Archive for March, 2014

An awesome zombie book (and series if you go on to read the following books). I loved, loved, loved this book. I’ve read 22 books so far this year, and I think this one may be my very favorite.

Here’s the summary:

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

As for why I liked it so much: it had a great mystery to it, complex characters and deep down was about a girl finding herself in a world of zombies. Mary’s world is very dangerous, and only gets more dangerous as the book goes on. A lot of people die in this book, including some main characters. The zombies are interesting. Mostly they’re your typical moaning dead, shuffling for a taste of human flesh, but Carrie Ryan somehow makes it feel fresh. And there are a couple differences.

More than any other zombie book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a lot) forest of hands and teeth makes you feel how menacing the zombies are, and it doesn’t have to give them a whole load of new bells and whistles to do so. Again and again it reminds you of the volume of the dead. A person is bitten, they change, then they go on to bite another two or three people. It’s simple math. They never die, but the living do. So you end up with thousands, millions of walking dead, and the living dwindle down in numbers.

I love the world created in these books. I’d never want to live in them, but they seem so rich and interesting. Most of all there’s a constant theme in the books of surviving, of pushing on and living no matter how bad things get. Of having dreams, even in dark times.

Now for the bad. There’s a love triangle. Ick. But this does help the main character grow and learn what she wants in life. She doesn’t want to stick with what she knows, she wants to push herself and explore. Sure, she worries about who she should love, but more and more as the book goes on she looks to bigger issues like how she should live. Plus the zombies don’t let her dwell on her romantic issues too long.

Her major goal is a little strange. She wants to see the ocean. She pushes herself and the others toward this goal. At times this can seem a little stupid. At one point, she’s in a great house safe for the moment with the guy she’s been dreaming of being with forever, but she isn’t happy. She wants to see the ocean. She wants to know more about the dead. In a lot of ways this is a story about a girl’s descent into madness. Things pile up, and she cracks a bit. But she cracks in a cool way, a risk taking way, not a curl in a corner and hide way.

The characters have depth. There’s this one guy who you hate a bit at the beginning because he seems selfish, but then as you read more you see him as a guy who’s human and in love. A guy who makes mistakes. All the characters make mistakes at one point or another. No one is perfect in this book.

The main reason I love this book is harder to explain. There’s something so addictive about reading it. Usually I hop about a little between books, but reading this one I had to make a bee line from this book, to the next and the next. I vacuumed them up. It was difficult to get anything else done. I think it’s knowing they’re never safe. There’s always something else coming around the corner to shake their lives up. And yet they don’t stop living. Sometimes they consider giving up, but the main characters push on and on without stopping.

There’s a scene in the very last book that sums up the whole series. The main character is stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation but she doesn’t give up. She tries, tries, and then tries again. She just keeps moving forward, even with dead on her heels, even when all seems lost. That determination to keep going is what made me love these books so much. It gives me faith in the human race. Some might give up when things get bad. Others go along with the flow and don’t think for themselves. But a few will keep fighting no matter how bad things get. And that is a beautiful message.

Want to check out more reviews on this book? Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3432478-the-forest-of-hands-and-teeth

Advertisements

There is one word for this book: Awesome.

I’ve read quite a few paranormal romances the past couple of years, but this one ranks right up there with my favorites. I love the world it’s set in. It’s just such an original idea when so many books are variations on the same story. I won’t tell you all of it, that’d be telling, but it’s a different look at angels and demons. I recognize snippets from a few different religions and cultures., but it put them together in an interesting way.

Here’s the summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Prague was a great location for this story. The descriptions were rich, but not overused. The writing was great, and I loved how it seemed to be inspired by old fairy and folk tales. Remember those really dark fairy tales you read about mysterious beasts and witches who will give you wishes in exchange for things like hearts and souls? Reading this reminded me of them a lot, particularly old Japanese tales. Only, this story is very much a YA fantasy romance. It’s an interesting mix.

I will warn you about one thing.  When I started the book I thought I’d hate it. The opening was very jarring and difficult to follow. Then a chapter or two in and it really started to flow. I’m not sure if the writing smoothed out, or I needed to get used to the writing style, but it was worth it. So if you experience the same problem stick with it and see if it gets better.

