Slay Together, Stay Together

Married with ZombiesMarried with Zombies by Jesse Petersen
Living with the Dead # 1
Publisher: Orbit
Number of pages: 244
My copy: paperback, ARC from Janice — thank you!

A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.

Meet Sarah and David.

Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they’re on the verge of divorce and going to couples’ counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things – the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client’s throat.

Meet the Zombies.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn’t mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don’t eat their brains, they might just kill each other.

* * *

So zombies. I think I’ve established enough in this blog that I love zombies. They’re my favorite paranormal creatures, and despite the gore that is normally associated with them, I think they’re a great plot device (hey, look I’m spouting NaNoWriMo terms already!). When I heard about Jesse Petersen’s novel about a married couple who starts slaying zombies, I knew I just had to have it. Zombie + chick lit? Come on, it’s a no-brainer for me. :P

I think the common thing about all the zombie novels I’ve read and reviewed (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead Tossed Waves, Feed and Z) is they’re all post-apocalyptic novels. The zombie apocalypse has happened, and I’m brought to a setting where I read about how the people coped, is coping and will cope with the reality that zombies are among the people. Some books are set early enough after the apocalypse that the characters still remember why and how the zombies rose, while others are set so far off into the future that no one really knows how the zombies came.

What sets Married with Zombies apart from the other zombie novels (aside from the pink in the cover) is how it’s set during the apocalypse instead of post. Everything was normal for David and Sarah up until their marriage counselor tried to eat them, and from there everything goes haywire. I find this setting quite creative because I’ve never read a zombie book that focused exactly on how people tried to survive as the zombies came. There’s a certain sense of the unknown in this, and I got to see fresh terror and denial from the humans as they wrestled with this new and terrifying fact of life. I found myself rooting for the characters to survive because…well, who else is there to root for?

However, that’s pretty much what I found unique in this book. I think the real selling point of this book is not that it’s a zombie novel, but the romance/chick lit aspect. Yeah, the chick lit aspect is there, but it’s not the same chick lit aspect that I’m looking for in those I read. I think I agree with how other reviewers viewed Sarah — she’s kind of annoying. She did admit she was a Type-A person, but I never really felt much sympathy or connection with her. David seemed too much like the typical guy who turned out to be a hero, but I’m also kind of lukewarm to him. Come to think of it, I don’t think I really connected with most of the characters here. Normally this is an issue for me, and it is kind of one here, but somehow I think the zombies managed to make it up for me.

The love angle is kind of cheesy, really, and there’s nothing too special about it. I am glad that they worked out their marriage even if it took a zombie apocalypse to mend their marriage. Which brings me to the point that a relationship will work out if you have a common goal. I’m not so sure how sound zombie busting is as a common goal will work, but well, I can suspend my disbelief.

I think the most surprising part in this novel — at least for me — is the gore. For some reason, I felt extra queasy with this novel as I read it. There’s so much blood and gore and guts and black sludge (ew) in this novel that I found myself grossed out for the first time in a zombie novel. Remembering it now is still kind of making me queasy. Eh.

Overall, it’s not a bad zombie book. It’s not the best one either, but I’m still willing to give the second book, and maybe the third book a chance. I would love to read David’s point of view, though — I hope we read that in one of the future books?

If you’re a zombie fan and you don’t mind reading something “light” in terms of this literature, go and pick up Married with Zombies. Don’t expect to be wowed, but it could provide some mild entertainment. However, if you’re just starting out in the zombie fad, I would recommend you to get other more established zombie books before moving to this one.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Taking a Break
Janicu’s Book Blog

Paper Girl in a Paper Town

Paper Towns by John Green
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages: 305
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

I wasn’t really planning on reading this book anytime soon, because I figure I should read my John Green novels in order of release: Looking for Alaska first, then An Abundance of Katherines and finally, Paper Towns. But sometimes, you will have some friends who absolutely love a certain book and they would not stop bugging you until you read that book they love, especially after they learned you got a copy (Hi Aaron!). So, Katherines, you’d have to wait for a while.

