Nov 30, 2011

The Lost Book of Mala R. by Rose MacDowell

Publisher: Bantam Dell
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Pages: 384
Genre: adult Fiction, art contemporary, part historical
Cover: C (Average, nothing special, it was the blurb that made me want to read this one).
Source: NetGalley- I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost Book of Mala R.The Lost Book of Mala R. by Rose MacDowell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blurb:

In a once-grand Southern California neighborhood, Linda, a New York City transplant, is panicking over the disappearance of her precocious ten-year-old stepdaughter. Christine, who has struggled to get pregnant for years, finds herself expecting a baby—just as her husband is accused of murder. And Audrey, who’s always played it safe because of her family’s history of bad luck, takes a romantic risk and suddenly finds herself facing a disaster of her own.

When an old journal surfaces at a neighbor’s tag sale, the women are inexorably drawn into the life of Mala Rinehart, an itinerant Romany woman who wrote down spells and predictions in a cryptic, slanting hand. As the three women feel the pull from across sixty intervening years, they vow to discover what became of Mala. For through the worn pages, their happiness has intertwined with hers, their futures spelled out in her chants and recipes. And as they unravel the mystery of Mala’s origins, their lives transform in ways they never could have expected.

Review:

Short review incoming. I just don't have a lot to say about this book. I can say that it took me a lot longer to read than it should have. For some reason I just kept putting it down because it wasn't holding my interest. And it's really strange, because while the story didn't intrigue me, it wasn't that boring. But it wasn't that interesting either. It's very hard to explain.

The characters were all very similar. They also were entirely unlikable. And I got names confused and situations confused because they really were left extremely undeveloped. So there was a good portion of the story where I was just trying to figure out what was going on because I couldn't remember who was who. This was also an issue because I kept putting the book down and coming back to. And my memory isn't the greatest so it was almost like coming back to the story blind. Every single time. Talk about annoying.

Mala was the only character that I felt had any kind of personality. And to be honest, that may have had a lot to do with the fact that her story was set in a different time than all the other characters. That made it easy to decipher who she was and what was going on with her part of the story.

So yes, there were two different stories that kind of came together and intertwined at the end. One was set in the 1940s and the other was set in present times. I don't know. I'm having a hard time deciding what I liked about this book or what the point of this story even was. What message was it trying to convey? It just didn't feel like the story was going anywhere and it turns out that it really didn't. Not to me anyway.

I guess it may come down to personal preference on this one. I didn't really care for the story or the characters. I found the synopsis very interesting, but the story didn't do anything for me. It wasn't poorly written or anything. On the contrary, I actually really enjoyed the writing style. I would definitely be interested in reading other books by this author in the future. I guess it just wasn't the book for me.

Final note: I think this is one that you should decide on your own if you want to read. If the synopsis sounds interesting, go for it. You might like it.

To order a copy of The Lost Book of Mala R. from Amazon.com, click here: The Lost Book of Mala R.: A Novel



Nov 27, 2011

In My Mailbox #15



This is In My Mailbox #15. I'm not doing a vlog today either because I have spent the entire week and weekend editing. I'm lazy today and I don't feel like fixing myself up. I haven't gotten much reading done this past week, but I am hoping that changes this week. I'm slowly learning how to manage my time better. It's not easy when I have so many depending on me. But please don't mistake this for complaining. I love what I do and I wouldn't change it for the world. It's just a bit over-the-top stressful sometimes. 

As for books, it's been a great week. The book buying ban is still in effect, so everything I got this week is for review.


I received this lovely copy of The Legend of Lady MacLaoch from the author, Becky Banks. Thanks Becky! The rest are e-books. 


From Bold Strokes Books:

~ Me@You.com by KE Payne.

From HarlequinTEEN:

New Girl by Paige Harbison.

From Macmillan Children's Publishing:

~ The Night She Disappeared by April Henry
The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

From Kendall Grey:

 ~ City of Hell Chronicles Vol.1 by Kendall Grey, Colin Barnes, Anne Michaud, Belinda Frisch, Amy L. Overley, Victoria Griesdoorn, and Ren Warom.

