Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + GiveawayThe Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack
Published by Entangled TEEN on September 2, 2014
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Goodreads
4 Stars

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

picadillyblueThe Girl and the Clockwork Cat stands out as amazingly unique in the YA market.  A steampunk adventure story featuring a half-Japanese heroine and her cat with a clockwork leg?  What’s not to love?

Nikki McCormack has a lot of strengths as an author.  Her writing is gorgeous, her characters are well developed, her setting is vivid, and her story is captivating.  From the very first sentence I had a feeling I would love The Girl and the Clockwork Cat and my prediction was right on target.

From the very first page, readers will have a hard time not falling in love with Maeko.  She’s a strong heroine who really stands out among all the characters in the book.  She’s feisty and I adored her attitude.  She refused to take crap from anyone!  However, she was not afraid to admit when she was in over her head or scared.  She was willing to seek out help when she needed it which really showed her true strength.  Also, while there were boys in her life (two, to be specific) she didn’t rely on them too much.  In fact, sometimes she was the one saving their butts.  It was a refreshing change of pace.  Chaff and Ash (yes there is a bit of a love triangle) aren’t too shabby either.  Chaff appealed to me a bit more since he was always there for Maeko but Ash had his strengths.  He cared a lot for his family and he was an all-around stand up guy (if a bit rude at first.)

The murder mystery aspect didn’t take long to be introduced.  Really everything about The Girl in the Clockwork Cat came about relatively quickly.  Nikki McCormack wasted no time in setting up the story and getting readers truly invested Maeko, Chaff, and Ash’s story.  The mystery will have readers hooked on this story if they weren’t already.  This truly is a conspiracy story and no one is safe from being a suspect.

As for the clockwork cat, Macak really was a character all his own.  When Maeko first finds him, it’s easy to tell that he’s not your ordinary cat.  He’s got a clockwork leg, for one.  Other than that, he’s a cat with personality and some little quirks.  I’m a total cat person so everything about Macak appealed to me.  I also really loved how Maeko didn’t see him as a cat, she saw him as a companion.  For someone who’d been on her own for so long, Macak was just what she needed.

Overall, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat is a wonderful debut from Nikki McCormack.  I don’t know what I expected when I first started reading it but it’s not what I got (and I mean that in the best possible way.)  I’ve never been big on steampunk but Nikki McCormack may have just changed that.

What others are saying about The Girl and the Clockwork Cat:

Buried Under Books’ review: “The author’s other main strength is in her characters who are vivid and engaging, even those who can’t be considered likeable.”

Nicky Peacock – Author’s review: “The Girl and the  Clockwork Cat was a well written, and thought out book, with an interesting storyline and some lovely prose.”

Forever Obsession’s review: “The Girl and the Clockwork Cat has action, mystery, intrigue, and really lovable characters.”

nikki mccormack
About the Author
Nikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12, which she still has tucked in a briefcase in her home office, waiting for the right moment. Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she continued to treat her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy presented her with an abundance of free time that she used to focus on making it her career.

Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her husband and three cats suffering varying stages of neurosis. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She finds peace through practicing iaido or shooting her longbow.

 

Where to find Nikki online:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | Review

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | ReviewStrange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Published by Harper Teen on July 22, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

picadillyblueThis review is going to be extremely hard for me to write.  My feelings for Strange and Ever After are all over the place!  I loved it, I hated it, I couldn’t stop reading it.

Strange and Ever After picks up immediately after the ending of A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  Eleanor, Daniel, Joseph, and Oliver are heading to Marseille to chase down Marcus and get Jie back.  They aren’t sure what Marcus wants with Jie but they know she’s been compelled by him and the only way to break the spell is to kill Marcus.  However, Marcus is always one step ahead of them and he’s much more powerful than even Eleanor, Joseph, and Oliver combined.  Strange and Ever After takes the crew on a journey through Europe that tests their magic and their loyalties more than any of the other books.

