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!

Advertisements

Shadeland

The cover is pretty interesting!

For my third review of five, I have decided to review an indie book that I got for free on Smashwords. Now if any of you have been on Smashwords looking for a good free book, you know that it’s pretty much a gamble. I really wasn’t expecting much from this book and I was actually pretty surprised to find myself getting interested in this book. Although there were a couple of parts that were a bit slow, the book was a surprisingly refreshing and interesting read.

The book starts one years after the massive “coming out” of the Eidolon (there are many different species) as we are introduced to our protagonist Liv and her best friend Luke. Liv has known about the eidolon for a while because Luke told her his secret a while back. After the “coming out” there were waves of protests and riots, but things are relatively calm present day. The biggest challenge that the Eidolon face is the discrimination and disgust that come from certain humans. After a girl that Luke dropped off the previous night is murdered, Luke is deemed a suspect in her murder and imprisoned (mostly because he is not human). As Liv tries to solve the mystery and help prove Luke’s innocence, she meets a hunky bounty hunter named Jared and finds herself on a surprising adventure.

The characters of this book were a little more than decent. I liked Liv just fine, but I wasn’t totally enamored with her like I would have been with an awesome protagonist. I like the fact that she stood up against Jared, Luke, and anyone else who tried to tell her what to do. I liked the fact that she really didn’t talk unless she had something important to add, and I also enjoyed the fact that when she voiced an opinion/thought/comment, she expected everyone to listen and not to brush her off. Liv and Luke’s relationship was a little weird, but cute! They really understood each other well and I liked the way they interacted. Jared was not totally sah-woon worthy, but he was a pretty good love interest. Although at times he was a little sexist, it wasn’t overbearing or pig-like. There is potential for a love triangle but as of right now it seems pretty straightforward.

I really liked the idea of this book. I liked the fact that the “coming out” was still pretty recent and that we got to see the world as it was going through this adjustment period. One thing that I didn’t really like was that this book occurred over such a short period of time so we didn’t really see as much growth and development with the characters. Another thing that bothered me was the scope of the book, as they pretty much just stayed in one area and didn’t travel beyond – I would’ve liked to see how another area interacted with the Eidolon. Although I liked the premise of this book, I believe there were some parts of it that could’ve been improved upon.

I don’t know if this book is available for free on Smashwords still, but if it is, I do think that it is worth the time. If this book had cost money, I think that it would be a different story. While it is not a bad book by any means, I don’t know if I would spend more than maybe $3 on it. If you like paranormals and are looking for a quick read, this might be a good book for you. If you are looking for something with a little more substance, I would check out another book. Now on another topic: THIS IS DAY THREE AND THE FIVE DAYS ARE ALMOST UP!!!! *does happy dance*. I hope that you all have been checking out my reviews because let me tell ya, these things are stressing me out. Until tomorrow guys!

The Tomb

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I am so frustrated with WordPress right now because I just wrote a whole review and it erased everything. EVERYTHING I TELL YOU. Sigh, I suppose this is my life. I will try to replicate my first post as accurately as possible. SIGH.

The Tomb by Dave Ferraro is a prequel to the “Hunters of the Dark” series, however I read it before I read the series. I came across this book though a series of odd events. Just kidding. Basically what happened was that on Goodreads I joined a group called We ♥ YA Books and they offer ARRs (no idea what that acronym stands for btw) so when I was given the opportunity to read and review this book I took it. I was not paid to review this, I was just given a copy electronically in exchange for an honest review. Honest review commencing in 3…2…1… So this book was definitely far from my favorite books, like WAY FAR. I can’t say it was horrible read or that it was poorly written, but it just wasn’t a book for me.

The novel follows Rachel, and 18 year old fresh out of high school, and her adventures on an architectural dig on an island off the coast of Australia. She is a bit insecure about her position on the dig because she has much less experience and is younger (by a few years) than the others on the dig. It also doesn’t help that she acquired the position on the dig through her father’s pull with the head of the expedition. The  island is (according to locals) cursed because many architectural teams had gone in that past and a had supposedly gone missing. The crew decides to ignore this (obviously) and go to the island anyways. However, when strange things begin happening, the team starts believing that the locals may have been on to something.

The characters in this book really didn’t do it for me. I didn’t connect to them on any level and most of them really annoyed me. Rachel felt very one-dimensional and I did not connect with her at any point during the novel. Her nativity and indecision really irritated me at points and she felt very bland. If I had to chose the character that I liked the most, it would be Cyrena. I felt that out of all the depth-less characters, she was most likable because she was carefree, independent, smart, and fun. However, saying that she was my favorite character really doesn’t mean much because she is FAR from my favorite characters of all time (i.e.: Cammie, Bex, Tris, Kat, Hazel, ect). I really don’t feel like any other characters are worth wasting time on.

