Because I enjoyed the novel so much, I thought of writing a review for it in the way the novel is written. It might get a tad personal and long (just as how I tried to review This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen), but I hope you keep on reading. :P
================================== from: Tina < hello @ tinamats.com> to: Achieving Friends :) date: Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 7:19 PM subject: Save as Draft, and all sorts of thoughts
This may be a very surprising email for you guys to get because...well, do we really communicate using emails now? There's Facebook and Twitter, and well, there are other ways we can communicate...but indulge me for a while. Sometimes a book can make you do silly stuff. ;)
So I just finished reading this book, Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee. It's this book filled with emails and text messages from this girl, Izzy, to her friends and her guys. It starts with Izzy in 2008, where she joins an online dating website and meets Marty, a nice and sweet guy who seems to be very interesting. However, even after a great first date, Izzy tells Marty that she has decided to exclusively date her best friend, Peter and she was sorry. Then we are brought back to 2006, where Izzy first meets Peter, and how their relationship started from best friends to lovers.
I'm going to stop there so I won't spoil you. I thought Save as Draft would be one of those typical chick lit romance novels with only a difference in format being an "electro-epistolary" novel, but I was wrong. I was very pleasantly surprised with this, and you may have seen my tweets during the weekend about this book -- I was literally laughing out loud at home while I was reading this because Izzy reminded me SO much of myself. I love Izzy - her over thinking, her flirting, even her depressing moments remind me so much of the times I felt the same thing! Girls, I think we'll all see some of ourselves in Izzy, or even her friends. The way they exchange emails and all that feels like they were actually exchanging dialogues instead of mere emails, and it's just like how we tweet each other sometimes, haha. I think we will definitely see some of the guys we know in Peter and Marty, too.
The book is littered with so many funny exchanges that's the stuff you can see in modern sitcoms but also things you can see in real life. Of course, I'm no judge for that with my still single since birth status, but these are the things we usually talk about, you know?
I think the biggest "lesson" I picked up with Save as Draft is how relationships are never black and white. I've talked to some of you about this before, and again, given my single status, I know I'm highly idealistic. That's why I like books like this -- they show a side of reality that I have not yet experienced and give me a bit of a warning, if you may. Something to remind me that things will never turn exactly the way I like it. Remember how I used to say that I wanted a guy who had no issues or hang ups in life just so things won't be complicated? Well, if I keep on thinking like that, then I know I would never ever settle down with anyone because a guy (or a girl, for that matter) without issues or hang ups does not exist.I think the author was very good at showing that relationships can be messy. There's no perfect relationship just as there is no perfect person. Even if the person seemed perfect at the start, you'd realize eventually that he's a workaholic, or he has issues with fat people (this really kind of grated my nerves there) or he's too presumptuous (haha this reminds me of someone!). It's all gray and there is never a clear thing, and sometimes you just really have to follow your heart, you know?
And excuse me for being emo there. These are the things we usually talk about when we're drinking.
I think this is the first time that I was confused at who I wanted the heroine to end up with. I mean, even my Best Friend vs. the Other Guy thing couldn't decide: Izzy fell for her best friend, but there was also this other perfectly nice guy there that I liked for her...is real life really like this?!
It's a very, very good book, and I won't spoil you anymore because I'm going to make you guys read this! I was entertained all throughout, and I bet you guys will, too. Save as Draft is not a relationship manual, but it's given me a little insight on what I must remember when the day comes that I enter a relationship: (1) never substitute face to face communication with emails/tweets/chats/texts/what-have-you and (2) never let anyone dim my sparkle.
Oh, and never ever do anything you'll regret when you're drunk. ;)
Rambling off. Can't wait to see you guys again -- this weekend?
