Ashes & Shadows…Ilsa J. Bick Rocks This Post!

So, you may remember when I read Ilsa J. Bick‘s Ashes.

It freaked me out & kept me up at night.

I LOVED IT!
ASHES-5 Creepy Blings!
It also ended in a OMG! WHAT THE WHAT! cliffhanger! I totally love/hated how Ilsa rocked those last two pages!

Finally, finally, finally, Shadows is here! And, let me tell you, it is Ashes on overdrive! Just as amazing, way more awesome, and (if this is even possible) totally more disgusting and extreme. It rocks!
Shadows gets 5 Creepy Blings, too!

I am the happiest girl ever today to be able to present you with a post written by the AWESOME Ilsa J. Blick herself! WOOT!

Overview of characters Part 1 – For Books and Bling – Mandee
Need a quick refresher, of who’s who before you read SHADOWS? Well, you won’t get much in SHADOWS, but if you DO need to a memory-jog, read on.
If you haven’t read ASHES, shame on you. But don’t despair, you’ve got time.
In any event, BEWARE: spoilers ahead. Really, if you’ve not read ASHES, don’t go any further. Not only will you ruin the perfectly good time you might have had—because no synopsis can do justice to a novel—you will miss a lot of vital information that I can’t include.
Just saying.

Alex Adair: living with her aunt in Illinois after her mom, an ER doc, and dad, a cop, died in a helicopter crash three years ago. Suckier still, Alex carries a monster in her head: an inoperable brain tumor that’s stolen her sense of smell and many of her memories, especially those of her parents. After two years of failed chemotherapy, radiation, and experimental regimens, Alex has decided to call the shots for a change. As the novel opens, Alex has run off on what might well be a one-way backpacking trek through the Waucamaw Wilderness in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She intends to honor her parents’ last wishes and scatter their ashes from Mirror Point on Lake Superior. As it happens, she’s also got her dad’s service Glock, just in case she opts out of a return. After the Zap, Alex gets her sense of smell back in spades: a super-sense that also allows her to intuit emotions and, on one occasion, get a glimmer of what’s going on inside the mind of a wolf. Which is pretty funky. Much more to the point and like the dogs, she is able to detect the bloated roadkill stink of the Changed. Oh, and all of a sudden, every dog is her new best friend.

Ellie Cranford: sullen, uncooperative, a trifle whiny, a kid Alex has to keep herself from slapping silly. What can you say? The kid’s eight. Her dad’s KIA in Iraq; her mother split years back; and Ellie’s now being cared for by her grandfather, Jack, who might have the patience of a saint, but cut the kid a break. She hates camping, and it’s not like she hasn’t got good reason to be a little pissy anyway. Initially rescued by Alex and then Tom, Ellie is kidnapped by some very nasty adults who see her as a meal ticket.
Mina: Ellie’s dog, a Belgian Malinois, and formerly her dad’s MWD (military working dog). Mina also has the patience of a saint and packs a mean bite. The nasty adults take her, too.

Tom Eden: a young soldier and explosive ordinance specialist on leave from Afghanistan; a competent guy who complements Alex in a lot of ways. After Alex fends off a pack of wild dogs, Tom saves both Ellie and Alex by shooting his buddy, Jim, who’s gone through a major lifestyle change. Steady and calm, someone to whom Alex is instantly attracted, Tom also has a few secrets of his own. The biggest is just why he’s in the Waucamaw to begin with. Once they leave the (relative) safety of the Waucamaw—we’re talking wild dogs, booby traps, and kids who’ve suddenly decided that people make excellent Happy Meals—Tom is shot while trying to prevent the nasty adults from stealing Ellie.

Check out Ashes, if you haven’t. Get your hands on Shadows right away! And, of course, give the brillantly ewie Ilsa J. Bick some major creep out love!

A HUGE Books and Bling thank you filled with love for Ilsa. For both writing this post and creeping me out in a way that just makes me want MORE!
You totally rock!

Ilsa J. Bick rocked these books!

5 Blings! for both Ashes & Shadows!

5 Blings! for Ilsa J. Bick!

Ilsa Bick…OMG! Cannot wait for Shadows!

