Todd’s Review of Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius

17619843As you may or may not know, I’ve been a fan of Marsha Cornelius’ work ever since I read the thrilling H10N1 (find the review here).  Sure, it could have been the fact that I work with the flu virus that made that book so exciting, but I soon followed it up with her next work, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead (review here.)  So, once I heard that she had a third book coming out, Losing It All, I knew I had to give it a try.  The only problem was that it had a romance-type feel to it, of which I am not accustomed to reading.  But, since I am working on overcoming my tendency to be a genre snob, I figured I should give it a try!

Losing It All tells the story of Frank Barnes and Chloe Roberts.  Frank is a Vietnam veteran and a drifter, kindhearted yet down on his luck and accustomed to living on the streets.  Chloe isn’t any better off as her husband abandons her and her children, leaving them to fend for themselves.  She and Frank eventually meet randomly at a soup kitchen, with Chloe taking note of Frank’s kind manners and gentle actions despite his living conditions.  Frank decides to help Chloe, who seems scared and awkward at her first trip to the soup kitchen.  Although both decide that this chance meeting was just that, a brief encounter that wouldn’t bear repeating, both seem to find it impossible to forget the other.  Sadly, a terrible accident leaves Frank badly injured, and it is many weeks later before he sees Chloe again, and she is in far worse shape than when he met her for the first time.  Frank, on the other hand, finds a steady job and a place to call his own.  Now that Frank’s luck has turned for the better, will Chloe allow him to help her and her children?  What will become of these two battered individuals?

I have to admit that my self-imposed stigma against romance-themed novels was unfounded.  I’ve come to find that I enjoy the part in most stories when two main romantic interests finally come together after many chapters of waiting.  I’ve just never noticed it before.  It’s funny how authors can write a plot line where most everyone knows that these characters will eventually end up together, yet there is a ton of enjoyment in getting to that point, waiting impatiently for the characters to realize that they are in fact perfect for each other.  I guess that I was doing this all along, but it took Cornelius’s work (as well as some introspection) to realize that this is the case.  In short, I really enjoyed this story.  It had an engaging plot with plenty of sub-plots that kept my attention span.  Cornelius’ characterizations are spot on, and I felt as if I was on the streets with Chloe and Frank at some points.  The sense of pride that I felt for Frank for taking charge of his life and turning it around was definitely palpable.  In all, this is a great and enticing story that will make you want to keep reading, even if it happens to be labeled as romantic-leaning.

5 out of 5 stars

Losing It All by Marsha Cornelius
CreateSpace (2013)
eBook: 378 pages
ISBN: 0615764894

Special thanks to Marsha Cornelius for my review copy!

What Are You Reading This August?

Normally, Kim has the pleasure of telling all of our readers what she has planned for the month and shares new finds and recent releases with you.  This month, I figured that I’d let you know what I’m going to be reading!  Currently, I’m almost finished with Marsha Cornelius’ Losing It All, and I plan on starting Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes next.  We had the pleasure of meeting Morgan at an event at R. J. Julia (read about it here), so I’m excited to finally get a chance to clear my schedule and read her work.

Todd

So, that brings us to you, readers.  What do you have planned for this month (even though it’s halfway over already!)  As the summer winds down and we find ourselves coming inside from the long summer nights, we’re entering prime reading time.  So, get ready for the cooler nights and curl up with a good book (and tell us about it!)

The Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2012

heart-bookHi everyone!  I thought that since you all have heard so much about my own personal goals and favorite reads of 2012, it was about time that you heard from the rest of the staff.  I’ve asked them to send me their top reads of 2012, and I’ve posted them below.  I think it’s interesting to see what different readers choose as their favorites, and it’s always a great springboard for opening a discussion too!  So, without further adieu, here’s the Reflections of a Book Addict staff favorites of 2012!

Todd:

  1. Timeline by Michael Crichton
  2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
  3. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  4. A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  5. H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius
  6. Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
  7. The Sounding by Carrie Salo

Adam:

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  3. Pantheons by E.J. Dabel
  4. Albino by E.J. Dabel
  5. Deal With the Devil by J. Gunnar Grey

Christine:

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. Issues 1-6 of Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  4. The Across the Universe series by Beth Revis
  5. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  6. Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Jess:

  1. The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
  2. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  3. Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton

What do you think?  Leave us a comment below!

Todd’s Review of The Ups and Downs Of Being Dead by M.R. Cornelius

After reading H10N1, I was a newly converted fan of M.R. Cornelius (you can read my review here).  An addicting adventure/thriller, H10N1 was quite different than her next novel, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead.  Although still enveloped in the sci-fi genre, Dead seemed to me to be more of a futuristic take on the science of cryonics, and a tale of where things could go in the future if certain advancements were made.  Add to this an intriguing tale of a man caught up in the midst of an unexpected experience during his cryopreservation and you’ve got the recipe for another great book.  With that in mind I began reading!

