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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: Frost

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The robots are rising.

Sixteen-year-old Frost understands why she’s spent her entire life in an abandoned apartment building. The ruined streets below are hunting grounds for rogue robots and Eaters.

She understands why she’s never met a human besides her father. She even understands why he forbids her to look for medicine for her dying pet. But the thing is, it’s not her real father giving the orders . . .

It’s his memories.

Before he died, Frost’s father uploaded his consciousness into their robot servant. But the technology malfunctioned, and now her father fades in and out. So when Frost learns that there might be medicine on the other side of the ravaged city, she embarks on a dangerous journey to save the only living creature she loves.

With only a robot as a companion, Frost must face terrors of all sorts, from outrunning the vicious Eaters . . . to talking to the first boy she’s ever set eyes on. But can a girl who’s only seen the world through books and dusty windows survive on her own?

About the Book

Title: FROST
Author: M.P. Kozlowsky
Pub. Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Goodreads

Cinder meets The Walking Dead in a chilling futuristic fairy tale that will reboot everything you thought about family, love, and what it means to be human.

About the Author:

m-pM.P. Kozlowsky lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of Juniper Berry and The Dyerville Tales, books for readers of all ages.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


GIVEAWAY:
3 Finished Copies of FROST

Interested in snagging your own copy of this read?!  Click above to go to the giveaway!


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Quick Reasons: yet another awesome take on the robot (and zombie!) apocalypse; I LOVE the examination of what it means to be “human” that goes on throughout this read; the robots I expected, the zombies took me by surprise; a few delicious “twists” I didn’t see coming, a few delicious twists I guessed pretty early on; this was a quick, entertaining read

One very HUGE thank you to M.P. Kozlowsky, Scholastic Press, Edelweiss, and Rockstar Book Tours for sending me digital and physical copies of this ARC free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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This book gave me EVERYTHING I never realized I’d been looking for in a dystopian world: humans vs. zombies vs. robots. A main character akin to Rapunzel–both endearingly naive and yet stubbornly strong in her morals. A wide cast of vibrant, well-rounded, individualized characters. A darker, questioning undertone. Sly and subtle hints at a bigger picture. I just… I am blown completely and utterly away, penguins!

So let’s start with the last thing first, yes? There is, throughout the entirety of this read, a darker undercurrent seeping through the pages. Every word, every emotion, begs the question: what, exactly, does it MEAN to be human? I absolutely ADORE how M.P. Kozlowsky went about broaching and examining this subject–and then portraying it across the spectrum of the characters in such satisfying, well-rounded ways!

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There were some very surprising twists and turns throughout–and a few that I, avid reader I am, was able to catch onto fairly early in the read. Don’t worry, penguins–I’ll save these secrets for you to discover all on your own! I will say, despite knowing the biggest twist at the end, I wasn’t at all disappointed–it wasn’t until the big reveal that I actually realized there HAD been hints scattered throughout. M.P. Kozlowsky wrote these with subtlety and sly genius–he knew how to give readers just enough to make them stop and ponder…but not enough to realize TOO soon that they were actually foreshadowings of what was coming. It was brilliantly done, and I tip my hat to the author for pulling it off so well!

I think the biggest triumph, though, came in the smallest package for this read: the characters are astoundingly vibrant, uniquely individualized, and portray HUGE amounts of character growth in very short amounts of time. I was especially taken by Flynn (I mean, let’s not even talk about the fact that his name is FLYNN, and therefore another tipped hat to Rapunzel–Disney’s version, at least). There is so much growth happening, so many changed motivations and shifted allegiances…but Flynn, in particular, exuded the most amount in my opinion. In just a short amount of time, he seems to flipflop on several of his strongest morals. And while there’s a HINT at romance happening…that’s all it is. A hint. Flynn and Frost part ways, to find their own destinies and do what they need as individuals. I just… I have so much love for these characters, guys! SO MUCH!

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I think the only problem I have is, I don’t know if this is a stand-alone or the start of a series. And this bothers me…because…I LOVE these characters, and this world, and I need more! The ending is so ambiguous and open, I just… I am dying to know what happens next. I guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled, and keep hoping. I definitely recommend this to lovers of dystopians; new twists on the zombie/robot apocalypse; and sort of star-crossed lovers who put their destinies before their emotions. This was a wild, entertaining ride from start to finish; I cannot WAIT to see what M.P. Kozlowsky does next!

