State of Emergency by Mary Hallberg #BookReview

Title: State of Emergency | Author: Mary Hallberg | Pub. Date: 2017-8-5 | Pages: 158 | ISBN13: 9781548327958 | Genre: Young Adult Horror / Apocalyptic | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.

State of Emergency

17-year-old Dallas Langdon is fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter.

Dallas has always loved zombie movies. But when she catches a real live (erm, dead) musician eating a man’s intestines backstage after the show, she knows her movies have become a reality. And what do characters in zombie movies do? Seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas’s eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It’s on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the worlds of the living and the dead.

Dallas’s parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone. Her friends only agree to join her because it’s fall break and they could use a mini vacation anyway.

But then Dallas’s best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they’re attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive (well, undead) and rapidly increasing the zombies ranks. And since minors can’t buy guns, Dallas’s only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help her, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before joining the ranks of the undead themselves.

Book cover for State of Emergency

State of Emergency Review

State of Emergency is a nice, quick read set in the beginning of a zombie outbreak. It’s only 158 pages long, but it gives you a cool look into the beginning of the zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of a seventeen year old girl who grew up on horror movies. I was reminded a small touch of the Feed novel by Mira Grant because of this, and a line about being a certain weight to turn. (Not a bad thing at all.) It really does make you stop and wonder how people that have grown up in the last few decades would react should something like this come about. I want to believe that a lot of us would react like Dallas did, but…

The book covers days 1-6 of the outbreak in detail, then skips ahead and shows you the characters at a few different parts of their journey. There’s not a lot (if any? I don’t remember exactly) of cursing in State of Emergency, only a few kissing scenes, and none of the seemingly obligatory end of the world mating. The main character, far from being a rebellious teen, is driven to succeed and seems to have a strong spiritual grounding. She does everything she can to keep her sister and friends safe.  While the book is short, we do see some of the characters grow up a little bit as they are forced to make decisions that nobody should have to make.

I liked the way Mary Hallberg rolled out the country’s gradual realization that the dead really were rising. The newscasters’ (and others) reluctance to accept this was really happening and how they chose to downplay the situation. The way she portrayed people willfully ignoring the problems, and how they thought that something like sanitizing their hands would be okay felt very ‘real’. This was another thing that brought Feed to mind when reading it. I guess I’m just drawn to scenarios/situations where people’s reactions seem very accurate.

The zombies themselves in State of Emergency are a mix of various types that we’ve seen portrayed in books and movies. From the typical Romero slow-shuffling, to the more-present day runners, and even those like you see in Shaun of the Dead.

State of Emergency is, however, hampered by the fact that it is so short. While I appreciated the book, I never really had a reason to care about any of the characters. I liked Dallas well enough, but didn’t particularly root for her.  People who enjoy short stories may get more pleasure out of the book by reading one ‘day’ at a time. I might have enjoyed it more that way. Instead, I read it all in one go and felt a little unsatisfied as a result.

Overall, State of Emergency good read featuring a main character who isn’t afraid to call a zombie a zombie. Nor is she afraid to kill it if she need to. Its a little ‘light’ for my taste, but I think there’s a certain type of reader that it will strongly appeal to. 

Buy link: Amazon



Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne #BookReview

Title: Monument 14 | Series: Monument 14 #1 | Author: Emmy Laybourne | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | Pub. Date: 2012-6-5 | Pages: 294 | ISBN13: 9780312569037 | Genre: Young Adult Dystopian | Language: English | Triggers: Attempted rape of a minor |  Rating: 2 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased

Monument 14

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not-you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

Book cover for Monument 14

Monument 14 Review

I picked up Monument 14 when I was on a read-and-relax trip to my local Barnes & Noble. It had been a long week and I need some alone time with books. Monument 14 caught my eye, and I can’t particularly say I know why. The cover art is far from amazing, the superstore plot is more than a little cliche, and it didn’t look like it was going to be anything special, at all. Still, it looked like a bit of no-think fluff, so I grabbed it and a latte and settled down.

Emmy Laybourne’s writing immediately amused me. Not in the ‘it’s terrible’ way, either. I loved the way she described Mrs. Wooly. There was a scene describing one of the little kids that had me snickering enough that I showed it to one of my fellow bookworms.