P.S. I just thought of a perfect Valentine's Gift. I just hope this book gets to the Philippine shores on time. :)
If you're looking for a quick, fun yet meaningful read about relationships and how messy it can be, do get this book. Save as Draftby Cavanaugh Lee will be out in hardcover on February 1 under Simon & Schuster. (less)
Cryer's Cross tells the story of Kendall Fletcher, a girl with OCD who lives in the small town of Cryer's Cross in Mont...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Cryer's Cross tells the story of Kendall Fletcher, a girl with OCD who lives in the small town of Cryer's Cross in Montana. It starts with the entire town searching for Tiffany Quinn, who disappeared without a trace shortly before Kendall's junior year ended. When the town eventually gives up on looking for her, everything sort of goes back to normal until Kendall's best friend and sort of boyfriend, Nico, also disappears. Kendall is distraught, until she finds something very peculiar: Nico and Tiffany sat in the same desk in school, and Nico seemed to be sending Kendall graffiti messages through this desk.
Lisa McMann delivers again in this deliciously creepy novel about a small town with secrets through the eyes of a girl with OCD. It's almost similar with the Dreamcatcher series in terms of its sparse prose, and yet Cryer's Cross has a more poetic feel about it with how the town was described and the people who live there. It had a somewhat initial similar feel to Sara Zarr's Once Was Lost, but it got creepier and creepier especially after reading some of the messages from "WE" in between some chapters such as this one:
When it is over, We breathe and ache like old oak, like peeling birch. One of Our lost souls set free. We move, a chess piece in the dark room, cast-iron legs a centimeter at a time, crying out in silent carved graffiti. Calling to Our next victim, Our next savior. We carve on Our face:
It came to a point that I was too scared to read this book when I was traveling alone or when I'm the only one left awake at home, which was why it took me a while to read this book (I'm a big chicken, too bad). The book's pacing was slow at first, but the author takes this time to set it all up, building up to a very creepy climax.
Perhaps my only gripe in this book is the reason why the things were happening felt a little...I don't know, abrupt? It was a perfectly creepy and horrifying reason, but it felt like it totally came from nowhere. Of course, this may be done on purpose to hike up the creepiness factor, although I kind of wish for a bit more foreshadowing on that piece of Cryer's Cross history.
Nevertheless, this is another solid book for Lisa McMann. I can't wait to read what she comes up with next.(less)
I cannot imagine myself having an eating disorder. I love food too much, and I can't imagine not eating. Of course, wh...moreOriginal review at One More Page
I cannot imagine myself having an eating disorder. I love food too much, and I can't imagine not eating. Of course, when I lost all the extra weight, I was careful to follow my nutritionist's advice and keep myself well-fed to keep my metabolism up. I guess I'm blessed enough not to be too conscious of how fat/thin I look, and that I had good friends and people around me who always kept me in check.
But that doesn't mean that I have never had encounters with any eating disorder. I had some friends back in college who had eating disorders. One had bullimia and we had to do intervention for her to help her out, while the other had an eating disorder that was neither bullimia or anorexia (I think it's called Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), where she always thinks she's fat even if she wasn't (if she was fat, then I'm an elephant) and she would swing from binging and purging to eating normally and exercising like crazy. Thankfully, these friends are better now, so it wasn't as extreme as the one I read in Hunger.
Now, Hunger is a pretty unique book. I've read some contemporary YA with eating disorders involved, but never in the context of an urban fantasy novel. For one thing, I only know of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from watching Charmed (Season 2 Episode 21), and they give me a kind of creepy impression being harbingers of the apocalypse. I also didn't know these four horsemen actually had a Christian origin as they were from Revelations! *facepalm* I had no idea what to expect about this novel, except maybe get a bit freaked out at the references to the apocalypse.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed it. It's not an apocalyptic novel, despite the presence of the four horsemen -- it was more of a novel about an girl suffering through an eating disorder. I was very annoyed at Lisa for most of the novel because she is sick, but she won't admit it. I wanted to yell and scream at her for thinking that she was fat -- there weren't many descriptions of her in the book, but I knew for a fact that she wasn't fat. I know that she was doing more harm to her body than good by not eating and exercising like crazy. I was both frustrated and sorry for Lisa because she won't listen to her friends and yet she really, really needs help.