So yeah, I gave in, especially since I was still in the mood to read something contemporary after This Lullaby. It’s been mentioned a lot in other John Green reviews, but for the sake of discussion, I will mention it again: John Green’s cast of characters can come across as formulaic. There’s the geeky and awkward guy, the beautiful and imperfect unattainable girl and a couple of friends from the guys who will join him in the journey of discovering more about the girl and eventually discover more about themselves. This is also said about Sarah Dessen, and having read all her novels, I kind of agree. However, this doesn’t mean that her novels are boring, and after reading Paper Towns, I can say that same goes for John Green. They wouldn’t be staples in contemporary YA if their books didn’t have something good to offer, right?

In a word, Paper Towns was charming. I liked Looking for Alaska enough, but it was a dark novel and it’s not something I’d read to cheer myself up. Paper Towns is the opposite — it’s happy, but not bubblegum/fluffy happy. If I were to classify what kind of happiness this book has, it’s the victorious kind of happy: the joy you feel after you finally achieved something you’ve worked hard for that also comes with some sort of sadness when you realized that what you achieved isn’t exactly what you thought it was. John Green has perfectly captured the life of a senior who’s happy with routine in the form of the hero Q, and the life of someone who feels the need to get away in the form of Margo.

I know a lot of readers who disliked Margo, but I honestly didn’t find her so bad. I think maybe it’s because I felt genuine empathy for Q’s plight, on how he wanted to find her so much that it hurts him inside just to think of her. There’s a sense of desperation inside Q that I find familiar — the desperate need to hold on to the image of the girl he loved up until he realized that there was more to her than what he’s always thought of. I have to admit that I’ve felt like that a lot, and it’s caused me so many disappointments. Often times, I have an image for the guys I like, and I cling to this image so much that I put these guys in a pedestal where they can do no wrong. Once reality slaps me on the face, these guys become people and I find myself being shattered with the expectations I have about them. That’s not saying that the guys I liked were bad people; it was more of being affected by how much I wanted them to be “The One” when it’s too early to say anything about it.

Now Margo. Like I said, I’m probably one of the people who did not dislike her. I admired her for being brave enough to do what she wanted. Granted, it wasn’t the most well-executed plans, but actually going through with doing what she wanted despite the consequences is something I applaud. I wonder if I will be brave enough to do what she did and leave. Leave what, exactly, I do not know yet. I find myself wondering how Q felt when he said this:

It is so hard to leave — until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world. (p. 229)

I guess I will never know until I do so myself.

There were so many things in Paper Towns that can be discussed, and I bet I’ll pick up something else here if ever I decide to re-read this sometime later. This book is very re-readable, and I think the pacing helped that. John Green managed to keep enough suspense and mystery throughout the book without making me feel like I’m going around in circles. And like everyone else, I loved the last few pages of the book. Poignant and bittersweet. :)

My favorite character of all in the book, however, is Radar. You just have to love the ultimate geek in their trio, whose parents own the biggest collection of black Santas in the world and who will drop everything just to help out a friend.

Paper Towns is a great book. I’d say it’s awesome, but right now I’m going to give the final verdict to this book after I have read An Abundance of Katherines. But if you’re looking for a good contemporary YA novel, Paper Towns is a very good place to start. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Guy Gone Geek

The Book Smugglers

Book Harbinger

In My Mailbox (9): Enders and Dust

Thought I’d do a quick post before I hit the sack again. Today I ran another 10 kilometer race, and my knees are killing me. I was slower by almost ten minutes from my personal record, but that’s probably because I didn’t have enough sleep (then again, I never had enough sleep before a race), and because there was just something wrong about how the entire event was organized. I’ll rant post about it in my personal blog sometime this week. :)

This week is a pretty small stash, but I did get a lot of awesome emails and did a lot of orders so there should be a pretty sizable stash next week. I’ve been very good with resisting to buy, too, especially after I’ve spotted a bunch of new books that I am interested in getting. I just keep on reminding myself three things:

  1. I still have a lot waiting to be read
  2. I have to save money for NaNoWriMo ML duties
  3. I’ll be packing up my books soon to move because we’ll be having our house renovated, and adding a bunch of books on the shelf will just make it hard to move out.

