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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.

The Submissive (The Submissive Trilogy, # 1) - Tara Sue Me Unfortunately, this is a DNF for me. I had high hopes, but it's just way too unrealistic and ridiculous.
Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always - Elissa Janine Hoole Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/sometimes-never-sometimes-always-elissa-janine-hoole-review/ (10/23/13)I requested this book because I thought I might relate to it. My family became very religious during my later teen years. And I had a secret obsession with the occult.Of course, I had no idea what a blog was back then so I never did what Cass did - but were I re-living those days now I'm sure I would.It's difficult enough trying to figure out who you are as you're growing up. But when you throw a family and community into the mix who are convinced that the thoughts and feelings you have are evil - it makes it a hell of a lot harder.But Cass wasn't the most interesting character in this book to me - that honor fell to her brother. He was struggling with the idea that he was gay, while still trying to uphold his faith. His story was more interesting to me. He was very hypocritical it seemed - he was constantly telling Cass how wrong she was for her website and how worried he was for her soul - when he was himself engaging in something his church damns him for. But I understand it. I honestly do. It was a realistic depiction of how these things evolve and take over your life, your emotions. and your thoughts.Unfortunately, websites are shady things. We've all heard the phrases "don't feed the trolls" and "don't read the comments." People in Cass' school took the opportunity to use her website as an anonymous way to bully the people who came to her for advice. Way harsh, Tai. The comments made were awful. And Cass decided that she didn't need to moderate the comments because she wasn't the one making them. It wasn't until they hit a little too close to home that she intervened - but by then the damage was already done.I think Cass' story is a familiar one. Internet fame, albeit anonymous internet fame, can make you feel special. Popular. Important. And you don't want to do anything to jeopardize that - even if it means compromising who you are and maybe sacrificing a few friendships along the way.I won't tell you what happened in the end, but I'm sure you can guess at least parts of it - since it does have a very after-school special feel to it (literally). But the message was a good one. It was handled well and was far less cliched than I expected it to be.
Magisterium - Jeff Hirsch Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3117 (6/17/13)How I wish I had better things to say about this book. I was so excited about it! This is one of the books I picked up at BEA 2012 and, though it took me forever to read it, it was one that I had high hopes for. Science fiction and fantasy combined? Sign me up! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.It took me forever to read it. I kept putting it down and not picking it back up. But there was just enough intrigue that it wasn’t a DNF. I think I kept hoping that it would redeem itself.The characters lacked depth. I never found myself emotionally invested in them. Even when reading it, I often found that I couldn’t remember the names of the two primary characters (just now, I had to look back to the publisher’s summary to remind myself).The world-building was virtually non-existent. He tried. You can tell that he tried, but it just didn’t do it for me. He never managed to successfully explain why the world was the way that it was and how it worked. When you’re talking about parallel existences and traveling between them, there has to be a level of explanation that simply didn’t exist.The villain of the story, the Magistra, was never fleshed out well enough for me to understand exactly what she was, why she was the way she was, and why I should care about her fate at the end of the story.These are all problematic for me when I’m reading a book. I want to be invested in the characters I read about. Hell, I want to become them. When I read, I should be transported to the worlds I am reading about, not struggling to understand the mechanics of how or why they work. If I can’t understand them – or worse, don’t care enough about them to understand them – the author has done something wrong.And that’s what Magisterium was for me. I simply didn’t care enough about the world or the characters in it because the author didn’t give me a reason to.
The Indigo Spell - Richelle Mead Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3210 (7/17/13)Sydney continues to drive me crazy. When I read these books, I sometimes feel that her sole purpose in life is to drive me crazy. Of course, that's insane. But I'm a crazy reader. I'm allowed to have insane thoughts.A lot happens in this book.We finally find Marcus Finch. And he's instantly hardcore pushing Sydney to leave everything she's ever known without giving her a lot of reasons why other than "You know they're wrong." And his alternative hasn't been proven to be a good alternative yet. So in my mind he's still pretty sketch. But Sydney still agrees to work with him to get information about or against the Alchemists - especially when she realizes it might have something to do with Jill.A magic-stealing immortality quester is targeting young witches/magic users. So Sydney could potentially be a target. She and Adrian begin to search for this woman to take her down and those scenes are some of my favorites - but then, I love every scene with Sydney and Adrian in it. Adrian brings out the best in Sydney and she doesn't even realize it. She stops blindly following rules and seeks answers for herself. She uses her own power and follows her heart.And through all of this, they're still hiding and protecting Jill so that Lissa can remain Queen.Not to mention the various other romantic storylines happening (Eddie/Jill anyone?)Phew!And about the ending of this book? Can I just say - it's about time Ms. Sage.I love this world. Richelle continues to write a world filled with love, death, action, sorrow, grief, life, and happiness. And she does it so seemingly effortlessly. When I read one of these novels, I am instantly transported away from this world to that one. And that is the marker of a 5 star novel for me.
