My Bookish Ways

Interview (& Giveaway): Erin Kelly, author of The Dark Rose

The wonderful Erin Kelly, author of The Poison Tree, and the upcoming The Dark Rose (Feb. 2nd), was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of my questions. Also, the wonderful folks at Penguin have provided 3 copies of The Dark Rose for giveaway, so be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!

Please welcome Erin to the blog!

You’ve written extensively for newspapers and magazines, and your first novel, The Poison Tree, garnered high praise! Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. I could read when I was three and was writing and illustrating my own stories from a year or two after that. I wrote creatively throughout my teens, but when I became a journalist in my early twenties, professional writing meant that fiction took a back seat for a while. Something about producing copy to deadline took the edge off my energy and ambition for a while, and besides, it was fun and distracting: there was always some exciting new job or assignment that stopped me writing that novel I was always talking about.

But the book had other ideas, slowly pushing its way to the front of the queue until I couldn’t ignore it any longer – and when I got pregnant, in 2008, that was the reality check I needed. For six months I wrote fiction all day, doing my freelance journalism in the evenings. At the end of that intense period, I had the novel that would eventually become The Poison Tree.

Your second novel, The Dark Rose, will be out in the US next week! Can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a contemporary psychological suspense novel but has many elements of Gothic fiction – there’s a seductive, ancient building, dual narrative, doppelgangers and like my first book The Poison Tree, the novel deals with the long shadows cast by past mistakes.

Two characters dominate the novel. Troubled teenager Paul has been led into a life of crime by his best friend and protector, Daniel. One night what started as petty theft escalates fatally, and the authorities send him to ground in a remote garden restoration project until he can testify. There he meets garden designer Louisa, who reacts to him with shock: Paul resembles Adam, with whom she had an intense affair that ended in blood.

The novel alternates between Paul’s point of view and Louisa’s. It’s dominated by the setting of Kelstice Lodge, the ruined Elizabethan hall where they meet but also flashes back to his adolescence in estuary Essex and hers in Kensington. We see them enter into a relationship and confide in each other, but it soon becomes apparent that the past is catching up with one – or both – of them.

What made you decide to write thrillers, as opposed to other genres?
I wasn’t thinking in terms of genre so much as writers my friends and I liked to read, and to talk about. Most of my favourite novels are literary fiction with a thriller or mystery element, like The Secret History by Donna Tartt, or The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
My favourite contemporary novelists are William Boyd, Kate Atkinson and Tana French. I love Ruth Rendell, especially when she writes as Barbara Vine. Going further back, I love Wilkie Collins, LP Hartley, Evelyn Waugh.

If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
That’s such a good question. I guess it would be Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, because that was the book that changed everything for me. I was about 14 when I read it for the first time, and used to Agatha Christie, who of course delivers perfect plots, but, you know, the writing… so when I read Rebecca I was just delighted to find that suspense fiction with such a perfect plot could be so beautifully written, and so unabashedly romantic. I remember closing it and thinking, ‘I want to do that.’

Have you ever “faked” reading a book, and if so, which one?
Yes, Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne, when I was at University. I read a synopsis and a friend’s essay five minutes before going into the seminar. I think I got away with it. I still haven’t read it.

You can’t fake reading contemporary fiction because the thing with booklovers is they want to talk about the books they’ve read and loved in such minute detail that you’d be found out within seconds.

When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
My daughter takes up most of my time. She’s three and the funniest person I know. When I’m not with my family, I like to run, catch live music, practice yoga, cook and eat out.

If someone were to visit you in London, and it was their first time there, where would you take them first?
They’ve got good walking boots, right? I’d take them to the River Thames. We’d start at The Houses of Parliament, get a fix of art in the Tate Modern, then we’d wind our way through the back streets around Borough Market, cross Tower Bridge, find a Hogarthian little pub to start the evening in. Then we’d keep going into the East End and get some Indian food in Brick Lane before retracing our steps in a black cab.

What do you love most about living in London?
That it still holds surprises for me. I’ve lived in and around this city for 35 years and I’m still discovering streets, even entire neighborhoods, that I didn’t know existed.

