Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

From Back Cover: Accused of heresy and expelled from his monastery, handsome seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is recruited by a mysterious stranger to record the end of times across Europe. Commanded by sealed orders, Luca is sent to map the fears of Christendom and travel to the very frontier of good and evil. Seventeen-year-old Isolde, a Lady Abbess, is trapped in a nunnery to prevent her from claiming her rich inheritance. As the nuns in her care are driven mad by having strange visions, walking in their sleep, and showing bleeding wounds, Luca is sent to investigate, and all the evidence points to Isolde's criminal guilt. Forced to face the greatest fears of the medieval world - dark magic, werewolves, madness - Luca and Isolde embark on a search for truth, their own destinies, and even love as they take the unknown ways to the real historical figure who defends the boundaries of Christendom and holds the secrets of the Order of Darkness. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Changeling by Philippa Gregory was a novel that didn’t turn out to be what I expected. Before reading Changeling, I knew that Gregory was an adult historical fiction author; and so I thought the book would be very historically oriented with some paranormal/fantasy elements thrown in. Instead, there was a lack of attention to the little details of the time period – and it showed because the setting merely served as a convenient backdrop for the plot rather than truly coming alive.

As well, although the synopsis promises dark magic and werewolves, that really isn’t the case. Some people may be let down by the lack of paranormal/fantasy elements, but I was actually happy that the truth behind the “magic” and “werewolves” was very logical. I really liked how the superstitions and beliefs held by the people Luca encountered during his travels were dispelled by rationality and science.

I also liked the characters even though I thought that they – especially Isolde – lacked depth and their dialogue seemed kind of modern. It’s unusual for secondary characters to be more developed than the primary characters, but it felt like that was what happened in Changeling with Freize (who provided some nice comic relief) and Ishraq. To me, Ishraq was the most interesting of all the characters because although she’s a female and born an Ottoman (and therefore considered an outsider), she’s well-educated and knows how to fight.

A quick, entertaining story that will most likely appeal to those who are looking for something historical lite, Changeling will be released by Simon Pulse today!

Comments About the Cover: I like the background, but the guy is a little too pale – he looks more like a vampire than a supposed changeling – and the girl doesn’t exactly resemble a modest Lady Abbess.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Simon and Schuster Canada) for free.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

From Back Cover: Galen, the prince of the Syrena, is sent to dry land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen - literall, "ouch!" - both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom ...

My Rating: 1.5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: Right off the bat, I found myself getting annoyed with Anna Banks’ Of Poseidon due to the characters. I thought perhaps I was being overly critical and so kept reading; but the more I read, the more the characters irritated me. Here are some reasons why:
  • The book opens with Emma giving an inner monologue that runs a page and a half about how bumping into a hot guy is, like, the most humiliating thing ever. It happens; move on!
  • Another one of Emma’s monologues that bugged me was when she basically implies that if Galen tells her he loves her, she’ll abandon all her dreams to follow him. The little respect I had for her pretty much went down the drain after that.
  • Before being killed by a shark and completely forgotten about, Emma’s best friend, Chloe, wears a weave and fake nails to the beach. Who gets dressed up to go to the beach?!
  • Emma’s mom incorrectly assumes that Galen and Emma are dating and/or have slept together and freaks out. Later however, she’s completely okay with Galen telling her that he wants to sleep with Emma, and even lets the two of them go to Florida together. WTF?!
  • Throughout the book, Rayna is upset with Toraf because he knew that she never wanted to mate and yet still mated her. The minute Rayna sees Toraf kissing Emma though, she changes her mind and claims that she’s in love with Toraf.
Besides the issue of characterization, I also couldn’t make myself care about the romance, which was an instant love situation. There was a lot of talk about tingles and heat, but I never felt the chemistry between Galen and Emma. Part of the reason may be because Emma’s POV was in the first person whereas Galen’s was in the third person, which made the writing feel a little choppy. More importantly, Galen just seemed to want to control Emma rather than consider her an equal. He even muses about finding a “docile female … who would do whatever he asked [and] never argue with him.”

