Oh Ilona Andrews, did you know how the two of you just made my Christmas so awesome? Thank you so much for this free Kat...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Oh Ilona Andrews, did you know how the two of you just made my Christmas so awesome? Thank you so much for this free Kate Daniels novella. :) Magic Gifts is set shortly after Magic Slays, and it starts with a dinner date between the Beast Lord Curran and Kate. Of course, the chance of normalcy is slim as some moments after their date has started, heads started to roll -- literally. Soon, Kate and Curran and everyone else is fighting to save a boy's life, running after vikings and dwarfs while ensuring that the rest of Atlanta will not fall apart with a breakdown of sorts.
General spoiler warning for those who haven't read any Kate Daniels books yet (And why haven't you read any, for the love of all things awesome?). Two words to describe this book: SO. GOOD. I love it, I love it. Even if it is shorter than the other Kate Daniels novels, this book is just as good. Kate and Curran are still as awesome (and romantic) as ever, and how mature their relationship seems. I love it when they spar verbally, and how Kate cares about him and how he cares for her. I also love how we see all the other characters here too besides the two of them: Doolittle, Derek, Jim, Andrea, Ascanio, even Grendel the attack poodle! And I have to say now that my favorite vampires are in Kate Daniels' world. Or, my favorite necromancers, rather. Gasthek is such a character!
One Crazy Summer's story is the stuff that teen TV shows are made of, and kind of like what happens in Sarah Dessen nov...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One Crazy Summer's story is the stuff that teen TV shows are made of, and kind of like what happens in Sarah Dessen novels with the infinite possibilities that a summer could bring. The story was cute and there was enough romance, but I never felt a connection with any of the characters. I wanted more background story with Tania and Mateo and Rob, but instead I was just presented with the facts of who likes who and I just had to accept it. I also felt that I never really got to know Tania, and all I have were hints of her personality.
It's not that it's a bad novel. I just felt that it lacked something. The setting was very good and I liked the description of the lazy summer town that the characters spent a lot of time in, but I wished there was just more. I wonder how the book would have fared with me if it was a little bit longer, so there was more time to flesh out the characters and dig up their back stories and relationships with one another. It's still an okay read, and I think the book is worth keeping One Crazy Summer for the recipes that it contains. :)(less)
When I was a kid, I had fond memories of reading about different Filipino legends for school. These legends were really...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I was a kid, I had fond memories of reading about different Filipino legends for school. These legends were really made to teach a lesson to us kids to be nice, respectful and hardworking, really, and not just tall tales for bedtime stories. Most notable was the legend of the pineapple, which tells of a girl who felt lazy to look for what her mother was asking her to find and her exasperated mom wishes for her to have many eyes so she can find it and poof, she turns into a pineapple. I cannot remember, though, of a story talking about other Filipino legends, myths and epics other than the usual kiddie stories, save for Maria Makiling (the fairy that lives in Mount Makiling, one of the well-known mountains in the Philippines) and the Biag ni Lam-Ang (The Life of Lam-Ang), which I had to know because my mom is from Ilocos. So I was one of the people who knew almost nothing about Philippine Mythology that jumped at the idea of reading Alternative Alamat, a collection of stories from Filipino writers edited by Paolo Chikiamco (writer of High Society). Since I vowed to read and review more local fiction ever since I started this blog, I know I can't miss this one.
The thing I like about anthologies is that it doesn't require as much commitment as a full length novel does. You can read one story, stop and go back to the collection after some time without feeling lost. But the thing is, I never really wanted to stop reading Alternative Alamat because I keep getting surprised by the stories it contained. There were times when I thought that I wouldn't like the story I was reading after a few paragraphs, and then I end up really liking it in the end because of some kind of twist. I think there's something for everyone in each story in this collection. Ana's Little Pawnshop on Makiling St. (Eliza Victoria) reminded me of those stories I read in our literary folio in college, with its YA-ish, magic realism charm. Harinuo's Love Song (Rochita Leonen-Ruiz) and Keeper of My Sky (Timothy James Dimacali) with their lyrical prose, were haunting and sad tales of a love that shouldn't have been and couldn't be. There were stories that gave different perspectives on some of the Filipino goddesses all bearing the same first name Maria but all with different personalities: Conquering Makiling (Monique Francisco) for Maria Makiling, Beneath the Acacia (Celestine Trinidad) for Maria Sinukuan, and The Sorceress Queen (Raissa Rivera Falgui) for Maria Malindig. There were stories from legends that seemed like a stranger at first but then turns into something more familiar: Offerings to Aman Sinaya (Andre Tupaz) deals with how we have turned from the old fishing ways to the newer ones that destroy the oceans; Balat, Buwan, Ngalan (David Hontiveros) seemed like meta fiction of sorts since it mentions a book of local legends that was published and launched. Then there were the fun things, like alternate histories, that picks on the two times that the Filipinos fought back from the Spanish conquerors: The Alipin's Tale (Raymond G. Falgui) and A Door Opens: The Beginning of the Fall of the Ispancialo-in-Hinirang (Dean Alfar). And if you have ever read any of the Trese comics, then you're in for a treat here because The Last Full Show (Budjette Tan) is a story that shows a side of Alexandra Trese not shown in the comics. It's hard to pick favorites among the stories because they each had something different to like about it -- the writing, the treatment of the myth, the characters, the twists. There are also illustrations in the book too (done by cover artist, Mervin Malonzo), that are also based on Philippine myths and perfectly complements the content. It's really a treasure trove of the things that make the Filipino culture so rich and colorful, and I'm pretty sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Alternative Alamat also contains a few appendices about notable Filipino deities, interviews with experts on the field, tips on researching Philippine myths and a glossary of terms. While it may seem that these things were included in the book for foreign readers, I think it's also for Filipinos like me who know almost nothing about Philippine mythology. I think this makes Alternative Alamat more accessible to readers, regardless if you're a Filipino or you've lived in the country for a while or you're just a curious reader who's interested in the title even if you have no idea where in the world the Philippines is.
Is there anything I don't like about this? Well, I just wish that it was a little bit longer. I truly felt sad when I read that the anthology was closing with Dean Alfar's story. But having this book out in the wild now doesn't mean it has to stop there, right? After all, there is always an option for a second volume. ;) And also, a print version would be nice. So I can gift this to friends who refuse to get an e-reader. :D But other than that, there's nothing else I would nitpick on. I think all the things I wrote up there sufficiently says how much I loved Alternative Alamat. I've never felt more prouder to be a Filipino when I was reading this. Somehow, I felt that this book and the stories in this collection were mine -- mine because I am a Filipino and the stories found inside is a part of my heritage. :)
So if you're one of the people who received an e-reader for Christmas, or you've had one for a while and you're looking for something really new to read for the new year, then imagine me pushing, no, shoving this ebook to you. If you're going to get one new ebook before this year ends or if you're going to buy a new one as the 2012 comes in, make it Alternative Alamat. You won't regret it, I promise. :) (less)
Here's another book that I also watched as a cartoon when I was younger, although I think I read this one first before I...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Here's another book that I also watched as a cartoon when I was younger, although I think I read this one first before I watched it. However, for the life of me, I cannot remember the details of this book anymore. I just know there was Mary, and there was Dickon the outdoor boy, and Colin, the invalid cousin. I cannot remember the tiny details even if I know I have watched the movie several times (the image of Mary's hand extending out of the ivy curtain from the door of the secret garden beckoning someone to come in is still clear in my mind). If in A Little Princess and in Little Lord Fauntleroy, the author's main characters were easy to love characters, The Secret Garden takes a different turn by introducing Mary Lennox also known as "Mistress Mary quite contrary". Mary is a spoiled and neglected kid from India who grew up with her mom's servants answering every beck and call. A cholera outbreak left the little girl orphaned, and she was adopted by an equally distant uncle to live in Misselthwaite Manor, instructed to keep out of locked rooms and not be a bother. But when Mary discovers a secret garden locked for the past decade within the manor grounds and decided to take care of it, she finds herself changing from the spoiled kid to someone more likeable. As Mary was going through the changes, she discovers her sickly cousin Colin who believes that he will die soon of some kind of disease. Mary shares her secret with Colin -- but will the garden's magic have an effect on someone who's so convinced that he will no longer see tomorrow?
The Secret Garden was refreshing from all the Frances Hodgson Burnett books I've read because Mary Lennox wasn't an easy character to like. She was spoiled, stubborn and was used to having her own way. I remember the cartoon showing Mary was a pretty nice girl but the people in the Manor -- particularly Mrs. Medlock -- were too strict, but reading the book told me otherwise. There really wasn't anything likeable about her, up until she changes because of the garden and even then, she still had those little quirks that could be annoying.
But the interesting thing here was when Mary found herself meeting a boy who was even more spoiled than she was, and one who suffers a very bleak mindset. It was interesting to see how Mary challenges the way Colin thinks by just being her spoiled, stubborn self. The scene where Mary dealt with Colin's tantrums was one of my favorites, because Mary stayed true to her character up until the end -- I find myself thinking like one of the servants in the Manor thinking "How brave of her to do something like that!" Colin was really a piece of work, and I found myself taking even a longer time to warm up to him even if I knew he gets to be a better person in the end. On the other side of the spectrum is Dickon, the boy from the moor and the animal charmer. I remember his playful character in the cartoon, but I think the book version was less mischievous but equally charming, especially with all the animals he brings around. Dickon provides a good balance between Mary and Colin, and I had to admit I was very excited for his first appearance in the book as I was reading it!