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Rise of the Chosen: A Fresh, Inventive Take on “Zombie”

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Rise of the Chosen (Lifeblood, #1)

In Sam’s world there are two rules. Rule #1: Nobody dies. Protect the living at all costs. Rule #2: Everybody dies. At least once.

The Waking was a global event in which a force called the Lifeblood invaded all humans who died. The few strong enough to control it came back as powerful immortals. The rest let the bloodlust take over and awoke with one goal – to kill.

Newly appointed Watch Guard Samantha Shields has a legacy to uphold. Her father died a hero defending their city and now she wants to follow in his footsteps. Except for the dying part, of course. Unfortunately, fate has other plans as she discovers deep dark secrets that make her choose between her loyalties and the lives of everyone in her city. Both rules are in play as Sam is forced to make hard decisions that could cost her everything – including the person she cares about most.

Lifeblood #1
YA/Horror/Science Fiction
210 Pages
Blue Moon Publishers
Expected Publication Date: October 4th, 2016
Get a copy here!

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Quick Reasons: zombies with a twist and a few new names; great dystopian setting/world-building; a few weird/awkward character motivations/plot holes; special snowflake in our MC, Sam; unique and inventive take on the “undead”; a promising start to a new series!

Huge thanks to Anna Kopp, Blue Moon Publishers, and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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Going into this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m sure you know how it is with zombie lore these days: the undead are everywhere, which means the same tired cliches are revisited again and again and again. You can never be sure, when picking up a new book, if you’ll be getting something unique…or just more of the same. Imagine my surprised delight when, from the very first page, this book let me know in no uncertain terms it was breaking away from cliche and striking out on its own! It’s possible I celebrated with some awkward wing flapping and penguin-toed shuffling. I mean, do you blame me?!

Of course, the world-building isn’t completely perfect. There are some missing plot points that, while not fundamental to my grasp or enjoyment of the novel, I find myself now wishing I had answers for. For instance: why are certain of the Chosen also granted special extra abilities? Is this a random occurrence or something else? Why are some people “Chosen” and some “Woken”? (I understand a lot of this comes down to the internal struggle of the one being changed, but is that ALL it is–the choice of whether to fight or die?)

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Some of the character motivations seemed a little wishy-washy and questionable to me in the grand scheme of things. David, for instance, seems almost immediately drawn to Sam…and cares more for her quicker than makes sense realistically. Sam also has some weird emotional motivation shifts, especially in regard to her father. Overall, though, the characters are well-developed and nicely rounded out. I particularly adored the relationship between Sam and Lena–it was cute and endearing, though I’m a bit nervous how it’ll play out in the coming sequels.

I had a ton of fun exploring this world! The prose is fast-paced and action-packed, sure to keep even the most bloodthirsty readers engaged and entertained. The twist on zombies was refreshing and inventive, and the characters are vibrant and well-rounded. I recommend this to lovers of dystopians, zombie apocalypses, and creative plots. I can’t wait to see where the next book leads–I’m SUPER intrigued!

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A Review of The Queen of Zombie Hearts (White Rabbit Chronicles #3), by Gena Showalter

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I thought I had nothing left to give. I thought wrong. They started the war. Now I will end it.

In the stunning conclusion to the wildly popular White Rabbit Chronicles, Alice “Ali” Bell thinks the worst is behind her… until Anima Industries, the agency controlling the zombies, launches a zneak attack, killing four of her friends. It’s then she realizes only the worst has only begun.

As the surviving slayers prepare for war, Ali discovers she, too, can control the zombies… and she isn’t the girl she thought she was. She’s connected to the woman responsible for killing — and turning — her boyfriend’s mother. How can their relationship endure? As secrets come to light, and more slayers are taken or killed, Ali will fight harder than ever to bring down Anima — even sacrificing her own life for those she loves.

– – – – –

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: more riveting, pulse-pounding action; Gena Showalter showed no mercy; unforseen plot twists; the perfect blend of foreshadowing and mystery; heartwrenching pain; some steamy, sexy moments

Oh, Gena Showalter—you do know how to break a reader’s heart into such tiny pieces, beating is impossible, don’t you?

“Roses are red, violets are blue, I have five fingers, the middle one is for you.”

There was a moment—just one short, breathless moment—at the beginning where I allowed myself (naively, I might add) to believe things might work out just fine for our lovable group of rough and tumble slayers. Of course, that moment was doused in gasoline and set aflame not long after. I didn’t make that mistake twice, let me tell you.