{The kid who is observing Chloe is tied up and just coming to.}

“There I saw Chloe, freshly bathed, wrapped in a towel, eating fun-size butterfingers one after another like a chain smoker and watching me like I was her soap opera.”

― Emmy LaybourneMonument 14

Unfortunately, at about the halfway point (maybe before) it feels like all this descriptive charm disappears, and the novel settles down into competent but lackluster prose. Even then, I was hooked until the end.

I do like the range of ages in Monument 14. The fact that there’s a strong mix of little kids and teenagers keeps it decidedly more interesting than if it had just been teenagers. I don’t care for how the characters are profiled, though. From the chubby Mexican kid who speaks broken English but has awesome dance moves to the black girl being the one who is a natural mother/babysitter figure for the kids.  Also, I really don’t like the relationships between the characters. I’m not going to rag too hard on the author for it, because at the age most of these kids are, I can buy that they would be emulating behaviors that they observe in adults (no matter how wrong it is). The boys assume the dominant role and protect the group, and the girls are expected to take care of the kids and obey the boys. However, given that it’s the author’s world and she’s not writing non-fiction, she had the opportunity to create a more positive interaction of equality between the sexes and chose not to.

The ‘adult’ scenes in Monument 14 are an issue. Most of this book does not feel like a young adult book. It has a lot of a middle-grade feel to it. And then those scenes happen. I feel like this would have been a better book if they aimed it at tweens instead of going for the young adult genre. That would have enabled them to cut out some of the more problematic aspects, like the thirteen year old who starts out as just having a sense of ‘style’ and quickly turns into the resident “insert sexy punky character here” for this type of book. She’s thirteen, quickly begins dressing to draw all the boys attention, is chided for it, told she’s asking for attention, etc. Obviously, because you just can’t have a dystopian without an attempted sexual assault on a female character…(and hint, it wasn’t a white guy who made the assault either.) Well, you are all intelligent enough to know where I’m heading with this. And then there’s scenes involving certain parts being named after Disney characters, and talk of erectile dysfunction and…yeah. It’s just a bit weird.

It’s odd, because while some of this bothered me while I was reading Monument 14, I was so wrapped up in the story that it was mostly easy to ignore them. It was only after I sat down to write the review with some distance from the experience of the story itself that I realized how much some of it bothered me.

Monument 14 is very nicely paced. The story itself is well told. The action and the uncertainty kept me entertained. (Keep in mind I like ridiculous disaster movies, so the unbelievability of the disasters in this book didn’t bother me one bit.) I liked how little of a part the adults actually play in the book, without it having a Gone feel. I liked that while some of the kids definitely had skills, there was no absurdly gifted or talented kid to play an important role. Instead they all did the best they could, but were never exceedingly or unbelievably talented.

I think Emmy Laybourne is a gifted story-teller, and with a few skillful cuts or simple changes, Monument 14 could have been a great read. It was definitely an entertaining one, even with the aforementioned issues. I can’t recommend Monument 14 and I won’t be continuing with the series. However, I wouldn’t be adverse to revisiting this author in a different series from where she’s got a few more years of experience under her belt. 

I really, really waffled on this rating. And I’m still not sure it deserves a two instead of a three, but there’s some stuff you can’t overlook. You know? Jesus, this type of book is dangerous. It’s dangerous because it’s so entertaining its easy to accept what the author lays out as just a good story, and therefore buy into subtle (Or not so subtle) reinforcement of almost every stereotype and societal problem out there. Look, I don’t expect authors to portray perfect worlds with the exact mix of characters, and be careful not to offend anyone. I really don’t. That would make a lot of books boring. However, I do think that authors need to think about the impact, especially for young adult and middle grade reads, that their words can have on readers. (I can tell you that a lot of my personal beliefs and idiosyncrasies came from the books that I read as a teenager. A lot of them. So I know the impact books can have.) They need to be mindful of what their characters and what the non-plot actions of their characters can and does say.

And we, as readers, need to occasionally step back and say “You know what? This is not okay.” We need to be able to acknowledge that even though a story was entertaining, that doesn’t mean that the actions, stereotyping, etc, that are displayed in a book are good.