While the two other Frances Hodgson Burnett novels I've read dealt with how a kind heart can weather any storm or soften any heart, The Secret Garden was kind of the reverse. This book showed how beauty and nature can revive a tired and hopeless spirit, how the "Magic" in everyday things can change even the sourest and saddest people into living. It's easy to see why this book became so timeless: at some point, we've all hoped to find an old key that leads to a secret garden where we can find solace, to watch beauty unfurl and to be a part of magic of nature.
Of all her novels I've read, I find The Secret Garden as the most realistic but also the most whimsical. While my favorite is still A Little Princess, I think The Secret Garden is the type of book that would be a good companion for anyone who's recovering from any kind of heartache or sadness. After all, we can all use a little bit of Magic in our lives. :)
Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.
"Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow." (p. 289)
In my quest to find more classics to read and catch up with my classics reading challenge, I stumbled upon Daddy-Long-L...moreOriginal post at One More Page
In my quest to find more classics to read and catch up with my classics reading challenge, I stumbled upon Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster in Goodreads. I remember seeing a review of this somewhere there, too, and seeing it had a lot of favorable reviews, I decided to download it for free from the Kindle store.
The reviews have told me enough to know that a cartoon was based on this book. It's vaguely familiar, but I really cannot remember much of it, save for the main character, Judy, who reminds me of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables:
I think this started airing when I was already in school so I hardly had the time to watch it, which also probably explains that why my memory of this cartoon is choppy at best.
Anyway, I decided to read this short book last week, because I needed something light to make my brain recover from all the crazy writing madness in NaNoWriMo. Daddy-Long-Legs is the story of Jerusha Abbott, later known as Judy, the oldest orphan in John Grier Home who was sent to college by an anonymous Trustee. The only condition that she needs to fulfill as "payment" for the education was for her to write letters about her studies to a certain Mr. John Smith. She calls this mysterious benefactor "Daddy Long Legs" because the only thing she knew about him was he was a tall person based on his shadow:
What follows is Judy's letters to Daddy Long Legs for the next four years of college, telling him of her lessons, her dorm room, her friends joyful Sally and snobbish Julie, her college adventures, her summers spent at Lock Willow farm and even some kind of romance. In the midst of all these, Judy gets frustrated with the mysteriousness and the distance that Daddy Long Legs has put between them, and she yearns to know more about this man who had noticed her and helped her out of the kindness of his heart.
So all reviews I read about this book are right: Daddy-Long-Legs is such a refreshing read. This thin volume is brimming with charm and honesty that I can only remember from, yes, Anne of Green Gables. Judy is such a charming narrator and her stories are so easy to relate to. Her letters are filled with wit and interesting stuff that I wondered why Daddy Long Legs lasted that long not replying to her. Case in point:
You never answered my question and it was very important.
ARE YOU BALD?
I think I liked Judy a lot because she reminded me so much of myself. She was never too nice, nor was she especially mean. She recognizes that she can be mean at times, especially when she gets frustrated or annoyed by other people or with herself. Most of her letters were introspective at most, and they're really the things that friends share with each other over long talks. Here are some memorable passages:
I think that the most necessary quality for any person to have is imagination. It makes people able to put themselves in other people's places. It makes them kind and sympathetic and understanding. It ought to be cultivated in children. But the John Grier Home instantly stamped out the slightest flicker that appeared. Duty was the one quality that was encouraged. I don’t think children ought to know the meaning of the word; it’s odious, detestable. They ought to do everything from love.
She seemed to be channeling Anne Shirley there, don't you think?
It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones -- I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. not to be for ever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant.
I especially loved it when she waxed poetic about books and writing -- it was almost like I'm a girl after her own heart. :)
I look forward all day to evening, and then I put an 'engaged' on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my elbow and read and read and read one book isn't enough.
There is even a little bit of romance in the book that was cute. And of course, Judy excels in writing about them, too:
...and I miss him, and miss him, and miss him. The whole world seems empty and aching. I hate the moonlight because it's beautiful and he isn't here to see it with me.
Unfortunately, I wasn't really surprised when the mysterious Daddy Long Legs was finally revealed, and that is probably because of all the reviews I've read. Don't worry, if you've read this far in my review, I've taken care not to spoil anything (at least, I don't think I've written anything obvious :P). The revelation was cute since it was still written in Judy's point of view, and I think it ties up the book quite nicely.
So if the all the random babble I wrote above hasn't convinced you enough, let me say it again: Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster is a cute and charming book. I'm very glad I chose this book to read during my post-NaNo recovery time. :)(less)
Would you believe that I have never heard of Little Lord Fauntleroy until this year? When I was a kid, I only knew of l...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Would you believe that I have never heard of Little Lord Fauntleroy until this year? When I was a kid, I only knew of little Cedric "Ceddie" Errol through this morning cartoon that I watch during summer vacation, same as where I first found out who Sara Crewe was. Ceddie is a little boy who lives with his mom and dad in New York. His dad passed away, and shortly after, they found out that Ceddie was actually the next in line as the Earl of Dorincourt in England, and so he and his mom goes to England. Despite this good fortune, Ceddie's grandfather, the current Earl, is angry at the Ceddie's mother because he thought of her as a commoner and he forbade her to see Ceddie, hoping the little boy will forget his mom. The Earl had a bad reputation because of his attitude, but Ceddie wins him over and eventually makes him accept his mother as a part of the family.
The cartoon I remember was pretty accurate to the book, except maybe that the Earl was more obstinate and harder to like in the cartoon. I also thought the cartoon Ceddie looked a little bit too feminine, and there was that entire flute playing thing that was definitely not in the book. However, as I was reading the book, I realized that the Ceddie in the book was more adorable than the one in the cartoon. Perhaps it's because it's been so long since I last watched it, but I thought the Little Lord Fauntleroy in the book was more charming than the one I remember. The little boy is the kind that I think everyone dreams of meeting -- you know, that perfect little kid who has a heart of gold, one who can melt even the hardest of hearts.
Reading Little Lord Fauntleroy was a treat because of the main character. In a way, it reminded me a lot of A Little Princess because of the the similarities between the two of them, even if I still think Sara had it harder than Ceddie. Even if it seems almost entirely impossible to know someone who could be as nice and as good-hearted as Ceddie was, somehow, this book made me wish that there are still good hearts like that out there, someone whose kindness knows no bound and is determined to see the good in everything and everyone. (less)
The longest flight I have ever been in before my Europe trip was when I went to Saipan to visit my dad, and it was only a four hour flight. On the way home, I had already watched an in flight movie, read a little and we were still about an hour away from Manila. My brother and I were so restless that when we finally saw the Manila city lights, we were so excited that we almost started jumping up and down in our seats. I couldn't imagine how I could manage a flight longer than that until I flew to Europe last August. My flight from Manila to Europe was almost 16 hours long, with a stopover at Amsterdam to switch planes to get to Madrid. The Manila to Amsterdam was a killer with almost 12 hours of being up in the air. You can see how antsy that entire flight made me. I managed to watched four movies, read a lot and slept a lot, and still, the flight is not yet over. It almost drove me nuts, if I wasn't so excited to get to Europe.
I guess I would have been less antsy if I was seated with my friends on the flight, but as luck would have it, I was given another seat a few rows back from them ((And it happened with almost all my flights in Europe. What is up with that?)). I shared a row with a guy that I did not end up talking to at all, save for the occasional "Excuse me" when I had to squeeze in to get to the rest room.
I remembered that particular time while I was reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith that I borrowed from Pinoy Book Tours. They say people who meet at airports and share flights together have higher chances of falling in love with each other. I don't really know why -- maybe it's because of the enclosed space, the length of the flight, the novelty of meeting someone new in a sea of people who is also heading your way. Perhaps it's the idea that meeting the love of your life on the plane is a cute story to share in the future. I don't know really, except that that obviously did not happen to me. ;) Jennifer E. Smith explores this idea in her debut novel with Hadley who missed her flight to London to attend her father's wedding. As she waits for her next flight anxiously, she meets Oliver, who is also heading to London and who becomes her seatmate. Hadley and Oliver had no idea that the missed flight, this chance encounter and the next twenty four hours will change their lives.
This novel is both cute and sad in a lot of ways, and I was really surprised with the sadness aspect that it had. I was really expecting it to be just cute because of the premise, but I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the issues that Hadley and Oliver had. Hadley was angry at her dad for leaving them without any notice, for breaking their family and for having the nerve to invite her to the wedding. Oliver's own issues somewhat mirrored Hadley's, but being a guy, he wasn't one to share about it. The two main characters share an easy friendship at first, going through a typical getting to know phase albeit a bit condensed. They never felt too old for their age, even if their concerns were a little more serious than the normal teen had. Their conversations were witty and full of poignant things, and it's actually also the kind of conversation that I would like to have if I meet someone at the airport and end up sitting next to them in the next, oh, twelve hours.
