A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Catholic, with Asperger's, who reads and writes as her obsession. These are the ramblings of the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to mystery thrillers, Catholic theology, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction & Victorian fiction and non-fiction, but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that, both fiction and non-fiction. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of juvenile/teen books, with a nod towards what parents can expect to find that might or might not be objectionable.

I also blog about graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

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Monday, April 14, 2014



I just need a break from blogging after 7 years with no down time (and that doesn't include my other blogs pre-book blogging!)

I AM STILL READING AND REVIEWING, though, and if you want to keep up with me your two best options are:

1) Follow me on Goodreads for *all* my reviews.

2) Follow my Twitter Feed for links to the best, the really good or unique books I reviewed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

132. Blake 187: A Zombie Revolution by Aiden James & Michelle Wright

Blake 187: A Zombie Revolution by Aiden James & Michelle Wright.  (buy)

Rating: (4/5)

Jan 13, 2014; Curiosity Quills Press, 191 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"By the twenty-seventh century, eons of war, disease, and climate change have diminished the earth’s population. Those who remain must struggle to survive.

Towns worldwide have sunk into coastal waters. Deadly viruses kill thousands each day, and a dangerous man with a bad past—Pye Peters—wields an iron grip on the ‘zones’ that have survived nature’s purge. Severance, Peters’ radical new order, likes it simple: Exploit the ‘breathers’, and use advanced medical techniques to revive the newly deceased.

Thousands are brought back from the dead, kept animated and docile by use of medication that prevents the typical rabidness of zombies. To ensure the changes take, these modern versions of the undead are forced into a harsh rehabilitation program. Blake 187 is one such rehabilitee."

Received an ecopy from the publisher.

This is an entirely different type of zombie book!  A unique and unusual approach that had me intrigued from the get-go.  Here the zombies are the good guys, they only have a small problem that if they don't get their meds they will go rabid and eat anything living in sight, but other than that, they are the poor, oppressed, downtrodden members of society.  In a dystopian future ruled by a maniacal despot who controls the world through the usual methods proven through history: with drugs, brainwashing, taking away hope, forbidding religion, controlling the right to arms, creating a depopulation and a procreation system devoid of any need for the family unit.  All of these have been used in the past and are used today, making such a reality possible. However, since this is science fiction other controls are in place such as the complete control of weather (and this doesn't mean hot & sunny, but bringing on earthquakes when the despot thinks it's necessary) and the Zombie program.  All dead bodies in preservable condition are taken to the program where they are revived through, science and medicine, into Zombies.  This is where Blake finds himself after he kills himself and the story continues as he makes a few friends who attempt to escape the terrible work compound they are forced to live on.  Then a survival story as our group, who meets new people, learns how to live on the Outside, learns horrifying truths about the political world they've escaped and meet up with people who kill, lie, betray and deceive as a way of life.  Yet there are always one or two, a person can trust and this small group vows to make changes and become part of the Zombie Revolution.  A good quick read, with an excellent, unique plot that kept me interested throughout.  I found the characters a little stale, the dialogue somewhat stiff,so I didn't connect with them on an emotional level, yet I enjoyed their adventure.  The ending is one where the reader can image that now they are set and their lives will continue on past the pages of this book,or it could all just be the set up for a sequel.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

130. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  (buy)

Rating: (4/5)

1989; Dell/Doubleday, 137 pgs

Ages: (10+)

"As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war."

Purchased a copy from a used book sale.

I've read this 1990 Newbery Medal winner a few times now and always find it a well-written light WWII story, yet one that still packs a punch at the impact Nazi occupation and persecution of Jews had upon the everyday citizens.  This is a good first book to read regarding WWII as it does not contain any descriptions of the horrors, yet it does lightly touch upon the subject matter while making an emotional impact.  At the base it is a story of friendship between two Danish girls, one who is a Jew.  The story touches upon the "relocation" of Jews, the Danish Resistance, the Danish occupation, the general attitude of the Nazis and the fear of those living under occupation.  It is a touching story that gently deals with death and heartbreak while also giving a good historical background on Denmark's WWII history.  The author's note at the back is a goldmine of information and will have many clamouring to learn more on the subject matter.  A worthy Newbery winner, imho.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

126. Last Message by Shane Peacock

Last Message by Shane Peacock.  (buy)
Seven, the series

Rating: (4/5)

Oct 10, 2012; Orca Books, 256 pgs

Ages: (10+)

"Adam has a good life in Buffalo: great parents, a cute girlfriend, adequate grades. He's not the best at anything, but he's not the worst either. He secretly lusts after Vanessa, the hottest girl in school, and when his dead grandfather's will stipulates that he go on a mission to France, Adam figures he might just have a chance to impress Vanessa and change his life from good to great. When he gets to France, he discovers he has not one but three near-impossible tasks before him. He also discovers a dark and shameful episode from his grandfather's past, something Adam is supposed to make amends for. But how can he do that when he barely speaks the language and his tasks become more and more dangerous? Despite the odds, Adam finds a way to fulfill his grandfather's wishes and, in the process, become worthy of bearing his name."

