What better book to read during the holidays than C.S. Lewis' classic, The Chronicles of Narnia? While I was lamenting a...moreOriginal post at One More Page
What better book to read during the holidays than C.S. Lewis' classic, The Chronicles of Narnia? While I was lamenting at how I never read The Giver back in high school, I was also sad that The Chronicles of Narnia were never required reading for school, too. I've heard of the series for a long time now, but I never really knew of the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until senior year in college, right before the movie showed. I was already nineteen then! Why was this never a part of my childhood? I am glad that Scholastic had a book fair at my office a couple of years later -- I got the entire Narnia boxed set for only Php 500 (around USD 11).
Still, it took me a while to read it, and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I decided to go on a Narnia trip for Christmas. Like I said, what better book to read during the holidays, right?
In case you were like me who's never read this book or watched the movie or even a stage play of this, here's a quick recap: siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were sent to stay at a Professor's house, and during one game of hide and seek, Lucy stumbles upon the land of Narnia through a wardrobe. She makes friends with a faun, Mr. Tumnus, and she finds out that Narnia has been stuck in winter for a long time because of a White Witch Jadis. Later on the siblings end up all going to Narnia, and they find out that they are the fulfillment of a prophecy and the Great Lion Aslan is on his way back to Narnia to restore the land.
I first "read" this book through an audiobook before the movie was shown in the cinemas. I loved the audiobook. Then I watched the movie and I loved it too -- not caring if there were any differences from what I "read". I think I loved it because it was a Christian novel, and I truly related to what Edmund did and what Aslan did for him. Aslan became one of my favorite fictional characters, and I always loved it whenever he shows up on the movies (but that may be because Aslan is voiced by Liam Neeson).
Reading the book for the first time reminded me so much of all the things I loved from the audio book and the movie, and maybe even more. Since the entire Narnia series is written as children's books, the text is lyrical and there's a whimsical feel in the story, almost like when I was reading the fairy tale books when I was a kid. I think the only way to describe this book is it's magical. I don't know if it's just Christmas, or if it's because I'm more receptive to fantasy now than I was a year ago, but I really enjoyed reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think that if I read this as a kid, I may not have been able to appreciate it as much as I do now, so maybe reading it this late in my life is a good thing. :)
I don't think I'd have the time to read the rest of the Narnia books before the year ends, but I will finish reading them soon. :) When I have children, I will make sure to have copies of these books at home so they can read it and visit Narnia anytime they want to.
And one more thing: show of hands to anyone who can relate to Edmund? I know I do.(less)
The thing I like best about reading contemporary novels is how easy it is to relate to the story. Without the magic and...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The thing I like best about reading contemporary novels is how easy it is to relate to the story. Without the magic and any other fantasy or sci-fi elements in the story, it's easier for readers to put themselves in the characters' situations. You don't need to understand or figure out any underlying symbols in the story, and you feel that whatever happens in the story can also happen in real life.
However, I found that I've been increasingly picky about the contemporary books I've been reading this year. Contemporary novels is my first love in the YA genre, but lately I felt the same thing I feel about paranormal YA: what's new? Everything I read sounds the same, give or take a little details, so...what else is there to read? Why even bother reading some if it's the same as the last one?
So Anna and the French Kiss wasn't high on my want list because of this, thinking that this is just one of those hyped books that everyone gushes about. Maybe I would read it, but it wasn't in my priority list. It took Angie's review to convince me to get it, especially when I got read this part of her review:
...Fortunately, her next door neighbor Meredith takes her under her wing and introduces her to her small circle of friends, including smart Rashmi, her goofy-but-talented boyfriend Josh, and one Étienne St. Clair--known to one and all simply as St. Clair. Anna has it pretty bad right from the start...the two of them hit if off immediately. But there is a fly in the ointment. Naturally. He also has a longtime girlfriend at a nearby college. And their mutual friend Meredith is in love with him. Which rather clearly spells steer clear for poor Anna.
From that moment, I knew I just had to get this book. I downloaded the Kindle sample, read it and enjoyed it before I slept and then bought it as soon as I was awake enough the next day. I've been itching to buy an ebook lately but I was hesitant to do an impulse buy, until Anna and the French Kiss, that is.
And I tell you: the impulse buy is absolutely worth it.
I can't decide what really did me in the story as there's just so many wonderful things inside. I liked how the book was set in Paris but it wasn't focused on the Eiffel Tower but on other attractions that are normally forgotten in other books set in that city. I liked how real everything was in this book, how easy it was to be immersed in Anna's world like I was actually there. I liked the little complexities in the plot and how it didn't focus solely on the romance between the two major characters but in other very real issues as well: family issues, cancer, absent friends, and independence, just to name a few. These issues were addressed in a very smart and optimistic way without feeling like the book was trying to accomplish so much in so little time. While the exciting parts of the book weren't really that surprising in the sense that you know it was bound to happen eventually, the pacing was perfect and the relationships were built on very solid foundations that you know that whatever happens, thing will be okay in the end.
Another thing about contemporary novels is no matter how real they are, I couldn't really relate to them 100% because I could only find very small parts of myself in the heroines, or the situation they are in isn't something that I would be in. Sure, I have never been to Paris or have been in another country for that long to study, but Anna's relationship with St. Clair reminded me of something that happened to me a few years back. I won't elaborate, but I will share a quote that could summarize it all:
I don't want to feel this way around him. I want things to be normal. I want to be his friend, not another stupid girl holding out for something that will never happen.
Straight through the heart, right? I couldn't stop seeing similarities between myself and Anna, and I think I lost count at how many times I could relate to her. I wished that I had read this book way back then because I bet this would have been my best friend. Although I am over that part of my life already, I cannot help but wish for a friend like St. Clair. He's far from perfect, but he's someone I'd want to be really good friends with. :)
There is so much I can write about this book, but really, it would be better if you just go find a copy and read it to see for yourself. I've been looking for a book to blow my mind after I've gone through some "okay" books in the past few weeks, and this one blew my mind (and my heart!) in a totally unexpected way. If Anna and the French Kiss was food, it would definitely be chocolate: the kind you cannot get enough of from the first bite so you keep on getting more, but you try to slow down to savor the taste and to stop it from running out too soon. I devoured the book in a couple of days, and I enjoyed every single word of it. I haven't said this about a book for a while now, but I am not ashamed to say it for this one: I loved this book. :)(less)
I attended my godsister's wedding yesterday, the second wedding I attended this year. I came out of my brother's wedding...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I attended my godsister's wedding yesterday, the second wedding I attended this year. I came out of my brother's wedding last October relatively unscathed with questions about my own wedding, but this time around, I wasn't so safe. For one thing, I was called for the bouquet toss even if I was trying to make myself scarce at that point (my godsister called me out). Then as we were saying goodbye to the newly weds and my godsister's parents, they were all saying to me, "Don't forget to invite us to your wedding."
Sigh. Sure I won't forget. I figure it would be less exasperating question if I was actually nearing the altar, but alas, I'm not.
That is probably what Carla in Mina V. Esguerra's latest novel, No Strings Attached, felt, especially when her friends started getting married and having a life very different from her own. It doesn't help that the only remaining single in her group of friends was Tonio, the guy who likes to play the field. Carla is tired of being set up with stable banker types that she doesn't really like, and at the same time, she doesn't like how Tonio does it. Then she meets Dante, and things go from cold to sizzling hot between the two of them. The only catch is Dante is five years younger. Does she stay or does she go?
I've been hounding the bookstores ever since Mina announced in Twitter that her new book would be out soon, and I was giddy when I finally got my hands on it (boo on Eastwood stores for not having them in stock as fast as the other branches). This is another light and quick read from Mina, albeit a little different from her first two novels, My Imaginary Exand Fairy Tale Fail. I can't really pinpoint if it's more serious or not, but it is certainly different. Like what Chachic said, the story focused not on how the love story unfolded, but on the complications of the relationships, especially to the people around Carla and Dante.
Mina shows how chick lit does not always have to deal with heroines finding their soul mates or wanting to get married. Sure, it has romance and there is the set-ups and talks of weddings, but No Strings Attached has a different kind of romance. It's one that we don't really get to see on movies or TV or read in any other books. I liked how No Strings Attached tackles a different kind of love story, one that I am pretty sure some Filipinas experience as well. I liked how Carla seemed like a very real person, and her friends offer enough contrast to her for the readers to see the different sides of the story without telling it to them in a long monologue of sorts from the heroine.
I can't really relate to Carla's predicament, but I do know I see myself in her best friend, Mary's shoes. I don't necessarily set my friends up with stable banker types, but I'd probably react the same way she did if I find out that some of my close friends are in a relationship similar to Carla's. I'm not proud of it, but the good thing about books is some characters act as a mirror, and it helps me to realize or remember things about myself that I need to keep in check (or sometimes even get rid of) in order to be a loving friend.
It's not my favorite Mina book (that slot still belongs to Fairy Tale Fail), but it's another good local chick lit to be lost in for a couple of hours (or days, if you're not a fast reader). I guess I don't have to say that I am her fan now, but if it needs saying: if there's a Mina Esguerra fans club, I am definitely in. ;)
Oh, an in case you were wondering, I didn't catch the bouquet. :P(less)
Undercover Tai Tai is my first Maya O. Calica book, and I bought a copy as a thank you to her for giving us a pep talk...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Undercover Tai Tai is my first Maya O. Calica book, and I bought a copy as a thank you to her for giving us a pep talk for National Novel Writing Month. I have been wanting to read another one of the Asian chick lit novels republished by Anvil in the Philippines after I read Amazing Grace, so I thought it was just timely to get this, too.