From Candlewick Press: 

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriot
The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

Thanks go to all of these authors and publishers this week. And of course I must thank NetGalley!









Nov 26, 2011

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Publisher: Delacorte
Release Date: October 11th, 2011
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: Maze Runner #3
Cover: It's awesome. It's a place in the book. But the contents inside of the cover? Not so much.
Source: Library


The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3)The Death Cure by James Dashner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blurb:


Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.


What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.


The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone survive the Death Cure?


Review:


I feel I am being generous in giving this book three stars. There's no denying that Mr. Dashner is one heck of a writer and he certainly knows how to weave a tale, but WOW. This was a disappointing read. And I'm kind of mad because I had a piece of my heart invested in this series and I never did get it back. Upon finishing this book my brain came to a screeching halt, and I don't think it's started up again since then. That was three days ago. Obviously the basic functions are working, but the part of me that thinks and feels is just dead. DEAD. I am one for theatrics.


Let me tell you about The Maze Runner. That was one of the best books I have read in years. Years! And then there was The Death Cure. That book was a bit of a letdown, but it was still good. This one on the other hand? Bah! Garbage. This was not how this series was supposed to end. It's not how I envisioned it ending and I have blocked it out from my mind. I refuse to think about it again, even while I am writing this review. It's gone and that's where it stays.


So as far as I am concerned, this series is unfinished. And it will always remain unfinished. Maybe Mr. Dashner will put all the copies of this book in a shed and then blow it up. Or douse them all in human blood and feed them to the city of cranks. Because that is what he should do. He needs to start over. I think very few people will enjoy the ending to this book. For a series that started off with such a bang (and also such originality), it sure had a crappy, generic ending. I don't even want to talk about the other stuff that I normally include in my reviews. Because it doesn't matter. The ending ruined EVERYTHING.


But if you must know, the characters are still lovable and the same as they always were, the settings are still mind-blowingly fabulous, and the writing is still stellar. The character development could still use work and the writing rocked. But none of that concerns me and it shouldn't concern you. Because the plot was sucktacular. The end.

Final Note: Disappointing. I guess you have to read it if you want to finish the series, but I don't feel one iota of closure.


Nov 24, 2011

Book Reviews & Giveaways You Should Know About


Because I haven't posted in a few days and because I don't have a book review guys for you yet, I'm going to do something a little different. If you like this idea, let me know in the comments and I will do it again from time to time.

It's Thanksgiving today, and while I am waiting for my food to finish cooking, I thought I would scour the internet (my Google Reader) for some of the best reviews out there. There might also be a few giveaways you should know about.

I'm not posting everything I find. These are only posts that I truly think you should check out. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Reviews You Should Read:

Joy over at Joyous reads wrote this review for The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines. Joy's blog is great and I love her to death. If you haven't subscribed, please do so.

A fabulous review of Ashfall by Mike Mullin from Amy at Turn the Page.

Check out this review of Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey written by Mickey at I'm a Book Shark. I would have to say that I agree with most of her issues with the book.

Giveaways:

Enter HERE to win a SIGNED copy of Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel. There is also a giveaway for Princess of the Wild Swans. ~From Ruby's Reads (My Review of Dearly, Departed HERE)

Rachel at Fiktshun has this great post on being thankful for being a book blogger that I think you guys should read. At the end there is also a giveaway to win copies of Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey, Wildefire by Karsten Knight, A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford, Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout, Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout, and e-copies of Between the Lines and Where You Are by Tammara Webber.

Go here and enter to win a hardback copy of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi from Dog-Eared & Bookmarked.


That was really fun. If you like posts like these, I can do them more often. Just let me know. And enjoy your Thanksgiving. I am off to work a little and then curl up and finish The Death Cure by James Dashner.



