Something Strange and Deadly

Oh! Hello there! Long time no see! I’m really happy to be blogging again and I’m sipping some green tea and smiling because I just really forgot how much I enjoy blogging! So any-hoo, tonight I’m going to review a book that I read last year and just recently finished re-reading. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard was SUCH a good read that I just couldn’t resist writing a review about it.

Now I hope by now everyone knows that I am throughly obsessed with zombie stories, and by obsessed I mean if it has any sort of walking dead I’ll give it a try. I will read any zombie story ranging from gross to extremely disgusting. Luckily for the readers with delicate sensibilities, this book didn’t have anything TOO gory! The book is set in Victorian Philadelphia which was another thing that I really enjoyed about the story. Dennard’s combination of these two elements ultimately made this book irresistible to me, and I had to pick it up.

The protagonist of Something Strange and Deadly was Eleanor Fitt, who definitely didn’t fit the typical mold of a “proper” lady. Eleanor’s father dies after his business fails and the Fitt family finds themselves with a bit of a money issue. Eleanor’s brother Eli, leaves to travel the world, and the book begins with Eleanor anxiously waiting his arrival back in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for her, fate has other plans as she is mysteriously handed a telegraph from her brother by a zombie…yup a real grotesque creature in its own right. Soon after Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit Hunters, a trio that was called to town as soon as the dead began walking. With the help of these three, Eleanor quickly begins to find out exactly who she is and what she wants.

I think that Eleanor is easily one of the best protagonists I’ve read in young adult fiction today. She was smart, fiercely independent, and just plain fabulous. I liked Eleanor because she wasn’t what someone during that time would consider perfect or extraordinarily beautiful, which made her more relatable. Although many women at that time were expected to be complacent and lady-like, Eleanor really began to speak her mind as the book went on and I really liked that as readers we were able to see her growth. By the end of the book I was completely girl-crushing on Eleanor because of the strength and poise she exhibited throughout her trials.

I can always appreciate a good cover!

I can always appreciate a good cover!

I absolutely adored Daniel as a love interest, mostly because he wasn’t misogynistic or overbearing. He didn’t treat Eleanor like a porcelain doll except for when he was worried about her safety (and this was more because Eleanor was not used to fighting or being in dangerous situations, not necessarily because she was a female). He eventually gave up trying to protect her and let her do what she wanted/needed to do, which was a nice departure from the usual trope of love interests.The other Spirit Hunters were equally as kick-butt and overall Dennard did a great job with character development. Joseph and Ji (the other two spirit hunters) were great supporting characters that really fostered Eleanor’s growth.

The plot of the book was so mouth watering to me – I just absolutely loved it! I thought that Dennard did a really good job creating a mysterious, romantic, action-y novel without making either of those elements over the top. As the book went on I found myself really wondering exactly what was happening and who was behind everything because the mystery was so complex and well written. I liked that the book had some mystical elements that didn’t feel over the top and crazy. I liked that the zombies weren’t your typical run-of-the-mill zombies that are all too common today. The pacing of the novel really worked for me as well, as Dennard brings us right into the action and doesn’t let us up for air until the end. There were no superfluous parts and the writing was tight. On the plot level, I definitely think that this book was extremely strong.

If you like a strong female protagonist, a mouth-watering love interest, and some zombie action I would DEFINITELY recommend this book. Even if zombies aren’t typically your cup of tea, this book had a lot of other very interesting elements and a strong plot, so don’t be intimidated by the subject matter too much. Until next time, lovely readers!

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Heist Society

Okay so I know this review is technically two days late but a girl’s gotta take a break at some point! For my last review for the five days of reviews, I have decided to review a book that I love written by an author who is INCREDIBLY gifted. Ally Carter is the author of not only the Heist Society series, but also the Gallagher Girls series. If you have read my previous review of Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, you know how much I love Mrs. Carter’s writing, and this book is no exception. Heist Society is a wonderfully written combination of action, romance, and thievery.

