“Waiting On” Wednesday: Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

Waiting On Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Extraction big Extraction
by Stephanie Diaz
Publication date: July 22, 2014 from St. Martin’s Griffin

Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface – it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers – and that means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.

Review: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

This is not a Test This Is Not a Test
by Courtney Summers

ISBN-13: 9-780312-656744
Publication: June 2012 from St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: purchased
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

What do you do when the line between the living and the dead is blurred?

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High, but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors.

Now seems like the perfect time to give up…

For Sloane Price, the end has never been something to fear. Six months ago, her world collapsed, and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

As the days crawl by, and the motivations for survival change, the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life – and death – inside.

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This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is a beautiful showcase of humanity persevering through the apocalypse. The zombie apocalypse. With a memorable and complex cast of characters, Courtney Summers delivers a gripping story of one girls struggle with wanting to live or die.

The character introduction of Sloane in the beginning of the novel is wonderful. The reader immediately gets the sense of her home life, and that she’s a little bit broken – but tough. The time jumps from the beginning of the zombie outbreak to when Sloane and the rest of the group she’s traveling with find relative safety in their high school help speed the plot and yet still give glimpses into this newly infected world. The cast of characters is diverse; each one having their own issues, insecurities, strengths, hang-ups and interests. The actual interactions with zombies are few and far between – This Is Not a Test is definitely a character piece – but the attacks we see are intense and terrifying. As the future becomes more uncertain, their stronghold is breached, members of the group fight amongst themselves and Sloane’s apparent death wish is noticed, the tension and fear escalates. And then the dying starts.

4.5 heart

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers is one of those books – zombie or otherwise – that has you holding your breath for the majority of the story, hoping that the characters you’ve come to care about make it through to the end. The development of the characters, especially Sloane, throughout the course of the book is staggering and a testament to Courtney Summers phenomenal writing. There are so many questions and uncertainty at the end of the novel, and yet…there should be. It’s a zombie book, after all, and those tales are not so easily wrapped up. There is hope, though. And who could ask for more than that.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler

“Waiting On” Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Ashes of Twilight
by Kassy Tayler
Publication date: November 13, 2012 from St. Martin’s Griffin

Wren MacAvoy works as a coal miner for a domed city that was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century to protect the royal blood line of England when astronomers spotted a comet on a collision course with Earth. Humanity would be saved by the most groundbreaking technology of the time. But after nearly 200 years of life beneath the dome, society has become complacent and the coal is running out. Plus there are those who wonder, is there life outside the dome or is the world still consumed by fire?

When one of Wren’s friends escapes the confines of the dome, he is burned alive and put on display as a warning to those seeking to disrupt the dome’s way of life. But Alex’s final words are haunting. “The sky is blue.” What happens next is a whirlwind of adventure, romance, conspiracy and the struggle to stay alive in a world where nothing is as it seems. Wren unwittingly becomes a catalyst for a revolution that destroys the dome and the only way to survive might be to embrace what the entire society has feared their entire existence.

Review: Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

 

Dead of Night
by Jonathan Maberry

ISBN-13: 9-781250-000897
Published: October 2011 from St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But before he can be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. Can two small town cops contain the plague before it spread beyond all control?

Dead of Night has everything I could want in a zombie book. I was kept up late at night reading and I may have even had a zombie dream or two, not gonna lie. Zombies are my thing right now – I’m fascinated by them. Mostly because there is no one right way to write about a zombie. Fast or slow, virus or spell, intelligent or brain dead, there are so many possibilities. Jonathan Maberry’s zombies are just how I like them, though – shuffling, brain-dead, why-won’t-they-just-die cannibals. From a virus. Always a plus!

Dead of Night actually takes place over a very short amount of time…only about twenty-four hours from first bite. And rather than be a story about a global apocalypse (though I do love those), the twenty-four hours showcase how and where the dreaded zombie apocalypse could start. Who would ever think it would be in small town America? From the moment our two main character cops Dez and JT come across the first risen bite victim, I started a body count – and that body count rose quickly. There are blood, guts and body parts galore, and that brief moment when you as the reader know that “there are zombies behind you, oh my god,” and want to yell at the unsuspecting cops to aim for the head!