One aspect of the book that I really didn’t like was the romance aspect. I thought nothing could be more irritating than a love triangle, however, Mr. Ferraro proved me wrong. The one thing that irritates me more than a love triangle is a…LOVE SQUARE! We all know how I get about love triangles and how they annoy me, blah blah blah, but that really isn’t why I don’t like this book. I have read books that had love triangles that I really liked, so I know that I wasn’t biased in this aspect. I just felt like the romance was like a last minute thing tacked on to appeal to the female teenage demographic – it almost felt like just an afterthought. And that’s OKAY, but my problem was that the book wasn’t meant to be a romance, so how can you have three love interests and a romantic subplot going if the book isn’t really a romance book. You CAN have a book without romance (I know I know, it’s practically unheard of) but you CANNOT have a book with a shoddy love triangle that it doesn’t fully explore. If the author had wanted to put in a small romance between Rachel and someone, that would’ve been okay! My problem is that he tried to do a romance with three guys at once and it wasn’t fully explored/explained/necessary.

While the plot of the book wasn’t exactly new, it didn’t feel like it was something that has been overdone in YA, so I was fine with it. It did seem to drag on at parts and I got kind of bored while reading it, which I’m guessing is not supposed to happen in a Mystery/Adventure novel. By the middle of the book I was ready for it to be over. It’s not that the book was badly written (I’ll delve more in to this in a sec) but there was just something about it that I just didn’t like. I felt like it had too small a scope of both space and time – by that I mean that it took place on an island (with barely any different settings) with the same (boring) characters over a short amount of time. I didn’t like that the characters were so isolated from the world (I know the fact that it took place on an island should’ve been a red flag but still). On a higher note, the mystery aspect of the book intrigued me. While it wasn’t that hard to figure out what was going on, I liked that the author kept me guessing who could be trusted and what was going to happen.

All in all, this definitely was not my favorite book by FAR. However, I did not know if it was because I didn’t like the concept of the novel or the writing of the novel or both, so I decided to read the book that The Tomb was a prequel to – Her Dark Destiny. I read that book and I liked it LOADS better than The Tomb and I am actually planning to read the second and third books in the series. So while I do recommend the Hunters of the Dark series, I don’t really thing it is imperative to read The Tomb although they are relatively cheap if you are into the island-mystery kind of thing. I will also mention that the book did have a couple of editing errors, but that is to be expected as it is an indie read published through Smashwords.

 

The less than appealing (gasp I’m b*tchy) cover of The Tomb.

Want me to review a specific book? Leave a comment below or email me at youngadultbookmuncher@gmail.com!

Dead is the New Black (Dead Is series #1)

If you are looking for a paranormal romance-y type book that isn’t a total Twilight cut copy, Dead is the New Black (and the rest of the series) is definitely for you! We have a super spunky protagonist, the evil-but-somewhat-likeable-has-a-good-heart cheerleader, and of course the best friend/love interest! This story introduced so many elements that really make it stand apart from the paranormal romances in this day an age, because let’s face it: many of them are Twilight with a different abnormality and names. Daisy Girodano and co. add a refreshing twist to a genera that is slowly but surely loosing new material.

Our story begins with Daisy’s junior year in high school in the small (fictional) town of Nightshade. Daisy is pretty much the opposite of popular, thanks to her used-to-be best friend Samantha “The Divine” Devereaux who humiliated her in middle school. Her only friend happens to be one of the hottest guys in school, Ryan Mendez (convenient – where can I get one?). As the story progresses, we learn that Daisy comes from a family of psychics (except for her dad, who disappeared mysteriously when she was in middle school). Daisy feels like an outsider to her own family as she is the only one in the house that has not developed psychic powers. The story centers around mysterious cheerleader behavior, a missing girl, and some very spooky secrets lurking in this paranormal little town.

I absolutely loved all of the characters in this book (except Penny because she was SO annoying). Daisy was an excellent main character as she had a good head on her shoulders, and a good sense of right and wrong. She also had a healthy curiousity that made the book interesting. She was very respectful, courageous, witty, and she really stayed true to who she was throughout the course of the novel. Samantha was also a very interesting character because she had all the elements that you would expect from an antagonist in a teen novel and yet I couldn’t help but fall in love with her hard-headedness and sass. She was a character I expected to hate but she actually ended up being one of my favorites in the book. Ryan (SAH-WOON) was a good love interest for Daisy, as he wasn’t clingy or obsessive (which is SO not cute) and he went along with Daisy’s plans because he was a good friend. Daisy’s sisters (Rose and Poppy) were also likable and fun characters. All the characters in this book had a lot of depth to me and that is something that I really value in teen books these days, because honestly we really have a lot of crappy novels out there.

The plot was somewhat predictable but fun anyways! It had a few unexpected twists and turns but overall it wasn’t really that surprising to me. What I really adored about this book was the premise of a supernatural town, psychics, and mystery. I felt that the concept of this book (while not exactly totally new) was refreshing in the genre of paranormal romance! I liked the fact that there were a few subplots that presented mysteries for future books in the series. The whole book had a very original vibe and fun mood throughout and it was definitely worth the read!