Heist Society begins with our protagonist, Katerina Bishop (or Kat), getting kicked out of a very fancy, very expensive boarding school. The only thing wrong with this is that Kat did not perpetrate the actions she was accused of, and if she had perpetrated those actions – she wouldn’t have been caught. Kat comes from a family of thieves and although she tried to leave the family business, it turns out that the family isn’t quite ready to let her go. After being picked up by W.W. Hale the fifth, she discovers that in her absence, things haven’t been going as smoothly. And when Kat figures out a very, very dangerous man thinks her father has stolen his paintings, Kat has to prove will go to any lengths to prove her father’s innocence. Even if that means that leaving the family business is a thing of the past.

Kat was such an enjoyable character to read about. She had a good head on her shoulders and was very confident in her abilities. She knew how to take control of a situation and made very smart decisions throughout the book. Although when it came to teenage things she was a bit oblivious, it was refreshing to see a character that was no where near boy crazy. W.W. Hale the fifth, or simply Hale, was definitely a character to swoon over. From his charming, debonair looks to his subtle sweet side, Hale definitely goes down in the “Boys in YA Who I am in Love With” book. Again, Mrs. Carter’s pacing on the romance was perfect – it was there but acted upon very sparsely. No insta-love to be found. The rest of the crew were entertaining as well, each with their own quirks and talents. The crew reminded me a lot of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride group except I liked Kat’s crew WAAAAAY better.

Although the story was very interesting and the characters were fabulous, I wasn’t quite sure if Mrs. Carter would be able to combine those two elements with an awesome storyline to make another fabulous novel. However, Mrs. Carter did a a really (and by really I mean really really) good job with the story line of this novel. Although planning a con takes a while, the book never got boring or felt too slow, it only added to the suspense of the book. The first time I read this book I didn’t quite get what had happened within the con and how they managed to pull it off, so I ended up rereading the book and the second time I understood WAY better. There was many small things that added up to the bigger picture, kind of like when you watch a movie and they flash you certain images that don’t make sense at that point but later on they come together and you are like “OHHHH”.

Overall, this book is well worth the read. At first I wasn’t really excited to read this book and I was not in any rush to pick it up from Barnes and Noble (pre-Nook days). I thought that there was no way this series could live up to the wonderful Gallagher Girls series, however I was really wrong. This book is a totally separate entity from Gallagher and it definitely is just as interesting. Both have girl-power-kick-butt protagonists and awesome premises, so read both series and love both! If you are looking for a fun summer read, or just a fun read in general, I definitely recommend this for you. If you are looking for a good book, I will recommend this one as well!

So now that my five days of reviews are over, I am not going to be posting everyday. Although I love reviewing books and reading them, school is starting up again and I do not know how frequently I will be reviewing books. Now that I am receiving ARCs I think that this little blog is about to get a lot more interesting! Thanks for reading and I promise to post at least once a week! Until next time lovely readers!

I Am Number Four

So for the first of my five reviews this week, I have decided to do a book that is narrated from a male POV. I am also reviewing this book because the third book in the series (The Rise of Nine) comes out tomorrow (YAY!). This book was definitely a book that I could get into, but I’m not going to lie – I picked it up after seeing the commercial for the movie (Alex Pettyfer SAH-WOON). Needless to say – the book was a thousand times better than the movie (aren’t they all?). It was really nice reading a book from a male’s POV because in YA today, it is predominately female narrators. All in all, this book is definitely worth reading.

The story revolves around Number Four, better known as John Smith, when he arrives in the small town of Paradise, Ohio. John and his guardian, Henri, are not exactly what you call a normal family. You see, they are both from a distant planet that was destroyed years ago by a race called the Mogadorians. Nine children and their assigned guardians were sent to Earth and the Mogadorians followed them in order to kill them all. Each of the nine children will receive special legacies (or powers) to help them fight against the Mogadorians. When they leave, a spell is cast on the Nine so that they can only be killed in numerical order. When the book starts out, John (known as Daniel in Florida) has three scars signifying the deaths of those before him. He and Henri leave Florida for Ohio and along with their new life, they face many other complications.

