Your Flyleaf is Showing : Alice in Zombieland

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I have absolutely no clue how this is going to look. Is the app smart enough to turn it into a gallery? Guess we’ll find out.

Hi, everyone! After 3,000 miles and a crap ton of packing and unpacking, I am officially bringing you this latest blog from Ohio. That’s right! I have made my triumphant return to the Lower 48 from AK. Now, when I post late at night, it will be late at night East Coast Time, not Alaska-Seriously-No-One-But-Me-is-Awake-in-the-World Time.

And due to my long absence as I brought 2 cats, a car, and over 500 books over two borders (okay – the car was shipped – but that might have been the biggest hassle of all!), I am returning with my series: Your Flyleaf is Showing. A look at the gorgeous book art hiding beneath the jacket.

I’ve been holding onto this post since Alice in Zombieland fell into my hands. Holy geez is the book design gorgeous. I have to apologize for the blurry photos – I was about to put this beaut in a box and was a touch rushed – but I hope it shows the awesome detail the latest from Gena Showalter contains beneath the dust cover. I am basically in love with it.

The story itself is a good one – zombies that only a few can see. Alice, quite suddenly and tragically, being one of them. To be perfectly honest, I was hoping for a few more parallels to Wonderland, since the book title and series title, (The White Rabbit Chronicles,) clearly invokes the children’s classic. Since there are more to come, I’m hoping the connection becomes stronger as the world builds. We shall see.

Otherwise, this is a fun and creepy – remember, we’ve got Zombies! – book to gobble up. The romance, while predictable, had me grinning ear to ear in parts. I did struggle with Alice – she’s so abrasive with her father at the beginning and her character turn around took longer than I hoped – and it took awhile to start rooting for her. Once I did, though, I wanted more!

Interestingly, I had a harder time with Alice’s gal pal Kat. Which, normally, I love side kicks. And she had me at parts. But on the whole, she was a lot to handle. And most of my eye-rolls came from something she did/said/instigated.

You may or may not have noticed, but I don’t cover a lot of zombie books here. It isn’t my fave genre, to be blunt. So I can’t tell you if the zombie world created here was original or unique or anything. But I can say that I quite enjoyed the non-zombie baddies. Usually, I think. Zombies are the bad guys. MORE THAN ONE SET OF BAD GUYS HERE.

Mostly, though, I really wanted y’all to see the gorgeous work put into this book. Cause man, it is beautiful.

Now that we are back up and running, you should be hearing from me soooooooon!*

* this is my first post using an app. If it looks wonky or awful, blame that? And I’ll fix it tomorrow on an actual computer. But fingers crossed it works the first time!

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Check, Check, Check 1

Doing a check to see if this app works.

Dear App gods – please don’t erase all of my previous posts like I saw one app reviewer comment say. That would be a very, very sad (albeit, first world) nightmare.

Check 1, 2. Check 1, 2.

Fingers crossed.

The Reece Malcolm List

 

The Reece Malcolm List coverby Amy Spalding

Devan’s life changes in a blink with the death of her father. Moving across the country. No more best friend. No more beloved high school theater. And she’s going to live with her mother. The reclusive, famous writer Reece Malcolm. Whom she has never met. And only has a small list of (Internet-sourced) information about.

Her list is bound to get longer if she’s actually living with Reece, right?

Look. Let’s just put this out there riiiiiiight from the start. I am a musical theatre* junkie. I mean, I like theatre in general. But musicals? Musicals are my jam.**

So, clearly, there’s a special spot in my heart for books about musicals. And The Reece Malcolm List is one of those books. The opening paragraph name-checks the Hair track, Aquarius. Troy Bolton and the closed-to-soon Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson are mentioned. This is a big deal (and super varied) for me. As Kelly sometimes says, this is a Kellie book. It’s just good to get this information out there, I think. I am genetically predisposed to like this book. Or positively, absolutely hate it.

Luckily, I felt the former, not the latter. Oh, Reece Malcolm, you made me very happy.

I know with the introduction I just gave it seems like this is All Musicals All the Time. And there are a lot of references and situations involving theatre – the main character is trying out for a production of Merrily, We Roll Along – but it’s not ALL about theatre. In fact, it’s really about a mother and a daughter trying to figure out who they are separately and together.