Gena Showalter is a GENIUS at knowing how much to give away and how much to play close to the chest. She’s figured out how to write the visions perfectly—crushing readers’ hopes while still leaving enough room to play with and fit into the story at the moment of reckoning. She must write these books backward—that’s the only way I can think to explain how she seemlessly pulls off the visions and still makes them somehow relevant and workable.

“Gavin has started calling you the queen of zombie hearts,” Cole said. “And you know what, he’s right. It fits. Before you, I wasn’t really living. I was existing. Moving from girl to girl. Killing zombies. I was as good as dead, but you brought me back to life. And you are most definitely the queen of my heart.”

As ALWAYS, the snark and sarcasm are at the top of their game in this read. Ali and Cole still maintain their sense of wit and banter—as do the rest of our gang! There were SO many awesome moments of epic I couldn’t help but snort aloud to most of them, giving the husband yet another reason to question my sanity. At the same time, the dialogue remained entirely believable—none of it felt forced. It was like looking on from the sidelines while a group of friends quipped and sneered and otherwise trampled over everyone else. I really enjoy how effortlessly Gena Showalter makes writing friendships like these seem—it’s not a talent many authors have from the get-go. I think a lot of this is due to how WELL she knows her characters; she has every action, every moment, every minute reaction planned out before writing, which makes writing the difficult scenes (while not necessarily easier) simple. She already knows what and how her characters are going to do…there’s no room for surprises, or manhandling them to get where she wants to go.

The action also never lets up. We hit the ground running from page one—there’s no stop, there’s no chance to breathe. The steamy, sexy, more personal moments between my favorite couple were awesome and totally made the angst, drama, and general ICK of the plot (ick in a good way!) more bearable, but… She is MERCILESS with her characters, killing off many in a very short amount of time. As story, it makes sense; as shock-value, it did its job. Of course, there’s one death that I can’t help but be very very angry about. I’m sure it’s the same one every reader before me has whined and moaned about, so I’ll save you all that torture and just say: BOO. That being said, I now need to read the fourth (and final) book in this series, just to see how she redeems herself. My heart needs serious patching up, Gena Showalter! I’m counting on you to do that for me. Somehow.

“Does Cole know you’re made of ice?”

“Yes. He likes to melt me.”

Once again, I was taken for a ride—and came out more scathed than ever. I definitely recommend this entire series to lovers of YA, zombie lore, and action-laced plots. These books are bound to suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out a different reader.

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A Review of Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles #2), by Gena Showalter

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Zombies stalk the night. Forget blood and brains. These monsters hunger for human souls. Sadly, they’ve got mine…

Alice Bell has lost so much. Family. Friends. A home. She thought she had nothing else to give. She was wrong.

After a new zombie attack, strange things begin to happen to her. Mirrors come to life, and the whispers of the dead assault her ears. But the worst? A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do very wicked things.

She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more, but ultra bad-boy Cole Holland, the leader and her boyfriend, suddenly withdraws from her…from everyone. Now, with her best friend Kat at her side, Ali must kill the zombies, uncover Cole’s secret and learn to fight the darkness.

But the clock is ticking…and if she fails at a single task, they’re all doomed.

– – – – –

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: new, unique plot twists to keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats; a seperate story from the wider-arc; no cliff-hanger ending; emotionally charged drama, suspense, and action

Ali Bell has been through a LOT. But if you thought all the drama, action, and emotionally-charged scenes would come to an end in book one, you’re sadly mistaken.

“Ali Bell doesn’t play hide-and-seek,” Lucas said. “She plays hide-and-pray-I-don’t-find-you.”

Mackenzie smiled. “When Ali Bell gives you the finger, she’s telling you how many seconds you have to live.”

Cole chuckled, saying, “Fear of spiders is arachnophobia, and fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, but fear of Ali Bell is just called logic.”

“Oh, oh.” Kat clapped excitedly. “There used to be a street named after Ali Bell, but it was changed because nobody crosses Ali Bell and lives. True story.”

With the same snark, wit, and unique style as the first book in this series, Gena Showalter takes readers one step further into her world of spirit-zombies and slayers in this intense, action-packed read. And I feel the need to say this right up front: if you’re the kind who thrives on cliff-hanger endings, on a story wide-arcing across thewhole of a series and adding pressure to readers to “continue” to know what happens next…these books might not be for you. Because while there IS a wider-arcing story….it falls a bit in the background, taking a backseat instead to each unique and individually crafted event. While each book “ties in” with the next…there is no cliff-hanger ending. There is no REAL pressure to wait around and see what happens next. Each book is it’s own monster, with a beginning and ending that stand apart, on their own. While you still need to read the series in order to fully understand what’s going on, each book presents (and solves) it’s own problems, making this a bit unique in terms of trilogies/series in our modern-day world.