Of Poseidon wasn’t all bad though as there were some bright spots. The book made me chuckle occasionally, especially during the parts that involved Galen learning more about humans. As well, I appreciated that Banks made the effort to develop and explain the Syrena’s history and current political situation (even if I did find it confusing sometimes).           

Of Poseidon was released on May 22, 2012 by Feiwel & Friends.

Comments About the Cover: It’s beautiful, and I really like how the girl blends in with the water. My ARC’s cover is more greenish though than blue.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Raincoast Books) for free.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Post: Geoff Herbach

Today, I'd like to welcome Geoff Herbach, the author of Stupid Fast and Nothing Special to my blog. Geoff is here to talk about how he strikes a balance between writing books that target male teen readers while also trying to make female readers want to read his books.  

Yes. I go on and on about how boys need to read. It’s true. I believe it. Reading is good for a person. Readers build empathy for others. They experience all kinds of lives they’ll never lead. They see far beyond themselves. Also (and this is my big concern about boys), good readers generally succeed in college. Bad readers have a hard time. I don’t want the little dudes to struggle!

But they do.

I’ve taught college English for years. I see how reading habits impact classroom performance everyday. The young women in my classes tend to be life-long readers. They’re great and smart! They tend to express themselves in writing really well. The young men tend to have played lots of video games. They tend to struggle writing (struggle even to think straight) (of course, this could be partially hormonal – mostly not, they aren’t used to reading and thinking in complex terms – I’m not saying they don’t have hormonal problems).

And so, I write books I hope will speak to these guys at a critical moment when I think we lose them. Teens. True, I do this.

Here’s a good question: Do I want girls to read my books? Holy cats, yes. I really do. In fact, when Stupid Fast first came out, I was filled with fear that the football player on the front cover would scare away girls. In truth, it might scare away some. Thankfully, not all. I know, now, for a fact, lots of girls really like the book. I’m so, so glad.

Do I do anything intentionally to attract girls to my work? No. I trust girls a lot. 

I didn’t add a romance to attract girls. I’m into love, naturally. I didn’t throw in Andrew, the main character’s brother, because he’s weird and needs protection, so that girls will want to protect him. I want to protect him, too. Felton, the main character, is a rambling wreck. He’s not a nicely quaffed vampire (or ghost or rich man’s Porsche-driving son). He just feels real to me.

This is what I think I think: for whatever reason, a much higher percentage of girls read. This is a tremendous thing. Those who read a lot are trained (like martial arts trained) to extend their empathy far beyond themselves. Girls who read a lot have an emotional flexibility that allows them to take in and engage with a giant set of diverse stories. I try to write good, funny stories with an emotional gravity (I hope I succeed). I believe girls will pick up good stories no matter the protagonist or content. They’re readers. They’re smart.  To make a giant, sweeping generalization: I just trust them!

This is what I’d hope for boys, too. That masses will read and get hungry for good stuff and eventually forget about the need to identify directly with a protagonist, so that they go in search of great stories everywhere, so that they expand their minds and lives the most time/money efficient way we humans have created: through books.

Girls are doing that. I’m really, really happy they are.

Thanks for dropping by, Geoff!

A bit about Geoff (as found on Goodreads): I am the author of the YA title, Stupid Fast. I also wrote The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg, a Novel from Three Rivers Press. When I'm not writing books, I'm writing for Radio Happy Hour or developing ridiculous musical bits. When I'm not writing, I'm teaching writing at Minnesota State, Mankato, which means I write a lot of comments about writing on student writing. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

From Goodreads: For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave. He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth. His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods. Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea ... and now it wants him back. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova was a book that I thought would be much darker and have more action. Even though that didn’t turn out to necessarily be the case, I was still pleased with Cordova’s debut because the characterization and worldbuilding were fabulous.

I sometimes find that when female authors are writing from the point-of-view of a male teenager, their protagonist doesn’t sound like a guy. Cordova, however, appears to have nailed it with Tristan’s voice. At times, I really liked Tristan because he had a great sense of humour and because even though he could be quite cocky, he did have his moments of insecurity. At other times though, I wanted to slug him for acting like a jerk and being so thoughtless. Either way, I thought Tristan was a pretty memorable character.

