Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover


Let’s Get Graphic: Graphic Novel Roundup

I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately, probably more graphic novels than books actually. Below are some of my favorites.

The first 3 are Advanced Reader Copies through Netgalley:

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

First one I’ll mention is The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen & Sonny Liew. It doesn’t come out until July, so I’m going to hold off on a full review for now. I will say it’s about the Green Turtle, the first Asian American super hero, and I will say I really enjoyed it. Fans of Gene Luen Yang won’t be disappointed. My copy was an e-galley through Netgalley.

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

The Return of Zita the SpaceGirl by Ben Hatke comes out this month. This is the third installment of Zita the Spacegirl. Again my copy was an e-galley through Netgalley. I loved the two previous Zita’s, and I loved The Return as much as the first two. I love Zita’s spunk and determination. She is loyal and a true friend to all who need her help. If you are looking for a graphic novel with loveable characters then check out Zita, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

The last e-galley I read recently was This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. Every summer Rose and her family go to a Lake House in Awago Beach. Rose hangs out with Windy, whose family also always vacations there. Rose’s parents are constantly fighting, so Rose and Windy find ways to distract themselves, like swimming, going to the local convenience store, and watching horror movies. This is the summer of growing up, transitioning from child to teen, and learning all the heartbreak and wonder that come along with it.

 

Great graphic novels I’ve read lately that are already out include:

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

Zombie’s Calling by Faith Erin Hicks. Joss loves zombie movies, but will her knowledge of the rules of a zombie movie be enough to save her and her roommates when her university is taken over by a zombie plague? Great story, loveable characters, and I personally appreciated the commentary on the price of higher education (as I, like Joss, will be paying off my college education for the rest of my life).

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

Mind the Gap by Jim McCann. I’m on volume two of this graphic novel series, and I am HOOKED! Elle is attacked in the subway station, and now she is lying in a hospital in a coma. Who tried to kill Elle and why? Elle’s spirit is detached from her body and trying to put all the pieces together. This is a fantastic thriller with a supernatural twist. I’m really intrigued by this story, and I can’t wait to get volume number 3.

MorningGlories

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer. I picked up with graphic novel series at work because the back said it was about six brilliant new students at a sinister boarding school. I love a good boarding school story, add mystery and something deadly lurking and I’ll pick it up! I’m on volume #3 so far and I haven’t been disappointed. The twist and turns are never ending. The teachers are straight up evil, almost drowning the 6 student on their first day. There is a weird cult and strange medical experiments. So far this series is keeping me hooked and on the edge of my seat.

 


Zombies, Oh My: Shadows

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick

This is the sequel to Ashes.  If you haven’t read Ashes yet, then I suggest you check out my review here instead of reading this review.  This review will probably spoil Ashes, since it is hard to talk about this book without mentioning events from the first.

Shadows picks up right where Ashes left off.  At the end of Ashes Alex has escaped Rule, only to land in danger, Chris was knocked unconscious, and we had no idea what happened to Tom.  We are thrown right back into the action.  I have to admit I was confused at first because it had been so long since I’d read Ashes.  However, after a discussion with the YA librarian where I work, and some further reading, everything I was confused about cleared up.

Also of interest in Shadows is how the Changed are evolving, getting smarter, working together more.  There are a lot of questions surrounding the Changed, and we still are unsure if those who haven’t Changed are safe from it.  Also, like many dystopian novels, we see the breakdown of humanity and how some people are even worse than the monsters.

Shadows is a fast-paced, page turner.  The chapters jump from character to character, and end in cliff hangers.  You want to know what happens to Alex but the next chapter is about Chris so you keep reading in order to get back to Alex, only to end the chapter wanting to know what happens to Chris.  So you just keep reading rather than going to sleep like you were supposed to hours ago.

If you haven’t started reading this trilogy yet, then I recommend you do! I’m know I’m looking forward to book three in the trilogy!


Zombies, Oh My! Soulless Review

Soulless by Christopher Golden (2008 – MTV Books)

This post is in honor of Halloween  J

The YA librarian where I’m temping gave me this book to read (thank you for the great recommendation!).

What’s it about:  Zombies!  (haha are you surprised?)  The morning TV show in Times Square New York is having a mass séance live on the air.  The idea is to open a window for spirits to contact their loved ones.  Only the mediums didn’t realize just what they would be releasing.  Now the dead are rising from their graves, and they are empty and hungry inside.  The mediums are catatonic and the effects of the séance are spreading from New York all the way up and down the east coast.

The dead that are coming back are seeking their loved ones.  However, there is nothing good left of the person they once were.  Instead they are cruel and hungry.