Nov 22, 2011

The Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Govier

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Pages: 500
Genre: Historical Fiction, Cultural, Japan
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Printmaker's Daughter: A NovelThe Printmaker's Daughter: A Novel by Katherine Govier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:


A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place in history in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimed author Katherine Govier. In the evocative tale of 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’s Daughter  delivers an enthralling tale of one of the world’s great unknown artists: Oei, the mysterious daughter of master printmaker Hokusai, painter of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. In a novel that will resonate with readers of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the sights and sensations of an exotic, bygone era form the richly captivating backdrop for an intimate, finely wrought story of daughterhood and duty, art and authorship, the immortality of creation and the anonymity of history.


Review:


Going into reading this book I knew absolutely nothing about Katsushika Hokusai. To be honest, I didn't even know this was actually based on a true story. It's loosely based, but really only because there is not a lot of information out there about Hokusai's life, just his work.


The author had to take certain liberties with the character's personalities, but for the most part, these were real people that once lived in a very difficult time. Katherine spent five years researching and writing this novel. Five years of interviewing, traveling to Japan, researching, visiting museums and colleges, talking to experts, scholars and anyone else that could possibly help write the story of this man and his mystery daughter, Oi.


I knew nothing about any of this until I started reading. But then I fell in love with the story and wanted to know more (a lot more!), so I did some research of my own. I studied Hokusai and his work, I read up on him and the time that he lived, I learned as much as I could about the courtesans of the Yoshiwara and painting woodblock prints. All this was, and still is, new to me. But I was mesmerized. Enchanted, really. I could talk about this forever. And really, if you have ANY questions to ask me about this book, feel free, because I loved it. Adored it.


I don't want to compare it to Memoirs of a Geisha, because the books cover two completely different topics, but it's hard not to for me, because Memoirs is at this point probably my favorite book. Ever. But I think The Printmaker's Daughter may surpass that for me. If not surpass, it is equal. I think this story was a bit more real in its authenticity. The voice of Oi felt extremely real to me. It was almost as if a Japanese girl was really telling the story. It felt extremely authentic. And Oi had personality. I didn't really feel that way about Memoirs. While I really loved the story, it was because of the characters that I was enchanted. But the protagonist, Sayuri, didn't have much of a personality. Not so with this book. And the settings felt so incredibly real.


This was a book to get lost in. A book to take your time with. I just wanted to savor every word and let the story unfold slowly. And I did. It was magical. Parts of it were depressing, sure, because living in that time for women was not easy. It felt very oppressive for Oi. And also the courtesans. And it was. But through it all, Oi remained strong and steadfast. As impossible and selfish as her father was, she remained loyal and devoted to him until the day he died. Which by the way, was a very long time to live. He lived to the ripe old ancient age of 89. In 1849 when he died, living that long was extremely rare. Oi lived under his thumb, and fame, for his entire life. How oppressive.


Finally, she is starting to gain recognition. People are actually trying to find out the truth. Which paintings of her father's was she actually responsible for? From what I have seen, she is a little more talented than he is. Her usage of colors is just outstanding. And in my opinion, you can clearly tell her work from his.


In closing, this was a brilliant cultural read. I could write for endless hours about how epic I found this book to be. And I learned so much while reading. It was basically my ultimate reading experience. I love reading cultural fiction. Specifically about Asia, but as long as I am learning, I could care less. I will be following Katherine Govier's career. I think she is an amazing writer and this book deserves to be read by the masses. I am SO, so glad I read it. And of course I will be buying a copy for keeps.

And before I go, a little bit of their work.

My favorite print of Hokusai's:


And my favorite of Oi's:


Huge difference in technique. 







Nov 20, 2011

In My Mailbox #14


I'm feeling kind of antisocial today. I didn't sleep well because I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and never went back to bed. Therefore, there will be no vlog today because I just can't bring myself to get all fixed up. I have too many books to completely forgo an IMM, so I'll just do a quick one and then get back to my reading. They are all for review because the book buying ban is still in effect for a few more weeks at least. I may even extend it a little bit longer because the books just keep coming and I haven't whittled down my stack at all. Sigh...

Physical books:

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens (Thanks to Jen at the Book Den and Crown Publishing).

This Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (Thanks to LibraryThing and Dutton Juvenile).


