Tag Archives: zombies

Lumière by Jacqueline E. Garlick would make a fabulous Tim Burton film, but as a book, it just didn’t hook me

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Lumière by Jacqueline E. Garlick would make a fabulous Tim Burton film, but as a book, it just didn’t hook me

If I could, I’d embrace whimsy and make every day a beautiful adventure for all of you.  Seriously.  Bubble machine fountains and sparkle pony stickers and . . . Well, you can see that even my attempts at whimsy are a fail.  The practical gene is so dominant.  I know that I’m not the ideal person to read steampunk because it is an entire genre made up to be whimsical and somewhat silly, but I still try, especially when they have covers that scream – we won’t wear miniature top hats and use the word “dirigible” (that word sets my teeth on edge).  Unfortunately, this book was too silly and perhaps my mood was foul(er) because the summer is slipping away.  But, dear friends, it doesn’t mean that you won’t love this madhouse of book about a girl on a quest in a very curious land that feels a little like a Tim Burton movie.

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Goodreads Summary

One determined girl. One resourceful boy. One miracle machine that could destroy everything.

After an unexplained flash shatters her world, seventeen-year-old Eyelet Elsworth sets out to find the Illuminator, her father’s prized invention. With it, she hopes to cure herself of her debilitating seizures before Professor Smrt—her father’s arch nemesis—discovers her secret and locks her away in an asylum.

Pursued by Smrt, Eyelet locates the Illuminator only to see it whisked away. She follows the thief into the world of the unknown, compelled not only by her quest but by the allure of the stranger—Urlick Babbit—who harbors secrets of his own. 

Together, they endure deadly Vapours and criminal-infested woods in pursuit of the same prize, only to discover the miracle machine they hoped would solve their problems may in fact be their biggest problem of all. 

My Thoughts

This book was a mix of steampunk and magic which resulted in a charmingly strange world where steam powered elephants roamed carnival paths and zombie-like creatures devoured anyone unknowingly entered the wrong woods.  The world building was my favorite part of the book, and I was so happy to see a steampunk book that actually contained a lot of nonsensical and redundant inventions for me to marvel over.  Unfortunately, this book also had a high level of what I struggle to tolerate in steampunk books – the bumbling characters who are so very smart and so very clueless at the same time.  Both of the major characters annoyed me, so my favorite character ended up being the one sensible character in the batch – the mute kitchen maid who I considered the real heroine in this adventure.  I’m not sure why I didn’t connect with either Eyelet or Urlick, but I suspect that it is a case of bad first impressions.  I liked Eyelet until she encountered Urlich, and then she came across as nosey and rude.  Urlich was a problem for me from the start because he was so inconsistent – sort of a Jeckyl and Hide.  I didn’t think their romantic connection was given the development it needed to be plausible, even steampunk plausible.  I also had some issues with the ridiculousness of their respective “afflictions.”  I just didn’t see what the big deal with having seizures was (it equalled mental hospital lockdown in this setting, but even that was so stupidly primitive). I was doubly annoyed with the explanation for Urlick’s unusual appearance.  I think that if Tim Burton got a hold of this book and made it into a charming little film, I would really enjoy it, but as a book, it just didn’t work as a whole for me.  I still think that true fans of steampunk will really enjoy this and I think that some middle school readers will enjoy this adventure – this is a quest story, after all, and it has some really engaging moments and fast paced action sequences.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Hannah Thompson’s Living With the Fall has it all – action, great characters, and some excellent zombies

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Hannah Thompson’s Living With the Fall has it all – action, great characters, and some excellent zombies

I don’t know why I find zombie books so very fascinating, but I really, really do.  Sometimes that means I end up reading some pretty awful books, but sometimes it leads me to books like this.  Living With The Fall was surprising and thoughtful, and I found it very compelling.  Fans of everything from the Rot and Ruin series to Ann Aguirre’s Enclave will enjoy this read, but I also think that if you enjoy dystopians or post-apocalyptic reads  like Blood Red Road, you will enjoy this one.  I have to say that for under 300 pages, it certainly packs a big punch.  This is a more mature read – language and discussion of sexuality (nothing terribly graphic, but, still) – but I think it is going to be one that a wide audience of mature readers can enjoy.