Robert Malone is a typical suit.  He’s always concerned with business, unemotional, and so addicted to his work that he barely spends any time with his family.  Not that he would want to spend time with them even if he could; his wife is a model who is as unemotional about their marriage as he is, and his son is a drug addict who has never worked a day in his life.  Thus, everyone found it quite odd when he decided to cryogenically preserve his body in the hopes that future scientists would be able to invent a way to bring him back to life.  After finding out that he was terminally ill he had the procedure done, and to his surprise he awakens in suspended animation, neither living nor truly dead.  He meets a woman named Maggie, who states that she is a “temp” just like him: a person who has been cryogenically frozen and is waiting around until he or she becomes unfrozen.  She states that her job for the next month is to take new additions to their ranks (like Robert) and teach them the ways of the undead.  They can float, move through walls, and even feel the pressure of buildings and physical objects, but they are basically invisible to the living.  Maggie and Robert are walking in the street when they meet Suzanne, a woman who literally died in a car accident right in front of them, yet didn’t “cross over” to the other side despite her physical death.  Robert is leery to begin a new life as he prepares to wait out the decades that will pass before he can reawakened, yet he learns a lot more about his family, his friends, Suzanne, and himself before that day comes.  What he does in this “in-between time” will change his life forever.

I admit, it doesn’t take much to pull me in if you’ve got a good sci-fi storyline.  I’m already a sucker for science, so I was definitely intrigued at Cornelius’ intention on building a novel around cryonics (I admit I had to look up the distinction between cryonics and cryogenics).  Although the real science of cryopreservation is a long ways off, it was really awesome to see how much she had researched and was able to put in the book and build a great story around it.

The real meat of the story is Robert’s transformation from an unlovable, cold businessman to someone who we can identify with and rally around, and I think the best part of the story by far was Robert’s relationship with his son Robbie.  Taking the main stage at the end of the novel, it was amazing to see their journey together and it did a great job of hooking me until the end.  I liked how Cornelius was able to weave Robert’s relationships with his various family members as well as Suzanne to create many dimensions to his character and show how he was able to change over time.  Suzanne is also interesting in her own right, and a great counterpart to Robert’s character.  All in all, it’s a great story of personal growth and change that will leave you wondering about whether or not we can actually be preserved and revived in the future.

4 out of 5 stars

The Ups and Downs of Being Dead by M.R. Cornelius
CreateSpace (2012)
eBook: 390 pages
ISBN: 9781477471630

Special thanks to M.R. Cornelius for my review copy!

Read-A-Thon Hour 14

So here we are at hour 14.  Our challenge comes to us from Stella Matutina.  We’re supposed to find a picture that captures the essence of the book that we’re reading at this moment.  The book I’m reading, The Ups and Downs of Being Dead by M. R. Cornelius, details the life of a man who has been cryogenically frozen in the hopes that he can be brought back to life in the future.  What he doesn’t realize is that he will essentially exist in limbo in a ghostlike state until he is brought out of the freeze.  This definitely reminded me of the movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze.

Read-A-Thon Hour 11

It’s hour 11 and my tally of completed books is 2 and Todd’s is 1.  We both just finished eating some dinner and are back to cuddling on the couch with kittehs reading.  I don’t know where y’all are participating from, but it’s cold in Connecticut.  Cuddling and reading is the only way we’ll get through the full 24 hours. (Sebastian even joins in reading sometimes)

Anyway our completed list of books so far is:

Kim:

  1. Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber
  2. The Marriage Trap by Jennifer Probst

Todd

  1. Hope by Victoria Ferrante

We were super pumped to find out that we were one of several door prize winners for this hour as well! SO PUMPED.

Ok, our short break is over. Back to reading; graphic novel version of Austen’s Emma for me and M.R. Cornelius’s The Ups and Downs of Being Dead for Todd. What are all y’all reading?

Armchair BEA: Day 2 – The Favorites!

For the second day of Armchair BEA posts, we’ve been tasked with describing our favorite reads of this year.  Instead of just picking one book and talking about it myself, both Todd and I have picked two of our favorite reads of the year and will share them with you!  Hopefully this will inspire you to seek out new and exciting reads for the remainder of the year.  So, without further ado, here they are:

Todd:  I’d have to say that my favorite book this year is H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius.  Yes, you could say that it was a shoo in because it’s a post-apocalyptic thriller, but I think it’s more than just that.  One of the best parts of novels in this genre is that they are as much a reflection of the people around us as they are a description of the actual apocalyptic event.  Yes, I know the whole genre is pretty popular right now with the likes of The Walking Dead and Resident Evil on TV and the big screen, but I’ve always liked these kinds of books, as they showcase the good and the bad that comes out of a dire situation.  Cornelius definitely achieved that in her work, and it was a thrill ride from start to finish.  I’m definitely glad I gave this one a shot, it was a blast to read.  You can read my full review here!

In second place by a very, very slight margin is the second book in the Across the Universe trilogy, A Million Suns by Beth Revis.  Although I’ve just finished it recently, it’s definitely an amazing follow-up to Across the Universe.  In it, we follow Elder as he attempts to lead the ship through a new host of trials and tribulations following the death of its previous leader, Eldest.  Not only does Revis’ writing show amazing technical detail that is a staple of any good sci-fi novel, but the interpersonal connections she weaves between Elder and his main interest, Amy, are great.  It’s a great coming-of-age novel that explores the difficulties of leadership, and the obstacles one must overcome in being different than everyone else.  Hopefully I can finish my review quickly and post it up for everyone to read!

