Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
published October 2011 by Random House
467 pages (hardcover), YA

I have to give you what's written on the inside flap because it's most of the reason why I read this book. I know it's long, but it's a whole lot more concise than any summary I'd write!
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.
C'mon, how do you not rush to the library to get your hands on this book after a description like that? Nora Dearly is my favorite kind of female character - stubborn, feisty, and smart. When she's kidnapped by undead soldiers, she assesses the situation and makes the best of it. Sure, it takes her a moment or two to come to grips with her strange new reality, but she's practical and chooses to ask questions instead of cower in fear. I wish more of the book were told in her perspective, but in fact, it alternates between quite a few characters.

I also loved the setting in this book and actually wanted more backstory and description. I kept checking the covers for a map or something, but no such luck. New Victoria in 2195 is an interesting concept, and I love the world Habel has created there. It's wonderful steampunk - a blend of the old and the new. The society has modeled itself after a more genteel time period, the Victorian Era, but one that they ultimately never could have known in great detail because of the many hundreds of years separating them. So, they try to behave in ways they imagine that the Victorians did, but who are they kidding? There are Punks and free-thinkers and people who do not appreciate the classist society they've created. Not to mention the walking dead.

Anyhow, I liked this book. I wanted to love it, but the alternating perspectives were irksome. The dialogue was also odd to me - sometimes it would be very contemporary and others very Victorian. I understand why, but it was still a little jarring to read. But because I like the story and the setting, I will definitely be reading more from the Gone With the Respiration series.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

December Reading Recap + Challenges

I am constantly amazed by how quickly the time goes by. And I know I state that fact often. Somehow, I only managed to read two novels in December. Two, really? That's a sad, sad tale. Especially since I have plenty checked out of my various libraries. But you know, they were two truly fantastic books.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins --- I could not put this book down! I started it before bed and didn't stop until the wee hours of the morning. Ms. Perkins truly has a talent for nailing those teenage romances. Lola is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, but he's a few years older and not always pleased about having Sunday brunch with her dads (yes, I said dads). When Cricket, Lola's first love, moves back into the house next door, Lola is inexplicably drawn to the boy who broke her heart. Who's it going to be? The hot, older bad boy boyfriend or the always-on-her-mind former flame? Delicious, I say! A wonderfully sweet book read over Winter Break.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (review) --- Oh, what a pretty little dystopia. Why did I wait so long to read this book? Like Lola, I read this book in one sitting. That's become my preferred method of reading lately. I don't like to slug through books. I like to gobble them up. And this one, my friends, was rather tasty. I can't wait for the next book, Insurgent, to come out in May so that I can see if Amity really is my favorite faction. Dauntless is definitely not for me...

Looking back... 2011 Challenges
I may have started the year out strong, but as soon as summer ended and work began, I fell into a crazy hectic schedule with very little time for reading. So it's no surprise that I failed nearly all of my challenges. If you're curious, you can head on over to my 2011 Challenges page to check out my stats.

Looking forward... 2012 Challenges & Reading Goals
I'm not going to be overly ambitious in 2012. Because I know that this year will be filled with life changes (good ones, I hope!) that will take up a lot of my would-be reading time. But I have set a few more realistic challenges for myself...

Last year was my first year participating in the Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren, and I failed pretty miserably. The goal is to simply read 12 YA/MG books by debut authors. Me? I read 3. So, to redeem myself and to read more from new authors (because I tend to rely on old favorites), I'm joining the 2012 Debut Author Challenge with the goal that I'll read at least 6 books from debut authors. Twice as many as last year, but still half as many as everyone else.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Natalie has read 0 books toward her goal of 150 books.
Since I use Goodreads for my reading activities, I also joined their reading challenge and set a goal of 150 books to read in 2012. Goodreads tells me that I read 140 books in 2011 (though I know I read more than that, counting picture books), so 10 more should be no problem.

Finally, I hope to read a couple more books from my Lifelong Reading List, starting with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, since the movie comes out this month. I also need to add quite a few books to that list...

So, those are my meager goals for this year, I think.

2012, I don't know you very well, but I hope I'll like you and all the new books you bring me!

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