I really enjoyed this book. I liked how a historical atmosphere was combined with futuristic devices in this world. I think the world of the book was...moreI really enjoyed this book. I liked how a historical atmosphere was combined with futuristic devices in this world. I think the world of the book was created well and I liked how Harper dealt with the introduction of zombies into this novel as I first thought that there might be too much going on.
The plot dealt with two characters, Gavin and Alice. Gavin was an American airshipman who found himself stranded in London after an attack by air pirates. He is then captured by a mysterious woman and locked in a tower only to be rescued by Alice, an heir to a baronet. Both Gavin and Alice are recruited to a secret agency in London that deals with apprehending "clockworkers" or those who have been given extreme intelligence rather than succumbing to the zombie plague on infection. Gavin immediately joins the agency because of his lack of other prospects and hopes that Alice will too. Alice, however, decides that she needs to remain engaged with her fiance in order to get her fathers debts paid off, despite the fact that she does not love her fiance and is attracted to Gavin. Eventually, the pairs paths cross during an increasing number of clockworker attacks and Alice's skills with mechanics are called on.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and thought it was a fast-paced and interesting read. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Impossible Cube. (less)
I'm on the fence about this one. I liked how the world was built. Claysville is a special town that requires people to care for the dead because of a...moreI'm on the fence about this one. I liked how the world was built. Claysville is a special town that requires people to care for the dead because of a pact made long ago. The main characters Rebekah and Byron are forced into these roles when they return home. As the Graveminder and the Undertaker, Rebekah and Byron can never leave the town again unless it's to retrieve a town member who has died out of the city limits.
The world building was beautifully written; however, what I didn't like was the characters. I just couldn't care about them. They didn't seem real to me, like they were lacking something. And I found that the book dropped clues and never answered questions to those clues. Overall, I thought that there was too much going on. (less)
Solid start to a trilogy, but I found it heavy on the explanations when I could have used a faster pace. At the end of the day, I'll be reading the ne...moreSolid start to a trilogy, but I found it heavy on the explanations when I could have used a faster pace. At the end of the day, I'll be reading the next two books (especially after finding out that book 3 is set in Egypt!). (less)
This is the second book in Habel’s YA series, Gone with Respiration. When I requested this book via NetGalley, I was not aware that it was a series; I...moreThis is the second book in Habel’s YA series, Gone with Respiration. When I requested this book via NetGalley, I was not aware that it was a series; I had been intrigued by the idea of a futuristic Victorian society and of course, the zombies. I should therefore be clear that I am missing the set up and world building of the first novel, which may have affected my understanding of the zombie apocalypse in New London.
Dearly, Beloved picks up after the main characters, Nora and Bram, have had some kind of crazy adventure in the jungle. Nora is a scientist’s daughter and Bram is a zombie. They of course fall in love… Yup, a sixteen year old and a decaying corpse are in love. Habel does a fairly good job of showing why this relationship is plausible with her explanation of how some zombies are not the slow walking, flesh-eating monsters that we generally encounter. Instead these zombies have retained their human personality and instead of eating people they eat tofu. Yes, tofu.
Due to the huge changes (ie. the tofu) in zombie lore, I felt that this series was a little bit of a Twilight-ification of the zombie genre, and the ending of the book solidified that opinion for me.That said, there are a lot of people that enjoy Meyer's vampire book, so I think this book will also appeal to a similar fanbase that enjoy a bit of the paranormal and a romance.
In terms of this futuristic Victorian society, I had a really hard time with the narrator complaining about her boring textbook, “Deportment and You: A Text for Young Ladies of Refinement” and her using her cell phone to contact her zombie boyfriend in the same book. The bringing together of both an antiquated society and modern technology was a little bizarre for me and I'm not really sure that I bought it. The inclusion of Victorian society made me think of this book as steampunk, and I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it were actually set in the Victorian period as steampunk books generally are. This mash-up was awkward in my opinion and I think a zombie romance could have been made to be a little less gross (see Stephen Harper’s The Doomsday Vault – but it’s not YA).
I also found the pacing to be a little slow. It took a while for the action and adventure to actually start taking place. However, I did like how Habel shifted between points of view of characters; this style doesn’t usually appeal to me, but I liked the other characters like Pamela and Laura and how their perspectives lent a different impression to what was happening. Habel wrote engaging secondary characters in this novel and I enjoyed the parts that they played.