Borrowed a copy from my local library.

This is the final book I read in the Seven series.  The series' great claim is that the books do not have to be read in any specific order and I ended up with this one because Peacock was my favourite author from the seven presented.  This was a satisfying book for me to end with, but generally it would not have mattered when I had read it throughout the series as it has no connection with the other stories.  This is one of a handful of the books that delves deeply into the Grandfather's adventure quests for the grandson's, the Grandfather's past and brings another dimension to his personality which we have gradually gleaned from some of the books.  This is the most dangerous quest any of the boys have been sent upon, they seem rather grandiose and could be life-threatening, if not illegal.  Making for an adventurous read though.  I had high hopes for this volume, what with Peacock as the author, but he strays from his usual writing style somewhat and while I enjoyed it immensely this is no "Boy Sherlock Holmes" nor did it become my favourite book of the Seven series.


A few words on the series Seven as a whole: Kudos to my favourite book which ended up being Devil's Pass by Sigmund Brouwer with Jump Cut by Ted Staunton following up as close second favourite.  Overall, as a series,  I found Seven successful.  Of course, with each book authored by a different person, some were better than others, but as a whole very satisfying.  The ability to read the books in any order is unique and I enjoyed the experiment of randomly picking the reading order based on whatever criteria I felt would make a next good book.  I think a person's personal experience will be slightly different by the order the books are read in, but it will not dampen the level of enjoyment of the series as a whole.  The books have an overall related theme but are each an individual story not connected to the others, the only difference here is that I would read  Ink Me by Richard Scrimger and Jump Cut by Ted Staunton one after the other as events in one are connected to the events in the other, but which comes first doesn't matter.  Just a little advice from a reader.  Not necessary to follow:-)

FANTASTIC NEWS: In October 2014, the same 7 authors will return with The Seven Sequels:

"New secrets will be brought to light…

When a visit to their grandfather’s cottage leads to the astonishing discovery of a hidden cache of passports and foreign currency, the grandsons from the bestselling Seven (the series) begin to suspect that their beloved grandfather was a spy, or even worse, a double agent. Determined to unearth the true story of their grandfather’s mysterious past, the seven cousins set off on seven new adventures that will take readers from the depths of the Caribbean sea to the top of the London Eye.

Read One. Read them all. YOU choose the order."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

121. Apocalyptic Organ Grinder by William Todd Rose

Apocalyptic Organ Grinder by William Todd Rose (buy)

Rating: (5/5)

June 17, 2013; Hydra/Random House, 86 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"William Todd Rose reinvents the zombie story with a thrilling novella of a post-apocalyptic America where saviors are heroes … and heroes are killers.

A fatal virus—a biowarfare experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting world—has reduced the once-mighty United States to a smattering of tribes duelling for survival in the lawless wilderness. The disease-free folk known as Settlers barricade themselves in small villages, determined to keep out the highly contagious Spewers—infected humans who cannot die from the virus but spread the seeds of death from the festering blisters that cover their bodies.

Tanner Kline is a trained Sweeper, sworn to exterminate Spewers roaming the no-man’s-land surrounding his frightened community. As all Settlers do, Tanner dismisses them as little more than savages—until he meets his match in Spewer protector Lila. But when hunter and hunted clash, their bloody tango ignites a firestorm of fear and hatred. Now, no one is safe from the juggernaut of terror that rages unchecked, and the fate of humanity hangs on questions with no answers: Who’s right, who’s wrong … and who’s going to care if everyone’s dead?"

Received an egalley from the publisher through Netgalley.

At only 86 pages this is an intense novella, with chapter breaks, focusing on characteristics and feelings of two differing post-apocalyptic species and certain members.  A typical hypothesis that I enjoy with post-apocalyptic novels: the evil virus that wipes out the population, at least most of it. The lucky ones die, the not so lucky ones live and the least fortunate ones become something mutated, less than human. Rose brings a unique vision to the table here though that makes for some fast paced, heart-pounding, sickening feelings and a reader looking for a moral high ground can not find one.  Written in alternating viewpoints, first from a man who is a Sweeper. His job is to keep the settlements clean from the remaining infected ones who carry the disease, show all symptoms of it, but it does not kill them, though they still are highly infectious.  These people are wild vermin who must be exterminated before they can infect the last of the pure human race left.

The other view is from an infected female warrior leader, a Spewer, covered in huge boil like lesions which fill with puss and burst frequently spewing the infectious swill wherever it lands.  The Spewers may have the disease but it is only a condition to them not life-threatening.  They live their lives in tribes, hunting, gathering and staying away from Sweepers who will randomly come out and shoot and kill them on sight.  The Spewers are an intellectual society, with a religious and moral order that they follow before making any decisions, while the "clean faces" think them savage and unable of reasonable thought.