Kim:  Although it was quite a task to pick just two books that would take the top spot so far this year, I’ve finally managed to do so.  First up is the fifth book in the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander, Dangerous to Know.  Lady Emily’s character is fleshed out much more in this book, as she and Colin must deal with her miscarriage.  Although she was already a strong female character, this tragedy gave her some depth that made her all the more believable and relatable.  We all must get through difficult patches in our lives, so to see Lady Emily boldly carry on and eventually overcome this situation was inspiring.  Alexander did a great job in creating such a wonderful character, and along with the other characters in the novel presented an exciting story that I couldn’t put down!  You can read my full review here.

Seeing as Todd has ranked his two books after choosing them, I’d have to say that I’m saving the best of my two for last.  Orchid House by Lucinda Riley is a stunning tale of love and loss.  As I stated in my review, I was amazed that this is Riley’s debut novel, as her writing is as seamless and fluid as the most veteran writers out there.  The way in which she crosses time and geography in this work is astounding.  Covering three generations and three countries, Riley treats us to a rich world that drew me in from the very beginning.  I’m always a sucker for great character development, but this went above and beyond, teaching us that life is a precious gift that can be taken from us at any time.  Couple this with the amazing backdrop of Riley’s fantastic plot and you have a sure winner.  I don’t give out more than 5 stars often, but this definitely deserved it!  Read my full review here.

Well, that’s it for our favorite reviews of the year so far!  Check back tomorrow for the third day of Armchair BEA posting.

Until then, happy reading!

Todd’s Review of H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius

When Kim first asked me to review H10N1 by M.R. Cornelius, I was definitely excited.  Not only was it a book that was a post-apocalyptic thriller, which is right up my alley, but it was also about a deadly strain of the influenza virus.  For those of you who don’t know, I work for a company that researches influenza and is producing a seasonal and pandemic vaccine.  So, not only was I excited to read this book for its genre, but I was also excited because it’s about a subject near and dear to my heart.

The novel begins with the pandemic already in full swing with a fraction of the population alive and holed up in safe areas, attempting to sort the remaining survivors into safe camps and study those infected by the virus.  Dr. Taeya Sanchez is an epidemiologist who currently works at the Army Medical Center in New York, one of a few government-run medical centers left in the country that exists to treat and sort the incoming population into appropriate safe zones, or if necessary, facilitate their disposal if infected.  A problem arises when Dr. Sanchez voices her opinions over the mass euthanization of infected individuals to the facility’s director, and her credentials are revoked.  Fearing that she will be soon fired and left to fend for herself, she prepares to leave the facility, stocked with supplies and medicine, when she runs into Rick DeAngelo.  Rick is one of the facility’s drivers, and convinces her to leave with him in an armored van that he normally pilots for the facility.  Although Sanchez is not the biggest fan of Rick based on her observations of his attitude and demeanor towards her previously, she decides to take him up on the offer and escape with him.  What follows is a tale packed with action and adventure as the pair wind their way towards a farm in Arkansas and then on to a bio-containment dome in Arizona.  Will they be able to find help?  Will they learn to trust each other and put their differences aside?  Will a cure be discovered?

As I’ve said before, the scariest and most intriguing part of post-apocalyptic fiction is the interactions between the survivors.  More than the external threat, whether it’s zombies or a virus or a disease, is the threat of human nature.  When pushed to the limit, there is no telling what lows people will sink to in order to survive.  This is just as true in H10N1, as Sanchez and Rick must fight off attacks from other survivors as they make their way across the country.  Preconceived notions make Rick almost shoot a pregnant woman, and they fend off attacks from gangs hell-bent on attacking them to steal their supplies and vehicle.  These events go to show that the heightened emotions of the situation can make even the most calm and collected individual a completely different person.  Additionally, there isn’t a lot of scientific information about this particular strain of virus (and that’s ok!) because the real threat comes from those around the main characters.  It’s very interesting how survival mechanisms take away most senses of right and wrong in order to protect the individual.  The key is to not let these take over, and to remain human in the face of the horrors that surround everyone.  In doing so Sanchez and Rick maintain their cool and are better off than those frantically trying to survive based on instinct alone.  While I would have liked a little more scientific information about the specific disease (what can I say, I’m a nerd…), the book was a fantastic read from start to finish.  Cornelius really knows how to tell a story, and multiple times I felt as if I were in that van with Sanchez and Rick rolling across America in search of a safe haven.  She really knows how to set the story, the character development is solid, and the plot is well-developed.  I applaud this, her first publication, as a great success, and can only hope to read what else she has in store.  If you’re a fan of Contagion or The Walking Dead, this will be perfect.  Go grab a copy!

5 out of 5 Stars

H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius
iUniverse (2011)
Paperback: 322 pages
ISBN: 9781450295659

Special thanks to M.R. Cornelius for sending me my review copy!