Overall, this wasn’t my favourite book, but I think it had promise as a fun, light read. If you don’t obsess over the oddness of the book's setting and zombie-human romance, I think teens would like the novel with its light romance and mystery.(less)
I liked this one because it was a true steampunk book; there was a lot of detail put into setting up this alternate American West. I liked how magic w...moreI liked this one because it was a true steampunk book; there was a lot of detail put into setting up this alternate American West. I liked how magic was blended with steam technology and it somewhat reminded me of parts of the TV show Supernatural. However, I did find the pacing of the book rather stilted. The first half of the book was extremely slow and it wasn't until the second half of the book that the multiple character POVs came together. For the first half of the book the different character POVs were somewhat repetitive and contributed to the dragging of the plot. The second half of the book was much better with all the characters all interacting with one another. It is because of the second half of this book that I will be reading the next one in the Age of Steam seiries. (less)
Winterblaze is the third installment in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. This one focuses on Poppy, the eldest of the trio of sisters that th...moreWinterblaze is the third installment in Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series. This one focuses on Poppy, the eldest of the trio of sisters that the series revolves around so far. At the end of Moonglow Poppy’s secrets, including her power and her involvement with a secret organization, come to light, following an attack on her husband, Winston. Winterblaze opens three months after the attack with Poppy tracking down her husband because an old enemy has threatened her and those she cares about. Poppy and Winston have to deal with the secrets that they have been keeping from one another and determine whether their marriage is worth saving, all while tracking down the true motivation of the terrifying demon that threatens them.
I have read the previous books in Callihan’s series and this one follows suit from the previous books. As an aside, I would recommend reading the books in order because each book really builds from the previous one, especially considering that readers get teasers of the two main characters that will be featured in the fourth book in the series. Anyways, what I liked in Winterblaze was that readers learn more about the mysterious SOS organization and I can really see how the series can develop from there considering that the three sister’s stories have been exhausted (to a degree). The SOS organization reminded me of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series from Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris. While the Ministry series has a different tone and a lot less emphasis on romance and mythical creatures like werewolves and shifters, Callihan’s series has also created a great alternative London. I can see fans of the Ministry series liking Callihan's series because of the mystery element that seems to get progressively stronger with each book.
While I did enjoy reading Winterblaze I found it to be different from the other books in the series, I think because Poppy and Winston were already married. It was a different reading experience for me reading about a married couple in the romance genre. It was interesting, but different. There was a lot of anger between Poppy and Winston, which is different from the general romance novels where characters simply come together. In Winterblaze, the characters have already had their romantic beginning; this is what's happened after that. It was an interesting look at the happily ever after. Both Poppy and Winston were strong characters; however, at times they were very frustrating because of their animosity towards one another. I think that author did a fantastic job of allowing these characters to grow and learn from the mistakes that they had made with one another. It was an interest take on the romance genre for me.
My favourite parts throughout the book were the chapters from Mary Chase’s and Jack Talent’s point of view. I loved the bickering relationship that both of them have with one another and I was continually wanting to get back to chapters where these two characters interacted with one another. By the end of the book I was very much hoping that the author would be writing another book in the series with these two as the main characters. Thankfully (or un-thankfully, considering the wait) readers are given a teaser for the next book in the series, Shadowdance, and it appears to feature Mary and Jack as the main characters. Suffice to say, I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book in the series, I only wish I didn’t have to wait so long.
The Darkest London is fast becoming my favourite gaslight series along with Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles and Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series.
*review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley. (less)
The Damnation Affair is set in the same world as Saintcrow’s Bannon & Clare books. This book is not connected to the Bannon & Clare characters...moreThe Damnation Affair is set in the same world as Saintcrow’s Bannon & Clare books. This book is not connected to the Bannon & Clare characters (as far as I can tell, not having read the first book, The Iron Wyrm Affair). The Damnation Affair is a western, set in a backwater town surrounded by wild magic.
Catharine Barrowe has accepted the position of the schoolteacher in town because it is the last place she heard from her missing brother. Cat is hoping that being in Damnation will lead her to her brother, the only remaining member of her family. The town sheriff, Jack Gabriel, is immediately attracted to the prim and proper Catherine and goes above and beyond the call of duty to make her comfortable in town. But Jack has his own secrets and a past that will affect the town and a potential relationship with Catherine.
To be honest, this one was just not my cup of tea. I liked the western steampunk vibe and the world does make me somewhat interested in reading The Iron Wyrm Affair, but I did not like the characters in this one, especially Cat. Catherine was rather stuck up through the entire book. The biggest disappointment for me was the relationship between Jack and Catherine. It was obvious how much Jack cared for Catherine, but I never got the sense that Catherine felt the same. The romance aspect was a big reason I picked up this one, so I was disappointed that it fell flat for me.
