Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I was fortunate enough to read DEARLY, BELOVED as an ARC a few months ago (which does not reflect my review), courtesy of NetGalley.  I was so excited to read this book and devoured it in 2 days.  

Taking place more than 100 years in the future, in a town called New London, DEARLY, BELOVED picks up a few months after DEARLY, DEPARTED (which, if you haven’t read yet, I highly recommend, especially before reading the sequel!)  Tensions are higher than ever between humans and the undead.  There are two distinct political factions: The Murder, a group of humans against all zombies, and The Changed, a zombie group fed up with humans and their unwillingness for accepting.  Nora Dearly’s father is still hard at work on a cure for the Laz, the virus that swept through the nation and decimated a huge chunk of the population.  Those who turn quickly after being infected, and seek help, are able to function pretty well.  Point in case: Bram Griswold, a captain for Company Z, a mostly zombie filled military unit aimed to help protect the citizens of New London.

                                                                 Back cover love: Bram!

I really enjoy the love story between Nora and Bram.  In DEARLY, DEPARTED, (book 1) Nora, understandably, is initially repulsed by Bram.  But his charm wins her over.  Their love story is one to root for, even though you know the possibility of it truly working out is impossible, even though Nora is immune to the Laz.  As Bram explains to Nora, every zombie will eventually succumb to their disease.  At some point, he will cease being the chivalrous, dreamy (weird to say that about a zombie!) Bram and be something completely else.  The thoughts are heartbreaking.
Another part I really enjoyed about DEARLY, BELOVED was the multiple point of views.  While I love reading from the 2 main characters points of view, I do enjoying reading through the thoughts and emotions of the other characters.  Pamela, Nora’s best friend, is much more fleshed-out in this book.  She’s grown so much and I really enjoyed seeing her character development.  Michael is more upset than ever about what happened to him by the end of DEARLY, DEPARTED, so In this book, he’s out for revenge at all costs.  He’s one not to like or trust.  

There was also more of the mysterious Patient Zero in this installment of the series.  As the first patient to contract the Laz, many are after him, especially those who wish to use him as a weapon for their own heinous causes.  It’s up to Company Z to protect him, and all others, from the groups who wish to capture him.

My favorite character development had to be Vespertine Mink.  Sure, she’s spoiled and probably couldn’t survive a zombie attack, but she doesn’t pretend to be anything but who she really is.  And there’s a family revelation she makes in DEARLY, BELOVED that I didn’t see coming and through me for a loop! 
One of my favorite chapters of the book was Vespertine’s, when Renfield Merriweather (probably my favorite character in this series) visits her home.  Now, Vespertine is not one to like zombies outright, as she hasn’t always had positive experiences around them, but Ren’s heart and charm just may (I hope!) warm her over ;-)

Overall, I thought DEARLY, BELOVED was a fantastic read!  I enjoyed it just as much as I did DEARLY, DEPARTED and I’m incredibly eager to read the next book in this series.  I give major kudos to author Lia Habel for writing a great mash-up of genres (post-apocalyptic, zombie/horror, romance, steampunk) and pull it off so well, with characters that I thoroughly enjoy reading (even Micheal, although he’s a total jerk.)  If I could ask Ms. Habel anything, it’d be: What are the chances of a Vespertine and Renfield short story? As much as I adore the love story between Nora and Bram, there’s just something about the spunk of Vespertine matched with the old-world, gentlemanly charm of Ren that captures my complete attention.  I would love to read more about them!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Girls Night(mare) Out in KY!

I should've posted this a couple of weeks ago, but back-to-school duties and out-of-control allergies have kept me pretty busy as of late.  But, since today's Labor Day, thus meaning a day off from work, I figured now is as good a time as any to post about meeting 3 super cool authors on the GIRLS NIGHT(MARE) OUT TOUR.