Cordova’s secondary characters were fleshed out nicely too. Although I didn’t care for the romance angle between Tristan and Layla (mainly because Tristan came off as a player to me), I liked that Layla didn’t get overshadowed by Tristan’s personality. I also enjoyed Tristan’s interactions with his parents, Kurt, Thalia and Marty, and I can’t wait to see how he holds up against Nieve.

As well, it’s obvious that Cordova put a lot of thought into her worldbuilding, and I liked the allusions to The Little Mermaid. I would have preferred the search for the Sea King’s missing trident pieces to have started earlier though so that it didn’t feel rushed at the end.

A solid start to what I think will be an extremely fun trilogy, The Vicious Deep was released by Sourcebooks Fire on May 1, 2012.

Comments About the Cover: The storm raging in the background complements the title of the book and the slogan “Don’t let it pull you under.” Also, since The Vicious Deep isn’t overly girly, it could be marketed to male readers and so it’s nice that the cover can appeal to them too.  

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Sourcebooks) for free via NetGalley.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Keeping the Castle

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Keeping the Castle 
Author: Patrice Kindl
Publisher: Viking Childrens Books
Date of Release: June 14, 2012 

Goodreads Description: Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors - or suitors of any kind - in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There's only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans ... 

Why am I waiting? I love historical fiction and this one seems like it's got a touch of Pride and Prejudice to it. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mini Reviews: Hollyweird by Terri Clark and Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

From Goodreads: My best friend, Des, and I totally freaked when we won the contest to meet THE Dakota Danvers in Hollywood. But now we’re finding out he’s SO not the angel everyone believes him to be. In fact, Dakota is the son of Satan, wreaking havoc on Hollywood and creating an evil army hellbent on world domination. Lucky for us, Dakota’s super-cute personal assistant, Jameson, is a fallen angel trying to get his wings back, and he’s working undercover to squash his demon boss’s plan. If Jameson hadn’t taken me under his wing I’d be in serious trouble, because I’m a total newb when it comes to conquering evil. But, truth be told, that sexy angel’s got me all aflutter and may be one temptation I can’t resist.

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Hollyweird by Terri Clark is a book that delivers what it’s supposed to: a fun and light story from the viewpoints of one girl who meets a celebrity that turns out to be a demon and the celebrity’s personal assistant who’s a fallen angel determined to get his wings back by stopping his boss’ unknown evil plan. Although the romance between Aly and Jameson was a little instantaneous (but cute), the characters were rather ordinary, and they sometimes seemed to sound like an adult instead of a teen; the writing was entertaining and made me laugh occasionally. I especially enjoyed how Clark incorporated the names of some celebrities into her story and the reactions of Aly, Des and Missy when they succumbbed to the seven sins. I’d have fallen prey to gluttony and greed myself!

Hollyweird was released on May 8, 2012 by Flux Books.

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Flux Books) for free via NetGalley.

From Goodreads: New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. There are no more police - instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior - instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different. Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings - the only boy Ember has ever loved. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons is an action-filled dystopian set after the U.S. as we know it is gone and the Bill of Rights replaced by the Moral Statutes. Although I thought Simmons did a good job of depicting Ember’s world, it was never explained how this version of the U.S. came about and what happened to make people so willing to accept the terrible conditions of their lived reality. This question bothered me the entire time I was reading Article 5 so it’s a good thing the novel is full of action that distracts you from thinking about its iffy worldbuilding.

I thought the characterization was much more developed; and I liked both Ember and Chase. Even though Ember was sort of na├»ve and made stupid choices (e.g. running away from Chase when it’s obvious that he’s only trying to keep her safe and knows so much more about surviving on the run than her) which annoyed me, I liked that she had focus, adapted to situations, and wasn’t afraid to take risks. Ember's memories of Chase before he became a soldier not only allows you to realize just how deeply Chase’s betrayal has hurt her, but also lets you see later on how much his experience in the military has broken Chase. His relationship with Ember therefore was full of misunderstandings due to a lack of communication (and mistrust on her part) but did develop nicely over the course of the novel.

Recommended for fans of Marie Lu’s Legend and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Article 5 was released in January 2012 by Tor Teen.  

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Soulbound

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Soulbound
Author: Heather Brewer
Publisher: Dial
Date of Release: July 5, 2012 

Goodreads Description: What's worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you're treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there's the evil king who's determined to rule the world unless you can stop him ... Meet Kaya, a young woman with the power to heal and the determination to fight. But struggle as she will, she remains tied to three very different men: a hero who has forsaken glory, a tyrannical ruler who wants to use Kaya, and a warrior who's stolen her heart. Kaya learns the hard way that some ties can't be broken ... and blood is the strongest bond of all. 

Why am I waiting? I adore fantasies, especially when a strong heroine is featured. Also, even though I have a feeling that there might be a love triangle in this one, I don't really care as long as it involves some hot knights or warriors ;)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Review: The Forgetting Curve by Angie Smibert

From Goodreads: Aiden Nomura likes to open doors - especially using his skills as a hacker - to see what’s hidden inside. He believes everything is part of a greater system: the universe. The universe shows him the doors, and he keeps pulling until one cracks open. Aiden exposes the flaw, and the universe - or someone else - will fix it. It’s like a game. Until it isn’t. When a TFC opens in Bern, Switzerland, where Aiden is attending boarding school, he knows things are changing. Shortly after, bombs go off within quiet, safe Bern. Then Aiden learns that his cousin Winter, back in the States, has had a mental breakdown. He returns to the US immediately. But when he arrives home in Hamilton, Winter’s mental state isn’t the only thing that’s different. The city is becoming even stricter, and an underground movement is growing. Along with Winter’s friend, Velvet, Aiden slowly cracks open doors in this new world. But behind those doors are things Aiden doesn’t want to see - things about his society, his city, even his own family. And this time Aiden may be the only one who can fix things ... before someone else gets hurt. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: The sequel to Angie Smibert’s Memento Nora, The Forgetting Curve, requires you to have read and remembered what happened in the first book since it dives right back into the world of Memento Nora, but recaps everything very, very briefly. I find it therefore ironic that The Forgetting Curve deals with the concept of memory.

In Memento Nora, the story was narrated through the eyes of Nora, Micah and Winter. Although Winter’s voice is back in The Forgetting Curve (though she didn’t seem as fascinating due to the neurochip in her head), the perspectives of Nora and Micah have been replaced by Aiden and Velvet. I understood the reason for the change, but I didn’t like it because I thought Velvet’s story wasn’t as interesting as everybody else’s. Also, I found it hard to relate to Aiden because as someone who isn’t very technologically savvy, he lost me whenever he started talking about hacking.

Aside from the emotional disconnect from the characters, the plot of The Forgetting Curve confused me at times and left me wondering how the Nomuras got involved with TFC’s scheme and what TFC’s end goal is (besides making a profit, of course). As well, *minor spoiler ahead* while the idea of implanting neurochips sounded cool, the science behind it seemed kind of vague to me.

The Forgetting Curve was released by Marshall Cavendish on May 1, 2012.

Comments About the Cover: The cover matches Memento Nora’s pretty well. I also like that it manages to convey Aiden’s coolness. 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Marshall Cavendish) for free via NetGalley.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Charming Canucks: Interview and Giveaway with Kathleen Peacock

Charming Canucks is a feature I’ve created that will be posted every other month in an effort to spotlight more Canadian YA authors and their books. 
Today, I'd like to welcome Kathleen Peacock.
A bit about Kathleen (as found on her website): Kathleen Peacock spent her teen years crushing on authors and writing short stories about vampires. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college, but tripped over them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles.

Hemlock, your debut novel, will be released on May 8 by Katherine Tegen Books. Give three reasons why everyone should read it.
Murder. Mayhem. Kissing.

Hemlock is an urban fantasy. Is there another genre you’d love to try your hand at someday? Is there a genre you could never see yourself writing?
There are a few genres I’d love to try. At the top of the list (at least currently) are magical realism and YA contemp. I’d also love to try writing a screenplay someday. “Never” has a way of biting me in the behind, but I can’t see myself writing sci-fi. I’d love to – I’ve been a fan for most of my life—but I’m not sure my mind turns in quite the right way to actually write it.

What is your writing process like? Are you a pantser or a planner?
I like to call myself a reformed pantser. I love the freedom and surprises that come from writing without an outline, but I tend to get lost and sometimes get so caught up in characters talking to each other and being snarky that I forget most stories need beginnings, middles, and ends.

Describe your writing space.
I write in my home office. It’s got a desk, several dry erase boards, and piles of books (and, quite often, laundry). A few action figures hang out on the desk: Enid from Ghost World, Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, Sirius from Harry Potter, and Edward Scissorhands. The only things I absolutely need are headphones and hair elastics (for some reason, I can’t write unless my hair is tied back).

I know Hemlock is the beginning of a planned trilogy. Can you give a hint of what to expect in the sequel?
More on the camps, more action, and more werewolf angst.

Quick Questions:  

What’s the best thing about living in New Brunswick? 
The coastlines – especially along the Bay of Fundy and the Bay of Chaleur.

You go on a cross-country trip across Canada. What is the one place you have to visit?
Calgary so I can hang out with my kid sister. 

What's your favourite book by a Canadian author and why? 
Oh, gads. Just one? This seriously changes every few weeks. Can I pick one YA and one adult? Please? Please?

Young Adult: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers because - like all of her books - it grabs you and shakes you about. If I could, I’d stamp “National Treasure” on her forehead. I suspect, however, that she’d object to that.

Adult: The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews because the voice and writing style is just amazing. I don’t think it got quite the attention A Complicated Kindness received which, imo, is a shame because it’s an incredible book.

A huge thank you to Kathleen for taking the time to answer my questions!

Kathleen can be found on: [her blog] [her website] [Twitter] [Facebook] [Goodreads]
Click here to find out more about Hemlock!
For this giveaway, one person will get the chance to win a copy of Hemlock. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads: Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked - and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters. Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad. Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike. But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what - and who - is worth dying for.

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Having never read The Iron Fey series, I was pretty excited to hear that Julie Kagawa would be coming out with a brand new series – this time revolving around vampires – for two reasons: 1) I’d finally get a chance to read her writing without feeling the pressure to get caught up with the entire series and 2) I like vampires better than faeries.

In The Immortal Rules, Kagawa lets readers meet Allie, a girl who chooses to become a vampire as she lies dying and subsequently struggles to hold onto her humanity. I found the first part of the novel to be kind of slow since it basically chronicles Allie’s transformation and her learning what it means to be a vampire from Kanin, her sire. However, it does allow the reader to learn about the mythology behind Kagawa’s vampires and rabids and get an accurate picture of just how bleak life for humans is. Not only do humans face the threat of vampires, raiders and rabids, but it’s a time of scarcity and illiteracy as well because books are banned and food is strictly rationed.

As a character, I admired Allie because she’s so scrappy. I also really liked that Allie doesn’t have blinders on when it comes to her relationships. She’s very aware that as an immortal and a predator, there are fundamental differences between her and the humans she interacts with. This is why I enjoyed the romance – there’s attraction and a simultaneous desire to drain Zeke (who I thought had less personality than Darren) dry.

As much as I liked Allie though, my two favourite characters were Kanin and Sarren. I feel as if there’s still a lot more to be learned about Kanin, and I liked Sarren because he’s a little psycho. Who doesn’t enjoy unpredictable characters?

A great start to Kagawa’s newest series, The Immortal Rules was released by Harlequin Teen in April 2012.

Comments About the Cover: It’s easy to tell that The Immortal Rules involves vampires. It’s kind of sad though that the publisher chose to use a Caucasian model rather than an Asian one. 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Harlequin Teen) for free via NetGalley.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Something Strange and Deadly

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine to feature upcoming books that we can't wait to get our hands on. 

Title: Something Strange and Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date of Release: July 24, 2012 

Goodreads Description: The years is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia ... Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks 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 their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance. 

Why am I waiting? I'm not crazy about zombie novels because I find that they're a little too gory for me; but if zombies are going around delivering letters, I'm assuming they're able to control their cannibalistic instincts to a certain extent. So that combined with steampunk elements and a smart and sexy romantic lead sounds like a win to me.