If you are looking for a refreshing, fun read this summer, I definitely recommend this! It was full of mystery and romance and had good characters. The reading level was fairly easy but it didn’t feel like a pre-teen book, but rather a book for teenagers. I actually got this book from the library and devoured the series in 2 days, but I ended up buying the books again on my Nook  because they were so cute and well written and I wanted my own copies! This is definitely a lighter, fluffier, and faster read but it is worth every penny!

Want me to review a specific book? Let me know! Post a comment or email me!

youngadultbookmuncher@gmail.com

The Last Echo (The Body Finder Series #3)***

*If you have not read the first two books I suggest reading them before this review

Let’s just say that the third book in this series was nothing short of disappointing. I know I should review the first two books first, but I cannot bring myself to hold this review back any longer. I guess reading the first two and liking them so much, I was expecting a lot more from Mrs. Kimberly Derting, and unfortunately this book did fall short of my expectations.

The story introduces our protagonist, Violet Ambrose, when she is still in high school. She is still happily with her boyfriend of a few months Jay Heaton. Now can I stop for a minute and say SAH-WOON! Jay is such a good male lead for this novel and I enjoyed him immensely in the first two books. Now back to the summary, Violet has now become part of an organization that has use for her shall we say…special skills. You see, Violet can find the dead. That’s right, our protagonist basically finds the bodies of people who have been murdered; now what makes this even more interesting is that every dead body leaves what she calls an “imprint” on her. These imprints can be anything from tasting something sweet to hearing bells chime when she is near a body. After that, she cannot get the imprint out of her head until the body is laid to rest. However, she can always remember the imprints. But the bodies aren’t the only things that have imprints…their killers carry the same imprints as well. This makes her very useful for an organization lead by the mysterious Sara Priest. But Sara isn’t all that comes with this, she also makes some friends that have interesting abilities as well, especially Rafe who is nothing if not mysterious, guarded, and a teeny bit scary. While they are trying to catch a killer, the killer ends up getting infatuated with Violet. Will she be his next victim, or will she catch him before he can make her one? That is basically the premise of this book.

Now I had many problems with this book starting with the fact that Jay was barely in it. That’s right, the protagonist’s hot boyfriend was barely in the book for more than a few pages at a time. I am not saying that  I expect Jay to be everywhere with Violet because that would be creepy and obsessive, but I do wish that the author had written him in more, and given him a more significant part. Jay and Violet’s relationship was so cute and interesting in the first two books, and so the fact he that he wasn’t in this one as much really broke my heart and made the book less enjoyable. If you read the first two and loved Jay, be prepared for some disappointment.

Problem number two was the slight love triangle that was introduced. I am completely FED UP with love triangles in Young Adult fiction and just in general. Love triangles are overrated and overused and they really don’t add that much to the plot other than making me get frustrated with the protagonist for being promiscuous with two boys/girls. If you haven’t guessed it already, the love triangle occurs between Rafe, Violet, and Jay. I think the reason that this frustrated me the most was that in books one and two of the series, Violet could not get over how much she loved Jay and blah blah blah. But then she starts thinking about another boy, right after all her and Jay have been through. Really? REALLY? This book had enough going on without putting a love triangle into the equation. Why oh why couldn’t Mrs. Derting break the trend of love triangles in YA fiction? I swear in every book that I read, there is some sort of love triangle now a days. Most frequently they do it in the second book, so when Mrs. Derting didn’t I had some hope. But now? I’m crushed. Love triangle was NOT NECESSARY.

Okay now that that was established, lets move onto the plot. The plot was good in theory, however it was very repetitive of what happened in the first two books. I feel like the author just keeps putting Violet with different killers and recreating the climax in a different setting. It does get old after a while. Although there was the added element of Sara Priest and all her new friends, the plot was pretty similar to the first two. I had hoped for something different than just Violet being threatened. Maybe one of her friends? Maybe Jay? Just not Violet in the same old story.

Now onto the last most annoying thing about this novel: Violet herself. In the first two books I really loved Violet. She was smart, pretty, capable, and a strong person in general. She never felt sorry for herself or complained about her situation. Overall, she was just a sweetheart in general. Was she painfully oblivious at times? Yes, but in an endearing way. In this book she basically lost all innocence. She was feisty and sometimes even verged on rude, and let me tell you that does not work for her. At all. I felt like she was being stupid and attention seeking the whole novel, and she was also painfully indecisive! This might just be me, but that’s how I felt she acted a lot of the time. The fact that the author was able to take a character I adored and make me hate her by the end of this book, is a bit sad. But it’s the truth.

The redeeming quality of this book: the ending. We were left on a massive cliff hanger, which was a bit surprising as I thought this would be the last book in the series. However, I would be an idiot to think that after reading the ending. I liked how the author ended it like that as opposed to giving it another generic ending to go with it’s generic plot line.

This is strictly my opinion of the book. I believe that it was well written and all, but it was just a disappointment. I didn’t feel that “I never want it to end” feeling that I got with the first two books. In fact I was looking foreword to the ending a lot. If you liked this book, than good for you! I don’t mean to offend anyone with this review and I hope that that is understood. If you have a book you’ve been eyeing and you want me to review it, COMMENT THIS!