I liked the author's writing here: simple but still filled with meaning and never really going into cliche territory. Some quotes I really liked:
In the end, it's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity. (p.19)
Oliver's cheeks redden, and the smile she catches as he ducks his head is maddeningly cryptic; it is, Hadley decides, a smile with two meanings. The bigger part of her worries that it must be charitable, designed to make her feel less awkward about both the question and the coming answer, but something else keeps her wondering all the same: maybe -- just maybe -- it's something even kinder than that, something full of understanding, a seal on the unspoken agreement between them that something is happening here, that this just might be a kind of beginning. (p. 73)
But Hadley understood. It wasn't that she was meant to read them all. Maybe one day she would, but for now, it was more the gesture itself. He was giving her the most important thing he could, the only way he knew how. He was a lover of stories, and he was building her a library in the same way other men might build their daughters houses. (p. 139-140)
I finished reading this book in a day and it did leave me with a silly smile on my face, wondering about the possibilities of where Oliver and Hadley's relationship was heading after that. Of course, the realist in me started asking, "So what happens next? Do you think they're really in love? What happens when they go back? Will they be able to sustain whatever they built in the span of twenty four hours -- which isn't really enough time to fall in love and you know that."
I know, I know, how pessimistic. But don't worry, I managed to shut that side of me for a while if only to enjoy the happy and satisfied feeling of this book left me. Even if I don't really believe in love at first sight. :P
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith will be out by January 2, 2012. Thanks to Pinoy Book Tours for the ARC!
Quick note! I'm giving away a Kindle copy of this book on my blog! Just a leave a comment on this entry and I'll pick one lucky winner on November 18....moreQuick note! I'm giving away a Kindle copy of this book on my blog! Just a leave a comment on this entry and I'll pick one lucky winner on November 18. :)
I'm really all for supporting local authors and content, so when Honey told me that they will be releasing Paolo Chikiamco and Hannah Buena's High Society under their publishing company, I bought it without blinking. Local content for the win, plus I really enjoyed Kataastaasan, so I was excited to read more about this alternate steampunk world.
Thing is, High Society is really the same as the Kataastaasan I read a year back...but also a little bit different. High Society is a stand-alone comic set in Cebu City circa 1770, and tells an alternate history of the Philippines’ struggle for independence from Spain. Here we meet someone called "The Carpenter" telling our main character Rita about the location of a treasure that they need to recover. Rita goes undercover in a party with the Spanish colonizers to retrieve the treasure. Now you'd think Rita is just your normal undercover agent and all, but then she's also not. I won't reveal what the twist is, but I remember I was pleasantly surprised when I found out about it on my first read. Even if I knew about it then, I really liked how it was illustrated and revealed this time, and I think it's the part of the story that hooks the reader the most.
I think the improvement on this one compared to the ARC I read was how Rita was given a more human aspect. There's a hint of romance in the story that made me smile, and it made me want to know more. This version also had a little more background on how Rita came to be as well as why their mission was important. I'm not a big judge on artwork, but I liked how it had that dark and authentic Philippines in Spanish era vibe.
So yeah, I liked this one on the second round as much as I liked it during the first. Too bad it's a stand alone, but I kind of have high hopes with what they mean with the "Wooden War" series. More please? High Society is a creative take in Philippine history, and anyone who's a history buff, or at least interested in alternate histories and steampunk should pick this up. (less)
When I finished reading Trese a few months back, I was very excited to read the next book. Truth be told, I thought t...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I finished reading Trese a few months back, I was very excited to read the next book. Truth be told, I thought the fourth book was already out last year, so I added it in my Christmas wish list. Oops, my bad!
So I wasn't exactly sure when the next installment would be out, but I wasn't really in a big hurry because there were still too many books on my TBR. However, I admit to letting out a squeal of delight when I heard of the launch of the fourth book. Of course I will be there. Of course I need to get it. And of course, I need to get them signed. :)
Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight follows the same format of the first three books: 4 short stories each showing a case. But unlike Book 3, Mass Murders (my favorite), the cases were not connected. This is not a bad thing, and I wasn't really expecting them to really continue on what was shown in the third book, although I know some people who would like that.
But then again, who cares? The fourth Trese installment is just as good as its predecessors, and possibly even better. The cases still deal with paranormal creatures from Philippine mythology and more. This time, Budjette and KaJo made use of pop culture and melded it into the cases flawlessly. Cadena de Amor got me humming Eraserheads' Ang Huling El Bimbo as it reminded me of a recent murder case that hit the TV and newspapers everywhere. The Fight of the Year is undoubtedly based on Manny Pacquiao, and I really loved the explanation they gave on why crime rate goes down and why the boxer, "Manuel" fights so hard. Oh, and how can I forget -- Alexandra Trese in a dress!
A Private Collection was written as a Trese short movie that didn't push through, so there were more action scenes involved in this case. This is probably the one where I saw Trese in her angriest, and the one I felt most nervous because I thought she was about to get beaten. I'm curious now to see how this would translate to a movie -- must be really, really cool. :)
But my favorite (and I think everyone else loved this one too) was Wanted: Bedspacer. In this story, Budjette and KaJo gives us a different version of the bangungot. Common knowledge translates bangungot to nightmare, but Philippine mythology equates this to the batibat, a fat spirit that chokes their victims as they sleep by sitting on their chests. However, in this story, the bangungot is a spirit that joins sad people in their loneliness, trying to keep their hearts from breaking by holding it, sometimes too tight that the person dies. There were no hardcore action scenes here, just some sleuthing and a sad revelation when they find out what really happened. I thought this was the one with the best plot, a great resolution, a reference to something that Trese did in book 3 and possibly even hinted a past heartache for Trese. :) This is why when they asked if Trese should get a romantic interest, I'm all yes! Not because I'm a girl, but because I think it would give Trese's character more depth. I'm not saying she has to have a boyfriend -- unrequited love has always been good writing material. :P
Mass Murders is still my favorite Trese book so far, but Last Seen After Midnight truly delivers. If you haven't read any Trese books yet, well this is the time you should, because you're missing out on a lot. Is it too early to say "I can't wait" for the next? :)(less)
I've never read any Kristan Higgins, but I've read about her in the reviews of my other book blogger friends. It's been...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've never read any Kristan Higgins, but I've read about her in the reviews of my other book blogger friends. It's been a while since I last read a chick lit book, so when I heard that Higgins' latest book is available in Netgalley and that it was very entertaining, I decided to get it for some light reading.
Cordelia Osterhagen, also known as Posey, is pretty happy with her life. She has a business that she loves, her family is kooky but fun and she even has a sort-of boyfriend. Never mind that this sort-of boyfriend is owner of her parents' restaurant rival. Then she finds out that Liam Murphy is back in town, and it rocks her world. See, Liam is the guy who broke her heart sixteen years ago, and she felt that she never really got over it. Now that he is back, Posey is determined to not be affected by his charms, but it's proving to be very, very difficult.
They were right -- this was a fun and light novel. I loved the entire quirky town of Bellsford. It reminded me of those Southern towns I've read in other chick lit books I liked. I also love Posey's family and friends, especially his gay brother and his partner. :) I also loved Posey's business and her colleagues and her pets! Everything about the novel is so positively charming that it wasn't hard not to fall in love with it.
The build up for the romance is my favorite in this novel. Posey and Liam both have their own issues, but the scenes they had together and their banter are so entertaining to read that I can't help but smile. I especially liked how Posey gets to her realization about Liam and how she stands up for herself even if it means she could get her heart broken by the same guy again. It was also fun to be inside Liam's head so we know he is not just your ordinary bad guy. Also, thank you for the fade to black scenes. :)
Until There Was You is really a fun and light novel, but not so much that it doesn't have an impact. I am definitely stocking more Kristan Higgins' novels in case I am in the mood for something to cheer me up in between serious reads. :)(less)
If you're still not sure if you want to splurge on Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, the authors have released a short...moreFull post at One More Page
If you're still not sure if you want to splurge on Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, the authors have released a short story prequel to it, entitled The Keeper, available for free as an ebook. In this short story, a man named Talus meets two hermit monk brothers who he chooses to share the terrible secret that he has been carrying, to recruit them in helping protect the knowledge that will save humanity. This short story is a very quick read, and if you've read Forbidden before reading this, there's really nothing much to surprise you here. However, I think that it gives those who have yet to read the first Book of Mortals a chance to taste Dekker's world building and Lee's characters. I have a feeling that reading The Keeper will make you want to know more about what this secret is and if Talus ever succeeded with his mission. Also, if you have read the Circle series (Black, Red, White, Green), you will spot a very familiar name in this short story that will probably make you say, "I knew it!" Then the story of Forbidden suddenly makes more sense. :)
The Keeper is short and it's free, and you'll hardly notice the time you'll spend reading this. There's really nothing to lose, so there's no excuse not to get this. :)(less)
It's hard to turn your back on a book when people everywhere seem to be raving about it. I've been hearing lots of reall...moreOriginal post at One More Page
It's hard to turn your back on a book when people everywhere seem to be raving about it. I've been hearing lots of really good stuff about Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor from practically all the blogs I've been following, so I put the book on my radar with full intention of just borrowing and not buying. But the lure of books is stronger when more people rave about it, so when I saw a lone hardcover copy in Fully Booked, I knew I had to leave the store with it. And start it immediately as soon as I finished my last read.