Buy Link: Amazon | Thriftbooks

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker #Bookreview

Title: The Delphi Effect | Series: The Delphi Trilogy #1 | Author: Rysa Walker | Publisher: Skyscrape | Pub. Date: 2016-10-11 | ISBN13: 9781503938823 | Pages: 379 | Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy / Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Overdose, Domestic Abuse | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Local library.

The Delphi Effect

It’s never wise to talk to strangers…and that goes double when they’re dead. Unfortunately, seventeen-year-old Anna Morgan has no choice. Resting on a park bench, touching the turnstile at the Metro station—she never knows where she’ll encounter a ghost. These mental hitchhikers are the reason Anna has been tossed from one foster home and psychiatric institution to the next for most of her life.

When a chance touch leads her to pick up the insistent spirit of a girl who was brutally murdered, Anna is pulled headlong into a deadly conspiracy that extends to the highest levels of government. Facing the forces behind her new hitcher’s death will challenge the barriers, both good and bad, that Anna has erected over the years and shed light on her power’s origins. And when the covert organization seeking to recruit her crosses the line by kidnapping her friend, it will discover just how far Anna is willing to go to bring it down.

Book cover for The Delphi Effect

The Delphi Effect Review

Rysa Walker’s The Delphi Effect is immediately engaging, and well-executed from start to finish. The story is a familiar one, but at the same time, not one that’s been done to death. Any folks with an interest in conspiracy theories will find something very familiar in the plot. The pacing is solid and the story never falters. It’s a clean read with a bit of mystery and a strong serving of action /thriller to it. Things are hinted at, or talked about in general terms (Ie: one of Anna’s ‘ghosts’ was a soccer mom hypochondriac who died of an overdose) but never explicitly stated. It would be perfectly suitable for even tweens to read if the story interests them. It could be shelved under paranormal fantasy or science fiction, purely according to the reader’s opinion. It definitely blurs genre lines.

Folks, she didn’t have a love triangle in The Delphi Effect. At this point, with the ridiculousness that is young adult right now, that should be enough to make you sit up and pay attention. There was no love triangle. The main character wasn’t some super-talented, overly hormonal girl. Anna isn’t exactly a smart character, but I understood why she was doing the things she did.Honestly, given what it sounds like her background has been, I’d probably make the same choices. Deo, who is Anna’s best friend, is a loyal friend that’s somewhere on the LGBTQ+ range. (He doesn’t know and neither do we.) I also really liked the therapist, Keylsey. The rest of the characters are fairly cardboard but that’s okay.

The Delphi Effect isn’t going to blow you away, but it is going to entertain you. Even though I had a lot going on when I started reading the book, I kept finding time to read it.  It’s the first book in a trilogy, but you do get a complete story arc in The Delphi Effect. You also get a bit of a cliffhanger that will start the next book off perfectly. It really is an example of a perfect first book in a trilogy. I can’t wait to see how she develops the story in the second book.

A solid read with no scare factor to it, The Delphi Effect is well worth checking out, and will appeal to both teens and adults.



Release Day Review: H.A.L.F. Origins (H.A.L.F. #3)

Title: H.A.L.F. Origins | Author: Natalie Wright | Pub. Date: 2017-8-24 | Pages: 376 | ASIN: B07263P84J | Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration

H.A.L.F. Origins

A deadly alien virus spawns an epidemic. Predators attack Europe. And a clandestine organization conspires to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order.

In this heart-pounding finale of the award-winning H.A.L.F. series, Tex, Erika and the rest are in a race against time. They fought for their lives. Now they battle to save our species.

Tex and Erika are fugitives and running for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is his only hope for survival. Tex emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind and with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population and destroying those he has come to love.

Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the intra-galactic highway used by invaders who prey on humans, she grows closer to her troubled half-human companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jack?

Jack Wilson, with his friend Anna Sturgis, is on a mission of his own. He’s determined to destroy The Makers, an Illuminati-like organization behind the H.A.L.F. program. It’s time to put an end to their schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, an anti-viral that could save millions from an alien virus has been stolen. As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all mankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out.

Book cover for H.A.L.F. Origins

H.A.L.F. Origins Review

Natalie Wright’s H.A.L.F. Origins, the conclusion to the H.A.L.F. series, will delight her faithful audience. The series, which is aimed at young adults, skillfully mixes science fiction, politics, and heart.  The trio’s journey, which took them all briefly along different paths, has brought them back together again. Humanity’s existence as something more than foodstuff depends on more than just the three of them, though. It rests mainly on the shoulders of H.A.L.F. 9, and he’s going through some changes of his own in this book.

