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Mandi Kaye @ Never Too Fond of Books

Louisa May Alcott may as well have been writing about me when she wrote "She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain!" But I am a staunch believer that there is no such thing.

My Favorite Mistake  - Chelsea M. Cameron Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/my-favorite-mistake-by-chelsea-cameron/New Adult titles are all over the place. It’s a genre that’s still trying to figure out what it is and where it fits. But this book?THIS BOOK.This book fits. I think it might be my favorite NA book so far.The first time I met Hunter Zaccadelli, I punched him in the face.It had everything I wanted in it.The perfect bad boy who isn’t really bad (oh, and he plays guitar too).The main character with a tragic past and needs the bad boy to help her drop her walls (oh, and she’s a virgin).Awesome friends.Amazing family.Honestly, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop as I read this. I kept thinking, when is this all going to fall apart?I really hoped he wouldn't use his cooking skills as leverage for sexual favors. For this, I might have to give in.Hunter was an amazing guy. I did not expect that. He’s the best fiction boyfriend there is (the kind that every girl wants but doesn’t exist in real life).And Taylor was, despite her past, a badass kind of girl.This was the perfect piece of fiction to escape life into the best kind of fantasy romance. I know I was snarky up there, but aren’t we looking for a bit of cliche in our favorite romances? I know I am. My Favorite Mistake was everything I hoped it would be and more.
Taste Test - Kelly Fiore Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/taste-test-by-kelly-fiore-review/ (8/12/13)I have always been a huge fan of the Food Network, particularly the competition shows like Chopped and Iron Chef: America. When I saw this book on Netgalley, I just knew I had to read it.Imagine my surprise to discover that Nora was from North Carolina! She was raised around great food. Her father owned a barbecue (notice my correct spelling of the word, versus the incorrect spelling in the blurb!) restaurant, and Nora felt at home in a kitchen – making anything from barbecue to gourmet meals. Her dream in life was to leave small town America, and when she was accepted into the Taste Test teen cooking program she saw her chance.When Nora gets to the show, she’s thrown into a new world – sort of an “us vs. them” kind of thing. There are those there who have always had a life of privilege and who waste no time telling Nora exactly what kind of hillbilly hick she is (No Christian, barbecue is not “hillbilly food” as you so eloquently put it). There are also those who end up being Nora’s friends. But these end up the underdogs on the show reinforcing the “us vs. them” mentality (though of course, Nora, as MC, is a top contender).I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see much of the actual competition. We got judges notes and debriefings after the fact, but we almost never got to see the contestants decide what to cook and participate in the challenges. Instead, we got all of the drama of the reality show – and let me tell you, there was a lot.Someone was trying to sabotage the show.There was all kinds of chemistry between Nora and Christian – but he was a complete jackass most of the time.Nora’s roommate was having a fling with one of the judges.See what I mean? Everything ended up outshining Taste Test – and since the show gave the novel its name, it shouldn’t have!Overall, it was an enjoyable story. It just wasn’t quite the story I was hoping to read. It was more Big Brother and less Next Food Network Star than I would have liked.