If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
To a yoga retreat in Kerala, South India. Much as I love my home town, I’m writing this on a freezing, wet January day. Everything outside my window looks grey, even the trees.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
I’ve just finished my third novel. It’s another stand-alone psychological thriller about a family weekend that turns deadly when the youngest son brings his new girlfriend to stay. As the weekend unfolds, it soon becomes apparent that many of the family’s past problems have a single, terrifying explanation and that the threat is still real and present.

After I’ve edited my third novel I’ll begin working on my fourth. I already know what it’s about. I could tell you, Kristin… but then I’d have to kill you.

Keep up with Erin: Website | Twitter
Read my review of The Dark Rose

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You MUST fill out the form below. (Plenty of chances at extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 3 copies of The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly to 3 winners.
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canada ONLY
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 2/1/12
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Books kindly provided by Penguin.

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Early Review: The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly

The Dark Rose: A Novel by Erin Kelly
Publisher:
Penguin/Feb. 2nd, 2012
Suspense
5/5
Kind thanks to Penguin for providing a review copy

“Paul was led into a life of crime by his boyhood protector, a bully named Daniel; but one night, what started as a petty theft turned into a grisly murder. Now, at nineteen, Paul must bear witness against his friend to avoid prison. Louisa’s own dark secrets led her to flee a desperate infatuation gone wrong many years before. Now she spends her days steeped in history, renovating the grounds of a crumbling Elizabethan garden. But her fragile peace is shattered when she meets Paul; he’s the spitting image of the one person she never thought she’d see again.

These two, scarred and solitary, begin a secret affair. Louisa starts to believe she can again find the happiness she had given up on. But neither of them can outrun his violent past.

REVIEW
A garden is being brought back to its Elizabethan splendor by a group of horticulturists, botanists and volunteers in the English countryside, and Louisa Trevelyan loves her days coaxing new growth out of the ground and unearthing old delights from the original garden, but is still haunted by a devastating event nearly 20 years ago. Paul Seaforth is sent to Kelstice Lodge to volunteer in the garden until the murder trial of his childhood friend, where he will serve as the star witness. Louisa is shocked when she sees Paul for the first time, since he is the doppelganger of the man she was obsessed with 20 years ago. Their lives will entwine in ways they never could have imagined, and each of their secrets will lead to shocking revelations.

I advise you to seek out a quiet and comfortable space when you start The Dark Rose, because you won’t be getting up for a while. The novel follows three separate timelines; the present, Louisa’s story, which begins 20 years ago (in 1989), and Paul’s story, which begins when he’s a young boy and comes full circle in present day. In spite of their 20 year age difference, Paul and Louisa are both victims of co-dependent relationships, although for very different reasons. Paul’s childhood friend, Daniel, was his protector against other boys who would have otherwise bullied him relentlessly. Bookish and shy, when Paul discovers Daniel’s weakness, he’s determined to protect him in his own way. Both have lost parents (Daniel’s mother and Paul’s father), and they naturally fall into a friendship. Things begin to escalate, however, when Daniel and his father begin to involve Paul in increasingly criminal activity, which culminates in the murder that Paul witnesses. Louisa’s obsession with rock singer Adam Glasslake is explored to heartbreaking effect. If you’ve ever loved someone just a little more than they love you, you’ll feel Louisa’s pain, even as you cringe at some of the lengths she goes to in order to keep a hold (however tenuous) on the handsome, brooding Adam. The author seamlessly weaves both stories together and I found myself glued to the pages, wanting to know what happened next. The atmospheric writing, taut characterizations, flawless pacing, and an unlikely, yet sweet, romance, will have you riveted, and there are some jaw droppers that I honestly didn’t see coming. Paul and Julia’s pasts, and futures, will come together in a shocking climax that will leave you breathless. Fans of flawless psychological suspense won’t want to pass this one up, and it will also appeal to fans of Tana French. The Dark Rose is absolutely not to be missed!

Pre-Order The Dark Rose: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Release Day Review: Horizon (Aftertime #3) by Sophie Littlefield

Horizon (Aftertime #3) by Sophie Littlefield
Publisher:
LUNA/Jan. 2012
Horror/Dystopian/Zombies
Aftertime Series
5/5
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a review copy

Cass Dollar is a survivor. She’s overcome the meltdown of civilization, humans turned mindless cannibals, and the many evils of man.

