Sunday, June 29, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Description (taken from Ava Dellaira's website):
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead. People like Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and most importantly, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn someone when you haven’t forgiven them? And how do you find your true identity when so much of who you were died with the person you loved? It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself can she finally begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly begin to discover her own path.

This book should be one that a lot of teenagers can relate to.  It has a lot of teenage emotion and angst.  And Laurel has so much feeling that she doesn't know what to do with it.  There's feelings that she's not sure she should have, and that leaves her trying to shut things out and ignore the problem.

Laurel writes to a lot of dead people in this novel.  She's barely started high school, and she's going to school in a brand new district.  It gives her a fresh start where no one will no her as the girl whose sister died.  But even if no one knows, can she shut out the memories of what happened?  As she meets best friends and new loves, Laurel begins to open up.  But she doesn't like what she's feeling, so she shuts down. And that's the worst mistake she can make.  As her life navigates through the school year, a lot of mistakes happen, but the truth does eventually come out.

Honestly?  This book dealt with a lot of real-life issues.  You've got a young death, a fresh love that isn't traditional (but it's still beautiful), and you have teens trying to prepare for college and their futures.  But...  It wasn't for me.  I thought it way too slow.  And it seemed like once the climax hit and we found out what happened, everything took a nosedive with happy pills to make everything end perfectly.  However, there was one letter that I truly loved and it got me teary-eyed.  For those familiar with the book, turn to page 207.  You've got true anger and betrayal, something I have felt before and lashed out with.  I absolutely loved this letter even though I did not care for the book.

I think contemporary lovers are going to enjoy this novel.  It's got a very unique concept in that it follows a diary transcript but in letter-form.  And it follows a teenager just trying to live her life and cope with her sister's death.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

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

I'm so glad the week is over.  And I'm able to calm down and relax.  I'm going to be making some fun summer meals this weekend.  And reading.  Always a plus.

For Review from Around the World ARC Tours:

  • Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I actually finished this one and am still trying to figure out my reaction.  It's definitely a high fantasy read.  And you get lost in the story telling immediately.
  • Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
  • Talon by Julie Kagawa

From the Library:

  • Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • Genetics being used to prove you're a murderer or will become one?  Yeah, I had to pick it up.  Plus, it's Sophie Jordan...

manda-rae's Past Two Weeks

Promo Post:

Pure Textuality Convention:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Zodiac by Romina Russell

Genre:  YA Science Fiction
Expected publication date:  December 9, 2014

Description (taken from Goodreads):
At the dawn of time, there were thirteen Houses in the Zodiac galaxy. Now, only twelve remain. . . .

In the Zodiac galaxy, your astrological sign determines everything about you. The stars tell the story of your life, and nothing—and nobody—is real unless you can actually touch them.

It’s a galaxy divided, where personalities clash and suspicions run high. Everyone is a potential enemy, so it’s best to stick to your kind. Hard-working realists in House Virgo scoff at sweet-talking Librans, who use stellar social skills to climb to the top. And while the brooding twins of House Gemini take forever to make a decision, optimistic Sagittarians hop from adventure to adventure without a thought.

House Cancer prizes loyalty and honesty above all else. When an unforeseen catastrophe strikes their ocean planet, the stars select sixteen-year-old Rho as their new Guardian. Rho suspects an ancient, power-hungry evil of legend has returned to exact revenge across the entire Zodiac. But Rho is an unknown novice and one of the youngest Guardians ever. Who should believe her?

And with the stars anywhere but in her favor, how can Rho defeat an enemy she can’t touch?

This first book of an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series takes place in a galaxy inspired by the twelve astrological signs—rendered with stunning complexity that both transports readers to a fascinating new world and holds up a mirror to reflect how we can better know each other in our own.

While this book heavily focuses on the astrological signs, it is not an educational book that goes in-depth on the separate signs leaving you with an educated understanding of the zodiac.  Instead, this is a science-fiction fantasy that revolves around the Zodiac (yeah baby!).  Set in a galaxy that has 12 separate sections with their own planets that represent the different astrological signs.  And the descriptions of these different worlds are very clever.  As much as I could just live in the planets' descriptions, I need to tell you about the story.

Rho, a young Cancrian, is set to perform with her fellow bandmates during the Lunar Quadract.  But the plan turns upside down once Cancer's moons start blowing up and leaving their orbit.  This massacre causes thousands of deaths, including Cancer's current Guardian.  But the stars have pointed out the next Guardian: Rho.  And a lot of people are skeptical of her because of her age and her abilities to see things in the stars that no one else can see.  As this leads her to the thirteenth house, she finds she must unite the houses together to defeat those trying to destroy the Zodiac.  And along the way, she meets some really cool friends along with the dreaded foes.

