Sunday, February 26, 2012

Zombie Love The Outbreak by Eric J. Sobolik

Zombie Love: The Outbreak
Quoted from GoodReads:
"Zombie Love is the story of a widespread virus, in a way that has never been done before. As people lose loved ones, some decide that sometimes the people you love are the only ones worth fighting for. As factions form, and the world crumbles, people must choose sides. Help or destroy. When a virus is developed as the ultimate cure all by reversing death itself, the world is plunged into a crisis of faith, dedication, and love. In book one we meet Summer Strom, a normal high school teenager who is thrown cruelly into a set of circumstances that nobody should have to deal with. She has to fight back against everybody she knows as she battles for the only thing worth fighting for. Love."
Paperback, 188 pages
Published August 8th 2011 by Jericho Publishing (first published August 6th 2011)
ISBN 061552396X (ISBN13: 9780615523965)

Cover Art: The cover is a little freaky...I think the zombie eyes and open mouth are very creepy looking, but what should I expect from a zombie story?  Zombie lovers will definitively appreciate it!

This book is a very fun, quick read.  The margins are very large and it gives the pages a unique look.  I think that someone who is not a "reader" might find this style less threatening than a full page of text and it just may encourage some adolescents to give it a try.  I'm all about getting more kids to read, so for me this was a great bonus.

The story is well written.  It has appropriate grammar and sentence structure. It is written in the third person, which for me, gives a book a less intimate feeling.  Although you know what the characters are thinking, I think reading it in the third person, puts a certain amount of emotional distance between the reader and the characters.

The writing is descriptive without feeling forced and it flows along well, although it does backtrack at times as the narrator changes.  This wasn't a bad thing, just different.  The pace is good and the plot is interesting.  The narrator changes through the book and I found this a little distracting at times, because I wasn't always ready for the change. These are very minor complaints and they are not meant to imply that this is not a book worth reading.  I do recommend that you pick up a copy of this one!

The main characters are Summer and Daniel, whose families dislike one another. Summer and Daniel are both crushing on each other, although neither has been brave enough to act on it.  Both characters are insecure but fairly normal teens. They don't have special powers or family secrets or the ability to see ghosts.  (A refreshing change from the glut of other paranormal YA books.)

Summer and Daniel do have somewhat dysfunctional parents. Their Mothers are stereotypical from a YA standpoint.   One is a helicopter parent and the other is detached and uninvolved, even though she believes that she "lives" for her child.  Most teens will relate to some of these traits and sympathize with Summer and Daniels' feelings toward their Mothers.  

Summer and Daniel have very little time to discover their affection for each other before Daniel is turned into a zombie.  I would have liked to see a little more time for their relationship to develop.  It happens very quickly and it makes Summer's devotion to Daniel less believable. Summer's obsession with helping Daniel  seems to have no basis. It made her appear kind of silly and immature.  If Summer and Daniel had had at least one chapter for their relationship to develop, I think most readers would have found the relationship more realistic and thus, inspire more sympathetic feelings towards Summer.  Because of this, I had a harder time liking Summer at first.  However, as the story plays out, Summer becomes stronger and smarter.  She begins to evolve into a character that I care about.

I really found Daniel to be an interesting character.  He has a funny self-depreciating wit.  I was really not quite ready for him to become a zombie and I missed his humor throughout the rest of the book.

The ending of the book has an interesting twist and since this appears to the first of a series of books, I am looking forward to see where the author, Eric Soblik takes us in the next book. If you are a fan of zombie stories you don't want to miss this one.  If you are not a zombie fan, this book is still entertaining and worth your time.  Pick up a copy!

Thanks to Eric Soblik for proving a copy of his self published this book for this review.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

The Book of Lost Fragrances

Expected publication: March 13th, 2012

My Rating Scores:
Cover Art Rating: ***** 5 out of 5 stars
Overall Content: *** 4 out of 5 stars

Quoted from GoodReads:
"A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra—and lost for 2,000 years. 

Jac L’Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances—and of her mother’s suicide—she moves to America, leaving the company in the hands of her brother Robbie. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing—leaving a dead body in his wake—Jac is plunged into a world she thought she’d left behind. 

Back in Paris to investigate her brother’s disappearance, Jac discovers a secret the House of L’Etoile has been hiding since 1799: a scent that unlocks the mysteries of reincarnation. The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra’s Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet’s battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac’s quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past."

This book is a mix of ancient history, paranormal, religion, mystery  with a little romance tossed in on the side!  It doesn't sound like a combination that would work, but it really does.  The only thing missing was the actual smell of the fragrances being described in the story (remember scratch and sniff??). 

I really liked the character of Jac.  She had an interesting history  and a few scars from her troubled past remained, but she strong enough to move on with her life.  I would have liked to know more about her brother, Robby.  The author, M.J. Rose, tossed out some enticing bits of information about him that made me want to know him better!  (Maybe in another book...)  

The pace of the book was good, but at times, I found myself re-reading the first few paragraphs of each new chapter.  The story flip flops between ancient Egypt, Napoleonic France and present day.  It was like reading several different stories that all converge in the last few chapters.  Some of the plot was predictable, but there are a few surprises along the way.

So why didn't it get 5 out of 5 stars? 5 out of 5 stars are for books that haunt me for days after reading them.  The Lost Book of Fragrances just didn't do that for me.  It's a quality that is hard to pin point, but you know it when you see (or read) it!  This is still a book I will recommend to my friends. It would be a great book to take on a trip.  I look forward to reading more books by this author!

Many thanks to netgallery for allowing me to read and review this book.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pure (Pure #1) by Julianna Baggott

Pure (Pure, #1)

Published February 8th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 145550306

Quoted from GoodReads:

"We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run. 