The characters also continue to grow, thrive, and change. Facing their own set of problematic situations, emotions, and baggage, Gena Showalter breathed life into each and every character we meet, molding them into unique and strong-standing pieces to the story. The changes brought about both strengthen and weaken them; they aren’t your average, everyday “plastic hero,” but instead realistic people with faults and flaws.

I felt my hand curl into a fist. Felt my elbow draw back. Felt my arm dart forward, my knuckles crack into Cole’s jaw. I couldn’t stop myself. His head whipped to the side, and blood leaked from a cut in his lip. Behind me, gasps of shock abounded.

“I’m recovered,” I said. “Believe me now?”

Those violet eyes slitted when they found me. “Assault and battery is illegal.”

“So have me arrested.”

He closed what little distance there was between us. Suddenly I could feel his warmth of his breath caressing my skin. “How about I put you over my lap and spank you instead?”

“How about I knee your balls into your throat?”

“If you’re going to play with that particular area, I’d rather you use your hands.”

“My hands aren’t going near that area ever again.”

A pause. Then, “I bet I could change your mind,” he whispered huskily.

“I bet I could bash yours.” I drew back another fist, but he was ready and caught me midswing. His pupils dilated, a sign of arousal. Another sign: he began to pant. He was acting like I’d tried to unbuckle his jeans rather than smack fire out of him.

“Hit me again,” he said, still using the same whispered tone, “and I’ll take it as an invitation.”

The snark and intelligent banter is as STRONG as ever in this book; Cole and Ali reach a sort of…peak…with their relationship, and were more realistic on the page while fighting than most book couples I can think of off the top of my head (well…save for one. Will and Tessa, I’m looking at you) Despite the sometimes loathing that sparked between them, there was still room (as evidenced in the quote above) for witty humor. Gena Showalter is a QUEEN with insults and snark, and I giggled many times while reading.

There were a few…contradictions? Between what Ali knew she should/shouldn’t do and what she ACTUALLY did, but they weren’t big enough for me to really focus on, and besides, we all know Ali is a stubborn, bull-headed girl sometimes. So while the contradictions were there…they also sort of fit in with her personality, and that made them work.

“So…have you ever thought about dyeing your hair punk-rocker-chick black? As I’m sure you’ve heard, I have a thing for brunettes and always avoid blondes.”

“I’ve heard. And no.”

“Too bad. Because you’re making me rethink my stance about doing my friends’ exes.” I snorted, not even trying to hide my…incredulity? Surely I wasn’t amused.

“You’re making me rethink my stance on cold-blooded homicide.”

Overall, I enjoyed this read almost as much as the first one, and can’t wait to jump into the third! I would still recommend to lovers of zombie lore, unique world-building, and snarky, feisty characters. I’d also, however, extend the recommendation to those who loathe a cliff-hanger ending—these reads don’t have them. If you’re into any of the things above, these just might be the books for you!

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A Review of Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1), by Gena Showalter

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She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. But that’s all it takes. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: Alice in Wonderland…and ZOMBIES!; I love me some good zombie action, and this is the most unique I’ve read; the world-building is awesome; the characters are kick ass; Gena Showalter did things with this book I’ve never seen done before

Yeah, okay. You’re right. I was having dinner with Zombie Carl the other night. You know, steak, rare, and a bottle of vintage type A. He told me all his secrets, but too bad for you I promised him I wouldn’t tell. In exchange I asked him to gather his best undead buddies and stalk me through my friend’s yard. And oh, yeah, it was totally fine if they wanted to use me as an all-night-dinner buffet, because having organs is SO last year.”

Okay, guys. This read. THIS READ! It was a whirlwind of awesome paranormal/fantasy, epic world-building, and things I’ve NEVER seen done anywhere else. I cannot possibly hope to put this into just one box; it encompasses pretty much everything. I went in with pretty low expectations. I haven’t heard much rumble about these books in the book world, and I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. But no worries, because this book rocked!

So. First things first. The characters? KICK. ASS. Seriously, our main protagonist, Ali (also Alice) has a snarky, devil-may-care attitude about pretty much everything in her life. Especially when pinned against a wall, or when protecting those she cares about. She makes some very difficult decisions through the course of this book… and I admired her GREATLY for each one of them. The fact that she’s sort of a “special snowflake” in the world she finds herself breaching after a car crash takes the lives of her family… Well, she’s not the ONLY special snowflake, and it’s all explained so adequately, you won’t even think twice about it.