Who knew being Famine could change that? Lisa being Famine was the key for her to realize that while she was starving herself because she felt fat, there are people all over the world who would die to have the food she has available for her. It was kind of hard for me to understand how famine could be a good thing, how it could help, but the author managed to execute it well in a way that made sense. I liked how Lisa's story turned out -- it wasn't a story of destruction really, even with all the apocalypse, but a story of redemption for Lisa.
I'd also like to say that I'm relieved that there's no paranormal romance involved in this book! For a moment there I thought Lisa would fall for another horseman, but I'm glad she didn't. Not only would that be creepy, but that would totally destroy how the story was set up.
There were some stuff I found myself nitpicking on that didn't make me love this novel. There were times when the point of view shifts, like the sudden use of "our" and "we", and it was kind of jarring to see shifts like that while reading. Example:
She opened her mouth to say she most certainly did not, and never mind that he looked familiar because she'd never seen him before, not really, when suddenly it clicked. Humans have a race memory, or if you wanted to get Jungian, a collective unconscious -- the feelings and experiences that we as a species have learned throughout the ages. In our souls, we recognize the angels and demons that walk among us, as well as the Old Ones who fall in between those categories.
I'm not sure if it's a writing technique, but to me, it felt a bit awkward, like it could have been written better. Also, the switching from Lisa to Lisabeth throughout the story was kind of confusing, up until I realized that whenever Lisabeth was used, it is from the POV of Famine or the horse. This is very minor, but I also felt like Lisa's parents could have been named better -- Simon and Sandy felt too much like brother and sister to me. ^^
But that's just me nitpicking, as I said. Hunger is still a pretty good book, one that pleasantly surprised me. It's a pretty quick read, and there's also a story from the author at the end that made me appreciate the story even more. I'm looking forward to Rage, the second book in this series, this time about self-mutilation and War.
She's So Dead to Us was one of my favorite reads last year. It was a different kind of contemporary novel, almost like a guilty pleasure because of how I was able to take a peek into rich kids' lives. But more than that, I was able to sympathize with the characters, and the author made the villains three dimensional that I was curious to know their motivations. They weren't just plain mean girls and boys -- they were doing that because of something, even if it wasn't fair for Ally. The ending of the last book was such a cliff hanger that I had no idea what could happen next, so I was positively thrilled when I saw that the next book, He's So Not Worth It was available in Galley Grab.
Ally's dad shows up again, exactly after she was embarrassed by Shannen during her birthday party. Ally was hurt, confused and angry, especially at Jake, who knew where her dad was all along. Now Ally is faced with a choice between an entire summer with the Cresties at the beach or with her dad in Orchard Hill. Jake is also having a miserable summer, as he not only lost Ally, but he was grounded for the summer. Instead of partying with his friends at the beach, he had to go to college classes and work for Ally's dad. Ally ends up going to the beach just to avoid Jake, where she meets a cute local guy named Cooper. If only her mom wasn't being such a pain, then maybe her summer would be at least better than she expected.
He's So Not Worth It is still enjoyable in the sense that it was fun reading about the Orchard Hill Cresties and Norms. The setting was solid, and I was able to sink back into the world with no problem. I also loved that part of this was set in the beach -- I haven't been able to go to the beach this summer, so reading about beaches is the next best thing, I guess. This makes for a good beach read, with the infinite possibilities of summer for the reader and the characters.
Another thing I really liked in this book is the relationships of the characters. They're far from perfect, but boy do they feel real. Just like in the previous book, I thought the group had their own personality other than the individuals. I liked how even if they're not exactly friends anymore, somehow old ties bring them back together, even if it did not mean well for the other characters.
That being said, however, I felt that He's So Not Worth It is not as gripping as its predecessor. As real as these characters and their dynamics felt, I was frustrated at all the stupid decisions they keep on doing. I know being young allows us to do them, but these kids in this novel just upped it. There is drama everywhere! I was constantly annoyed at Jake for his stupid and rash decisions. Ally was no better, too, and she was actually matching Shannen in the first book for the bitch factor. I think the only character that felt a little bit normal in the book was Annie, if you don't count her field notes and Crestie- stalking (which was very entertaining, and helped readers see what Jake and Ally weren't seeing). It almost felt like I was watching a Gossip Girl episode, which is enjoyable, but not in too much doses for me.
