May 28, 2012

Review: Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill

book cover of Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary EdghillTitle: Dead Reckoning [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Mercedes Lackey [Website|Twitter|Facebook] Rosemary Edgehill [Website]
Standing: Stand alone, but could be the beginning of a series.
Genre: Horror, Historical, Steampunk
Published: June 5th, 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
Format: Kindle edition; 336 pages
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley

Jett has seen them—the walking dead. She was there the night they attacked Alsop, and only escaped with her life through the dedication of her faithful steed. When after fleeing she comes upon Gibbons and White Fox, who are both investigating mysterious disappearances, they are hard pressed to believe her tale. However, they’ll learn soon enough that things are like good ol’ Sherlock said and “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sing of the Four).

Deep in the heart of Texas three young souls, each on their own mission, band together to battle (you guessed it) zombies.  Jett Gallatin is a young woman passing as a man, gambler, and sharpshooter as she scours the west looking for her twin brother who disappeared at the end of the war.  Honoria Gibbons is a headstrong woman with a scientific mind set out to investigate mysterious disturbances and whether or not they can be credited to the invisible air ships someone is attempting to sell her father.  White Fox (who for some reason isn’t even mentioned in the publisher’s blurb, he is a main character, see him there on the cover behind Jett and much more visible than Gibbons?) is a white man raised by natives, working as a civilian scout for the US Army set out to investigate what has happened to a soldier’s family. 

Is anyone else extremely turned off when books are pitched as ‘perfect for fans of _________’?  This almost always assures I won’t pick up a book.  I feel like I’m constantly thinking ‘oh, this is another dystopian that wants to be the next Hunger Games?  No, thank you.’  And Dead Reckoning fell into that pile for me when I read the lines “perfect for fans of Cowboys vs. Aliens and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.”, particularly since I have negative interest in either of those.  But still, I haven’t read any Mercedes Lackey yet this year, which is kind of a *gasp* moment for me since she’s one of my all-time favorite authors and I read through the Queens Own and Mage Winds trilogies on a frequent loop.  I’m not a huge fan of most of co-authored stuff, but I’d never read any of Lackey’s non-fantasy work, and since girls dressed as boys is a surefire trigger for my book sense, I had to give Dead Reckoning a go. 

Needless to say, Dead Reckoning did not disappoint, but it didn’t impress either.  The story of a zombie army being raised and controlled in the old west of Texas was interesting.  I really liked that because Jett was from New Orleans she was familiar with the notions of hoodoo, and found the notion quite hair raising, but that Gibbons insisted on a more scientific base for the creatures’ existence as well.  A crazed cult leader gone over the edge, spoiling his ingenious mind with notions of grandeur made me just uncomfortable enough to be on the edge of my seat through portions of our story.

Each of our three main characters had an interesting foundation.  Jett is a highborn lady of New Orleans whose family has been destroyed by the Yankees after they conquered the south in the Civil War.  She refuses to believe her brother, Philip, is dead, and sets out to find him.  Jett doesn’t put on her masquerade because she despises girly things, in fact, she longs to return to the days of petticoats and luxury.  Unfortunately, she knows that her disguise is the only thing that has kept her safe and alive in the west for the past two years.  Gibbons is a scientific mind, raised by a father with such tunnel vision into his scholarly pursuits that he hardly noticed she was a girl.  She is logical, intelligent, and bent on having an explanation for everything.  She refuses to be belittled because she is a woman, and is at times the envy of Jett who lives in hiding.  White Fox was raised from the time he was quite young by natives who took him in after his wagon train was destroyed and he was the only survivor.  Part of me wished he would have just been a native himself, but part of me also loves this storyline.  I was obsessed with Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski and other stories of white children raised by native tribes as a child, so needless to say, I took a liking to White Fox.

Now, notice I said ‘good foundation’ back there.  On the surface, these characters and the story had a lot of potential, but in the end it all sort of fell flat for me.  I constantly felt as if I was being told the story, rather than shown it, and it was neither strong enough in plot or character development to make up for a lack of the other.  I just kept wishing for more depth.  I wanted to feel the developing friendships between Gibbons, Jett, and White Fox, I wanted to care about their pasts and potential futures.  I wanted to be afraid of the zombies, and feel chills across the back of my neck when the air got cold.  But I didn’t.  In fact, Dead Reckoning did so little to quench my gore craving, I wasn’t sure I cared if the things did destroy Texas.

