Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper

Donna of the Dead
by Alison Kemper
Entangled Publishing
Pub Date: March 4, 2014

I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

People. I loved this book. I read it all in one sitting, and it's not a short book! When I first came across it on Goodreads it didn't have a cover (still doesn't), and the blurb was pretty much one sentence. But it compared the book to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so that put it on my auto-read list. I was so excited to get this ARC! I try to read the ARCs in the order in which the books will be released. But I had to read this right away. And then I had to keep reading until I was finished.

So I should probably say what it's about. It's a zombie novel. I know everyone talks about supernatural trends in books, and I've never been into any of them before... but give me more zombie novels! Please!   This one reminded me of This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers just because of the setup, but it was still different.

Babbling. Ok.

This book is about a girl named Donna who can hear voices in her head that warn her when she's in danger. This special ability (which she keeps secret from everyone) comes in handy when a zombie outbreak occurs. Her and her best friend Deke end up hiding out in their high school with a group of their classmates. Some of these people Donna can't stand, but her long-time crush Liam is there as well.  And that's basically it. Let the zombie slaying begin!

First thing I liked about this book was that it had a really interesting opening. Donna and Deke are with their families on a cruise ship when suddenly everyone else on the ship gets zombi-fied. And their parents get the ship to land and the kids escape. I've just never seen any scene from a zombie story take place in the middle of the ocean. It definitely raised the tension, having the characters confined to this zombie infested ship.

Next I liked the ensemble cast of characters. I feel like trapping kids in their high school with no adults is a common thing in YA now, but I'm a sucker for it. There's just so much room for different personalities to interact and different relationships to emerge.

The action was great. It was interesting to see how Donna's voices helped her. Because they didn't tell her directly what to do. They just gave warnings and she had to figure it out. I also really appreciated how the voices weren't this random supernatural element. By the end, we find out that there's a reason Donna can hear them.

So like I already said, I really really enjoyed this book. Definitely check it out if you like zombie novels, action, survival stories, or just a nice dose of teen drama.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Big, Exciting, Lots of Changes!

So I know the title of this post is ungrammatical. Oh well. That's just how my brain is working this week. Lots of things to report.

I decided on Monday that I was quitting my job at the diner. For many reasons that I don't need to get into. But basically, I knew I had to get out. Immediately. It was more than my general feeling of "I can't be a server anymore. This is killing me." It was this place specifically that I needed to get away from.

Lately I've been trying to get myself started as a freelance editor. I have a couple clients already. I created my own website, and I've been thinking about printing business cards. It's something that I know takes a lot of time to establish yourself. But I was enjoying going to my serving job in the morning and then having my evenings free to edit or work on my own writing. And a little extra money is always good.

So when I decided to leave my job, I briefly thought that I could try to really spread the word and support myself on freelancing. Plus I was looking into submitting articles to paying magazines and also maybe self-publishing some short stories on Amazon. But the reality is, I have way too many bills. At the moment, I just can't afford not to have a steady income.

So on Tuesday I applied at another restaurant that's opening up in a few weeks. On Wednesday I went back and got hired. It's not ideal--just going from one serving job to the next. It's not what I want to do with my life. But for now, it seems like my only option.

But then also on Wednesday, I got a completely out of the blue e-mail from a woman who saw a resume I posted online months ago on one of those job hunt sites. She wanted to interview me for an assistant manager position at Panera Bread. This is also not my ideal job. BUT unlike serving, this would give me way more money, plus benefits and insurance. And I'm just not in the position to turn that down. So I'm interviewing next week and I guess we'll see what happens. The only thing that worries me is that I'd be working WAY more hours than I am now. Which leaves much less time for my own writing and for freelancing. Of course, even though I love editing for people, the reason I started it was to make more money. And if I had this management position, I wouldn't need the extra money anymore. So I'd probably stop looking for new clients and just finish the projects I'm doing now.

The bottom line, though, is that whichever job I end up doing, at least it will be a change. My job has been making me miserable for a while now. And I can't keep living like that. Change will be good.

And and and AND NOW FOR THE BIG NEWS. On Thursday I sent out five new query letters to agents for my novel. And about an hour later I got a response from one agent asking to read the full manuscript. !!!!!***!@!@!!!!!! I probably don't need to say, but I was FREAKING OUT. For a good ten minutes. And then I went back to my computer. And I had ANOTHER e-mail from another agent wanting to read it too!

I'm not getting my hopes up. I swear I'm not. I know that the chance of them loving the novel enough to offer me representation is very very very slim. But so was the chance of them even wanting to read it in the first place. This is the farthest I've gotten in the agent search process so far. It's a huge step. And it feels AMAZING.

So now I'm waiting to hear back. I don't know how I'm going to focus on the rest of my life until I get their responses. I just don't.

But I'm really, really excited about my life right now.


Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

The Summer I Found You
by Jolene Perry
Albert Whitman Teen
Pub Date: March 1, 2014

I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Summer I Found You is told in alternating points of view between Kate, a girl who's dealing with her recent diagnosis of diabetes, and Aidan, a boy who is home from the army after losing an arm. The two are thrown together on a whim by Kate's best friend who is also Aidan's cousin. Romance ensues.

I'll start by saying that I absolutely adored this book. I wasn't sure how I felt about Kate at first, because at the beginning of the story she gets dumped, and then she spends a lot of time whining about it and thinking she can get the guy back. I didn't want to read about that, but I can admit that it did feel like a realistic reaction from a teenage girl. And Aidan starts off a bit whiney too, but understandably so, since he just lost his arm. Once the two meet, though, I was totally sucked into the story.

Kate is drawn to spending time with Aidan because he is the one person who doesn't know about her diabetes, and therefore isn't monitoring what she eats and worrying about her all the time. And Aidan likes being around Kate because she doesn't act weird about his arm. She just blurts out whatever she's thinking, even if other people would find it inappropriate. I really liked how, with the multiple POV's, we got to understand each person's motivation for wanting to be with the other. These two characters didn't fall into the trap of insta-love. They had very believable reasons for wanting to continue seeing each other. Eventually, of course, their feelings developed until they really cared about each other.

Of course, what drew them to each other also becomes the sources of their problems. They're both, in a way, hiding things from each other and aren't able to be completely open. Then things seem to fall apart in the climactic seen (which I could see coming from page one), but the pair finds a way to work things out. What I really love about their relationship is how they each help the other overcome their problems.

Overall, I thought both the story and the writing were great. I'd definitely be interested in checking out Jolene Perry's next book.