Eleanor really bothered me in Strange and Ever After.  I loved her in Something Strange and Deadly, lost some respect for her in A Darkness Strange and Lovely and really couldn’t care less for her in Strange and Ever After.  Her magic has completely taken over her mind and she can’t even see what it’s done to her.  She cares so much about her magic that she has lost sight of her friendships and relationships.  She has pushed everyone away and she constantly blames others for it, especially Oliver.  Oliver really confused me in Strange and Ever After.  I liked him but didn’t completely trust him in A Darkness Strange and Lovely but this time around I didn’t even really like him all that much.  He had a  horrible temper and he treated Eleanor pretty badly.  Sure, sometimes she deserved it but I felt like he could have taken a different approach.  However, he did some things throughout the book that made up for that and by the end I really did like him.  Daniel really shined in Strange and Ever After. He grew so much throughout the course of the trilogy.  I can’t even put into words how amazing he was.  He was caring, smart, kind, and brave.  He has got to be one of the best love interests I’ve ever read about.

The story wasn’t quite as fast-paced as the first two books but it was definitely never boring.  Marcus had lots of surprises in store for Eleanor, Oliver, and the Spirit-Hunters.  I truly never knew what he was going to do next.  However, sometimes I was a little skeptical about how he knew to be one step ahead of them all the time.  How did he possibly know what they were going to do next when sometimes they didn’t even know what they were going to do next?

The ending completely broke me.  I’m not even kidding.  There were not enough tissues in my house for the ending of this book.  I know some readers didn’t believe the ending was completely necessary but I really don’t see how it could have worked out any other way.  I’m still torn up about the way things worked out but I can totally appreciate how great this ending was.

Overall, Strange and Ever After is a wonderful conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly series.  Susan Dennard has definitely gained a fan and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

What others are saying about Strange and Ever After:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who wants to read it, and if you haven’t already started it yet now is the time to do so because book three is officially out! “

Scott Reads It’s review: “ SAEA is less about zombies and isn’t as Gothic as the previous novels, but it does have more poignant, heartbreaking moments and so much character development.”

Finding Bliss In Books’ review: “That aside, Strange and Ever After is an entirely satisfactory conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy (or, as I’ve penned it, the Ke$ha zombie trilogy).”

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | Review

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | ReviewA Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #2
Published by Harper Teen on July 23, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 406
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Darkness has come to the City of Light...

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there's a price for this darkness strange and lovely...and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

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A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a strong sequel to Something Strange and Deadly.  It follows the same trajectory of the first book which is to say it’s fast-paced, full of surprises, and surprisingly emotional.  It’s exactly what a sequel should be.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up a few months after Something Strange and Deadly ends.  Things in Eleanor’s life are rather rough.  Her mother took the loss of Elijah harder than expected and now must remain in a mental institution.  To pay for her bills, Eleanor has had to sell almost everything they own.  When Marcus shows back up in Philadelphia it’s actually kind of a good thing because it forces Eleanor to flee to Paris to meet up with the Spirit-Hunters.  And thus the adventure begins anew!

So all the old characters are back but there are some new additions this time around.  Both the best and the worst new addition was definitely Oliver.  I loved him but I also didn’t trust him at all.  He was friendly and witty but also very secretive.  Even at the end of the book I knew he had secrets that he had yet to share.  I look forward to finding out more about him in Strange and Ever After.  It’s really difficult to tell if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  I think the worst thing about Oliver though was what he brought out in Eleanor.  I really lost a lot of respect and liking for Eleanor in A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  She pushed people away and she blamed everyone but herself for it.  She was so consumed by her new powers that she couldn’t see how they were  beginning to control her every thought and action.  Also, Daniel, Joseph, and Jie could see what was going on and they tried to help but they kind of took the wrong approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all still but I think they could have handled things with Eleanor a little better.  Especially Daniel.

The romance was very hot and cold, just like in Something Strange and Deadly.  Eleanor and Daniel love each other, that’s pretty obvious from the start but what’s not so obvious is how they are going to make things work between them.  They come from very different worlds and while Eleanor is okay with that, Daniel is not.  He wants to be worthy of Eleanor and I love him even more for that.  He had tons of flaws but in my eyes he was perfect.