What I liked best about Spalding’s book was the way she spread out the drama. It’s a book about relationships and theatre and the drama isn’t DRAMA all the time. There was an ever-changing subtlety to the tension, or lack thereof, between characters as the book developed. I keep wanting to use the word “pitch” to describe this. The pitch of the tensions changed flawlessly.

I’m not even sure that made sense, but there you have it. It’s just how I feel, guys.

Just incredibly well-done all around. Enjoyable, heart-breaking and -warming. A delight. Just a delight.

Also – for those, like me, who are musical junkies, Amy does a kick-ass blog series called Musical Theatre Mondays on her website. I highly recommend checking it out.

*I am that person that spells it “theatre.” If you’re going to the theater – it’s the movie theater. The theatre is a stage. It’s just how I roll, guys, for clarification.

**Just ask my coworkers who are frequently subjected to the awesomeness that are broadway cast recordings.

 

Beyond the Buzz!

People of my [very] tiny corner of the Internet!

The lovely Nova Ren Suma, who recently published 17 & Gone, was awesome and let me guest post on her Beyond the Buzz series!

Go check it out and take note of how I have a hard time making decisions! And how fancy I look in the picture at the bottom. [Taken in the Pump Room in Bath. Which is pretty appropriate, for literary reasons.]

Then read all of the other awesome entries in the series and watch your To Read list SOAR.

Happy Tuesday.

~kell

Butter

By Erin Jade Lange

Butter coverButter is morbidly obese. Over 400 pounds. And not popular. Online, though, he can be whoever he wants – including a friend-and-maybe-something-more to the popular and pretty Anna. 

Knowing Anna’s waiting for him online is nice, but doesn’t help when Butter’s dealing with bullies, jerks and anyone’s snide comments at school. He snaps. And decides to eat himself to death. Live on the Internet. On New Year’s. For all to see. And judge.

 

So, Butter. An interesting one. I want to put this out there from the get go: Lange can write. And the premise is incredibly fascinating.

Unsurprisingly in this day and age of reality tv, Butter’s (aka JP) popularity soars when his website goes live. And he’s suddenly grappling with liking the attention, but understanding the attention is still to do with his weight – not his personality.

Like I said, lots of interesting things happening in this book. And the story is engaging and maintains a pretty even pace – all things I like.

I had to say all of that first because the ending RUINED the book for me. Entirely. Massive spoilers ahead, guys.

So, when JP is in the hospital after trying to kill himself with food, he is weighed and realizes he’s lost a lot of weight. The reason he lost the weight? He was STARVING himself while he hung out with the popular kids. Luckily, he acknowledges the fact this is a really, really bad and unhealthy way to lose weight. But it’s that initial starved weight loss that encourages him to continue. SUCH a mixed message. Do not like. At all.

Also – and this is the thing that got me REALLY fired up – JP is friends-with-a-possibility-of-more with Anna online. When he gets popular, Butter also becomes friends with Anna – but never tells Anna he and JP are one in the same. However, Anna finds out (which leads to other things I will not spoil) and, unsurprisingly is upset. BUT. At the end of the book, she let’s him off the hook! She tells him that she’s mad (at him, but not the online him – shwha?), but that they can continue to possibly pursue something! What?!? He gets what he wants even though he lied and deceived to get it? Because he’s a nice guy? That is NOT the definition of nice I would use! Ugh. Anger.

So, yeah. I had problems with Butter. But it was a highly thought-provoking book. Would lead to some interesting discussions in a book club, I would think. It certainly exposes some scary truths about high school.

So, read it for yourself and see what you think!

Your Flyleaf is Showing : The Diviners

Hello, people of the Internet!

Today you are witnessing a Moment In History. And by “moment” I mean a thing I finally decided to do. And by “in history” I mean it may never happen again, so it is unique.

I have created a series. For this blog. That I’m really excited about. It’s called Your Flyleaf is Showing* and this is the first entry** in the series.

What is this series about, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It is about book binding. Not the art of. But a celebration of the books that embrace that art. That relish in it. Knowing FULL WELL the population at large will never see or embrace the love that went into it. So I want to expose this injustice! Set the Binding Free! Strip them of Their Clothing! Embrace the Hidden Book Art! (etc.)