But from beneath the devastated California landscape emerges a tendril of hope. A mysterious traveler arrives at New Eden with knowledge of a passageway North; a final escape from the increasingly cunning Beaters. Clutching this dream, Cass and many others decamp and follow him into the unknown.

Journeying down valleys and over barren hills, Cass remains torn between two men. One—her beloved Smoke—is not so innocent as he once was. The other keeps a primal hold on her that feels like Fate itself. And beneath it all, Cass must confront the worst of what’s inside her dark memories from when she was a Beater herself. But she, and all of the other survivors, will fight to the death for the promise of a new horizon.

REVIEW
Cass Dollar and her young daughter Ruthie have settled into an uneasy existence at New Eden, after the events of Rebirth left her lover, Smoke, in a coma. She continues her affair with Dor, and is dedicated to Ruthie, her garden of new growth, and kaysev, which is essential to the food supply of New Eden.

Soon, the Beaters start to show an unnerving proclivity to learn things such as group hunting (of humans, of course) and even swimming,so the residents of New Eden must flee their home. When another group swoops in on horseback to help, with stories of a safe enclave to the north, the structure of New Eden is threatened, and loyalties are tested as they make their way, hopefully, to safety and a new life.

Cass has been through so, so much, and Horizon is probably the toughest on her. No, it definitely is. Cass is struggling, again, with sobriety, and in this terrifying new world, full of Beaters (the cannibalistic infected) and human dangers, alcohol is a slippery slope; one which Cass will find herself sliding down more and more each day, but she’s determined to pull out of it, not only for Ruthie’s sake, but for her own. Cass, not the warmest and fuzziest of women to begin with, has trouble connecting to others in the camp, and keeps to herself as much as possible. This may have a little bit to do with the fact that she was actually one of the infected once, but recovered, and as a result, is something just a bit more than human. One of the things I loved most about Horizon is that finally, Cass is beginning to actually like herself. Everything has been about her daughter, which is, of course, a good thing, but there’s always been a vein of self loathing in Cass, but that’s finally being replaced by hope and a will to live. The love triangle between Cass, Smoke, and Dor is heart wrenching, especially since Cass can’t seem to let go of the fact that Smoke left her to avenge a past transgression. Has Dor taken his place in her heart? I’ll leave that one for you, but I will say that not only is Horizon Cass’ story, of course, we also get to know Sammi, Dor’s daughter, quite a bit better, which I really enjoyed. There is not one simple character in these novels. They are full of rich and fully developed people as well as an environment thick with hardship and almost constant danger. There are a few jaw droppers in this one, and some mysteries from the past novels are wrapped up, to nice effect. Ms. Littlefield’s writing is as taut, raw, and soul wrenching as always, and she doesn’t flinch from hard truths. She also doesn’t skimp on the action (and yes, that definitely means zombies), and keeps the tension ratcheted up to a deafening scale. If you’ve already discovered this series, you’ll love Horizon just as much as Aftertime and Rebirth, and if you haven’t, I envy you the ability to read the series straight through, because it’s so, so good. The author has captured magic in a bottle with this series, and I highly recommend it!

Purchase Horizon: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Read my review of AFTERTIME
Read my review of REBIRTH

New Releases: Jan. 24th, 2011

There’s some great new releases this week, so check ‘em out (most release Jan. 24th)

Urban Fantasy/Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror:
Horizon (Aftertime Novel) by Sophie Littlefield | REVIEW
Boneyards by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A Warrior’s Desire (Harlequin Nocturne) by Pamela Palmer
Hitchers by Will McIntosh
Claimed by a Vampire (Harlequin Nocturne) by Rachel Lee
Everything is Broken by John Shirley
Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon (Burton & Swinburne) by Mark Hodder
Clash: Recast, Book 2 by Yolanda Sfetsos
Tooth and Nail by Jennifer Safrey
The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar
The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories (ebook) Ed. by Amy and Jeff Vandermeer
Darker After Midnight: A Midnight Breed Novel by Lara Adrian
Priestess of the Nile by Veronica Scott

Mystery/Thriller
Four Below: A Detective Inspector Liam McLusky Investigation by Peter Helton
Taken by Robert Crais

Young Adult:
Forbidden by Syrie James
Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Pink Smog: Becoming Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
Havoc: A Deviants Novel by Jeff Sampson
Fallen in Love: A Fallen Novel in Stories by Lauren Kate
Diabolical (Tantalize) by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Review: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The Rook by Daniel O’ Malley
Publisher:
Hachette/Jan. 2012
Fantasy
5/5