I must admit, this fantasy world was difficult for me to get into.  There were new terms thrown left and right that left me spinning and trying to keep it all together and follow the story.  But as soon as Rho was coronated as Guardian, the book picked right up and my head was spinning with the story and what happened next.  As they travel from planet to planet, I watched how different Zodiac societies reacted and treated their citizens.  I also got to meet some lovely characters in this story.  There's just a few people you need to meet in this world and a lot of scenery to see on the way.

An original piece that ties the stars together.  My only regrets is I didn't get to see all of the separate houses more in-depth (you know, I did want to see more of my Piscean heritage).  I think science-fiction lovers, especially the space lovers, are going to enjoy this one.

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pure Textuality Convention Scavenger Hunt

For anyone looking to go to the Pure Textuality Convention this October, check out the scavenger hunt to win some free tickets.  I hope to see you there because it's going to be bookishly fun!

Today kicks off the 4-day Pure Textuality Convention Online Scavenger Hunt! Find the answers on the Pure Textuality Convention website and you could win a pair of General Admission tickets to the 2014 Pure Textuality Convention!

Not everyone has time to do the Scavenger Hunt and we understand that. For those of you who don’t have the wiggle room in your schedule, we are offering a sale on General Admission tickets! While the Scavenger Hunt is running, tickets can be purchased for ONLY $50 EACH!!!     

  • Scavenger Hunt starts at 8:00am EST on Monday June 23, 2014 and ends at 11:59pm EST on Thursday June 26, 2014. Only one entry per person. Duplicate form entries will be disqualified. 
  • All answers will be found on the Pure Textuality Convention website. 
  • Winner must have all questions answered correctly. If there is more than one person with all questions answered correctly, the winning names will be put into Randomizer and a winner will be chosen at random. 
  • Tickets are non-refundable/non-exchangeable for cash or other prizes.  
  • Winners are responsible for their hotel room and travel expenses.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre:  YA Thriller
Expected publication date:  October 7, 2014

Description (taken from Becca Fitzpatrick's website):
Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place on that very mountain... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

After dealing with a terrible break-up, Britt plans a Spring Break backpacking trip with her best friend, Korbie.  But when they prepare to leave for the trip, they find out one little problem with their plan: Calvin, Korbie's older brother, has been asked to chaperone this trip.  The trip that Britt was going to use to prove her worth and get over her ex suddenly has her ex chaperoning it.  She's not going to let that stop them, they're still going to enjoy their break.  But then the weather takes a turn for the worse and leaves them stranded on the road.  Suddenly, it's a fight for finding shelter.

When Korbie and Britt find a cabin, it seems their prayers have been answered.  People will be able to offer them shelter and food until the storm dies over.  But what they get is two mysterious men, and one of them isn't very happy to let the girls in.  As Britt begins to put two and two together, she realizes these men are very dangerous.  She must use her wits to keep Korbie and herself alive.  But the men are trying to get off the mountain and avoid detection.  And the best way to do that is to use Britt as their guide.

The story-telling and the writing was excellent.  I can see how readers would love Becca Fitzpatrick's books.  But I absolutely hated the characters.  Korbie was a whiny-little snobbish-brat, and Calvin was a wounded-rich-boy-prick.  And let me tell you, I knew how the book was going to turn out about sixty pages into it.  Which made me think Britt was a little naive and dumb to keep company with bratty-rich kids.  But if we throw all of that out and stick with the budding romance and the need to survive, this story was good.  I just didn't like the main plot, and I saw right through it (I can't really gripe about it without ruining things).

This is one of those love-hate books for me.  Even though I figured it out and hated the characters, I still enjoyed the romance intertwined with the survival.  And I do think there will be people out there who will absolutely love this book and not get stuck on the characters like I did.

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel

Genre:  YA Historical Fantasy
The American Fairy, Book 3

Description (taken from Sarah Zettel's website):
After rescuing her parents from the Seelie king at Hearst Castle, Callie is caught up in the war between the fairies of the Midnight Throne and the Sunlit Kingdoms. By accident, she discovers that fairies aren't the only magical creatures in the world. There's also Halfers, misfits that are half fairy and half other--laced with strange magic and big-city attitude. As the war heats up, Callie's world falls apart. And even though she's the child of prophecy, she doubts she can save the Halfers, her people, her family, and Jack, let alone herself. The fairies all say Callie is the Bad Luck Girl, and she's starting to believe them.