The characters in this book were really well written, and interesting. John (Number Four) was a great protagonist – he was witty, interesting, strong, and curious. At the beginning of the book John was very naive, but there was definitely some character growth by the end of the book. I liked the fact that as he was discovering more about his past, the reader got to discover more along with him. The love interest, Sarah, was cute and I liked her a lot. However, the female character that really caught my eye was Number Six. Man oh man was she a badass! She was a perfect embodiment of a strong female – totally awesome. She was very intelligent and powerful and she knew it! The other supporting characters were awesome as well, and honorable mention being Henri – that guy rocked!

The plot of this book was obviously something we don’t see a lot of in YA today. Alien stories are really hard for me to get into – I always think they sound ridiculous. This book, however, was totally interesting, and not over-the-top like other alien books. The story line was very intricate and along with John, I was learning a lot about his planet and his powers as well. By the end of the book there are some unfinished story lines but they continue into The Power of Six and are explored more there. This book had the right balance of action, romance, humor, and sadness, and that is what made it such an amazing story.

Over all, I highly recommend this book. It is an interesting read and a fun one at that. What I really liked about it was that although the first book centered on Number Four, the second book included not only him and his point of view, but others of the nine and their POVs. This series has amazing potential and although the movie adaptation wasn’t done the best, it still kept central story lines and was interesting to watch as well. If you watched the movie and liked it, pick up the book and you’ll LOVE it. If you haven’t done either, pick up the book and watch the movie! You really won’t regret spending time on this series. You are also just in time to get the second and third books of the series if you start reading now! Happy reading lovely readers, I’ll see you tomorrow with review #2 of my five days of review!

Our Fault in the Stars

Let me start by saying that I read this book one night from about 2:00 AM to 5:00 AM and I am quite sure that it was one of the most amazing books I have ever read. This book was more than I could’ve ever hoped for it to have been. I am a person that empathizes with every character I read about to the point where I really do become depressed if I read books that are heartbreaking, and that is why I was very hesitant to pick up this book. However, I am so so so glad that I did.

The story follows Hazel, a 16 year old girl who was diagnosed with cancer when she was 13. Hazel is literally a living miracle as she was expected to pass away but ended up living due to a medicine that stopped the tumors from growing in her lungs. Through a teen cancer support group she meets Augustus Waters and her life is changed forever. This may sound like a story about how cancer has affected a girl, but in reality it was a story about a girl who just happened to have cancer, and that dear readers is the beauty behind this story.

The characters in this book were absolutely amazing. Hazel was an absolutely wonderful protagonist. Although she was living with tumors in her lungs and having to roll around an oxygen tank, she was so surprisingly…normal. She was smart, funny, sassy, and independent – everything that I look for in a female protagonist. Hazel never felt sorry for herself or for others; she was honest. Her sense of humor was so similar to my own i.e.: sarcastic with a side of snarky. She felt very authentic throughout the whole book. Augustus Waters may not fit my normal definition of SAHWOON, but he was definitely swoon-worthy. He was…how do I put it…odd. He was always himself around others and around Hazel, his poetic and energetic self. He shared her sense of humor and had some definite similarities, but he felt different..so alive. Both him and Hazel felt very old for their respective ages, which is totally understandable considering the fact that they have had to deal with sooooo much more than other people their age. The other characters in the book were enjoyable as well so kudos to Mr. Green for creating a cast of characters that rounded out the story quite well.

The plot of the book felt very thought out and was definitely not cliche at all. We always hear stories of people with cancer and how it ruins their life, ect. and not to bash on them or anything (because let’s face it, cancer is horrible and it does ruin lives), but this book really transcended that stereotype. Going into this book, I thought it wasn’t going to be happy and to be quite honest I expected a sob story about a girl who was sick. This book totally surprised me in that it was not a “feel sorry for me” story, it was a “these are the cards I was dealt and I’ll live with it” story. I felt grief and loss but also love, tenderness, and happiness.

