Friday, September 28, 2012

Zombie Corner: Ed Undead, a Great Teen Introduction to Zombies


 
This particular book caught my attention while on Twitter. Author Edward Kent had posted the trailer that he had made for his book Ed Undead. I decided to post the trailer on my Facebook page and then re-tweeted the trailer. That’s when author Edward Kent got in touch with me for a review. Not only did the trailer grab my attention, the cover that is illustrated by Evan Ferrell is a tempting invitation to read Ed’s story simply because you can see that something is not quite right with Ed. What I liked about the book is that it seems very guy friendly. I could see this book grasping a teen boys interest as well as a girl. The story flows pretty well and the flashbacks that are within the book are never confusing. I did welcome the fact that when we are introduced to Ed he is already in a stable relationship with his girlfriend. This adds a magnificent white elephant to the story regarding Ed who is currently going through the transitions of turning into a zombie and what Lisa Jane may have to do when his time is up.





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Summary:

I never believed that I would have to live through a zombie apocalypse. One day I was Ed Kirk, a normal sixteen-year-old boy with a loving family, a beautiful girlfriend, and a full life ahead of me.
Now I'm on the run from zombies, being hunted by a dark force that threatens my very existence, all the while trying to escape this town and find help. Oh, yeah, one more thing:
I'm a zombie too!


Ed is an average sixteen year-old teen who doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. He treats people with respect because of his parents and is naturally kind hearted. So it makes Ed’s story more tragic because he’s a good guy who is now cursed to live life as a zombie. Edward Kent provides a lot of detail in Ed’s change such as resistance to pain or inability to remember things. I’m only going to give minor details of his change so I don’t spoil it for readers. Ed is also surprisingly resourceful in the midst of zombies taking over his town. It makes me curious of what type of teen he was before this and what his interests may have been. You are immediately put into his current state of the zombie invasion that you miss that. I’m not saying that the story is lacking because of it, only that I thought about the character, which is a good thing.

Lisa Jane is the girl in high school that all the boys want and Ed got her simply by being himself. Who wouldn’t like a girl like that standing beside the hero of the story? She shined the most for me when she is face to face with Ed who she realizes is changing, and in order to protect herself she ties him up but does not kill him. The moment is laced with a sweet memory of the couple before the town is taken over by zombies and gives a view into their untainted world. This makes their dialogue believable when times get rough, especially when Ed has to ask Lisa Jane to do the unthinkable if he gets worse.

Ed Undead is an excellent intro for any teen into the world of zombies. It’s graphic in the right areas but never takes it too far. It doesn’t have an intense amount of gore like more adult zombie books tend to have. It does have levels of drama that I think any teen can handle and appreciate. I say this because Edward Kent seems to tackle the topic of family in his zombie world. Ed has lost his and is desperate to find them, hoping they are still alive. The characters also come across another family that puts Ed in a difficult situation that had my own heart stop because I didn’t know what Ed would do.

So I strongly recommend this book for any teen, especially boys who find it difficult to find something amongst the teen selections. I found it entertaining and was even surprised that Edward Kent managed to squeeze in some humor in a dark situation. Some people shy away from zombie books but this is one that you probably shouldn’t because it’s a great intro into the genre. If you find you like it, then you can eventually branch off into the heavier stuff.   
  


ED UNDEAD TRAILER





Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ilsa J. Bick Takes Readers on an Emotional Journey in Ashes.

   


This is probably the most intense piece of YA literature that I’ve ever read. There are so many overwhelming books about the end of the world and the characters are usually put in a setting that is often decades after the earthshattering event. Ilsa J. Bick puts her characters right into the very guts of a zombie apocalypse. I would always see the first version of the book cover to Ashes at the top of the shelf in the bookstore glaring at me, curious about what the book was about. When I received the invitation to the book tour and realized what series it was for I considered it a sign to read this book. The sequel to Ashes, Shadows has been released and the original cover has changed. This happens a lot in the publishing world but I can still get a sense of the story in both. I prefer the first cover but I get the new layout and like it as well.