I’ve been a good girl, yes? :) So, just two books this week!

  1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Everyone has been recommending this book to me, but for some reason I can’t find a copy. So one day, I posted it on a wish list in our Goodreads group, and one of my new friends there kindly sent me a copy. Thanks Monique! :) I am not a sci-fi reader so normally I wouldn’t get Ender’s Game, but when people who don’t normally read sci-fi say this is good…well I’ve got to find out why for myself, too.What’s funny though, is now that I have it, I saw two copies of the book in National Bookstore. What up, world. :))
  2. Dust City by Robert Paul Weston. After posting this on as my Want Books entry a little over a week ago, I saw a copy of it in Fully Booked Eastwood the following weekend. I wasn’t supposed to get it, but I had it reserved so I can mull over it the next day if I will get it. Well, of course, I ended up getting it. And true to what Chelle said in her review, the cover is pretty:You’d actually have to touch it to see how nice it is. :)

Oh, the books behind the two books I featured this week are old books I haven’t read yet. You’re seeing the foot of my Mt. TBR. :P

I also got some pretty awesome emails this week! The best one is probably when Dee of e-Volving books told me I won her 100+ Follower contest! This is my first time to win a book contest that I actually really wanted to join, and the $15 from Book Depository sponsored by Book Quoter is a really awesome prize. :) I’ll post about the books once they get here, of course.

And finally, I received the One Lovely Blog Award (my second one!) from Kate of Literary Explorations. Thank you! :)

I should hit the sack now if I want to catch up on lost sleep and help my poor aching legs recover. I hope you all had a great weekend (long weekend for us in the Philippines!), and I leave you with the note that Monique wrote on the wrapping of the book she sent me:

Have a great week everyone! :)

Want Books: Trash by Andy Mulligan


Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now.

My extended weekend last week gave me a reason to surf more blogs and check out reviews, and I’m kind of surprised to see a lot of this particular book. I had this on my wishlist recently, but I didn’t feel the need to get it until I saw these reviews from Kris of Voracious YAppetite and Dwayne of Girls Without a Bookshelf.

Trash by Andy Mulligan

Raphael is a dumpsite boy. He spends his days wading through mountains of steaming trash, sifting it, sorting it, breathing it, sleeping next to it. Then one unlucky-lucky day, Raphael’s world turns upside down. A small leather bag falls into his hands. It’s a bag of clues. It’s a bag of hope. It’s a bag that will change everything.

The setting sounds suspiciously local, and it was confirmed when I found out that Andy Mulligan spent some time in Manila (and continues to spend some time here). Books like these suddenly become a must-buy for me because I want to know how accurate the portrayal is. Trash doesn’t exactly say it is set in the Phlippines, but the reviewers I linked above say the book reminds it of the dump sites here, particularly in Smokey Mountain.

I hear it’s already available in National Bookstore (the book launch was just last week, I think). I would get it…but honestly? I like the UK cover (pictured above) more. :P I’m trying to decide my immediate need to read this so I’ll get what’s available here (pictured on the right), or wait for some UK covers to arrive here or look for someone to get me the UK cover. Hm.

What do you think? Which cover is prettier? :)

Reading for the fun of it (aka My Ten Teen Reads)

I remember one of the conversations I had with some friends about how some do not review the books they read. Some of them admit that they’re not that good with writing, while other people said that they didn’t want to feel obligated to think about having to write something, and instead just read the book for fun. Now, being a writer and a talkative person, I never felt the burden of writing reviews for the books I read. Yes, sometimes I don’t review a book, but lately I’ve been enjoying writing notes about the books I read so much that it’s never been a burden for me to write.

Taking a cue from Honey’s latest post, though, I like the tag line of this year’s Teen Read Week: read for the fun of it. While I have always been reading for fun, but sometimes I tend to forget and I put too much pressure on myself when I write a review or finish a book. Looking at my TBR mountain, I know I feel pressured to finish most of it, so I tend to read and read and read and worry about how I can make the mountain smaller (and also finish off my challenges).

