Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

Melanie loves school, and she loves her teacher, Miss Justineau. Yet, a school day for Melanie involves being strapped into a chair at gunpoint, restrained through all of the lessons. Regardless, Melanie thrives, soaking up knowledge and stories and culture. Soon, Melanie will have to act on her knowledge, and her actions may change the world. A brilliant coming of age zombie novel. Who knew there was such a thing?

Zombies seem to be the creature of choice today, where once vampires definitely took top billing. The Walking Dead, World War Z, Zombieland, Warm Bodies–all zombie stories. Most zombie stories don’t have a happy ending, due to the nature of the beast. Zombies eat your brain and make more zombies, after all. However, in “The Girl with All the Gifts,” we have different take on zombies. Zombies may have ended the world, but one young zombie girl may be the start of a new one. I really can’t say more, but Mike Carey, the author, has written for Hellblazer, Marvel’s X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere comic adaptation. He has great skill in not only writing a good zombie story full of great action, but he gives us very strong characters as well. This is an excellent book, and one I highly recommend.

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Filed under fantasy, horror, science fiction

Double Whammy, by Gretchen Archer

Double Whammy, by Gretchen Archer

Double Whammy, by Gretchen Archer

Davis Way (her real name), from Pine Apple, Alabama (not “pineapple,” for the uninformed) has bad luck with jobs. So when Mr. Sanders, CEO of the Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi offers her a job, she is beyond thrilled. But when parts of her job involve wearing disguises, playing video poker, working as a hotel maid, and dealing with slightly sinister security guards (nicknames: No Hair and Teeth), Davis becomes wary of her role in the bigger scheme of things. Yes, they are giving her oodles of cash, but what about the warnings of impending doom from a mysterious, and possibly homeless, cab driver? What about her instructions to stay away, at all costs, from her boss’ wife, Mrs. Sanders? And what about the reappearance of her scheming and vile ex-husband, Eddie? Davis is unsettled, to be sure, but resolute to keep her job at all costs. She takes solace in her new obsession with her absent landlord, Bradley Cole. (He left pictures behind, and Davis may or may not have rooted through all his belongings to find more.)  When dead bodies start to show up, Davis’ new career is launched into high gear. Now, in addition to the figuring out who is doing all the scamming at the casino, she needs to figure out who is doing all the killing. Twist and turns, laugh-out-loud situations, and a cast of quirky characters make this mystery a winner. First in the Davis Way mystery series, the second book is titled “Double Dip.”

This is a Henery Press title, and like all of their titles, the ebook editions are only $2.99. (Cheap is good!)

 

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Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey

Maud can’t find her friend, Elizabeth, and no one seems to be able to help her find her. Maud is challenged in her task, for Maud has dementia. Pieces and parts of her life have already gone missing, and she survives by clinging to those bits and snatches she still has left. Elizabeth is a critical part, and Maud is fiercely determined to find her, regardless of the lack of help from her family, neighbors, and friends. And so Maud sets off, and we set off with her. We learn, as we journey with Maud, that Elizabeth isn’t the only person missing from her life; her sister is missing as well, lost  long ago. In Maud’s increasingly muddled mind, the veil between the past and the present has become thin. As Maud follows clues to find Elizabeth, we, the reader, also learn of her sister’s story, and see the depth of pain that Maud has carried with her for a great many years.

This is a haunting tale that reminds us, even if the rest of our lives are stripped away, the love of our family and friends is what’s most important. Maud’s friend Elizabeth is missing, and she misses her. Maud is forgetful…she knows that. She writes notes to remind herself of important things to do, but her notes all say that Elizabeth is missing. We see the world through her eyes, perhaps a little too closely. Maud is holding on as tight as she can to those things she holds most dear. Perhaps, before the last of her memories fade away, Maud can find all that she’s lost, at least one last time.

The book will remain with me for a very long time. Dementia and Alzheimer’s rob us of more than just our memories…they threaten to rob us of dignity as they progress. Maud and her family  face her difficulties with great dignity and love. I would hope that the rest of us, when faced with such trials, could do as well.

 

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

Elisa is the second daughter of the king of Oravalle, and is the complete opposite of her sister. While her sister is beautiful, graceful, and always at the center of attention, Elisa is overweight, clumsy, and shy. She really isn’t all that important to the kingdom, this second princess, and she very well knows it. Except, in Elisha’s case, she was blessed with a special mark from God on her naming day. On that day, God put a sparkling blue, living stone in her navel, a favor that is only given every 100 years. It means that the bearer will perform a special service for God, something large and important. Elisa is pretty sure she’s not up to the task, for she is pretty sure she doesn’t have the talents for much of anything, except perhaps eating.

Then, on her sixteenth birthday, Elisa’s life changes quickly and forever. She is married to King Alejandro, handsome ruler of a neighboring country, and whisked away to his homeland. And just as quickly, she is made aware of the threat of invasion from the hostile forces of the county of Invierne. Life in the palace isn’t peaceful either, as political currents swirl all around the inner court. Elisa must call on hidden strengths as she tries to puzzle out her place in the increasingly tense situation. And then, when she is kidnapped, the entire situation changes again. Now Elisa must find a way to complete her service, help her people, and find love, all at the same time.

This is a very special book. Elisa is a strong character, one faced with an almost insurmountable task.  Rae Carson immerses you in the story, and gives you a cast of complex, wonderful characters. This is a fast-paced adventure, and you will feel the tension as Elisa faces the challenges before her. If you liked other fantasy titles such as “The Throne of Glass,” by Sarah J. Maas and “Graceling,” by Kristin Cashore, then you will love “The Girl of Fire and Thorns.”

 

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