I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is writing my novella. I took my own sweet time reading our book club's book of the month because I couldn't focus on it, and I didn't have any desire to read anything else that isn't contemporary romance because it was all my mind can handle that time. When one of our classmates in #romanceclass released her book into the wild last week, I automatically bought it and loaded it into my Kindle. For one, it's contemporary romance, which is just what I need; it's Filipino; and finally, it's a classmate's work, so I should support! (Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!) I finished reading this in a day, and when I was done, I found myself thinking, "What reading rut?"
In Chrissie Peria's All's Fair in Blog and War, we meet Five Cuevas, a virtual assistant by night and travel blogger the rest of the time, reading an email from the Macau Tourism Board inviting her for an all-expense paid trip to Macau. It was something I would joyfully jump into, and Five does the same thing. It was exciting, until she meets Jesse Ruiz, the photoblogger who gets in her way and on her nerves. She's determined not to let him ruin her trip, but it's proving just a bit hard when she was partnered with him for the rest of the trip.
Okay, this is fun. So much fun. I love books with blogging, regardless of whatever kind of blogging that is. I love Five's voice, and her passion for traveling and writing about it. I love the entire set-up and how she and Jesse met, and how their relationship grew in the story. It was a short trip, but it was believable, and reading the story made me want to go to Macau, or at least, find myself some egg tarts! There were so many lines in the book that made me smile, and it's no surprise that I breezed through it because I just wanted to keep on reading to know what happens to them in the end.
Granted, the story could be longer, and there could have been more tension, but for a quick and light read, All's Fair in Blog and Warreally works. It's the kind you'd want to read on a trip, or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's going on a trip (I did that), or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's looking for a light read (I also did this). I was happy with the ending, and how they got to the ending, especially for a social media/blogging junkie like me. :P If you're a blogger, a traveler or a reader (or, maybe even all) who is looking for a light and sweet contemporary romance fix, then All's Fair in Blog and War is a book for you. :)(less)
Remember that Paul Bettany movie, Legion? The one where he plays Michael the archangel who goes down the earth in defian...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Remember that Paul Bettany movie, Legion? The one where he plays Michael the archangel who goes down the earth in defiance to God because apparently He has given up on humans and is off to destroy the world using His angels. Michael, however, would have none of it, so he goes to this middle of nowhere town to save this baby that one girl is about to have because that baby will apparently save humanity.
I hated that movie.
I have another blog entry dedicated to why I didn't like that movie, so I won't really write about it here. However, I had to bring it up because Angelfall by Susan Ee reminded me of that movie. The key difference between Legion and Angelfall is how surprisingly good the latter was that I dropped almost everything I read just to finish it.
The world has ended, and all Penryn Young wanted is to keep her family safe. With her dad gone, she was left to take care of Paige, her crippled sister and her paranoid-schizophrenic mother. In normal circumstances, Penryn would have a pretty challenging time doing that on top of her other responsibilities, but now that there are killer angels out to kill humans, it just got a hundred times more difficult. As Penryn leads her family to get somewhere safer, they stumble upon an angel execution. They got caught as an audience, which led to saving the angel but her sister being kidnapped. Penryn teams up with the known enemy to get her sister back, even if it means getting deeper into the messy world of killer angels.
Like I said: Angelfall is a surprise. People I follow on Goodreads gave this book such high ratings but I was wary because the only other angel book I really liked was Cynthia Hand's Unearthly series. Anything else other than that, I approach with caution. But Angelfall started out great, with a sense of danger and urgency that I remember reading and feeling last from The Curse of the Wendigo (Rick Yancey) and The Ask and the Answer (Patrick Ness). I can easily imagine the ruins of the city that they lived in and was trying to escape, the paranoia of the darkness and the fear when the single feather landed on Penryn's sister. There's a certain grit in the story that almost makes me want to close my eyes in fear of knowing what would happen next.