With All My Soul - Rachel Vincent Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3086 How do you begin to say goodbye to a series that you have adored for years?That’s something I’m going to have to do many times this year, and this is the first book I took the plunge with. While there have been others that I haven’t yet been able to read, this is one that even while in the midst of my hermitude I went straight to the store and bought on the day of release.I read it in a single sitting. Well, sort of. I kept putting it down to prolong the reading.And then I cried like a baby when it was over.Kaylee was a main character I didn’t like in the first book. Especially since my introduction to this series was via audiobook. I thought she was whiny, immature, and stupid. Then when Rachel @ Fiktshun started a reading challenge for the series, I thought I’d give actually reading the series a shot. And it was a completely different experience. I fell in love with all of the characters – including Kaylee. Over the course of the series her character grew from the whiny, immature girl into someone who would give everything to save those she loves.When it came time to read the final chapter of the series, I wasn’t ready to let go. I trusted Rachel to do right by the characters – she’s never steered us wrong – but saying goodbye is always so damned hard. And then she had to go and introduce a brand new character in the last book! Who does that?! Ira was quite the character. He reminded me quite a bit of Al from The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, truth be told. That means he was a demon I liked and wanted to see more of. But since we didn’t meet him until the final book, I probably won’t get my wish.This book had everything we’ve grown accustomed to in a Soul Screamers novel – kidnapping, threat of death, impending doom, Avari stalking Kaylee, creeper vine wounds, demons, succubi, and above all – friends and family banding together to best evil.All in all, this was a beautiful and fitting end to the story. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.But ya know – just because this series is over and done with doesn’t mean this has to be the end of this world. Hear that Rachel? I hear a spin-off just calling your name…
Shades of Earth - Beth Revis Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3145What’s the one thing that can ruin a young adult book faster than anything else?Parents.In the final installment of this trilogy, Amy finally gets her wish. Her parents are finally woken up from the cryo-sleep they’d been in for the last several months (well centuries, really) and the family is reunited. But the reintroduction of military personnel into Elder’s world changes everything.The parents wake up and, predictably, take over everything.And equally predictably, the world turns to shit. At every turn, the adults butt heads with Elder’s leadership. And Amy is stuck in the middle. How does she choose between the life she’s been living with Elder and the choices she’s been forced to make and her parents?I didn’t like this book. But I absolutely love that Revis wrote a book that I didn’t like. Let me explain!This world that Revis created is not an altogether unique world. Think WALL-E. It would have been all too easy for her to write a book that was full of cliches and story lines that went where you expected them to. But she didn’t. This book did have some predictability (see the previous comments about parents ruining things) but there were some things I absolutely did not see coming. There were moments that flat out angered me and made me put the book down. (Ed. note: Revis has a habit of writing characters that evoke enough anger from me that make me literally put the book down. I did the same thing in book 1.) There was death. There was mayhem. And I absolutely hated the ending. But it was realistic (okay, as realistic as a scifi book can be). Revis didn’t write a fairy tale. And I salute her for that.And through it all, it still remained thought provoking. Beth Revis is one hell of a writer and even when her writing makes me angry, I will always read it. She will always be at the top of my TBR list when she has something new out.
Big Girl Panties - Stephanie Evanovich Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3045This book had so much potential. But honestly, it just made me mad. The only message this book sent was that overweight women are broken and don’t deserve love until they’re fixed.This is an unacceptable view of women.Even while part of me enjoyed the romance aspect of the novel – who doesn’t enjoy a good romance? – I found myself loathing every part of the book because it said that Holly wasn’t worth love until she was beautiful by society’s standards. Her first husband was someone she settled for because she knew that as an overweight woman she’d likely never find someone else.What kind of message is that?It’s utter ridiculousness!And after she lost most of her weight? Logan still didn’t want to bring her out in public and acknowledge her because she just wasn’t quite thin enough.I’m not even kidding.I’d suggest you pass on this one unless you want to give yourself high blood pressure.