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

REVIEW
The Rook was another pleasant surprise for me this year. When I started, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but very quickly became absorbed in Myfanwy’s story. It gets off to a fairly creepy start with Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas coming to, in a park in London, surrounded by a gaggle of dead bodies wearing latex gloves. Intriguing, yes? Oh yes. Soon Myfanwy realizes she’s part of a super secret organization called the Chequy that has been put in place to protect the unsuspecting public from supernatural baddies. Wait, did I mention she’s lost her memory? Good thing her former self, going on premonitions from more than one individual, has left her prepared by way of a rather thorough binder full of info, to notes left in every jacket pocket. This sets up pretty well who Myfanwy Thomas was before she lost her memory: very organized, dependable, and, oh look!, she’s also a Rook. A Rook’s status is important, and she also realizes that she has some very special powers…

The Rook goes back in forth between events as they happen, and the notes and info that Myfanwy left for herself, so you get to know the former Myfanwy, as well as the current Myfanwy, who turns out to be not near as much of a wallflower as she was before. It provides a great contrast, and you’ll find yourself turning pages very quickly, since the author uses this method to tease the reader. Just when something not-so-good is about to happen, the book will go to a bit of related history that Myfanwy has written that’s somehow connected to the ongoing events and we also get to know many of her supporting cast this way. So, we have Myfanwy trying to acclimate herself back into the Chequy, coming to terms with her new self, and also trying to solve the mystery of just who it is that wants her dead. Then there are the Grafters¸ an ancient, evil organization that takes Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments to a whole, other, terrifying new level. The Rook has a bit of everything, from a secret Estate (school) that procures children with special “talents” for inclusion in the Chequy, members with many different and fascinating talents, like the Gestalt, which is four bodies that share one mind (creepy, yes?), Myfanwy’s intrepid secretary, Ingrid, who she would be lost without, Eldritch horrors menacing the public at every turn (tentacles! fungus!), a sexy vampire operative and ever so much more! I could write pages about all the cool, paranormal awesomeness in this book, but that would take away the fun, yes? Dry, wry, British wit is ever present and I found myself chuckling almost as much as I cringed (and you will cringe). The author has built a rich, fascinating world populated with characters that stretched the limits of my imagination in a wonderful way. I found myself sad to see this one end and will keep my fingers crossed for more. Can’t wait to see what else Daniel O’Malley has up his sleeve!

Purchase The Rook: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Review: Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/June 2011
Mystery
4/5

The tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has just arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans, the city she’s avoided since her mentor, Constance Darling, was murdered there. Claire is investigating the disappearance of Vic Willing, a prosecutor known for winning convictions in a homicide-plagued city. Has an angry criminal enacted revenge on Vic? Or did he use the hurricane as a means to disappear?

REVIEW
I was in the mood for a mystery, and something different, and I got both in Claire DeWitt. Claire is in post Katrina New Orleans after being hired to find a man’s uncle who went missing during the terrible flooding. Claire explains her usual high fees and begins her investigation. As Claire has witnessed time and time again, nothing is ever really what it seems, especially in a missing persons case, and soon Claire realizes that she might have her hands full with this one. Vic Willing, a high profile DA, disappeared about 18 months earlier, and his nephew Leon, feels a duty to hire someone to investigate, especially since his uncle left everything to him. Never particularly close to Vic, Leon is unable to provide many details about his uncle, but that’s ok, because Claire is on the case.

Claire DeWitt is such a quirky little book, and it manages to suck you in pretty quickly (at least it did me). Told in Claire’s wry and world weary voice, we follow her as she navigates the sometimes lawless streets of post Katrina New Orleans, digging up clues, smoking the occasional joint, and generally pestering people until she gets what she wants. Claire thinks pretty highly of her skills, having been a devotee of the famous French detective Jacques Silette, and she’s not one to let people put her off. She’s a complex character, and throughout the investigation, gives us little tidbits of insight into her childhood and past, which have much to do with the person she is today. Sporting the pain of one of her best friend, Tracy’s, disappearance at only 16, and the homemade tattoos of her and their other friend Kelly’s initials on her wrists, as well as the sudden death of her mentor, Constance, Claire is quite a force to be reckoned with. While on the case, she befriends a teenage troublemaker who may or may not have something to do with Willing’s death, is shot at, and is certainly not welcome with open arms by the secretive community.

