Friday, November 30, 2012

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Genre:  YA Zombie

Description (taken from Courtney Summers' website):
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up.

As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, everyone’s motivations to survive begin to change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life–and death–inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

There are a couple of things I have learned from reading this zombie book.  One is, I don't know if I actually have a fascination for zombie books.  I mean in a zombie world, can anything ever end right?  And two, I love having an explanation for everything.  Even the smallest poking and prodding in the right direction would be good for me.  I felt like this book had zero explanation and was all about living in the moment of zombies.

Right from the beginning, I did not like Sloane.  I understand that she had a very traumatizing childhood and no longer wanted to be a part of this world.  And of course, the zombies ruined her perfect suicide plans.  But even through understanding all of this, I found Sloane to be a very whiny character, and she came off as a victimized little kid.  I just couldn't feel any empathy for her.

However, the side characters?  Grace, Cary, Rhys, Harrison, and Trace?  I loved these guys.  They are all coming from different backgrounds.  And you're going to watch them go through a hard time filled with so many mistakes and emotions.  They honestly made this book worth it.  I would have liked this book a bit more if it weren't for the ending.

I always forget that in a zombie apocalypse, there are no surprise endings.  In the end, we're all going to die...  And while a lot of people die in this book, you don't really get any closure from Sloane's point of view other than she's going to fight to stay alive.  And I really, really wanted some closure or an explanation.  But all I got was, "And the fight to survive continues."  Blargh.

There are a lot of people who loved this book.  It's about finding your will to survive when you think you're done with life, and it's not a sugar-coated zombie apocalypse.  However, it just didn't suit me.

Challenges:  Young Adult Reading Challenge

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let it Bleed by Jeri Smith-Ready

Genre:  Adult Urban Fantasy
WVMP Radio Series, Book 3.5

Description (taken from Jeri Smith-Ready's website):

Con artist-turned-radio-station-manager Ciara Griffin hopes to settle into a normal un-life as a fledgling vampire, with the help of her immortally hot fiancĂ©, grunge DJ Shane McAllister. But she has bigger problems than finding a sane blood donor and a new home for those boxes of mac ’n’ cheese. Ciara’s best friend mourns her like she’s dead instead of undead, and her own maker clearly wishes she’d never been born (again). Worst of all, the WVMP crew calls a Code Black: hippie vampire DJ Jim has murdered a pair of humans—humans who share Ciara’s true last name.

That’s when trouble rolls out the red carpet, straight into Ciara’s life. At Shane’s first live concert, Ciara finds herself face to face with her Irish Traveller cousins, a not-so-welcome family reunion that might hold the key to Ciara’s anti-holy blood. Jim’s spiral into madness makes Ciara an unwilling prize in his deadly feud with Shane. As Ciara clings to what’s left of her humanity, she’ll need her new vampire strength—and old con artist cunning—now more than ever.

The WVMP Radio series is one of those urban fantasy series involving vampires.  While it's not super popular (I haven't seen a whole lot of people besides me picking it up), it has one of the most peculiar and different takes on the vampire legend.  And I have to say this, I do not care for the main character, Ciara.  From her annoying name to the annoying things she does in the books that I would never do, I just don't care for her.  However, I love the other characters and the story.  And there's humor.  Also, the titles and chapters are named after various songs; it's super creative.  In other words, I think it speaks volumes if an author can keep you reading a series even though you don't care for the protagonist.

This book is a short story that progresses Ciara's story without giving us the grand finale.  While I don't want to go into too much detail, I will say Ciara struggles with  her life status change.  And it's not just her who has to adjust, her friends have to cope with losing the life of a loved one without really losing the loved one.  And we get to experience it with some humor and action mixed in.

While this novella definitely doesn't give you the satisfaction that a whole book would, I feel it prepares you for the next one.  I've definitely got my curiosity and excitement up for the final book which comes out in a week.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Auracle by Gina Rosati

Auracle by Gina Rosati
Genre:  YA Paranormal Contemporary

Description (taken from Gina Rosati's website):
16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she’s only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there’s a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna’s body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn’t take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them.

This is a classic story of watching best friends grow into something more.  Of course, we have to add some paranormal twists to make it fun.  Anna and Rei sitting in a tree...  Wait a second, Anna's not really sitting, more like hovering near the tree feeling the life within it.  Okay, so that may be a little juvenile of me, but I still like it.

Anna lives in a broken world where she finds comfort sharing company with her best friend Rei and/or seeing the world via astral projection.  Gina Rosati makes astral projection sound like a fun escape from the hard parts of reality, and I sometimes wish I could join in on this light stress reliever.  Only problem is when you leave your body, you leave it free for the taking.

Watching the plot unfold before my eyes, I had one of those moments where I couldn't watch (err, read).  You know something bad is about to happen and as much as you yell at the main character, it becomes unavoidable.  And slam, Taylor's in Anna's body.  And as much as you want to hate the girl who has everything, including your body, Gina makes sure you hold a soft spot for her in the end.

This book is full of sweetness to the fullest.  It's a beautiful story that kind of makes you smile at the end.  Don't get me wrong, it's not wishy-washy.  In fact, it has a lot of action and beautiful story-telling that keeps you wanting to read more.  I recommend it to those looking for a happy ending but not a boring story.

Thanks goes to Parafantasy ARC Tours for setting this tour up and providing the ARC.

Challenges:  Debut Author Challenge and Young Adult Reading Challenge

Saturday, November 24, 2012

manda-rae's Haul

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

This week was a super busy week for me since it did involve Thanksgiving.  I made a gigantic feast for my husband and cousin, and then I worked a bunch.  And of course, reading occurred during my spare time.  However, I did get a lot of books this past week...