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again."

I am developing a love-hate relationship with books that are part of a series.  I love that the story continues and that I get to visit some of my favorite characters again, but I hate waiting for the other books to come out.  I want instant gratification!  I do not want to wait to see what happens!

OK, now that I got that out of my system, I can proceed to the book review....

There seems to be a lot of debates out there about the genre that this book falls into.  Is it YA or adult dystopian or is it a "crossover"??  When I was growing up we only had two genres, fiction and non-fiction.  I don't really think it matters what genre you place this book in.  I read what I like.  And I liked Pure.

Now, not everyone is going to agree with me about this book (no matter what their age is).  Which is part of why I liked it.  This a dark, dark world.  It's not a happy place to be. There is very little romance and the heroine is not beautiful, kind and brilliant.  This is a world that the conspiracy theorists will love!  This book is refreshingly different from anything I have read recently.

The story is told from multiple characters view points.  The writing was so well done, that I hardly noticed this until after I was finished with the book.  Usually I have to stop and re-read pages of books that are written in this manner and I find it confusing and distracting.  The author, Julianna Baggott makes the transition between characters seamless.  Overall, it is a beautifully written novel. ( I didn't have the urge to grab my red pen and correct grammar and sentence structure once!)

This is a world where the people of influence, power and wealth have isolated them selves from the rest of the population.  Instead of a gated community and exclusive country club, they built a self contained Dome and plotted to destroy the rest of the population.  They are the "Pures".  Hitler and his Aryan race come to mind about now. This political undertone continues to be just barely submerged beneath the surface of the plot.

The bombs are detonated. The people outside the dome suffer but continue to survive in their damaged world. Instead of the genetic experiments and concentration camps of the Holocaust, the detonations were engineered to destroy and create genetic mutations.  People fused with whatever objects they happened to be near at the time.  The results are so bizarre and deeply disturbing that it adds a surreal feeling to the book, an almost "nightmarish" feeling of horror that persists throughout  the book.  This is where the book begins.

These mutated characters are fascinating, yet repulsive.   Pressia is the "heroine" of this tale, but as I mentioned above, is not your typical heroine.  She has mutations like all of the others, but I found hers to be particularly freakish. Despite this, Pressia is resilient and resourceful.  She evolves as the book progresses and becomes stronger even though she is discovering some horrific facts about her life pre-detonation.

 Not a lot of action takes place in beginning chapters.  But the author uses this part of the book to vividly describes the world and it's inhabitants. The pace of the book picks up in the second half of the story.  The first half didn't drag, but there was a tremendous amount of world building and detailed description needed to set the tone of this world.  It is worth the wait.

When I read the first book of a series, I try to treat it as a prologue to the rest of the series.  There will be unanswered questions and parts of the plot that are not resolved.  I have to remind myself  of this as I get near the end of the book and everything is not neatly resolved.  (back to the love-hate thing...)  But, I am ready for more!  I need to know what happens!

As dark as this story is, I  didn't find it depressing.  At the end you are left with a little glimmer of hope for the main characters and their world.

P.S. The book cover art is beautiful and intriguing!

Thanks to Netgalley and the author for allowing me the opportunity to read and provide an honest review this book.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The California Girl Chronicles, Brea & the City of Plastic by Michelle Gamble-Risley

Image of California Girl Chronicles – Limited, Advanced Hardcover Edition
ISBN- 9780615557878
Pages: 182 pages
Release Date: January 2012

"The California Girl Chronicles, Book 1 introduces Brea Harper, smart, beautiful, blond and sprayed tanned. You know no respectable California girl would actually lay in the sun anymore without sunscreen, right? Join Brea on her tragically misguided romantic and professional adventures to pursue her dream to become a screenwriter in the City of Angels. Meet Brea’s men — safe-and-secure Lance who she lives with out of convenience when he moves to Los Angeles; charismatic and twisted “band boy” Drew; and hot, sexy and loving Kale, the Hollywood producer who mentors, inspires and truly loves her. Get sucked into the steamy, sexy world of Brea Harper as she comes of age in the seductive world of Hollywood"  Quote borrowed from 3L Publishing.

OK, I admit that I wasn't too sure about this book from the start.  The phrase "California Girl"  brings to mind the girl that stars in all the dumb blond jokes.  It looked  like the stereotypical chick lit that I usually dislike, but I was ready for a change of pace and the book didn't look too long.   I really wasn't expecting much....

By page 50 I was hooked!

Brea , the California girl, is the main character.   She sees nothing wrong with multiple sexual partners with no safe sex in sight. I was prepared to dislike her from the start.   But, she really evolves into a  likable character.  She is sweet and has good intentions, although she doesn't seem to anticipate the consequences of some of her decisions.  Before long I was are cheering her on and hoping that she would make the right choices.  Which she usually didn't.  Brea is definitely flawed, but not especially dumb. The author, Michelle Gamble-Risley, has captured that period of time that we all look back on and ask, "What the #$*! was I thinking?"

Warning:  This book is definitely not a "G" rated book.  It has graphic naughty bits, and as I mentioned above, multiple partners.  I didn't find them offensive, but others might.  These scenes were well written, but seemed to lack something.  Brea is pretty willing to jump into bed on the first date.  The sex became a bit boring after awhile. I think that delaying  the sex scenes and letting the sexual tension build  might have made it more interesting.

 That is really my only criticism of this book.  It is a fun, fast read that is very entertaining.  The book ends in a huge cliff hanger.  Thankfully, the first chapter of the next book is included.  Once again, Brea has some decisions to make.... I will be watching for the next book in this series.  I can't wait to see what kind of trouble Brea get into next!

Thanks to 3L Publishing and the author for allowing me to read and review this book.