Amanda Tay is a small, quiet girl who hates her job and her roommates, does capioera and dreams of something exciting to happen in her life. Her prayers get answered when she accidentally knocks CID Agent Brian out, and soon she finds herself as a new undercover agent mingling with Singapore's rich and famous socialites to find out what really happened to tai tai Jasmine Kwong.
Undercover Tai Taiis a fun and surprising novel. Surprising, because I was expecting to read one of those typical chick lit stories where the heroine goes through one mishap after another to find herself, but instead I found something a little deviant of the usual chick lit formula. I like watching undercover movies and shows, so this book was a real treat for me because it appealed to the adventurous part of me that liked espionage. It's fun, because even if the plot is highly unbelievable and requires suspension of disbelief, I thought it was well written and the mystery part of the story was kept well under wraps up until the end. The cast of characters added to the fun of it all, too. I am particularly fond of Agent Omni, who works on Amanda's gadgets and doubles as her personal stylist as she goes undercover. Oh and let's not forget Alexis, the crime fighting chihuahua. Gotta love it when there's a dog involved in the story. ;)
Like I said, it's a fun novel, and it was a good and quick in-between read. While I don't hold it in the same regard as the other chick lit novels I liked this year, I thought it was still pretty good. If you're looking for a usual chick lit novel you may want to skip this, but if you're in for something a little bit different, then I suggest you pick this up and enjoy the ride. I am pretty sure Maya wrote this as her NaNoWriMo novel because Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo's founder, is cited in the acknowledgments, and that explains all the craziness that happened in the story and, of course, the crime-fighting dog. :)(less)
I wasn't very impressed with Claire Betita de Guzman's first novel, No Boyfriend Since Birth. It was my first local chick lit read as a research for my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel, and I ended up getting irritated at the heroine and the story because none of it felt real to me. When I saw that the same author has a new book out, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it because of her debut. The excerpt seemed pretty interesting, but I didn't know if it was a justifiable impulse buy.
I eventually gave in and bought it last weekend using some expiring National Bookstore GCs and read the book in a couple of hours. Girl Meets World is the story of Mia Tupas, a homebody who writes brochures for a local tourism company and is perfectly content with her routine life. One day, she meets her colleague's friend, Leo, and they have an instant connection. Egged on by a fortune teller, homebody Mia decides to go to Bangkok to visit Leo to see if he is indeed The One, and finds herself on a sudden trip to Southeast Asia, following the guy who may or may not be The One.
Altogether now: what is wrong with that picture?
The moment Mia decides that she's going to Bangkok to visit Leo in the story, I immediately wanted to shake her. Okay, the going to Bangkok was forgivable, and no matter how much she denies it, I know she knows that her goal there was to talk to Leo...but when she goes to Bali, well...I wanted to smack her. The Mia from the excerpt was interesting, but as the story went on, I found her too romantic. Perhaps it's my pride talking, but I think anyone would know that Mia running after a guy she only really bonded over through chat is not a good idea.
Girl Meets World is a typical chick lit with love as the main goal, and while it is better than No Boyfriend Since Birth, I feel that it still lacked on what other good chick lit stories have. Mia's growth and realizations about herself felt unnatural and flat, almost like she was reading it off some book. The supporting characters were interesting, but their exposure was too little that I couldn't really connect with them. I'm willing to suspend by belief over the sudden change of course in traveling, but the different situations Mia encountered in the different places she went to felt too forced that I can't buy it. I know chick lit is supposed to be fluff and this one has a lot of it...but I think chick lit must also be substantial, and I think the book kind of failed in that aspect.
This book had a lot of similarities with Amazing Grace by Tara FT Sering, which I really liked, so maybe that's why I did not like how this book turned out so much. That, and maybe because I kind of have too high standards sometime. ^^ Girl Meets World isn't a total waste of a read, so if you want to read something really light and fluffy, give this a try. Otherwise, go for something from Tara FT Sering, Marla Miniano or Mina Esguerra.(less)
One day early this year (way before I met the Goodreads people) I was going around Fully Booked in Eastwood when I suddenly had this little fantasy. I wondered: what if, as I was looking for books to get, I meet a guy who has the same taste in books as I do? A straight, single guy, near my age, who reads for fun? And let's make him cute, too.
It was a little fantasy that my friends and I entertained often, and it almost became a topic of a story for my fiction blog (one day I will write that). It was definitely something my single bookish friends and I thought would be very nice but may be rare, as we know few guys who are willing to read the same books we do, and most of the people we see in the bookstore near our office is filled with girls (that is, until I met the Goodreads people, again).
So it's no wonder why Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan would call to me. Okay, I didn't really pay attention to it first because I wasn't really a fan of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by the same authors, until I read a review. I checked the sample and fell in love with it on the first few pages, particularly on the opening scene. Dash finds a red notebook amidst the books in the Strand, and inside were a bunch of clues left by a girl named Lily. He figures out the clues and thus starts the passing of the red Moleskine notebook back and forth between the two. Dash and Lily accomplish dares all around New York City from each other and bare their innermost thoughts to the other through the red notebook, all the while wondering if the words represent the persons behind them.
The story happens during the holidays, so I figured Christmas should be the right time to read it (thanks again to Ace for giving me a copy during the Goodreads Christmas party). And I was right. I am so glad I read it at this time of the year. :) Like I said, I wasn't very enamored by Nick and Norah, but Dash and Lily really made me fall in love. There's so many things to love. Maybe it was the bookstore? Maybe it's the Moleskine notebook (which I love, by the way)? Maybe it's how the story unfolded despite it being slightly hard to believe?
Dash and Lily are two very interesting characters. They're not the angsty teenagers that we read in contemporary YA but they're very smart and witty teens who are very different yet they speak to each other in ways only they can understand. While I didn't find Dash particularly dashing, I thought he was very well-adjusted for his age. Perhaps it was all the reading that he does that makes him a gentler version of the male gender? I don't know, but I'd like to think so. Lily, on the other hand, is probably the most optimistic female character I've ever read so far. She reminds me of myself in so many ways: she bakes, she likes animals, her positive outlook, and in how she's never had a boyfriend. Lily is such a delight to read because I feel like I'm reading some things I write, almost like I was reading my journal.
And just as the characters, the story was very charming. It tried to tackle more than the usual boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love story and that's good, but sometimes the connections and issues feel a bit too messy and hard to follow. The entire interaction may seem a bit far-fetched too, and I don't think this will be very effective here in Manila, but I can forgive that for the sake of fiction (and that's why it happened in New York and not here, LOL). Despite that, though, I thought the plot was well-executed, and I found myself hanging on to every word all the way up to the end.
My copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares has so many dog-ears too because of the quotable quotes! For example:
Prayer or not, I want to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is possible for anyone to find that special person. That person to spend Christmas with or grow old with or just take a nice silly walk in Central Park with. (Lily, p. 75)
I wish I could remember the moment when I was a kid and I discovered that the letters linked into words, and that the words linked to real things. What a revelation that must have been. We don't have the words for it, since we hadn't yet learned the words. It must have been astonishing, to be given the key to the kingdom and see it turn in our hands so easily. (Dash, p. 87)
You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here's a hint -- ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn't just the women. It's the great male fantasy -- all it takes is one dance to know that she's the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know -- this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don't want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately. (p. 131)
And my favorite (and is very applicable for the coming year):
There are just lots of possibilities in the world...I need to keep my mind open for what could happen and not decide that the world is hopeless if what I want to happen doesn't happen. Because something else great might happen in between. (p. 227)
The blurb was right. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is a feel good book that would make you want to start "...perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own." It doesn't have to be Christmas when you read it, but the holidays add to the ambiance. It's the kind of book that will surely leave you smiling long after you have read the last word. :)
I'm not about to start looking for a red notebook in Fully Booked...but as for leaving one? I'll never tell. ;) (less)
I think the thing about reading books about death and grief is it's hard to relate to it if you haven't experienced the...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I think the thing about reading books about death and grief is it's hard to relate to it if you haven't experienced the kind of grief the characters are experiencing. I've read a couple of books that dealt with those topics and while I really loved them and the characters resonated with me, I don't think I fully related to the characters and their plight because I am still blessed enough not to experience the kind of death that these characters had. This holds me at arm's length at them, making me more of an audience than a player in the story.
But that does not stop me from reading books like that, and that includes The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. No one is a stranger to death, and we would all have to deal with grief sooner or later. Lennie was one of those people who had to deal with grief sooner, when death took her 19-year-old sister, Bailey, away through a freak heart disease. This death makes Lennie's world come undone. She drifts from day to day, shutting herself from her Grandmother and Uncle Big, thinking only about her loss and how Bailey would never have a future.
The Sky is Everywhere is one of those grief books that show us a different kind of grieving. The kind of grieving Lennie did was something people would frown upon, especially those who do not know the feeling. In the middle of Lennie's grief for her sister, she falls in love. Strange, right? She finds herself wanting to be physically close to Toby, her sister's boyfriend, and at the same time, she finds herself getting attracted to new guy Joe, who makes her heart feel like the flowers blooming in her grandmother's yard. Guilt eats Lennie after every "happy" moment in love -- how can she fall in love and be happy when her sister is dead? What kind of a person kisses her dead sister's boyfriend?
There is a beauty in Jandy Nelson's writing that makes this book almost ethereal. It was almost like the words in the pages were music, flowing seamlessly into the other without being too flowery. Lennie's emotions run gamut around the book, and I liked that my copy is the UK edition so I was able to see her poems in full color where she "leaves" them:
Somehow, these things made the book more personal, and sometimes harder to read because it was like I was seeing something very private. But it's not like the other parts of the book aren't too personal either, and it strikes a chord in me, even if I cannot relate 100%. For example:
How will I survive this missing? How do others do it? People die all the time. Every day. Every hour. There are families all over the world staring at beds that are no longer slept in, shoes that are no longer worn. Families that no longer have to buy a particular cereal, a kind of shampoo. There are people everywhere standing in line at the movies, buying curtains, walking dogs, while inside their hearts are ripping to shreds. For years. For their whole lives. I don't believe time heals. I don't want it to. If I heal, doesn't that mean I've accepted the world without her? (p. 222-223)
There were a few times in the book that I felt the familiar choking sensation of tears wanting to come, and another part of me is thankful that I am still spared from that kind of pain. Perhaps in reading this book, I will be somehow ready?