  • Swag from the Shade and WVMP Radio Series by Jeri Smith-Ready
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I got bookmarks and buttons.  Woot!!  And then I noticed that some of the bookmarks and buttons were autographed.  I love these series.  I've yet to read the final books in both series, but I will soon.  If you haven't picked these books up, I recommend them.  Also, if you want a Shine or Lust for Life bookmark, hit me up because I have plenty to go around.  Thanks goes to Jeri Smith-Ready for providing these goodies!


  • Transcend Time Series (signed) by Michelle Madow plus swag
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I've heard good things about these books.  They've always caught my eye, and I decided to pick them up to celebrate the release of Timeless.  Also, they're signed and I have another bookmark!

From the Library:

  • What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Gifted (e-edition):

Beloved LifeMate: Song of the Sidhi by Jodie B Cooper
I just happened across this author's website while browsing a giveaway hop.  She offered her readers a free copy of her novel.  And it involved vampires.  How could I pass this one up?  Thanks goes to Jodie B Cooper (check out the link to get your copy and enter her giveaway)!

manda-rae's Past Week



Friday, November 23, 2012

My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent

Genre:  YA Urban Fantasy
Soul Screamers Series, Book 4

Description (taken from Rachel Vincent's website):
Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can’t just pretend nothing happened. But “complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back. See, Sabine isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people’s fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives. And Sabine isn’t above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

This is definitely a series that holds a special place in my heart.  I absolutely love Kaylee's supernatural world.  And how she reacts to everyday situations is perfect.  There's enough humor, enough emotion, and a lot of empathy.  One of the things that makes this series one of my favorites is there are some very heavy topics approached in these books.  They involve a lot of mistakes and heart ache.  And a lot of these sad emotions are things I don't care to read about, but they happen so much in real life, that it's super easy to relate to these books.

As to this book in the series, sorry.  I don't think I can review it without giving things away.  The new girl, Sabine, however is a delicious treat.  She does make things awkward, yet interesting.  Definitely loved the story here.

While this book definitely isn't my favorite, my rating is influenced by the series as a whole...  I will definitely be reading the next book and trying to catch up.  If you haven't started this series, I suggest you pick them up.

Challenges:  TBR Pile and Young Adult Reading Challenge

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taken from Google Image Search.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  And for those who don't celebrate it, I'll be sure to eat some turkey for you...  I hope everyone has a nice and relaxing day.  Unfortunately, that's not what's in store for me.

Here's an idea of my schedule:
  • Cook a lot of food (e.g. turkey, dressing, yams, mashed potatoes, fritters, mac and cheese, etc - I'm sure I forgot to list something).
  • Pull out the Christmas decorations and get festive (I'm really looking forward to this part).
  • Sit down with the hubby and cousin and eat some awesome grub (that I cooked).  And maybe chat a bit.
  • Go to work (boo...).

Yeah, it doesn't look like I'll be getting much reading done today.  Maybe next time.  I hope everyone has an awesome day!

And because I'm shameless when it comes to promoting giveaways, don't forget to check these out:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

1 Year Blogoversary Giveaway

So, my one year blogging birthday came around on October 8.  And due to a family emergency and my laziness, I kind of just did nothing to celebrate......  Well, now I'm going to celebrate!

Last year, I decided I needed a better tracking system for the books I was reading.  I also wanted a way to remember if I liked the book or not.  And that's how this blog started.  While my reviews aren't the best, they're definitely better than they were before.  I'm one who likes shorter reviews because I tend to read the first and last sentence of most reviews.  So I aim for short and simple (although that's not always the case).

Some firsts and stats:

     1st Review:  XVI by Julia Karr
     2nd Review:  Wildefire by Karsten Knight

     1st Requested ARC:  Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

     Books reviewed from October 8 2011 to November 7, 2012:  132

     Average Rating:  3.44

For the next year, I'm not planning anything too grand.  I'm hoping to have my blog redesigned by a professional instead of just silly-old-me.  And I'm hoping to find more time for reading.  At the beginning of the year, I was reviewing two to three books a week.  Now, I'm lucky to get in just one book.  But that's okay because I am blogging for myself not others.  If others happen to like it, then I've found some friends.

Now onto the good part:  the giveaway!

There will be 2 winners who will win a book of choice. This book of choice has a $15 dollar limit (although I am flexible if the book you really want is barely over) and will be purchased from Amazon or Book Depository (depending on the cheapest option).

How it works:
  1. This contest is open internationally (as long as the Book Depository ships to you).
  2. Entrant must be 13 years of age or older.
  3. Giveaway ends on Saturday, December 29.
  4. You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below.  You can enter by doing one of the following:
    1. Free entry.  Just click to enter.
    2. Follow blog via GFC/Linky.  Let me know how you follow and your username in the comments section.
    3. Follow me on twitter.  Let me know your twitter username.
    4. Leave a comment on this post.  Answer the following question:  What kind of posts do you like to read on book blogs?
    5. Comment on a book review.  Let me know which book review you commented on.
    6. Post giveaway button on website.  Leave a link to your website/blog in the comments section.
    7. Tweet about the giveaway.  Leave a link to your tweet in the comments section.
  5. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond with logistics.

Button code:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

manda-rae's Haul

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

I got to enjoy a lovely three days in Utah at the end of my week.  Weddings are tons of fun and so is visiting family.  And now I'm back in the bitter-cold Wisconsin.  Kind of funny that Utah had snow on the ground but somehow managed to be warmer than Wisconsin...

Purchased (e-edition):

Ignite by Kaitlyn Davis
After seeing that all of my blogging friends had picked up this freebie, I had to go grab my copy.  I love the orange coloring.  And I'm a sucker for vampires...

manda-rae's Past Week




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