On August 19, 2012, I was fortunate enough to attend this fabulous tour stop in Crestview Hills, KY.  There, I was stoked to meet Marta Acosta, author of the wonderfully gothic tale DARK COMPANION, Kendare Blake, author of the super-creepy ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD and the companion GIRL OF NIGHTMARES, and Lisa DesRochers, author of the PERSONAL DEMONS series (I admit I haven't read this series yet, and since the bookstore was sold out of the first in this series, I'll have to find it elsewhere so I can start it soon!)

                                                   Marta Acosta, Kendare Blake and Lisa DesRochers

The ladies each read passages from their current releases and answered questions from the audience.  Everyone had wonderful, engaging questions for each of them.  One attendee even asked what their SAT scores was (with as many author events I've attended, I was envious that someone came up with a question I've never once heard anyone ask an author before.  I need to start being more original with my own questions!)

Afterward, the ladies signed books and posters for the lucky audience members, and graciously posed for pictures.  I was excited to get my picture with each and very thankful for all their enthusiasm and encouragement for the would-be writers in the audience.  I can't thank Ms. Acosta enough for all her encouragement and helpful guidance for me in my writing.  Did I already mention how fabulous she is? Seriously, she's amazing!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Favorite Summer 2012 Reads: Part 1

According to the Zombies calendar hanging on my wall, today is the official first day of Summer.  However, it's felt like summer here in KY for the past month.  During that time, I've read some pretty great books, so I thought I'd share my favorites here.

City of Lost Souls
by Cassandra Clare

The fifth novel in the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series, COLS picks right up where CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS left off.  Jace has gone missing, thanks to crazed Sebastian.  Clary and the rest of the Shadowhunters are doing everything they can to bring Jace back home.  But they soon learn he's not the same Jace they once knew.
While I loved this book, it wasn't my favorite in the series (CITY OF GLASS is still, by far, the best MORTAL INSTRUMENTS book).  I did appreciate that my favorite character of the entire series, Magnus, is much more prominent in this book.  I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, but I must question one thing: can Sebastian really be that smart?

Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi

This was a book I'd been wanting to read for quite some time, and finally got the chance to do so recently, and it did not disappoint.  In a future where a scientific society lives within it's safe walls, teenage Aria finds herself outside where she believes she'll soon die.  She, instead meets a group of Savages, people who live outside the walls, in a primitive nature.  All she wants is to return home, to her mother, and needs Peregrine, a Savage, to help her.  When his nephew is taken by some of Aria's people, he uses her as much as she uses him, but both realize they need each other more than they ever intended.
This turned out to be a great love story, full of suspense and passion.  I really loved the evolving relationship between Aria and Perry.  It wasn't one that was instant, they needed time to know each other and fall in love.  And Perry's best friend, Roar, quickly became one of my favorite characters.

The Hunt
by Andrew Fukuda

What would you get if you mixed equal parts THE HUNGER GAMES with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT? You'd get THE HUNT, a terrifying vampire novel that doesn't sparkle in anyway.  The world has changed: vampires now rule all societies and humans are believed to be extinct thanks to their voracious appetites and hunts.  Little do they know that some humans, including one very brave teenage boy, lives among them, seamlessly blending in by learning all their actions, keeping their scents and emotions at bay, and only coming out at night.
One day, the Heper Hunt returns, a terrifying hunt within a dome with rare humans.  A lottery takes place and our hero (vampires do not take on names, so he grows up without knowing or remembering his own) is one of the lucky participants.  Unable to take any of his masking comforts from home, he's in danger of being discovered for what he truly is: a walking meal.
This book starts out with great action and never lets down.  From learning how the vampires coexist to the entrance to the Dome, I was scared for our hero's very life.  He begins to learn more truths, not only from those inside the Dome awaiting to become prey, but from his fellow hunters.  The ending was incredibly shocking, allowing for an even more intense sequel!