But if there was a lesson that The Sky is Everywhere imparts, it's that there is no wrong way of grieving. Everyone grieves their own way, and it's our hearts' ways of healing itself and moving on. This very idea/lesson gave me a hard time in rating the book, because this meant the meat of the story is just Lennie's way of grieving...but honestly, the romantic aspect just didn't sit well with me. While I thought Joe and Toby were pretty well-rounded characters and interesting guys for Lennie to fall for, I wasn't very sold in the love triangle. It was obvious who Lennie would choose is the end anyway. Plus, the entire Joe thing felt just a bit unbelievable for me, almost exaggerated in romanticism. I'm pretty sure I'm just nitpicking with that. Call me old fashioned, but I want my romance a little bit built up with a solid foundation and not just filled with music and flowers and kissing and all that. I can't help but compare this book with one of my favorites, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen with their thematic similarities, and how romance played a part in how the main characters grieved. If I were to choose which romance I'd prefer between Lennie-Joe and Macy-Wes, I am definitely for the latter. The Lennie-Joe build up just does not sit well with me. I guess I really am old-fashioned that way.
Nevertheless, The Sky is Everywhere is still a beautiful novel, in story and in writing. Romance aside, I thought it was a great debut for Jandy Nelson, and I am looking forward to reading more of her works.(less)
I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident. I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry when I felt like ambling over to the Filipiniana section of the store and then I saw the black and orange spine of the book. I thought it was just a new local comics or something but when I read the blurb, I was sold. Could it be? Local dystopian fantasy? This I have to read.
Naermyth is a word play on the phrase "never myth", which is what the people used to describe creatures that caused the apocalypse after they attacked the human race. These are creatures from Philippine mythology that we have often watched or heard stories from as children -- aswang, duwende, kapre, nuno sa punso, diwata, etc -- that we thought were just that: myths. However, it turns out they were never myths at all, and they attacked defenseless humans, quickly wiping out civilizations and most of the population. The only remaining resistance against these creatures are the National Bureau of Conflict and Transport or the NaBuCAT, informally known as the Shepherds, who find remaining survivors and give them refuge against the Naermyth.
The story is set in the Philippines 5 years after the war between human and Naermyth started. We meet Athena "Aegis" Dizon, one of the best Shepherds on their way back to the Ruins after a rescue mission. Aegis is one of the best Shepherds in their NaBuCAT branch, but she is also one of the least affectionate and most brash among all of them, an issue that her brothers often tease her with. Aegis doesn't mind, because she knows that if she wants to live in the world now, there is no room to be soft. On their way back to their headquarters after a particularly bad night with an aswang and a duwende in the morning, Aegis rescues Dorian, a mysterious man who has no memory of the last five years and no knowledge of the Naermyth at all. Aegis brings him to the headquarters, and despite her usually brash nature, she finds herself connected to Dorian in ways she could not explain. When they find out what Dorian is, Aegis goes against all she believed in as a Shepherd to protect him. As Dorian tries to find out about his past, Aegis finds out more about hers, and they uncover a conspiracy that could destroy everything they had worked for.
I think the best thing about Naermyth is its realistic world building. It's often hard to get into dystopian fiction especially if the world is does not feel real, but Karen Francisco managed to create a very believable post-apocalyptic Philippines, making the different places in the country come alive as a setting. I liked how she used Ruins as a fortress from its bazaar status in the past, and how Makati is Naermyth territory because of how it used to be a swamp. It wasn't contained in Manila, too, but in other provinces in the Philippines: Baguio is a dead spot for Naermyth because of its altitude, as is Pangasinan being the country's salt center (salt was used as a weapon against aswang because it stops them from regenerating), while Capiz is obviously Naermyth headquarters. And it didn't stop there, too, because it's not post-apocalypse if it doesn't involve the rest of the world, right? Other countries were also affected by the uprising of these creatures, but each country has their own kind of Naermyth based on their folklore. Norway has dragons, and yes, even the Loch Ness monster is alive. With all these elements securely in place, it's easy to believe in the world that Aegis lives in, and I don't get surprised when weirder creatures surface.
That being said, however, Naermyth suffers from attempting to cover so much ground in one book. Don't get me wrong -- I liked a good mystery, I liked conspiracies, I liked betrayals in my dystopian fiction. However, I felt a little bit overwhelmed with all the events happening...and then, that feeling would be abruptly interrupted with information overload, in the form of a dialogue. It seemed like some parts of the book were too much tell rather show, and even the encounter with the bad guy at the end felt more telling than showing. Also, while I liked Aegis as a heroine, I wasn't sold on her past. I felt that it was opened up a little too late. If Aegis' past was so important in the end, I didn't feel it was stressed too much at the start since most of the focus was on her family and Dorian's past. The romantic angle was kind of weak, too, and personally, I could have done without it. And if you would allow me to nitpick a bit -- I was very distracted at how many synonyms of "said" were used. I'd like to believe that the characters don't always roar or scream when they're in a normal conversation. It is true what they said: replacing "said" a bit too many times in the text is very distracting.
I think Naermythis the first of its kind that is not a graphic novel (correct me if I am wrong, though), and I think it's a feat in itself. This book is a fulfillment of what some friends and I were wishing for a few months back: a fantasy novel written by a Filipino that makes use of the plethora of creatures from our own mythology. Despite my slight issue with the plot and the pacing and that little nitpick, I still enjoyed reading Naermyth. This is not YA, but I think YA dystopian fantasy fans will like this well enough. It's a solid debut, and this book gives me hope that we will see more Filipino fantasy books on shelves (virtual or not) soon. It's about time, don't you think? :)(less)
Winter's Passage is a novella released for The Iron King fans to satiate their hunger for more Iron Fey goodness until the second book, The Iron Daughter, comes out. I've had this ebook in my e-reader for ages, because I was never one to say no to getting free ebooks, but I never read it because obviously, I never read The Iron King until now.
If you haven't read The Iron King yet, spoiler warning for that book starts here.
The novella starts immediately where The Iron King left off, where Ash picks up Meghan from her house to fulfill her promise to him after helping her bring back her brother Ethan to the mortal world. Meghan knew she had to fulfill her promise, so she joins Ash, but asks for a favor to go see her best friend Puck, who was sleeping under the dryad's care after he was wounded in the first book. As they traveled through wyldwood, they felt someone was following them, which made Ash, the dryads, and a returning Grimalkin (heeee!) very worried.
This is a very short novella that's pretty easy and quick to read, especially if you're already familiar with the faery world that Julie Kagawa created. It's action-packed and mysterious, with just the right amounts of romance to tickle the fancy of Iron Fey fans. The action was my favorite part in this ebook. I liked how there was this big pressing sense of urgency for Ash and Meghan to get to Tir Na Nog before the hunter finds them -- the fear was very palpable, and the chase scene was believable. I liked that there were new characters introduced in the novella, and although they were just minor ones, it goes to show how much world building has been made for this series. The fight scenes against the hunter was well-written too, consistent with how The Iron King's actions scenes were done.
However, I felt that the reveal was a teensy bit anticlimactic and almost...well, cheesy. Like I said, the action scenes and the chase was very satisfying, but the reason why the hunter was hunting them felt like a downer especially with how the hunter was described in the book's blurb.
I honestly think that all the dystopian and other fantasy books I have read has made my expectations for mysteries, hunters, mysterious hunters and anything similar to that a little bit higher than it used to be. Based from most of the reviews I have read for this novella, everyone loved this book. I still liked it, but I just felt underwhelmed by the reveal. Perhaps if I read this earlier while waiting for The Iron Daughter, I would feel different, but now that I have the next book and the third book in my TBR, it did not have the same effect on me.
But again, that's just me. *shrug* Winter's Passage is a good addition to the Iron Fey series and read it if you just want to have a quick dose of Meghan and Ash (and Grimalkin!). And the cover is gorgeous too -- too bad it's not available in print. I will still read the rest of the Iron Fey novels, because I still want to know what happens next (and Puck, I want to see you back!).(less)
I was one of those kids who believed in wishing on stars. My earliest memory of making a wish was when my brother told me abou...moreFull review at Pinoy Pop
I was one of those kids who believed in wishing on stars. My earliest memory of making a wish was when my brother told me about the North Star, and I wished that I'd dream about Cinderella that night (I was pretty young then). Years later, my friends and I would wait for the first star to appear so we could make a wish before going home, but as time went by, I found it harder and harder to make a simple wish. I'd end up using my wishes (even birthday wishes) for some beauty pageant greater good, you know, like world peace. It's a part of growing up I guess, or a fear that I'd wish for the wrong thing and then it would come true. I needed to be sure that if my wish did come true, it would be one I wouldn't regret.
