12 Best Books of 2012

So the 2012 reading year was interesting because I think this is the most I’ve explored different genres. I blame my book club for this, especially with our monthly discussions and their book recommendations. As a result, I didn’t reach the 150-ish book goal. However, I did enjoy exploring these other books that I wouldn’t normally read, so it’s still a pretty good year reading year.

I’ll talk about my reading stats more on another post. First, let’s get the best list out. 12 Best Books for 2012. Let’s get at it, shall we?

  1. Angelfall by Susan Ee. Gruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun. I read this book because of all the good reviews I read from my Goodreads friends, and I devoured it in several days. I loved Penryn the kick-ass heroine and the equally bad-ass angels who caused the apocalypse. When is the sequel coming out again? Please make it soon?
    Angelfall by Susan Ee Continue Reading →

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test by Courtney SummersThis is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of pages: 323
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley, much thanks to Loren Jaggers of St. Martin’s Press and Lindsey Rudnickas from NetGalley for all the help :)

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

* * *

When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, when I found out about it, I have only read one Courtney Summers novel (Some Girls Are), but I really liked it and I was looking forward to reading her other books. Then the new one was about zombies? And it had that awesome, awesome cover? Where can I get this?!

I had to go through a lot of lengths to get a galley of this book, and I would like to thank all those who helped me get this from the bottom of my zombie loving heart. :) I feel a bit ashamed that it took me so long to read and review this…but better late than never? ^^

So the world is ending, but Sloane Price doesn’t care because as far as she knows, the world has ended ever since her sister left her alone with their abusive father. She just really wants to die, and the apocalypse seemed just timely, until she was saved by several kids she knew from school. Now she is in the school with them, helping seal exits half-heartedly, listening to the incessant pounding of the undead outside who wants to eat their flesh. What follows is a story of human will, of what people will do when the odds are stacked against them, and just how far one would go to survive…or die.

INTENSE. I described Some Girls Are as intense, but it had nothing to the intensity of this book. This is Not a Test is an exhausting book. It has so much character conflict (internal and external), and it’s not just because of the zombies. In fact, most of the zombie action didn’t happen until in the latter parts of the book, and that’s an entirely different kind of intensity. The rest of the book is all about human struggle and the will to survive even if it seems all better to just give up and do nothing.

I can’t say I liked many of the characters, especially Sloane because she’s different from all the zombie novel heroines I’ve read. Most of them have the determined will to live, not a will to die. I wanted Sloane to snap out of it, to pick herself up and be thankful that she’s still alive and has a good chance of survival. She frustrated me, and the other people she was with kind of frustrated me too, because I wasn’t sure what their real motives were. Well fine, they wanted to live, but I guess the entire situation of the apocalypse in the book has also caused me to not just trust anyone. I swung between liking some characters moderately to not liking them at all, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good characters. They’re just…well, not so much likeable. Perhaps it is hard to like some people in a genuine way when zombies are out to get you outside and you’re worried if you’re going to live another day.

On another note, I think the book has an excellent pacing, and the days they spent inside the school blended into one another quite well that I felt I was with them as well and I didn’t know how long it has been when they were inside. There were times when some of the action lagged, and but it quickly picked up with heavy, spine-chilling scenes that really snapped me out of my sleepiness when I was reading this before bed. The last few scenes were creepily scary and quite sad, but it was the kind of zombie action that I was looking for! In the end, I was just really…exhausted, but in a good and satisfying way.

So this pretty much seals my love for Courtney Summers. I am looking forward to getting Fall for Anything to finally read all that she wrote, and I am definitely, definitely going to get everything else she writes from now on. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Good Books and Good Wine


Blackout by Mira Grant

Blackout by Mira Grant
Newsflesh # 3
Publisher: Orbit
Number of pages: 659
My copy: paperback, ordered from Book Depository

Rise up while you can. – Georgia Mason

The year was 2014. The year we cured cancer. The year we cured the common cold. And the year the dead started to walk. The year of the Rising.

The year was 2039. The world didn’t end when the zombies came, it just got worse. Georgia and Shaun Mason set out on the biggest story of their generation. The uncovered the biggest conspiracy since the Rising and realized that to tell the truth, sacrifices have to be made.

Now, the year is 2041, and the investigation that began with the election of President Ryman is much bigger than anyone had assumed. With too much left to do and not much time left to do it in, the surviving staff of After the End Times must face mad scientists, zombie bears, rogue government agencies-and if there’s one thing they know is true in post-zombie America, it’s this:

Things can always get worse.

* * *

Warning: This may not end up as a review, but a very fan-girly love letter to the trilogy. Also, spoiler free.

So normally I would have written a review for this book as soon as I finished it, but with my record of reviewing books lately, I took my time. In all honesty, I can’t remember parts of the book anymore, but I remember that sad feeling I got when I finally arrived at the end of this amazing trilogy.

So three years ago, I stumbled upon Feed by accident, and I only really wanted the book because I judged it from its cover the moment I saw it. Little did I know that this would spark a love affair between me and the After the End times staff, with Georgia and Shaun Mason and Buffy and Mahir and Becks and Maggie and Alaric and everyone who’s ever been a part of this series. Yes, that includes other fans who I have met and virtually squealed with and liked reading updates and shared speculations with over and over again.

Let me back up a little: for the uninitiated, Blackoutis the third book in the Newsflesh trilogy, where we readers follow the After the End times staff with uncovering a humongous conspiracy that could very well mean the death of human civilization as they know it. With zombies around, it’s easy to imagine how it could end, especially with how Deadline ended. But of course, there’s more going on without the team’s knowledge and when these things finally collided, well…it was pretty explosive. Blackout is one of my most awaited books this year, and I waited a little bit before I actually read it because I just didn’t want it to end yet.

