon darlings!) it makes sense of why the Reyes’ plot gets a little more attention.

I loved this book and I think any nerdy sarcastic girl will get so absorbed into this book and get a kick out of knowing that not only are her boobs named “Danger” and “Will Robinson,” but she took the time out to name her ovaries “Beam Me Up” and “Scotty.”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Bobby Gold Stories-Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain writes fiction? What rock have I been under?!

“Bobby Gold is a lovable criminal. After nearly ten years in prison, he's no sooner out than he's back to work breaking bones for tough guys. His turf: the club scene and restaurant business. It's not that he enjoys the job-Bobby has real heart-but he's good at it, and a guy has to make a living. Things change when he meets Nikki, the cook at a club most definitely not in his territory. Smitten, he can't stay away. Bobby Gold has known trouble before, but with Nikki the sauté bitch in his life, things take a turn for life or death.”

I love Anthony Bourdain. Almost addicted to him really. I love how snarky he is. I’m a huge obsessed fan of his show, No Reservations. When I read A Cook’s Tour, I loved him more. His writing voice, is just like how he speaks. There’s no pretense with the guy. Imagine my glee when I found that he wrote a fiction book.

That being said, I have to say this book was just okay. Not great. Not bad. Just middle of the road. I have never really read a “tough guy”/mafia book before so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I enjoyed how each chapter started with a description of what his main character (not hero. Not even anti-hero. That’s being generous) Bobby Gold is wearing and he is doing at that moment. It gave the different parts of the book a time frame and also a peek into who Bobby is. I know absolutely nothing about the restaurant/chef scene but to me, some of the happenings seemed a little blown out of proportion. But then again, this is a novel about tough guys doing tough guy things like breaking his uncle’s arm for not paying up, or beating a guy up for his boss who felt got robbed on a carburetor for his Jag.

To me, Bourdain’s fiction writing structure differs from his non-fiction (duh, of course) with short to the point sentences and images. It reminded me of some early Ernest Hemingway. No, I’m not saying Bourdain is the next Hemingway. I’m just saying that the structure is the same. However, Bourdian's writing voice is still the same. Honest and to the point. But, this kind of writing has its short comings. I felt that there was no emotional connection. I liked reading it, but I just couldn’t connect with Bobby Gold. I mean, he’s a thug, true, but I should still be able to get behind him or even Nikki (who, by the way, is a total bitch). I really wanted to root for him. And I almost did when he found out his best friend and boss, the man he’s been beating and killing people for, was the one who turned him into the cops for transporting drugs, which got Bobby his 10 year prison sentence. I was hoping Bobby was going to kill the little prick, but alas no. Damn.
Would I recommend this book? Only to hardcore Anthony Bourdain fans and those who like novels about “tough guys.” Will I read another Anthony Bourdain novel? More than likely, because well, like I said, I love Anthony Bourdain.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ghost Story-Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher-I love you. You never disappoint.

So for those of you that haven’t read Changes yet, sorry but…um…yeah…Harry dies at the end. But fear not! His soul lives!

“When we last left the might wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin. But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he had no body, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own. To save his friends-and his own soul-Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic.”
Once again, Butcher puts the weight of the world on Harry’s now ghostly shoulders. When Harry takes the option to return to the physical world as a wandering spirit to help save his friends and his soul, it has been six months since his untimely murder. He is told that he must find his murderer to save their lives by some other dead guys who are stuck in purgatory.

Dresden’s emotions are just as raw in his ghostly form as they were when he was alive. Rushing head long into a situation without all the facts and thinking he is helping when he is actually making it kind of worse is still what Harry Dresden does best. His reflections of the life he lived and the people he left behind is striking and sad to read. All the supporting cast of the books, Sgt. Karrin Murphy, Billy and the werewolves, Waldo Butters, and Molly, are changed in drastic ways. Butters, however is a positive change. He’s grown a bit of a back bone with the help of Bob, the skull. Which is nice, I like the lil’ Medical Examiner. As for the others, they are harden and paranoid. Molly especially. She carries the secret of how and who killed Harry Dresden. It is driving her crazy with guilt. Literally. She’s now homeless and those who once called her friend, are afraid of the loose cannon she has become. He only figures his death out when he has to save her soul from a bad to the bone necromancer named Corpsetaker. Which, was kind of a cool scene in the book because it’s all Star Trek. Trust me. Read the book. It will make sense.