by Lauren deStefano

In the future, the life span of the human race is drastically diminished.  Girls only live to the age of 20 years old, boys to the age of 25.  Scientists and doctors are desperate to find a cure to the genetic disaster.  Everyone is encouraged to reproduce as quickly, and as often, as possible.
Rhine, along with her brother, are orphaned teens.  One night, she's abducted and taken far away from her home, along with two other girls, to become wives of a very prominent doctor's son.  Linden takes the girls on as wives, though he's not as creepy or scary as one would think.  He believes the girls came on their own will, when in fact, they were kidnapped and barely escaped death at the hands of their captors.  His overbearing father encourages Linden to get over his grief of his lost love and to reproduce with these girls.  Rhine, however, refuses to submit, even when it becomes apparent Linden is truly falling in love with her.
I really loved the spirit of Rhine.  At times, she thought she could fall in love with Linden, but could never get over being brought here, along with the other girls, against their will.  She knows his father is manipulative, having found out about the bodies he experiments on in the basement.  With the help of Gabriel, a house servant, Rhine learns that there is hope, but outside the walls of this house.

Masque of the Red Death
by Bethany Griffin

When I first saw the cover of this book in a literary magazine, I immediately wanted to read it.  I grew up loving Poe, so reading a re-imagining of one of his greatest tales definitely intrigued me.
An airborne plague has swept across the country, leaving many to die horrible deaths.  Only masks developed by a brilliant scientist can protect people, but only those with enough income can afford the masks.  The poor are at most risk, most being unable to afford the protection.
Araby doesn't have to worry about never having a mask.  It was her father who helped develop the protective guides, and her family is wealthy.  Having lost her brother when the plague was starting, Araby is overcome with massive guilt, often turning to various narcotics to help her pain.  She loves the Debauchery Club, a place she attends with her best friend and is able to score the drugs she needs to help her cope.  There, she meets Will, a bouncer, and learns that her own selfish needs are tiny compared to his family needs.  He and his two very young, orphaned siblings live very poorly.  The children do not have masks, leaving them very vulnerable.  After saving Araby's life, she meets his family and starts to learn how to truly live life.
But a new threat has come to town, one that threatens lives just as dangerously as the Plague.  Not knowing where to turn or who she can really trust, Araby suddenly becomes desperate to live and save those she loves.  I really loved this story.  At first, Araby isn't very likeable, but once you learn her back story, it's easy to sympathize with her.  I enjoyed watching her develop and become a better person, putting others before herself.  The intrigue and suspense throughout this novel was exciting, making it a read hard to put down.

Sea Change
by Aimee Friedman

I've read a couple of mermaid/mermen novels, but none really caught my attention, until this one.  Miranda and her mom come to the southern coast to her late grandmother's home.  While there, Miranda tries to blend in with other teens her age, in spite of having nothing in common with the rich, snobby, southern debutantes in town.  She relents and becomes friends with the popular group, even attempting to date one of their male counterparts, until she meets the mysterious Leo.  The girls laugh at the notion of her dating him, after all, they see him as an ordinary (but very good-looking) local.  But Miranda sees something different in him, something no one else can see.
After learning more about her grandmother's past and the local mermaid/mermen legends of the area, she soon begins to believe Leo may be a part of the legend.  He remains a mystery, even when he admits how much he cares for her.  Her mother lets her know that she intends to sell the home, but once Miranda realizes her feelings for Leo, she becomes desperate to hold onto the family home.
This is a great summer read, perfect for the beach (even though I actually read it in my grassy front lawn).  Unlike the other books in this post, this one is a stand-alone (though I'm hoping for a sequel soon!)

Ok, so that's the first part of my Favorite Summer 2012 Reads.  Since I have some time off from work for a few weeks, I have plenty of time for catching up on some great books!  First up: finishing my ARC of DEARLY, BELOVED.  Part 2 coming soon...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why Amy Plum Rocks!

A few evenings ago, I was incredibly fortunate enough to meet the lovely Amy Plum, author of DIE FOR ME, and the it's newest sequel, UNTIL I DIE.  While on her Revenants Road Trip, one of her four tour stops was at the beautiful Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington.  And she did not disappoint a bit!