The plot fits surprisingly well with the first book.  I wasn’t sure how things were going to tie together but they all do in the end.  There were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming and some that I definitely did.  However, those little things I was able to guess didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a wonderful sequel that will leave readers eager to check out the third and final book, Strange and Ever After.

What others are saying about A Darkness Strange and Lovely:

The Page Sage’s review: “A Darkness Strange and Lovely met my expectations and then some.”

Romancing the Laser Pistol’s review: “ I think it I liked A Darkness Strange and Lovely because it was full of: hot kisses, zombies and old fashioned Paris balls.”

Stories and Sweeties’ review: “To you give a clear picture of my feelings for this book, I simply say this: every night, in the ridiculously wee hours of the morning, I had to tear myself away and force myself to put this down.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Published by Harper Teen on July 24, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor... from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

picadillyblueSomething Strange and Deadly was one of the series on my list to start and attempt to finish this year.  I’ve had Something Strange and Deadly on my shelf since before the book was published but I never got around to actually reading it until now.  The hype for this series is definitely warranted.  Something Strange and Deadly is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly addicting story.

Eleanor is an extremely feisty and smart heroine.  She is unique to heroines in YA these days but especially in heroines from her time period.  She stands out among everyone she knows and while some might consider it a bad thing, I considered it one of her best qualities.  She is not afraid to speak her mind and go after what she wants.  When her brother, Elijah, goes missing she sets out to find help from the Spirit-Hunters, certain that the necromancer tormenting Philadelphia has her brother.  The group of Spirit-Hunters are made up of the classy Joseph, the quirky Jie, and the sarcastic Daniel.  Daniel is rude, outlandish, and rather odd but that didn’t stop me from completely falling in love with him.  He lacked manners but he made up for that in other ways.  Joseph and Jie added a certain flair to the group of Spirit-Hunters and they all brought something unique to the book.  Even Clarence and Allison Wilcox were interesting additions to the story although I would have enjoyed a bit more backstory to Allison.  She came up a little short compared to everyone else.

The story is fast-paced and pulse-pounding from the very first page.  I read straight through the book in one day.  I haven’t been that captivated by a book in quite some time.  While Eleanor’s escapades weren’t entirely plausible, they were fun to read about.  Eleanor was always escaping from places to meet the Spirit-Hunters and I felt that she probably wouldn’t have gotten away with that for long in the time period she lived in.  However, that is a minor complaint of mine.

The ending completely surprised me and actually brought tears to my eyes.  Every time I thought I figured something out, a new secret would pop up and I definitely could not figure out how things were going to tie together.  I was pleased that the story tied up rather well and while it left me eager for the second book, it wasn’t a horrible cliffhanger.

Overall, Something Strange and Deadly brings something new to both the historical fiction genre as well as the horror genre.  Susan Dennard has a promising start with this debut novel.

What others are saying about Something Strange and Deadly:

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog’s review: :”Overall, this was a great read and I strongly anticipate the next one!”

A Page of Heaven’s review: “Something Strange and Deadly was a rather okay book; my feelings for it ranged from love to content to majorly annoyed.”

The Flyleaf Review’s review: “An original blend of historical, paranormal, and a slight touch of steampunk, Something Strange and Deadly is an impressive package to savor.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dearly, Beloved (Gone With The Respiration #2) by Lia Habel | Review

Dearly, Beloved (Gone With The Respiration #2) by Lia Habel | ReviewDearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
Series: Gone With The Respiration #2
Published by Del Rey on September 25, 2012
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Can the living coexist with the living dead?

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

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Dearly, Beloved is an amazing follow-up to Dearly, Departed. The writing is just as flawless, the setting just as lovely/creepy, the characters just as wonderful, and the zombies just as awesome. Dearly, Beloved will not disappoint fans of the first book!

