Audiobook Junkie, Sporadic book blogger, occasional master chef, soccer mom, wearer of pajamas, teller of tales, cool aunt, beloved wife, and loyal friend.
From the gorgeous cover to the original premise, Alienated was Extraterrestrial Extracurricular entertainment. When Cara Sweeny agreed to host cosmic hottie Aelyx from the planet L'eihr as an exchange student, she wasn't prepared for how much opposition she would encounter from everyone, even those friends closest to her. It seems most people have no interest in interplanetary relations. For his part, Aelyx is there only grudgingly and with an agenda of his own. An agenda that has nothing to do with making nice with humans who he views as inferior to his people in every way. That is, until Cara starts thawing his cold unemotional nature and he begins to see that maybe all human customs aren't useless after all.
This was a quick fun read. The main characters were lively and likable and I thoroughly enjoyed the witty banter between Cara and Aelyx. I had a few issues with Cara's shady friend; I didn't think that the kind of disloyalty she showed should have ever been forgiven or excused. It took a little away from the story for me which is why I rated this a 4 instead of a 5. Otherwise, I enjoyed the dialog and the way the characters interacted and played off one another. Aelyx was so very socially awkward and would say such offensive things without considering how it may sound to those hearing him, and Cara's exasperation with this particular personality quirk of his, had me laughing out loud several times. I wish Alienated would have taken us readers to experience life on L'eihr alongside Cara who I'm sure would experience plenty of her own social faux pas in a society so different from our own. I hope that this idea is explored in future books in this series.
I absolutely plan to continue this series, this is exactly the kind of brain candy read that I love relaxing with. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a lighthearted romantic read and doesn't need a lot of "sci" in their sci-fi.
Audiobooks have been my preferred reading format for about 5 years now, and I probably listen to at least 30 audiobooks a year, but it is rare that I come across an audio so beautifully narrated and a story so deeply stirring that it leaves me feeling like anything I can say about it will be inadequate.
The Invention of Wings was a powerful story of a turbulent time in history and that was conveyed in the brilliant narration by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye. The story alternates points of view from Sarah Grimke and a slave on her parents' plantation named Handful. Lamia and Oduye brought the story, the people, and the places to vivid life. I was so immersed in their narration that I felt like I was sitting on the porch of the South Carolina plantation house sipping sweet tea and hoping for a breeze while watching all of this play out.
I didn't know before reading that The Invention of Wings was based on the true story of Sarah Grimke and her sister. Beginning from Grimke's early childhood, Wings shows how she struggled to come to terms with a system that she couldn't accept and to somehow find her own place in the world, going against all convention and expectations for women in the deep south. Handful's story was a glimpse of what life was like for a slave, her hopes, dreams, and many hardships. Her story was poignant yet full of life and perseverance.
The main characters' POV were engrossing but the secondary characters were also complex and compelling. In particular, Sarah's mother fascinated me. It seemed she also struggled with her rigid belief in their way of life and her love for her family as well as what seemed like a bit of jealousy over Sarah's intelligence and courage.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. If you decide to read this, get the audio. Not only is it one of the best audio narrations I've listened to, but I've seen quite a few complaints about the print and ebook version being difficult to read because of notes by Oprah.
I love post apocalyptic and zombie books because I enjoy reading about how people can adapt and survive even the most unthinkable circumstances. In the After was a little post-apocalyptic thriller, a little zombie-ish, a little sci-fi alien invasion and a little bit dystopian. So many of the elements I enjoy wrapped up in one book, it's easy to see why I was so excited to read this and maybe why I had such high expectations for it.
I absolutely enjoyed the beginning of the book. The world building in the opening scenes painted a vivid picture of how quickly the world became a terrifying and dangerous place inhabited by creatures drawn to light and sound. I was fascinated by the way Amy and Baby had created a non-verbal way of communicating that was based on sign language but was adapted to work in their specific circumstances. I thought that the author did a great job creating a feeling of resignation and hopelessness in the characters but still that spirit to survive and persevere.