I was already excited to meet her, having left many gushing comments on her Facebook fan page about her upcoming visit (and her kindly taking time to reply).  So, when she arrived and started setting up, I was so happy to finally meet one of my favorite authors (and fawning over her unbelievably awesome boots!)  Even more to my surprise, when she saw me sitting in the front row, she turned, smiled and asked "Hey, are you Lori?" I nearly fell over out of my chair.  But, luckily, I kept my composure, smiled my biggest smile, and got a huge hug from her (yay hugs!)  :D  She even remembered I work in a library and gave me some bookmarks for the students (seriously, Amy is an absolute sweetheart!)
                                                     The lovely Amy Plum talking about writing.

We talked some more before she got her speaking event started.  Needless to say, the whole time I was thinking to myself "I'm talking to Amy Plum!  Amy Plum is chatting with me! She knows my name!"  (I've worked really hard to hide my total uncoolness as much as possible, and it must've worked).  Amy launched into her background in writing, where she got her inspiration for revenants (she wanted to write about a different paranormal creature and found the term revenants in French, which I can't possibly pronounce or spell, and thus was born our fave revenants!)  Vampires are a little overdone in YA/literature in general, and werewolves "drool" (I cracked up at that bit and agree, drool is not sexy!)  I have to say, Amy has got to be the best public speaker I've ever seen, smoothly flowing between stories, being so personable with the crowd, making eye contact with ease.  She even read us all a chapter portion from her newest book, UNTIL I DIE (which is absolutely AMAZING!!! I must blog about this later!!)  I so wish I could speak in public as easily as she can (and dress as beautifully!)
                                                        Reading a chapter from UNTIL I DIE.

During the question and answer session, the crowd had many fantastic questions and Amy's answers were flawless.  I asked her which character she enjoys writing the most, because I think asking a writer which character is their favorite of all is like asking a parent which kid is their favorite (though I guess some may actually be able to answer that with no problem...)  She really likes writing Kate and Georgia the most, and I can completely understand why.  They're such great female leads, strong, loving, and even with their flaws (they're human after all, and flaws are what make us more interesting), they're still champions in my opinion.  She even said parts of them are similar to her, the teenage versions of course (and do I wish I could be as cool as these girls!)  I also asked what she's been reading lately, and she said she really enjoyed Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH.  
                                                                         Amy answering questions from readers.

When it came time for the signing part, everyone was eager to get their books signed.  Amy was so generous to us all, taking time to talk to everyone individually, answering anymore questions, offering writing advice to the aspiring writers in the group (myself, included!) and giving everyone beautiful DIE FOR ME and UNTIL I DIE bookmarks, as well as gorgeous Eiffel Tower bookmarks (I'm still marveling at mine!)  When I finally got through the line to meet Amy (again), she was so incredibly sweet, thanking me for coming (though I can't thank her enough for coming to Lexington!!), signed all my books and gave me extra bookmarks (did I mention how sweet this incredible lady is??)  She graciously took pictures with me and my son, who was utterly charmed by her.  She even took more time to continue chatting with me while signing a stock of books for the bookstore.  I told her about my manuscript, how much I hope to one day to be a published author, and she offered me the kindest, most generous advice and support, more than I could ever hope for. If I could ever become half the writer/speaker/kind-hearted soul that Amy Plum is, I'll be doing incredibly well.
                                              Me, Amy and her fabulous boots!  (I so need a pair!)

I can't say enough great things about meeting Ms. Plum.  I've been lucky enough to meet many wonderful authors, but I can honestly say Amy is the absolute kindest, most generous writer I've ever met.  Really, she's just one of the most thoughtful, caring people I've ever met.  With all she writes in the future, she'll forever have a fan here!  Here's hoping I'll have the chance to meet her again someday.