The Murmurings - Carly Anne West Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3023 (2/15/13)Holy creepy batman.If The Ring were written as a YA novel minus the weird videotape because you’re born being able to see the creepy oily-haired girl – this is that novel.And the creepy thing crawls out of mirrors instead of televisions.There’s no real way to explain the plot of this book without giving away spoilers, so I’m not going to try. Just know – if you like the creep factor – you’re going to like this book.Sometimes when authors try to be creepy it just ends up overly cheesy and campy, especially when a primary setting is a mental institution. But that didn’t happen with this book. I found it to be original and it grabbed my attention right away. Even after I knew what was going on, I wasn’t completely sure what side everybody was on and how the book was going to end. There was no predictable factor here and that makes it an automatic win for me.The only thing that stopped it from being a 5 for me was that I felt like the ending happened a little too quickly. More things needed to be explained and take place before the book ended, in my opinion. Questions needed to be answered.
Unravel Me - Tahereh Mafi Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/3005 (2/11/13)I knew this was going to happen.Tahereh - why have you done this to me? Why did you have to go and make Warner human?I purposefully chose not to read Destroy Me yet because I didn't want to understand Warner. I didn't want to feel warm fuzzies towards him. I didn't want to believe that he could change and be a good person.Now... now I don't know what to believe. Like Juliette, I want to hate him - but I've seen too many glimpses inside his head and just can't anymore.Which makes me dread reading Destroy Me that much more.The interactions between Juliette and Warner are truly what made this book.I also really enjoyed the scenes between Kenji and Juliette. Finally there's someone who isn't afraid of her and will tell her the truth about the world and her place in it. For awhile, I was right there with her and angry at Castle and the position he was putting her in - but Kenji set us both in our place. I appreciate that he would be that honest with her. I wish Castle was that open and honest, considering he's the leader of the compound. But I do think he should be more understanding of what Juliette has been through in her life.I devoured this book in a single sitting. It's not perfect; some world building aspects are under developed for the sake of the character development. But I'm okay with that when I think about it because the character development is so brilliantly done.There is one significant plot twist, and I can't help but wonder how it will effect the outcome of the third novel. I can't wait to find out!And let me tell you - Ms. Mafi knows how to write a steamy-as-hell love scene. That's all I have to say about that.
Ever After - Kim Harrison Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/2978 (2/6/13)The Hollows. Rachel Morgan. Al. Trent. Jenks. It was all here and wonderful in this next-to-last book in Kim Harrison's amazing series. The pacing of the writing is changing, now that the series is almost over. Time has passed, characters have grown and matured. Trent and Quen are fathers now. Rachel and Ivy's relationship has changed, yet remained doggedly the same.We all know that Rachel's middle name is Trouble. It finds her the way a dog finds bacon. And now that Rachel has finally gotten herself settled in the city and the world is content to let her live as she is - the demons threaten her existence. She definitely can't win for losing. But Rachel is loyal to her friends - regardless of race. And she will do whatever it takes to save the Ever After and her friends.I found myself wishing I had read Into the Woods before I read this. The time Trent and Jenks spent together taking Lucy from Ellasbeth (the story of which is told in that collection) was referenced several times, and I felt a little bit out of the loop - even though I wasn't actually missing any information relevant to the events of the current story.And Kim? You've got one book left to get Trent and Rachel together. Do it. You've been skirting this issue since Kisten - and he died in Book 5!Overall, this was my favorite book of the series so far. Each one just gets better. Kim Harrison is one of the few authors who can truly do character growth and development well - without retelling the same story over and over. If you love The Hollows and Rachel Morgan, you'll love this one - trust me!
Rot and Ruin - Jonathan Maberry Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/2984Thanks to Smash I have a new fondness for zombie books. My favorites will always be the Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant – but this one was also surprisingly good. When I think of “zombie” I always think of ick and gore and braiiiiiiiiiiiiins. Because you know – Hollywood. But Jonathan Maberry gives a whole new level to zombie lore.Plus – it’s not about the zombies. It’s about how society has rebuilt after the zombies rose. It’s about the choices that were made and are still being made.And I would love to see this book made into a movie. If Hollywood would promise not to screw it up (fat chance, right?).At first, Benny Imura irritated the snot out of me. He was an entitled little kid (at fifteen) who thought that he didn’t have to work to survive. He hated his brother and thought he knew everything he needed to know about the world.Kind of reminds me of me at that age.Finally, he realizes that he has no choice but to join his brother if he’s going to have a job (in this world, you have to have a job at 15 in order to eat). And his world suddenly turns upside down. Tom is one of the most famous zombie hunters in the world, but Benny can’t understand. As far as Benny is concerned, Tom is a coward. But as he goes outside of the fence into the Rot – where the zombies are – and begins to learn how the world really is, Benny begins to understand that things aren’t always as they seem.And that’s when the real action begins. Kidnapping. Murder. Forced child/zombie fights (for fun).Benny grows up fast.If you like zombie books, you’ll like this one. If you don’t – but you like action books – you’ll still like this one. It’s a good one, I promise.