The devastation of a storm ravaged New Orleans provides the perfect background to the investigation of a man that holds his own secrets, and parts of this story will break your heart. Ms. Gran’s prose is spare, but it certainly gets the job done, and her knowledge, and obvious love for, the fascinating history and heart of New Orleans is on full display. It comes in at a bit under 300 pages, so you’ll zip through it fairly quickly, and the author manages to pack quite an emotional punch in such a thin volume, also expertly weaving just a smidge of the supernatural in for a heady mix. This is the start of a series, so I’m sure that more will be learned about the disappearance of Claire’s childhood friend, Tracy, in future novels. At least I hope so, since it’s such a heavy burden that Claire carries. Nevertheless, Claire DeWitt is a highly entertaining and atmospheric mystery, and I can’t wait for future installments!

Purchase Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Review: Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4) by Richelle Mead

Shadow Heir (Dark Swan #4) by Richelle Mead
Publisher:
Kensington/Jan. 2012
Urban Fantasy
Dark Swan series
3.5/5
Kind thanks to Kensington for providing a review copy

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land’s prophecy-haunted queen, there’s no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld. . .

The spell-driven source of the blight isn’t the only challenge to Eugenie’s instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can’t trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can’t—or won’t—reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon—and risk the ultimate sacrifice. . .

REVIEW
Shadow Heir picks up soon after Iron Crowned left off, with Eugenie pregnant with twins and doing her best to keep away from Kiyo and Maiwenn’s assassins, who are convinced her son will fulfill a dark prophecy of his grandfather, the Storm King. She’s still smarting from Dorian’s betrayal with the Iron Crown, and in spite of his insistence that he’s there for her, it’s hard for her to trust him again. When her twins finally come, she’s forced to make a hard decision that will keep them safe. When she discovers a blight has been magically cast on many of the lands in the Otherworld, including her own, she knows she must do something to help, or risk possibly losing everything dear to her.

Shadow Heir is the final book in the Dark Swan series. The tension that made Eugenie and Dorian’s relationship so much fun is still there (he really is trying to win back her trust), and Ms. Read’s writing is top notch, as usual. Court intrigue and action abound, and I always love Eugenie’s voice. However, some of Eugenie’s decision making in this one stumped me, and there were a few things that I saw coming (and a couple that I didn’t). But, I suppose that’s one thing readers (including me) love most about Eugenie. She’s very much her own woman and strong willed enough to handle just about anything that comes her way. Aside from all that, there’s no doubt I enjoyed Shadow Heir, and while the conclusion is a little more “open” than I’d like, well, life is like that, right? Sometimes it’s fun to daydream about what’s next for our heroine, and of course, wish her and all of our other fave characters a happily ever after. I’ll miss Eugenie, but I’ll definitely look forward to what Richelle Mead has in store for us next.

Purchase Shadow Heir: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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Giveaway: All Things Wicked (Dark Mission #3) by Karina Cooper

All Things Wicked, the 3rd book in the Dark Mission series by Karina Cooper, releases on Jan. 31st, and it just so happens I have an extra copy! Wanna win it? Check out the book and giveaway details, and good luck! If you wanna read my reviews for Blood of the Wicked and Lure of the Wicked, feel free to do that too!

About All Things Wicked:
Juliet Carpenter thought of the coven as family, but when she falls for a man who betrays them all, she’s left alone and desperately searching for a reason why. Caleb Leigh has spent the past year in hiding, unable to escape his demons. When Juliet finds him again, her need for vengeance clashes with the hunger still burning between them.

It’s a fight born from the embers of a half-forgotten attraction and the wounds of a past too raw to ignore. With enemies circling and secrets threatening to consume them, Caleb has no choice but to fulfill a promise made long ago—protect her, save her. Even if it costs him his blood, his body . . . and what’s left of his mind.

**GIVEAWAY DETAILS**
1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries!)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of All Things Wicked by Karina Cooper.
3. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only
4. Must include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/26/12
6. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. E-Books kindly provided by Avon Books.

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Giveaway Winners: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and Dreaming of Books Hop

I’ve got 3 giveaway winners to announce today! Thanks to everyone that entered and congrats!