What I like:  These are not mindless zombies.  They start out that way but they soon get smart.  They plan attacks, they talk, and they are cruel.  Traditional zombies are creepy enough but add smarts and the ability to speak….creepy.

Now to the main characters…there are a few main characters in this book.  The awesome part…they are diverse.  There are girls, guys, black, white, Asian, lesbian, different classes and social standings, etc.  This fact isn’t something that affects the story.  It is just realistic, a group of teens from all over the east coast converging on Times Square would be diverse!  It is a great blend of teens.  None of these teens are willing to sit by and hope the dead stop rising, they want to do something about it.  Their decisions will not be easy, and people they love will die along the way.  What would you be willing to do in order to survive? How far would you go to stop the dead?

This was a fast pace page turner.  It gave me the creeps!  It was a great read for October to get in the Halloween spirit.

 


Zombies, Oh My! Something Strange and Deadly

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

What’s it about: Eleanor Fitt goes to pick up her brother from the train depot in Philadelphia only to have one of the walking Dead deliver a note to her from her brother.  It seems whoever is raising and controlling the Dead have Eleanor’s brother.  Desperate to save her brother Eleanor seeks out the Spirit-Hunters who are protecting the city from the dead.

 

What I thought:  This book has a lot of the things I love: steampunk gadgets, Victorian time period, zombies, paranormal activity, a romance, and a female lead who doesn’t like to be told what to do.

Eleanor is desperate to find her brother and she will do whatever it takes.  However, this isn’t an easy task in 1876 Philadelphia for a female.  Her family is on the verge of losing everything, and her mother is looking to marry her off to a wealthy bachelor in order to keep their house.  So Eleanor must be careful to keep her reputation in tack, while searching for her brother.  I felt for Eleanor’s pull between what she must do for her family and what she wants for herself.   (I also enjoyed the unexpected romance which blooms between Eleanor and another character.)

The dead in this book aren’t your typical zombies.  These dead have been raised by a necromancer who is using voodoo.  The walking Dead the necromancer loses control over become the Hungry.  Unlike your normal rabid zombie these dead were raised by magic.  No virus was the cause of their rising, and while the dead can kill you, your body can only be reanimated by the necromancer.  Also this book is much lighter on the zombie gore than your typical zombie book.

The steampunk gadgets come in the form of Spirit-Hunter Daniel’s gadgets for battling the dead.  A shot to the head won’t kill these walking dead, rather the electricity which binds them to the necromancer must be cut, which is where the gadgets come in.

As for the other characters: Joseph is from New Orleans and was taught to use magic for good, and is the one with the power to stop the necromancer; Jie is a Chinese woman who dresses as a man in order to have the freedom Chinese woman are denied in the U.S. at that time.

 

Was this my favorite steampunk zombie book of the year?  No, but I will read the next book in the series because I did enjoy Something Strange and Deadly.   Dennard did a wonderful job keeping me caught up in the story.  At times I was unable to put the book down because I need to know what happened next.

Check out the official book trailer here.


Zombies, Oh My! The First Days a Review

The First Days (As the World Dies Trilogy) by Rhiannon Frater

Edited with PicMonkey

Yes, another zombie apocalypse book J Although this book is geared towards adults and is not YA, teens looking for more zombie options may enjoy this.

Here’s what it’s about:  Katie and Jenni meet when Katie is fleeing from the zombies through Jenni’s neighborhood.  Katie saves Jenni from her zombified family and they flee across Texas.  The pair goes in search of Jenni’s son, who is camping for a school field trip, and along the way they make friends and find safety in a fortified town.

What I thought: I love that the protagonists are female.  They are also strong and resourceful.  They do what needs to be done, which includes shooting and mowing over zombies with their car.  This leads me to say: have no fear there is plenty of blood in this zombie novel.  What is also interesting is the fact that Katie is a gay and Jenni is a battered wife.  Since Katie is gay, anti-gay sentiments come in to play when they are in the town.  Some of the reactions to one of her actions (I don’t want to give anything away) make you wonder if it’s because she is a lesbian.  Would they have been as mad if she was straight or if she was a man? The fact Jenni is a battered wife gives her character interesting layers.  Jenni quickly becomes attached to Katie and many of her actions stem from how her former life molded her.  With all that said I have to admit, after a while Jenni’s character started getting to me, she could be very annoying at times.

Like many dystopian novels, First Days touches on what it means to be human and how people may start acting during an end of the world situation.  You love the people who choose to band together and fight to protect one another, but you’re reminded there are those who will only care for themselves.  It also touches on whether or not you can save everyone, or if it is better not to help those who will potentially put you in danger later.

As for the other characters in the story I did find I became attached to certain characters.  One thing to note though is that Frater is not afraid to kill people off, so beware!