Karou is an eccentric girl by normal people's standards, but in a city like Prague, they don't really mind. Her art student friends dismiss her blue hair, her random disappearances to run errands and her knowledge of many language to see her sketchbooks and stories of monsters that are supposedly real. No one knows who Karou really is, even herself. All she knows is that her only family are the chimaera who lives in Brimstone's shop, who collect teeth in exchange for wishes. Karou cannot escape the emptiness she feels, until she meets Akiva, a stranger with fire-colored eyes, who almost just about killed her...until he didn't. What follows is a gradual unveiling of Karou's hidden past, one that that bears repercussions and choices that could result to her losing everything she has ever known.
I've read lots of praises for Laini Taylor's writing, and I saw just what they meant in this book. What beautiful writing. I remember reading the first page of the book the day I bought it and not wanting to stop (but I had to, because if I don't, I would never have finished Breathe). I lost count at how many times I wanted to dive into her prose and wish to write the way she does -- lyrical and flowery but never veering towards purple. Very vivid, too, because I never had a hard time imagining the things she was describing. Passages like this broke a bit of my heart:
With the infinite patience of one who has learned to live broken, he awaited her return.
But there were also parts like these that made me chuckle:
“Hey! My body may be small, but my soul is large. It’s why I wear platforms. So I can reach the top of my soul.”
“I don't know many rules to live by,' he'd said. 'But here's one. It's simple. Don't put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles--drug or tattoo--and...no inessential penises either.'
'Inessential penises?' Karou had repeated, delighted with the phrase in spite of her grief. 'Is there any such thing as an essential one?'
'When an essential one comes along, you'll know,' he'd replied.”
And there were some that just made me sigh:
Happiness. It was the place where passion, with all its dazzle and drumbeat, met something softer: homecoming and safety and pure sunbeam comfort. It was all those things, intertwined with the heat and the thrill, and it was as bright within her as a swallowed star.
It was because of this writing that I forgave and even liked the paranormal romance aspect. I'm not a fan of anything insta-love, so I was kind of wary, but the writing! It's just too beautiful for me to pass up. It's not that the romance was the typical ones that have been ravaging the bookstore shelves lately -- in fact, it actually has a very good story to it. It may be a bit dramatic for some, but it's still a very good read, and it's not the I-would-die-without-you-my-life-is-incomplete-without-you romance.
And again, the writing. I mean, more, read this:
...and for that moment, her hand in his, Karou felt as powerless as starlight tugged toward the sun in the huge, strange warp of space.
I can't remember the last time I read the word "starlight" used as a figure of speech without making it sound cheesy. Can you?
One of the other things I really, really liked about this book was the setting. Days after I was back from my Europe trip, I was talking to one of my friends who was still there and she was up to ears with excitement about their trip to Prague. I have heard of Prague before, but just like Geneva, it wasn't really up high in my bucket list. Their pictures, however, made me want to bump it up my bucket list -- what a beautiful place it seemed to be! Reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me want to go there even more. The other places that Karou visited were also described vividly (I felt a little thrill when she started talking about the metro in Paris), but I think Prague was the perfect stage for the first part of the story (the second part was in an entirely another world, described just as vividly as the one in the real world). As it was described:
The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.
Match that description with these photos like these and who would not want to go to Prague? (Photos from my friend, Ate Sheh, taken last September :) )
Yep. I'm making sure to go to Prague next time I get to go to Europe.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is a must-read book for this year, whether you like paranormal romance or not. :) I'd read every book Laini Taylor writes if only to soak in her gorgeous, gorgeous writing. Sigh. (less)
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood is a loose retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a guy as the main character....moreOriginal post at One More Page
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood is a loose retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a guy as the main character. Dan Cereill's life just kind of fell apart. His parents split after his dad came out, they lost their family fortune, he moved to a new-old house and transferred to a new school and his mom opened a wedding cake business that was doomed to fail from the start. And then there's his neighbor, Estelle, who's caught his eye and his heart from the moment he saw her, but had absolutely no idea that he exists.
Oh what a cute, cute book this was. Despite the dreary set-up of Dan's new life, his voice was quite the contrary. Dan was sarcastic yet real, and he dealt with his problems with the best way a fourteen-year-old can. The humorous approach makes the entire situation just hilarious instead of pitiful, and at the back of my mind, I just thought that they would eventually get through this. As for how, that was the thing I was supposed to find out in the story. Since this is kind of a retelling of Cinderella, I liked figuring out what character was equivalent to that character in the fairy tale, even if it took me a while to figure out who was who. But even if you know how Cinderella turns out, the events in this story still took me pleasantly by surprise that, well, you just end up sighing happily by the last page. :)
The writing in Six Impossible Things was fresh and light and so readable that I never had a hard time connecting with Dan. Dan is awkward and dorky but still so lovable that I wanted to adopt him as my little brother or something. I think his may be the first time I will use it but if there was any character that fits the word "adorkable", it's Dan. Even if his crush on Estelle kind of qualified as "insta-love", at least on his side, it was still quite realistically done. Come on, don't tell me you've never had a "crush at first sight" moment with someone! :P Major plus points on how Dan and Estelle's relationship was developed -- it was about ten parts awkward most of the time, but about a hundred parts cute and "aww" inducing.
The other characters surrounding Dan and Estelle were a hoot too. I loved Dan's mom, in all her Radiohead singing glory (although I'm not really a fan of the band). I loved their friends and the guy who lived in the house behind Dan's new house and the bully. But most especially, I loved the presence of Howard the dog. Dogs in stories always wins my heart.
Let me repeat what I first said about this book: Six Impossible Things is a cute, cute book. This is a perfect book to read when you want to relax and laugh and feel the feeling of wanting to hug a book when you get to the end. Because that is really what you'd end up wanting to do when you're done with this. :) (less)
When I was younger, I used to write stories about a group of friends who lived in Ireland. It was just a random country...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I was younger, I used to write stories about a group of friends who lived in Ireland. It was just a random country I picked out in the world atlas, and I thought I liked the sound of Ireland as a setting. Of course, I really knew nothing of the country then, and it wasn't until later on that I read and watched some stuff about Ireland on TV that I realized none of what I wrote was even the least bit realistic. But my recent trip to Europe got me to meet a YFC mission volunteer from Ireland, and meeting him reminded me of those days when I'd write those stories.
That's what made me pick up There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones from my trip readings. Here we meet Finley Sinclair, Save the Date's Alex Sinclair's younger sister. After they had confirmed that Will, Finley's other brother, had died in an terrorist attack in a mission trip, she was devastated. Her life spun out of control as she tried to cope with her loss. After a year of therapy, she proved herself stable enough to go on an exchange student program to Abbeyglen, Ireland, one of the places that Will had gone to. Finley hopes to find herself and get answers from God who had seemed distant from her ever since she lost Will. But a movie star, the school's queen bee, a cranky and sick old lady puts a wrench on Finley's plans. As the pressure all around her builds, Finley starts dealing with things in the only way she knows how, even if it meant harming herself in the process. Can Finley find a way to get it right with God?
I liked Jenny B. Jones' other novel, Save the Date, a lot, so I was thrilled to find out that There You'll Find Me was a spin-off novel to that. I always like seeing how other characters I liked from a previous novel were doing in another novel that is not a sequel. There You'll Find Me is more YA this time around. Finley is such a strong-minded character, sometimes a bit stubborn, but we can also see that she has a big heart, especially with her friendship with her host sister, Erin and her concern for Cathleen Sweeney, the old woman she was assigned to visit for class. I liked Finley's voice, and I could definitely feel and relate with her need to control things. I liked that she wasn't portrayed as too depressed or too angry -- just very lost. And it made me want to wrap her up in a big, big hug, and tell her that God has not forgotten her.
And speaking of God. The spiritual aspect of this book is not preachy, and I think Jenny B. Jones excels at that. Well, compared to Save the Date, there were more mentions of God, but Finley was in a spiritual journey, so what do you expect? I liked the Finley's power verse, too, and I admit to shedding some tears at the moment when Finley found what she was looking for. The actual Irish journey was a treat to read, too, and I wished I was actually in Ireland to see the things that Finley was seeing. I wanted to spend a night at a pub enjoying good food, music and company. I want to look at the Celtic crosses that Finley was also looking for. Ireland sounds like a beautiful, beautiful place from the way it was described, and I have already written that place in my bucket list after I was done reading this. :D
There just seemed to be a little too many issues that Finley was trying to get over with in the book: grief, control issues, school stuff, Cathleen Sweeney, a possible eating disorder. Add romance to that and I'm surprised that Finley took that long before she had a melt down. I assume that it portrays real life, but it was just kind of hard to follow and it made the resolutions a little too quickly wrapped up.
And speaking of the romance. Unfortunately, I don't think there wasn't anything exciting about the romance, even if it was kind of sweet. I hope I'm not being cynical. I liked Beckett and I thought he was a nice guy, but I felt that the movie star + normal girl pairing has been done a few too many times. Plus points, though, on the development of their friendship to romance, which was fun to read.
There You'll Find Me is a good follow up from Jenny B. Jones. A little bit paler in comparison to Save the Date, but nonetheless a good one. If you're looking for a clean contemporary novel that will tickle your romantic and traveling fancies, then I think you'll like this one. :)
I read and enjoyed Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells a few months ago and ever since then, I've had her other books on my wish list. I've seen some of them around, but never The Sugar Queen. I know friends have seen copies of this everywhere, but it remains elusive. So I figured, if other people can see it more than I do, then they can probably get it for me for Christmas right? Imagine my delight when Monique sent me this book as a Kindle gift. Squee! Thank you! :) I wasn't planning to read this anytime soon, but Chachic's Christmas Reads post got me craving for something Christmas-y. Unfortunately, I don't have a book that specifically fits the season, unlike last year when I had Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. The next best thing was to look for books that had the closest atmosphere to Christmas and wouldn't be so taxing to the mind. And that brought me back to my first Kindle gift, The Sugar Queen.