Which brings me to my Ten Teen Reads! I don’t know how it connects exactly to what I wrote up there, but I thought I’d also list the books I loved to read as a teen. Note that they’re not exclusively YA because I hardly picked up YA fiction, then. I’m not really sure what kinds of books I used to read then actually. Hrm. Anyway.

  1. This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti. I discovered Frank Peretti through my friend Pau during freshman year in high school. She told me about it, but I only got to read it by junior year. When I finished reading it, I didn’t want to give it back because I loved it so much. I loved the storytelling and the story itself, especially the angels and how they get their strength from the praying people. :) The sequel I read when I finally got my own copy of the book and there is this scene that always always makes me cry. These two books pretty much started my love for Peretti.
  2. Eating Fire and Drinking Water by Arlene Chai. I think I read Chai when some blogger friends (back when blogging was really just journaling online) started recommending her. It’s really one of the first few serious novels I read that’s set in the Philippines. I loved Eating Fire and Drinking Water for reasons I really couldn’t point out. I think I would have to revisit this book again to find out.
  3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Now this is really YA. I got this book when I was feeling stressed from school, and this one saved me from totally exploding. I loved every bit of this novel — I wanted to be Stargirl! This remains to be one of my comfort reads until now. :)
  4. Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. I bought this the same day I got Stargirl. I think I’ve said enough about how much I love this book, and I am really sad that they delayed the showing of the movie here. :(
  5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I think I first read this in Grade 5, and that’s really before I hit teens. This is one of the classics that I have re-read more than twice. My review says a lot about it already, and I think I need to find a hardcover version of this book so I can preserve it. :D
  6. Invisible Lissa by Natalie Honeycutt. This little gem I found in Book Sale, and I’ve lost count how many times I read this, too. This is one of the best middle grade books I read when I was in high school. So glad I bought it then. :)
  7. The Nickel Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty. My mom bought me this book, at first this wasn’t really one of those books that I read. However, when I read it, I couldn’t put it down. I loved how all the kids worked hard to get that “nickel-plated beauty”, and I wanted to write a similar story. :P
  8. Best Bet Gazette by Linda Gondosch. This one tickled all my writing fancies. When I was younger, I used to write “newsletters” for distribution, which of course were never printed. I loved this because it involved writing in a newspaper, and there was a serious part in the book, too. :)
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Anne Shirley is one of my heroes. I wished I had as much imagination as she did, but alas. I love all the names she thought of (White Way of Delight!), and all her adventures. Finally, a name: Gilbert Blythe. Swoon.
  10. Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I must not forget the only sci-fi series that I grew up with. I learned of this series from my best friend, and at first I thought it was more of a fantasy series. where the kids have extraordinary powers with no real need for it. To my surprise it wasn’t — it was darker and grittier and it had deer-human-scorpion aliens! I remember scouring the bookstores every month for the new books. It’s just sad I kind of lost interest in it so I haven’t collected all the books. Now I’m on the lookout for the books I don’t have.

And plus one, because I can’t not write this:

  • Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal. When I was in Grade 3, a classmate brought a curious colorful little book to school. It was my first introduction to Sweet Valley, and reading. I never really got to read Sweet Valley High because my mom didn’t want me reading that (long story), but I loved Sweet Valley Twins, The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley Junior High. If I had to thank an author for getting me started on reading, it would have to be Francine Pascal (and all her ghost writers). :)

And because of this honorable mention, I must also mention this: the cover for the newest Sweet Valley book, Sweet Valley Confidential is out:

Doesn’t this bring back awesome memories? :) Is it too early to beg for ARCs, if they are releasing them? But either way, I will get this book anyway — should be a fun read. :P

I don’t think I’d be the same person today if it weren’t for the books I read when I was young. So to teens out there: read, read, read! Read whatever you get your hands on! Turn off the TV and computers, pick up a book and read! I promise you it’s going to be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. :)