I also will include a brief review of the book I’m covering (unless I’ve reviewed it before). It’s probably just going to be easier to dive right in. So let’s do that. The very first book in the series is (drum roll, please!):

The Diviners, Book 1
by Libba Bray

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I frequently compare this book to The Avengers because it is about a group of awesome people – with different origin stories – assembling. Set in New York City in the bustling 20s, this tome (it clocks in at just under 600 pages) kicks off Bray’s new series featuring the occult, speakeasies and awesome 20s lingo.

It is A LOT of book. And there are A LOT of people, places and things (read: nouns) the reader has to track throughout the book. Evie, who mostly serves as our main character, brings it all together as the nucleus of the story. Most of the connection threads running through the various stories run through her and she is certainly the focus of the book’s action.

What I think Bray does best in this book is merge elements of fun with elements of creepiness into the same plot. The mood of the book isn’t interrupted because there’s a funny scene or a creepy scene (and there are PLENTY of these), nor does Evie’s lightheartedness take away from her reaction to those creepy scenes.

I think the “problem” with Evie – or, at least, a problem I can see people having – is her slang. It’s like a second language, but one I found appropriate for Evie. She wants to be the bees-knees SO BAD and her language (and attitude) completely reflects it. She is That Girl. A touch annoying, a little selfish, but always well-meaning.

On the whole I really liked The Diviners. Bray’s writing is always lush and always makes me laugh. While it is the start of a series, it doesn’t leave you with that awful unfinished feeling other series have at times. Also, I hope it instills the proper amount of fear in Ouija Boards that I firmly believe all people should have.

* Title courtesy Brynne!
** And possibly the last. We all know how I roll by this point.

Mystic City

by: Theo Lawrence

Mysic City coverAria and Thomas are the perfect star-crossed lovers. They met in secret – down in the dangerous underworld where revolutions are hinted at – and kept all knowledge of their relationships from their warring, ruling families. But, due to their cannot-be-parted lives, they became engaged and put an end to decades worth of fighting and political maneuvering. Truly, a tale for the centuries.

   Except Aria is having memory problems. Huge gaps, actually. And, for being so much in love, she doesn’t seem to be able to stand Thomas for long periods of time. And she keeps seeing a mysterious stranger…

Read in one sitting. Late into the night. And that description? It didn’t even get into the fact MAGIC is involved. Yeah.

So, clearly, there’s a lot going on. We’ve got a dystopian society. Within the society there’s the warring between families and the rebellion of the underworld (read: magic) people. We’ve got an interesting take on magic (and fancy gadgets!). Some memory issues. Lies. Deception. Hot dudes. Girl fights. Etc. Etc. Like I said, a lot. Going. On.

Which isn’t a bad thing – the plot moves at a quick pace and manages to mostly keep everything in order. There were a few twists and turns (esp. at the end) that probably weren’t necessary, but it wasn’t enough of a wrench to really throw me off the storyline.

It’s always interesting to merge a dystopian society with magic elements. Which technically means it’s really not a dystopian – unless magic was discovered between now and the time of the book. But, that’s really neither here nor there. Just know there are elements of present day society (and it’s theoretical eventual ruin) reflected in this book in addition to supernatural elements. And, if I’m being honest, I wish the world building had been a bit stronger towards the beginning.

Lawrence dives right into the intrigue – which totally works! – but because the world is kind of…presented as we go, some of the elements can be seen as convenient rather that a restraint of the new world.

I liked all the main characters. I thought some of the secondary characters (Thomas, specifically, and all of Aria’s friends) were a bit thin and stereotypical. I also want my villains to be robust and I was left wanting in that category.

But, as I mentioned above, this is a very fast book. Action ALL OVER THE PLACE. And quite a thriller. I’m very, very interested to see what happens in the second book. I just hope a lot of these sort of sloppy elements are cleaned up a bit.

Oh, and as a note, I’m not particularly on board with the comparison blurbs to The Hunger Games. Aside from a fast plot, a teen girl protag and being set in a possible future, nothing else is similar. And there are A LOT of books that have those same elements. I get wanting to make that connection, but no. It’s a bad one. Shrugs.

Available: Now!