Penryn is a great heroine - determined and loyal, stopping at nothing to save her sister. Yes, it may seem similar to how Katniss was in The Hunger Games but she didn't strike me as her carbon copy (even if their names are kind of odd). Penryn is strong and her combat skills are so cool (why she knew all these self-defense moves was one of the first creep-factors in the novel), too. I don't think she would even need the help of the angel if she knew where she was going after her sister was abducted. And speaking of the angel, Raffe is also a pretty good match for Penryn. He's a pretty secretive fellow but it never really bordered on cliche. I liked how his secrets (some of it, anyway) were revealed in this story, and how his relationship with Penryn developed. Yes, there is some kind of romance in this book, but it was never put on front seat of this novel, thank goodness. Penryn and Raffe were highlighted more as an unlikely team of survivors rather than a couple, which just about sets this book apart. No insta-love here folks!
This book doesn't take an easy way out on the apocalypse and destruction and the horror. There were several times when I was reading it and I jumped when the phone rang, which meant it was engrossing and I was thoroughly creeped out. There were some scenes that were a bit...well, gruesome is the first word that comes into mind. It's not too graphic, but it leaves imprints on the imagination that may tend to stay for a while. It just shows how brutal the world that Penryn and Raffe live in is, and also how darkly creative the author is with Angelfall.
As far as the angel mythology goes, it's pretty sound, even if a part of me is a bit doubtful of how Raffe's beliefs came to be in the story. Perhaps it's just me and my faith that's coming in to disagree, so I'm still (stubbornly) thinking that it just cannot be. But that's just me -- the mythology and theology (I guess you can call it that?) in the story never came close to being offensive for me anyway. The angel politics just raised a bit of questions that I trust will be answered in the next books.
Overall, Angelfall by Susan Ee is a pretty excellent book. Gruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun to read. I can't wait for the next book in the series.
Flat-Out Love surprised me last year because it just started popping up on friends' blogs and Goodreads profile around...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Flat-Out Love surprised me last year because it just started popping up on friends' blogs and Goodreads profile around the same time. It took me a while to get myself a copy (because I was hoping someone would buy me the ebook for Christmas, LOL) and I finally took the initiative to request for a copy when people started putting this book in their Best of 2011 lists. What is up with this book that everyone seemed to love it?
Julie Seagle is excited for college, but her excitement was dampened because of a little housing hijinks. But the Watkins came to the rescue after her mom calls her old friend and soon, Julie moves in with them, up until she finds a new place to live. The Watkins family seem like any other normal family in Boston, except for the presence of Flat Finn, the cardboard cutout version of the eldest son who said to be traveling all over the world. But there seem to be something off everywhere, and Julie being the fixer that she is, wants to find out what. And if it includes falling in love with the real 3-dimensional Finn who's currently traipsing all over the world...then why not, right?
So, I was surprised by Flat-Out Love. Yes, even as I was reading it, it kept on surprising me. It was a bit longer than I expected, but it was hardly boring. The characters felt real and their banter genuine. Julie was very easy to relate to, and like her, I loved and enjoyed my college years. Reading the book made me miss my own college years -- choosing classes, meeting new people, studying for class and writing papers. Julie's relationships with the rest of the Watkins family was so fun to read, especially her friendship with Matt and Celeste. Celeste was an odd girl but I thought she was a darling. Matt was your typical geek, but it wasn't the only reason why I liked his character. Like Julie, he has a very distinct voice and character, and yes his defining moment in the book made me shed some tears, too.
The secret wasn't really hard to guess. I already had a guess about it early on, and I was wondering if my hunch was wrong. I wasn't. I'm sure other people would also be able to guess, but don't stop reading there. It's so easy to get invested in everyone in the story and I wanted to know what exactly happened, why the secret was such. That, and because I really like everyone already, I just really wanted everything to work out for everyone. It's like I've become friends with all of them and with good friends, you just want the good for them.
And since there's love on the title...how about the romance? Well, the previous ravers reviewers of Flat-Out Love were right to rave about it. The fun conversations, the "moments", the slow and steady and delicious burn...awesome. It had all the good romances in it -- even the ones that didn't work out. Reconciling everything after all has been undone (I apologize for the vagueness, if I say anything more it would be spoilery. But those who've read this would understand :D) was kind of a challenge, and I couldn't really wrap my head around it for a bit. Still, it doesn't make the novel less enjoyable. I had a big smile on my face when I got to the last page. I meant what I said on Twitter when I finished this novel: What a deliciously satisfying read. ♥
Oh and did I tell you this book is indie? :)
Thanks to the author, Jessica Park, for the review copy! (less)
This year, I discovered a little sub genre that I'm starting to like -- superhero fiction. I'm not sure if it really is...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This year, I discovered a little sub genre that I'm starting to like -- superhero fiction. I'm not sure if it really is a valid sub genre (I'm pretty sure it falls under science fiction), but I'm really, really liking reading stuff about superheroes or mutants. I'm pretty sure this stems from all the X-Men cartoons I watched when I was younger. I've only read two books that dealt with superheroes, or at least people with powers that didn't involve magic (The Rise of Renegade X and Being Jamie Baker) this year, so when Shelley Workinger, author of Solid, sent a review copy for the first book in her series, I was glad to accept.