Where In the After fell short for me was in the second half, after Amy & Baby's "rescue". I spent most of the book feeling alternately confused and annoyed with the direction that the story seemed to be taking. The dystopic society that was created didn't seem entirely plausible and just felt loosely constructed. The interactions between the characters felt awkward and artificial, the romance wasn't believable, and most of the relationships felt forced. This was a bit of a disappointment since I had so enjoyed the world building in the beginning.
Ultimately, In the After was an okay read. I don't know if I will continue with the series since I didn't really like the direction the story went. However, I would still recommend it to fans of zombie, post apoc, sci fi, and dystopic themed books.
So it seems that this year I am being dragged kicking and screaming onto the sci-fi bandwagon. But then, if this is what I can expect from YA sci-fi, I guess I won't put up too much of a fight. From the lovely cover to the skillful world building, These Broken Stars hit the mark for me.
The audio narration by Cynthia Holloway, Johnathan McClain, and Sarge Anton was masterfully done, pulling the reader into the story and bringing that world to life around them. I'm sure their job as narrators was made much easier by the lovely and expressive writing. I am surprised that this was a debut for this author. This is one of my favorite audio narrations of 2013 and I was thrilled to end the year with such a brilliant audiobook.
Sci-fi is not usually a genre that I gravitate to, so I was surprised that I was so quickly wrapped up in this story. I think that says a lot about the character building as well as the slow building relationship between the two main characters which kept me engaged. Although most of the story was a LOTR-esque trek through a deserted Middle Earth, I never lost interest or was bored by the journey. I remained invested in these characters and what their eventual fate would be.
I’ve seen this book described as being similar to Titanic, and I can definitely see where the two characters had a bit of a Jack & Rose feel and similarities in their backgrounds, but I think that These Broken Stars is more than just a reimagining of Titanic. Their struggle to survive and persevere against what seemed like impossible also drove the story. I don’t feel that the plot relied solely on the romance to move it forward. It was certainly not a fast paced read, but I enjoyed the slow and steady pacing.
I will say that some specific plot twists seemed a little farfetched and the ending left me with more questions than answers, but these things did not affect my overall enjoyment of the book. I'm hoping that many of my questions will be answered in the upcoming books in this series. This definitely deserves a spot on my "Best of 2013" list! I would highly recommend the audio format to anyone considering reading These Broken Stars.
Rating - 4.5 of 5
This year I’m joining The Book Nympho and Hot Listens’ Audiobook Challenge at the My Precious level which is 30+ audiobooks. My personal goal for 2014 is a total of 101 books read with at least 50 being audiobooks, so this challenge should definitely help keep me motivated to reach my personal reading goal! I’m looking forward to getting started on several audiobooks that I already have. These are some of the ones I plan to start with:
Have you read any of these in ebook or audio? Let me know what you thought of them! Will you be participating in this challenge? Which audiobooks are you listening to this year?
These are some of my 12 year old son's favorite reads. With Christmas coming up, I'm hoping to add some more amazing middle grade books to his bookshelf. Are there any new Middle Grade books that you have read, loved, and would recommend? I also have a 13 year old niece who probably reads more than I do so I'm looking for ideas for her as well!
Seeds of Discovery (Dusk Gate Chronicles - Book One) FREE for Kindle!
Fangirl $1.40 for Kindle
Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy) $1.40 for Kindle
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Apparently decaying, brain devouring zombies are not terrifying enough for Mira Grant, she has to add parasitic worms to the mix.
In a future imagined by Mira Grant, we have obviously become much more open-minded because people agree to ingest genetically altered parasitic worms into our system to guard us against common diseases. Unfortunately, the big money drug corporations are no more forthcoming with the truth about the dangers these parasites pose than they are in today's world.