The InformationistThe Disenchantments


E-books:

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (Thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Thanks to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley)

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley (Thanks to Atria and NetGalley)

Summer On Fire by Kevin Craig (Thanks to Kevin Craig)

Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand (Thanks to Heather Hildenbrand)

Cold Blood by Heather Hildenbrand (Thanks again to Heather Hildenbrand)


Catching JordanCinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)The Orchid HouseSummer On FireDirty Blood (Dirty Blood #1)Cold Blood (Dirty Blood #2)

That's it for this week. Sorry it's so short guys! Leave me a comment to your mailboxes and I will come visit you! 


Nov 19, 2011

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic...but Didn't! by Tim Maltin

Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: November 29th, 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Netgalley
Cover: I really love it actually. It's nothing special, but it looks kind of vintage as if it was something that The White Star Line printed themselves.

101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . but Didn't!101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . but Didn't! by Tim  Maltin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb:


April 15th, 2012, will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.


People have an endless fascination with the Titanic, yet much of what they know today is a mixture of fact and fiction. In one hundred and one brief and engaging chapters, Tim Maltin, one of the foremost experts on the Titanic, reveals the truth behind the most common beliefs about the ship and the night it sank. From physics to photographs, lawsuits to love stories, Maltin doesn't miss one tidbit surrounding its history. Heavily researched and filled with detailed descriptions, quotes from survivors, and excerpts from the official inquiries, this book is guaranteed to make readers rethink everything they thought they knew about the legendary ship and its tragic fate.


Review:


April 15th, 2012, will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.


People have an endless fascination with the Titanic, yet much of what they know today is a mixture of fact and fiction. In one hundred and one brief and engaging chapters, Tim Maltin, one of the foremost experts on the Titanic, reveals the truth behind the most common beliefs about the ship and the night it sank. From physics to photographs, lawsuits to love stories, Maltin doesn't miss one tidbit surrounding its history. Heavily researched and filled with detailed descriptions, quotes from survivors, and excerpts from the official inquiries, this book is guaranteed to make readers rethink everything they thought they knew about the legendary ship and its tragic fate.


Review:


I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but I am trying to change that. The problem for me with nonfiction is that there aren't a lot of topics that I am interested in reading. So when a nonfiction book comes along that I am interested in, I jump right on it. This was one of those. And I am so glad I read it!!


In these pages you will find every single rumor that has ever circled about the Titanic (and there are a lot), and whether or not it is true. Not surprisingly, most of them aren't. And there were quite a few that I hadn't even heard of, but that doesn't really shock me because I do not consider myself an expert on Titanic knowledge. But that doesn't really matter because I enjoyed learning about what I didn't know anyway.


Here's the format: It's divided into sections such as passengers, the iceberg, the rescue, the aftermath, etc., and then within that the rumors are numbered and then the author tells you what really did or didn't happen. I really enjoyed the format because it made it easy to read a few of them and walk away if you had to and then come back to it. There was always a good place to stop and this is a great thing to have with nonfiction because sometimes it's hard to read straight through. But that wouldn't have mattered because it's not like the content or writing was dry. It wasn't at all. The author presented the facts and he did it in a really great way.


I would easily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the Titanic, shipwrecks, or anyone with a desire to learn more about this topic. If you think this sounds like something you might want to read but feel yourself shying away because it's nonfiction, don't! It's a pretty fast read and I promise you it's a lot of fun.

Final note: Titanic fans need to read this book! Not only did I learn a lot, but it's a great memory refresher. I remember some of the scenes from the 1997 movie and then finding out from this book that they didn't really happen.

To order a copy of 101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic...but Didn't! from Amazon.com, click here: 101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic . . . but Didn't!



Escape Velocity by Robin Stevenson

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Release Date: October 1st, 2011
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Won from Librarything
Cover: It's okay. Average. And nothing special. It could have been better, but then so could the contents inside.

Escape VelocityEscape Velocity by Robin Stevenson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Blurb:


It’s the end of a long hot summer in Alberta’s Badlands, and fifteen year old Lou is dreaming of escape. Then an unexpected crisis turns her dream into reality and Lou is forced to leave Alberta and stay with the mother she has never known. Lou is overflowing with anger, hurt, and, most of all, unanswered questions. Why did her mother never want her? She is convinced the answers lie hidden in her mother’s novels, and is determined to find the truth… no matter what the cost.


