Author: Emily Murdoch
Date: May 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Buy the Book • Goodreads
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND ...
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey's younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the "normal" life of school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won't let her go ... a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn't spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
Simply, this was a beautifully sad but uplifting tale. When I began reading, my heart ached with that familiar feeling when I know I’m reading something special. If You Find Me had me loving, laughing, crying and hoping nothing but the best for the girls. Big hugs to them both.
The book starts at what Carey considers ‘The End’. Home for Carey and her sister Jenessa is with their drug-addicted mother in a beat down camper van hidden away in a Tennessee national forest. One day, after her mother has been gone for over a month, her father and a social worker come to see the girls to introduce them back into ‘normal’ life. Carey has terrible memories of her mother taking them away from her father, and Jenessa has been mute for a year, ever since a faithful incident that haunts Carey’s conscience.
Seeing Carey and Nessa’s struggles with readapting back into society was beautiful. I was so touched every time they found joy in such mundane things, like taking a shower, or having food that wasn’t beans. I began to appreciate everything more, and realised how lucky we are to have all the comforts we take for granted like food, shelter and clean clothes. It was incredibly moving when Carey started to miss things from her life in the woods, like the wood smoke from their campfire and the sound of the trees, and this book is littered with so many other little glimpses of humanity.
I attribute this to Murdoch’s evocative writing. Carey is a wonderful narrator—her complexity of feelings and point of view is fascinating. Murdoch uses Carey’s unconventional upbringing to bring a beautiful lyricism to the writing and the quirks like Carey’s tendency not to pronounce ‘g’s or call everyone ‘Sir’ added a touch of realism. Apart from her unique voice, I just really admired Carey. She’s one of the bravest characters I’ve read in YA fiction, not because she’s jumping on trains or great with a bow and arrow, but for her sheer tenacity and ability to act and accept like she does, despite her horrible luck in life. She’s truly exceptional. I was so pleased for her when she made friends with Pixie and Ryan, who I thought was incredibly sweet.
I walked the line between happiness and heartbreak throughout the whole book. I wanted so much good to happen for the girls that I was on my toes the entire time, praying that nothing will go horribly wrong. I loved all the goodness that the girls experienced and how they were treated by their new family, but queasy with dread whenever I read about their life in the woods. My only qualm is that I didn’t feel the flashbacks were integrated smoothly into the story, and broke the flow.
Safe to say I cried at lot at the end. It was an incredibly moving book and one that will stay with me for a long time. A real must read!
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date: March 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena's emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever...
Told from the alternating viewpoints of Lena and her best friend Hana, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to an exhilarating end and showcases Lauren Oliver at the height of her writing powers - emotionally powerful and utterly enthralling.
I fear the end of an incredible journey with a series. Partly because I don’t want the world to be closed forever, sometimes it’s because I don’t want the fandom to end, but mostly it’s because I don’t want to be let down. I want it to end WELL. So as much as I was looking forward to Requiem after the fantastic Pandemonium, my fears were realised. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Requiem takes place after the shocking end of Pandemonium. It alternates between Lena’s point of view and Hana’s. Lena is back in the Wilds, and struggling with her personal demons (boys, naturally) while the Invalids plan a big stand against the government. On the other hand, Hana’s wedding to Fred, the new mayor of Portland, is fast approaching. While her life seems perfect, she’s starting to question whether her cure is working and discovering things about her future husband-to-be that make her very afraid.
I didn’t dislike the book, quite the contrary. The same things I loved in the first two books were present in spades, like Oliver’s beautiful prose and how she tugs on my heartstrings. Lena’s sorrow and pain are beautifully described and my emotions switched between heartbreak and anger at the Lena, Alex and Julian situation (mainly because I thought it should’ve clearly been Julian). I also thoroughly enjoyed Hana’s return, and I found her life and the mysteries in it very compelling. It was interesting to read from the point of view of someone who is essentially supposed to be devoid of emotions, but struggles how to deal with these feelings bubbling to the surface.
The book definitely suffered from the ‘Deathly Hallows’ syndrome, where too much of the story was unnecessary wandering around the Wilds. I felt awful for the situation that they faced, but raced through these frankly boring parts. The Invalids seemed aimless for most of it, and despite the brief little glimpses where Oliver explores the pain of having loved and lost, it should’ve just fast-forwarded to the story’s culmination in Portland.
I was so annoyed about these slow sections because about 80% through the book, I found myself thinking and writing ‘holy snapple’, a phrase I have never once uttered. The book got GOOD. The rebellion was in full force, everyone had a plan, the tense excitement I felt for much of Pandemonium was back—this was what I was waiting for. Then I started to panic as I realised I only had a measly 50 pages left of the book and so much I still want to see happen and resolve…that never did. There were some fantastic scenes towards the end, my favourite being the one where Lena and Hana finally meet, but what about everything else? What about the characters I have come to know and love? What about the state of the world?