While this book was not for me, I would recommend it to steampunk/Western fans. The combination of magic and a Western setting was similar to The Native Star and I think it would appeal to fans of that book. (less)
In Reboot Tintera takes another look at the ever popular zombie trend in fiction; however, she takes it in another direction. Instead of rotting corps...moreIn Reboot Tintera takes another look at the ever popular zombie trend in fiction; however, she takes it in another direction. Instead of rotting corpses and eating brains, these zombies come back to life faster and stronger and with powerful regenerative abilities. What does remain the same in Tintera’s zombies is the idea of a mindless horde attacking humans; however, in Reboot we see what happens what happens when this supposedly “mindless horde” starts rethinking their role as soldiers for the Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation (HARC).
Wren Connolly was shot and considered dead for 178 minutes. When she “rose,” Wren was faster, stronger and less emotional than in her human life; although she does retain the scars from being shot three times in the chest. Since coming back to life, Wren has been the perfect soldier for HARC, she doesn’t question what she is doing and knows that at the end of the day, she really has no choice in the matter. Things change for Wren when Callum Reyes arrives for training, the problem is he’s a 22. Callum’s only died for 22 minutes, meaning that he didn’t lose much of his “humanness,” making him much weaker than Wren and many others at the facility. Against her better judgment, Wren ends up becoming Callum’s training and the relationship forces her to question HARC and her own actions.
I ended up loving Reboot. This one was a fast paced, albeit violent, read. Wren was a great character and I liked that while she was completely confident in her abilities as a soldier, when it came to interpersonal relationships and thinking about herself as a girl, she was completely clueless. For example, despite the fact that Wren is insistent that she no longer has human emotions, she refuses to take off her shirt in the communal shower; she does not want to show anyone the scars she has from her shooting. I liked that Wren was more than just a soldier, and moments like one I described show cased Wren’s humanness throughout the book.
Callum was a nice character. To be honest the book really wasn’t about him, it was about Wren and how she learned to question the authority that had been controlling her for the past for years. While I did like their relationship, Callum did see less “real” to me because he was more of a device for Wren to grow. For me the one-dimensional quality of Callum was the only weakness for me, so I would like to see a little bit more character development concerning Callum. But, it the end Callum was a good character for Wren and wasn’t intimidated by Wren not matter how many times she beat the crap out of him.
Overall, I think this was a great read and I think it will go over well with audiences right now because it fits into the dystopian theme that is popular.
"Hello, my name is Natalie and I'm a...Frankenstein's Monster. It's been...um...sixty years or so since anyone last discovered my true identity."
Club...more"Hello, my name is Natalie and I'm a...Frankenstein's Monster. It's been...um...sixty years or so since anyone last discovered my true identity."
Club Monstrosity was a ton of fun and brought your favourite horror movie characters to the Big Apple. Every week Monstofelldosis Anonymous meets, one of the many group therapy sessions held in the smelly basement of a church. Like the other meetings of this sort, the group introduces themselves and they discuss their issue – they’re monsters trying to make it in a human world. Drake a.k.a. Dracula is especially funny considering that he thinks that Twilight type vampires exist - "those sparkling whippersnappers running around out in the open aren't helping. They whine and go out in the sun. Are they trying to get themselves killed? Don't they know they're attracting the wrong kind of attention by mooning all over the place, over some silly little girl" (p. 9).
Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, the wolfman and so on, meet every week to deal will their trials in trying to make it in the human world that must never know they exist, else they will be hunted down once more. However, the group leader, Bob the Blob is missing, and the Invisible Man is found murdered. It looks like someone is killing off the monsters of the city, and the Monstofellodsis Anonymous is going to have to track down that killer before they’re all discovered.
What I loved about this one is the references to all the horror movies and classic horror texts. Petersen combines these references with tongue-in-check humor that made for a very enjoyable and light read. The humour and references to classic works of horror was what kept this one a strong, metafictional read; the mystery element was pretty light and resolved rather quickly. The light mystery element isn’t a bad thing; I just don’t think it would appeal to fans of mysteries. This one is most definitely for all the fan-girls/fan-guys out there!
There was also a little romance in this one between Natalie (Frankenstein’s monster) and Alec (the Wolfman). This was a nice addition to the novel and it didn’t overshadow the fun, interactions within the group. This self-help group was awesome and I loved hearing about their monster problems – needing lotion to keep from mummifying; stealing razors to manage the werewolf hair and on and on they go. (less)
This was a quick read that picks up fairly soon after Club Monstrosity ended. The gang has started a war with the Van Helsing family and it starts to...moreThis was a quick read that picks up fairly soon after Club Monstrosity ended. The gang has started a war with the Van Helsing family and it starts to heat up in The Monsters in Your Neighborhood with the Van Helsings starting a social media smear campaign against monsters. Natalie, as the new leader of group, has to step up to the plate and coordinate her monsters to fight back, a task made more difficult when everyone starts turning on each other.
