Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M O'Brien

Genre:  YA Science Fiction
Expected publication date:  September 16, 2014

Description (taken from Caragh M O'Brien's website:
The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students’ lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students’ schedules include twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year film student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras. What’s worse, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

This book takes reality tv to a whole new level with the Forge Show.  The most popular show around follows students in an arts school.  And based on how many viewers each student has determines their blip ranking.  After the first ten days, 50 of the 100 students are cut based on their rankings.  For Rosie, an education outside of the Forge school isn't possible.  So she must do everything in her power to make others watch her and raise her ranking before the cut happens.  But as she increases her popularity, she begins to notice that not everything is as it seems.

Rosie hasn't seen nighttime for the past few evenings due to a mandatory sleeping pill that forces all students to sleep for twelve hours.  So what starts as a night of skipping the pill just to see the night, Rosie sees what happens after hours.  And it's very peculiar.  Some students are reacting badly to the sleeping pill and have iv's in them.  Rosie notices the tell-tale signs of her own needle pricks.  And as she enlists one of the kitchen help to help her figure things out, she realizes her story has become even more far-fetched than before.  And as much as she wants to save people and out the Forge school for what it is, she's not sure people will believe her without proof.

I feel like this book had different parts to the story that were absolutely amazing.  But when pieced together, I see no correlation between it all and can't follow it well.  First, what does a reality school have to do with dreaming at night?  I know the book explains that the art students have the best imaginations and the cameras keep them working their hardest.  But still, I couldn't make the transition from the cameras to the sinister plot.  And then the boy, err love interest.  He sent off so many mixed messages that I questioned why he even bothered helping Rosie in the first place unless he was working for the evil ones --none of which does the book explain well.  And then when the sinister happenings began to unravel, Rosie had the "I can conquer anything and make the world believe me" attitude.  Honestly Rosie?  You're one girl against an evil madman whose been at it a lot longer than you.  (And I've had to delete this sentence multiple times due to plot spoilers, so I'll say this: my attitude of Rosie seems highly negative from this review.  That's not the case; I actually enjoyed Rosie a whole lot.  But I question a lot of her actions towards the end of the book; it seemed like her personality changed completely making her do things she wouldn't normally have done at the beginning.)

My head just didn't want to follow this story from the beginning.  But the mystery kept me going, and I was crossing my fingers that it would get better.  But I'm just left feeling confused about this book...

Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a review copy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

By the time everyone reads this, I will be in the wonderful state of Georgia.  I'm visiting my family, and we'll be driving up to the Smokey Mountains (even though they're currently south of me as I write this).  I'm kind of nervous about the heat considering it's only been in the sixties/seventies up here in Wisconsin.  I'll let you know if I'm dying oh heat...

For Review:

From the Library:

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • The husband saw the other cover of this book in a bookstore and wanted to read it.  I thought it'd be fun to read a book together.  But when this showed up from the library, he didn't believe me that it was the same book.  Funny how much difference a cover can make.
  • Raging Star by Moira Young
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • The final book in the Dust Lands series.  It's been such a fun series to read.  I love following Saba in her adventures.
  • Ruins by Dan Wells
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • These books are always so huge; they seem daunting.  But the whole science and genetics just keeps me intrigued.  If you can keep me following on the science bits, then you've written something well.

manda-rae's Past Week


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Phantom's Dance by Lesa Howard

Welcome to my tour stop for the Phantom's Dance.  You will find a book bio, my review, Lesa's bio, and a giveaway.

Phantom's Dance by Lesa Howard
Genre:  YA Contemporary

Description (taken from Book Tour):
Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.

This is my first Phantom of the Opera retelling.  The ballet dancer Christine is trying to live a normal high-schooler life while attending a prestigious ballet school.  However, her dancing needs to be improved.  And during the moments of first-time dating, a mysterious teacher shows up who promises to help teach Christine become a better dancer.  And that's the twist this book plays on the well-loved classic; no singing involved.

Christine just recently moved to Houston for Christine's dancing.  She wants to become a professional ballet dancer, but she has a problem.  Not all of her teachers thinks she has what it takes to dance.  Meanwhile her home life is barely staying together with her parents avoiding each other.  So when the opportunity to tutor football players comes along, best-friend Jenna encourages Christine to go on a date.  As Christine begins to experience normal real-life things, she still tries to figure out her dancing mishaps.  That is until a pompous mystery-man volunteers to help her.  Suddenly, Christine's dancing life gets better and her social life gets happier.  That is until the Phantom puts a halt to all of this.

As far as the retelling goes, this one followed the storyline really well.  And it puts a fun teenage twist to the plot.  I enjoyed the relationship dynamics between Jenna and Christine.  And Raoul is one of those good guys that every girl wants (or will want eventually).  The only thing I didn't really enjoy is it never really gave the opportunity to put the phantom in a good light.  I mean we all know he's a a bad guy, but I love reading books that can twist your thinking/opinion of a person around until you question whether or not they really are evil.  Really, that was my only complaint.

This story's definitely one for Phantom and ballet lovers.  It gives you a moment to relive high school and first loves with a lurking phantom.

Thanks goes to Lesa Howard and Xpresso Book Tours for providing me a review copy.

Author Bio
I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Dark Caravan Cycle, Book 1
Expected publication date:  October 7, 2014

Description (taken from Heather Demetrios' website):
Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Nalia has spent the last three years of her life as a captive on Earth.  Owned by the lucrative Malek, she spends her time granting wishes for Malek's clients.  Malek is a powerful man who never seems to get old.  And he has a very sly and cunning ability to work his way around the rules in order to get what he wants.  But as much as Nalia wants her freedom, he wants her.  As Nalia fights for her freedom, she finds the game between slave and master changes quickly.

Raif has left the Resistance in Arjinna to find Nalia.  He believes she can help her find a deadly weapon that will help end the war that's currently ravaging Arjinna.  All he has to do is get Nalia to agree to help him.  But as news of Nalia's existence reaches Arjinna, he finds there are other dangers circling after her.  As he fights to help free her, he finds himself making an unbearable choice.  Can he sacrifice the lives of his people for one person?

A book about genies: it sounds so interesting.  And this story had so much going into it that I was immediately interested.  But I kind of got bored.  Nalia is a beautiful character and we see a lot of heartache from her past, but I feel like too much of her emotion was barred from me, the reader.  And I just could not connect with her.  I also spent a good amount of time trying to determine what age group this book was meant for (my guess is mature young adult or new adult).  And as creepy as Malek was, I seemed to like him more because he wasn't the scene of insta-love.  And we got to see how much hate Nalia could fuel herself with around Malek.  There was just so much potential in this story that I really wished I could say I loved it.  But I was just bored.  I felt like the pages were too long for the story I received.

I wish I could say I loved this one, but I can't.  My only recommendation to readers is to check out as many reviews as you can before you decide to read this one.  Because I'm sure there are going to be those who absolutely loved this one out there.

Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours for providing me a review copy.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

Stacking the Shelves consists of books we received in the last week, hosted by Tynga's reviews.

What a lovely Saturday!  I'll be doing my workout class and then going to a lake to enjoy the sunshine.  And maybe I'll get some reading in later...

For Review from Around the World ARC Tours:

  • The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M O'Brien
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I finished this one last night, and I'm not sure I liked it.  I just don't know what to think about it.  It definitely was not what I was expecting...
  • Illuisions of Fate by Kiersten White

manda-rae's Past Week

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