This book was captivating at every turn. The writing is exquisite and I have never been as effected as I was while reading it. There are a wide variety of strong characters that make their way into the book. Even the characters that don’t have much presence in the book have a way of staying with you. As I read about the characters Alex and Tom I would think to myself, “How would we react as a society if this really happened in the world? Where would we seek safety and with whom?” In other words, this book is very real and makes you contemplate life in the end.

Summary:
An electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky, destroying every electronic device, wiping out every computerized system, and killing billions.

Alex hiked into the woods to say good-bye to her dead parents and her personal demons. Now desperate to find out what happened after the pulse crushes her to the ground, Alex meets up with Tom—a young soldier—and Ellie, a girl whose grandfather was killed by the EMP.

For this improvised family and the others who are spared, it’s now a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human.

Author Ilsa J. Bick crafts a terrifying and thrilling novel about a world that could be ours at any moment, where those left standing must learn what it means not just to survive, but to live amidst the devastation.

Alex is a young girl who is going through her own unique change caused by the EMP. Which I will not spoil but it is so cool and is what makes her character so unique, probably more so because she seems to have fantastic survival skills. Her thought process is probably what I enjoyed most; only because she goes through a sort of checklist of what is around her and how it can help her. Being in the woods at the time of when the EMP goes off, limits her and to read about what she comes up with is great and educational. She’s definitely a young lady to reckon with and has her own plan to follow, which I love but she is also willing to stop and learn from Tom when she meets him.

Tom is a young soldier that has an eye-opening backstory that will hopefully resonate with readers who have grown up in our current state of war. It’s a small story but in my eyes was a big one worth mentioning. He is likeable immediately because his first priority is to make sure Alex and Ellie survive. Because of his military background he and Alex make a great team. With Ellie they become a believable family in the beginning of an apocalypse. There brief moment living in a cabin together is a sweet story. When they must say good-bye to there home it becomes a very monumental moment in the book that you as a reader will hope they can come back to again.

I actually purchased this book and am so glad that I did. It’s a book that can be shared with just about anybody and I plan to do that. I so want my husband to read the series because it’s something that I know that he would love. It’s a book that adults, and teens can read. Not to dismiss the impact that the Hunger Games series has had on all ages but this book is more mature and extremely intense. There were moments when I had to put the book down for a day then get back into because the story is that real. I am currently about to finish Shadows the second book in the series and because of the same intensity I have to put it down a moment as well. I love that I have to do this though because the book makes you think and you carry the story, and the characters with you. Ilsa J. Bick is so incredibly talented and I have no idea why I have barely discovered her. I described a moment from the second book to a friend and actually had a hard time getting it out. I can’t remember the last time I read something that evoked an emotion like that.

You don’t necessarily have to read the first book to get what is happening in the second, but you really should in order to appreciate the entire story. Ashes is currently available on paperback and as an eBook from all major retailers. My review of Shadows will be posted soon so keep checking in. Shadows is available now in stores, so be sure to grab both. I Blog, You Read will actually be receiving a visit from Ilsa J. Bick on her blog tour on October 9th. I hope you’ll all stop by and see what amazing things she’ll have to say.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eve and Adam: An Edgy Interpretation from Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate


The cover and the title of this book is what grabbed me immediately. Then to my surprise I come to find out that the authors are married! Michael Grant author of the Gone series and BZRK and Katherine Applegate who writes the YA Summer series along with children’s book The One and Only Ivan are both extremely talented authors. I downloaded it, read it, and finished it in about a day. You can easily see from the cover and title what concept the book is going to do a rendition of and it absolutely works. I loved finding the references to the biblical couple in the book. The symbolism within the story was fun to read and I had a lot of AH HA moments. I won’t speak of those of course. I’ll let you have fun doing that when the book becomes available on October 2nd.


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Summary:

In the beginning, there was an apple –
And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker's head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.
Just when Eve thinks she will die – not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.
Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect . . . won’t he? 