Speaking of Corpsetaker, I’m a little surprised that she appeared in the book, along with Evil Bob. Corpsetaker disappeared at the end of Dead Beat as did Evil Bob (Evil Bob is a piece of Good Bob’s spirit brain that held all the knowledge of Kemmler, a really, really bad necromancer), so, why re-introduce them as the bad guys? I guess Dresden needs another arch nemesis since he destroyed the Red Court Vampires in the previous book, Changes.


So as much as I loved this book, I actually did have an issue with it. I don’t know why. With all the previous book I have finished them smiling with satisfaction that the story ended where it needed to and that I couldn’t wait to read what was in store for Harry next. I got to the end, and felt, well, slightly disappointed. At the time, I didn’t know what was niggling at me about the end. But, upon reflection, I have realized that there is always some kind of closure. Granted, in the last book, Harry gets killed, but it was closure to one story, and left me wanting to know more. I guess my main issue is that after everything Harry went through as a spirit, he still gets shafted. He awakes with his head in the lap of Mab, the Winter Fae Queen and he still has to be the Winter Knight. I knew there was going to be another book because we still have some loose ends to tie up for Mr. Dresden. But really? Six months. In a cave. I don’t know. Just didn’t feel right.
Butcher’s action scenes are always amazing, describing ghost battles and introducing very cool imagery that lets him get paid the big bucks while most of us squirm in obscurity. Probably my favorite part of the book is when Harry is trying to help Molly save her soul from the Corpsetaker. It’s all inside Molly’s head and it’s a complete battle zone. For some reason, while I was reading it, I kept picturing the Nazi zombie robots sequence from the movie Sucker Punch. Craziness. Chaos. Explosions. Nice. And then, when Harry arrives at Molly’s fort, it’s the interior of the Starship Enterprise. I know! Awesome. There were different Molly’s representing the different member of the original cast. It was pretty fun page turner for sure.
So, Mr. Butcher. Jim. You’re book, hell you entire collection of works, is amazing. I loved every bit of Ghost Story, even the parts that I didn’t get and the parts that I wasn’t too sure about. Though I said I had a slight problem with the end, I have to say, I cannot wait for your next Dresden Files book. And I know it will totally be worth the year-year and a half I’ll have to wait for it to reach my greedy little hands.
Guess I’ll just have to re-read all thirteen books. : )

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Married with Zombies-Jesse Petersen

I think if my husband and I were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse…we might behave like this couple…

“A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Meet Sarah and David. Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they're on the verge of divorce and going to couples' counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things - the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client's throat. Meet the Zombies. Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn't mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don't eat their brains, they might just kill each other.”

Okay, so we are this couple without being on the verge of divorce. Like so many zombie books that I have been reading lately, I have Jenn to thank for this little nugget. So. Thanks Jenn! And I really, really enjoyed it. Hell, I loved it. Its always nice when you can love the characters while at the same time yell and laugh at the sometimes dumb things they do or how they react to on coming zombies.