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Goodreads Summary

In a dystopian future ravaged by a zombie virus, teenaged Flo dreams of becoming a hunter. Instead, he becomes infected, and while plagued by hunger, he is able to control his urges. Hoping his life can still hold some meaning, Flo agrees to travel with hunters Hulme and Dihr, and he discovers a world unlike anything he imagined.

On the continent, people are struggling to hold back the apocalypse by finding a cure to the disease, and Flo might be the key. But friendships and trust are tested as the trio crosses hostile territory and faces dangers beyond the zombie infestation. In the end, only Flo can decide if he can live with what he’s become.
My Thoughts

Living With The Fall is a great read with fully realized characters, a well developed world, and lots of clearly written action.  Sure, it has a lot of blood and guts, but that isn’t all this book is about – themes about loyalty, what it means to be human, overcoming bad choices, and self-sacrifice really add a nice layer of depth.  Flo is the narrator, and he is an excellent guide to this adventure.  He grew up on a farm, so he is practical, independent, and efficient.  He is no stranger to accepting the loss of his dreams, but he has a real loyalty to those he considers family, down to his dogs.  He is infected early on in the story, and he pushes himself to make sure his family doesn’t have to suffer more than he can help.  He isn’t quite like R from Warm Bodies because he retains the ability to speak, a lot of his reasoning, and he can pass fairly easily as a human.  It was intriguing to watch him fight the balance between his new instincts and his old self.  I particularly enjoyed his insight into the pack mentality of zombies.  The secondary characters are just as well drawn.  Hulme and Dhir are characters that shift in and out of focus as their true motives and pasts are revealed.  I liked the way my perceptions of them changed with Flo’s as the story progressed, and they surprised me again and again.  While the author didn’t spend huge swaths of time developing the world in this book, there really was a clear picture of both the setting and the society that ranged from the fairly untouched rural to the rather nasty urban.  Finally, I have no idea how the author managed to balance all of this great stuff with all the action.   There is serious zombie battle almost all the way through, and it is well written action.  Overall, I would highly recommend this to fans of zombie books – good ones are hard to find.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A city called smoke July 9

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A city called smoke July 9

A City Called Smoke is the second in a series of YA zombie apocalypse books that begins with A Town Called Dust.  I thoroughly enjoyed that book, and you need to read it first if you want to enjoy this one to the fullest. This is a bit of a sophomore slump, as I just didn’t enjoy it as much as ATCD, but it did move the story forward, and I am desperate to read the next book.  These books are ones that can be enjoyed by both genders and by middle school readers and adult readers alike. 

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Goodreads Summary

The battle was only the beginning; the real danger is beyond the fence …

The Diggers have been destroyed, a horde of ghouls is moving inland and the High Priestess has seized control of the Central Territory. Together with Nim, a Nomad boy seeking vengeance against the ghouls, Squid and Lynn begin their long journey toward the city of Big Smoke, a city that may not even exist.
Pursued by forces that wish to see them fail, facing threats on all sides and conflict from within, Squid, Lynn and Nim search for a weapon against the ghouls. It is a search that will lead them into forbidden lands where long-held beliefs about their world are tested and Squid may finally unravel the truth of his identity.
But even if they survive their journey, the teenagers on whom the fate of the Territory now rests have no idea what dangers await them beyond the fence. 

My Thoughts

Squid and Lynn are beginning their journey to fulfill The Prophecy of Steven as A City of Smoke begins, but while they have escaped the High Priestess, she hasn’t quite finished with them yet.  The majority of this book involves Squid and Lynn’s struggle to get beyond the wall to Big Smoke.  A few new characters are introduced, both allies and enemies, and old relationships evolve as the dangers of the journey take precedence over the bonds formed by the big battle at Dust.  It looks like the author is setting up a love triangle for Squid and Lynn, and I’m not sure I wanted that to happen.  I can’t be sure that is really the case because I think Squid feels possessive of their friendship, the only friendship he has ever had, but I’m not sure he actually feels a romantic love for Lynn. While readers will still get bits of perspective from other characters, the narrative this time mostly belongs to Squid, and it becomes clear that, in this book, he is the hero on a journey.  Patient readers will also be rewarded with a clearer picture of time and setting, as contact with outsiders begins to help Squid piece together parts of the past and his place in the future.  This book ends with a definite cliffhanger, though most readers will have some idea of how it’s going to go.  Why, Mr. Woolley?  Why did you do this to me?  I will be waiting impatiently for the third book.  While I found book two less engaging than the first, the last third gave me a lot of answers I had been waiting for, so I’m glad I finished it.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Gods of Anthem by Logan Keys is a YA Dystopian with engaging characters but little plot progression

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The Gods of Anthem by Logan Keys is a YA Dystopian with engaging characters but little plot progression

This dystopian YA sounded exactly like something all of us would enjoy, and on Goodreads, 77% of reviewers gave it five stars.  I did not.  It only got three stars from me, and I have to question the huge difference in opinion, so if you read this book and absolutely adore it, please comment and explain why.  Maybe I was cranky that day (you know, because I’m cranky every day) or maybe I don’t know my target audience as well as I thought.  Either way, I’m up for some debate about it.