The same lack of oomph goes to the whole steampunk element of this book.  I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure why it was there when it seemed unnecessary.  Other than the brief mention of air ships (which as far as we know, did not actually exist), and Gibbon’s auto, there wasn’t really anything steampunk here.  I’m not sure why a book can’t be set in the Victorian time period, have scientifically minded characters, and not be an attempt at steampunk, when in fact this time period was full of scientific pursuits and progress.  For example, I would have love to have seen more focus on the railroads or telegraph!  I feel like steampunk writers need to go big or go home, and in this case it needed to be ramped up quite a bit.  I did like that it was steampunk in the wild west, which was a fantastic and fresh idea, I just wasn’t digging the application.

All things considered, Dead Reckoning was a quick read with a new take on some old tropes.  There’s no romance, smart and strong women, zombies, and a bit of a cult.  If all these things appeal to you, I’d say it’s worth a shot!  Since my own review is underwhelming, please check out some of the more enthusiastic ones I’ve linked below.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  Eh, this wasn’t a bad read, but honestly if it weren’t for Mercedes Lackey’s name on the cover I wouldn’t have been willing to give it a shot.  I’m glad I did, but I’ll head back to Valdemar now, thank you.

Recommended for: Those interested in horror or steampunk in the old west (because hello, who wouldn’t be?), and fans of the authors.  I’m fairly certain this is being released as an adult novel, but it has definite crossover appeal for the YA crowd. This is a standalone but it was very not so subtly hinted that they would like to make it a series.  Bare that in mind if that sort of thing matters to you.

Get a second opinion:
Ageless Pages Reviews
Short and Sweet Reviews
Read My Mind

May 27, 2012

In My Mailbox (17)

IMM (17) Bunbury in the Stacks IMM (17) by Bunbury in the Stacks

In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren in which you share the books you added to your collection in the past week.

Hi friends! This week I totally busted my self-imposed library embargo in the attempt to secure reads that would satisfy my current reading cravings.  Plus I got a couple of bookish non-book related things!

First up was my Farenheit 451 shirt from Threadless.  This shirt first came out really early in Threadless history, something like 7 years ago.  I really wanted it at the time, but missed out.  Well, they finally reprinted it, so I had to splurge! 

With it is the start to my Margaret Dashwood Shawl, a pattern I’m working on from the new Jane Austen Knits magazine!  I don’t usually share my knitting on the blog, but since I picked up a whole slough of Jane Austen inspired patterns this week, I thought some of you Austen fans might like to see!  I think that at some point (like after I finish the 4 projects I’m currently working on), I’ll have to make the gorgeous Marianne’s Romantic Bookmark, and give it away on the blog!  I actually have the yarn for it on hand, but want to dye it first.

book cover of Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghillbook cover of Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stonebook cover of Cinderella: Fables Are Forever by Chris Robersonbook cover of The Return Man by V.M. Zitobook cover of Hexed by Ilona Andrewsbook cover of Outlander by Diana Gabaldonbook cover of Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybournbook cover of The Swan Kingdom by Zoë Marirott

For Review from NetGalley:

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill
So one of my all-time favorite authors writing alternate history old west with a girl who dresses as a boy, zombies, and steampunk?  How could I not sign up for that?! Actually finished this one already.  I had some issues, but still enjoyed the read, my review will be up tomorrow.  Thanks, Bloomsbury!

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
As many people probably know, girls dressing up as boys is only one of the things that’ll make me pick up a book.  One of the others?  Time travel!  This one sounds interesting, and potentially cute, and I’m excited to check it out!  Thanks Disney-Hyperion.  I’m thankful that as a librarian I have the opportunity to preview Hyperion books.

Shameful Library Binge:

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever by Chris Roberson
I have been waiting for this one for months to satiate my Fables craving. I’m a bit wary since Patrick Rothfuss was pretty meh about it, but I’m trying to go in without expectations. I did very much like the first installment, From Fabletown With Love.

The Return Man by V.M. Zito
This one sounded like a potentially good zombie read, featuring the man who returns to the lands abandoned after the zombie apocalypse in order to provide families with the opportunity to have closure and bury their loved ones.  I’ll be honest though, I likely won’t get to this one atm.  The hold came in at an awkward time, and I’m not sure I can do 3 zombie reads in a row, which I would have to do to fit this one in!  I can always pick it up again later though, if anyone’s read this and has thoughts, let me know!

Hexed by Ilona Andrews (and others)
Hexed is a collection of 4 novellas, but we all know why I got it—to read Magic Dreams by Ilona Andrews!  Totally excited for some Jim and Dali story. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I decided that even though I’m busy this summer, I’d sign up for the Outlander Read-a-long! Again…time travel. Not only time travel, but time travel involving Scotland and cute red headed boys.  Yes, please!