Secret Sister - Emelle Gamble Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/secret-sister-by-emelle-gamble/ ‎I always find it really disappointing when I think a book is about one thing and then it ends up being about something completely different. That's what I experienced with this book.For some reason, I expected this to be about some sort of open relationship between Nick, Cathy, and Roxanne. I was expecting a torrid, tumultuous romance. What I got was some sort of supernatural story that had nothing steamy or sexy in it. There was tons of emotion, but nothing that shouted THIS IS A ROMANCE NOVEL.Don't get me wrong - it was a good story. I'm glad I read it. I just wasn't prepared for the story that I got because I wasn't set up properly for it. This book is billed as a romance (which is why I'm reviewing it under the banner of Romancing You on Fridays) - but I don't think that genre fits the bill for it at all. It didn't meet my expectations, and as a result, I was disappointed. Had I gone into it expecting something different, it probably would have gotten a higher rating.What this book is:A beautiful look at the grieving process among people who love one another.A book with an interesting twist right out of the gate that no one sees coming.A book with characters that are deeply developed and intertwined.What this book is not:A steamy romance.
Janitors - Tyler Whitesides Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/janitors-by-tyler-whitesides/ (7/31/13)I’m not sure I’ve ever reviewed a middle grade title on this blog. I’m fairly certain I haven’t, even though I do read them from time to time (can we say hellloooo Percy Jackson?). I picked up books 1 and 2 in the series at BEA last year and they’ve just been languishing on my shelf ever since. When book 3 showed up on Netgalley a few weeks ago, I decided it was definitely past time for me to get started.I think the reason this one stayed on my shelf for so long was because I was dubious that a book about janitors and demon dirt creatures could possibly be good.And now I feel like an ass.It’s certainly not Harry Potter good or Percy Jackson good, but it is a good story. And it’s unique. In an age where every other book is a vampire or witch novel and the rest are plucked out of Greek mythology, it’s a nice change of pace. It was also really nice to have characters acting their own age. Parents and adults were involved. That almost never happens! I didn’t find myself screaming at Spencer to just go tell someone for goodness sake! I tend to do that a lot in books.The Grimes, Filth, and Rubbish creatures were disgusting (though the names could use a little more imagination). I’m pretty sure if I ever came face to face with one, I’d lose my lunch.In the end, I’m glad I read it. Will I read it again? Probably not. But will I recommend it to my co-worker’s kids? Absolutely.
Love Overdue - Pamela Morsi Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/love-overdue-by-pamela-morsi-review/ on 7/26/13Of course I had to read this one – it’s about a librarian!There were two things I didn’t love about this book – how DJ’s character personified the stereotype of the boring, drab, librarian and how the ending wrapped up entirely too quickly. Another scene was necessary before the cut to the prologue.Other than that, it was a light and fun read. DJ was great at what she did as the new head librarian at the small town librarian, and she found ways to rise above small town gossip and fit into the town.Scott was a good man who loved his family and had some baggage from the past but he was the kind of man any woman should be happy to end up with.But as should happen in any good romance, there was miscommunication and assumption that caused hijinx. It was somewhat frustrating to read because I just wanted the two of them to get their HEA and I could see why it wasn’t happening, but I couldn’t just reach into the book and talk some sense into DJ or Scott. Of course, what that meant for the two of them is that they had ample opportunity to learn to trust each other and build up a lot of sexual chemistry until the end of the book. That part was fun too.And on top of the romance, the supporting characters were just awesome. Scott’s mom, Viv, played a huge role – and her story was heartbreaking but needed to be told. Her bond with DJ’s dog Dew (or Melvil Dewey, Jr.) was too cute for words. Amos and Jeannie’s secondary romance was fun to see play out. Suzy and James at the library were fun to get to know as well.Overall, it was exactly what I wanted a Harlequin romance to be.
Deceived - Julie Anne Lindsey Reviewed at www.mandikayereads.com on 9/2/13
Kidnapped Cowboy - Lindsey Brookes Reviewed at www.mandikayereads.com on 8/9/13