While I was reading this book, I literally had to put it down for about five minutes so I could sob and curl up in a fetal position in my bedroom. I’m not talking little tears and sniffles, I’m talking gut wrenching sobs and tears the size of a small country. I never knew that this book would elicit such a response from me, but it totally did. The tears were not really tears of sadness, but rather tears of happiness and love. The story really isn’t meant to be a sad one, just one with sad circumstances. I started writing this review the morning after I read it, and it has been almost a week, but I just couldn’t find the words to describe how wonderful this book was. This review definitely did not do it the justice it deserves, but please if you have a chance, read this book. It is a story of love, loss, and laughs. For what this book was supposed to be, it was perfect.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls Series #2) ***

*This is not the first book in the series so it may contain spoilers from the first; I recommend reading the first book before reading this review

Book cover for Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy

I know that this is the second book in the series and chronologically speaking I should review the first one first, but I liked this one and the rest of the books in the series so much better so I decided to skip the first book! This book series is definitely one of the best young adult series I’ve ever read and I couldn’t wait to review it but I decided to wait until I had a few reviews under my belt before beginning on this series so that I could do it justice. This is only the second book, but expect to see many more from this series and from Ally Carter on my blog.

Our story begins where the last book left off with our protagonist Cammie coming home from a classified meeting in a top secret facility. For those that did not read the first book, Cammie had a “forbidden” boyfriend during the first semester of her sophomore year, and unfortunately he had to be given memory erasing tea to wipe his knowledge of the Gallagher Academy from his mind. You see, the Gallagher Academy is not just any school, but a school for teenage female spies-in-training. Cammie, upset with the whole incident but ready to move on, promises to stay out of trouble for her second semester. Unfortunately for her, going to a school for spies isn’t exactly conducive for staying out of trouble. Something fishy is going on with her mother, the staff, and the east-wing of her school, and Cammie and her friends are going to find out what it is. This fishiness may or may not involve hot spy boys from a rival school; read to find out!

The characters in this book are probably some of the best I have ever read in YA fiction, and throughout these books I have become extremely emotionally attached to all of them (creepy I know). Cammie is such an amazing character to read about just because it is easy for girls to relate to her; she isn’t exceptionally beautiful or smart (compared to others at her school) but she is loyal, loving, witty, and just all around cute. The book is written in first person from Cammie’s POV and I loved the way that Mrs. Carter wrote it because it sounded as if it could have really come from a teenage-spy-in-training. Bex, Liz, and Macey (Cammie’s roommates) were also a delight to read about and they resonated very good with me as a reader. Zach, the infamous love interest, was totally swoon-worthy and let’s face it, that is definitely important in any YA novel geared towards girls like me. The characters all had a lot of depth and were enjoyable to follow, especially because we read about them through Cammie’s eyes.

The premise of this book is something that is very original in today’s YA fiction, which let’s face it, we just don’t see a lot of originality with some authors. A spy school for teenage girls? YES PLEASE! Although I have read a few books about teenage spies, no one seems to be able to do it as well as Ally Carter. Mrs. Carter takes something that (although unlikely) could really happen in today’s world, so it’s like non-fiction fiction. The plot really intrigued me and had me tearing through the book in a matter of hours (I wish it was longer). I have read this book probably close to 50 times (not an exaggeration) and it just never gets old to me. The plot of this book was a little cutesy compared to later books, but it was definitely a good start. As you go throughout the series, we see many more serious situations, so this was a nice gateway into those books.I feel that this book was well written with an original premise and plot, so I do really recommend it to all.

Ally Carter has a way of sucking us into a world that is full of mystery, laughs, danger, and fun. This book really is an amazing example of girl power and strong female protagonists that sometimes are lacking in the YA world today. I highly highly highly recommend this book to any teenage girl looking for a good set of books for summer, or for any time really! Cammie and Co. will have you drooling and wishing you were a teenage spy that goes to an awesome boarding school, so read this book and you won’t be disappointed.

Want me to review a specific book? Comment or email at youngadultbookmuncher@gmail.com