Granted, Blackoutis probably the weakest among the three books. But by weak, I don’t mean that it sucked — it was just not as engaging as Feed or as mind-blowing as Deadline was, but there were still so many feelings that came and went at the reading of this book. But here’s the thing: I love the characters and the series so much already that I can’t not love this book. I can’t not love its finale, for all its faults and awesome things, for all the emotions and fist shaking it brought. I felt like I’ve invested so much in this series that I can’t not love even this book.

Oh and maybe the zombie bears had something to do with it! :)

I have fangirled in this review so I’m afraid this review of this particular book may not be as helpful as the others, but if you feel like picking up the series, then consider this review as my own version of pushing it to you. I am very, very happy that I stumbled upon Feed years ago, because somehow it made me feel like I’m a part of this series ever since its first release. I’m not an expert on the genre, but this is definitely one of the best zombie books I’ve read in a while. It is with a sad heart that I said goodbye to all these characters, and I will miss them all terribly…but I’m pretty happy with how this ended.

We started as a news site. Somewhere along the line, we became a family.


Rise up while you can.

Rating: [rating=5]

Required Reading: July

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
The Midnight Garden
reading is the ultimate aphrodisiac

Required Reading: July

Hello, July! Hello second half of the year! :)

I owe several reviews on this blog but I’m sort of pressed for time with work and other things recently, so reviewing has kind of taken a back seat. I figure a post should suffice now so you know I’m still alive, and I’m not off doing some funeral planning checklist or you know, not reading. I am, I’m just terribly slow! But right now I just happened to be caught in the rain and waiting for it to stop so I can go to work, so I had the time to squeeze in a quick blog entry. Then I remembered that I haven’t made a Required Reading post yet and it’s already the 3rd day of the new month. So here we go!

From the quite dismal reading month that is May, I had a pretty good reading month for June! And I’m particularly proud of this June accomplishment because the two books from my list aren’t exactly the easiest books to read. So yay, recap!

  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (4/5)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (5/5)
  • The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway (3/5)

Plus, I managed to quit being lazy and interviewed Maria for my What I Read post. So even if I didn’t really have an active reviewing month, I think had a pretty good reading and blogging month. :)

Required Reading: July

Continue Reading →

The Reapers are the Angels

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden BellThe Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell
Publisher: Holt
Number of pages: 225
My copy: paperback, ordered from Book Depository

Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself and keeping her demons inside her heart. She can’t remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.

* * *

I’ve been wanting to get The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell during the time I was so crazy for zombies in fiction, and that’s one of the reasons why I got this from Book Depository in the first place. I wanted to add every single book that had zombies in it, until it became a little bit too mainstream for my taste. That’s probably why I made this book languish in my TBR for a while, almost forgetting that I had this book with me until lately. Because you know, sometimes you have to dig through your TBR just to get some books out and get that number down.

The Reapers are the Angels introduces a world that is full of zombies, the kind that steel garages don’t really stop. There’s nothing really new about that, but then here comes Temple, a fifteen year old girl who’s turned herself into a vagabond after something happened in her past. She runs into a small community of survivors who take her in, but when she accidentally kills a man who tried to take advantage of her, she is back on the run now that his brother is after her. On her journey, she meets a group of hunters who take on a new way of survival, picks up a mentally challenged man who becomes her unwanted ward, stays with a rich family who refuses to acknowledge the state of the world and gets caught by a horrifically mutated group of people whose loyalty to each other leads them to kill. All this time, Temple fights the evil she thinks is in her while running away from the man who wants to kill her.

Or perhaps running away isn’t the right term. As the story goes on, it doesn’t really feel that Temple was running away — perhaps there was something else. It was almost like this chase gave her some kind of purpose, and it was interesting to read about that. Temple is a different girl and we know it right from the start. Why she chose to be alone is a mystery, and how she seemed to unafraid later on as she travels is another question. Her character makes this initially simple and typical zombie story come more alive. The Reapers are the Angels isn’t a story of zombies or the fallen world but a story of a person wrestling with her past and trying to atone for this. Temple’s brokenness makes her who she is — the hard, no-nonsense girl with awesome fighting skills — but it doesn’t lessen her compassion for others who need her help, even if she doesn’t really want to help at all. I found her unlikely “friendship” with Maury, the mentally challenged guy she helps and “adopts”, quite endearing and possibly my favorite part in the entire story.

But this book isn’t really an easy read. The lush writing helped a lot in making me want to read this, but this is a bleak book — not quite as hopeless as The Forest of Hands and Teeth and also not quite as action packed as The Enemy, but still pretty, well, not cheerful. There were also lots of philosophical talk, which makes this book really a story of survival and how humanity carries on after an apocalypse. I think what makes this book a little harder for me to read was the gross-out factor — like I said, I may have gone soft, and there were some scenes in this book that made me stop reading for a bit just so my stomach would stop churning. Oh Tina, what do you expect of a zombie book, anyway? Just…don’t read this while eating, especially for some parts.

Even so, I find that I loved The Reapers are the Angels, especially for how it ended. Sigh. –> That will be my one and only clue for you. I think The Reapers are the Angels is a beautifully sad but deep book, and I was a very satisfied reader when I finished the book. It’s not at the level of how much I loved Mira Grant’s Feed, my favorite zombie book of all time, but Alden Bell’s creation has made it into the list of zombie books I will recommend to people who want to read about them. This is a good one, folks — gross scenes aside, this is a zombie book that lived up to my expectations, and I hope it lives up to yours, too.

See, God is a slick god. He makes it so you don’t miss out on nothing you’re supposed to witness firsthand.

Rating: [rating=5]

Required Reading: February

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Good Books and Good Wine