Eighteen years ago, an army doctor secretly created a drug that modified the chromosome of a baby while they were in the womb and administered them to unknowing pregnant women. No one knew about this even after he was killed, until the military unearthed the truths of this experiment and called on all these children to spend some time in a hidden campus for some testing. Turns out this drug allowed the children to have superhuman abilities, much like superheroes -- if only these kids know how to harness their powers. One of these kids is Clio Kaid, who joins the program not knowing what it was really about. As Clio explores whatever ability she had, she also makes new friends and even possibly found her first love. And then things turn weird when she finds information that tells them that maybe the military is hiding secrets from them, and she recruits her friends to find out what exactly is going on.
Solid is very entertaining, as it plays on familiarity and some pop culture to make it an easily relatable novel. In a way, this book reminds me of The Secret World of Alex Mack, and I could definitely see this one being made into a TV show for teens. I liked Clio's voice, and while I didn't really anything super spectacular about her, I found her very easy to like. Her friends were also very interesting and different -- snobby and domineering Miranda, shy Bliss (who, for some reason, reminds me of Glimmer from She-Ra), funny Garrett and charismatic Jack. I liked their group's chemistry a lot, and it was nice for Clio to have a group of friends to turn to in the middle of all of this.
That being said, however, despite the entertainment value, I felt that Solid lacked a bit of "oomph". It may be because it was a bit too short for everything to make sense. I felt a bit detached from the climax, probably because I didn't feel a proper build up for it? I didn't have a whole sense of danger, really, maybe because I found that I could predict what could happen when the high point of the book happened. I could see it being very well played on TV, though -- so maybe it could work as a TV show? I also wished for more explanation for their abilities, because that's always something I look forward to in reading these kinds of fiction. Maybe it will be explained in the next books? Also, the ending also felt a tad too cheesy, but it may just be me.
Still, Solid was a pretty good debut, and I think it has a lot going for something independent. Maybe with a prettier cover, it could get picked up more? Maybe it's just me, but I'm not really feeling the purple chromosome -- it gives me a first impression of a paranormal romance novel when it's really not.
The release of Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra totally made my Monday morning happier, and it also made me lose sleep because I couldn't put it down. I was so excited to read this that I put all other currently reads down, and the need to write my thoughts on feels more urgent than writing reviews for the two books that I need to review first. I can only think of two reasons why I have this urgency: it's because I really liked this book and I need to share my thoughts ASAP, and because I'm such a Mina fan. ;)
Love Your Frenemies features Kimberly Domingo, a familiar character for those who have read Mina's first book, My Imaginary Ex.For the uninitiated, Kimberly, also known as Kimmy, is the b*tch in her debut novel, the villain in Jasmine and Zack's romance. It's easy to hate her in that book as she was painted completely in black and white. More of a companion novel than a sequel (so you don't have to read My Imaginary Ex to understand this...spoiler warning for that novel, though, if you haven't read it!), this gives us a different picture of Kimmy, one year after she left after being dumped by Zack. Kimmy goes back home for her best friend's wedding, changed from her one year absence. Determined to start over, she slowly faces all the things she left behind -- her family, her Country Club friends, her old job. She's also ready to cut off the people she's declared toxic in her life, namely her bride-to-be best friend, Chesca, and her first love, hunky and charismatic Manolo.
I love spin-off stories featuring other characters, especially the villains, because it gives readers an entirely different perspective. It's also a great character study and a perfect example of how our first impressions of people don't tell us much. I like how Mina built Kimmy's back story here, making her less evil and just another person who had issues to deal with on her own, issues that happened to entangle other people. It shows that people aren't always black and white, but mostly gray.