Ten Tiny Breaths

Ten Tiny Breaths  - K.A. Tucker

I don’t even know where to begin writing this. Kacey lived through something that no one should ever have to go through. And her pain was so tangible, even years later, that it leapt off the pages.


When we meet her, it’s four years after her accident, and she still can’t stand for people to touch her. Especially her hands. She’s completely closed off from the world and she thinks of herself in terms of Before Kacey and After Kacey. Her only purpose in life is to take care of her little sister Livie. After her drunk uncle ends up in Livie’s room one night, the two of them take off for Miami to begin a life that’s just theirs.


And in Miami things finally begin to look up. They meet friends. Friends who are so close that they substitute for family. But Kacey still keeps herself closed off. Trent, one of her neighbors, recognizes how broken she is and wants to help make her whole again. He wants to make her smile. But he pushes her too fast and too hard. He takes her to a PTSD group and she shuts down.


 But Kacey recognizes that she and Trent have an undeniable attraction.After this, however, THINGS HAPPEN. Things I can’t tell you about because I try to run a spoiler free blog. But these things break my heart. But they also show how strong the human spirit can be.

Source: http://www.mandikayereads.com/ten-tiny-breaths-by-k-a-tucker
Runaway Groom - Sally Clements Reviewed on www.mandikayereads.com on 7/19/13
The Story Guy - Mary Ann Rivers Reviewed on mandikayereads.com on 7/12/13
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black Reviewed on www.mandikayereads.com on 8/19/13
Dirty Little Secret - Jennifer Echols Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3200 (7/15/13)*Spoilers in Review - Unlike My Normal Reviews, The Emotions Evoked By This Story Require Spoilers*I'm a big fan of music, particularly country music. So I knew I had to read this book.It started off pretty slow. If I hadn't read the publisher's blurb, I would have been completely confused and in the dark about what was going on. It sounded as if Bailey's sister had died - not gone off to pursue her career. But as things progressed in the novel, it became clearer what really happened until Bailey herself finally explained in explicit detail to Sam that Julie got the record deal and as a result her family made her quit her dream - and threatened not to pay for college if she didn't keep up her end of the bargain.But in every single scene it's just so clear how much Bailey loves music. Not only is she good at it, but it permeates every fiber of her being. Sam can see it too.But I have a lot of beef with Sam. And with the book Ms. Echols ended up writing. Yes, it ended up being a great romantic love story with a happy ending for everyone, but Sam was a jerk. As soon as Bailey finishes telling him the full story and he's in the midst of telling her that her parents are wrong and not normal people for how they're treating her - he spies the billboard advertising Julie's Opry debut and realizes just how big the record deal really is. His reaction? He pulls the car over and the first words out of his mouth are, "I think this goes without saying, Bailey. You've got to get us an in with your sister's record company."My reaction upon reading those words was to almost throw the book. Except I was reading on my iPad so that would have been a very bad idea.Every single person in Bailey's life treats her like shit at this point. Her parents made her give up her dream so that her sister could live out hers. Her pseudo boyfriend/friend turns out to not care about her feelings at all and instantly tries to use her for any connections she has to the music business. And THEN they "make up" and have sex. When they're finished, he tells her that he can't be with her because he'd just be too angry with her all the time. Did I mention she was a virgin?!This is making me angry all over again!But Bailey is mature and still goes to finish the gigs she promised Sam, despite her broken heart. And miracle of miracles a record executive hears them play and loves them! And Bailey manages to reconcile with her sister and her family. And Sam and the rest of the band.It's like Christmas.Everybody lives happily ever after.Now I know there's a lot of snark in my last few paragraphs. You must be confused about why I gave this book 4 stars. Truth be told, I still enjoyed the book. I read it in a single sitting. I pretty much didn't move during the 2 hours it took me to read it. And yes, it made me angry. I wanted to crawl through the pages and hurt Sam and shake Bailey. But that means that Echols wrote something real. She wrote something that made me emotionally invested in it. I was involved in the story. I wasn't outside looking it - I was in it and angry.That means it was a damn good book. Even if it made me want to spit nails.
Mila 2.0 - Debra Driza Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3192 (7/12/13)Have you ever listened to an audiobook that you thought would never end?This was one of those.And to tell you the truth, I don't typically read publisher blurbs. I look at the covers and I do a quick skim of genre to see if it falls into what I typically read - but I like going into books blind. Publisher blurbs often unintentionally give spoilers and I hate spoilers. So I went into this book thinking it was a stand alone novel. The cover doesn't indicate it's the first book of a series. And when I purchased it from Audible, it didn't have that tale tell #1 in the title indicating that there are more to come.I kept waiting for things to begin to wrap up - but they never did. 12 hours of listening and it ends with a cliff-hanger. And I finally figure out it's a series.12 hours that should have been 8 or less. Had I actually been reading the book, I'm not sure I would have made it through. Excessive (and meaningless) inner monologues made up quite a lot of the story. And to tell you the truth - I just couldn't quite suspend my disbelief long enough to stay invested in the story. My mind kept popping out of it say Please! or Yeah right, like that would actually happen.Mila's character is just so... unrealistic. The dichotomy of her very essence just didn't work for me. Part android and part human? An android who actually believed she was human? And then who struggled to reconcile what she believed herself to be with the logic of what she was faced with? It didn't work for me. She was too human. She just happened to have machine parts. I'm pretty sure that's what the author was going for, but in the context of the story it didn't work. It felt forced and out of place.One character introduced early on - with substantial time spent developing his character and a potential relationship with Mila - was virtually non-existent in the rest of the book, except in Mila's thoughts. It wasn't until the end, when I realized he was to be used to set up the sequel that I realized what he was there for. But it was distracting. I kept asking myself what was the point of Hunter?Overall, the book was ridiculously long. It could easily have lost 150+ pages without harming the central focus of the story and that probably would have tightened up Mila's character enough that I might have identified with her a little more. As it stands, I don't know if I'll continue with the series or not. It just depends on whether or not there's something else I'd rather read that day.