What I found really interesting about this book was that it was originally self-published.  Frater would publish mini chapters online.  Her online installments were so popular with her readers she decided to self-publish.  Later she received offers from publishers, and hence the copy I own from Tor.  I found this information fascinating because it answered a question I had while reading the book.  I found that at times I felt as though the book was written in short installments because you would be reminded of things you had not read long enough ago to have forgotten.  However since her original readers were getting short installments (with who knows what kind of timeline it was posted online) this made perfect sense.  Just beware it feels a little choppy because of this fact.

I plan on reading book two, Fighting to Survive, soon.


Zombies Oh, My! Dearly, Departed Review

 

Edited with PicMonkey

Dearly, Departed

By Lia Habel

 

So we have seen humans have vampire romances, werewolf romances, even ghost romances…so why not a zombie romance?  Well the wait for a zombie/human romance is now over.  If Stephanie Meyer showed us vampires can sparkle and drink animal blood, then Habel showed us some of the living dead can retain their humanity.

What it’s about: 

“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. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

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.  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.”   (Summary from goodreads.com)

What I thought: 

I recently got hooked on zombie novels when I read Ashes (review here).  So when I saw Dearly, Departed was in at the library I couldn’t pass it up.  Steam punk, zombies, and a love story? Yes, please!

At first I was a little weary about this book.   I thought the premise sounded interesting, but when I first started reading I thought it was going to be a slow read.  However, it soon grabbed me and kept me hooked.  However it never did get as fast paced as some books, but it did keep me turning the pages long after bedtime.

One aspect I loved à  each chapter is from a different person’s point of view: sometimes Bram, sometimes Nora, sometimes her best friend Pam, and various other characters.  This technique really let the reader see the story from various angles so you knew what was going on in all the different places, which I appreciated.

I do wonder what Bram looks like.  The longer a zombie is dead before reanimation the less human they are, but that doesn’t mean the zombies’ bodies aren’t all decomposing.  Scientists have worked on ways to keep their bodies from decaying too fast, but based on some of the descriptions I wonder.   I suppose it takes the personality before looks aspect to a new level.  You’d also have to be careful your loved one doesn’t try to bite you!  Despite being more human, the zombies do have to fight off the urges the Laz causes in them.

According to goodreads.com there are going to be other books (Gone with the Respiration series). Book 2: Dearly, Beloved is expected to be published in September.  I personally look forward to it.

If you’re looking for a zombie book with a twist then I recommend picking up Habel’s Dearly, Departed!


Zombies, Oh My! Review: Ashes

My PicMonkey edited photo

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Ashes starts with Alex hiking through the woods in order to say goodbye to her parents.  While hiking, Alex runs into an 8-year-old named Ellie and her grandfather.  Then the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) flashes and kills all the electronic devices.  Not only do the electronics stop working, but some people simply drop dead while teenagers are changed into brain-zapped zombies.

This book had me up at night.  Not because I was scared (although I was creeped out at points) but because this book was good.  I couldn’t put it down.   I have found in the last few months that I really love zombie related things (movies, books, television shows, etc.).  Zombies creep me out, which is probably why I’m so fascinated (while you may decide I sound crazy after this, I’m going to say it anyway: I find zombies to be one of the more-likely-to-be-possible-in-real-life monsters).  What I like about Ashes is that while it is a book with zombies in it, the brain-zapped teens are only a part of the story.  Ashes is also about the rest of humanity and how this disaster changes everyone, not necessarily physically but morally.  It makes you wonder how you would react.  Survival is obviously necessary, but how far would you go to survive?  Killing a teen who is going to try to eat you is one thing, but killing someone in your same situation?

When I saw Ashes on Goodreads I wanted to read it.  Unfortunately my library did not own a copy.  After checking out more reviews for the book, I decided I needed to read it so I sent in a request for the library to purchase the book.  My library system purchased five copes!  While I would have just bought the book if the library had not purchased a copy, I’m really glad they did because this is a book that will be really easy to book talk and get teens to read.

Ashes is the first in a trilogy.   Book two, Shadows, is due out in September, and I am dying to read it! Ashes ended with a great cliffhanger, one that makes me wish I hadn’t read it until the second book was already out so that I could just continue reading.  I will be getting this book the day it comes out!  One other thing I’d like to comment on:  In a few reviews I read, mostly on Goodreads, the reviewers felt the last 200 pages were not as good as the first half.  I really disagree with this sentiment.  The end had me as captivated as the beginning.  The end has less running from zombies & surviving-on-the-move action; it had more of the questions regarding humanity.  How do groups who banned together survive? What secrets are people hiding?  How far are people willing to go to survive?  Can you keep your humanity?  I love these questions as much as the action.