Josey Cirrini had always lived in the shadow of her mother, because she felt the need to repay her for all the grief she had put her mother up to when she was a kid. Now at twenty seven, she lives at home, answers to the beck and call of her mom, eats her secret stash of sweets and reads romance novels in the privacy of her bedroom closet. Until one night, she finds Della Lee hiding inside her closet, threatening her of blackmail of the contents of her closet if Josey didn't do what she asked. Della urges Josey to befriend Chloe Finley, a young woman who just came from a break-up with her boyfriend Jake, who also happens to be the best friend of Josey's crush, mailman Adam. Josey's world opens up and she discovers things about herself and her surroundings that she never knew, and also builds a friendship and a romance she never expected. Della's work is now done, but it wasn't long before Josey finds out the real reason why the older woman was hiding in her closet.
Now there is really something about Sarah Addison Allen novels that is just so comforting. It's like she brings magical realism into real life, and it makes me want to believe that the things happening in her books were real.
Like Clare in Garden Spells, Josey tends to keep by herself, but this time not because of her routine, but because she felt that she needed to be good after all the embarrassment she made her mom go through. Josey was kind of a tough character to like, but that's mostly because I'm don't think I have too much in common with her. But then, I also think Josey's mom is a tougher nut to crack. I really didn't like her especially with how she puts her daughter down if only to keep Josey home to order around. However, it was fairly easy to like Della and Chloe. Della was a bit of an oddball, but I liked how random she seemed to the point of nonsense but ends up making sense in the end. Chloe is my favorite character, though, if only for her special "ability". No, it's not sandwich making (although from the descriptions, she seemed to make very good sandwiches), but how books tend to follow her everywhere. Imagine how a book would just magically appear to you whenever you need it, depending on how you feel? The bookworm in me (which is really...well, me) would be delighted with that kind of magic -- maybe I should choose that as my superpower instead? But other than that, Chloe was also a strong character and a perfect complement to Josey.
I liked how the relationships of the people unfolded out here. Josey's friendship with Chloe and Della, Josey's relationship with her mom, Chloe and Jake's romance and Josey and Adam's. While I wasn't a fan of what Jake did, I really couldn't think of any other way for his relationship with Chloe would go. I'm no judge of course, but I don't know what I'd do if I were in Chloe's place. On the other hand, I loved Josey and Adam's banter. I loved the uncertainty, the push and the pull, the smiles. I was positively thrilled when someone finally made a move, and how natural the progression of their relationship felt.
The ending kind of took me by surprise, but it wasn't entirely unpredictable. The ending provided a good tug at the heartstrings, though, which I think is the perfectly sweet way to end this book. While The Sugar Queen didn't have that same magical feel that Garden Spells had, I thought it was still a very good and comforting -- and yes, Christmas-y -- read. I'm really glad that I have Sarah Addison Allen's next book on my TBR because I think I already know what to read the next time I need something comfortable and easy and magical. :) (less)
Ava is sixteen, and she has a secret. No, her secret is not that she's gay and that she has a girlfriend. Her secret is...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Ava is sixteen, and she has a secret. No, her secret is not that she's gay and that she has a girlfriend. Her secret is this: she wants to be a normal girl. Ava is 16, and she has very liberal parents and she has an ultra-radical, ultra-feminist and ultra-cool girlfriend, Chloe, who she knows she loves. But Ava is tired of being ultra-cool and always wearing black. She wants to care about school. She wants to study. She wants to fit in. She wants to even try dating a guy. And, she wants to wear pink. So Ava works her butt off so she can get a scholarship to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, so she can try to have a normal life without the knowledge of her girlfriend or her parents. She gets in, and she immediately wants to be a part of the popular crowd up until it was time for the audition for the school musical. Ava tried out for a part, but fails miserably, and ends up joining the stage crew, a group of "losers" according to the popular group. However, as Ava spends more time with her new friends -- she is not even sure who are the real friends, if it's with the stage crew or the popular kids -- she finds it harder and harder to keep her secrets.
I have this weird compulsion to acquire pink things. Some people I know in real life are often amused at the number of pink things I own. Would you believe that even in acquiring a gadget, the availability of the color pink is a factor in my decision? :p I used to deny that my favorite color is pink because I thought it was too girly, but as I grew older I cannot deny the fact that I kept on gravitating towards that color. But that's really not the reason why I wanted to read Pink by Lili Wilkinson. I borrowed this from my friend Celina after Chachic was done with it because I was curious with all the positive reviews that this book has been getting from other bloggers I know. That, and it was written by an Australian author, and based on experience, Australian YA books are always good reads. And so here we go.
I have to agree with almost everyone else that Pink was loads of fun. This book had all the ingredients of a typical contemporary novel: somewhat outrageous premise, popular and unpopular kids, parties and secrets, but I liked how the author made these elements more interesting with other details, such as the theater set up! I loved reading about Ava's experiences as part of the stage crew. Back in high school, we used to produce stage plays for one class and I have always loved that time of the year when we had to do rehearsals, find costume and music and then stay up late in school to set up our stage and props and fix the music. I've never been one to want to be onstage -- I tend to avoid that as much as possible. I love working backstage more. My favorite scenes in the book would have to be the ones when they were busy setting up the lights and their first run (their dress rehearsal, I think?), where Sam was in the main control room giving orders to everyone through their headsets. Our high school didn't have that, but we had a main control room for the sounds, and I can remember how cool I felt when I wore a headset for a production for my church community with that scene.
I generally liked all of the characters, although I felt a bit lost with Ava. Ava was definitely confused, and I have to be patient with her at times because I have to remember she's young and some stupid decisions are made when we do not know better. Some of her mistakes were not just stupid but downright mean, and I felt like sometimes I was just waiting for a car crash to happen. It's not that I had a hard time connecting with Ava . I just wished she would not keep on swinging everywhere to please people and just try to look at what she wants. I also thought some of the characters felt a little bit cardboard, although they did gain more dimension in the end. And I know I was supposed to be on the Ava-Chloe team but Chloe really annoyed me with all her feminist/liberal/I'm-too-cool-for-these-things talk. Seriously? I had to sympathize with Ava there -- it must be exhausting to keep up that kind of image if it does not come to you naturally.
I liked that the author did not go for a 100% happily ever after ending, although I felt like Ava did not really resolve all her own issues there. She seemed less confused in the end, but I'm afraid she ended up as one of those female protagonists that I would remember for that and not for her strength.
I also loved all the geeky Wikipedia talk, and the random facts that Sam blurts out in the conversations. I would definitely insert a character like that in my next novel. :P Despite my misgivings with some of the main character, I still thought Pink was still pretty entertaining read. And I'm not just saying that because my favorite color is pink. :)(less)
The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when som...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when someone manages to acquire it, it's easier to borrow instead of finding a way to buy it. That's what my book friends and I are doing now, especially for hard to find/buy books such as Aussie YA books. :) Thanks so much to Chachic for letting her copy of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (and her other Aussie YA books) go around.
In Graffiti Moon we meet Lucy, who's about to graduate high school. We find her rushing after she receives a message from her instructor, rushing to meet Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose paintings have touched Lucy's heart and made her feel an instant connection. Then her paths cross with Ed, the last person she wants to see because of their unfortunate shared past -- but he knows Shadow. And he can bring her to him. What follows is a long night full of heart-to-heart conversations, graffiti art viewing and a possible breaking-in and stealing. Lucy realizes that Ed isn't so bad and their shared past may just be a misunderstanding...but if she finds out who Ed really is, will she still think the same?
People often compare Graffiti Moon with Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and it is an accurate comparison. What music is to Nick and Norah is art in this novel. I am not an artist, so it was kind of hard for me to imagine how Shadow's graffiti pieces look (seriously, I can only imagine them as crudely drawn images because they're from spray paint cans, but I'm pretty sure they all look better than what I can imagine). However, I liked that this book was relatable enough even without much art knowledge. I like it when a story makes use of a magical night for two people -- magical in the sense that they end up spending it together and realize that their preconceived notions about each other were all wrong, or at least, inaccurate. I liked that there was a lot of conversations done in this book that made the characters get to know each other, and it wasn't just love/crush at first sight and then followed by intimacy the next second.
Personally, I didn't like Lucy at first. I found her fascination of Shadow and her belief that she will fall in love with this person because of his art kind of annoying and unrealistic. Color me jaded, I guess. Or maybe just...eh, unromantic? Maybe it's the teenage idealism of love that got to me. I ended up liking her after some time, though, especially after she had more conversations with Ed. Even if it was all in the span of a night, it was still filled with conversations and shared adventures, and not just eye-contact and an "amazing" kiss that would make them declare their love for each other "forever and ever".