Sixteen-year-old Viola faces the same problem in Jackson Pearce’s novel, As You Wish. Viola has been feeling invisible ever since her best friend and boyfriend, Lawrence, broke up with her after confessing he was gay. His coming out of the closet catapulted him to popularity, and Viola’s heartbreak pushed her to the sidelines. For the next seven months, she spends most of her days observing the people around her, trying to figure out how they belong to their own groups and wishing that she could simply belong, like they did. Viola’s desperate wish summons a young and handsome genie with no name, bearing (what else?) three wishes. The genie is anxious to return to his home world (he ages in the human world) but the only way for him to go back is for his master to use up her wishes. However, Viola is terrified of making the wrong wish, so she asks for time, much to the genie’s chagrin. Refusing to treat the genie as a slave, Viola gives him a name, Jinn, and forces him to call her by her name instead of Master. And that's when things get complicated…Click here to read the rest of the review.(less)
Cryer's Cross tells the story of Kendall Fletcher, a girl with OCD who lives in the small town of Cryer's Cross in Mont...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Cryer's Cross tells the story of Kendall Fletcher, a girl with OCD who lives in the small town of Cryer's Cross in Montana. It starts with the entire town searching for Tiffany Quinn, who disappeared without a trace shortly before Kendall's junior year ended. When the town eventually gives up on looking for her, everything sort of goes back to normal until Kendall's best friend and sort of boyfriend, Nico, also disappears. Kendall is distraught, until she finds something very peculiar: Nico and Tiffany sat in the same desk in school, and Nico seemed to be sending Kendall graffiti messages through this desk.
Lisa McMann delivers again in this deliciously creepy novel about a small town with secrets through the eyes of a girl with OCD. It's almost similar with the Dreamcatcher series in terms of its sparse prose, and yet Cryer's Cross has a more poetic feel about it with how the town was described and the people who live there. It had a somewhat initial similar feel to Sara Zarr's Once Was Lost, but it got creepier and creepier especially after reading some of the messages from "WE" in between some chapters such as this one:
When it is over, We breathe and ache like old oak, like peeling birch. One of Our lost souls set free. We move, a chess piece in the dark room, cast-iron legs a centimeter at a time, crying out in silent carved graffiti. Calling to Our next victim, Our next savior. We carve on Our face:
It came to a point that I was too scared to read this book when I was traveling alone or when I'm the only one left awake at home, which was why it took me a while to read this book (I'm a big chicken, too bad). The book's pacing was slow at first, but the author takes this time to set it all up, building up to a very creepy climax.
Perhaps my only gripe in this book is the reason why the things were happening felt a little...I don't know, abrupt? It was a perfectly creepy and horrifying reason, but it felt like it totally came from nowhere. Of course, this may be done on purpose to hike up the creepiness factor, although I kind of wish for a bit more foreshadowing on that piece of Cryer's Cross history.
Nevertheless, this is another solid book for Lisa McMann. I can't wait to read what she comes up with next.(less)
I never read any YA fiction that had faeries in it because I never found them interesting. Just like my avoidance for pa...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I never read any YA fiction that had faeries in it because I never found them interesting. Just like my avoidance for paranormal romance in YA, I felt like faery fiction was just the same as the others. No offense to any Twilight fans, but I don't really want to read another variation of a Bella Swan head over heels on a variation of an Edward Cullen who isn't a vampire. I thought: vampires = angels = fairies = meh. So I avoided them.
However, after reading Paranormalcy, I got curious about the faerie folklore after reading about Reth and the Seelie and the Unseelie Courts, and how there are true names and such. I wanted to read more, so I finally decided to get The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. It seemed like the most popular in the recent releases, so I thought, "Why not?"
Truth be told, I was wary at first. I don't really give up on the books I read, and I try as much as I can to finish them out of respect. I was more than ready to just finish this book and not pick up the next books in the series, if only to satiate my curiosity for faeries.
Fortunately, The Iron King proved me wrong. :) The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series, and it tells the story of Meghan Chase, who never quite fit in at school or at home, but it could be any kind of teenage thing. But on her sixteenth birthday, things get stranger: her best friend is extra protective, some weird things happen at school, and her brother gets kidnapped by a mysterious creatures and replaced by a changeling. As her eyes are opened to the other world that exists with hers and the true personality of her best friend, she enters the faery world to rescue her brother only to find out that she's actually the daughter of a faery king, and that she is wanted by different faery courts for reasons yet to be revealed to her.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed The Iron King. I'm not knowledgeable with faery stories (I have never read Midsummer Night's Dream) so I was impressed with the world building that the author put in the story. I liked how the faery world had an ethereal and magical feel to it but without losing the dangerous edge that reminds not only Meghan but the readers that faeries are not just pretty creatures but wily, cunning ones too. It was like imagination overdrive as I was introduced to the Summer Court -- I can imagine all the bright colors and different creatures and personalities introduced but it wasn't very overwhelming that I miss the story altogether. There was little about the Winter Court here (but I think that's the focus of The Iron Daughter), but I really liked the concept of the Iron Court.
The characters in The Iron King all had their different voices so it's easy get the hang of them after they were introduced. I like that Meghan grew into a stronger heroine, from being helpless at the start to someone who can play the games that the fey do. I liked most of the characters in The Iron King but I think my favorite of all is Grimalkin the cat! I love books with talking animals, and Grimalkin is just so much fun to read about! I love the way he talks to Meghan, and how he helped her, and his expression, "I am a cat." :)
The romance in the story is already given in the blurb, so it wasn't really a surprise for me. I wasn't floored by it either, but maybe it's because I have insanely high standards for romance in a book. While I saw the development between Meghan and Ash from a mile away, I kind of felt that their first romantic encounter was too abrupt. But then again, that may be my insanely high romantic standards speaking. I liked the Ash and Meghan love team...but I can't help but feel sorry for Puck, too (enter Best Friend vs. Other Guy theory). I hope there would be more Puck in the next book?
The overall message of the book is a bit off-putting, though, much thanks to The Book Smugglers for pointing it out. It seems like the real enemy that everyone seems to be pointing to in the book is technology, but I'm sure we all agree that not all technology is bad. I sure hope this would be tackled further in the next books because I'm curious to how this will be addressed. Regardless, though, I really enjoyed The Iron King, and I think it is a good start to a series. I look forward to reading The Iron Daughter and The Iron Queen.(less)
A few days ago, I was lamenting over Twitter about how I seem to be deprived of good literature back when I was in schoo...moreOriginal post at One More Page
A few days ago, I was lamenting over Twitter about how I seem to be deprived of good literature back when I was in school. The only times I was required to read a novel for school was during senior year in high school and then in college. I didn't get my love of reading from school, that is for sure. Because of this, I wasn't able to read the books that my friends had read for school, and now I am making up for it.
But in a way, it's also good, because I get to read these books now for leisure instead of for grades. So I guess it's not really a loss?
I picked up The Giver early this week because I was pondering on getting Matched by Ally Condie via Kindle. I was hesitant to get the latter because there were many lukewarm/cold reviews on it from the reviewers I trust, and most of them compare it to the former. I decided that if I was getting Matched, I have to read The Giver first. I also thought that I cannot call myself a real dystopia reader if I haven't read this one, and it's always nice to go back to basics, right?
The story starts with Jonas as he thinks about the upcoming December ceremony in his community. He's about to turn Twelve, in in Jonas' world, turning Twelve means he is going to be given his Assignment in the community. He was kind of apprehensive about it because he had no idea what his Assignment would be. To his surprise, during the ceremony, Jonas was selected rather than assigned: he was selected to be the next Receiver of Memories. It was an honor to be selected, but it was also painful in ways the Elders cannot describe to Jonas. Little did Jonas know that the pain involved in his training is really more pain than he ever imagined, but at the same time, he was given the chance to experience true happiness that he had missed out in favor of an equal community.
There is a simplicity in The Giver that other dystopia novels nowadays do not have. Most of the dystopia (ex. The Hunger Games, The Knife of Never Letting Go) I read this year are about worlds that are not peaceful, where oppression is apparent and death and destruction are normal. The Giveris different because it presents itself first as a utopia -- a seemingly ideal world where there is no poverty, violence or inequality. The people in the community work as a well-oiled machine and truth be told, the control freak in me liked it. I liked how everything has its place, how everything was so orderly. It was so uncomplicated, and I wonder how it feels to live an uncomplicated life.
Wait, I think I know how it would be: boring. Sure, we could use less complicated living, but not always. I remember some times when there were so many things happening in my life that I'd wish for a boring one, but once nothing happens in my life, I would wish for something to happen just so I won't be bored. If I were to live in the world that Jonas lived in with my memories still intact, I would probably go crazy.
But that was the thing: no one had memories of the past except for The Giver. I loved the way Lowry described the Jonas' life before he became the Receiver. It may seem, well, boring, but the writing style fits the world perfectly. I liked how as Jonas learned more and more of the truth, that we get to feel the sadness and horror he felt when he realized that the utopia he is living in is not what it seems.
The ending is much-debated for its openness, but I liked it. I am fond of open endings because it gives me room to think, and it opens up a lot of possibilities that could be a springboard to a sequel. However, as some of my friends in Goodreads said, The Giver has the type of ending that could stand on its own without feeling the need to read its other companion novels.
It's a good book. The Giver is one of those books that you have to read even just once in your lifetime. It has this haunting sadness that made me really think of what utopia really is, and if it's really worth losing so much just to gain an uncomplicated life.(less)
Kataastaasan by Hannah Buena and Paolo Chikiamco is not really a book but a short 22-page comic that is set in 1770 in Cebu City and tells an alternate history of the Philippines' struggle for independence from Spain. I don't want to give anything away since it's a pretty short piece, but suffice to say, I was pleasantly surprised at how the story turned out! I'm not much of a comic person and I'm fairly new to speculative fiction, so I did not know what to expect with this, but I finished this one with only one thought: that was a really cool twist.
And it really is. I thought it was a very creative use of one of the many colorful aspects of Filipino culture, with a steampunk twist. The language was easy to understand and I liked the dark vibe it had despite the innocent looking characters. I'm also not very knowledgeable in making comments on artwork, but I thought the illustrations here were very good, even if it's all in black and white. The lack of color just adds to the overall historic feel to it, IMHO.