What I got me really pulled into the book is the fact that Sarah and David find out that zombie apocalypse is upon them is when Sarah barges into their marriage councilor’s office and sees her devouring the couple before them. Of course, action and confusion ensues and the zombie councilor goes down: death by stiletto thanks to Sarah. I loved the snipping and bantering that went on back and forth between this couple. It seemed real and genuine. What better way to test your relationship than the end of the world? One of the funniest parts in the book for me is when Sarah goes into their bathroom to find their neighbor a zombie stuck in the bathtub, and she hits him in the head a book by Dr. Phil then finishes him off with the lid to the tank of the toilet. Then having to go out to the living room and tell David what happened. Of course, it was sad for David. The neighbor was kind of his friend. That part was kind of a bummer. And my heart strings got tugged on when they had to shot Amanda (while in the backseat of their crappy compact car) and David’s sister Gina because they were attacked by zombies and rather than deal with the change, they beg to have our heroes kill them.
The narration flowed naturally for the most part. Petersen made you not really care about how the zombies came into the world, only that they are there and an obsticle for Sarah and David. My only issue was the gratuitous cursing through out Sarah’s narration. Don’t get me wrong, I have a potty mouth myself. I am trying to work on because I have a one year old and she’s smart and I have no idea when she’ll start picking up on things. Last thing I need is for karma taking revenge on me for teaching my nephew to say “shit.” Anyway. Sorry. Tangent. As an amateur writer, I feel that things like cursing should be saved for dialogue and big impact moments. But that’s just me.
So normal ridiculously funny married couple with issues+zombies+a random encounter with a crazy religious group (totally didn’t mention that! Well, read the book. Trust me. Good stuff)= a total laugh out loud read. One of the funnier books I’ve read in a while. If zombies start shuffling around, I wanna be with Sarah and David. They are a pretty good with a shotgun, and they’ll make you laugh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Deadline-Mira Grant


Let me tell you, I love this book.

“Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has. But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead. Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.”

This is the second book in the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant and I have to say, it is great! There are a few flaws here and there, but I’ll get to that. Let’s talk about why it’s so awesome.

So I have a feeling most people were probably shocked by the level of action from the first book, Feed. And to that I say, well duh! What did you expect? The first book was told from Georgia Mason’s point of view, while this book is told by Shaun. I like the differences. It makes sense. Georgia was a Newsie, so everything was to the point and factual and she tried to make us see the truth of her words. With Shaun, well he’s an Irwin, so of course there’s going to be zombie hordes and bombs and such things! Would you expect anything less?

The back and forth of Shaun teetering on the edge of sanity was a nice insight into Shaun as a person. From Georgia’s POV, we see him as a little naïve; always the follower and never the leader, always the Irwin, ready to be the first one to die. But, when Georgia is murdered, Shaun’s world crashes and all he has left is a raiment of her. Her voice speaks to him and guides him. His coping mechanism shows the depth of grief and loss on reality. Without Georgia telling him what to do, he seems lost in the world. We see how she was all he had, and he was all she had. They were as close as any siblings could be. It was a nice change of pace from the first book. I enjoyed Georgia’s wise cracking and intellectual voice, but I felt that Shaun’s was more raw and emotional.

But, when the End of Times blog new site gets a surprise visit from a CDC agent on the run and then gets firebombed by the CDC for a zombie outbreak, Shaun gets fired up and somewhat takes control of the situation around him. There are mentions in the book of how all he wants to do is cut and run, but knows deep down that by doing that he would not only let his staff of bloggers down, but that he would never find out who murdered his sister.

I enjoyed the idea of how our society has broken down under the fear of infection, though in the end, when we die, we just get back. So we are already infected, it’s just a matter of time. I mean, it kinda is already happening if you think about it. The fear breaking down our society, not a super mutant zombie virus infection.

I am also pleased to find that a little bit of the conspiracy is revealed. People who have conditions like Georgia, where her eyes had the live infected zombie cells without her being a zombie (they are called reservoir conditions), could actually get better, but this news is being withheld by the (dum dum dum!!) CDC! However, we don’t get to see the whole big picture, only some of it. Because, well….


Shaun gets attacked by a zombie. That’s right. Big chunk taken out of his arm. Oh! Twist! He gets better. Yeah. Totally. I won’t tell you the super big spoiler that I feel really is a twist that should have been saved for the beginning of the third book, Deadline.

My only complaint about the book was the time wasted in describing who the blood testing machines work. I get what Grant was doing, exploring the emotions of getting tested: “do I live another day as me, or is this the time I turn?” But really, I was over the whole testing procedure in the middle of Feed.
So read Feed, and read Deadline. Granted, it’s more thiller than zombie horror, but if you are like me, you’ll devour this book. Yum. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Witch and Wizard-James Patterson

You know, I have never really read any James Patterson books. But if they are all like this book I’m about to review, holy crap I’m staying far, far away.