Shadows: The sequel to Ashes

Ashes totally (TOTALLY) freaked me out! I mean, I had to stop reading it at night. It was awesome and scary and creepy…I loved it!

So, Shadows is coming out soon (9/25/12). I am lucky and I get to read it early (Yay!). I’m starting it tonight. YAY! I hope that it terrifies me and pulls me in like Ashes did. I’m betting it will!

Didn’t read Ashes? GO READ IT RIGHT NOW! For reals, it totally rocked my face off!!

Have you read Ashes? I’d love to know what you thought!

You’re Killing Me, Smalls! & 2 Thank Yous: AS King & my parents rock!

More Mandee Monday-You’re Killing Me,  Smalls!

So, a normal person would be excited when their favorite author announces a new book. A normal person would just pre-order it and wait excitedly. A normal person would check their blog from time to time and read updates and such.

There hasn’t been any normal in my life since,

well, never. 

I wanted to be a garbage man (yes, MAN) when I was 3. My mom let me get up early and watch the garbage men when they picked up our trash and I still remember peeking out the window and waving to them with a huge smile on my cute little face (I was pretty darn cute, I must say!) I was a puppy for several weeks (again, yes, WEEKS) when I was four. I barked, ate from a bowl, but thankfully used the potty like a person. (WHEW!). There was also a waitress phase. We turned the kitchen into The Hobit Hotel (my Mama started reading me Tolkien when I was 2). I took orders on my little notepad and brought out the food. It was hysterical. My dad, Popi, and I would then sit down and figure out the one thing that wasn’t on the table. We’d then wait until Mama sat down (finally) to eat to ask for it. She’d yell something about our legs being broken or how we’d be sorry when she was gone. Then she’d go get whatever we wanted and kiss us on the head.  I have at least a million more of these stories about my parents and how they totally rocked my little kid world and shaped me into someone who laughs and smiles and cares and really gives a darn about people.

Now back to my point: A normal person would be ecstatic at the news that their ultimate favorite author (YES, YOU, AS KING! YOU!!). And, don’t get me wrong, I totally am. But, I’m also a total brat-face and I can’t wait.

I. CANNOT. WAIT! 

There are so many awesome books out there that I am dying to read. There are new books, series finales (Lauren DeStefano’s SEVER immediately jumps to mind), and a my towering TBR piles.  I should really just hush and read and be happy. But, I can’t do that! I’m an only child. Waiting makes me go all Crazy Town Banana Pants! (Do you watch Community? If not, OMG-Go Freaking Watch It For Real Life!)

So, what’s my point here? Well, I have two. (possibly more, but I’m not a math person).

1. Thank you, AS King,  who I totally freaking love as an awesome author & totally fun person (BTW: not at all in a creepy stalker!) kind of way! You say what needs to be said. You are a survivor and I respect the hell out of you for your awesome stand against bullying. You shove it in the faces of people who need it shoved there (and other places I shall not name here). You find joy in things that matter. You just TOTALLY FREAKING ROCK! Mostly, though, You write these EPIC books that sink into my soul! They sit there and become part of me in a way that makes me stronger & better. You hit home with kids who don’t think anyone gets it. Then they read your books and feel like someone really does know what nobody else understands. Sometimes that is one of my students or a kid who I know really needs you. Sometimes it is someone in a book store or a library that I don’t know. Sometimes it is me. Really, your writing makes me hurl your books into people’s hands and scream, “READ THIS RIGHT NOW!!”  The Dust of 100 Dogs had me shoving the text in people’s hands! Please Ignore Vera Dietz shook my world. Everybody Sees the Ants, wow! Just wow!

I really super totally want to read Ask the Passengers immediately! I cannot wait for Reality Boy!

Simply put:

You’re Killing Me Smalls! 