I really, really liked this one, and it was worth the fifteen minutes I stole from work to read it. :P I'm hoping there would be more? I'm not much of a comic reader, but I'll definitely be in line for this one if there is more. :)
Kataastaasan will be published by Espresso Comics, which hopefully will be published before this year ends. Thanks to Pao for the ARC!(less)
In 2007, I wrote a NaNoWriMo novel with my main character as the manager and the guitarist of a Christian band. I had a...moreOriginal post at One More Page
In 2007, I wrote a NaNoWriMo novel with my main character as the manager and the guitarist of a Christian band. I had a pretty good idea for a story, really, with the band looking for a female vocalist and I figured the hardest part was writing about their chemistry. It turned out it wasn't. The hardest part was writing about music because even if I've helped produced some concerts before, I still didn't know how it feels like to be in an actual band, or even to just manage one. Suffice to say, that was one of the hardest novels I've tried to write.
But that doesn't stop me from putting singing characters or bands in my stories. I don't know why -- maybe it's a frustration because I know I am hardly musical? Oh I listen to a lot of songs, but I usually pay attention to the lyrics and not the music. Maybe it's because I have a secret dream of being a rock star or a manager of a band?
Antony John's latest novel, Five Flavors of Dumb spoke to my inner rock star and band manager. I've been eying this book for the longest time (even made a Want Books post about it) ever since I saw it from That Cover Girl. I was planning on waiting for the actual book to arrive but I had an ebook itch I needed to scratch and I was very easily swayed when she convinced me to. And this is one splurge I am very glad I did. :)
Five Flavors of Dumb tells the story of Piper Vaughan, deaf girl, who gets recruited to be the manager of Dumb, the new rock band in school. What would a deaf girl know about music, right? But Piper says yes to it after she finds out that her parents used her college money to buy a cochlear implant for her baby sister, Grace, who was born deaf. She has one month to bring in the cash, and it would have been easier for her if Dumb actually worked together...but as luck would have it, it wasn't. And craziness ensues.
Five Flavors of Dumb is such a fun read from the start all the way to the end. I loved Piper's voice. If you didn't read the blurb, you'd honestly be surprised to find out she was deaf as she revealed it. I loved how smart and snarky Piper was despite her circumstances, and the fact that she was hearing impaired made her rock some more. I love how the other characters were more than what they were at first, particularly the other girls, Tash and Kallie. The characters were a diverse group, and it really brought out the "flavors" in the novel.
There's also a lot more going in this novel other than Piper's deafness or managing the band. This book also tackled some music history (Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix, for those who are curious), passion, a bit of self-image and a lot of family. I was torn between Piper and her family when tensions rose about her deafness and her sister's cochlear implants, and normally I would think it was unfair for Piper. I hated Piper's father at first for being so prejudiced against his daughter, but he had a good redemption in the end. It really is a difficult situation for a family to be in, anyway. The choices that Piper's parents made are choices that they shouldn't have to make, but they have to and just find ways to deal with what happens after. I loved how that issue was resolved and how everything was tied up at the end. To put it simply: it rocked.
I was kind of expecting it to be like Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway (which I also liked a lot), but Five Flavors of Dumb had all the things I liked about that novel, and more. This is one of the books that I think I will also get in print version when I see it in the stores here so I can lend it to other people and they can read for themselves how much this book rocks (and the cover is just really pretty). Don't miss out on this one rocking your world. :)
And you know what? This book just gave me a problem. I'd need to fix my Top 10 reads of 2010 again to make room for this one.(less)
I wasn't really planning on reading this book anytime soon, because I figure I should read my John Green novels in order...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't really planning on reading this book anytime soon, because I figure I should read my John Green novels in order of release: Looking for Alaska first, then An Abundance of Katherines and finally, Paper Towns. But sometimes, you will have some friends who absolutely love a certain book and they would not stop bugging you until you read that book they love, especially after they learned you got a copy (Hi Aaron!). So, Katherines, you'd have to wait for a while.
So yeah, I gave in, especially since I was still in the mood to read something contemporary after This Lullaby. It's been mentioned a lot in other John Green reviews, but for the sake of discussion, I will mention it again: John Green's cast of characters can come across as formulaic. There's the geeky and awkward guy, the beautiful and imperfect unattainable girl and a couple of friends from the guys who will join him in the journey of discovering more about the girl and eventually discover more about themselves. This is also said about Sarah Dessen, and having read all her novels, I kind of agree. However, this doesn't mean that her novels are boring, and after reading Paper Towns, I can say that same goes for John Green. They wouldn't be staples in contemporary YA if their books didn't have something good to offer, right?
In a word, Paper Towns was charming. I liked Looking for Alaska enough, but it was a dark novel and it's not something I'd read to cheer myself up. Paper Towns is the opposite -- it's happy, but not bubblegum/fluffy happy. If I were to classify what kind of happiness this book has, it's the victorious kind of happy: the joy you feel after you finally achieved something you've worked hard for that also comes with some sort of sadness when you realized that what you achieved isn't exactly what you thought it was. John Green has perfectly captured the life of a senior who's happy with routine in the form of the hero Q, and the life of someone who feels the need to get away in the form of Margo.
I know a lot of readers who disliked Margo, but I honestly didn't find her so bad. I think maybe it's because I felt genuine empathy for Q's plight, on how he wanted to find her so much that it hurts him inside just to think of her. There's a sense of desperation inside Q that I find familiar -- the desperate need to hold on to the image of the girl he loved up until he realized that there was more to her than what he's always thought of. I have to admit that I've felt like that a lot, and it's caused me so many disappointments. Often times, I have an image for the guys I like, and I cling to this image so much that I put these guys in a pedestal where they can do no wrong. Once reality slaps me on the face, these guys become people and I find myself being shattered with the expectations I have about them. That's not saying that the guys I liked were bad people; it was more of being affected by how much I wanted them to be "The One" when it's too early to say anything about it.
Now Margo. Like I said, I'm probably one of the people who did not dislike her. I admired her for being brave enough to do what she wanted. Granted, it wasn't the most well-executed plans, but actually going through with doing what she wanted despite the consequences is something I applaud. I wonder if I will be brave enough to do what she did and leave. Leave what, exactly, I do not know yet. I find myself wondering how Q felt when he said this:
It is so hard to leave -- until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world. (p. 229)
I guess I will never know until I do so myself.
There were so many things in Paper Towns that can be discussed, and I bet I'll pick up something else here if ever I decide to re-read this sometime later. This book is very re-readable, and I think the pacing helped that. John Green managed to keep enough suspense and mystery throughout the book without making me feel like I'm going around in circles. And like everyone else, I loved the last few pages of the book. Poignant and bittersweet. :)
My favorite character of all in the book, however, is Radar. You just have to love the ultimate geek in their trio, whose parents own the biggest collection of black Santas in the world and who will drop everything just to help out a friend.
Paper Towns is a great book. I'd say it's awesome, but right now I'm going to give the final verdict to this book after I have read An Abundance of Katherines. But if you're looking for a good contemporary YA novel, Paper Towns is a very good place to start. :)(less)
1. It's written by a Filipino. 2. It's written by a sixteen-year-old girl.
I wrote my first story when I was a seven years old. It was a story about how the different weathers (sunny, cloudy, rainy, stormy) were all fighting over their reign in the sky, which led to the people on earth pleading for them to stop fighting because it was getting hard for them there. The next story I wrote (that I still have a copy of!) is The Two Slumber Parties, were two friends fight and set a slumber party on one date, putting one of their friends in the middle to choose. I wrote more stories after I realized and declared that I wanted to be a write when I grow up, filling notebooks and notebooks with stories which always had a happy ending.
So why don't I have a published novel now? Well, I blame it on real life taking over and me starting to get pickier and pickier with the stories I wrote. That, and computers, because around the time when I could have started submitting stories somewhere, I started getting into web design and that started my career as a web person. I admit to still feeling a pang of regret with my sort of forgotten writing "career", but that's why I join NaNoWriMo year after year.
Anyway, I was looking forward to reading Samantha's book because I was curious about what someone her age could write. Flight to the Stars is an anthology of three short stories that, as the blurb mentioned, "...tackles serious themes encompassing teenage life and Filipino dynamics." The title story, Flight to the Stars, tells the story of Mike and his relationship with his father and his mistress, and his own reflections on life as he gets married to the girl of his dreams. The second story, Sapphire, is about a girl and her battle with insecurities particularly with her weight, and her first heartbreak. The third story, The Purple Box, is about a man facing his sixty-first birthday with flashbacks on how he ended up where he was, thinking about the man who had inspired him to hope and the tragedy that shattered all that.
There is much promise in this collection of stories that the young author wrote. They're all positive, family-oriented stories, all full of hope and life lessons. Like what other reviews said, this is the kind of book that I wouldn't mind letting younger kids read, particularly those who are in their tweens and the ones who are ready to start transitioning to bigger, wordier books. There is a distinctly Filipino feel in their stories that makes them closer to the heart, and yet I think that people from other nationalities will also appreciate the stories, too. That doesn't mean that grown-ups won't appreciate this, though. I liked them well enough (even if I don't really consider myself as a grown up sometimes :P), and the stories kind of reminded me of my younger years and the little concerns that I had then, such as assignments, going to the prom, being late for school, and all that.