Review:


You know what? It's been a couple of days since I finished this book and I'm honestly having a hard time remembering anything about it. It might be because it's such a quick read and I finished it in a few hours and those types of books tend not to stick with you, but whatever the reason, I'm having a really hard time writing this review.


Here's what I do remember: I was extremely disappointed in the ending. We were given all the reasons why the mother took the actions that she did in leaving her newborn baby with the father, but I felt that she was let off the hook too easily. Just because your own parents treated you like crap does not give you a license to treat your own kids like crap. Break the cycle and be different. I had no sympathy for her situation and I think maybe that's why I liked the book less than I possibly should have. I'm not sure the author really knows what this situation is like because I find it hard to believe that the mother's behavior would be justified in this way.


The writing was good, perhaps a bit simple, but it was certainly easy to read. The characters could have been developed more, especially Lou. I didn't feel as connected to her as I could have. I just felt really sad for the characters. The book was depressing. There was little happiness to be found in these pages. Even the ending was bittersweet. Which is fine I guess, but I didn't really expect that from this book.


Bottom line: It was a decent read, but there are a lot better books out there. It was good, not great. And I do hope the publishers fix the exorbitant amount of typos in the published novel. This was an ARC, but I always worry about that.


Nov 17, 2011

2012 50 States Reading Challenge


What's that Kara? That's another reading challenge you are participating in? Don't you think that's probably impossible to accomplish and a very bad idea?

Why yes self, it is an extremely bad idea. But see, I just can't resist challenges like this. I am such a setting wh*re. I'd love to read around the United States. If only I could have waited until 2012 to read The Descendants. Because I think Hawaii is going to be a tough one to accomplish again. And what about Nebraska? Who sets their books in Nebraska? Iowa? What is it, a book about corn and soybean farming? 

Well whatever. I'm doing it. And I am possibly looking forward to this one the most. I will not be picking my books ahead of time. There is no possible way I can pick out 50 books in advance. But I will be marking them on this post as I go along. And I am sure that there will be repeat states. But this challenge is going to be fun.

Rules:

The goal of this challenge is to read books that are set in each of the fifty states. Your books can be of any genre and any format (ie. paperback, ebook, audiobook, etc.). No short stories. Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are fine. (Re-read reviews must be written within the year 2012; you can not use old reviews.) 

You can list your books in advance or list them as you read them.

Do you think this might be something you would be interested in participating in? Go here: Book Obsessed 2012 50 States Reading Challenge. I'm excited. :) Please join me!

1. Alabama                                 
2. Alaska                                    
3. Arizona                                   
4. Arkansas                                
5. California- The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams                                             
6. Colorado- Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne                                  
7. Connecticut
8. Delaware
9. Florida- The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
10. Georgia
11. Hawaii
12. Idaho
13. Illinois
14. Indiana
15. Iowa- Slide by Jill Hathaway
16. Kansas- Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel
17. Kentucky
18. Louisiana
19. Maine
20. Maryland- Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
21. Massachusetts- Frost by Marianna Baer
22. Michigan
23. Minnesota
24. Mississippi
25. Missouri- Katana by Cole Gibsen
26. Montana
27. Nebraska
28. Nevada
29. New Hampshire- The New Girl by Paige Harbison
30. New Jersey- Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk
31. New Mexico- Fated by Alyson Noel
32. New York- The Humming Room by Ellen Potter, Partials by Dan Wells
33. North Carolina
34. North Dakota
35. Ohio- The Edumacation of Jay Baker by Jay Clark
36. Oklahoma
37. Oregon- The Night She Disappeared by April Henry
38. Pennsylvania
39. Rhode Island
40. South Carolina- Wrecked by Anna Davies
41. South Dakota
42. Tennessee
43. Texas- The First Days by Rhiannon Frater
44. Utah
45. Vermont
46. Virginia
47. Washington- Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
48. West Virginia
49. Wisconsin- Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
50. Wyoming

And for sh*ts and giggles, I'm going to keep track of the countries I read in too, even though they don't count towards the challenge.