When the main character, Sally Mitchell, awakens from a coma in which she had been declared brain dead with no memories of her previous life, her miracle recovery is attributed to the healing properties of this parasite. Sally struggles with learning to function in society again, from finding her place within her family to understanding commonly used slang. She also has to accept, albeit grudgingly, being a lab rat for Symbogen, the company responsible for her miracle worm, since they are footing the bill for all of her ongoing medical care.
When people suddenly begin showing strange symptoms of blank expressions, no nerve response, a kind of "sleepwalking" state, the scientists race to figure out what is going on and how to cover it up. But when it become too big a pandemic to hide and these "sleepwalkers" become less quiescent, blame needs to fall somewhere. Sally finds herself right in the thick of all the turmoil and not at all sure of who she should trust or if she should trust anyone at all.
Parasite is a twisted medical/sci-fi thriller where the suspense slowly builds as more and more of the story unfolds. The tale is primarily told from Sally's perspective so the reader learns things as she does, and since Sally has some issues with analyzing social signals and reading between the lines due to her medical issues, she is sometimes a bit slow on making connections. This sometimes becomes a bit frustrating for the reader because things that may seem obvious, seems to go right over her head.
Each chapter begins with excerpts from the biographies from the three scientists that created this parasite which gives some background on how this situation came to be. This helps a bit with the world building and gives some explanation as to how science convinced so many people to so enthusiastically ingest worms. I personally still found it to be too farfetched because even if a parasitic worm ate only fat cells and expelled cash, I still wouldn't so much as touch it, let alone swallow it!
However farfetched, I still found Parasite to be satisfyingly creepy and several scenes made me physically cringe. The writing is detailed yet engaging. The characters are fully realized and each have their own agendas which become apparent as the story progresses. While the "big reveal" was something I saw coming from almost the beginning, the sub-plots within Parasite are enough to keep me invested in this series.
The only real problem I had with this book, other than the idea of ingesting worms, is that it ended unexpectedly and abruptly. It wasn't so much a cliffhanger as it felt like someone just took the book away in the middle of a chapter. I am NOT a fan of endings without resolution.
However, it's Mira Grant, so I will trust that all will be redeemed in the second book.I would absolutely recommend Parasite to anyone who read and enjoyed Mira Grant's Newsflesh series and fans of medical and/or sci-fi thrillers. This isn't exactly a zombie book but it does have the potential to go in that direction so fans of zombies or horror may want to read this as well
I can’t even tell you how thrilled I am to be part of Xpresso's blog tour for Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies, Untold Tales. I absolutely love these books so to have the author of one of my favorite zombie series write a guest post for The Happy Booker the week before Halloween has me over the top excited. If you are already familiar with this series, you’ll know that Frater wrote one of the most horrific scenes in the history of zombiedom at the beginning of The First Days. More of the same imagery and twisted zombie mayhem continues in the Untold Tales. She’s written a guest post about why she writes zombies instead of bright, happy stories. Enjoy!
Disturbing, yet funny, right?
Also, it’s a great opener on a guest post about why I write horror and not nice sparkly pretty stories. For most of my life I have been asked one particular question by friends, family, and complete strangers.
“Why can’t you write something nice?”
The answer is fairly simple.
The imagination dial in my brain is broken and stuck on HORROR.
When I tell this to people, they don’t often believe me. Looking a bit concerned for my mental well-being and maybe my very soul, they usually ask something along the lines of:
“Why don’t you write a nice love story?”
“With monsters?” I ask hopefully.
“Well, with vampires. They’re romantic.”
Instantly, I’m thinking of blood-drenched scenes and brutal fangs.
“Or werewolves. Werewolves are sexy,” is the next suggestion.
My brain instantly conjures up a fearsome man-wolf ripping off the head of some poor victim.
“Nope, not happening,” I say sadly.
“How about just regular humans?” the questioner asks, taking a fearful step backward.
“Is one of them a serial killer?” I ask, eyes lighting up.
I just can’t get away from the horror element. My brain goes to dark scary places. I long ago realized I experienced life in a very different way from most people. My imagination was always ON and story scenarios were always catching my attention. To make matters even weirder, most of those stories were on the scary end of the scale.