Callie is a fourteen-year-old girl who has worked to free her parents from the Seelie king.  And now they're trying to hide while a war rages on between the Seelie and Unseelie fairies.  The only problem is Callie's conscience won't let her step aside as she watches innocent victims being dragged into the fairy kingdoms.

After finally meeting her father, the Unseelie prince who abdicated, she sees how the fairy nature affects him even though he's drunk off of the love her mother gives him.  And how he was raised and his values of the magical beings blind him to what's really happening.  Callie, a half-black-half-white girl, isn't going to let this blindness stop her.  Even Halfers deserve a fair chance at life and to be free from others.  Even though Callie wants to obey her parents, she's not going to stand aside while all magical mayhem occurs.

This book had the perfect ending.  I absolutely loved how it ended and would love to tell you all about it, but then you'd all hate me for ruining it.  While Callie's character is a little young for me, I loved watching her grow and gain confidence.  When she stood up to her father and held true to her ideals, I was cheering her on.  And the never-ending trust she had for her parents and Jack.  This book is sweet.  And I think it does a really nice job of tying societal issues into fantasy plot lines.  We get the opportunity to see what was wrong with our past (and how it affects our present) without judging (and we get a fun story of fairies to go with it).

This is a fun series that I'd recommend for tweens.  It's sweet, has character-building, and it has fairies.  And while there is a very small bit of romance, it's something that gradually builds and is not the main part of the story.  Plus, the magic is ever-changing.

Thanks goes to Random House Children's Books for providing me a review copy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dream Cast: Lost in Starlight by Sherry Soule

Today author, Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! She will be publishing a brand new Upper YA/Sci-Fi romance series: the “Starlight Saga” with scorching-hot character chemistry, exciting suspense, and epic romance on June 26, 2014.

To help promote this interstellar love story, “LOST IN STARLIGHT,” Sherry is doing this guest post to share the news with fellow booklovers.

So without further ado here are Sherry’s top actor picks...

For my tough heroine, Sloane Masterson, I think this lovely and brilliant actress: Lucy Hale (just imagine her with purple hair!) would be perfect.

Tough talking, girl reporter, Sloane is not your typical heroine. She’s a feisty, disarming, and a fiercely independent seventeen-year-old. But she’s not flawlessly beautiful, or super thin, or extremely intelligent like some YA protagonists. Sloane has very real and relatable body issues and insecurities like most teen girls do. She favors the dark-side in clothes and music, loves to watch scary movies, and likes hanging out in graveyards. She uses her wits to cover her emotional scars, and if you can break through her tough exterior, you’ll have a fearless, loyal friend for life.

For the part of the stoic and brooding, Hayden Lancaster, I think this dynamic actor would be great, Matt Lanter.

At first glance, it seems that eighteen-year-old Hayden has a detached, unemotional exterior, but what lies beneath is a kindhearted individual that will go out of their way to help a friend.

For Sloane’s best friend, Viola Saks, this remarkable actress would be fantastic: Camilla Belle.

Outgoing and feisty, Viola’s a fun-loving spirit girl, who loves to read. Never lacking in optimism, Viola is frequently seen as a crusader for the rights of others and a defender of lost causes. Popularity makes no difference to her as long as she

For Devin Greenspan, Editor of the school paper, I like this gifted actor: Ed Westwick.

Devin has had a crush on Sloane for years and never gave the hope of one day hooking up with her. But when Hayden becomes her best friend, he feels threatened by the newcomer.

Only one actor comes to mind that could portray Hayden’s younger brother, Zach Lancaster, and it is actor, Paul Wesley.

Zach and his brother grew up in a close-knit family where outside friends are discouraged. So when Hayden becomes good friends with Sloane, Zach tries to sabotage the friendship and strongly opposes the relationship.

For Sloane’s good friends, Tanisha and Raymond, I like both of these talented actors: Erica Hubbard and Daniel Andrew Sharman.

Tanisha and Raymond are loyal friends that hang in Sloan’s crew. Tanisha dresses sort of Goth, and she’s really into Wicca and alternative bands. Raymond is more punk rock, and plays the role of the tortured musician to perfection.

Please mark your calendars to buy your copy of LOST IN STARLIGHT on June 26th 2014!
Read the first five chapters for free on wattpad.
VOLUME ONE: Starlight Saga

Description (taken from promo post):
High school reporter Sloane Masterson knows she has one helluva story when she witnesses hottie Hayden Lancaster bending forks with his mind.

Like any good journalist, Sloane sets out to uncover the truth, even if it includes a little stalking. When the superhuman feats start to pile up and the undeniable heat rises between them, Hayden has no choice but to reveal his secret: he’s an alien hybrid.