Australia- Inhale by Kendall Grey, Exhale by Kendall Grey
Canada- Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
England- Base Spirits by Ruth Barrett, Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton, Ruby Red by Kiersten Gier
France- Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet
India- Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
Italy- The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper
Japan- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Malaysia- Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twang Eng
Scotland- The Legend of Lady MacLaoch by Becky Banks



Nov 16, 2011

Two Books I Could Not Finish (The Night Circus and The Windup Girl)

Let me make this clear. Just because I cannot finish a book doesn't mean it is a bad book. It just means it was not for me. I understand that we all have differing opinions and that is alright by me. That being said, the following books (both of which are award winners), I would not recommend to anyone I know. I just thought they had a lot of faults.

Which books are they?



I know. I'm taking a big risk for posting this, and I'm kind of afraid of what other readers will think of me. I know a lot of people really loved these books and great for them. I decided to include both of them in the same post because I disliked them for the same reasons. They bored me to tears, and where the heck was the plot??

The Night Circus was gorgeously written. But the characters were as flat as a pancake. And there was very little plot to be heard of. This book took forever to get to any sort of point. It was possibly one of the most drawn out books I have ever read. I found myself getting very restless while reading this book. Every time I was about to pick it up again to read more, I found myself dreading the chore. It was just not a good reading experience for me.

The Windup Girl was also a brilliantly imagined novel. This book won the Hugo award. The concept of it was great. And the writing was richly descriptive. But after 50 pages and literally nothing had happened, I  just couldn't take it anymore. Not only that, but there was a fairly graphic scene of animal abuse which put me off the book as well. That is a topic I have a hard time reading about and try to avoid whenever possible.


I didn't rate either of these books because I didn't feel I read far enough into them to do so. I don't want to discourage you from trying them, but if your tastes are remotely similar to mine, I have a feeling you may come across some of the same issues that I did. Any thoughts to share?

Nov 15, 2011

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Pages: 470
Genre: Steampunk, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Series: Gone With the Respiration #1
Cover: A+- One of my favorites of 2011 and I think it captures the tone of the story extremely well.

Dearly, Departed (Gone With the Respiration, #1)Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb:


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 era. 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 ravenous 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. And 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 madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.


Review:


Dearly, Departed was easily one of the strangest books I have read this year. Not because of the plot, characters, or setting. It was because of the romance between Nora and Bram. Bram's a little bit different than most people. It's because he's not human. He's a zombie and he's kind of falling apart. But somehow Nora falls for him and she's human. I'm not going to lie. The romance kind of squicked me out. But it also worked too. Because I also sort of fell for Bram myself. Yeah, he was a zombie. But he was also an awesome person with a great personality. And the bond between Nora and Bram is strong. And it's built on a great foundation of friendship. So yeah, there's that. Moving on.


The setting of this book was absolutely kickass. When I read the blurb for this book, I thought it would never work. It sounded ridiculous. Corny even. A steampunk setting in the year 2195? In Central America? With zombies? Surprisingly, it wasn't. I loved it so much. The imagery was fantastic and it blew me away. Not corny in the least. I cannot imagine the thought process that went into writing something like this. What a great imagination this author has. In these pages you will find underground cities, gas lamps, airships, zombie doctors and military, numerous electronic devices (it is the future after all), and all manner of steampunk gadgetry. Putting it simply, this was just a very cool book.


And then there were the characters. They were extremely well-written with differing personalities. Some of my favorite characters were zombies. I loved Chas (short for Chastity), the petite female zombie with a metal plate in her lower jaw because her teeth fell out. I also loved Renfield. He was the nerdy zombie boy with a penchant for chess and computers. Some of the things these two said made me laugh out loud. And then there was Doctor Sam, the zombie that somehow rigged his body so he could walk around headless. That's right. He kept his head on a hook in the lab and walked around and did his work without it. Bizarre? You betcha. Nora was the outspoken female protagonist that raised a ruckus everywhere she went. I like to think I have a little bit of Nora in me. She was fun, loud, and a fighter. The characters were amazing.


