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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

REVIEW: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies
R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

Sitting around at a family Christmas gathering a couple of weeks ago, someone mentioned a movie opening near Valentine's day that would satisfy all of us--part chick flick, part zombie movie. (I'm not going to tell you which family members would be swayed by which genre, but I will say the women were pretty into the zombie idea.) Then, we realized it was a book, first and I looked up the blurb (see above). Ha...I had to read it.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER did I imagine I'd LOVE a zombie story. And not because it was a zombie story, but because it was a good book that happened to have zombies all through it.

The story is told completely from R's perspective. You are with him as he is having his awakening...there is something more than this zombie existence he is living. There's humanity. There's love.

R is profoundly drawn, as a person, who like most of us, is seeking to better himself. You'd expect that a zombie with some self-awareness is trying to rediscover who he was pre-infection. Not R, he just wants to live, in whatever manner that means now. He falls in love with Julie, a warm body, who has been raised to fight and kill zombies, not talk to them. Julie is a strong woman, with a real personality, something I also wouldn't have expected to find in a zombie story with a male protagonist. Seriously, I expected a "passing glance" treatment of her, even though the blurb leads you to believe she's important.

While R's search for humanity in himself is the central part of the story, Julie's change of mind and heart in regards to zombies is just as important. It's a little disturbing to realize that maybe, just maybe, the zombies have a better idea of what humanity is than the "warm bodies" do.

Warm Bodies is atypical for the horror fact, I'd only class it there because there are zombies, not because it's particularly horrific (although, some of the eating scenes are just graphic enough to paint a good picture). Definitely would recommend this to many.

**I class this a Adult for YA because there is some language and are a couple adult scenes, and, honestly, I don't think the author was aiming for YAs, but it will garner attention for the general story and the movie tie-in.

What do you think??

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book for my personal collection. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Historical Music Videos

This is the one that got my attention today...

 Frankly, I think it's AWESOME.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Enter Text Here through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

REVIEW: Slated, by Teri Terry

Published 2013
Kyla has been Slated—her memory and personality erased as punishment for committing a crime she can’t remember. The government has taught her how to walk and talk again, given her a new identity and a new family, and told her to be grateful for this second chance that she doesn’t deserve. It’s also her last chance—because they’ll be watching to make sure she plays by their rules.

As Kyla adjusts to her new life, she’s plagued by fear. Who is she, really? And if only criminals are slated, why are so many innocent people disappearing? Kyla is torn between the need to know more and her instinct for self-preservation. She knows a dangerous game is being played with her life, and she can’t let anyone see her make the wrong move . . . but who can she trust when everyone is a stranger?

Goodness, there IS a new twist for dystopian fiction! Being "slated" literally means being given a clean slate. But this is only supposed to be for people (teens) who have committed crimes. Only, it's not. Like all things, there is a black market.

The premise of a future government and its social policies getting twisted towards the nefarious isn't new. It's not even particularly new to find that the protagonist figures it out and tries to find out why. It's a dystopian premise that works.

The political and moral compass impacts in this story were the better part of it. By better, I mean, why I didn't quit reading it.

I very nearly quit reading this because of Kyla, the protagonist. She's blah. Ok, so she's newly released from the rehab facility where individuals are, for lack of a better term, reprogrammed after being slated. I get that she's still "stiff," but that doesn't excuse the plain Jane characterization. She's normal, she's average, yet she's the center of something big. Really? She also, unfortunately, has these "feelings" about places and things. While we all know that the average YA makes decisions based on "feelings," we also know that in dystopian (or just non-realistic fiction), those same YAs want substance from their protagonists. Kyla doesn't have it.

It's....ok. It's not a great story. But, perhaps, there is hope. It is apparently only book 1 of at least 2, 3 maybe. Perhaps, Kyla develops....perhaps there is more to the story as well.

What do you think??

Shop Indie BookstoresDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Nancy Paulsen Books through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

REVIEW: Parallel Visions, by Cheryl Rainfield

Parallel Visions (A Teen Psychic Novel)
Visions can kill you. Would you risk your life to save someone else’s?

Kate sees psychic visions of the future and the past—but only when she's having an asthma attack. When she "sees" her sister being beaten, she needs more visions to try to save her, along with a suicidal classmate—but triggering her asthma could kill her. Parallel Visions is the story of one brave, caring girl whose unusual gifts put her own life in danger.

GREAT book for a reluctant reader. It's fast-paced and not too "out there" for the average YA.

Rainfield has created another strong character. Kate struggles visibly--both with her asthma and with her ability and its ramifications. YAs need to see characters struggling and succeeding.

Kate isn't your typical heroine, in any way. She's physically weak--not disabled, but weak. She is dealing with incredibly heady stuff--abuse, suicide--and does it beautifully. AND she gets the guy in the end. :)

These are themes that play out in our kids' worlds everyday, unfortunately. Rainfield has offered a easy to read, not to heavy way of relating to those students, and showing them that there are ways out--and they start with speaking up.

Great book. Definitely will hit my shelves in print and ebook forms.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Cheryl Rainfield. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

REVIEW: Hurt, by Travis Thrasher

Hurt: A Novel (Solitary Tales Series)
Published 2013

 When Chris Buckley first encountered the mysteries of creepy Solitary, North Carolina, he had little idea how far he would fall into the town’s shadows. After losing the love of his life, Chris tried to do things his way. He hunted answers. Then he gave up trying to find them.