But as much as I liked Ed and Lucy in this book, my real favorites are Leo and Jazz, Ed's and Lucy's best friends. I guess it shows how much I am more of a sucker for words than for art, seeing that Leo is a poet. My favorite piece from all of his works in the book:
Your jokes kind of make me laugh And your hair is faintly close to being cute Your smile isn't half bad, either You know, I almost, almost kind of like you
The dress you're wearing is short and sweet And your boots are kind of cool You're not, not turning me on You know I almost, almost kind of like you
The way you dance definitely isn't stupid I could maybe get used to the way you move I'm not saying I've made up my mind But you know, I almost, almost kind of like you (p 164-165)
I swear, Leo and Jazz are practically begging for a spin-off. Can I request for one, please?
Graffiti Moon will be released in the US by February 2012, but an e-galley of the book is available in NetGalley, so if you can't wait, sign up and get it! I still like the Australian cover of the book, though. And speaking of covers, look what I spotted in Madrid while I was bookstore hopping:
It took me a while to translate the book title, and if I hadn't seen the insides with Lucy/Ed/Poet headings, I wouldn't have recognized it. :)
Graffiti Moon is charming. It's one of those books that would leave the reader smiling, not because of a neatly-wrapped ending, but because of an ending full of possibilities. And possibilities are always good, right? :) (less)
This year is the year of novels in verse for me, and I have been trying to keep one on my TBR in case of a need for a qu...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This year is the year of novels in verse for me, and I have been trying to keep one on my TBR in case of a need for a quick read. Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell is one of those books that hovered by my radar but I never really got because...well I'm not sure anymore. But anyway, when I saw a copy of this for swap in one of our Goodreads meet-ups, I got it immediately (with cackles of delight because I got it first -- then again I'm not sure if anyone else wanted this more than I did).
Anyway, I haven't read any book about Arthur or anything related to this legend, but I am a bit familiar because of all those Camelot-related cartoons and of course, Merlin. I wasn't familiar with any other characters there, though, so this book came as a surprise and a bit of a crash course with the legend. Elaine of Ascolat is one of the two girls in the military camp where Arthur and his men stay to fight for Britain. Elaine's only other companion is Arthur's sister, who she loves but can't talk to about her secret: that she is secretly in love with Lancelot, Arthur's right hand man. Then another girl joins them in the camp, Gwynivere, and Elaine suddenly felt some competition for Lancelot's affection.
I wasn't really afraid that I won't like this book, but I also wasn't expecting to really like it so much. Despite its historical/mythical nature, the passages in this book were very easy to read. It was easy to slip into Elaine's world and imagine how it is to be the only girl in a camp of men, and treat the guys as old friends and brothers who you know will also watch out for you. I could also easily feel her frustration of not having a girl friend in the camp and even more so Elaine's jealousy and anger when attention goes from her to Gwynivere. It may be the book's format that somehow made the book a little more romantic than I expected it to be -- poetry does have its merits in that department. Plus, I wasn't expecting the romantic twist in the story, and how it was resolved really made me smile. Then again, I don't know if the twist here is really a part of the Arthur legend, so maybe I'm the only one who's surprised.
A favorite passage:
But I believe, I continue, I know what true love is -- or what it should be.
What should it be? Tristan asks, his voice soft now.
It should begin with friendship, I think.
Suddenly I cannot look at him.
It should begin with friendship and truly knowing who a person is, knowing his flaws and hopes and strengths and fears, knowing all of it. And admiring and caring for -- loving the person because of all those things.
Song of the Sparrow is a lovely book, and this has made me more curious about more Arthur stories. If you're looking for a quick and yes, a little bit romantic read, then pick up a copy of this book. :)(less)
I've never read a Jay Asher or a Carolyn Mackler book, but The Future of Us popped into my radar soon after I heard peo...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've never read a Jay Asher or a Carolyn Mackler book, but The Future of Us popped into my radar soon after I heard people getting copies of it during BEA. I was intrigued by the premise, and I like reading books that include social media in its story. So when I heard that this was going to be a part of Pinoy Book Tours, I thought, why not sign up?
The Future of Us is set in 1996, where our two main characters, Josh and Emma, are juniors in high school. Emma just got a computer, and Josh gives her an AOL CD that has free hours that she could use. Emma signs up for an email account, and when she logs in, she is surprised to find herself looking at something called "Facebook". They discover their profiles 15 years into the future. Confused, Josh and Emma find themselves digging more information, and realizing that the little actions they do today could ripple into their future.
Don't you just love the 90's? I was born in the late 80's so I barely had memories of that decade, so I am really a 90's kid. loved that this book brought us back to that time period. I love the pop culture references then, and how not everyone have cellphones, how they listens to Green Day and Dave Matthews and Wayne's World was the funniest movie. I love that connecting to the Internet required them to dial up, and how they had to disconnect when someone needs to use the phone -- those were the days! I had to take a while to get adjusted to the time frame (in 1996, I was in 4th grade!), but once I did, it was easy to read. The 90's is the time of my generation, so going back in time is a fun trip indeed.
Josh and Emma are pretty good characters too. I assume that Josh was written by Jay Asher and Emma was written by Carolyn Mackler? Their voices were pretty distinct, and I thought Josh was kind of adorable, if not a little trying hard. Emma was a bit harder to get into as she seemed like a very popular girl, but I liked how her character grows as the story progressed, especially when she said this:
I've always protected myself when it comes to love. And maybe that's the problem. By not letting myself get hurt now, it ripples into much bigger pain later.
The Future of Us is a creative, yet somehow straightforward way of showing how even our smallest actions could ripple into the future. It's creative, because it showed a bit of the "time machine" aspect, but again, straightforward because you pretty much get it early on in the story that Josh and Emma can do things to change their future and see it immediately on Facebook. That actually leaves little room for imagination, except maybe with wondering what could possibly happen if Emma decides to spill water on her carpet. That being said, however, I think the story still gives a pretty valuable lesson on how our actions now would affect not only our future but everyone else around us, and how we should live our real lives instead of living it online. The ending, although kind of expected, was very sweet and I found myself with a silly smile at one of the tender moments there. :)
This is a sweet and creative book that would surely tickle the fancy of contemporary fans and those from my generation. :) The Future of Us comes out on November 21.(less)
I'm not well-versed with graphic novels. Truth be told, in my mind, it's graphic novel = comics. Isn't it? I'm not sure,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I'm not well-versed with graphic novels. Truth be told, in my mind, it's graphic novel = comics. Isn't it? I'm not sure, actually, but as far as I'm concerned, they're one and the same. Correct me if I'm wrong, of course.
Anyway, in the spirit of buddy reads and exploring other genres and book format, I picked up Kingdom Come by Mark Waid, illustrated by Alex Ross, through the push of my friend, fellow book blogger and graphic novel fan, Ariel. Kingdom Come is set in the DC Universe, several years into the future. Superman has gone into hiding after he was disappointed at how a superhero was acquitted for committing the murder of a villain. The other heroes had gone into hiding, too, disheartened by Superman's and the people's actions. Without them, their moral compass has gone astray, and the metahumans have become aggressive, blurring the lines between who are the heroes and the villains. Ten years later, we meet the story's narrator, a minister named Norman McCay. He started getting dreams and visions of an apocalypse shortly after his friend Wesley Dodds (who is Sandman, according to Wikipedia), passed away. Soon, the Spectre shows up to him and recruits him as a witness to help him judge who are the good from the wicked in the impending superhuman apocalypse.
Kingdom Come reminds me a bit of the movie The Incredibles, sans the kiddie concept. This is definitely (and obviously) way darker, and discusses a lot of deeper moral themes, such as the real meaning of justice (if killing people who did wrong is justified just because they are evil and they killed other people too), humanity (are they still humans just because they're super?) and morality (is it ever justifiable to allow some people to be killed if it saves more people?). I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all, with the title and everything, right? I liked how these things were tackled in the superhero universe, making it not just your normal superhero-saves-the-day story but something that discusses the things we readers most probably ponder about everyday.
What really surprised me in reading Kingdom Come, though, was how familiar I was with this. I mean, I don't know half of the heroes mentioned here since I never opened a DC comic book in my entire life until now (my brother wouldn't let me touch his collection back when we were kids). However, I guess growing up with a brother who loves these things and watching movies and cartoons with these characters enforced familiarity. Although I had to consult Wikipedia every now and then to see who's who, I was more or less comfortable with navigating this universe on my own.
There was a lot of deep talk in this that had me rereading some parts of it again, but it was all wrapped up nicely in the end. And speaking of that ending: it was a nice, heartfelt one that had me chuckling. If you've read this, you probably know what I mean. :) I enjoyed reading this one, and it served as a good companion to those slow night shifts at work.(less)
I've only heard about Lourd De Veyra through friends, because most of my friends are big fans of him. I've seen him ever...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've only heard about Lourd De Veyra through friends, because most of my friends are big fans of him. I've seen him every now and then on his TV5 segment, Word of the Lourd, and I have read some of his articles in his Spot.ph blog. But I was never really one who followed his stuff regularly. I wasn't really 100% excited to attend his book launch when I was invited, except that I can't really say no to a free, local book. Unfortunately, the launch happened on the night that tropical storm Falcon made an ocean of Manila.
I was glad when the publisher still sent me a book for review because despite my being a not-so-much-of-a-fan, I was curious about the book. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how nice the book looked. Okay, it wasn't just nice, it was quite beautiful for a local publication. My fellow bloggers and I often complain about the print quality of the local books here, but The Best of This is a Crazy Planets is far superior than the others. The paper quality is nice, the cover design is pretty and illustrations/artwork were there for every article. I am delighted to see that it was affordable for its quality, too - P195 (less than 4 USD) is a pretty good price to pay for a book that looks this pretty.