Going Vintage

Going Vintage -

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I don’t read a lot of contemporary stuff, but when I do I’m often disappointed by flat characters. Mallory was not a flat character. When she discovered that her boyfriends was cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she decided to go extreme and give up all technology – as if she were living in the 60s. Now, I would never be able to do that. So kudos for her! And she wasn’t little miss perfect either. She lashed out at people, she got emotional, she messed up her goals, but she did try to be true to herself.


I loved that this book wasn’t completely predictable like most contemporary books are. Some things were, sure – but not everything. It was refreshing and sweet and everything I needed to read when I read it.


And Oliver was one of the sweetest book boyfriends I’ve read in quite awhile. That alone made this book worth it.

Source: http://www.mandikayereads.com/review-going-vintage-by-lindsey-leavitt

Terra (Terrestrials, No. 1)

Terra - Gretchen Powell

Let’s face it; self-published novels are hit or miss. And we all know they’re usually far more miss than hit. But Gretchen Powell has hit this one clear out of the park.


Terra is responsible for providing for her little brother and herself. In the world she lives in, there aren’t many options for a poor, orphaned grounddweller – but she found that she has a knack for scavenging – digging outside the gates of the district for bits of metal or plastic to turn in for currency. She ventures further outside of the gates than anyone else and finds an odd metal machine that nets her an obscene amount of credits – not life changing money but a solid amount that will last for months. Suddenly, her world is turned upside down. Her neighbors and acquaintances turn on her because she is no longer one of them. Her brother doesn’t understand why they can’t spend it all now. And Terra understands how quickly it can all turn around again. So she picks a day when no one else will be out and decides to go scav again – hoping to find more bits of machinery. Little does she know, she’s about to meet someone who will turn her life inside out. Adam saves her from Raiders – men who would kill you to take anything of value you might possess. Terra believes Adam is from one of the sky cities because of his blue eyes and fair skin. Adam has lost his own research team and goes with Terra back to her district hoping to find out what may have happened to them. And then… well THINGS HAPPEN. That blurb up there? It tells you nothing of these THINGS.