I also liked that this one focused more on Kimmy's self-discovery and friendships than the romance. Oh sure, Manolo's hot (but I still find Lucas of Fairy Tale Fail hotter, LOL), but Kimmy's relationship with him wasn't the sole focusof the story. Love Your Frenemies isn't really just about love but about, well, frenemies. :) I liked how Mina made the other characters three-dimensional. Like the first Kimmy in My Imaginary Ex, some of them were easy to hate at first, but as the story unfolded, I started to somewhat understand why they did what they did, even if it's not what an ideal friend would do. I found myself feeling somewhat affectionate towards them in the end, and it further proves that people are not what you always believe them to be.
Love Your Frenemies is filled with flawed characters that paints a very accurate picture of how complicated and messy relationships -- family, friendships, and romantic ones -- are. It doesn't have any of those heart-stopping, tingle-inducing romance, but more of the introspection of a woman who's trying to build her life back from the mess that it has been and is determined not to make another mistake. The characters are far from perfect, and honestly I don't think they'd be my crowd, but they're definitely the kind of people that you'd want to be on your side even if they can be a pain in the neck more than half the time.
I think Love Your Frenemies show how much Mina really thinks about what she writes. It's difficult to give a voice to a villain and make her human and deserving of sympathy, but Mina does it almost effortlessly in her newest novel. Kimmy isn't your most lovable character, unlike Jasmine or Ellie or Carla from Mina's previous novels, but she's the type of character that will stay with you long after you've reached the last page, teaching us important lessons on discovering yourself, forgiveness and the ties that bind.
Highly recommended, and don't think I'm saying that only because I'm such a fan. ;)(less)
When we say the word "zombies", the first thought is always about a virus that makes dead people...well, undead. It coul...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When we say the word "zombies", the first thought is always about a virus that makes dead people...well, undead. It could be just a fluke, or a scientific experiment gone wrong, but either way, the virus spreads and everyone gets infected save for a few lucky (or unlucky ones, depending on where they get stuck) who try to live and survive amongst their undead companions.
That is almost usually the common thread for zombie novels which can get really tiring if you read about it over and over again. Every once in a while, though, we get some deviants to the norm, where zombification comes from the most ridiculous sources and yet it's still believable (case in point: Zombicorns by John Green). I like reading these story lines because really, how many times will I read about a virus that makes people want to eat other people while they rot and shuffle and mumble, "Brains"?
British author A.M. Harte is one of those who takes the zombie folklore and spins it around to give us a different taste of zombies (pun intended). When she emailed me about sending me a review copy of her anthology, Hungry For You, I was kind of hesitant to agree because it sounded so paranormal romance, and I tend to stay away from those books nowadays. However, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I decided to go for this, thinking that I would need to read a paranormal every now and then.
Surprisingly, I liked Hungry For You. I was thinking it would be another so-so read because of the paranormal romance angle, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a collection of short stories about love and well, zombies. But like I said, the author spins the zombie folklore around, focusing on different aspects of romance and zombies, giving the creatures we all love to read and talk about and kill with pea-shooters and sunflowers a different approach altogether. Some of the stories may not even really count as a zombie story if you're a purist, but the characters acted so much like zombies that you'd really think they were infected.
I was constantly surprised by the stories in this collection, and sometimes even slightly grossed out but that's just me being squeamish (I still wonder why I like zombies so much when I feel squeamish easily). The stories were creative, funny, romantic and sad -- just like what I think romance novels are. The paranormal angle isn't really overwhelming, which I really appreciated, and I think other people who are tired of the usual paranormal will be pleased about that too. (Oh, but hey, they say zombies aren't paranormal but more science fiction -- thoughts?)
Personal favorites: Hungry For You, Swimming Lessons, A Prayer to Garlic ("vegetarian" zombies!), The Perfect Song (almost similar to Zombicorns in terms of how people become zombies, but sadder) and Arkady, Kain and Zombies (sweet and tragic all at the same time). I think there is something for everyone in A.M. Harte's Hungry For You. I like it when a book surprises me. :) I'm curious to what A.M. Harte will come up with next. :) (less)
I'm still fairly new to the urban fantasy genre, and I am still avoiding paranormal romance (maybe I should make a post...moreOriginal Post at One More Page
I'm still fairly new to the urban fantasy genre, and I am still avoiding paranormal romance (maybe I should make a post about that sometime) so when I received a review request from HP Mallory for her books, I was kind of hesitant to accept it. But I'm not really one to say no to free books, so I thought, why not?
