Friday, August 19, 2011

A Good Old-Fashioned Southern Haunting

Published: 07/12/2011
Texas Gothic
By: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 978-0385736930

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face. 


 Amy Goodnight is the gatekeeper between the normal world and her family's supernatural, kitchen-witch lifestyle. All she wants is a normal existence...or at least that's what she tells herself. So when she goes to house-sit for her Aunt Hyacinth for the summer with her sister Phin (Delphinium!) she's not expecting anything too out of the ordinary. First she's accosted verbally by Ben McCullough, a boy about her age who is part of a family with a 'ghost' problem who resents her family's hocus pocus. Then a spirit attaches itself to her and wants her to find what happened to him. Plus, there's a dig site where Ben's family was building a bridge and multiple human remains have been found. Add that to threatening notes, slashed tires, and hot makeout sessions alternating with verbal blowouts with Ben. Mix it all together and Amy is in for one helluva summer! I truly enjoyed this book. I'm not completely in love with it because it just didn't connect with my heart the same way it did with my funny-bone, but I do like the twists and turns that keep you going and the snarky sense of humor shared by Amy and the author. Also, Phin is a wonderful supporting character, good-hearted and genius smarts, but totally commonsense and human interaction clueless.  I really enjoyed the surprise visit by their cousin Daisy, who has a connection to spirits of the dead. It makes for some fun times. Plus, all the college kids from the dig site were a really great addition to the narrative and added to the flavor of the book. I really liked how Clement-Moore drew from actual historical events and places in Texas.  Amaryllis 'Amy' Goodnight was a self-sufficient, likeable heroine who was in search of her own purpose in life and the place she fits into her family AND into the rest of the world.  It was really awesome to tag along for the ride as she figured it out.  Overall a very enjoyable read and definitely worth the time spent.  I would recommend this to people who don't mind a heroine who is an older teenager (Amy is newly a high school graduate), a fast-paced story and fun characters who keep you hooked.  This book is a true slice of Southern sweet potato pie and you should only dig in if you're not afraid of calories!

VERDICT: 4/5  Stars

*No money was exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores and online.*

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Upcoming Reviews...Books that Are on My Bedroom Floor

Hello my friends and welcome to this blog! :)  This post is to get y'all excited about upcoming reviews based on the books that are sitting on my bedroom floor right now.  And let me tell you, there are A LOT of books on my bedroom floor right now!  So I'm just gonna give the titles for the top five in my to-read pile at the moment.
Texas Gothic
By: Rosemary Clement-Moore

It has witches, kooky family members, ghosts, mystery, and a really hot cowboy!  Need I list more reasons for reading this book?

Those That Wake
By: Jesse Karp

This has quite a few points in its favor.  It feeds my dystopian addiction, it has crazytown plot points according to the description and this guy has compelling word skills if the excerpt on the back of the book is any indication!

The Book of Lies
By: Mary Horlock

This book is set on the island of Guernsey and it combines a historical storyline and a modern muder plot that are interconnected by members of the same family.  Plus the different stories take place during World War II and the 1980's - two of my fave time periods.  Looking forward to it.

 The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group
By: Catherine Jinks

The title itself is compelling and just kinda weird cause I never equated werewolves with an abuse problem or a need for rescue...but the main character wakes up naked in A DINGO PEN.  With no idea how he got there.  Seriously.

 Darkness Becomes Her
By: Kelly Keaton   

Showing some serious cover-love for this one and it has the point in its favor of having what sounds like a futuristic society.  Plus its the first book in a series titled "Gods and Monsters."  But the cover was what drew me in initially.                                               
Also, I'd just like to give a quick thank you to everyone following my blog.  It truly means the world to me.  And I have a few ideas in my other than just book reviews for this blog.  I think that I might also review movies, do books versus movies reviews, and maybe review a T.V. show or two in the fall.  Let me know if you have any requests and I'll consider them.  Just shoot me an email and I will respond because I'm always looking for ways to expand my mind! :)

Dearly Departed...Can I Hide Under Your Parasol?

Available: 10/18/2011
Dearly Departed
By: Lia Habel
Del Ray Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0345523310

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.


   Nora Dearly has been raised as the proper New Victorian young lady, but rather than calling on neighbors and making an advantageous match, her interests lie in war and politics.  All Nora wants is to not be alone in the world as an orphan, with scheming Aunt Gene who has brought them to the verge of financial ruin.  Is a little adventure and excitement a little too much to ask for?  Be careful what you wish for Nora, it may just bite you in the backside Zombie-style!  One evening when killer zombies try to kidnap Nora from her home, Company Z flys in to the rescue, led by Captain Bram Griswold and made up of 'good' zombies.  Can Nora learn to trust Bram and the others enough to help save some semblance of civilization and to hold her life together after a shocking revelation about her Father? 

.  So, this book is SO MUCH MORE than what the description makes it out to be! If you were to listen to the blurb, you'd think it was a Romeo and Juliet-type book with zombies. NOT THE CASE. What little romance there is happens to build very slowly and isn't realized until the end of the novel. This book belongs to the characters and their personal trials and tribulations. Ms. Habel switches points of view between Nora, Bram, Nora's best friend Pamela, Nora's father Victor,and a few times she tackles the thoughts of Wolfe, the living military commander of the Z Company. I was impressed by how seamlessly Victorian ideals, fashions and lifestyles were interwoven with technology. I particularly liked that this was a slightly dystopian, post-apocalyptic society with a very thought-out and intricate governmental system and secret military operations. Nora and Pam were very strong female leads for this novel and even less realized characters such as Vespertine Mink (the girls' school nemesis) and Michael Allister (mealy-mouthed boy next door) were entertaining and added to the story. Near the end of the novel there is a particularly entertaining incident with Pamela and Michael which I will not spoil for readers in this review! :) Chas, Tom, Coalhouse, Renfield, Dr. Samedi and Dr. Beryl Chase bring a very human element to the plight of the zombies and all of them have wonderful personalities that lend a witty flavor to the narrative (Samedi's detachable head is particularly amusing).  There are also are well-developed villains who take your breath away in some scenes and leave you terrified of their recklessness/insanity in others. I myself am not a particularly avid fan of zombie literature. But this novel is far more than just another zombie book. It has a heart and soul, with wonderful characters tying it together. I would recommend this fast-paced, thrilling, adventurous book that HAPPENS to include zombies to anyone that loves a smart, sharp read.

VERDICT: 4.5/5  Stars
*No money was exchanged for this ARC copy or this review* Don't forget to put this one on your to-read list and definitely check it out when it becomes available in October! :)