Some of the things (okay, only one) were predictable. I have to admit that – but honestly, it’s hard to write any YA dystopian novel that doesn’t have some element of predictability in it. I mean really – there’s nothing new under the sun. What bothered me was that while it was so predictable to me it was so very not predictable to Terra. But then – in her world, she hasn’t read hundreds of YA novels, so it’s probably unfair for me to expect her to know what I know. So I will give this one a pass.


One of my very favorite things about this novel was the way it was written. I was in the dark as much as Terra was about almost all of the THINGS. Except for that one really predictable thing. I found out what was going on with her government and everything right alongside her – and you know, with dystopian novels that is really hard to pull off. I mean sure – I knew that the government was going to be evil – they always are (and no – that’s not the predictable thing, that’s just a given). But I could feel things clicking into place in my head as they clicked into place in hers. I love it when that happens. I hate it when I can see the future in a book – it takes all of the fun out. Or, most of it, anyway.


The writing style of the book was simple and pure and elegant. That doesn’t surprise me, as I’ve been following Gretchen’s personal blog for quite some time. She’s always been someone who uses her writing to relate to people – no matter who is reading. And that writing is easy to see on every page.


Overall, I really loved this book. I hope Gretchen has already started the sequel – I really don’t want to wait an entire year for it to come out.

Source: http://www.mandikayereads.com/review-terra-by-gretchen-powell-terrestrials-1


BZRK - Michael Grant

As a huge fan of the Gone series, I was certain I’d love anything that came from the depths of Michael Grant’s imagination – and I was not disappointed.


There was a bit of a learning curve at the beginning of the novel, and I just had to hope that things would be explained later on but they were, of course. Things like the differences between nanobots and biots. Or which side was the good guys – I wasn’t sure about that for a good while there. Of course, I think that’s the sign of a good novel (though, if you’ve read the summary up there you know which side is which – I hadn’t read that previously. I’d only read the book flap, which is quite different).


The character development wasn’t as strong as I’d have liked it to be – which is why it doesn’t get the full five stars. I’m hoping that we get to dig a little deeper in the next one. This one was more about the nano technology than it was about the characters, which detracts a little from what they’re fighting for in the first place – humanity.


The other hang up I had in reading it was whether or not I agree with the idea that morality can be suspended if the end result is a win for the good guys. Both the good guys and the bad guys (who somehow believe they are the good guys) made several questionable choices that indicate that the end may justify the means. It makes you question what you know and believe and what you would do to fight for what you believe in. Would I make the same choices Vincent did with Anya? Would I be willing to use biot technology to rewire someone else’s brain – to take away his free will – even if I knew in my heart he was the bad guy? I don’t know. I honestly don’t.


It’s a fascinating question that Grant asks the reader. It’s been several weeks since I finished the book, and these are all things that I’m still thinking about. This book hasn’t left me yet. Grant has definitely left his mark with this one.

Source: http://www.mandikayereads.com/review-bzrk-by-michael-grant
Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Married: A Novel - Heather McElhatton Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/2612I have to admit – I wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t realize that there was a book before this one about Jennifer Johnson. But in all honesty – it didn’t matter!This book was hilarious! I mean really – how can you pass up a book where the main character goes for anal bleaching and ends up shouting, “Starfish is burning! Starfish is burning!”You can’t make this shit up.Jennifer Johnson is the kind of woman who wears pantyhose with duct tape on the crotch because she tried to dry them in her toaster oven.(visit http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/2612 to read the rest of the review!)
Not Famous Anymore - Michael Loyd Gray Reviewed at http://www.mandikayereads.com/archives/2608 This book is so far from my normal fare that I’m not even certain how to review it. I had a tough time getting into it. In fact, I tweeted something kind of negative about “the book I’m reading” because I am so unused to books of this genre.But I have to admit – by the end of it, Elliot Adrian had really grown on me. He’d grown as a man – as a character – over the course of the novel. If he weren’t already a grown man, I’d call it a coming-of-age tale. And I’m generally a sucker for those.If you want to read something real – something that can be a bit uncomfortable at times – then I would definitely suggest you pick up this book.