Matilda meets Walking Dead

girl_with_all_the_giftsRemember Roald Dahl’s Matilda? A sweet little girl with a heart of gold who teaches us all the wonderful lessons of life? In M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, Melanie is a lot like Matilda. She’s brilliantly smart, super sweet and practically worships her teacher Ms. Justineau.

But Melanie is a zombie.

Well, she’s half zombie… actually she’s full blooded zombie but also pseudo zombie. Her zombie senses don’t come to light unless she smells human flesh. So the remaining humans keep her in a prison-like lab for research with Ms. Justineau teaching them. That is, until a series of events that lead the pack into the zombie infested neighbourhoods of England.

I couldn’t put this one down. It was heartwarming, smart and horrifying in all the right places. The ending will haunt you and the characters (even the hardened prison guard Sargeant) will worm their way into your heart like a virus determined to turn you into the undead.

Uncommon to action-packed stories of the zombie genre, there is a lesson to be learned here. Highly recommended if you love scary reads or zombie lit — and even if you normally don’t, this one is worth the time.

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Gone Girl had me pulling my hair out

GONE_girlReading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is incredibly frustrating. Everything starts out a little too perfect. The characters are too shiny and it’s annoying. Then it they become unlikeable and super annoying. Then they become unbearably irritating.

Perhaps the most frustrating part is that I also couldn’t put it down!

I read this book in less than 3 days — a pace usually reserved for short stories and YA novels. It’s definitely a page-turner with all its twists and turns. There is a, to use the author’s words, major bombshell halfway through the book.

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Gone Girl is about a laid off magazine reporter named Nick Dunne and his picture perfect wife, Amy Dunne Elliot. His wife is a bit of a celebrity and has money to her name. But when both of them lose their jobs and Nick’s mother gets sick, they move out of their New York apartment and back to Nick’s hometown in Missouri. One day, Nick arrives home to find his wife missing and there are signs of a struggle.

As evidence piles up, the cops are increasingly discovering that it all points to Nick as the perpetrator. The media circus ensues — including a biased talk show host that is a startling reminder of Nancy Grace. And like any other murder case, the media automatically presumes it must be the husband.

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That’s all of the plot I can tell you without giving too much away. I found both passive aggressive Nick and little Miss Amazing Amy very irritating characters. Actually, I didn’t really like anyone in this book. I think that may be what makes Gone Girl so addictive. It’s a lot like watching the Real Housewives of Wherever. After a while, you realize that you’re only watching for the sensationalism.

It’s worth noting that the Gone Girl movie is scheduled for release in October 2014. Ben Affleck plays Nick and Rosamund Pike is Amy. Will be interesting to see how this plays out on the big screen and whether they decide to over-Hollywood-it.

The ending of Gone Girl will shock you. But if you’ve ever wondered how your parents stayed married, this will answer all your questions. Frankly, I’ll never look at marriage the same way again.

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The Hangman Returns in The Dark Monk

DARKMONKWhen I first bought my Kindle, I spent months reading free classics. And then, I finally made my first ebook purchase: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch.

The Hangman’s Daughter series takes place in an old Bavarian town named Augsburg where the hangman Jakob Kuisl and his daughter Magdelana live. The first book was all about the father-daughter team exonerating the town’s midwife. This is medieval Bavaria where the town demands to see violent torturing of their criminals — especially a midwife that has been named responsible for witchcraft and the killing of innocent babies.

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The Hangman’s Daughter was an absolute page-turner. Kuisl’s wise antics and his daughter’s stubbornness makes them very memorable characters. Potzsch also has a knack for creating the atmosphere of Augsburg whether it’s the warm Kuisl living room or mass hysteria throughout the town.

The Dark Monk is the second book in the series and it continues with the same great characters and setting. The story begins with one of the Ausberg priests being murdered in a tomb behind his church. Kuisl soon learns that the tomb houses secrets of the treasures from The Knight’s Templar.

I wasn’t really a fan of the religious overtones in the second book. There was too much running around and I found it hard to keep track of where all the characters were. But it was still a page-turner and there’s plenty of foreshadowing of what’s to come in book three, The Beggar King.

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Photo credits: loveage-moondream.tumblr.com, pinterest.com

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Waiting on Wednesday: Snow White Must Die

This is my eighth edition of Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly event held by Breaking the Spine.

I began university thinking that I’d be an English major but half way through my final modern literature exam, I realized I was sick of it. I didn’t want to analyze T.S. Eliot to death, I just wanted to read it, love it and fall asleep dreaming of fictitious worlds.

SNOW_whitemustdieSo I chose to major in Criminology instead. I read about morbid Victorian court cases about cannibalism on the high seas and the horrible conditions of state asylums. And I came to appreciate murder mystery fiction in a whole new light.

Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus sounds like a fantastic creepy thriller. Neuhaus is widely known German author but this is her first book translated to English. From what I understand, this is the first book in a series which has already done incredibly well in Germany.

Snow White Must Die is available January 15th, 2013.

Synopsis:

On a rainy November day police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to a mysterious traffic accident: A woman has fallen from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath. According to a witness, the woman may have been pushed. The investigation leads Pia and Oliver to a small village, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer’s son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is—and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

Painting by Liese Chavez. Print available from Etsy.

Painting by Liese Chavez. Print available from Etsy.

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