Everything is about to change. The government has seized control of every aspect of society, and this is the astonishing testimonial of Wisty and Whit Allgood, a sister and brother who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and a wizard. Thousands of young people have been kidnapped; some have been accused; many others remain missing. Their fate is unknown, and the worst is feared—for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic . . . and the pursuit of being a normal teenager."

So I was kind of excited about getting a chance to read this book. I was. And when I started it, I really wanted to like it. It's always been one I thought about reading but never did. Well, I checked it out from the library. It started off pretty good. Starting with the characters current situation and then taking us back to when it all started.

The idea of the story is good. The writing is awful. Not good. I don’t know about you, but I like to read descriptions and see what makes the characters tick. Patterson and his little writing buddy didnt provide this at all. All the chapters were only a couple pages long of some rambling and dialogue and provided nothing for me to grab on to. The new Harry Potter? Yeah right. Don't think so. Like I said, I’ve never read a James Patterson book, but this little nugget makes me wonder if all his books are written in this half assed way of nothing but shifting points of view and on going dialogue that I feel doesn't present any kind of plot development.

Probably one the worst books I’ve ever read. Yeah. Sorry Mr. Patterson.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wither-Lauren DeStefano

The world is ending. But how is the world falling to its doom? Well, according to Lauren DeStefano, it’s our own damn fault. And we are whimpering on the edge of oblivion.

“Obviously, something went terribly wrong. Genetic mutations have festered, reducing human longevity to twenty-five, even less for most women. To prevent extinction, young girls are kidnapped, mated in polygamous marriages with men eager to procreate. Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery, a recent victim of this breeding farm mentality, has vowed to break loose from its fetters; but finding allies and a safe way out is a challenge she can only hope she will survive.”
So yeah, not the best book blurb, but to the point. Sort of. The book opens up with Rhine in a van with a bunch of other girls, who are then paraded in front of a rich young who picks our heroine and two other girls. We follow Rhine and her sister wives through their different adjusting mechanisms. For Rhine, she plans to not accept her new luxurious captive life, but fights to escape.

DeStefano’s writing if easy to read and flows very nicely. Her descriptions are nice and Rhine’s POV is well written, I just couldn’t feel to sorry for her. I felt that, though she was taken against her will, that there wasn’t enough struggle. I felt her defiance but that was it. The two action-type sequences of her escape didn’t pull me in. I just read the words and turned the pages.

Rhine felt a little forced in an attempt to be made set apart from her sister wives. The oldest is distant and depressed, the youngest eager to please. Rhine is given the condition heterochromia iridis, where she has one blue eye and one brown eye, and her name sets her apart. In the book, she discovers that once upon a time in a land called Germany, there was river called the Rhine and imagines that it is probably underwater and the river is free of its confines of land. This drives Rhine even more to escape. I can understand DeStefano’s choice to make her hero standout, to not blend in, but I felt that the use of heterochromia iridis and the imagery of her name might have been a bit much.

Ah! But then she must chose between her handsome kind and clueless husband or the handsome kind and a little less clueless servant. Of course a love triangle has to be put in place. It’s young adult fiction law. At least I didn’t revert to an angst ridden teenager reading about her mixed emotions.

For all of these slightly negative things, I thought book read nice. It’s a unique story to tell and I enjoyed reading it, but I felt the world DeStefano came up with just sort of gave up. We tampered in God’s domain and now we are paying for it. Let’s lay down and die. I guess if the world is going to end, I say bring on the zombies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Side Jobs-Jim Butcher

In preparation for the NEW Dresden Files book, Ghost Story, I checked out Welcome to the Jungle and Side Jobs from the library (see previous post for Welcome to the Jungle review). And I need to do some lovefest drooling right now for Mr. Butcher.