They’re as different as night and day—she’s a curvy, purple-haired, horror junkie and he’s a smoking hot, antisocial, brainiac—yet the intense fascination between them refuses to go away. Even at Hayden’s insistence that dating each other is “off limits” and crazy dangerous, their fiery attraction threatens to go supernova.

Now Sloane’s dealing with creepy government agents, über snobby extraterrestrials, and a psycho alien ex-girlfriend out for revenge. After a crash course on the rules of interstellar dating, Sloane must decide if their star-crossed romance is worth risking her own life....

Places you can cyberstalk Sherry Soule:  Official Blog | Twitter

Please add LOST IN STARLIGHT to your TBR on Goodreads.
The awesome book cover was designed by the talented, Kristen Thompson-Oh of KCT Designs.
Eager to read the first five chapters on your Kindle? FREE every Friday from Amazon.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

Genre:  YA Dystopian Vampire
Blood of Eden, Book 3

Warning:  Reading anything below this line will spoil early plotlines; I strongly recommend against it unless you've read the first two books in the series.

Descriprition (taken from Julie Kagawa's website):

Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster?

With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer.


Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

Allie's final story involves a journey across many miles to stop Sarren, a crazy-psycho vampire.  It seems she, Kanin, and Jackal are always one step behind Sarren.  And Sarren tends to leave many bloody surprises along the way.  One notable city that they'll stop at before arriving in Eden is Chicago: Jackal's city.  But it's changed.  Everything seems to be changing for them.

I have to get this off my chest: this book was as predictable as they come.  The plotline came together exactly as predicted and the ending was a happily-ever-after vampire ending.  So yeah...  Why am I not giving it five stars considering the first two books were amazeballs?  Well....  All the traveling and walking and following in Sarren's footsteps.  Let's face it, the journey to the destination is sometimes very boring.  And I was bored until they hit Chicago.  And then stuff picked up a little bit better.  It was just meh, good story: that's what I expected...

Honestly, I loved the first two books of this series.  They were awesomely dark.  And then the third one came about and took away the darkness.  That's the only way I can describe it without saying anything spoil-worthy.  At least give the first book a try if you're one for vampires.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

manda-rae's Haul

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

Another Saturday.  A funny story that happened to me this week: I went to the library to pick up my book that they had on hold for me.  When I searched for the book, it wasn't there.  Talking to a librarian, she told me the hold had been fulfilled.  Apparently, someone with a similar name as mine grabbed my book in addition to his.  And no one caught it when he checked it out.  So while I was irked a little, I figure it works towards my benefit since I have too many books to read as it is.  Have a happy weekend!

For Review:

  • Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • I just barely started this book, and I had to go read the description again after the first intro.  I'm ready for fantasy now, but this one's a thriller.  But so far, I'm getting interested in it.  Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours.
  • Zodiac by Romina Russell
    • Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads
      • A fantasy reading that places on your astrological sign.  I'm so interested in this.  While I don't put much thought into my astrological sign, I find I do identify with its characteristics, and I did happen to find my best love match, hahaha.  Thanks goes to Around the World ARC Tours.

manda-rae's Past Two Weeks


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

Genre:  YA Science Fiction
The Taking Series, Book 1

Description (taken from Kimberly Derting's website):
A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas 'n' Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn't aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra's old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn't sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin's annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra's father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Kyra is living the average life as a star pitcher on her high school's softball team.  She's got the perfect dad who's trying to get her into a good college.  She's got the boyfriend, and they're madly in love.  But suddenly she disappears and life moves on without her.  When she returns, will she be able to live the same life she once had?

When Kyra returns to her world: Earth, five years have passed.  And everyone she's loved has moved on without her.  And it's not pleasant.  Her dad has become a conspiracy theorist who now believes in aliens.  And as crazy as that sounds, it begins to explain a lot of what happened to her.  Her past boyfriend's kid brother suddenly isn't a kid anymore.  And he's eager to help her figure things out.  But when mysterious people show up asking questions she can't answer, Kyra finds herself in danger.  And even though she'll be fighting for her life, she finds the last five years that she can't remember did something to her.

This book had so much potential.  But it seemed like all this book did was build the world and set up the suspense for the aliens.  But nothing gets answered.  That's like my biggest pet peeve with books.  A million questions with no answers.  I enjoyed this story, I just wished something had been answered.

It's a novel concept: a story about aliens.  And I'm sure there are going to be others who enjoy this one more than I did.  I hope the second one's better...

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