Data Runner - Sam A. Patel Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3181 (7/8/13)This book had a very very slow start to it. I wasn't sure I was going to finish it, to tell you the truth. It's a very different sort of book than I normally read, and it opened with an information dump to acclimate the reader to the unique world of the story. It was confusing and difficult to follow at times.And then when I realized how much of the story relied on the fad of parkour, I definitely almost put it down. That trend went viral last year and then died down again. Reading about it now felt a bit dated - especially in a book set in the future. But I pushed through because I've been in a reading rut and I wanted to read something different.And by the time I got to the end, I was glad I did.About halfway through the action really ramped up. The pace picked up and it stayed up right until the end. My heart was in my chest while I rooted for Jack to figure out the truth and save his friend - and himself. In the end, most of the questions were tidily answered and everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow. But there were just enough new questions left to segue into the next book in the series (which I will definitely read).
Born at Midnight - C.C. Hunter Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3186 (7/10/13)I started this series because my mom kept raving about it. Yep, my mom. And I reservations about it. Especially when the opening scene involved a parental fight where Kylie's mom barbecued her husband's underwear. I thought to myself, Do I really want to read something where the *adults* stoop to this level of immaturity? But I pushed through those pages - pages where Kylie's parents decided she needed to be sent to a camp for troubled teens simply because she was upset about her parents were splitting up - and was quite pleasantly surprised. In fact, the only parts I truly disliked about this whole series were the parts that included her parents (you do remember my thoughts about parents from my Shades of Earth review, right?).Once Kylie got to the camp, she discovered that the camp was in fact not for troubled teens, but for supernatural teens. And that she herself is a supernatural. The only problem is that no one can figure out exactly what kind of supernatural she is. In this world, supernaturals can identify one another by looking at each other. But when they look at Kylie, they can't tell. They know she's something - but all Kylie feels like is FREAK (not to mention that she's pretty much in denial about the whole idea in the first place, even though she can see and talk to ghosts).One of my favorite things about this book is that there is an amazing adult role model. How often do we see this in a YA novel? Holiday, the leader of the camp, takes Kylie under her wing and mentors her. And she's amazing. She wants to act like a parent, but she recognizes that's she not. She allows Kylie to make her own decisions even when she doesn't agree with them. She talks through the pros and cons with her. She holds her hand when she needs it. And she walks away when she needs to. She's hands down my favorite adult in any YA series/novel.The other supporting characters were also quite fun. Kylie's cabin mates, Della and Miranda (vampire and witch, respectively) were hilarious. They fake.hated each other and their quibbles brought some much needed levity to many situations. Derek and Lucas were the formulaic boys at opposite ends of the spectrum for a love triangle. But I loved them both.This is a perfect start to a series. The character development is top notch (though the world building could use the teensiest bit of help). I feel completely invested in Kylie and the other characters that I want to continue the journey with them and see what obstacles come next.
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas (Audiocd) - John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/audiobook-review-redshirts-a-novel-with-three-codas-by-john-scalzi/Let me start by saying that I was never a fan of the original Star Trek. But I loved me some Star Trek: TNG. (Ed. note: So it’s quite fitting that while Wil Wheaton narrates all of Scalzi’s audiobooks, that he especially narrated this one.) This book is an homage to the Red Shirt trope - the idea that low ranked crew members (easily recognized by their uniforms with red shirts) would invariably be put into mortal danger and almost always die in each episode of the show.It was incredible. And cheesy in moments. But how could it not be? It’s part parody to a classic 60′s science fiction show that was often cheesy as hell.I have never listened to an audiobook this quickly. Generally speaking, audiobooks are for in the car only. But this one? Nope. I’d find myself coming home in the evenings and I just had to know what was going on. So I’d be sitting in my living room with my dog staring at me because nothing was going on except an audiobook playing from my phone. Nice, right?Scalzi was absolutely brilliant. And then at the end he breaks down the fourth wall and… well I won’t say any more than that. You just have to read it yourself.And even if you don’t like Star Trek, I think you’ll like this book. Like I said – I never liked the original. But I appreciate the humor behind the trope and what Scalzi was doing with this book. And the story he wrote is one worth reading. I found myself completely and totally invested in the characters as they tried to figure out why things seemed so odd on board the Intrepid.You’ve got Andy Dahl – seminary student from an alien religion turned starship crewman (to clarify, Andy’s not an alien). There’s also Jenkins, a man who now lives “off the grid” within the cargo tunnels of the Intrepid. The rest of the crew (Finn, Hester, Duvall, and Hanson) are various and sundry folks who are newly assigned to the ship as Dahl is. Together they take on their own mission to find out what the hell is going on.And the geek girl in me loved every minute of it.