However, as an adult reader who's been reading a lot for the past few months, I think the age of the author really showed in her stories. Aside from the simple language, it pretty much showed that the author doesn't really know much of the different troubles of growing up, at least by experience. I'm not saying that I know everything of course, but I was kind of looking for something in the stories that would evoke some emotions from me that unfortunately I didn't get. These stories reminded me of the things I wrote when I was younger: written in rose-colored glasses, teetering at the edge of the serious, of the dark and the deep but never really making the plunge to see what's going to happen after. There were many unexplored parts and issues in the stories that could have been could have made a different impact on the stories. Spoiler warning starts here. Case in point: in Sapphire, the eating disorder that the heroine developed felt like it was rushed, especially on the part on how she got over it. Sure, I understand that you'd do everything for your family, but an eating disorder is not something you'd just get rid of at a snap of a finger, just because someone is watching. I've never had an eating disorder but I know friends who have tried to get over it and it's not easy. It's not a deal breaker, but I feel that it's important since this could be something that could spark a discussion with kids and their parents or their teachers, about eating disorders and self-image. Spoiler warning ends here. This may be just me nitpicking, of course...but readers who are looking for a very deep and emotional read may be a tad disappointed, so I would advise you to set your expectations right if you would decide to read this book.
Overall, though, this is a promising book, and I think it's a great feat for a 16-year-old to write something like this. I wonder now -- if she can get published, then I am pretty sure one or two (or ten!) of the hundreds of Filipino NaNoWriMo participants can do so, too. I bet if every budding writer in the Philippines had the same kind of support that Samantha Mae Coyiuto had, then we'd have more books written by Filipino authors. And with the number of book lovers here in the Philippines, I'm sure there are guaranteed readers, too. I will definitely be one of them. :)(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)
When Aarontweeted about this book novella, I squealed inside the office. No joke. I immediately called my friend Jana from her workstation, who squealed too, and once again with me, when we found out it was free. This book was one of the reasons we disrupted the peace and quiet at the office that Friday afternoon.
The New World is a 23-page novella that tells us how Viola landed in the New World (aka Todd's world) and glimpses of her life before she reached the planet. Here, we meet her parents, as well as some of her friends and we get to know about her, most especially her survival skills. The prose is sharp and the action flows smoothly through flashbacks and the present time. It's not as raw or awkward as Todd's point of view was, but I think Viola's voice was very accurate to how I knew her from the first book.
This was a very quick read, and I was kind of hoping to read a bit of a crossover with the story in Knife in Viola's POV, but there was none. However, I agree that this novella can be read even if you have read the three books already or if you are new to the trilogy -- it really doesn't matter. It may seem to be a bit spoilery for some events in Knife, but it's not really a big deal, IMHO. If you're kind of daunted by the title or the thickness or the story in the first book of the Chaos Walking series, then The New World is definitely a good place to start in this awesome series. :) (less)
The Lipstick Laws is one of those books that is good to read when you have been too immersed in out-of-this-world books...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The Lipstick Laws is one of those books that is good to read when you have been too immersed in out-of-this-world books, particularly ones full of magic or suspense or people chasing other people to kill them. This is the kind of book that you'd want to read to get back to reality, to remind you that real life could also be as exciting (and sometimes, as terrifying) as fantasy ones.
I picked up The Lipstick Laws as a palate cleanser after reading books about witches and warlocks and zombies. Even if I have been reading a few contemporaries in between the fantasy ones, I felt like my brain needed something easier, something with less mystery and emotional baggage than the ones I have read recently.
April is practically invisible in school, until she gets paired with popular Britney Taylor, who accepts her into her circle of friends. Even if Britney was a horrific friend, April could not resist the lure of popularity, especially if it would make her new crush, Matt Brentwood, notice her. Before she knows it, she takes The Lipstick Oath, and it sends her life spiraling out of control because of the silly rules and the price of Britney Taylor's friendship.
I have never watched Mean Girls movie in full, but this book reminds me of that. Britney was absolutely horrible and shallow and it's easy to dislike her for her stuck up attitude, at least until the author reveals why Britney changed and what she had to live with. This gives Britney more dimension as a villain in April's life, even if it doesn't excuse her attitude. April, on the other hand, can get a bit frustrating at times because it took her so long to realize what she was in danger of turning into something she was trying to destroy. While her epiphany on how she was acting didn't make heavenly light shine upon her but instead felt more like a light bulb moment, it felt like a natural realization for someone April's age to think as she assess her situation. I like how the author gave the heroine and the villain unique voices and yet still manage to juxtapose their lives for us readers to see how similar they can be.
Reading The Lipstick Laws makes me very thankful that my high school life wasn't like that. My high school life was relatively boring, really, save for some contests won and Student Council projects and trips. Then again, I wasn't a part of the popular clique -- I wasn't even sure if there was a popular clique in my school. This lack of similar high school experience prevents me from empathizing with the characters in this novel, but it certainly did not make me enjoy this book less. :)
Since I loved how Magic Strikes ended, I knew I couldn't wait to read the fourth book in the Kate Daniels series, even if it meant finishing the book would make me itch for the fifth book already. But when the last book has left you smiling and the fourth book is just waiting to be read, well...you just have to grab it to keep the magic going. That, and I needed to know what happened to Kate and Curran. Yes, I needed to.
Magic Bleeds opens up a whole lot of doors into Kate and Curran's lives, both individually and in their lives together. It picks up right where the previous book left off, of course we know that there will be a bump in the road where their relationship is going. The book starts off with that, and it left me wondering what will happen once their paths cross again. That doesn't mean the story revolved only around their romance. Kate is faced yet again with a problem of epic proportions, and it truly is epic because of the connection to her past. Here we get to see and know just who Kate is preparing to fight. The result of all the fighting leaves me wondering if she is really capable of winning the fight of her life and still save the people she cares for. Of course we know she'll win in the end, but how she will win is the big question. Kate is stronger here but also she's grown softer now that she forming relationships with the people she works with. She's still as snarky as ever though, and the book is littered with a ton of quotable quotes and funny anecdotes with the same deadpan humor that somehow lifted the feeling of impending doom.
We also learn more about Curran and how he became the Beast Lord, and why he acts the way he does. I like that he's not the perfect guy, and I like that he's just as flawed as Kate is. This just goes to show how good they are for each other. More Pack dynamics were discussed in this book, which showed that there was even a more complicated world inside the magical one that they live in. The diversity of the Pack and their politics were so well-thought out that we absolutely understand why Curran acts that way. It's been said many times already, but I must say it again: Ilona Andrews knows how to build worlds, down to the smallest details.
Which brings me to the Kate and Curran scenes in this book: wow. Totally absolutely satisfying! I have to admit that sometimesnI like the sparring and the romantic tension more than the actual relationship itself. Sometimes I don't want the characters to "level up" because when something finally happens I know things will change. I was afraid for that to happen with Kate and Curran, but the authors did a very good job in keeping the relationship exciting while making it grow. I'm content with the fact that Kate would still be the same snarky heroine that I loved from the first book, and Curran will still be the control freak Beast Lord, despite all the developments. :)
One more plus point about this book: Kate adopted a dog. You can never go wrong when the protagonist adopts a dog. ;)
And like with the rest of the fans of the series, I absolutely cannot wait for the fifth book. When, oh when will it be out? :o(less)
Everyone I know online and offline who recommends this series has said this already so my saying this doesn't really hav...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Everyone I know online and offline who recommends this series has said this already so my saying this doesn't really have that much bearing but I have to say this: Magic Strikes is the book in the Kate Daniels series. If at Magic Bites and Magic Burns, I only liked and really liked this series, Magic Strikes is the book that made me love it, love Kate and everything else in her fantastic universe.
In Magic Strikes, we finally learn more about Kate, her past and her mission. I love that there wasn't a big dramatic reveal to it, really, but it was written like Kate has decided to trust the reader and tell (almost?) everything. We see Kate growing from the lone warrior to a part of a team, from someone who'd rather not have any attachments to someone who'd die just to make sure all the people she cares for is safe. There's so much character growth for Kate in this book that it's impossible not not to love her even more, and to want to be as awesome as she is especially when she starts kicking butt.
It was also really fun to get to know the secondary characters -- from Jim, Kate's old partner to Andrea, her new best friend and all the way to the Pack's medmage Dr. Doolittle (whose animal counterpart is so cute and fitting :) ). Their relationships and dynamics with one another was also fun to read, particularly the shapeshifters, making them not just a simple pack, but almost like a family. Ilona Andrews knows how to make the supporting characters shine, putting spotlight on them in the right times and giving them little quirks that make them feel real despite their magical abilities.
It's really hard to point out what I really loved about this book because there were so many awesome things about it, but if I were to choose, I'd go with the reason that made me end this book with a huge silly smile on my face: all the Kate and Curran moments. ♥ Ah, I can't remember the last time I was this invested on a fictional (non) couple. Kate and Curran's banter is not just funny but also sweet and yes, sexy. "Baby." I never thought I'd like reading that pet name, ever, until Curran said it.
I know most of this review is just squee-ing, but there's just so much to squee about in Magic Strikes. I love it, and I love this series, and I'm very, very happy that I splurged on these books because it was absolutely worth it. I'm so glad I don't have to wait too long to read the fourth book, Magic Bleeds. In fact, I'm reading it now. :)(less)
I wasn't planning to read Magic Burns immediately after I finished Magic Bites because I didn't want to go through the...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't planning to read Magic Burns immediately after I finished Magic Bites because I didn't want to go through the entire series too fast, plus I always rest in between reading a series so I can read other books from my TBR pile. But after I finished the first book, I was reeling so much from Kate and the magical Atlanta that I had to read what happens next.
Some time has passed after the events of Magic Bites happened, and Kate wakes up to a phone call from her former partner and shapeshifter Jim who offers her a gig. Together, they disarm an arsonist successfully, but not before the culprit is killed by an unknown assassin. As Kate sets to investigate this, she finds a bigger concern not just for her but for everyone: a magical flare is coming up, and when magic runs rampant, things are destined to go wrong.