If I have one complaint about Dearly, Departed it's that I found the book a bit long for the plot line that we were given. I didn't have any issues with pacing, but somehow I would have liked to see the book cut down in a few places for length. I am afraid that it might deter some readers who are looking for a quick payoff with their reading material. I enjoyed the descriptions and world-building. I'm not so sure that everyone will. It might be a bit excessive for a young adult novel. I had no issues with this whatsoever, but I'm also in the business of recommending books to other readers, so I feel as if it's something I have to point out. But I LOVED it.


End result, I loved this book and I love this series. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one. Steampunk is not for everyone, but it is a genre that is quickly moving up on my list of favorites. Extremely unique book from a debut author that I feel we will be seeing a lot of in the future.

Final note: Get yourself a copy of this book if you love steampunk, zombies, and don't mind a bit of a lengthy read. I'd read it all over again if I had time to. Definitely a favorite of mine.

To purchase a copy of Dearly, Departed from Amazon.com, click here: Dearly, Departed






Nov 14, 2011

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge


So I've been thinking fairly hard about whether I wanted to participate in another reading challenge besides the Debut Author Challenge or not, but when this one came up in Google Reader I just couldn't turn it down. It's a great opportunity to whittle my pile of books down and get some of them donated to the library or wherever. Since I am already doing another challenge and I expect 2012 to be a huge year for my editing business, I am starting on the low end for this challenge. I figure I can always add more books to the reading pile if I get through the ones I have started with. The books for this challenge have to be published before the end of 2011, but they can be any genre. Word.

I'm starting with 12 books. That's Level 2 on the scale. Here's the scale:

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

Here are the books I picked to start with (these books will not change...I may end up adding more, but these choices are final): 

1. Frost by Marianna Baer FINISHED Review
2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake FINISHED Review
3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (3.89 rating on Goodreads)
4. Sister by Rosamund Lupton
5. Wither by Lauren Destefano (3.97 rating on Goodreads)
6. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (4.23 rating on Goodreads)
7. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (4.16 rating on Goodreads)
8. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs FINISHED Review
9. Outside In by Maria V. Snyder (3.92 rating on Goodreads)
10. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (4.21 rating on Goodreads)
11. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier FINISHED Review
12. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John FINISHED Review
13. Cold Blood (Dirty Blood #2) by Heather Hildenbrand FINISHED Review
14. Base Spirits by Ruth Barrett FINISHED Review
15. The Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper FINISHED Review
16. Edge of Darkness by Lissa Bilyk FINISHED Review
17. The First Days by Rhiannon Frater FINISHED Review
18. Paradise by Jill S. Alexander FINISHED Review
19. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok FINISHED Review
20. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready FINISHED Review
21. The Gunslinger by Stephen King FINISHED Review
22. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin FINISHED Review
23. Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday FINISHED Review Coming Soon

So those are my 12 picks to start with. I included ratings from Goodreads just because I thought it would be fun. Most of them are young adult novels, but I also included some that weren't because I like to read a good mix. There's even one middle-grade novel in there. I may add more books to this list, but for now those will do. 


What do you think of my picks? And if you want to sign up to participate in this challenge yourself, you can go here: http://evie-bookish.blogspot.com/2011/11/2012-tbr-pile-reading-challenge-sign.html

There's going to be a lot of fun challenges and some great giveaways as the year progresses. Oh, and we've also got some great hosts. Below are the list of hosts that will be working hard to make this a fun year for all of us! Thanks guys!!

Evie from Bookish - http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com 
Nicole from All I Ever Read - http://www.nicoleabouttown.com/ @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - http://www.handsandhome.ca/ @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/ @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading http://whatchyareading.net @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read http://missiontoread.com/ @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea -http://booksbiscuitsandtea.blogspot.com/ @alouetteuette 
Christa from Hooked On Books http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction http://fansoffiction.blogspot.com/ @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision http://mermaidvision.wordpress.com @mermaidvisions

Go sign up! 



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