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Congrats to Steve Zielinski

Cinder (and mirror) by Marissa Meyer

Update as of 1/21/12: 1st winner never responded, so new winner is Kayla Beck!

Enclave by Ann Aguirre and Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari

Congrats to Latoya

*Winners were chosen by Rafflecopter, have been notified, and have 48 hours to reply. Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Early Review: Sadie Walker Is Stranded: A Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux

Sadie Walker is Stranded: A Zombie Novel by Madeleine Roux
Publisher:
St. Martins Press/Jan. 31, 2012
Horror/Zombies
5/5
Kind thanks to St. Martins Press for providing a review copy

MONTHS AGO THE WORLD ENDED…

…when an unknown virus spread throughout North America and then the world, killing millions of people. However, that is where the horror only started. The dead began to rise and when they rose they had an insatiable appetite for the living. A new hell had been unleashed on earth and the fight for survival had just begun.

Sadie Walker is one of the survivors in this new world. Living in north Seattle behind barrier that keep the living in and the dead out, she trying to get back to a normal life, while raising her eight-year-old nephew, if anyone even knows what “normal” is anymore. Then everything goes sideways when Shane is kidnapped by a group of black market thieves and they bring down a crucial barrier in the city while trying to escape, and flood the city with the walking dead. After rescuing her nephew, Sadie and Shane escape Seattle on the last remaining boat, along with other survivors. However, now they must face the complete chaos of a world filled with flesh eating zombies and humans who are playing with a whole new rule book when it comes to survival in their journey to find a new place that they can call home.

REVIEW
So, what do you do if your 8 year old nephew is kidnapped by your supposed boyfriend and his group of thugs, intent on selling him to the highest bidder? Oh wait, also, this group of idiots, intent on making their escape, brings down part of the wall around Seattle that’s keeping the walking dead out, flooding the city with moaning, groaning flesh eaters. If you’re Sadie Walker, you rescue your nephew and catch a ride on the last boat out of the harbor, intent on getting you and your nephew, to safety. Sadie, along with her nephew, Shane, and her good friend Andrea (one of the few people left that she trusts), know it’s going to be tough going, but they’re hopeful that they’ll find safety, maybe in the San Juan islands. It’s not the best plan, but it’s the only one they have. When zombies strike, and they run aground ahead of schedule, they’re forced to make camp and hope the area isn’t infested with zombies. Desperate to reestablish trust with Shane, Sadie is determined to make the best of a bad situation.

Bad situation doesn’t begin to cover it. Picking up 7 months after the outbreak that caused zombie hordes to decimate humankind, every day is a struggle, and artist Sadie is finding it hard to leave her old life behind. Her nephew depends on her, however, and that’s a big part of what keeps her going, even in the face of pretty crappy odds. Aside from the zombies, there are a few members of their little group that she’s not sure she can trust, and when they meet another group on the other side of the island, things really begin to get interesting. So, when the going gets tough, Sadie asks herself: What would Allison do?

The Allison in question is Allison Hewitt from Allison Hewitt is Trapped, the first zombie novel by Madeleine Roux. I loved Allison Hewitt, so I had high hopes for Sadie Walker, and wasn’t disappointed. In Sadie Walker, Allison is become a folk hero, and is an inspiration to Sadie when things are looking especially bleak. Ms. Roux’s writing is top notch, and she manages to take the zombie genre and keep it alive and kicking, so to speak. There’s plenty of zombie killin’ action, and the author doesn’t shy away from throwing plenty of adversity at our heroine and her friends. Sadie is a tough cookie, but her vulnerability does shine through, especially when it comes to her nephew, and trusting others. When a rather hunky former cop tests the bounderies of that trust, Sadie finds her priorities shifting, and when a very human danger threatens her new “tribe”, she’ll have to dig deep and find the strength to save her friends. This is such a great series, and near impossible to put down. I really love how the author tackles the small details of survival and what the aftermath of such a horrendous event would be like, while creating tense scenarios among well rounded and rich characterizations. Horror and UF fans will find much to love with Sadie Walker. Just like Allison Hewitt, this one’s a keeper!

Read my review of Allison Hewitt is Trapped
Pre-order Sadie Walker Is Stranded: A Zombie Novel: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
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