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
I really don’t know much about this one other than it’s come highly recommended by Holly and Angie, and when it comes to this sort of thing, I take their word for it!  Think that this might be the perfect grown-up read to help me out of my YA funk.


The Swan Kingdom by Zoë Marriott
Ever since I fell for her newest book, Shadows on the Moon, I’ve been dying to read Zoë Marriott’s backlog.  Debz, who loves fairy tale retellings quite possibly even more than I do, hosted a recent giveaway in which she offered a copy of one of the fairy tales she’s reviewed!  When I found out I won, it didn’t take me long to decide The Swan Kingdoms would be it for me.  Thanks so much again, Debz!

Two weeks of Bunburying

Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews
Railsea by China Miéville
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
White Cat by Holly Black
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
The Prince Who Fell From the Sky by John Claude Bemis
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Road to Avonlea

That’s it for me this week, what new reads have you picked up?  Who’s going to be at BEA? Find me and say hi!

May 26, 2012

Damn my love of gingers!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 20th Anniversary Edition

That’s right folks.  I’ve let myself be peer pressured into joining the Outlander Read-a-long.  Though, if you know me, you probably realize that I don’t give into peer pressure unless it’s something I actually kind of want to do anyway.

I’ve never participated in a read-a-long before.  I don’t like to feel pressured into meeting other people’s paces, particularly since June is crazy busy for me.  But, since these lovely hosts have decided to split the reading up over seven weeks, I think I can handle it!  That’s just 7 chapters to read each week, or, one a day.

As you may know, I’ve been looking for non-YA reads to get me out of a slump, and what better choice than Outlander?  I love so many of the bloggers who are hosting and participating, and I don’t want to feel all left out when they’re all fanning themselves over Jamie Fraser, so clearly I need to get in on this. 

Soooooo….if you too have a love of gingers, Scotland, historical fiction or really big books, you can join us!  Just visit any of the hosting blogs, like Into the Hall of Books to check out the reading schedule and sign up!

Also, you see that CD up there?  It contains songs from Outlander the Musical!  Who knew that was a thing?  Kind of excited to check that out once I’ve read…

May 25, 2012

Road to Avonlea aka ROAD TO MY HEART

Road to Avonlea

I know most of us grew up watching Anne of Avonlea, but I fear too many of you likely missed out on the wonderful television series, Road to Avonlea.  I used to watch this show every week with my mom, it was our thing, and I have since rewatched it as an adult.  I swear if I had $200 to spare, I would buy the entire box set.  Luckily for you, you can get the disks from NetFlix if you have the service, and I do so recommend it.  The show is set in our beloved Avonlea, and lasts for seven seasons and a movie, and you will certainly recognize a few names and faces:

Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla Cuthbert in Road to AvonleaPatricia Hamilton as Rachel Lynde in Road to Avonlea
  Kyle Labine as Davy Keith and Lindsay Murrel as Dora Keith in Road to AvonleaMarilyn Lightstone as Muriel Stacey in Road to Avonlea

That’s right!  Marilla Cuthbert, Rachel Lynde, and Muriel Stacy are each in Road to Avonlea, played by the same actresses as in the Anne movies!  Also, Davy and Dora Keith, who are in the Anne books, are in Road to Avonlea as well.  Some other familiar faces with different names would be:

Mag Ruffman as Alice Lawson in Anne of Green GablesMag Ruffman as Olivia King/Olivia Dale in Road to Avonlea
Mag Ruffman, who you may recognize as Alice Lawson, from Lawsons’ General Store, is transformed into the ever cheery and optimistic baby of the family, Olivia King.

Jacki Borroughs as Amelia Evans in Anne of Green GablesJacki Burroughs as Hettie King in Road to Avonlea
Jacki Burroughs, who played the professional dramatist in Anne of Green Gables is a strict school mistress and head of the King family in Road to Avonlea.

Cedric Smith as Reverend Allan in Anne of Green GablesCedric Smith as Alec King in Road to Avonlea
Cedric Smith, who plays Reverend Allan in Anne of Green Gables takes on the role of the middle child, only son, and head of the King farm in Road to Avonlea.

There are in fact many more doubles in Road to Avonlea that you may spot, and you can find a complete list at Avonelea Vignettes, here.  I have chosen these three because, as you may have surmised, Road to Avonlea largely surrounds the lives and times of the King family.  Now, there was once a fourth King sibling, another girl, but alas, she has perished most tragically.  When her husband is thrown in jail for something scandalous, their only daughter, the spoiled and haughty Sarah Stanley is sent to live with her Aunt Hettie in Avonlea.  There, she must deal with her most tragical of circumstances, particularly—cousins.

