Thursday, May 31, 2012

FEED

Feed by Mira Grant
purchased from local bookstore
Description from Goodreads:

In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as "Marburg Amberlee"—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

It raised the dead.

Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed "The Rising," and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power.

Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection. Danger, deceit, and betrayal lurk around every corner, as does the hardest question of them all:

When will you rise?

My Take:
The first thing I have to say is that I absolutely loved this book! I have recommended it to everyone who would listen to me. I didn't write a review of it after I first read it, because, quite honestly, I was afraid that I wouldn't do the book justice. I had just started this blog and felt really intimidated by the idea of trying to get my thoughts down.  I re-read Feed and Deadline in the last couple of days to get ready for the last book in the trilogy, Blackout, which is out this month. Even the second time reading the books was great. I cried just like the first time I read it. I never thought that I would cry while reading a zombie book.  Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire) does a really great job with these books and I have to give her credit for creating such a complex story while maintaining all the fun and urgency required by the genre.

Now, here's the thing. The zombies in this series are not so much the bad guys as hapless victims. They can't help what they become after they die. This was something done to them without their permission or knowledge. The whole process on how the zombies came to be is really fascinating and fun to read about.

Georgia and Shaun Mason are adopted siblings who grew up after The Rising and this is the only life they know. How unfortunate  . . . horrifying. . . exciting for them. Georgia and Shaun really have only each other growing up since their adoptive parents pretty much just use them as a way to get higher ratings for their blogs. Georgia and Shaun make a great team. They're both smart mouths with sarcastic senses of humor.  I loved the banter back and forth between Georgia and Shaun and Buffy and Mahir and -- well you get the picture. Great dialogue.

I thought the world building was well done  and the conspiracies in the story are just so crazy-wicked-great. (I know that's not a real term, but tough.) The story is fast-paced and I ended up reading straight through - even the second time around. Also, any book series that has this many references to The Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell, and Joss Whedon is going to be a hit with me. Just sayin'.  I thought that Feed is just what a zombie book should be - fun, scary (but not in the way you might think) and extremely hard to put down.

Now excuse me, but I have to get back to reading Blackout now. My review . . . (or geeky fan-girl gush-fest) of Deadline will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Unseen

The Unseen by Katherine Webb
review copy provided by William Morrow
Description from Goodreads:
England, 1911. The Reverend Albert Canning, a vicar with a passion for spiritualism, leads a happy existence with his naive wife Hester in a sleepy Berkshire village. As summer dawns, their quiet lives are changed for ever by two new arrivals. First comes Cat, the new maid: a free-spirited and disaffected young woman sent down from London after entanglements with the law. Cat quickly finds a place for herself in the secret underbelly of local society as she plots her escape. Then comes Robin Durrant, a leading expert in the occult, enticed by tales of elemental beings in the water meadows nearby. A young man of magnetic charm and beauty, Robin soon becomes an object of fascination and desire. During a long spell of oppressive summer heat, the rectory at Cold Ash Holt becomes charged with ambition, love and jealousy; a mixture of emotions so powerful that it leads, ultimately, to murder.

My take:
Once again Katherine Webb drew me into her story from the very first chapter. This story really captured my imagination. The dual story line works for me here just like it did in Webb's The Legacy. There is a modern story line which tels of the search for the identity of a soldier to who died during WWI.  The 1911 thread gives the story of the Reverend Albert Canning and his wife Hester during the summer that the new maid Cat joins the household as well as the visit of  occult  expert, Robin Durrant.  The 1911 story line is just chock full of interesting, conflicted, confused, manipulative, and naive characters.

The Reverend Albert Canning and his wife Hester are an interesting, troubled, naive couple. Even for the time, 1911, they seem incredibly sheltered. Albert is clearly confused and conflicted about his marriage and his role therein. Hester is confused as well, but is at least trying to figure things out. Hester has hired a new maid, Cat, and views this as an act of charity due to Cat's troubled past. Just what this past was is revealed gradually through the book. Cat is an intelligent, independent, strong-willed young woman who refuses to let anyone limit her. I really liked her and wanted to see her make a new life for herself.

Albert Canning is a troubled soul. His innocence, naivete,  and religious convictions all contribute to his being susceptible to the particular charms of one Robin Durrant, a self-proclaimed expert of the occult. Durrant is obviously a manipulative person and trouble from the start - to an observant, intelligent, perceptive person, anyway. While the Cannings are unaware of his past or his manipulative way, Cat sees through Durrant and tries to warn Hester.

There are so many things I want to discuss about the book, but they would give even more of the plot away. I loved this book so much! It was a fast-paced page-turner that I couldn't put down until I finished it. At the last minute before it happened, I could see the tragedy that was about to unfold, but I couldn't stop reading. I was saddened by the story, but I was so happy to have the opportunity to read such a great book.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Feature & Follow Friay

I'm back for another Feature & Follow Friday!  I really love this week's question! But first, this week's featured blog:

Our Feature – Addicted2Heroines

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging back in February 2012. The lovely and talented Cat from Addicted2Heroines, who was a friend of mine on GoodReads, asked if I would be interested in blogging on her site. I immediately agreed and have been blogging with her ever since. How lucky am I?
What is your favorite part of book blogging?
My favorite part about blogging is meeting fellow bloggers and readers who share the same interests as I do. I’ve met a lot of smart, funny and all-around awesome people in the last few months.
What is your favorite book(s)?
This is a tough one, but I’ll narrow it down to my top three series. Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane, Fever by Karen Marie Moning and Night Huntress by Jeaniene Frost. My favorite YA series right now is Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments.
What has been the best thing that has happened to you because of book blogging?
The best thing about blogging is that I have the opportunity to review, interview and collaborate on guest posts with my favorite authors. I would have never had this opportunity had I not started book blogging.