Mr. Butcher. Or Jim. Can I call you Jim? Jim, you are by far my favorite writer and have developed one of my favorite characters ever. Dresden is relatable as that crazy weirdo friend that always has your back, even if you get into a fight with a guy named Bubba who’s three times both your weights combined! At the same time though, he’s well, a wizard! An honest to go spell flinging wizard, who fights the good fight and makes the tough decision that I know I couldn’t make. So Jim, thank you for writing like you do and always making Dresden have the world on his shoulders to bear, because if he didn’t I don’t know who else would.

Lovefest finished.

Side Jobs is a great appendix to getting down to the nitty gritty of Harry Dresden. Not just Dresden himself as a character, but the supporting cast that keep Dresden on his feet: The former “Fist of God” Michael, the alpha female Sgt. Murphy, the sometimes-hard-to-handle apprentice Molly, the vampire half-brother Thomas, and of course,  let us not forget about Mac and the werewolves.

Restoration of Faith-pre-Storm Front
Vignette-Death Masks and Blood Rites
Something Borrowed-from My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty
It’s My Birthday Too- from Many Bloody Returns, between White Night and Small Favor
Heorot-from My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, between White Night and Small Favor
Day Off-from Blood Lite, between Small Favor and Turn Coat
Backup-from Thomas’ point of view between Small Favor and Turn Coat
The Warrior-from Mean Street, between Small Favor and Turn Coat
Last Call-from Strange Brew, between Small Favor and Turn Coat
Love Hurts-from Songs of Love and Death, between Turn Coat and Changes
Aftermath-from Sgt. Karrin Murphy’s point of view, after Changes

As you can see, it would take me quite a while to review each individual story but I will sum up. Butcher does an amazing job giving just enough information to satisfy my Harry Dresden fix. The only stories I had read before I got this book was Restoration of Faith and The Warrior. The other stories help me understand Harry and his relationship with people and who he has grown from a naïve P.I. in training to his complicated relationship with Sgt. Murphy. Backup and Aftermath, the two tales that are told from Thomas’ and Murphy’s point of view, give a great outsider look on Harry Dresden. I loved hearing what Thomas and Murphy thought and felt about Harry. It helped me better understand this flawed and heroic character.

I suggest reading all the books up to Changes before reading this. I know there are like 13 books now, but I think this pallet of short stories is more of a supplement for fans rather than someone who doesn’t know who Harry Dresden is.

Jim Butcher…you never disappoint!

Welcome to The Jungle-Jim Butcher

So even before I started reading this, I already loved it. Anything dealing with Jim Butcher I’m going to love. Especially if it’s my favorite wizard private investigator, Harry Dresden.

“When the supernatural world spins out of the control, when the police can’t handle what goes bump in the night, when monsters come screaming out of nighmares and into the mean streets, there’s just one man to call: Harry Dresden, the only professional wizard in the phone book. A police consultant and private investigator, Dresden has to walk the line between the world of night and the light of day. Now Harry Dresden is investigating a brutal mauling at the Lincoln Park Zoo that has left a security guard dead and many questions unanswered. As an investigator of the supernatural he sense that there’s more to this case than  a simple animal attack, and as Dresden searches for clues to figure out who is really behind the crime, he finds himself next on the victim list, and being hunted by creatures that won’t leave much more than a stain if they catch him.”

That out of the way, Welcome To the Jungle was written solely as a graphic novel that takes place before the first Dresden File novel, Storm Front. We follow Dresden as he investigates the death of a zookeeper under some spooky circumstances. Many think that the zookeeper was mauled by the alpha gorilla, Moe.  Being Dresden, he is thrown head first into a situation that seems to be way too much for him, but somehow he manages to defeat the villain, an ancient group of woman known as Hecatean Hags, who are trying to a ascend to a greater and darker power. The big battle in the end between Dresden and the Hag is a typical Dresden battle to the death: when all appears to end bad for our plucky hero, something completely random saves his hide. Dresden manages to free Moe the Gorilla and the Hag gets what she deserves.