That price is even more justified once you read what's inside. Like I said, I've only read a few of Lourd's articles online, so I was pretty new to his writing. Lourd De Veyra offers a funny, oftentimes sarcastic but very real commentaries on Philippine current events, people, culture and even showbiz. I found myself giggling and having to hold it back whenever I'm reading this in a public place. Some of them, I can't really relate to, some of them, I agree with, some of them, I just find really, really funny. Underneath its wit and sarcasm, Lourd's articles show a lot of truth in the current state of our country. It's not always pretty, and sometimes I feel bad when I realize that it is the ugly truth about the Philippines. But even so, Lourd never ever showed a hint of not liking his home country despite this truth (at least, that's the impression on me). It's like he writes it all out, shrugs and then says, "This is a crazy planet." Or planets.
Why buy this book when you can read it online? Well, if you're not enticed by the beautiful quality of this book and its relatively cheap price, think of it this way: you can read his articles even without Internet, even if you're in the remotest areas in this crazy planet we live in. And I think that's pretty much worth it, right?
The Best of This is a Crazy Planets is now available for Php195 in local bookstores nationwide.(less)
I decided to finally pick Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater from my TBR pile because of recommendations of some book bloggers...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I decided to finally pick Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater from my TBR pile because of recommendations of some book bloggers who said that this book is a good Christmas winter read. Fine, winter isn't really a thing here in the Philippines, but it's been strangely hot lately when the weather is supposed to be cool, and I wanted something that would make me feel a little bit cooler, even if it is just fiction.
When Grace was 11 years old, she was one of the victims of a wolf attack. How she survived was one thing, and this should have made her wary of the wolves that lived by the woods in their back yard, but instead this has pushed her into an obsession. She can't stop thinking about the yellow-eyed wolf, the wolf that "saved" her. Sam lives two lives, but he's never stopped observing Grace, the girl he loves. He never talked to her, until one shooting accident somehow changes him back to human and Grace had to save her. Now that they have talked, and spent some time together, they cannot deny the attraction. But Sam feels that this may be his last time being human, and he and Grace have to fight for their love even if it meant opening up ghosts of their past and dealing with the things that threaten to tear them apart in the present.
I was surprised with Shiver. I don't read a lot of paranormal romance books anymore, much less books about werewolves. I could read about vampires and angels but werewolves aren't my thing -- the last time I read an exclusively werewolf book was in 2010, and I didn't really like it. I thought Shiver would be sort of like mindless reading that isn't really fluff and I felt that I needed that during the holidays. However...I was pretty surprised at how much I ended up liking it. This is my first Stiefvater book, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. My friends have said that she has this way of writing that's very atmospheric, and they were right. There is an ease in her words that make it so easy to sink into, making it easy to accept the world of Mercy Falls and mingle with the different characters. Shiver's prose is both sad and lyrical, which makes some room for some very nice quotable parts. For example, I thought this description of the insides of the bookstore they went to was lovely:
As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.
The romance factor was pretty sweet and a lot intense, and I'm not sure if I should classify this as instalove. It seems like it, but also it doesn't feel like it is, if that makes sense. I liked how it unfolded though, with all the shivering romantic tension and kisses and moments spent together. Of course I'm not particularly fond of how they were always left alone, although I liked how they noticed the absence of Grace's parents in the narrative, even if I wished there was some change to that in the end. The he said/she said form was a good move IMHO, and I really liked reading about Sam's struggle between his wolf and human self.
There's an overall sad tone in the book that makes it not really fit for Christmas. It was kind of a slow read, too. Part of it was my savoring of the words, but the other part just kind of made me wonder where the story was going, because there's no real sense of immediate danger for Sam and Grace, just the sense of an ending for what they just started having. I almost gave up on it somewhere when I was 2/3 in, but I'm glad I didn't because I really liked how it ended. I'd like to think of my own possibilities at where their story is going after the last page. But since I have a copy of Linger on my TBR, I may as well read it sometime. But if you ask me, I thought the ending was really enough.
So yeah, I was pleasantly surprised with Shiver. I liked it. I'm going to let Linger ...well, linger on my shelf a little longer, and I will also try to acquire a copy of The Scorpio Races since all my blogger friends have raved about it. But one thing is for sure: this won't be my last Stiefvater book. :)(less)
I've been a fan of Camy Tang ever since I heard about her and read the first book in her Sushi series, Sushi For One?. I...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've been a fan of Camy Tang ever since I heard about her and read the first book in her Sushi series, Sushi For One?. I liked that she wrote chick lit with an Asian flavor, and while I'm not Chinese/Japanese like her heroines are, I find that I could relate to the family and growing up woes that the four cousins experienced. And they're Christian, too, so the stories resonate with my faith.
Unfortunately, Camy's contract for the Sushi series only covers 3 books, so only Lex's, Trish's and Venus' stories came out in full-length novels. Fortunately, Camy announced a few years back that she would be releasing a novella about Jennifer, the fourth cousin. Imagine my delight when she sent her street team a free copy. :)
Jennifer Lim is the nicest among the cousins, so nice that she knows she can be a doormat sometimes. When she finally graduated from her culinary degree, she finds herself pressured with having to fulfill some family "duties" that her aunts had pressed upon her. After a particularly bad party with an encounter with her ex, Jenn finally stands up for herself and starts a catering company. This starts her adventure that brings Jenn into learning that it takes a lot of courage to follow your dreams and even more to leave those dreams and trust that God will make things happen.
It felt nice reuniting with Camy's characters again. I love the bond that Lex, Trish, Venus and Jenn had, and how they would always be there for one another no matter what. I also loved and hated their family. I don't know how Chinese/Japanese families really are, but their Aunty Aikiko really grated my nerves. How can a relative be so manipulating and conniving and just...annoying? Ugh. It almost felt a bit unreal with that aspect, but who knew, right? Maybe people like that do exist.
I like how things came into somewhat of a full circle in this novella. While this could be read as a standalone, like the first three, but I think reading all of them would provide a fuller experience with the story. I always find back stories interesting, so knowing what happened to who in previous books while reading this one helped a lot in appreciating the events in this more. I especially liked how one of their cousins seemed to be friendlier to them now, and how their grandmother played a surprising role too.
The only thing I probably did not like in Weddings and Wasabi was how short it was! I missed the build up in the old novels, especially in the romantic sense, so I was a little detached from the romance here unlike in the others. It did provide for a good, quick and light read, but I was definitely hungry for more. :)(less)
Ultraviolet is far from my radar and from any of my reading plans. I've never read any of R.J. Anderson's work, and I w...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Ultraviolet is far from my radar and from any of my reading plans. I've never read any of R.J. Anderson's work, and I wasn't just really that interested even if I've read some good reviews for them. I saw the ebook on Netgalley but just looked over it, thinking that it's not something I would be interested in.
This book started popping up everywhere on my Goodreads feeds. One friend read it and liked it, then a few more did. All reviews refused to talk too much about what this book was about, and they were all just saying what a surprise/shocker/gender-bender this particular book was. I got curious, and thought, "Fine. If it's still in Netgalley, I will get it and read it."
So Ultraviolet was still there, and I got it and read it. This book starts with a very curious introduction:
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.
This is not her story.
Unless you count the part where I killed her.
I wasn't sure what to place this in from there. We find our heroine, Alison Jeffries, waking up in a rehabilitation facility with no memory of why and how she got there. Alison is sixteen, confused and worried about her current situation. As her memories start trickling in, she is moved to Pine Hills Psychiatric Treatment Center, where she grapples with the possibility that (1) she's crazy and (2) she may have just killed her school mate and rival, Tori Beaugrand with her mind, as she can see what color a number is and taste things like lies, things that normal people could not do. Alone and treading the thin line between sanity and not, Alison finds a friend in neuropsychologist, Sebastian Faraday, giving a name for her condition and convincing Alison that she is a normal girl.
To reveal more would be spoilery, so I'll let you find out for yourself. I was aware of a coming twist that would turn Ultraviolet around and I resisted the urge to read ahead just to find out when, where and what it was. It was easy to stick to the story though, because the author's writing is just so good that I wouldn't think of skipping any page. The story was tight, and I felt genuine sympathy for Alison as she struggles with her ordeal. I just really wanted to give Alison a hug and believe that she isn't crazy, you now? At the same time, I was very interested in Alison's condition -- which apparently, is real.
And then...things changed. I was expecting it because of the reviews I read, but I wasn't sure when it would happen. Like what other readers have said, it was done quite seamlessly that I couldn't question how untrue it was. I'm usually skeptical about how things turned out here, this one worked. I had a hunch about what it was, and it turned out correct, but it wasn't also 100% right. The author managed to keep the balance between what's real and not real and make it work, while also giving us readers a way to describe something infinite. Forgive the flowery word, but that was just the only way I could describe it. Infinite.