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Q: Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?

A: A beach on Cape Cod would be my perfect vacation spot. But I can be just a happy in Door County, Wisconsin. It is a great place to relax with a good book.



Be sure to follow the featured blog and our hosts Parajunkee's View  and Alison Can Read.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Uncommon Education

An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer
review copy provided by TLC Book Tours via Harper Collins
Description from Goodreads:
Afraid of losing her parents at a young age—her father with his weak heart, her deeply depressed mother—Naomi Feinstein prepared single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. An outcast at school, Naomi loses herself in books, and daydreams of Wellesley College. But when Teddy, her confidant and only friend, abruptly departs from her life, it's the first devastating loss from which Naomi is not sure she can ever recover, even after her long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.

Naomi soon learns that college isn't the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness—until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.

The event marks Naomi's introduction to Wellesley's oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. Naomi finally begins to detach from the past and so much of what defines her, immersing herself in this exciting and liberating new world and learning the value of friendship. But her happiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings irrevocable consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but part of growing up is learning that sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.

An Uncommon Education is a compelling portrait of a quest for greatness and the grace of human limitations. Poignant and wise, it artfully captures the complicated ties of family, the bittersweet inevitability of loss, and the importance of learning to let go.

My Take:

I thought that An Uncommon Education  was just beautiful – from the cover, to the settings, to the story itself.  I love the way Percer writes . She writes in long, flowing sentences that seem to meander through thoughts and history.  After Naomi’s father has a heart attack: “I walked away from that hospital believing that I could one day learn to heal,  that healing itself was something that could be hounded and captured, like a quarry that only needed to be chased to be won. It was a belief so strong that I would continue to build myself upon it, unable to let it go until I had tried and failed to save three of the people I most loved: two who, at very different times in my life and in very different ways, became the sort of friends we think we might never be able to live without, and then my mother, who in the end might have saved me.”

An Uncommon Education is one of those exquisite books that I have a difficult time writing about because I don’t want to mess up my review and inadvertently keep someone from reading it.  The first  part of the book details Naomi’s childhood and her father’s attention to her education. Naomi went to school, but her father also spent a great deal of time supplementing her education. I loved the details about all the books he gave her to read, all the museums they would visit and his gentle, loving lessons about life. As a homeschooling mom, I love these details.  Naomi’s mother is seriously depressed and this puts a strain on the family and Naomi’s social life. But being such a book worm and not susceptible to the shallow life views of most of her classmates, she had few friends anyway.  Well, until Teddy moves in next door. The arrival of Teddy begins the next phase of Naomi’s life.  About this time Naomi is falsely accused of cheating and this is another of the big defining moments in her young life.  She comes to understand that not everyone has the extraordinary memory that she has and some people will be jealous and make false accusations.
Teddy and Naomi have a special friendship and his abrupt departure from her life has a profound effect on her life. Naomi throws herself into her studies, work and running to get through her unhappiness.  She manages to be a top student and get into her dream school, Wellesley. Once she goes off to school, she thinks things will fall into place for her. Unfortunately, things don't usually work out quite that neatly and they don't for Naomi either.  I particularly enjoyed the college years as described by Percer.  So many things about her descriptions rang true for me. Naomi seems somewhat overwhelmed and continues to be sad and lonely until she happens upon a fellow student as she falls or jumps into a freezing lake. This is the catalyst for Naomi joining The Shakespeare Society and finding some real friends among the passionate, quirky members.
While Naomi seems pretty passive through a great deal of her college years, I thought that in a lot of ways this was an accurate picture of how college life can seem sometimes. Things are happening so fast and the students are so busy with classes, studying, writing papers, social activities, trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be. Even though Naomi is certain she wants to be a doctor, she spends far more time working on performances of Shakespeare plays with the society than she probably should and she just can't seem to make herself do the things she know she should do in order to get admitted to a prestigious medical school. The scandal involving her close friend and her mother's advancing illness  help her to finally figure out what she really wants to do and the person she wants to be. I was so happy to see the maturing Naomi discover herself and make decisions as an adult and not stubbornly following an idea she had as a child.
This book was just a joy to read. I plan to read it again this summer. I highly recommend it. Amazon has chosen An Uncommon Education as one of their Top 10 books for the month of May, and I can definitely see why. (You can see the official Best Books of the Month page here.)

About Elizabeth Percer
Elizabeth Percer is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has twice been honored by the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. She received a BA in English from Wellesley and a PhD in arts education from Stanford University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship for the National Writing Project at UC Berkeley. She lives in California with her husband and three children. An Uncommon Education is her first novel.




Thursday, May 3, 2012

Socialpunk




Socialpunk by Monica Leonelle
e-galley provided  by author
Description from Goodreads:
Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

My take:
I am not sure exactly where to start with this one.  The premise for this novel just grabbed me and I had to agree to read and review it. I love - I mean absolutely love - cyberpunk. (Thank you William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson for giving me so many hours of reading joy.) The premise of this story felt like it was a continuation of what has been built into the genre already. That is basically what made me want to read it.

The idea that the main character of the story is part of a virtual reality and her world may or may not be real plays a major part of the story.  I found the world created in Socialpunk to be unusually new and creative. I haven't read anything quite like it. I am still intrigued and really want to read more about the whole world - both the real and virtual world in the novel.  I thought that Ima was an interesting character and the previous knowledge that she was created to live in the virtual world with all her strengths and weaknesses was just really cool to think about while reading. (Or is she real? Ah! So much fun!)

The story is fast paced with lots of action, dubious allies, shady villains, huge, probably evil corporations, rival gangs, conspiracies -- everything you could want for an exciting read.

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was how the book ended. There is a big reveal and cliff-hanger at  the end that bugs me because now I have to wait to see what happens next and how it will be handled. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.