Besides my obvious love for the zombies, I do still need some purposeful story to keep me entertained, and Jonathan Maberry delivers. Officer Desdemona (Dez) Fox is a kick-ass female lead who is brash, ballsy and one of those people you’re not sure you like right away but come to appreciate when it comes right down to it. Dez may not always be the best or nicest person, but she’s a good cop and by the end of the book I was cheering for her so hard. And her partner, JT Hammond…oh man, I don’t want to give anything away but…JT. An older cop, he’s still able to hold his own and blow away some zombies. Dez and JT compliment each other really well in temperament. He’s cool and collected, she’s loud and anxious. One of the other main characters of note – besides the serial killer who starts it all, Homer Gibbon – is Billy Trout, local news-reporter and on-again-off-again boyfriend of one Dez Fox. Billy’s character is our way of finding out the back story to the zombie apocalypse and his sections flow really well with Dez’s parts. We get some insight into Homer Gibbon, and the doctor that infected him with the virus. The voices in this book are all so unique and well written, but the best one? The zombie point of view. I was so excited to read parts from one of the first zombies, Doc Hartnup (mortician who accepted Homer Gibbon’s “body” into the funeral home). His thoughts are so intense, and really make you feel for the zombie.

Dead of Night is a zombie novel that is about more than just the zombies. Jonathan Maberry’s take on how a zombie virus could come about is in-depth, well thought out and I’d believe it. Why not? There are odder ways for a zombie apocalypse to start! Characterization and writing drags you in and keeps you running for your life while zombies and the military are hot on your heels. I really enjoyed the glimpses into his idea of how the government would respond to a viral outbreak with an almost 100% infection rate. Everything in this book comes to a deliciously intense ending that had me gripping the book, afraid someone would make me put it down in the middle of such an intense scene. And the very end…dude. That’s all I have to say. Love. If you like your zombies definitely dead and gory, your book with substance and don’t mind leaking emotions all over the place, Dead of Night is for you. Go read it.

(Me, I’m going to be reading more Jonathan Maberry. Starting with the one on my shelves, Dust & Decay!)
(Parents: there be foul language and zombie violence afoot. Proceed with normal caution)

ARC copy received from St. Martin’s Griffin and the author in exchange for my honest review.

13 to Life by Shannon Delany

13 to Life
by Shannon Delany
ISBN-13: 9-780312-609146
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I loved it!

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing. Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But while showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent – he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid.

I am absolutely loving 13 to Life. It’s such a fun debut, with strong characters, a steady plot, huge mysteries and some teen romance.

Jessie is roped into showing the new boy at school around to his classes. Pietr is a broody new student that arrives with his own police escort, and immediately sets a fire of feeling under Jessie. Amidst school assignments, crushes, homecoming, animal scares and carnivals, Jessie finds herself drawn into Pietr’s world – and it’s not necessarily as normal as everything else in Junction.

Jessie is one of the best female characters I’ve read about this year. Her mother died pre-book, and though she is struggling to cope, she is still a strong-willed young woman. She works hard at home caring for her family horses, is on the school newspaper, gets good grades and maintains her friendships. Jessie has a slight martyr complex and tends to cling to certain ideas once she gets them in her head, but hey – she’s human. Pietr is our mysterious, broody Russian who’s new in town (I’m a little confused as to why Pietr has a feminine last name – Rusakova. My Russian co-worker informed me that as a male, his last name should be Rusakov. However, I was lucky enough to join in a chat tonight where Shannon gave a sneak peak at the prologue of book two, Secrets and Shadows, and it looks like the reason behind his last name is explained). Pietr immediately latches on to Jessie – despite her best efforts – and slowly opens up to her throughout the course of the novel.

Speaking of opening up, I really enjoyed the fact that Shannon Delany didn’t tell the characters’ backstory in large chunks, but rather let us have small glimpses as the facts became relevant until we had a more complete understanding of what had gone on pre-story. Of course, Pietr’s life is still quite the mystery since we have two more books to come, but Jessie’s past becomes a lot more clear. The romance between Jessie and Pietr is fraught with tension due to Jessie’s friend Sarah, who you just know is going to be difficult to handle as the series continues.

My favourite part of the plot? The nice long buildup we have to the werewolves. Jessie doesn’t find out until near the end that Pietr is a werewolf, so we as readers are only guessing up until then (though we know we’re right ;)). The novel was more about the relationships between the characters – Jessie and Pietr, Jessie and her friends, Pietr and his family, etc. – than about the supernatural. Naturally, I’m assuming the next book will deal more fully with the werewolf aspects of the plot since Shannon left us with a big ol’ cliffhanger, and Jessie is still reeling from the knowledge of what Pietr’s secret actually is.

13 to Life kept me completely entertained from start to finish. Shannon Delany is a wonderful debut author who has written a book that easily joins in my favourites of the year. I can’t wait to find out more about her werewolf lore, and where Jessie’s and Pietr’s relationship is going. Stay tuned for an interview with Shannon on June 30th!

13 to Life is part of the 2010 Debut Author Challenge