Ah, I'm sorry I can't reveal that much more because it would destroy the reading experience of anyone who reads this and decides to read Ultraviolet. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, and I'm glad that I gave in to the good review pressure and read it. This is definitely one of those books that will have readers discuss and laugh and share a secret smile about.(less)
A week after I finished reading Kingdom Come, I felt the urge to read another graphic novel because, well, I was sick,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
A week after I finished reading Kingdom Come, I felt the urge to read another graphic novel because, well, I was sick, and actual wordy novels made me dizzy and/or sleepy. So I finally decided to pick up The Filipino Heroes League Book 1: Sticks and Stones by Paolo Fabregas, which I bought after Jason's very enthusiastic recommendation.
The Filipino Heroes League, or FHL, were a group of superheroes that fight injustice and help the police apprehend criminals in the Philippines. Well, they fought, but because of bad economy and the defeat of all Filipino supervillains in the country, some of the heroes have decided to take on normal people jobs using their powers, and/or migrate to other countries in hopes of being an international superhero and making it big.
We meet two of our heroes still loyal to the FHL, Kidlat Kid and Vis, who are off to catch bank robbers. After dismissing a warning from a kid who told them his classmate will kill a public official, they race off in a pedicab to catch the criminals, only to be scolded by the police after they set the van on fire with the stolen money still inside it. Meanwhile, government people who are in favor of the president's impeachment are being killed one by one. When the remaining members of FHL are framed for these murders, they escape, only to find out that (1) there's another group of "superheroes" who are off to get them and make them look bad, and (2) there's a bigger conspiracy that ties all these events together, and tells them that what the FHL believed all this time may just not be true.
Fresh from reading Kingdom Come, FHL turned out to be a very fun read. I loved the local references, and how these heroes are just so...Filipino. The characters were fun, the dialogue was so familiar and the story was so gripping that I almost wished I bought this when the second book is out just so I would know immediately what happens next. I thought it was very well-written and easy to read, and it served as great entertainment for the few hours that I sat down reading this. :) I especially loved Kidlat Kid -- he reminded me so much of Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender! :)
I thought it felt right to juxtapose this book with Kingdom Come, because they have similar elements: a team of superheroes, some of them forgotten and set aside, all trying to make things right with the best of their abilities. Of course, Kingdom Come takes well-known characters so it obviously has more punch, but I think FHL is pretty much at par with its foreign counterparts.
If you're looking for another good, local graphic novel to get you by while waiting for, say, the next Trese book, then I recommend the first book of The Filipino Heroes League. It helps that Budjette Tan edited this book, too.
And once again: I really, really can't wait for the next book. When is it coming out?(less)
I've had this book for a while now (thanks to The Ironic Catholic for the review copy!), and I meant to read it while plane hopping in Europe but other books won me over. I was at the salon two weeks ago, just finished with a women's fiction novel and I couldn't really jump into another one just yet, so I decided to choose a slim ebook to cleanse the reading palate before going back to the other book I had in progress.
It turned out to be a very good choice, too. I love The Ironic Catholic's style -- poking fun at the little quirks of the Catholic faith but never disrespectful and still allowing people to learn a little more about the faith than a regular, Sunday mass-going Catholic knows. The news format of the book makes it easy to digest, and sometimes I have to remind myself that it's fiction because some of them felt like odd stories you read every now online. My favorite story? The World Old Day celebration, which is the senior citizens' version of World Youth Day. It not only made me laugh, but it brought fond memories of my own experience in WYD.
I just really wish this book was a little bit longer, but then the volume number in the title probably means there will be a volume two...right? (less)
I read and enjoyed Sandra D. Bricker's other book, Always the Baker, Never the Bride last year, and I honestly had no idea that this was a part of a series. So when I saw the galley for this book on Netgalley, I was pleasantly surprised. The first book wasn't a favorite, but I liked it enough for me to get the sequel and read it in between pages of a ghost story I was also currently reading.
In Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride (which will be known as AWPNTB from now on -- what a long title), we meet an old friend of the heroine from the first book, Sherilyn Caine. She's a wedding planner and she fits right in the Tanglewood Hotel's wedding planning staff. Sherilyn is also moving back home to get married with her fiance, Andrew Drummond IV, who she has met only a few months ago. Their engagement was short, sure, but they love each other -- that should be enough right? But why is it that none of their wedding plans are pushing through?
AWPNTB is a fun read, especially since there are all those familiar characters that I liked last year. There was also the Southern charm that most Christian chick lit has, and it made me want to really see if Atlanta was as nice as it was written in these books. The book stays true to its wedding themes, too, and I liked the little wedding checklists written in between the chapters, as well as recipes that Emma the baker plays with.
This had more marriage and wedding stuff compared to the first book, so to be totally honest, I wasn't able to relate. Oh sure, I know a lot about weddings, given that my brother got married just last year and that he works as a wedding videographer, so I get regular doses of wedding magic. But being someone who has no plans of settling down anytime soon, I really couldn't relate to the things that Sherilyn worried about. I felt bad for her, yes, but that was just it. I can't really empathize -- not yet, anyway.
Okay, maybe I feel that way because Sherilyn and Andy seemed to be products of "insta-love", and I'm not really much of a fan of that. They knew each other for less than a year and then they're getting married -- how about that? But the good thing is, the issues about this quick engagement were tackled really well. The doubts, the quirks and the little issues that came up were addressed well, and even I was surprised with the last thing that ultimately gave Sherilyn and Andy reason to think about their relationship. I also liked how Sherilyn came into her final realization. It's sweet and I guess, true. Not that I would know now, of course, but I'd like to believe that it is. :)
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride is a nice installment to the Emma Rae Creation series, even if it I wasn't able to relate to it that much. I dare say I will still pick up the next book, Always the Designer, Never the Bride. I wonder what crazy love-related and wedding antics the main characters will get into then?(less)
This is actually one of the last books I read for 2011, and I got this because I'm such a loyal reader of Mira Grant and...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This is actually one of the last books I read for 2011, and I got this because I'm such a loyal reader of Mira Grant and her Newsflesh universe. Countdown is the a prequel to her story and it narrates just how the Rising happened through the different perspectives involved in the story. I liked how the story wasn't really as simple as how it seemed when Georgia talked about it in Feed. There were so many people involved, some that were already known such as the developers of the cure, and also some unknown people like the activists that caused the virus to go out. It had just enough detail without being too scientific or too political, and the growing terror of what just might happen because of the chain of events was very well conveyed. The slow unveiling of the effects of the new virus strain was horrifying at its best and you just know that it's too late when it all comes down.
While there's no Georgia or Shaun in this book yet, we get a glimpse of their parents and how they got involved and what happened that could have led them to adopting the two. It wasn't really narrated as a whole, but when the book is done, it's easier to connect the dots.
This isn't a required reading to fully understand the series, but for fans who are itching to read the last book in the trilogy, Countdown is a good pick to satiate this hunger.(less)
This year, I discovered a little sub genre that I'm starting to like -- superhero fiction. I'm not sure if it really is...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This year, I discovered a little sub genre that I'm starting to like -- superhero fiction. I'm not sure if it really is a valid sub genre (I'm pretty sure it falls under science fiction), but I'm really, really liking reading stuff about superheroes or mutants. I'm pretty sure this stems from all the X-Men cartoons I watched when I was younger. I've only read two books that dealt with superheroes, or at least people with powers that didn't involve magic (The Rise of Renegade X and Being Jamie Baker) this year, so when Shelley Workinger, author of Solid, sent a review copy for the first book in her series, I was glad to accept.
Eighteen years ago, an army doctor secretly created a drug that modified the chromosome of a baby while they were in the womb and administered them to unknowing pregnant women. No one knew about this even after he was killed, until the military unearthed the truths of this experiment and called on all these children to spend some time in a hidden campus for some testing. Turns out this drug allowed the children to have superhuman abilities, much like superheroes -- if only these kids know how to harness their powers. One of these kids is Clio Kaid, who joins the program not knowing what it was really about. As Clio explores whatever ability she had, she also makes new friends and even possibly found her first love. And then things turn weird when she finds information that tells them that maybe the military is hiding secrets from them, and she recruits her friends to find out what exactly is going on.
Solid is very entertaining, as it plays on familiarity and some pop culture to make it an easily relatable novel. In a way, this book reminds me of The Secret World of Alex Mack, and I could definitely see this one being made into a TV show for teens. I liked Clio's voice, and while I didn't really anything super spectacular about her, I found her very easy to like. Her friends were also very interesting and different -- snobby and domineering Miranda, shy Bliss (who, for some reason, reminds me of Glimmer from She-Ra), funny Garrett and charismatic Jack. I liked their group's chemistry a lot, and it was nice for Clio to have a group of friends to turn to in the middle of all of this.
That being said, however, despite the entertainment value, I felt that Solid lacked a bit of "oomph". It may be because it was a bit too short for everything to make sense. I felt a bit detached from the climax, probably because I didn't feel a proper build up for it? I didn't have a whole sense of danger, really, maybe because I found that I could predict what could happen when the high point of the book happened. I could see it being very well played on TV, though -- so maybe it could work as a TV show? I also wished for more explanation for their abilities, because that's always something I look forward to in reading these kinds of fiction. Maybe it will be explained in the next books? Also, the ending also felt a tad too cheesy, but it may just be me.
Still, Solid was a pretty good debut, and I think it has a lot going for something independent. Maybe with a prettier cover, it could get picked up more? Maybe it's just me, but I'm not really feeling the purple chromosome -- it gives me a first impression of a paranormal romance novel when it's really not.