Magic Burns further immerses us into the world of Ilona Andrews' characters, where magic and technology rises and falls every now and then. This is further expounded here with the occurence of a magical flare that comes once every seven years. More creatures are introduced, including the existence of gods and goddesses, that even Kate wasn't really buying despite all the magic that she knows. I like how more things seemed to be explained here, including how magic can make people, more insight on the Pack dynamics and the interesting new addition, the witches. The world building here is as solid as the first, and despite the amount of extraordinary things in Kate's world, it was easy to accept the fact that these things exist.
What makes Magic Burns (and Magic Bites) so readable is how it's not just serious fantasy. I love the little funny quips and things that happens in the novel, and I find myself shaking my head as I chuckle at a seemingly ridiculous scene but still very fitting. I think "deadpan" is the right term to describe it. For example, there was a scene in the book where Kate was talking to Gasthek, a necromancer, through a vampire host he sent to her office:
"What's in it for me?"
The day I took the People's money would be the day I give up on being a human. "Not interested. Any other offers?"
The vampire stared at me, his mouth slack as Gasthek assessed his options. I took a couple of forms from my desk, put them in the vamp's mouth, and pulled them up by their edges.
"What are you doing?" Gasthek asked.
"My hole puncher broke." (p. 117)
See what I mean? I can only imagine what that scene looked like. :P
As always, Kate was very awesome here. In Magic Bites we get to see a bit of Kate and how tough she was. In Magic Burns, we see a bit of Kate's soft side as she forms a relationship with Julie, the kid she "adopts" early in the book. We see her fierceness in protecting the person entrusted to her and what lengths she would go to just to keep her safe. Despite Kate's strong personality and her need to be private, she's not one without friends. She knows and keeps the value of friendship, going as far as provoking even the Beast Lord just to protect her friend. I like this side of her because it makes her more human. Further into the novel, though, we see a bit of how powerful Kate can be, and we learn a bit of her past, which I believe will be expounded on the latter novels.
And speaking of the Beast Lord. Ah Curran. :) I think I am starting to understand why the girls I know who like the series sigh with a mention of Curran. :) And that final scene? I wouldn't have gotten The Princess Bridereference if I didn't read this Goodreads review. I immediately re-read the last part and gave a tiny squeal (just tiny because I was in the office when I finished this) -- "As you wish!" Squeeee! ♥ They tell me it gets better in the next books, so I can't wait to read them.
Magic Burns is a solid follow-up to Magic Bites, if not better. :) I am about to start Magic Strikes, and I can't wait to read more Kate and of course, whatever there is between her and Curran. :)(less)
When I first started reading fantasy by choice, I know I wouldn't be really interested in any hardcore fantasy novels, l...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I first started reading fantasy by choice, I know I wouldn't be really interested in any hardcore fantasy novels, like Tolkien or anything similar. I remember saying that my brain can't possibly process and visualize all the foreign worlds and creatures and such. When I came across Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series, I knew I liked that kind of fantasy -- the one still set in the real world yet has fantastical elements. Hello urban fantasy.
I was all set to read more urban fantasy after that, but alas, I fell into YA paranormal and eventually dystopia. I never really thought of actively looking for urban fantasy because of the plethora of books in my TBR pile, plus I wasn't really sure where to start.
And now I take this time to thank Chachic and Michelle for pushing me in the right direction with Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series. I've told the story of how I got the books here, but if you're too lazy to click over and come back, here's the gist: we were book shopping, Chachic showed us the first book, told us all four books were available. I looked at them, listened to the two girls tell me how awesome the series was, and quickly folded, buying all four books in the series at once and starting Magic Bites that night.
And friends, I got hooked.
If you're planning to read this book, I suggest you read and try to understand the description at the back as much as you can because there are no explanations offered at the start. I was immediately dropped into Kate's world like that. There were no careful explanations or introductions; I found myself reading about Kate was sitting at her kitchen when magic "fell" and there was suddenly a vampire. All that happened before I could say "What?" and so I had to slow down with reading to really get what was happening. It was kind of disorienting at first, so if you're not too used to fantasy this may present a little problem.
But don't give up on it! You will get used to it, and like me, you'll marvel at the world building that the authors* did in this book. Kate's world is very believable despite all the magical tendencies, and after some time, I got used to how their world works. As always, there were the vampires and shapeshifters, but they're not the sparkly vampires or the imprinting shapeshifters that is popular right now. I am very, very relieved to know that these creatures in Kate's world are not like them, especially the vampires. The book may not have Dracula-like vampires, but they're written as terrifying creatures. Finally something that made sense! I am overjoyed. :P
I can't really decide what made this book awesome, but since I have three more books to review for this series, I can discuss the others in their reviews. :P For the first book, I am all praises for the protagonist, Kate. Kate is just...kick-ass. She's snarky, sassy, tough yet underneath all that, still very feminine. It's hard not to like her from the very start and love her as the story goes on. There's an air of mystery around her, too, that made me want to continue reading just to know her past...but in the end, I still don't know who (or what) she was. Even so, her personality wasn't hidden so much that I didn't get to know who she was and the lengths she would go to get what she wants as the story happens. Kate reminds me of one of my favorite heroines of all time, Thursday Next: they're both very smart and strong female characters, ones that I would love to be if I were made into a book character. :)
Of course I know I haven't really said much about this book after all that I've written in this review. This is a very solid debut from Ilona Andrews. It's dark, with lots of mystery and action (oh yes, a bit of gore, too), but still with enough snark and sass that I chuckled every now and then. It's not perfect, but it's a great start for a series that I immediately grabbed the second book just to be immersed in Kate Daniels' world.
Once again, thanks to Chachic and Michelle for pushing this one! I can't wait to find out more about Kate (and Curran! :P) in the next books. :)
* Ilona Andrews is actually the pen name of the husband-wife writer tandem of Ilona and Andrew Gordon. Awesome, yes? (less)
One of our favorite past times/stress busters at work is zombie killing. No, seriously. Whenever we (namely Grace and I)...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One of our favorite past times/stress busters at work is zombie killing. No, seriously. Whenever we (namely Grace and I) find ourselves extremely stressed at work, and we have some money left, we'd troop over to Timezone (the nearest arcade at work) and start hogging the House of the Dead 4 machine and start blasting zombies away. There's something really therapeutic about gunning down zombies and killing monsters, even if we never get past the third level.
Z by Michael Thomas Ford reminds me exactly of House of the Dead 4. Not with the story, but with how the book has a general zombie video game feel. Z immediately drops us into action as we follow Josh go through what seemed to be an abandoned hospital, looking for z's to torch and humans to rescue. It seems very realistic at first, but we are surprised later by an interruption, where we find out that Josh is really just playing a video game, and one he wasn't supposed to play.
But of course, Josh keeps on playing, and his skills were noticed by Charlie, one of the best players in the game. Josh gets invited to a secret gaming community that brings zombie torching into another level: a face to face game with real torches with seemingly real zombies and seemingly real blood. Josh is both horrified and fascinated, but since it's not real, there's no harm in playing, right?
Z has a pretty interesting take into zombies, different from what I have read so far. Zombies, according to Josh's world, are not reanimated dead but people who contracted a mutant flu strain that enlarges the R-complex, or the reptilian part of the brain, removing all sentient thoughts of the person. This virus reduced the person's ability to feel pain and thickened the blood, making the zombies hard to kill save for setting them on fire. The human being doesn't exactly die but their humanity does, making them pretty much dead, anyway. It's an interesting idea that doesn't really lessens the horror of zombies. In fact, it may make things even scarier, since the virus takes living people and turns them into the undead right in front of you.
I like how the author managed to put in the game feel in the story. The descriptions were sharp and vivid, and the zombie hunting scene carried enough tension to make me gasp in surprise whenever some z's show up. The author was able to put some kind of "face" for the zombies by their little gory descriptions -- hair and scalp pulled out, milky eyes, rotting mouth, etc. The zombies here are not just one mob of undead shuffling towards the living but individual horrifying people that used to be the characters' friends. This is the very strong point of Z in my opinion, and it gives the book an overall gaming feel, a-la Resident Evil or House of the Dead.
However, that's where the strength ends. I felt the plot of the book a bit lacking. While there was an element of surprise in the zombie hunts, the overall story arc is pretty typical as far as zombie novels are concerned. It's pretty straightforward, really, and while there was one twist that was kind of unexpected, the rest were pretty predictable. I feel like there's really nothing new that Z could offer as far as zombie stories are concerned. It's not shallow, but it just doesn't have the depth that other zombie novels managed to capture.
I would recommend Z as a sort of fluffy reading for zombie aficionados and gamers. Like with other reviewers, I think this book is written more for the younger audiences, particularly boys. It's fun, it's gory, but it's not really the zombie novel that changed my life.(less)
Melinda was looking forward to high school that summer, but all changed when she busted an end-of-summer party by callin...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Melinda was looking forward to high school that summer, but all changed when she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. She starts the first day of school as an official outcast, where even her best friend would not look at her. But there was more to the busting that made Melinda's situation different -- something happened during that party that made Melinda shut up and curl into herself.
If you know me in person, you would know that I am very talkative. As in VERY. I used to think I was a shy person, but who am I kidding? I'm not. I may not be the friendliest person around, but I have a thousand stories I could probably share if needed to entertain or to just keep the conversation going. I can't not speak, really. I can, but only for certain moods, or when it is absolutely required not to be silent. Otherwise, you'd always hear me first before actually seeing me.