I loved this installment in the Monstrosity series. We get a continuation of great humor, awesome, campy metafiction and a dash of mystery. I also loved the characters just as much as I did in the first one. The monsters are just like everyone else, struggling to overcome their individual daily challenges, all the while trying to keep their secret from the masses.
I would say that Natalie and Alec are the main characters in the series (and I love their weird dating relationship), but all the other monsters are explored. Count Dracula is a particular favourite of mine. I loved that he thought the Twilight vampires were really. This combination of pop culture and the supernatural is fantastic is the source of the hilarity in these books.
If you’re look for a quick and fun read and you have a fondness for the classic horror movies, you should check out the Monstrosity series. It’s a short read, but there is a lot of humor and fun in these little volumes. (less)
Bite Me was an interesting little romance novella that looks to be part of a series. A zombie plague has broken out in London, plunging the city into...moreBite Me was an interesting little romance novella that looks to be part of a series. A zombie plague has broken out in London, plunging the city into chaos. Maisie is on her own in the city trying to make it day by day when she encounters Seth during a zombie attack. Complicating matters is the fact that Seth is a werewolf. Ever since the zombie plague has started, werewolves have come into the public eye to help patrol the streets of London. Seth happens to be the leader of London wolves and is patrolling when he comes to Maisie’s aid.
Maisie and Seth are immediately drawn to one another; however, with the whole plague thing going on, romance can be a little hard to come by. But the pair make due and Seth ends up being rather sweet to Maisie. I did find the romance to be a little rushed, I always find it a little odd when people have such strong feelings about each other in such a short period of time – but since it’s a novella I’m not going to complain. Plus, I really liked Seth and how he was determined to win Maisie.
One thing that was hard to get used to was the language that Seth and Maisie use. They’re both from London, so they use modern slang and since I’m not from London, it was something I had to get used to.
Overall, I enjoyed this one, and I’ll be on the lookout for the next one in the series. I would like to see how Seth and Maisie’s relationship progresses and it would be great to meet some of the other supernatural creatures that are presumably in this urban fantasy world.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.(less)
The Almost Girl is an interesting teen sci-fi thriller. It’s got a little bit of everything: aliens, cyborgs, alternate world, rebel uprising and help...moreThe Almost Girl is an interesting teen sci-fi thriller. It’s got a little bit of everything: aliens, cyborgs, alternate world, rebel uprising and helping of romance. From the ending, I can only assume that this is the first in a series, of which I will be tuning in for.
Riven is a young woman from an alternate world. She’s been sent to Earth to find Caden, the apparent clone of her ruler, Cale. Riven has always counted on Cale as her friend, especially as her life slowly fell apart after losing her mother, her sister turning her back on her, and her father’s mental instability. So when she, a high-ranking official in the army, is ordered to go to Earth and bring Caden back, regardless of his wishes, she accepts the mission. Of course, when she meets Caden, matters are much more complicated than she ever anticipated. She doesn’t count on actually having feelings for Caden, since she’s never really had them before. The question becomes whether she will exchange her loyalty to Cale for Caden.
My favourite part of The Almost Girl was Riven. Generally, I really enjoy sci-fi so when I heard about this book featuring an emotionless girl who may or may not be a cyborg, I was completely sucked in. And Riven did not disappoint. She really was emotionless and she has a terrible history and has killed. She's not your typical nice-girl heroine. This brutality is partly expected in her world, but she’s aware that she is different from everyone else in that she does not really feel. It slowly becomes clear why and how she is different but the journey to that point was well plotted. I really enjoyed reading how Riven slowly connected with the more human side of herself.
For me, the least engaging part of the story was Riven’s relationship with Caden. There seemed to be too much of a juxtaposition between the two of them, and I’m not really sure that I buy a relationship between the two of them. Riven was a hard character. She’s done some bad stuff. Caden was so apple-pie compared to her. He was all softness and emotions. In some ways, this was a real reversal of stereotypical gender roles. That facet I liked. And I liked how Caden made Riven more human. However, I’m not convinced that a romantic relationship would really work. How is Caden ever really going to understand Riven and what she has done? I’m not convinced that they have enough in common to make it work. On the flip side, because Caden doesn’t know Riven’s history, he’s the only one really willing to give Riven a chance and actually get’s to know her as a person. Ultimately, I’m undecided about the relationship and I only think a second book will answer the questions I have about Riven and Caden.
Overall, I liked The Almost Girl and I’m happy to be seeing more and more sci-fi titles in upcoming teen fiction, and I would be interested to see where Howard takes the story next. I liked the world building in The Almost Girl and the ending leaves a lot of doorways open, and I’d very much like to learn more about this alternate world.