He was gorgeous, and I absolutely, no question, had to be drooling. After a quick and hopefully stealthy check – big show, I wasn’t!- I found myself wonder what color his eyes were. Brown maybe. Or even hazel. Either way…wow, just wow. Deer? Headlights? Hi, I’m Ali.

The prose is pretty simple, and easy to read, but I was so sucked into the story, so enthralled with the world Gena Showalter thrust me into from page one, I didn’t notice. I literally FLEW through this read—which, even for my reading speed, is saying something. Despite this, Gena Showalter has a way with words that is utterly unique to her and her writing style. Her voice is so prominent throughout, the dialogue and character reactions so realistic, I laughed out loud several times over.

There are also some very interesting and unique ideas brought to the world of the “zombie plague.” The creativity was matched exceptionally by coherent, clearly thought-out explanations. Gena Showalter obviously put a lot of work into making this world BREATHE around her readers. From page one, the journey is a wild, harrowing whirlwind of suspense, teenage drama, and zombies.

Why wouldn’t I dance?’ Uh, maybe because at first glance he looked like he ate puppies for breakfast and kittens for lunch?

I absolutely ADORED this read. I love that the chapter titles all emulate the original Alice in Wonderland in some way—a subtle nod to the story Gena Showalter “based” this off. The world is entirely unique, the characters have sass and ass-kicking awesomeness, and I can’t WAIT to dive into the next book in the series. I definitely recommend to lovers of zombies, secret sects of paranormal fighters, and snark thrown in for good measure.

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A Review of The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

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NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING.

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: Zombies with a unique, never-seen-before twist; intense, thrilling story-telling; intriguing cast of characters; chilling, horrifying scenes; a full-circle conclusion

Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know this book even existed. It was recommended to me by a friend on Goodreads, and after reading the blurb, I decided I needed to give it a shot. I just finished this read about five minutes ago, and I have to say…I think I left my brain trapped somewhere in its pages. My head is burbling, my heart is confused. I just don’t know quite what to do with myself right now.

First and foremost…this book redefines and reexamines EVERYTHING I ever thought about zombies and the zombie plague. Outbreak. Virus. Whatever you want to call it. Because in this book…it’s not ANY of these. Not really. It’s a fungus…and it’s out for more than just blood and guts. It’s out to breed…and become something else entirely.

Melanie is the kind of character you find only once in a great while: Self-reliant, strong despite finding out the truth of her existence in a harsh and cold way…and all too endearing to be safe. Because Melanie has been “brought up” in a lab on an army base. Locked in a cell at night and on the weekends, her entire world is four stone walls and a bed. Every morning, she is strapped to a wheelchair and pushed into a classroom for lessons. Once a week, she is fed a bowl of worms and bathed in a chemical solution. But Melanie isn’t just another “girl”–Melanie is something not quite human, not quite monster. And because of this, she’s dangerous.

When the army base she and the motley crew of characters we’re introduced to is attacked by other people (junkers, as they’re called) and a horde of creatures (called hungries) used as weapons, Melanie finds herself getting her first taste of freedom…and something more tasty than the meat they’re given once a week. And while she’s determined to keep her favorite teacher, Miss Justineau, safe from the world and herself…she knows it’s only a matter of time before she can’t control the hunger any longer.

The writing of this book is so gorgeously done. There’s a sense of…distance the author keeps between the characters and the readers in the beginning that made me squirm and fidget nervously. The reveal, while pretty easy to see coming once you’ve gotten a sense of the world, is still daunting.

Quickly, however, the walls between the characters and Melanie disappear as they band together to battle the unknown and find their way to a safe (for most of them) haven. The characterization of each stands out and grows as the story continues; the arc for most of them is so beautifully done, so realistic, this might have happened to actual people.

There are also plot twists that AREN’T so easy to see coming, and it was these that I was most taken aback by. M.R. Carey has created a world in this book that is at times entirely plausible…and much, MUCH more terrifying than anything I’d considered myself. The world-building, the plot line, and the characters all work together to weave something gorgeous and mystifying, a journey that is bound to leave readers (much as it left me) breathless at the end.

I REALLY enjoyed the place this book took me; I kept forcing myself to set it aside so as not to finish it all at once (and because this is such a heavy, HARD read–just because it weighs on you). Definitely a new favorite to add to my list, I highly recommend to lovers of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and zombie plagues/plausible futuristic stories. Hats off to M.R. Carey for catching me by surprise!