The story was fun and easy to read. I got through the whole story in about an hour. It was fast paced and fun to read. To me, this story could have fit anywhere between the earlier books, when Dresden is less hardened by later situations. As much as I enjoyed this, I really missed reading Harry’s descriptions of the world around him. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing the world brought to life by the artist, Ardian Syaf, but I love the way Butcher has his hero tell his story. However, this doesn’t take away the story. It’s a solid story filled with the write amount of action and suspense and “Holy crap that did not just happen!” moments that make the Dresden Files series so amazing to get absorbed into.

If you’ve never read any of the Dresden File novels, I say you should you read the series. Now, should you start with Welcome to the Jungle or Storm Front? Since this is supposed to be a prequel to Storm Front, I guess you should read this first. But does it matter? No, not really. Like I said before, this story really could go between any of say the first two or three books. But it really makes no difference.
Introduce yourself to the world of Harry Dresden if you haven’t. Trust me; it’s an addictive ride you won’t want to get off of. J

Friday, September 16, 2011

Something Deadly This Way Comes-Kim Harrison

Oh Kim Harrison. I love your books so much.
There. That said…

Something Deadly This Way Comes is the third installment of the Madison Avery series. Madison is indeed sassy and smart, like most young adult heroine are, but she is also slightly reckless, a wee bit headstrong, and more than slightly determined to prove that given a chance and choice, a soul bound for fallen from grace can be saved, sparing the life and the soul.

In this edition, Harrison thrusts Madison further than the previous books. Madison discovers more of her powers as the Dark Timekeeper, such as being able to stop time, her relationship with Josh grows, and her band of renegade angels are beginning to understand what she is attempting to do.
But when Madison attempts to rekindle the love of life in an issued laden teen named Tammy, she fumbles and makes things even worse for the girl. Now Madison must attempt to fix the mess she’s in while fighting off a Light and Dark Reaper and her own self-doubt.
Harrison is so good with creating specific phrases that her characters say. For her Hollow series, her protagonist constantly says “Crap on toast” while her side kick pixy is always saying some a little dirty about dear ol’ Tinkerbelle. Madison’s phrase is “puppies presents.” A cute little euphemism. Don’t get me wrong…I have the mouth of a pirate, but there is such a thing as too much. It makes the characters unique and it gives them the alternative to cursing.

The plot moves along at the pace it should and then BAM! Surprise! Harrison lets Madison find her body. Finally! I was starting to wonder if poor Madison would ever be able to eat French fries again. I loved how Madison’s body is in the same condition it was when she died the night of prom in a car crash: the torn, tattered, and blood stained dress, dried blood on her arms, a bruise across her chest from the seat belt. With all the beautiful imagery Harrison uses to describe the joy of getting her body back, she punches it with humor with the poor gal dancing around needing to use the bathroom.
The action scenes were well written, showing the passion of angels and how out of place Madison is. My favorite scene, however, is after the battle for Tammy in an empty bus station. Paul, the rising Light Timekeeper, and Tammy are walking out and they are stepping over bits of debris and destruction talking about what just happened and how Tammy can save her soul. The imagery matches the despair, I feel, that Tammy feels. And then with a little guidance, walking away and leaving it all behind.
Madison is a bold teen character who is more real than most I have read. She’s so much fun to get behind and at the same time being able to smack yourself in the head for the things she says and does. I wouldn’t mind reading another adventure of Madison, the Dark Timekeeper, finally reconnected with her body, with her friends by her side trying to change the world.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An apology

I feel like I have said this before but for the 2 people who might be readingmy blog let me apologize for lack of postings. No internet + 10 hour work day + being a mom and wife x no internet = no blog posts. But I promise: a post is coming very soon! In fact losts of posts are on the horizon!

Nerd Out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever.-Caissie St. Onge

This book has probably one the catchiest titles I’ve seen in a long time. We’ve all read books and stories and seen movies that involved vampires. They are unnaturally beautiful, graceful, charming and dangerous. Caissie St. Onge seemed to have at some point thought, “Well, what if there was a vampire that was horrible at being a vampire?” Thus, came Jane Jones.