Speak was a hard novel for me to read because I wanted Melinda to speak up about her situation. I even wanted to speak up in her place because she was suffering even if she doesn't want to admit it. I do understand, however that her silence was her defense mechanism, like talking is mine. It was just kind of hard to watch her suffer through so many things when it could have been over soon if she just spoke up. I try to imagine myself in her situation, but as I was doing so, I stopped. I can't, I don't want to, because it's not a situation any girl would want to be in. No one deserves to experience what Melinda felt, but unfortunately, it happens. :(
Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a good one, but not easy to digest. These are what I call "issue" books. Compared to other contemporary YA, issue books deal with deeper issues, issues that the characters don't have control with, like abuse or rape. Speak is written in almost like a stream-of-consciousness prose, where we have access to Melinda's thoughts as she thinks of them. Even so, these thoughts were still filtered, as she filters them to herself as well. She refuses to think what happened on the night of the party, at least until she finally finds the courage to face it. I find the author's depiction accurate, as far as my imagination can see. Some people may think that Melinda is too angsty and sarcastic, but I think it was just a way of defending herself, of fortifying the walls she built around her. For those like me who are blessed to not share the same experience of Melinda, it might be hard to sympathize with her at first, but as her story is revealed, it gets easier to feel for her. You may not love her, but you will want her to win in the end.
This is why books like Speak is important, because it gives the Melindas of the world a reason to...well, speak loudly. To let their voices be heard, to help other girls and to stop what happened from happening to anyone else again. There is strength in community, in having someone share the burden. Speak is empowering, and I think the number of positive reviews and the humongous reaction to Speak Loudly is enough proof of that.
Speak is a powerful book. The tree symbolism may be a bit cliche, but it's just a minor thing. This book is sad, heartbreaking, sometimes horrifying, but still offers hope and beauty despite all the brokenness. It's not my favorite book, but it's one of the books I glad I read. :)(less)
I've been reading a lot of fantasy and dystopia lately so I decided to take a bit of a break and go for a light and fluf...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've been reading a lot of fantasy and dystopia lately so I decided to take a bit of a break and go for a light and fluffy book just to cleanse the palate. I recently got Camy Tang's Formula for Danger through my Kindle, and I missed reading Camy's work, so I thought this would be a perfect in-between book.
Well, I think I may have chosen the wrong book! I'm not saying that because it's a bad book, but because Formula for Danger is anything but fluffy. Of course, I should have picked up from the title already, but who knew this book would be such a non-stop suspense ride all the way to the end?
Formula for Danger wastes no time with the action as I was dropped immediately in the middle of it right from the start. Rachel Grant, the protagonist, is assaulted just as she goes out of her lab at the family owned Joy Luck Spa. From here bad luck just seemed to follow Rachel, but this luck is not coincidental but planned as someone really wants her dead! Every chapter in Formula for Danger is brimming with suspense and action, and I found myself getting breathless as every threat comes to Rachel's (and the love interest, Edward's) life.
It was easy to immerse myself into the Grants' world again as I'm already familiar with it after reading Deadly Intent, the story of Rachel's sister, Naomi. This isn't really a sequel, so you don't have to read the first book before reading this, although I feel like it may be helpful. Formula for Danger brings in the action quick that there is no time to really get to know and appreciate Rachel's family with all that's happening in the novel. Perhaps it was just me, since I haven't read books in this genre for a while, so I felt like I would be a bit frustrated with reading this and diving right into the action without pausing long enough to know about the surroundings.
The threat in Rachel's life felt very real, and the suspense in finding out who the culprit was drawn out for so long that I found myself wondering the same thing that the main characters did: when will it end? However, I wasn't really that surprised when the reveal was made and I'm not sure if it's because I figured it out beforehand or because it's really just not that surprising. Compared to Deadly Intent, there seemed to be less red herrings thrown here, so the mystery seemed a bit linear, and the chase to save Rachel's life took a higher precedence compared to finding out who was behind everything.
I liked the romantic and Christian aspect of the novel, though, more than the suspense. I liked that Camy focused on how Rachel learned that God is in control of everything even in the chaos. I also liked it a lot that Camy gave Edward, the love interest somewhat of a superhero complex and how he was humbled in the end. This is a Christian novel, so expect prayers from the characters and phrases such as "Praise God" and such. I don't think it's preachy, but if you're not used to reading characters do this, well, I'll leave it up to you if you'd pick it up. Personally, I'd still push this book to others, because the message is good, and well, because I'm a Christian. :D
As a whole, Formula for Danger is a quick and suspenseful read, with a strong Christian foundation. If you would ask me, though, I still liked Deadly Intent better, but it may be because I could relate more to Naomi than Rachel. Nevertheless, this is a good addition to my Camy Tang collection, and I can't wait to read what she writes next. :)(less)
When the need to read contemporary novels hit me, it stays and it stays until the need decides it's satisfied. And what...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When the need to read contemporary novels hit me, it stays and it stays until the need decides it's satisfied. And what better book to fill that contemporary need than something written by John Green?
I was really planning to read John Green's books in order of publication, but Paper Towns had to come first due to an insistent friend and because I covered that with plastic first. I didn't mind, although I was kind of wary thinking of how this book would fare against the rest, or how the other books would fare after I read this one, given the John Green formula. True to that formula, An Abundance of Katherines has the usual elements: a nerdy/loserish (by popularity’s standards)/socially awkward guy, a mysterious girl, a trusty and equally nerdy/loserish (by popularity’s standards)/socially awkward sidekick, and a car. But that's when the similarities end, because this book is probably is indeed the funniest, quirkiest, and the happiest among all Green books.
Colin Singleton is an anagram loving child prodigy who has only one friend and strangely a lot of girlfriends, all named Katherines. After he gets dumped by the 19th Katherine, he sets off on a road trip with his Lebanese friend, Hassan. The two find themselves in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they meet Hollis and Lindsey, and find a job gathering stories from locals for some project. Colin finds himself consumed by trying to prove his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which would predict his relationship with the next Katherine, and along the way (just like the other John Green books), our hero finds out more about himself.
The best thing about An Abundance of Katherines is how quirky the entire book is. It's not just the characters or the story but how it was also written. Math geeks would definitely be happy about the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, with graphs and whatnot inside the book. I love the little footnotes on the pages that translates some of the words Colin and Hassan say, as well as little anecdotes about Colin and his own quirkiness. If you don't like math, well, don't worry either. I'm pretty sure you will still enjoy this book because you don't really need math to understand the graphs or equations. You don't really need to understand them, anyway, but if you're like me who doesn't really like math but want to understand things, there's an appendix right at the end of the book that explains the equations and graphs. It reminds me a bit of analytic geometry in high school, but in a more fun scale. Why didn't we have this book back then?
I love that this book not only talks about relationships and dumping, but it also manages to touch a bit on reading, books and telling stories -- three things I like. I've never actually been a Dumpee or a Dumper (that is, in a "proper" relationship sense. By proper, I mean actual real relationships where both parties are in it, and not just one pining after the other, or what I like to call "Almost there, but not quite". Okay, Dingleberries! :P), so I couldn't really relate to that, but I like how there were some parts of Colin that I could relate to, particularly in books. I really liked one of his last Eureka moments, particularly this quote:
Even if it's a dumb story, telling it changes other people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinitesimal change ripples outward - ever smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter - maybe less than a lot, but always more than some.
This really makes me wonder why I waited so long to read John Green's books. But no matter, I'm glad I read them now. This makes me want to go to the book store and search for his works (namely Let It Snow, Geektastic, 21 Proms, and Will Grayson Will Grayson). More John Green over here, please.
Oh, and in case you're wondering how this compares to Paper Towns for me? It's a tie, really. I can't pick which is better. But An Abundance of Katherines definitely has the happiest ending among all John Green books, so that's something to keep in mind if you're wondering which to read first. :)(less)
I wasn't sure what to expect with Grace when I got it. Okay, so I posted a WoW post about this because I was curious, even if I'm not (yet) a fan of Elizabeth Scott. So far, out of all Scott's work, the only book I liked was Stealing Heaven, and I am not so sure if I want to read her other books after that. But I made an exception for this because it is dystopian, and I have been liking that sub-genre a lot lately.
Grace was raised as an Angel, a suicide bomber trained by the People to fight against Keran Berj's oppression. She was brought to the People by her dad after her mother died, and she knew that she will be herald of death, a girl chosen by the Saints to fight for freedom against Keran Berj's cruelty against the land. She grew up knowing what an honor it would be to die for the cause, but knowing is not the same as believing. On the day that she was supposed to kill the Minister of Culture, Grace decides not to die and instead escapes. She is joined by a mysterious, seemingly compassionate man named Kerr as they rode the train to a border that they were not sure if they could reach.
The story is simple, both in prose and plot. It's confusing at first, because the story wasn't told in a linear manner, but in flashbacks and anecdotes of Grace's past and the history that she knew of about their land and Keran Berj's rule. After some time, though, as I got used to the narration, I finally got the hang of it and it was easier from there. The chapters were short, sparse and almost poetic and but it does not lack the emotion or action that would pull the readers in Grace's bleak world. There is very little hope as what little of Grace's story unfolds, and I felt afraid for her as she rode the train to the border. This is not a book you would want to read for a quick and easy read because it's not. However, despite all that, Scott manages to weave a little bit of hope in the story, a little spark in the darkness that Grace had lived in almost all her life. Just like Grace, I was hesitant to believe in that hope, but I wanted her to hold on to it because I wanted to believe that there is still something good in the world she lives in.
This is a depressing book. It reminds me a lot of those war movies and books that I avoid, particularly ones about World War II and the Nazis. I never liked watching those movies because it's scary, and I hate the idea that it could possibly happen again. I know it's weird coming from someone who likes dystopian fiction, but there is a certain level of separation between reality and the dystopian books I have read. Grace is different, because there is a definite sense of reality in the story, a question that I can't help but ask as I read this book. That is the most terrifying thing in this novel. This is not fantasy. There's no magic, no special high technology, nothing. The lack of out-of-this-world elements in this story makes you wonder if this is really happening somewhere else...and if it is, is there anything we can do to stop it?(less)