I have mixed feelings about almost every character in this series besides Erika and Jack. And, for the most part, that’s a very good thing. If you want to read a book where the good guys are undoubtedly good guys, this is not the series for you. Almost all of the characters end up doing things that are repugnant, but they’re doing them for the right (or at least understandable) reasons. I think this is where Wright’s strength lies. Though I do wish the romance angle would have been tamped down a bit in this third book.

H.A.L.F Origins has us witnessing the final play for humanity. In the previous books, it was a fight for survival on a personal level. This time, it’s very much more than that. Not everyone is going to make it out of this unscathed, whether it’s on a physical or an emotional level. And most of the weight rests upon the shoulders of two alien-human hybrids who have no real reason to try to save the world.

This book feels like a much quicker read than it actually is. I had no trouble immediately immersing myself in it, but I was also a little disappointed by it. H.A.L.F. Origins feels like it skimmed the surface of what was happening. Part of that is to be expected as young adult novels tend not to show things quite as harshly as adult novels do. Not that she slacked on the violence, mind you! There is plenty of action, confrontations, and growing up to be found in H.A.L.F. Origins.

I won’t lie, H.A.L.F. Origins didn’t really do it for me. I definitely liked it more than I liked book two, but… Well, there’s a reason I tend to not read trilogies, and this is a perfect example of that. It’s not that I don’t think Natalie Wright is a good writer, because I do. Objectively, she is able to craft a story that appeals to its intended age range. She has characters that appeal to a wide range of readers and that aren’t cardboard cutouts. I just didn’t care. My interest blazed in book one, dwindled to sparks in the second book, and made a valiant effort that amounted to a mediocre flare in the third book.

I did like the ending of H.A.L.F. Origins, though. The direction Natalie Wright went in for one of the primary characters had me expecting a typical ‘rise from the ashes’ type situation. But she defied my expectations and instead gave me something that was a bit more hit-in-the-feels. The book ended on a bit of a melancholy note, and I thought that was a perfect choice. I also liked the story line with the Vree. It definitely went in an unexpected direction. It was these two things that ended up bumping H.A.L.F. Origins up to a 4 star rating for me.

I would love to see the author let her talents out to play on something a bit darker and for adults. I have a feeling she could turn out some really interesting work for older readers as well! Still, for what it is, the H.A.L.F. series is well-written and I think teens and young adults will enjoy it.

Click here to read my reviews of Books 1 and 2 of the H.A.L.F. series.

Sarah Review (Young Adult Paranormal Horror)

In Sarah :Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.

A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.

Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.

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The Shadow Queen Review (Ravenspire #1)

The Shadow Queen ReviewLorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose. – Goodreads Synopsis

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A Review of Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

The book cover and synopsis for Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

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A Review of Life After the Undead by Pembroke Sinclair

Book Cover and Synopsis for Life after the Undead by Pembroke Sinclair

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A Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Book Cover and Synopsis for Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Review of Whisper of the Woods by D.G. Driver

Whisper of the Woods (A Juniper Sawfeather Novel Book 2) Cover for use in review of Whisper of the Woods on Sci-Fi & Scary


Juniper Sawfeather seems to have a talent for finding mythological creatures. Or maybe the creatures are finding her.

The mermaids she saved from the oil spill are long gone. There’s no evidence of them, and she’s been branded as a liar and a fake in the media and at school. Her environmental activist parents have moved on to a protest to save Old Growth trees from being chopped down. June isn’t particularly concerned with this cause until after falling asleep at the base of a giant tree she wakes to find herself 40 feet in the air on one of its branches!

From this point on she becomes obsessed with the tree, and it appears the tree is becoming obsessed with her too. Soon, she is trapped 170 feet above the ground, and the magical spirit that resides in the tree isn’t interested in letting her go free or allowing anyone else to save her. Is the tree spirit good or evil? Will Juniper’s feet ever touch the ground again?

This is the 2nd book in the Juniper Sawfeather series. See my review of the first book, Cry of the Sea, here. 
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