Sarah Stanley and the King Clan from Road to Avonlea

Of course they all hate each other, and there’s tons of drama to be had.  There’s even a scene that was considered too racey for television at the time, which had to be cut out (it involves cracking an egg on someone’s head and is rather laughable by today’s standards—don’t worry, it’s on the DVD).  Felicity King is just the worst when you first meet her, but you know what?  I end up adoring this girl—the eldest of the King children.  Why?  Well, in no small part, because of Gus Pike.

Felicity King and Gus Pike in Road to AvonleaFelicity King and Gus Pike in Road to AvonleaFelicity King and Gus Pike in Road to Avonlea

Oh friends, let me tell you.  You think that Anne and Gilbert have one of the all time greatest slow burn romances?  They’ve got nothing on Felicity and Gus.  Okay, okay, so it’s very nearly the same type of story, but in Road to Avonlea you get 6 seasons and a movie to bite your nails over this pair!  Of course, they’re totally in love, and totally hate each other for years.  It’s fantastic!

Here’s some things you ought to know about Gus Pike:Gus Pike playing the fiddle from Road to Avonlea

  • Mysterious past involving pirates and buried treasure.
  • Lives in the lighthouse—very spooky and intriguing!
  • A true seaman and wandering spirit.
  • Unwavering devotion to Felicity.  Even when she’s outright cruel to him.
  • Plays the fiddle…hot?
  • Fantastic accent.

In short, Gus Pike has held a piece of my heart for the past 20 years, and probably always will.  I adore Road to Avonlea, the town, the drama, the people…it’s all so wonderful.  Okay, okay, at the beginning they put ridiculous make-up on Sarah Stanley because it’s 1990, and the picture is often terrible, but please look past that.  This show has a heart of gold, and I’m not even kidding when I say I love it so much just the credit sequence can bring tears to my eyes:

If you call yourself a lover of Avonlea, you must find a way to watch this show.  And when you do, please oh please let me know what you think.  You can find out more information about Road to Avonlea at the official website, here. 

In addition to the blogs and posts already linked, character images may be credited to Share TV’s Road to Avonlea and Yet Another Period Drama Blog, both of which have lovely posts and information about the show!

May 24, 2012

Thank you for giving a bump to my slump!

To all of you who commiserated with me and cheered me through my whining about YA reads:

Fez That 70s Show gif

Special thanks to Asher, Ivan, Tatiana, Alyssa, Kyle, April, Angie, Maja, Vickie, Ashley, Anna, Catie, Short Latte, Gina, Flannery, and Holly!

You all helped cheer me up, brightened my day, and inspired me to go out and read.  I have determined that the first order of business in shaking the YA slump will be to read my copy of Daughter of the Forest, as there seems to be a general consensus that I will love it and it will solve all of my problems (well, maybe not all of them…it probably won’t get me a full time dream job).  Next up, I plan to give This Is Not a Test, and Seraphina a go.  I’ve heard great things about both of them, and am hoping they’ll make the cut.  Though I also have Dead Reckoning and The Return Man at the moment, which means it’s going to be a Very Zombie June for me (and yes, I am now inspired to make A Very Zombie June logo out of the A Very Brady Christmas cover).

book cover of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillierbook cover of This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summersbook cover of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Anyway, I’ll be sprinkling these three in with some other adult and middle grade reads as I get back into the flow of things.  With three gorgeous (and eerie) covers, of which I approve, how could I go wrong?  I’ll also be trying any number of other books recommended, like Gary D. Schmidt, Unspoken, The Curiosities!

Go forth and read!

May 23, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

book cover of The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenTitle: The Fault in Our Stars [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: John Green [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Published: January 10th, 2012 by Dutton Books
Format: Hardcover; 313 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Challenge: Completely Contemp Challenge

You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.

Did you know that there are, chemically speaking, two different stages of love? The first stage, the one where you’re falling and all dopey and basically unable to function because you can’t think of anything but that other person is the result of a chemical cocktail of adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin pouring through your brain. The second stage, the one where you’re committed and stay together potentially for life is because of two other chemicals, vasopressin and oxytocin. These are the ones that really bond you together, but the fact is, once you’re getting the vasopressin and oxytocin, you don’t get so much of the adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. And that, my friends, is probably the biggest reason that I (and quite probably you) love to read about falling in love. It gives me a bit of those chemicals (and feelings) back. That’s why after reading a book I love, I often can’t sleep, and I usually have a lot of energy. And I love it!