2. Thank you, Mama & Popi! My parents are awesome. I’m lucky to have been raised by people who loved me & wanted me. I used to think Popi and I were kids together. I used to say, “Popi, remember when we were little and we . . .” My Mama says that we were loved more in one day than most people are loved in their whole lives. It’s true, too.  Maybe the dishes sat in the sink some nights, maybe we didn’t have a whole bunch of money. Who cares! I sure didn’t. They made me KNOW that I could do anything I wanted to do. They showed me what the real deal was, but made it fun, too! They read to me, let me be what & who I needed to be, picked up the shredded bits of my heart a zillion times when things totally sucked,&  they made me proud to be their kid! My Mama showed me what real love means when we cared for Popi as we slowly watched cancer take over his life. We were able to laugh then, too, in between times of nightmares and oceans of loss. They made me realize what I’m worth and taught me what marriage really means. Schmoopy and I can proudly base our marriage on those of our parents. My model for love is the truest example. There aren’t really words in English or any other language to explain these two amazing people.

 These two amazing people raised me with so much love & laughter & hope & peace.
I’m the luckiest kid ever!  

I do realize that to many this post seems to be about two totally different things. But it isn’t. The way I was raised and they way that AS King writes really do belong together. And I don’t really need for anyone but me to get that.

5 Blings! for Megan McCafferty’s THUMPED!

I loved Thumped! 

 

 

 

 

5 Blings for Thumped!                    
Here’s what Schmoopy and I were reading on our flight to Chicago. We both finished on our books during the  flight home! Since I got this His & Hers idea after takeoff, he really couldn’t refuse my request *evil grin*

I was totally reluctant to read Thumped! I didn’t like Bumped, not one bit. I even threw it across the room when I finished the last page (yes, I put myself in time-out after that).

After reading Thumped, I see that I just didn’t get Bumped. I read it at a point of my life that wasn’t the best time to read a book about kids and babies and infertility and all that. I get that now. Let’s just call it bad timing on my part.

This week I read Thumped and really appreciated it. I laughed and cried in all the right places. I got the clever use of language and appreciated how Megan McCafferty created this super believable, yet terrifyingly realistic, world in the not too distant future where all of this could totally happen. I loved all the language and creative names of everything. So clever! She also expertly crafted a fun read that calls attention to serious issues. That is no easy task. I won’t get political or talk religion, but I do appreciate her attention to both and the way Bumped & Thumped will get some people thinking about things in a way they may not have before. To accomplish that in a way that is both nonthreatening & entertaining is super impressive! I also loved the familiar references to Princeton, NJ (very close to where I grew up). So fun!

I don’t think I need to re-read Bumped, but I do have a new appreciation and respect for both books now!
I give them both 5 Blings!

Get Bumped & Thumped for yourself at your local library, your favorite independent bookstore, or online by clicking the pictures below:

Cannot wait for Insurgent by the AMAZINGLY AWESOME @VeronicaRoth

May can’t come soon enough!

I just can’t wait to get my Bling on Insurgent!

I love, love, loved Veronica Roth’s Divergent. It was one of my favorite reads last year. Now the countdown is on for Insurgent. Some bloggers even have ARCs already. I’m a little jealous, I must admit. But, I do love that it isn’t that far away now!

Are there books that you just can’t wait to read? What are they?

Veronica Roth has a super cool countdown clock on her site: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/
If I could figure out how to get it to show up here, I totally would do that! So, be a dear and click over there, then come back here and imagine that super cool countdown widget surrounded by Bling. Thanks!

Oh wait, I think I did it! OMG! Go me!! WOOT!


1Q84-Really Awesome! Really Long!

1Q84

I’ve been wanted to read 1Q84 for a while, but there are so many awesome books out there that I couldn’t commit to such a long read (it is actually 3 books in one).

I put my name on the waiting list for the audio books at the library and just figured I’d see how I felt when my turn came around. I picked up the giant double pack of discs, 38 in all, on the same day that I finished listening to Fahrenheit 451. I figured I’d give it a try and just return it if it wasn’t for me. Especailly after such an awesome audio (I actually missed my turn last week because I was so into Fahrenheit 451 & I’m still getting teased about it!).

It didn’t even take a full disc to hook me! This book is amazing!  I love it so much. And I’m already on the 4th cd.The story is so intriguing. Here’s what GoodReads has to say about it:

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. 

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

Have you read 1Q84? If so, what did you think? If not, do you think you might give it a try?