Yet, each side is driven by pure fear for the very existence of their own people, they each become just as vile and torturously murderous as the other.  These Spewers can be compared to the zombie but they are much more intelligent and dangerous.  The unaffected humans are too scared and fearful to put forth any kind of harmony agreement.  While reading the story, both main characters were ethically repulsive to me  but I did waver between having more concern for one than the other back and forth through the story.  Until the end.  Righteously so, at the end of life one can only get back what one freely gave away to others.  The end is a fitting one and stunning.  Will look for this author again!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

49. BOOK TOUR: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie's Story by Freddie Owens

BOOK TOUR: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie's Story by Freddie Owens (buy)

Rating: (4/5)

Nov 15 2012, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 315 pgs

Ages: (18+)

"Nine-year-old Orbie has his cross to bear. After the death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Now, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; a fact that lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky. 

Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers. And, when he meets the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of powers that might uncover the true cause of his father's death. As a storm of unusual magnitude descends, Orbie happens upon the solution to a paradox at once magical and ordinary. Question is, will it be enough?."

Received a review copy from the author.
Book tour courtesy of Pump Up Your Book

This was a complete joy to read and one of my favourite "types" of stories.  A book about boyhood in Kentucky during the 1950s.  Coming of age, southern fiction, historical fiction, racial relations: all "genres" that appeal to me and nothing better than to find them altogether in one well-written book.  Not too soon before I started this book I had finished "Little Joe" by Michael E. Glasscock III and it felt like this was going to be the same kind of book, and it was, generally speaking, but Orbie's Story is so much more raw, real and explores the nasty side of people and the old maxim that "what doesn't kills us makes us stronger".  For 9yo Orbie, his grandparents, his mother and his 5yo sister live a hardscrabble life, meet with opposition because they don't hold with the segregated south's proprieties and for Ruby, the mother, abuse from her second husband.  As the story progresses a dangerous mystery is exposed and not only is house, home and livelihood threatened but their very lives.  Owens sets us down into segregated 1950s Kentucky with no holds barred, the language is rough, the racism is rampant and ugly but Orbie is a little boy wise beyond his years who catches glimpses of his elders motives for what they truly are.  An added magical realism element comes with an enigmatic black snake-handler preacher man, who frequently disappears for long periods of time.  He recognises the power in Orbie and Orbie feels its strength.  The book also deals with a Christian message, one at cross purposes with itself at times as true believers, hypocritical believers and non-believers live either together or in close proximity with each other.  I truly enjoyed the people and world Mr. Owens immersed me in.  I had one problem and that was that the book meandered without a decisive plot, not much happens in the grand scheme of things.  I do like character driven novels, am one of those people who do enjoy a good book where nothing happens but here there is always a feeling that something is going to happen or did happen that nobody knows about and there is that expectation for the reader that never comes to fruition.  At least until the final 75 pages or so,  then the tension mounts, the book reads faster and we are rewarded with that something we expected after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DC Super Heroes Chapterbooks: Batman vs Catwoman, Superman vs Bizarro

118. Superman vs Bizarro by John Sazaklis. Illustrated by Luciano Vecchio (buy)
DC Super Heroes
Superman & Family

Rating: (3/5)

Jul 1 2013; DC/Capstone, 56 pgs

Ages: (8+)

"Bizarro is back! This backward version of Superman has plans to remake the Earth in his own image, and he's not taking No--or, is that Yes?--for an answer. Can the Man of Steel save the day before this evil opposite turns Earth into an alternate reality?"

Received a review copy from Capstone Publishing..

I'm a big fan of this easy chapter book series featuring DC superheroes and villains.  Full of action, fun to read and use of colour and crazy fonts on sound affect words give these chapter books a comics feel.  The title is a bit off on this one.  Bizarro is treated like the mentally challenged relative in this story and that doesn't quite rub me the right way. The real villain here and the "vs" of the title is really Metallo, a giant robot who is always after Superman and when he finds two, that's even better than one as far as he's concerned.


123. Batman vs Catwoman by J.E. Bright.  Illustrated by Tim Levins.  (buy)
DC Super Heroes
Batman & Family

Rating: (4/5)

Jul 1, 2013; DC Comics/Capstone Publishing, 56 pgs

Ages: (8+)

"When a priceless, jewel encrusted bird statue is installed atop a skyscraper in Gotham, Catwoman has her eyes--and her claws--on the prize. But when she puts her paws on the curious statue, this feline gets caught up in the Penguin's foul power play."

Received a review copy from the publisher, Capstone Publishing.

I like this series and this latest entry is a fine example of it at its best.  A fast-paced action plot that portrays the superheroes/villains well.  Catwoman isn't really the villain in this book though she starts off by trying to rob the Penguin when Batman first confronts her.  Catwoman gets her back up and the two are battling from the get-go, but soon afterwards Catwoman escapes and finds out the Penguin is about to destroy Gotham so she and Batman team up against Copplepot and the fighting action never stops.  Purely plot driven, but Bat, Cat and Penguin are true to character throughout.  Will keep young readers or DC fans entertained.  Tim Levins is a veteran DC artist, which makes for rewarding illustrations.
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