But here’s the thing. Reading can also make you feel not-so-good feelings that you don’t like and want to avoid like the plague. That, my friends, is why I did not really want to read The Fault in Our Stars. I drug my feet…a lot. Even while reading. A book that could have easily been read in one sitting, I read a third of, put down for two days, then read chapter by chapter for some time, getting up and doing something else constantly to try to keep myself from getting too involved. This behavior continued for about 2/3 of the book.  I knew what was coming, and I dreaded it. I kind of Monnicad this book. I didn’t want to get hurt, so I pushed it away, but it hurt anyway. But it also felt pretty good, falling in love with Augustus Waters.

This book doesn’t really need another review at this point (heck, I didn’t even bother to post a summary, please click the GoodReads link if you need one). Many/most of you have already read it, and to my knowledge, everyone’s loved it, so it seems silly to go on and on, and yet I’m not sure I can resist fawning a little. So here it goes:

I love Augustus. I love that he pushes this perfect boundary between being pushy and just plain attentive. I love that he doesn’t try to kiss Hazel, or call her too much, and I love that he reads her favorite book first thing, and really thinks about it.

I love that Hazel has a hard time standing much, and Augustus has a hard time sitting. Something about that whispers “star-crossed lovers” in your ear and breaks your heart.

I love that Hazel and Augustus both have wonderful families. Families who care about them and support them, and even hover a little, but the kids don’t resent them for it. They love them for it. There need to be more families like this in books (and maybe in real life).

I love that this book manages to include poetry that wasn’t at all cheesy, and did not once make me gag.

I love that this book made me laugh a lot more than it made me cry. I agree with Hazel and Augustus (and with Mr. John Green), you have a choice how to tell sad stories, and the funny choice? That’s the best one.

And I like my choices.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more: This was my second John Green, and I’m not going to lie, I am glad it wasn’t my first.  If it was my first, I’d probably think “wonderful book, but I’m not signing up for that again”.  Luckily, I remain very excited to read his other books, and plan on listening to the audio of Looking for Alaska somewhat soonish.  This guy’s made himself a must-read.

Recommended for:  The next time anyone says something degrading about the quality or value of YA lit, I’m going to slap them with The Fault in Our Stars and just dare them not to feel all the things.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:  Only 2.25 tissues used! <—Unsure if this is a bragging point, or a sign that I am well and truly dead inside.

Get a second opinion:
The Readventurer
G Reads
Chachic’s Book Nook
Good Books and Good Wine (Audio)
Book Harbinger

May 22, 2012

I can’t take the angst!

Lately, every time I pick up a YA book I get about 20-30 pages and then I bail.


I just feel like nothing’s grabbing me.  It’s frustrating to be honest.  I love YA, it’s my favorite age group to read for, and yet lately reading it kind of feels like banging my head against a dresser.


I can’t take another love triangle.  I can’t take more insta-love.  I can’t take more angst.  And I really absolutely cannot take more descriptions of eyes AS GREEN AS THE FOREST or BLUE AND DEEP AS THE SEA, let alone hear about THE WAY HE SMELLS.  In fact, at this very moment, I feel like I can’t take teenagers anymore period!  They’re whiney.  They’re rash.  They always make stupid decisions, take way too long to figure stuff out, and find all sorts of ways to annoy me.  Am I saying I’m done with YA?  Certainly not!  But I am going to take a bit of a break for a bit.  Lately, it seems like every book I’m actually attracted to is either adult or middle grade.  I think this is a sign.  A sign to ease up, enjoy what I feel like, and don’t force the books that aren’t working for me at the moment.  The next time I pick up a YA book I don’t want to feel like this:

Kitty can't take it anymore.

I want to feel like this!


This is kind of a new thing for me, since I’ve been reading significantly more in the past six months or so than I ever have before.  I’ve had series burn out, author burn out, and genre burn out, but I’ve never been so completely sick of a whole field of books.  I know everyone gets in reading slumps, but I don’t feel like I’m in a reading slump, I’m just in a YA slump. 

For you, this means that reviews on my blog may be skewing to adult and middle grade a bit more than usual.  I still have some YA reviews scheduled ahead, so it won’t be abandoned entirely, and you might not notice a difference at all! 

Do any of you ever have these feelings about YA or another group of books?  Any tips or tricks for getting over it?  My plan is to just steer clear for few books, or until something grabs me. 

What’s the most amazeballs YA read that might pick me up?  I’d love to hear suggestions. Here’s a list of ARCs I have sitting around, and here are books I own but haven’t read.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...