I finally found the time to read To Kill a Warlock when we started moving a week ago. I figured after reading about zombies, I need to take a break from the gore so this should be a perfect read. And since we were moving, all my books were packed, so all the reading I could do was in my Kindle.
So Dulcie is a fairy and one of the best Regulators from the Association of Netherworld Creatures (ANC) in California. As a Regulator, she monitors the activities of the different paranormal creatures in her area and makes sure they act in accordance to the laws. But after her Regulator job is finished, Dulcie hides in her house and works on her novel, which she hoped to published so she can be rid of her Regulator job. Her more or less regular Regulator (ha, sorry, I can't resist!) job is disturbed when a warlock dies and she was the last one who saw him. The story follows Dulcie as she tries to figure out who killed the warlock, work on her novel and figure out her relationships with the different men in her life which included a vampire, a demon, an elf and a Loki.
To Kill a Warlock is generally a fun read, with a spunky heroine who's had a broken heart and dreams of being a published writer. The story is pretty tight, with a good -- although not really unique -- concept about a group that regulates paranormal creatures among humans, and of course, lots of romance for Dulcie. That being said, however...I don't think To Kill a Warlock really worked for me. :( I hate it when this happens, especially since it seemed like many readers liked the book and the characters (and that I got this book for review). I did not hate any of them, really, but they just failed to make an big impression on me that I just didn't care about them as much as I normally would. As the story got to the climax, I found myself just flipping to the next pages, eager to finish because I was getting tired of how they seemed to be going in circles. When the major action has finished and everything has settled, I thought it was over, but it wasn't...and it led me wondering, "What else could happen after all that?" I didn't feel very satisfied at the ending because I felt like it was a bit of a cop out -- everyone sort of at peace with each other, with Dulcie having three guys going after her. In the end I was just confused.
It's not that it's a bad book. I have to give some merit to the author because I enjoyed myself in some parts of the book, but as a whole, I was underwhelmed. I think I can put the blame on Ilona Andrews and their Kate Daniels series with how I viewed To Kill a Warlock. The Kate Daniels series is my first time to read adult urban fantasy and I loved every bit of it, so I got kind of spoiled with their world building and character development in those books. So much so that my expectations were a bit too high when I read To Kill a Warlock. Perhaps if I read this first before any of the Kate Daniels books, I'd think otherwise.(less)
Fairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relate...moreFairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relate to Ellie, the protagonist, with her fairy tale whims and romanticism. While I never had a Prince Charming like her, I knew the feeling of wanting to have a fairy tale romance, one where I have a set guide for who Prince Charming should be. I know about obsessing about a guy, and I sort of know how it feels to restoring yourself when experiencing a loss.
I have to admit that like Ellie, I think I’d also prefer to have a guy like Don, but I would find someone like Lucas intriguing. Out of my league, but very intriguing. Lucas and Ellie’s development was done gradually, and it was nice to see that it wasn’t a rushed romance — nothing is more disappointing than a rushed romance in a chick lit novel, I swear. Lucas seemed sexy, yet he had a good heart, even if he seemed a bit hard to see. I kind of wish I got to know more of him through the story, but since the story was told in Ellie’s point of view, we only know as much as she does.
Here’s my favorite part (a spoiler, so if you’re reading/planning to read this, skip this!):
“You think you’re funny,” I said ruefully. “I have no idea what my life is going to be like now.”
…”You told me that your life wasn’t all about work. That you had a lot of things you looked forward to when you got out of the office…Then that’s exactly what your life is going to be. You’ve still got your family, your hobbies, your friends, and none of that will change…And I’m probably going to, you know, start calling. Driving you home. Taking you to movies you hate…And then you’ll probably want to introduce me to your mom. Your nephew Dylan will love me because kids like me, and I’ll tell him about my brother’s job and our pirate story, and he’ll just be so attached to me. And then you’ll want me to go to church again, and we’ll probably discuss that at length. But I probably will go to church with you at least once, and it will be in your college church, to erase the memory of what that douche did there.”
Ah Lucas. Where can I find someone like you? ♥ Fairy Tale Fail is a fresh and cute story that’s sure to make you sigh and be kilig. :) (less)