Meeting Charlaine Harris...again

Last week, I was lucky enough to meet the fantastic Charlaine Harris again.  She had a scheduled event in Lexington, KY, which brought out a crowd of at least 500 fans; the biggest author event I've ever attended.  I had met Ms. Harris last year in Ohio and learned that if you want a good seat at one of her signing events, get there early!  (Which I did- 4 hours early..and front row seats!)

                                     (The crowd, from my vantage point, about half an hour before the event).

Ms. Harris was an absolute delight.  The crowd roared with applause when she came out, cheering, clapping, all much to her surprise.  She spoke briefly, and very humorously, about her new book, DEADLOCKED, the next-to-last book in the incredibly awesome Sookie Stackhouse series.  She then quickly started taking questions, and immediately, dozens of hands shot into the air, fans eagerly hoping to get their questioned answered by Ms. Harris.  There were questions about all her book series, but of course, most asked about Sookie or True Blood (the HBO series that's based on her Sookie Stackhouse novels, for those of you who possibly live under a rock and have never heard of the show).  Even though we were given questions not to ask Ms. Harris before the event (such as, How does the series end? Who does Sookie end up with? Are you Team Eric or Team Bill?) there was the inevitable questioner who asked if Ms. Harris would give a shout-out to Team Eric.  Ms. Harris, being gracious and funny at the same time, explained why she wished no one would be a certain Team Whoever since she feels the books are really about Sookie, not her love interests. 

Afterward, she graciously signed books for everyone.  With the massive number of readers in attendance, I felt a bit sorry for her having to sign her name into hundreds of books (but she's a total professional and could probably handle it all with ease).  I hope I'll get the chance to meet her again someday.

                                                                          (Charlaine answering fan questions).

Friday, April 27, 2012


*I received an ARC of this book from Harper Collins Publishers which in no way reflects my review.*

     Since I first read about this new book from new author, Susan Dennard, I immediately wanted to read it.  With some luck, I got an ARC from the publisher and was on my way to reading SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY...and loving every minute of it!
     The story takes place in late nineteenth century Philadelphia.  The Dead are rising from their dank graves and it's up to sixteen-year old Eleanor Fitt and a rag-tag trio of Spirit-Hunters to stop them.
     After receiving a mysterious note from her missing brother Elijah (handed to her from a walking corpse, no less!), Eleanor is worried he's in grave danger (no pun intended!)  She soon meets Joseph, the leader of this band of Spirit-Hunters, who's a handsome, brave young man with dark secrets.  Daniel, who also harbors his own emotionally crippling secrets, (and who's somewhat aloofness and stubborn nature is no match for Eleanor's strong mentality) assists with developing incredible gadgets and inventions that helps them with their fight against evil.  Jie, a strong, street-smart Chinese immigrant handles a lot of the hand-to-hand combat.  Eleanor soon realizes they may be her only hope in finding her brother and to help her defeat the malevolant spirit that was unleashed and now after her.
     Eleanor's a strong-willed girl who was a refreshing character in YA.  Even though she and her mother have fallen on hard times since her father's death and the disappearance of her brother, she remains resilient, even when her mother attempts to marry her off to the most eligible bachelor who can bring them financial freedom.  I loved how she was able to stand up to her socially snobby counterparts, the Virtue Sisters, even though she must maintain the appearance of being equal to them.  No matter what, Eleanor understands she must make her own choices, no matter how painful the consequences may be.  She must follow her heart and her wits.
     I thoroughly enjoyed SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY!  It was a refreshing, exciting read unlike anything I've read before, full of fascinating characters in a vision of Philadelphia I've never imagined before (since most Victorian-era books almost always take place in England or other parts of was a nice change to see this era in a U.S. city).  Everything from the details of the lush Victorian homes and drab city streets, to the claustrophobic, yet beautiful dresses and corsets the women were forced to crush their rib cages into, made me love the book even more. 
     If I had to find one downfall (and there'd only be one!) it would be having to wait more than a year to read the sequel!  It'll definitely be one to put on pre-order ASAP!