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Goodreads Summary

Oceans apart, a young musician and a “special” soldier embark on a perilous journey for home fueled by the unyielding pursuit of freedom from the Authority. 

Sixteen-year-old prodigy, Liza Randusky, waits imprisoned, blamed for the undead plague that’s slowly destroying the planet. Banished to an island where she’ll never play her beloved piano again, Liza’s steadfast sense of justice and passion for music may have the power to change her destiny. But will it be enough…
To strike back at the new world order, the troubled son of a preacher, Thomas Ripley-Hatter, suffers unspeakable alterations by the Underground to join a secret Army. Tommy knows that all hope lies in human-weapons like himself, and that somehow he must cling to his sanity…while letting loose the monster to win.

The battle begins for the last-standing sliver of humanity: Anthem. 

 My Thoughts

While this book had lots of things I liked and it had great character development (and even a few zombies!), I just didn’t really enjoy it.  It seemed really long even though I read it in a few hours, and when I finished, it was as though too little had been gained for all the effort.  I kind of felt like I missed the point.  Intellectually, I understood that it followed two dystopian protagonists in the start of a rebellion against the corrupt powers that rule the post zombie world they live in.  They play their roles well, functioning to show readers what is wrong with their current society – class disperity, genetic alterations, loss of human empathy, etc.  I even liked both of the protagonists and felt a connection to them.  They were kind and insightful characters despite the things that had been done to make them less human, so, the “monsters” turned out to be better than their creators and detractors.  It was the plot that just didn’t work for me because, in the end, the entire narrative was character and world building.  There are scenes of action, and readers even get some pretty exciting zombie fighting sequences, but it just didn’t seem to amount to much.  The problem is that while the characters are young adults, the book doesn’t have the faster and plot driven pace of a YA book, so adult readers will probably fare much better with this book than actual teen readers.  My high school students will struggle with the conversations between characters.  They will also have trouble with the fact that reading all of this book results in only an incremental progress in the story.  

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

In which our hero and heroine battle prejudices, zombies, corrupt government officials, and malevolent nuns. Yes, really.

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In which our hero and heroine battle prejudices, zombies, corrupt government officials, and malevolent nuns. Yes, really.

A Town Called Dust promised zombies, misfits finding their way in the world, an enigmatic prophecy, and some sinister nuns. This is more than just a romp in zombie land. The characters are well developed and the themes are meaningful. If you liked the Rot and Ruin series, add this one to your wish list. It is only available as an ebook (under $4 on Amazon), but I really hope there is a print version available soon because it would be a great addition to my classroom library.

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A Town Called Dust Justin Woolley
ebook, 248 pages
Published November 2014 by Momentum (Pan Macmillan)

My Review: 4 out of 5 stars
I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a fair review.

Two misfits find friendship and purpose as they fight prejudices, a corrupt ruling system, and zombies. This is a well written and engaging book. The author developed two protagonists that are worthy of your time — readers will relate to them and cheer them on throughout. The plot is well planned and paced to lead up to maximum suspense, and the twists are revealed with exceptional timing. There was a lull for me — it felt like a lot of time was spent introducing the second protagonist, but it picks up again quickly after that. I felt like there was such heart in these characters, and even if you don’t like zombie books, I think this can still be an enjoyable read. I love zombie books, and I found these were a well played threat in the book– readers are given a glimpse at the beginning, but then they are used as an ominous but mostly unseen force for a good chunk of the story. There is a great zombie battle near the end, and I could not put the book down until it played out in full. YA readers of both genders will enjoy this book, especially fans of the Rot and Ruin series or The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy. I will add it to my classroom library wish list because I can think of at least twenty reluctant male readers who would stop everything and read this book. Language and gore are appropriate for all ages

Goodreads Summary

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