Walking down a long, seemingly never-ending hallway in the Denver airport just a few weeks ago, I started thinking about zombies and how much it would suck to run down the corridor I was trudging through to escape.
A few hours later stepping into an elevator with two sets of doors that opened either on one side or the other depending on the floor, I thought how much it would suck if the wrong set opened and you found yourself on a mysterious hidden floor filled with monstrous creatures.
The reality of the situation is that my muse has fangs. I’ve accepted that and I enjoy the stories I write. Certain members of my family and society may always regard me with great suspicion because of this fact, but at least I’ll be ready when the zombie fairies ride into town on undead, fire-breathing unicorns.
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, including the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor) , as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog),and other horror novels. Her next novel for Tor, Dead Spots, will be published in 2014. She was born and raised a Texan and presently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dying her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes.
You can find her online at:
Website: rhiannonfrater.com & astheworlddies.com
Email: rhiannonfrater at gmail.com
Of course, all 3 volumes of Untold Tales were incredible! Each volume brings the reader right back into the devastated world created in As the World Dies. These tales not only shed light on some of the past and personalities of some of the characters we’ve gotten to know throughout this series, but are also brief snapshots of a world in complete chaos. The imagery created in Frater’s writing never fails to put a clear picture (often disturbing) in my mind of what the world looks like as well as the emotion of the character. Each short story is given just as much attention, detail, and priority as every one of her full length novels.
I can’t recommend these and the entire series enough for fans of this genre. I mean this is the epitome of zombie fiction, it simply doesn’t get much better than this. From terrifying and bloody scenes of zombie carnage, to inspiring stories of survival against all odds, to heartbreaking scenes of love and sacrifice, this series has it all and more. I can’t think of anything more I could ask from this series but then she goes beyond even that and adds these Untold Tales that answer questions I never even thought to ask and provides even more insight into this world and the people in it. I’m telling you, if you like being scared, this is an author you don’t want to miss.
The Untold Tales Volume 1 will give you an idea of what to expect if you haven’t already read The First Days, but I suggest that you read the rest of the series before reading Volumes 2 and 3 so that you understand certain references and are not spoiled on anything.
Steelheart introduces the reader to a world torn apart by Epics, people who have somehow acquired super human powers. While each of the Epics' powers are different, one thing they share is their vicious and power hungry nature. The focus is on a city called Newcago, a city turned completely to steel by it's new ruler, Steelheart. Each of the Epics have very specific powers, each power having it's own weakness although some weaknesses are not readily apparent. Steelheart seems to be utterly invincible, but David, the boy whose father he killed, has seen him bleed, he knows where that scar on his cheek came from. David is determined to expose that weakness and avenge his father's brutal murder. To this end, he sets out to join forces with the Reckoners, a team of vigilantes who are the only ones fighting back against the Epics. David plans to use all of the extensive research he has done on the Epics surrounding Steelheart, and the information he alone knows about Steelheart himself, to end his violent reign. But he needs the help of the Reckoners to put this plan into action.
Brandon Sanderson can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. Ever since first reading his Mistborn series, I've been a fan of his writing. His intricate world building is among the best I've ever read. So when I found out that Steelheart would be available as an audiobook, I knew I had to have it before even knowing what it was about. I certainly was not disappointed. The detailed world building that I've come to expect from Sanderson was evident in this book as well as strong character development and brilliant dialog that made it easy for me to immerse myself in this story.
While Steelheart contained a ton of action and a fair amount of violence, it also had a lot of heart. Each character had a compelling back story, distinctive personality quirks, and their interaction with one another kept the story moving. I felt for David and his rage over the death of his father as well as his frustration at how almost everyone simply let the Epics do what they wanted without a fight.
