Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Those Who Remain by Priscila Santa Rosa

Hide your children, lock your doors, and load your guns because zombies are real and they are coming. Danny Terrence knows this better than anyone. He spent months preparing for the inevitable moment the disease would reach his small town. What he didn’t prepare for is the fact that nobody really believes him.

Luckily for him, an old classmate and bully just happens to be the first one bitten. The bad news is that the family with the biggest arsenal of guns just packed up and left town, leaving them defenseless from an oncoming zombie horde. Being a leader isn’t turning out the way Danny imagined.

Yet four other survivors easily have it worse than him. Between a thirteen-year-old girl on a road trip from hell, a family of paranoid hunters having to deal with their feelings for the first time ever, a stubborn doctor butting-heads with a cold-hearted sergeant and an amoral British professor carrying the fate of humanity in his hands, Danny has it easy. Unless, of course, they all end up in his town, messing with his already messed up life.

Follow these five people as their paths cross and their lives and hopes are challenged in this thrilling novel with brain-mushing humor and heart-breaking action. Those Who Remain: Book One is part of a trilogy.
My Rating
 My Review
I'm starting to think that the day in which I stop loving zombie novels will never actually come. Especially if zombie novels continue to be as wonderful of a read as Those Who Remain. There are so many things I loved about this novel, and highly recommend it, especially for those looking for a creepy read.
When multiple POVs work in a novel, it creates something really incredible. We are able to gain so much insight into the story, from different perspectives. Some novels can't even make two perspectives work, yet Priscila Santa Rosa was able to master five. The characters are all unique enough, with voices true to their personality, that it makes for brilliant transitions. I was never confused as to who was talking or what scene I was reading. All of the characters in the novel have equal weight in the story. It's not often that books have an all-star cast. Through these character's narratives, we are able to get different realistic reactions to something as insane as a zombie outbreak. Some of them are prepared to handle it, while some have to make a very quick transition.
The character work really is spectacular. Not only is there a strong female lead. There's three of them. Plus, they are strong in a way that's realistic and true to their characters. I absolutely loved how realistic the actions and dialogue were. It makes these personalities seem like real people, instead of words on a page. I really enjoyed how intertwined all of the stories were, in some cases, even from the very beginning. To me, that's some of the most realistic writing, as it's very true to life. There are so many different paths we cross, not even realizing how important it will become. The characters really make the novel.
However, that doesn't stop it from having all the action and gore necessary for a zombie novel to really be enjoyable. There's plenty of it. And it's wonderful. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the ending, but it is enough of a cliffhanger to get me excited for the second book. Fans of zombie apocalypses should not be disappointed.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Came Back to Life by Craig Staufenberg (Tour Stop)

A book about love and loss, and how to live in a world filled with both...

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world.

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father's spirits back home with her.

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother-by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans-Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons-what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.
My Rating
My Review

I don't always get drawn to Middle Grade titles, but I couldn't help myself with The Girl Who Came Back to Life. Not only do I love the cover (I know, I know, but it really does fit the way I feel about the book as well) but the concept grasped my attention as well. I was even more pleasantly surprised than expected when it came to this novel. It transported me into a new world that felt magical and truly in the spirit of the Fairytales I read in my younger years. It keeps that tradition and style while still maintaining a story that is refreshingly new.

Staufenberg crafts a world that pulled me in from the very beginning and didn't let me go until the end. It has that perfect amount of darkness in the tone that still allows the book to have a considerably light feeling. I was sucked into the life, and the death, of the story. Reading the novel is an adventure in itself, one that I took along with Sophie to the North. The setting felt very cinematic to me, and I enjoyed being able to visualize the concept.

I loved the concept of Sending the loved ones off, just as I loved Sophie's determination to avoid doing so with her one parents. Her unwillingness to let go was admirable and realistic, as most of us who have suffered a painful loss have felt the same way at some point. She was very mature for her age, although that worked well with her characterization. The relationship between Sophie and her grandmother was also intriguing to read about, given it isn't what all readers may expect.

All in all, I found The Girl Who Came Back to Life to be a very enjoyable read. The narrator allows us a good inside into this new world, which an authentic feel of a Fairytale. I recommend the work, and would definitely read more from this author in the future.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Byronic by Sandi Beth Jones

When the creatures in her dark drawings come to life, Chelsea finds that the mysterious Geoff is the only person she can confide in. But she can't help wondering who she’s kissing: her tender confidant or the dangerous Byronic rebel bent on shocking his detached father.

Starting over in the South Carolina Lowcountry is just what sixteen-year-old Chelsea needs. Unfortunately, moving also means living with her mom's snobbish British novelist employer and his moody son Geoffrey. Knowing that her new home likely used to be a slave holding plantation doesn't make her feel any more at home.

Troubled and reckless after his brother's mysterious death, Geoff often mimics his father’s literary favorite, Lord Byron, acting "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." She's determined to keep her distance and buries herself in her art, though the darkness of her drawings troubles her and others who see them. When people in the Gullah and Geechee community point out that she has been drawing Boo Hags and haints -powerful and terrifying creatures of local legend and superstition- she starts to wonder about her own heritage and her connection to the Sea Islands. She begins to question her own grasp on reality when it seems those creatures start making their way out of her drawings and into real life.

It's clear that Geoff has some secrets of his own, but he might be the only person she can confide in. Chelsea must decide who she can trust, when nothing in the Lowcountry is what it seems.
My Rating
 My Review
Byronic is dark, addictive, and not easily put down. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience and could not turn the pages fast enough. The novel combines a contemporary world with myth and lore and I couldn't get enough of it.
The characters of Byronic are unique and well-developed. Chelsea is a great protagonist and an interesting voice. She's strong, but not stereotypical, and has a great personality. She always stayed true to her character, although I did feel that she reacted a bit simply to drawing disturbing images that might just be something more than a figment of her imagination. In addition, I loved the parallels between Geoff and Lord Byron. It allowed for a dark and brooding exterior personality that can be seen in a variety of stories to be unique and unforgettable. Of course, in my humble opinion, the real shining stars of the novel were the creatures of legend.
Yep. I'm on Team Boo Hags and haints on this one. Okay, so maybe I shouldn't quite word it as such, but I did love the concept of the creatures. If you're anything like me as a reader, you fall head over heels for a good example of lore and legend. Well, you won't be disappointed in this novel, which not only has supernatural creatures, but slowly introduces them through a different medium: art. (Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.)
Byronic really did not have many slow points at all. I was able to devour the novel in about one sitting. If anything, I would have liked to see a bit more of the past. Not all the questions were answered, sure, but that just allows room for more. (No complaints there.) I really enjoyed the read, and recommend the novel to anyone interested.