Also there’s not as much going on as I’m used to. A lot of it is stumbling around confused looking for answers. There’s action, and it gets big in places, but there’s also a lot of standing around not doing much. That said, the answers when they’re given are pretty mind-blowing.

Characters is another problem area. The characters are cool and quirky, but there isn’t much development in secondary characters, or even in some of the bigger ones like Akiva. I liked all the characters, but nothing much changed about them.

The ending: could be better. There’s a big reveal that’s cool, but it’s a lot of talking. Like I said, not much action in this book.

Overall though, I enjoyed it. The world building was my favorite part. It’s worth a read for that alone. The characters are likable, and the plot is pretty good. I think my problem with the plot is it started out so promising, then the action fizzled out.

My recommendation: worth a read. It has its flaws, but it has a lot of good parts too.

Link to more reviews on the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8490112-daughter-of-smoke-bone

I’m feeling a little ‘eh’ about this book. I’m not sure if that makes me a bad person because so many people loved it.

Let’s peek at the summary for those not in the know:

A searing, post apocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

I watched the film first and loved it, so of course I went looking for the book. There are some things I loved about the book. There’s an overwhelming feeling of despair through the pages. A man and a boy wander through a gray world, and it seems like Cormac McCarthy really wanted to put the reader in that world, so he made the writing simple to the point of bland.

This is good because you do get the sense of this being an empty world with little hope, but on the other hand it’s also, well, bland. It feels like a shopping list at times. He did that. He did this. Then this happened.

This bland feeling carries over to the plot. There are a few big moments, but most of the time it’s just the man and the boy walking, looking for food, and not doing much else. This is not an action packed novel. Again, this is good, and this is bad. The novel might have been more enjoyable to read if it had more direction instead of their mostly aimless wanderings, but it would have taken from the atmosphere of the story.

Overall I did like the book. It was a quick read and did leave a lasting impression. I’m just left a little lost about what exactly to think about it. I suppose it’s like looking at impressionist art. Is it art? Or is it just scribbles? On the one hand I could talk about the great message it gave about hope, and about sticking to your morals no matter what. On the other the lack of cohesion makes me wonder whether those messages are intentional or happenstance.

I read the book, and I enjoyed it, but I was left not knowing if I saw it as ‘good’ or not. I think it was. I think it was just different enough that my mind’s a little confused. I’d say, if you like trying things a little different, then try this one.

Take a look at more reviews on this book. Some of them are just as confused as me: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6288.The_Road

If I were to describe this book in one word, I’d say ‘funny.’ The humor is dark in places, but it’s also got geek references and song lyrics. And it made me laugh. That’s important.

Now, the summary:

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. 

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

Sam was a great character. For one thing he’s got an awesome name.  He’s a good guy who loves his family and friends. We like a good guy. He’s also flawed, being the kind of guy who hates confrontation, is no good at sports, and has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth. Subtlety, he admits is not his strong suit.

He also has some great inner dialogue. Here’s a couple examples that made me laugh:

“There were no windows in my bedroom, so I had to sit up and read my clock to figure out how angry I should be at my visitor. Eight A.M. I hated whoever woke me up. Had they come an hour earlier, I would have also hated their families and any household pets.”

“She whistled when she noticed my back. I assume because of my injuries. I mean, my ass just isn’t that spectacular.”

“Next time a talking head ended up in my easy chair, I would have all sorts of points of reference, but at that moment, I was completely at sea.”

The humor reminded me a little of Buffy the vampire slayer at times. Lots of geek humor. I like geek humor.

As for why I didn’t give it five stars, there were flaws. The plot was a little slow and clunky at times. There were also some plot holes. Sam finds something about his past, but decides not to ask his mother about it until a good way through the book. This didn’t make sense to me. Sure he didn’t want to bother her, but it was life or death kind of stuff. It felt forced.

Next, there was a bit of insta-love. I hate insta-love. But it only took up a very small part of the book, so wasn’t that bad. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the story, just annoyed me. If you really hate insta-love don’t worry too much about it. It’s only on a couple of pages.

Overall though, I loved it. One of my favorite reads this year. I’d say if you’re a fan of geek humor then definitely give it a spin. Happy reading.

And as always here’s the link to more reviews if you’re still pondering: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8041873-hold-me-closer-necromancer