Eve is a young teen girl born into privilege but does not at all act like it. She’s not a snobby rich girl. In her heart she carries a deep loyalty to the people she cares about. Even though her friend Aislin is always getting into some kind of horrible trouble she is always there to help and give her a best friend lecture. Eve often deals with her extremely powerful and memorable mother Terrace Spiker who often has her employees shaking in their boots from a mere stare. I’m sure to any woman, creating the perfect male sounds like fun but it was quite interesting to find Eve asking herself what level of perfection she actually wanted to achieve. She builds the perfect boy much like playing paper dolls but there is a scientific element to it that I think readers will be surprised by and makes the task of creating the perfect boy believable.

Solo is the guy that no one notices. He can slip in and out without being detected at Spiker Biopharm, the facility that Eve’s mother owns and runs, because he has lived there since he was a child. He is determined to find a conspiracy that he knows exists and when he meets Eve questions if he should proceed. Solo seems to seek revenge for his parents who were killed in a car accident and is the one person who does not fear Terrace Spiker, Eve’s mother. He knows a lot of what really happens at Spiker Biopharm and knows even more about Eve. I think Solo is a crafty character that is written very well because of the slow dissection of him. He makes a great read and I’m positive teen girls will swoon over him.

Eve and Adam is a great rendition of the Adam and Eve we all have embedded in our minds. I also love that it takes place in San Francisco and was able to pinpoint exactly where the characters where. I will add that there is discussion of the male anatomy in this book. Nothing that will be overwhelming but is pretty close to how individuals speak today and what they might look for in a partner. Everybody has been in a conversation like the one that Aislin and Eve have in the book and it’s done in all good fun that may have some readers blush and some it may not even phase. Just remember all the visual interpretations you’ve seen of Adam and that will give you an idea.

The only thing that I did find confusing was when Adam is revealed. He is supposed to be the idea of perfection but to only Eve. People respond with halting glares and mouths agape from the mere sight of him. He wonders why of course but I feel this makes the idea of perfection a unified stance. I just feel that people have all different ideas of perfection and not all people would react to seeing Eve’s idea, maybe a large handful but not all. It would have been interesting to see some people NOT react.

I think Eve and Adam is a fun read for women, not necessarily a male looking for a spy book, but you never know what people find interesting these days. The story is original and smart and worth taking a chance on. It’s got conspiracy, adventure, and the moments when genetics are talked about are very informative. Solo and Eve are great characters and Terrace Spiker even had me a bit scared with the sound of her pounding Prada heels coming around the corner. It looks like there will also be a second book and I look forward to seeing where Grant and Applegate take their characters. Eve and Adam is an edgy interpretation that had my full attention until the last page. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Outside of the Box Read Chasing Skip from Janci Patterson


When I saw the cover for Chasing the Skip from Janci Patterson I somehow thought of one of my favorite eighties movies Three for The Road. (By the way if you are familiar with this movie then you are a very excellent individual.) So I decided to download the advance copy and take a chance on it. Chasing the Skip is probably a good read for the weekend and it’s less than 150 pages and it only took me a day and half to finish it. Books like Chasing the Skip to me are often looked at as a mini book vacation. It’s a break from zombies, paranormal activity and the end of the world. Janci Patterson writes a memorable story from a young fifteen year-old girl’s perspective during a time she feels abandonment from both parents.


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Summary:

Ricki’s dad has never been there for her. He’s a bounty hunter who spends his time chasing parole evaders—also known as “skips”—all over the country. But now since Ricki’s mom ran off, Ricki finds herself an unwilling passenger in a front-row seat to her father’s dangerous lifestyle.

Ricki’s feelings get even more confused when her dad starts chasing seventeen-year-old Ian Burnham. She finds herself unavoidably attracted to the dark-eyed felon who seems eager to get acquainted. But Ricki thinks she’s ever in control—the perfect manipulator. Little does she know that Ian isn’t playing their game by her rules.  

Ricki is a character that I could not identify with, but she is someone that I definitely found interesting. Even though her snarky sarcasm makes her appear fierce her inner dialogue tells a story of a na├»ve girl just looking for security. She is constantly worried about her mother who has gone missing and sees herself as a burden with her bounty hunter father. Every time Ricki managed to check in with her friend back home or would remember moments with her mom before she left, I could see what was going to happen to her and wondered why she couldn’t predict it. As I read on I kept wanting to pull Ricki aside and say, “Look this is what’s going to happen while you stay with your father and you might want to get comfortable.” Even though Ricki’s story was predictable it is something that unfortunately teens and many families go through and have to experience.