Macleod Andrews did a fantastic job narrating this thrilling story. He brought an emotional depth to each of the characters, never once letting the characters blend into one another and without sounding over the top or affected. Each person was completely recognizable by tone, accent, and delivery. His performance in this narration was absolutely impeccable and added even more spirit to an already incredible story.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Steelheart, it is so far removed from what I normally read. However, being that it was written by Sanderson, I guess I can't be too surprised. I would highly recommend this audio experience to anyone who enjoys a well written story, exceptional world building, and authentic characters wrapped up in non-stop action with some completely unexpected twists and turns and an ending that you may not see coming. In other words, you should immediately grab this book because it is one of the best things I've read this year!
5 of 5 Stars
Title: Reality Boy
Author: A.S. King
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Free Preview of the first 14 Chapters: Amazon
Genre: YA | Fiction | Contemporary
My Rating: 4.5
Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life.
Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.
In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.
Sixteen year old Gerald Faust has grown up with the social stigma of having been featured on a reality TV show when he was a 5 year old child. Network Nanny, a show similar to Supernanny, swooped in to try to “fix” the problem children but failed to address the real problems, a violent psychotic sister and an emotionally detached mother leaving a very resentful 5 year old who acted out in the only way he knew how. His outrageous behavior made him somewhat of a local celebrity, although Gerald didn’t see this as something to have been proud of. The combination of his embarrassment about those things shown on Network Nanny and his anger, hurt, and resentment about what he has to deal with in his crazy dysfunctional home has made Gerald an extremely volatile kid. The coping skills he has acquired, some on his own and some through his Anger Management sessions, keeps his violent outbursts in check but also makes him very socially awkward.
The first thing I have to praise about Reality Boy was the authenticity of the characters. The author goes to some dark places and pokes and prods so that the reader can understand the feeling and motivation behind each of her characters actions. I felt for Gerald and spent most of the book furious with his negligent parents, reality TV, and a world where things like this go unnoticed or unremarked upon. Gerald’s inner dialog, while sometimes extremely odd, allowed me to connect with him and understand his inner turmoil, his self-doubt, and his rage.
The romance was understated and thankfully not the focal point of the book. It felt genuine and I enjoyed Hannah almost as much as I liked Gerald. Hannah had her own emotional baggage which seemed to sometimes clash with Gerald’s and at other times, be a perfect fit. I loved how quirky they both were and how these quirks seemed to forge a bond between them. It was very nicely done.
There isn’t much negative to say about Reality Boy. I enjoyed reading this much more than I was expecting to having never read anything by this author previously. The only flaws I can think of may be that some parts tended to be a bit repetitive and the story maybe lagged a bit here and there. However, these issues are minor compared to how fascinating and original I found this story to be. I was completely drawn in and invested in Gerald’s story.
I would absolutely recommend Reality Boy to fans of contemporary YA. This book has heart, spirit, and originality. I look forward to reading more of this author’s books!
About A.S. King:
A.S. King is the author of the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner, Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, a 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and Andre Norton Award nominee, and the Edgar Award nominated, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
She is also the author of the ALA Best Books for Young Adults Dust of 100 Dogs, an adult short story collection, Monica Never Shuts Up, and the upcoming REALITY BOY (2013). After a decade living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children.
For more author information, fun facts, book report fodder, go to The OFFICIAL A.S. KING AUTHOR PAGE.
October 14th – October 18
October 14th – Donna at A Happy Booker – Review
October 14th – Victoria at Lady Reader's Bookstuff – Guest Review
October 15th – Kait at Reading Vixens – Review
October 15th – Mindy at Books Complete Me – Review
October 16th – Taneesha at Kaidan's Seduction – Review
October 16th – Kriss at Cabin Goddess – Review
October 16th – Leanne at Leanne's Reviews – Spotlight & Excerpt
October 17th – Pam at Unconventional Librarian – Review
October 17th – Mandy at IReadIndie – Top Ten List
October 18th – Alethea atRead Now Sleep Later – Review
October 18th – Wanda at Good Choice Reading – Review
October 18th – Mandee at Books and Bling – Review
November 11th – Evie at Bookish– Review