But now Chris comes back to Solitary knowing there’s a purpose for his being there. As he watches his place in a twisted and evil bloodline become clear, Chris waits for the last battle—and wonders who will be left when he finally makes his stand.

I'm kind of ticked with Travis Thrasher right now. This is the end of the Solitary Tales series. I've read the other 3 books, but I wasn't ready for Chris's story to end.

That being said. Good, good book. It's a genre I didn't realize existed when I started the series (Christian Horror--whoda thunk it?). But, I suppose (being a Christian, myself), even we need some horror fiction in our lives that's not full of foul language or explicit scenarios.

Hurt is a nice wrap up to Thrasher's series. It all does come down to a neat package, but after 4 books and a story line that keeps you guessing, a neat package is a good way to end. There is an overlying message, but it's not overt or "in your face." To liken it to a movie experience, it's a Denzel Washington movie---there's a message, but you get so caught up in the story, you don't realize you're also "getting" the message. This 4th book has more of the message than the first 3, but again, it's a closure book, it had to be a little heavier.

Characters are interesting, and I have to say I find some of the "bad guys" a little more developed, though I think that it helps you to identify more with Chris and the "good guys," because you really could be more like the good ones than the scary ones.

All 4 in the Solitary Tales series will be on my school library shelf. I also think this could be a good book study series with a church youth group.

What do you think??

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from David C. Cook through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

REVIEW: What We Saw At Night, by Jacquelyn Mitchard

What We Saw At Night Three teenagers with XP (a life-threatening allergy to sunlight) are a species unto themselves. As seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Allie Kim, they roam the silent streets, looking for adventure, while others sleep. When Allie's best friend introduces the trio to Parkour, the stunt-sport of running and climbing off forest cliffs and tall buildings (risky in daylight and potentially deadly by darkness), they feel truly alive, equal to the "daytimers."
On a random summer night, while scaling a building like any other, the three happen to peer into an empty apartment and glimpse an older man with what looks like a dead girl. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that escalates through the underground world of hospital confinement, off-the-grid sports, and forbidden love. Allie, who can never see the light of day, discovers she's the lone key to stopping a human monster.

Okay, I'm not altogether sure what to make of this book. I liked it, but...well, let me just start.

First XP (Xeroderma Pigmentosum) is a real condition. For more info, check out this link. Because I can remember seeing a Dateline or similar show about young girls who had a "sun sickness" that kept them from ever having a day time life. So, this book peaked my interest.

The Parkour stuff was interesting, and kind of frightening. Definitely a crazy challenge. I checked out some YouTube videos. Wow.

I like the characters, Allie and Rob are easy to like. Juliette's...not so much, but still that kind of "untouchable" character that I (and many of my students) am drawn to. The mix is angsty and heavy, and real. It works.

But...I kept feeling like I was missing something. There were several references to things that had happened previously that I felt like I was supposed to already know about. But there wasn't a book about these characters before this. 

My other concern is that it felt unfinished, but I didn't feel like I needed the next book to move forward. It's clear there will be at least a second book, continuing the story, but I'm not sure I'll rush right out for it. 

Overall, it was a disappointment from Mitchard for me. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Soho Teen (Soho Press) through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 4, 2013

Looking for a few good readers...

So, if you pay attention to my blurb at the bottom of every review, you'll notice I get a lot of my books as galleys (i.e. pre-publication copies) from NetGalley. I'm able to peruse what's available through their system, and request the opportunity to read and review titles. It's a lot of fun, and I get to share some neat things now and again.

Mr. Mean Old Library Teacher (+Jeremy LaRowe ) appreciates that I get these galleys for free and not via the checkbook. :)

I've decided to share my galley love with some teen readers. I'm looking for people who love YA literature and want access to pre-publication books and are willing to write honest reviews, like what I do here.

There will be a separate blog for these reviews, and all reviews are subject to editing, by me. So you know, I will only edit for clarity and grammar/spelling. Your thought are yours.

If you're interested, or know someone who might be, please contact me via email:

meanoldlibrary teacher   @   gmail   dot   com


Thursday, January 3, 2013

REVIEW: Broken, by A.E. Rought

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetary and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely…familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s. The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks.

And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows.

First, the blurb here is full of spoilers, but as it's my practice to use the provided blurb....

Second, it took quite a while to figure out the Frankenstein reference from the blurb. And honestly, reading the story, it didn't was re-reading the blurb AFTER finishing the book that I suddenly got it. And I'm a professional reader......

All that being said, it's a good paranormal/gothic YA read. It's really well-written and spooky. You like the characters you should like, you don't like the ones you shouldn't. You kinda wonder about the ones you should kinda wonder about.

I just, I don't know. It didn't stick with me. And maybe it wasn't intended to, but I like to think that YA authors in particular want you to be clamoring for more when you finish their stories. I'm not. It's, ok, but not fabulous. It's a weekend read, but not necessarily one I'd hand off to a friend as soon as I'm done.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Angry Robot's Strange Chemistry imprint. through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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