“For Jane Jones, being a vampire is nothing like you read about in books. In fact, it kind of sucks. She’s not beautiful. She’s not rich. She doesn’t ‘sparkle.’ She’s just an average slightly nerdy girl from an ordinary suburban family (who happens to be vampires). Jane’s from the wrong side of the tracks (not to mention stuck in the world’s longest awkward phase), so she doesn’t fit in with the cool vampire kids at school or with the human kids. To top it all off, she’s battling an overprotective mom, a clique of high school mean girls (the kind who really do have fangs), and the most embarrassing allergy in the history of the undead: she’s blood-intolerant. So no one’s more surprised than Jane when for the time in her ‘life’, things start to heat up (as much as they can or a walking corpse anyway) with not one but two boys. Eli’s a geek but cute real-life boy in her history class, and Timothy is a beautiful, brooking bloodsucker who just might hold the key to a possible cure for vampirism. Facing an eternity of high school pressure and fumbling first dates or a mere lifetime together with Timothy, what’s a ninety-something-year-old teen vampire to do?”

What I enjoyed most about this book is that Jane (also known as Josephine pre-vampire) is that St. Onge kept her a teenager, even though she’s ninety years old. It made the book fun to read because I too was once an awkward slightly nerdy teenage girl. And I totally felt this poor fictional girl’s pain. A new school. Mean girls. Cute boys. Crazy teachers.

Jane’s blood allergy is a unique twist in young adult vampire supernatural books. She sort of the anti-vampire I suppose. She can only feed on a rare type of blood called Bombay blood and she only feeds once week from a couple drops on a spoon. For me, this made her seem more like a normal girl. She’s not graceful or gorgeous and totally disconnected from the real world. And I know, she’s a vampire. She’s not suppose to have any connection to the real world. But it’s nice to be able to go “Oh my Jane, I feel your awkwardness completely.” Hell, I’m almost thirty and sometimes feel like I’m still going through some strange awkwardness of a teenager.

There are two plots in the book: The cure for vampirism and some strange stalker like behavior by her American History teacher, Ms. Smithburg. I liked the secondary plot a bit more than the trying to find a cure one, because we got to see Jane actually use some of her vampire glamouring ability. Unfortunately, I felt that this plot was too short. There could have been more depth played into this plot. But the narrator is a forever sixteen year old vampire so I’m willing to forgive. I remember being sixteen and couldn’t keep a straight thought.
Overall, this book was a super enjoyable piece of brain candy and I totally would suggest it for teenagers and adults alike J