So there you have it, a disappointing ending to what I still feel is a great series—not because of the quality of the book, but because I wanted more. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like this.
Welcome to the start of the blog tour for the incredible sounding novel Deadlands by Lily Herne. When I was asked by the fab publishers Constable & Robinson, how could I resist? It had zombies, selection lottery, renegades and a unique setting, everything I could want in a dystopia. The book is out today so read on for more details about it and what Cape Town is really like from the authors themselves.
Release: 18 April 2013
Publisher: Much-in-Little, Constable & Robinson
A zombie apocalypse has hit South Africa, and it’s up to the Guardians to keep them at bay… for a price. A dazzlingly cool debut from mother-and-daughter duo Lily Herne, that leaves you hungry for more.
It is ten years since Cape Town was destroyed in the War with the Living Dead. Zombies roam free in the city’s suburbs, known as the Deadlands, and the remaining living are fenced in by heavily walled enclaves in urban shantytowns. Watched over by the sinister, shrouded Guardians, the living are protected from danger. But at what cost?
Once a year, the Guardians stage a lottery, selecting five teenagers for a secret purpose. No one knows why they prize teenagers bodies so highly, but seventeen-year-old Lele de la Fontein isn’t going to hang around to find out. Seeking escape and fleeing into the Deadlands, she finds safety with a group of teenage renegades known as the Mall Rats. Social misfits, they hold an amazing unexplained power: zombies are not interested in them.
But who are the Mall Rats? Are they the answer to Lele’s prayers, or is she about to find herself in more trouble than she can imagine? As questions emerge, Lele embarks on a high-octane adventure, discovering how people are not often what they seem, and how sometimes we have a destiny we could not even have dreamed about. Gripping and thought-provoking, Deadlands is a piercing and intelligent debut.
Guest Post from Lily Herne
Mention Cape Town to most non-South Africans, and it’s likely that an image of Table Mountain will pop into their heads, along with the ear-melting shriek of vuvuzelas (courtesy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup).
Dubbed a city of contradictions, it’s impossible to visit Cape Town without being aware of the poverty that underlies the city’s surface charms; it’s evident from the second tourists exit the revamped airport and catch sight of the staggering expanse of Khayelitsha – Cape Town’s most populous township. That said, few tourists will truly experience the reality not shown in the glossy brochures – most will visit bohemian Kalk Bay, ramble up Table Mountain, wander around the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, shop at the Waterfront, eat and party on Long Street and Sea Point. The city is a top tourist destination for a reason – it has natural beauty, fabulous restaurants, and distractions in spades. But there’s nowhere else in South Africa that the staggering rich-poor divide is more evident. The very rich live in gated communities and mansions in the suburbs of Bishopscourt, Constantia, Llandudno and Camps Bay, but the majority of the population live a very different existence in the sprawling townships of Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Langa and Masiphumele. Hout Bay’s wealthier citizens live cheek by jowl with the residents of Imizamo Yethu, an informal settlement that has grown over the years. Then there are the so-called ganglands of the Cape Flats – an area of the city where many of the coloured population were forced to relocate during the dark days of apartheid.
When we decided to use Cape Town as the backdrop to Deadlands, we chose to subvert the city’s demographic divide. After a cataclysmic event, in which the majority of the city’s population is reduced to a mass of zombiesque mutants, we needed to figure out where our survivors would hole up. We chose to create a walled enclave situated in the heart of Khayelitsha, leaving the once-extravagant suburbs to the living dead (much as it is now).
After razing the city’s landmarks to the ground, we decided to up the horror quotient by leaving only one building standing: Cape Town’s largest shopping mall, Canal Walk. We’re not a fan of shopping malls, the sameiness of the chain stores, the too-bright lighting and the dead-eyed mannequins, so to be deliberately perverse, we left this as a reminder of the old world. The mall aside, there was something cathartic about destroying the city’s infrastructure and allowing our survivors to start again from scratch. However, people being people, the society they create is sadly, in some ways, just as fraught with tension and inequality as it is today. We came to the conclusion that the real horror in the novel isn’t from the shambling mutated suburbanites after all, but stems from the choices made by the living.
About LILY HERNE:
Find them on:
Lily Herne is the name for mother-daughter writing duo Sarah and Savannah Lotz. With Sarah being one half of horror writer S.L. Grey, together the pair have best-selling writing experience coupled with sharp-edged teen insight. Sarah lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and Savannah lives in Norwich, UK.
I’m thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for Zenn Scarlett, one of Strange Chemistry’s new speculative fiction releases.
About Zenn Scarlett
Release: 7 May 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
When you’re studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school… is a different kind of animal.
Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she’s learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she’s feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn’t enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she’s started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can’t deny what she’s feeling.
Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what’s happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she’s actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients… or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year….
Guest Post from Christian Schoon
Zenn Scarlett tells the story of a young exoveterinarian student working her way through the toughest interval of schooling she’ll ever face: an exovet’s novice year. So, we’re talking daily hands-on encounters involving the diagnosis and treatment of gigantic, often dangerous alien animals, brain-taxing course work and testing in everything from exotic biology and pathology to exo-planet ecology and alien cultures, plus a daily roster of chores around the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic where she lives and trains. And, in Zenn’s case, you can add a few additional issues like the loss of her exovet mother during a risky procedure on a colossal animal known as an indra, an absent, grief-stricken father who seems to have suddenly dropped off the map, a local towner boy who’s showing a new and distracting interest in her and, strangest of all, the disturbing feeling that lately she’s been… sharing thoughts with some of her alien patients.
OK then, we have a few stress-bringers going on here. So, what kind of character is Zenn and how does she cope with all of the above, and a few more issues I haven’t had the heart to mention? First off, she knew that most of this work load was coming. Any exovet in their novice year can expect to be overworked, underappreciated and generally pushed to the limits of their endurance. This is entirely deliberate. It tends to quickly eliminate from the program the candidates who enrolled because “Gee, wouldn’t it be fun to be a vet who gets to hang out with crazy-interesting off-world creatures all day and have people think you’re cool?” Yes. These people generally run for the cloister’s main gate sometime in the first week.
Zenn knew what she was getting into because she was born and raised at the Ciscan Cloister, in the deep end of the Valles Marinaris on Mars. Her mother Mai was an exovet, and Zenn never admired anyone as much as her mother. So, pretty much since she was old enough to walk, she’s tagged along with her Uncle Otha, the clinic’s director-abbot, as he made his daily rounds taking care of the cloister’s menagerie of patients. And this has given her an advantage, of course. Even though she’s only in her first year, Zenn feels quite sure she knows as much as a third-year student. This sort of confidence, however, can occasionally trip a girl up.
But even when Zenn does trip, or maybe especially when she fails, she responds in the way she’s been brought up to respond: logically, examining the situation from all sides, weighing the evidence, formulating a course of action and following through. She was raised in a house of science, and Reason, with a capital R, has shown itself to be her friend, time and again. Which is a good thing. Because actual friends are scarce on the ground in Zenn’s life. Since the Earth cut off all contact with Mars, as well as the dozen other planets of the Local Systems Accord, the enrollment at the cloister has dwindled until now, Zenn is the sole remaining student. And the towners in nearby Arsia City are much too suspicious and xenophobic to allow their children to associate with someone like Zenn, someone who interacts with “unclean, disease-carrying” alien animals.
That is, all towners except Liam Tucker. His sudden “friendliness” with Zenn has her unsettled and annoyed. She can’t afford to be distracted. Not with her critical end of term tests coming up. So, she approaches the Liam Question in her usual fashion: assembles the pros and cons of allowing him into her life, analyzing the data, and deciding: no, too risky, too distracting. Unfortunately, as she quickly discovers, some problems simply don’t submit to the rigors of logic. Liam is a problem like that.
And the above, in a nutshell, describes Zenn’s conflicts as a character. She’s trained to believe the universe is amenable to reasonable interpretation. But as we all know – if we’re human beings – the most reasonable response to certain life events… is, must be, to act in an unreasonable way. For someone like Zenn, this may be the most confounding lesson she’ll confront during her novice year at the fabled Ciscan Exovet Clinic.
About CHRISTIAN SCHOON:
Find Christian on:
Christian Schoon grew up in Minnesota, and worked his way through college in a succession of rock bands before earning his degree from the U of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Journalism.
Following a stint as an in-house copywriter/scriptwriter at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, he supplied freelance copy for the entertainment industry and scriptwriting for live-action and animated TV.
Currently, he writes from his 150-year-old farmstead in Iowa which he shares with a fluctuating number of horses (generally less than a dozen, but not always), 30 or so cats, a dog, three ferrets and a surprisingly tolerant wife.
The Zenn Scarlett books are his first novels, however he admits to being an unrepentant fan of science fiction and fantasy ever since discovering the tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the fifth grade.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, where we feature a book we are looking forward to being released!
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
2 May 2013
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the “normal” life of school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go … a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
I’ve heard so much buzz about If You Find Me from both sides of the pond and it already has a lot of early raves from trusted bloggers, so I fast-forwarded it on my TBR list. I’m SO GLAD I did. It’s been incredible so far. As soon as I began reading it, I got that lovely feeling I get when I read books as amazing as Wonder by R.J. Palacio: beautiful heartbreak.
As soon as 2 May rolls around, I urge you to pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed!