If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch


There are some things you can’t leave behind…

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

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Many of my latest reads have featured terrible, dysfunctional families, but I think Carey’s mentally ill and drug addicted mother takes the cake. The level of neglect and abuse will break your heart.   From the very first page, we learn of Carey and her younger sister, Janessa’s sad and miserable living situation, consisting of: canned beans, clothes that stink of cat urine, and an abandoned cockroach filled camper in the woods.  But that’s not even the worst part…

Throughout the divided three parts (The End, The Middle, The Beginning), Carey hints at the trauma they’ve endured as the “white-star night”.  It’s not until the last few pages that readers learn what really happened the night Janessa stopped talking.  Warning—this violent scene was really difficult to read.  Despite this, If You Find Me is truly a story of resilience and the power of sisterly bonds. After being discovered by a social worker and Carey’s dad, the sisters are able to overcome unimaginable horror and adjust reasonably well to new life.  There were peaks of happiness and hope that were fully welcomed in this book of dark and traumatic events.

Overall, If You Find Me is a quick 245 page read.  Murdoch hooks the reader in within the first couple paragraphs and takes them on a haunting emotional journey that uniquely explores identity and family. A recommended read.

Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?


I finally got around to reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  This book is the first in the ‘Forest of Hands and Teeth’ series, with The Dead Tossed Waves, and The Dark and Hollow Places following. Zombies aren’t usually my thing, but months ago I read Rot & Ruin and really enjoyed it. When comparing both novels, one definitely comes out the clear winner—Rot & Ruin. There were too many things that bothered me with this book.


-Mary and her community are constantly under threat of being attacked by zombies. Knowing this information, I would expect them to be more prepared (secure locations, food, etc.). Rather, they remain ‘protected’ by a simple fence.

-Too many questions were left unanswered. Where did the zombies come from in the first place? Why was Gabrielle the ‘fast one’?

-The character of Mary. She was the beyond selfish female lead, willing to sacrifice her community, family and friends, all in her quest to find the ocean. I understand that the ocean refers to the bigger picture of hope and fighting for your dreams, but she continually placed herself first.

-The love between Travis and Mary. This romance was never developed or explained and I didn’t understand why Mary was so in love with Travis in the first place.



-Cool title. Grabs the reader’s attention immediately.

-Descriptions of the zombies. I was scared reading this book at night! I kept picturing the groaning zombies with rotten teeth and bony fingers.



I found the book trailer on Youtube and it scared the heck out of me!

Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Praise for Rot & Ruin:

“An action-packed, thought-provoking look at life–and death–as readers determine the true enemy.”– Kirkus Reviews

“An impressive mix of meaning and mayhem.”– Booklist


It’s no secret that I love YA dystopian novels, and the zombie infested, post-apocalyptic world of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry didn’t disappoint.  The book gained attention after being selected for the ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winning the 2010 Cybils (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards) in the Fantasy and Science Fiction category. Although Rot & Ruin is my first zombie read ever, it won’t be my last! The Forest of Hands and Teeth has been on my ‘to-read’ list forever, and thanks to my new interest in zombies, I will be bumping up the title closer to the top.

So what’s it about you ask?

After the First night (the night the world changed), Benny Imura has grown up in a zombie-infested town with his older brother Tom.  To avoid a ration cut, Benny is forced to find a job.  Among other jobs, he tries his hand as a lock smith, fence tester, and carpet coat salesman. Ultimately, he ends up apprenticing as a zombie hunter with his brother. After Tom brings him into the ‘rot & ruin’, he begins to understand that zombies were once human and this realization ultimately changes the way he views zombies and his brother.

The good and bad:

– Enjoyed the book’s visual appeal. The front features a creepy eye-catching cover, and the inside includes zombie-cards (a strong feature of the story). There is even a ‘zombified’ author portrait by Rob Sachetto. This is neat because the character responsible for such portraits in the story is named after the real artist, Rob Sachetto. 

-Blood and gore. As a zombie novel, I was expecting some level of gore but I must admit that some of the descriptions made me a little queasy.  I’m hoping my gore tolerance will increase as I read more zombie type stories.

-I really liked the concept of Tom’s closure jobs.

-Preachy Tom. I get that he is supposed to be the smart, wise, older brother, but a little less preaching to Benny would have been appreciated.

-Tom +Benny’s relationship. I think that their relationship was pretty realistic. I can see why there is some hostility between the brothers in the beginning, but readers get to watch their relationship evolve for the better throughout the storyline.

-After reading Divergent where most of the storyline was based on training, I felt like Benny really didn’t receive much training at all. I’m not sure how he felt ready to even venture out into the rot & ruin. He truly lacked in depth-training from Tom that would have been interesting to read about.

-Changed mindset.  Like Benny, I view zombies differently now. I never thought it would be possible to have empathy for flesh eating zombies, but Maberry totally altered my perception of what it means to be a zombie.  Throughout the story, it is banged into your head that zombies were once humans.

-Zom/Tom. I was annoyed that the word Zom and Tom happened way too many times in the same paragraph.

-I’m still confused on why everyone turned to zombies when they died—even if it was by natural causes? Why? How did the zombies really ever come to be? There was very little explanation!

Despite all my negative comments, I still enjoyed Rot & Ruin. If you like zombie stories, I would suggest you pick up this book.  The book’s sequel is entitled, Dust & Decay and was released a couple of weeks ago. It promises bigger, better, gorier zombie attacks.

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