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

5 Blings for One Second After!

Goodreads Says: New York Times best selling author William R. Forstchen now brings us a story which can be all too terrifyingly real…a story in which one man struggles to save his family and his small North Carolina town after America loses a war, in one second, a war that will send America back to the Dark Ages…A war based upon a weapon, an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP).  A weapon that may already be in the hands of our enemies. Months before publication, One Second After has already been cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read, a book already being discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a truly realistic look at a weapon and its awesome power to destroy the entire United States, literally within one second. It is a weapon that the Wall Street Journal warns could shatter America. In the tradition of On the BeachFail Safe and Testament, this book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future…and our end.

Wow! No, really…WOW!

One Second After was awesome!

I am quite addicted to dystopia and apocalypse reads lately. There are just so many awesome titles! And, quite frankly, I was getting a vampired out! (OMG, but I still love them…just need a break! I’ll never have a crush on a zombie, I swear!). I love disaster movies like Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow. So, when I read about the book on Parajunkee’s awesome blog, Parajunkee’s View, and just had to read it. Click here for her review! 

One Second After is (gasp) not YA. It is a real grow-up book. But, it was still awesome! The book focuses on a family in a small town & their struggles after an EMP (electromagnetic pulse–super scary stuff) blanks out all electronics. Image it…everything with a computerized or electrical component instantly gone! Freaky stuff! Freaky FOR REAL LIFE stuff!

This book was awesome. I loved the characters, even the ones I didn’t like, and I got pretty attached to their stories. I could easily imagine myself being forced to rethink how to live without all of my gadgets and luxuries that I generally take for granted (especially my iPhone & iPad, hot showers, and-OMG-my Keurig!). My head was spinning throughout the book as new problems arose…like lack of critical medication for diabetics and those with mental illnesses. When things get bad, they really get bad.

I loved how Forstchen brought me in to the lives of those in his small mountain college town, made me experience all of their fears, losses, and small triumphs. It was tense at times…really tense. There were heart wrenching decisions that had to be made, lives that were lost, and total shockers that really made my mouth drop open.  A few times I felt like I knew something awful would happen, and I would silently beg to be wrong.  That wasn’t always the case in One Second After! Forstchen did what needed to be done for the sake of the story, even when the outcome was dire or severe. That’s dedication!

The threat of an EMP attack is real. The world post EMP created by Forstchen is entirely possible. I sure as heck hope it never comes to that!

Read One Second After!  It is an awesome, terrifying, & realistic look at a future I  never want to see! 

Ordered Cinder by Marissa Meyer! Thank you @Parajunkee!

Today I am IMPATIENT!

I can’t wait to read Melissa Meyer’s Cinder.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’ve been on the waiting list at the public library for a while. I’m trying to be patient!

Alas, Patience and Mandee just don’t mix!

Today I read the super awesome review by  Parajunkee’s (read it here) and decided that I just cannot wait another second (well, maybe a day or two until the box arrives!).

Also, if you aren’t reading Parajunkee’s blog…well, start right now-I’ll wait!

You can read the first 5 chapters here free  (but don’t do it if you have no patience!)

So excited for some awesome Cinder Bling!

Maybe we will just file this under Don’t Tell Schmoopy! 

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Loving this creepy book by Ilsa J. Bick!
I keep yelling EWWWW! Gross! while I’m reading!

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In other news, I love exclamation points!! 2012…the year of !!

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012 @BaffledBooks – Count me in!

Lisa at Baffled Books is hosting the Speculative Fiction Challenge for 2012.

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012

I read a lot of Dystopian, Sci-Fi, & Fantasy. So, I figured I’d just go for it!

This year I decided to set a yearly goal to read 100 books + the year.

So, in 2011 I read 111 books.

In 2012, my goal will be 112 books.

With this in mind, I am going to pledge to read at the Nirvana Level of the Speculative Fiction Challenge. This is 24 novels. I have a feeling that I will probably end up in the Obsessed range (48 Speculative Fiction novels).

Why don’t you join me?!

Check out the Speculative Fiction Challenge at Baffled Books!