Bram and Nora are back and better than ever. This is one couple that never seems to waver. They are always there for each other and for once there is no love triangle. These two are devoted to each other and nobody will stand between them. Together they are amazing but surprisingly they are just as awesome apart. Nora is brave (sometimes reckless), funny, stubborn, and smart. She’s a wonderful heroine that readers will love. Bram is also brave, funny, and stubborn and it’s hilarious to see them clash. They may argue but they clearly love each other and Bram only wants what is best for Nora. Throughout everything he looks out for her and protects her. He’s such a sweet zombie boyfriend.

The rest of the characters really evolve in this book. Tom, Coalhouse, Chas, Dr. Dearly, Pam, Michael, Renfield, Doc Sam, Beryl, and Vespertine are all back. There are also a couple new characters introduced that were quite fascinating. The characters from the first book are just as awesome. More from all of their pasts are revealed and people are not quite who they seem (some in good ways, some in bad.) The characters really are so much more developed in this book and it will be wonderful to see even more of them in the next book.

The plot is a bit slower that the first book but not slow enough to make you want to stop reading. There is a lot of background information and build-up but it’s all very necessary information. Lia Habel doesn’t skimp out on the details to get to the action. There is the perfect balance of fighting, history, science, romance, and zombie. This book really does have a little something for everyone.

Overall, Dearly, Beloved solidifies my love for Lia Habel’s writing and storytelling abilities. This series is on my list of favorites and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Looking for more reviews of Dearly, Beloved?

Dark Faerie Tales’ review
Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf’s review

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dearly, Departed (Gone With The Respiration #1) by Lia Habel | Review

Dearly, Departed (Gone With The Respiration #1) by Lia Habel | ReviewDearly, Departed by Lia Habel
Series: Gone With The Respiration #1
Published by Del Rey on October 18, 2011
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 470
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Love can never die.

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 virus 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, 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.

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I have to start off by saying that this is one of the best books I have read recently and definitely my number one zombie book.  The page count made be 470 but don’t let that stop you because by the end you will be wishing it was longer.  It is just that good.

Lia Habel may be a debut author but from her writing you cannot tell.  The book is beautifully written, full of lush descriptions, and a wonderful, unique world.  Lia Habel doesn’t shy away from dark things.  Instead she takes them and makes the beautiful.  I’m sure you will fall in love with her zombies, just like Nora (and I) did.

The world Lia Habel creates is a very unique one.  It is a futuristic world that’s cultures revolve around the Victorian age.  New London has very high tech gadgets but also historical standards such as chaperones, parasols, and dresses that cover every inch of skin.  It seems rather odd at first but you are quickly given the history of New London and their customs begin to make sense.

The characters, each and every one of them, were fabulous.  Nora and Pamela and Chas and Beryl were all strong females that kicked some serious zombie ass.  Bram was the sweetest, bravest, most conflicted zombie out there.  Renfield, Coalhouse, Tom, Dr.Samedi, all the good zombies really were wonderful and unique and quite hilarious.  I cannot express how much I loved them all.

The plot was fast-paced and full of action (both romantic and of the zombie killing variety.)  Interspersed throughout was some history of the characters but that did not slow things down at all.  Another thing that kept it interesting was the switching point-of-views.  You mainly get things from Nora and Bram but some of the other characters also get a few chapters.  I really liked that about this book.  Oh and the zombie killing action was rather gory at times but still totally awesome.

Overall, Dearly, Departed is a must read for everyone, even if you don’t particularly care for zombie books.  I am now eagerly awaiting the sequel, Dearly, Beloved.

What others are saying about Dearly, Departed:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books’ review: “It would be a lot easier to write a coherent review forDearly, Departed if I hadn’t been up all last night reading it.”

Confessions of a Book Addict’s review: “If you are a fan of zombies, the horror genre, or dystopias, I would suggest picking up Dearly, Departed this summer.”

Bookloversity Reviews’ review: “It’s a fun, smart, riveting and unique story, with a lot of different genre elements that Habel somehow blends together really well.”