Saturday, July 16, 2011

FEED by Mira Grant


“The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we had created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the rail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.”
This is a book I discovered on my friend Jenn’s GoodReads page (if you don’t know what GoodReads is, it’s kinda like Facebook but for super nerds who love books). What caught my eye was the cover: the little RSS symbol made in blood. The play on the word “feed” also caught my attention because it’s a zombie book! Now, I have only read a hand full of zombie type books, but they have all been supernatural type situations. These, are back from the dead no magic involved zombies.
The idea of a virus causing zombificiation isn’t anything too new. 28 Days Later made them fast moving rage filled zombies. Resident Evil made them mutant zombies with T-Virus. Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland made the idea of zombies funny. The Walking Dead showed survivors of the zombie-apocalypse. George Romero made them a cult favorite. The idea that when the cure for the common cold and the cure for cancer met and combined in the human body made the dead come back to life, that’s what Feed brings to the walking dead. Grant does a great job of creating a believable world of zombies from the beginning. The newer the zombie, the more they still resemble the living. The older the zombie, the more they move like the shambling zombies from movies of old.
The jist of the story is that when Senator Peter Ryman of Wisconsin decides to take a team of bloggers along on his run for the White House, Georgia and Shaun Mason are quick to submit their application. They, along with their friend Buffy are selected, and view this as the chance to launch their careers to a whole new level...that is, if they can survive the campaign trail.
What sets this book apart from the rest of the pack was the fact that though zombies were a part of life, they didn’t run the story. What ran the story and moved the plot along were the characters: Georgia and Shaun Mason, two blogging journalists. I knew I would like Georgia as the narrator from the first sentence: “Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot-in this case my brother Shaun-deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.” Then, seven pages later they are doing a suicidal leap on a dirt bike on a ramp that is a fallen fence over a herd of infected to make their escape. Oh! What a way to hook readers! But then, of course, comes a lot of exposition. I’m normally not a huge fan over drawn out exposition, the action picking up about 150 pages in. But, the exposition was so well written. The long exposition helped explain things that happen later in the story.
Another interesting device is the use of blogging in the book. At the end of each chapter, there is a snippet of blog entries. I feel that this was helpful in not only giving insight into the personalities and minds of the main characters, but also gives more insight into the chapter itself. It explains the emotional content for me. For instance, after an assassination attempt on the campaign trail when someone tried to kill everyone by using infected. At the end of the attack, the Masons volunteer to stick around to help with the clean up. After that, there’s a blog entry by Shaun describing the intensity of their first clean up. It helped you understand the nature of the volunteer: Immense.
I feel what helped me keep turning the pages to the end was Georgia’s naïve search for the truth and the delivery of the truth. Her and Shaun, as well as their business partner in their blog site, Buffy, have themselves so wired up with video and voice recorders to capture every moment of their lives in a worlds full of zombies. In their world, everything is black and white: you are either one of the infected or you’re not. But it’s after when one of their own, dear flighty, paranoid, tech wiz and Fictional writer for the Mason’s blog site, After the End Times, betrays them and pays for it with her life. And to prevent her becoming a zombie, or what the book calls, the process of reamplification, Georgia plants a bullet in her head. It’s the emotion that Georgia and Shaun shared, real loss of a friend, that made them become more human than at the beginning of the book where they are merely hardnosed bloggers to be taken seriously. I feel that the exposition helped contrast the kind of people they had become. It was not merely just reporting the truth, it was about the life within the truth. They had never had to experience the death of one of their own. And being hunted down by crazed fanatics who feel the need to stop the news doesn’t discourage them. They know they are in over their heads, and they know that they will probably die, but come hell or high water, the truth will get to the people of the world who live in constant fear and held up inside their homes with nothing but the internet to connect them to the outside world.


What got me, what really through me for a loop with an insane twist is that Georgia Mason dies. Yes. I know. While running for cover from bombs and gunfire, she is shoot with a dart full of pure Kellis-Amberlee, the zombie virus. Before her death, she writes what I feel is the best piece of the whole book. She urges everyone to re-post the blog in hopes that it will spread the truth and make people realize that there is a group of people fighting against finding a cure for Kellis-Amberlee, that they want the people of the world writhing in fear and mistrust to better control the populace. The end of the blog actually had me in tears. Georgia begs Shaun to kill her before she forgets who she is. And, like a good and loving brother, he blows her brains out.
The rest of the book is from Shaun’s point of view and how he takes his revenge out on (dramatic music please) the Senator’s running mate. He’s the one who set up the assassination attempt in Eakley, OK and an outbreak of the virus at the Senator’s family ranch which took the life of their eldest teenage daughter. Shaun’s narration is not as crisp and sarcastic as Georgia’s, since he is operating on raw emotions. But he is able to tell the story, to get the truth out there, and to avenge his sister’s death.

So all in all, this book was amazing. I consider it the best book I have read all year. I love reading Young Adult fiction, but it was nice to read a book dealing with characters around my own age group. I was really starting to wonder if I was to start going through puberty again. This book inches above Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon, and that’s hard for me to admit because she writes one of my favorite series and is one of my favorite authors (but she does plays second banana to Jim Butcher in my book).  Grant did a great job of blending science, horror, and political intrigue into a unique read. I am so stoked to read the sequels, Deadline and Blackout. :)
I suggest that even if you claim not to be into zombies, give this book a chance. You might come away as surprised as I was at how awesome this book is.