Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Summary: Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune, and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal disease that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, steampunk meets romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

My Thoughts: I was immediately drawn into Habel’s debut novel. Generally I have not read many zombie novels, and I’ve only a little experience in the steampunk genre. I was skeptical of steampunk + zombie + romance.

I loved Nora as a narrator. Like I said, I was interested in what she had to say from the first page. I also liked the way Habel described and invented the history of how exactly New Victoria came to be after an apocalyptic-type era that did away with all the old countries like the U.S., Mexico, etc. Her version of “zombie-sm” was also new and intriguing.

I loved the romance–it developed nicely and was very cute 🙂 Hope to read the sequel soon!

Author Website, where you can read a sample chapter! http://liahabel.com/

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Abandon by Meg Cabot

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Pierce knows what happens to us when we die.

That’s how she met John Hayden, the mysterious stranger who’s made returning to normal life—or at least life as Pierce knew it before the accident—next to impossible.

Though she thought she escaped him—starting a new school in a whole new place—it turns out she was wrong. He finds her.

What does John want from her? Pierce thinks she knows… just like she knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven. But she can’t stay away from him, either, especially since he’s always there when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she might find herself back in the place she fears the most.

And when Pierce discovers the shocking truth, that’s exactly where John sweeps her:

The Underworld.

My Thoughts: I was not a fan of Meg Cabot’s latest YA novel. I had high hopes because it was based on the myth of Persephone and Hades, but I ended up skimming and skipping through to the end–I just wasn’t into it.

I have enjoyed lots of her books before (most notably the famous Princess Diaries series as well as her Mediator series). But I couldn’t even finish Abandon. In no way did it hold my interest–I thought the way she set up the narrative and plot was too disjointed, and there was little to no chemistry between our protagonist and her love interest.

Author Website: http://www.megcabot.com/

Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee

COVER thief with no shadow by emily geeRating: 7 out of 10
Summary: Melke is a wraith, able to walk unseen. Feared by all, hunted and hated, she has lost everything–except her younger brother. Now she is forced to do the unthinkable: in exchange for her brother’s freedom, she must use her magical gift to steal.

Melke’s thieving has devastating consequences. The stolen necklace was strung with tears, and without it Bastian sal Vere can’t break the curse that is destroying his family–a curse that will reach its brutal climax at the next full moon. He strikes a desperate bargain with Melke: a healer to save her brother’s life, in return for the necklace.

But undoing her crime may cost Melke her own life. The necklace is deep within a salamander’s den, a place of flame and pain that no thief has ever returned from. And time is running short. The moon grows full, and someone must face the creature that laid the curse and suffer its terrible vengeance.

My Thoughts: I picked this up after reading Emily Gee’s other novel The Laurentine Spy, which I read and enjoyed previously.

Thief was much in the same vein–adventure and new worlds and fast pacing, with a little bit of romance and desperation thrown in. It was a great story and good way to escape normal life for a little while.

One problem I had is something I tend to pick on with some books… the “perfect” character. I thought Liana, the sister of our main male protagonist, was incredibly perfect, unbelievably so, a little one-dimensional. She’s beautiful, kind, nice, understanding, un-prejudiced, and she has an amazing healing ability! She was also very damsel-in-distress. I much preferred the main character, Melke, who had to overcome lots of obstacles in the novel and made mistakes, like any real person does.

There is mature content (sexual violence) in this novel, however, which I actually wasn’t expecting at first. And I don’t agree 100% with how Gee dealt with it, her characters’ reactions to it… but anyway.

The actual cover looks a little better than the one I have in this post, the image quality and the colors are kind of off and slightly demented here, not sure why.