Ian, or the criminal who Ricki’s dad often refers to, is someone who I really wished played out differently. But I get it, I get it and understand why his character went the way it did. I do wish there were more of him in Chasing the Skip, but when he is in the book he makes a huge impact and often brings the best conflict to Ricki and her dad’s situation. I feel Ian’s purpose in the book is more symbolic to Ricki. He is someone who comes from a troubled home and for me is not what Ricki could become but more of what the reality she has to be willing to see and accept. Ian has a very dark moment in the book that was totally unexpected and I commend Janci Patterson who willing to put one of her characters there.

I think Chasing the Skip is a pretty good read that has a unique setting because of the whole bounty hunter thing. It isn’t a teen romance if that’s what you are looking for, but a work of teen fiction that maintains a level of quality about it. This is something that I myself would have picked up back when in my own school library. I do sometimes come across a teen that says, “I don’t want a romance, a series that I have to commit to or a book about vampires. I want something real and that’s good.” This would be the book that I recommend to that special and unique teen that just wants to read a good book, which will be available October 2012 from Janci Patterson.   

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Evolution of Mara Dyer from Michelle Hodkin


First and foremost I am a fan of Michelle Hodkin. Her writing is unlike anything that I have come across in the YA genre. Her series that is based on the character Mara Dyer has a surprise at every turn. I can usually tell how a book is going to play out but with this series I honestly never had a clue on where Michelle Hodkin was going to take me. When I got my advance copy through Edelweiss I saw that it was over 500 pages. This may turn off some readers only because lull moments are to be expected, but with The Evolution of Mara Dyer you have absolutely none; zero. Every page of this meticulous psychological thriller is worth the read.



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Summary:

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past. 
She can’t. 
She used to think her problems were all in her head. 
They aren’t. 
She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets. 
She’s wrong. 
In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. 
What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Mara is a character that I still feel the exact same way about from the first book. I want to give her a huge hug and tell her that it’s going to be okay and that I believe her. Even though she is a victim in the second book you do not feel sorry for her, instead you see her strength and the edgy sassiness that she brings by not standing by and letting people tell her how she is feeling. Instead she plays the game and has an alternate plan that will validate her claims from the ending of first book, Unbecoming Mara Dyer. I feel that Hodkin brings something new to the character by having her challenge Noah and his abilities and his needs for her. Which in my opinion makes her less submissive with Noah and makes for fun dialogue between him and Mara.

Noah returns as the always sharpest knife in the drawer with his eloquent confidence that makes him even more likable then before. Hodkin writes him as an honest teen boy with needs but never goes to far with it. Whenever he speaks to Mara he is of course blunt, but without saying too much. There is a definite level of taste and class when Noah speaks with Mara. Noah sits very well in his hero role with a heart made of platinum that only wants to protect Mara from the monsters in her mind. Hodkin gives him his own secrets as well that will forever make Noah a character that is very real and identifiable to teens.

The Dyer's again have managed to stand out in this book for me. I again adore Mara’s big brother Daniel and little brother Joseph. These kids are amazing and even though my kids are still little I see my own future conversations around the dinner table when reading these characters. I love the sibling dynamic that Michelle Hodkin as set in her series. The scene when Daniel reads his letter to Mara was incredible and I plan to do the same with my own brother and sister because I feel that it is healthy to communicate the feelings that Daniel expresses to his sister.

The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a psychological thriller that will have your flesh quiver because of the high quality writing that Michelle Hodkin delivers. Mara’s world is infected with a sense of mind violation that will have you guessing and desperately turning the page to discover the end of this remarkable book. You will not be trying to guess the conclusion of The Evolution of Mara Dyer, instead you will be captivated by the need to continue to read and be amazed at how the story ends. You will want nothing more but to get your hands on the third book of this series.