While this feels a little bit of a sophomore slump for the series, it did end in another cliffhanger, which makes me wonder what would happen next. I admit that I am still curious, so I will still read the next book. :) He's So Not Worth Itisn't really disappointing; I just think it's not as good as She's So Dead to Us. I wonder how the author will wrap this series up -- I sure hope there's a happy ending somewhere down the road for Jake and Ally and everyone else.(less)
Out of all the Disney princesses, I find Princess Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty the prettiest. Maybe I...more**spoiler alert** Original post at One More Page
Out of all the Disney princesses, I find Princess Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty the prettiest. Maybe I'm biased because I like them blonde, and she seemed like the most poised, most elegant of them all. But that maybe because she slept for a hundred years, and it must be hard to move after lying down for so long. I mean, I find my back and bones stiff after I sleep for more than ten hours, what more hundred years.
Tia Nevitt's retelling is by far the most unique one I've encountered of all retellings I've read so far. Instead of focusing on the main character, the author shifts the focus to the people we readers rarely focus on in a story, to some random person in the town. The usual faceless and nameless people in the crowds are put into spotlight in The Sevenfold Spell, putting quite a unique twist in the story of Sleeping Beauty.
This is a quick read, more of a novella than a novel. However, the first part of the book felt long for me. Terribly long, mostly because of all the sex. I wasn't expecting that, really, but I was surprised to read that Talia would resort to that to cure her of her loneliness. Mind you, she didn't really become a whore so she could earn money -- she did it out of loneliness.
I can't really question the motivations of the characters, given Talia's situation. Reading this told me that I am pretty conservative with what I read, and I could only stand to read so much sex in one book before I feel sick of reading it. I'm not saying that they were pointless in the book -- I got the point. It had some kind of bearing in the story that made the character grow, which was good. I liked how Talia eventually outgrew her need for physical intimacy, and instead focused on other more important things, like patching things up with her mother. I just didn't like reading about how Talia did it with Willard and how Talia seduced an old man to do it with her. Just not my thing.
Fortunately, the story picked up by the second half, and there was a surprising twist. The resolution felt a bit too easy, and too clean cut for my taste. I guess that's where the author really meant to go, to a happily ever after ending. It is a fairy tale, after all.
Overall, this wasn't a bad book. It's just not for me, I guess. If I want another retelling, I think I'll stick with Gail Carson-Levine and similar authors.
The Sevenfold Spell will be out on September 2010. Much thanks to NetGalley for the advanced reading copy ebook!(less)
There was a time a few years ago when I was hearing mass with my family, and I happened to stand beside this man at chur...moreOriginal post at One More Page
There was a time a few years ago when I was hearing mass with my family, and I happened to stand beside this man at church. The man wasn't dressed the way other people were dressed during Sunday mass. He looked scruffy, almost like he came straight from the streets to the church. He didn't look dangerous, and perhaps he even is nice given that he was in church and all. But what I really noticed were his hands. They were, if I were to be perfectly honest, kind of scary. The memory's vague, but I remember that it looked like he had some kind of skin disease -- lesions, wounds and spots -- the kind that one would refuse to touch in fear of contagion. I was afraid to touch it, knowing especially that at a certain part of the mass, I would have to hold his hand while praying The Lord's Prayer.
I tried, I really did. I was in church, and holding hands with a stranger during a prayer is the thing to do. It was the good thing, the kind thing, the loving thing. It was expected. I told myself that I would do it, that I would hold his hand during The Lord's Prayer and not be scared or repulsed or look for a hand sanitizer after the prayer. I told myself, I prepared myself and I wanted to do it.
But I didn't. When the priest told everyone to "join hands and as one family pray the prayer Jesus had taught us," I chickened out, opened my hand but did not take his, looked ahead and prayed, feeling the guilt grow heavier as the mass went on.
This particular memory may seem insignificant and well, I may be blowing things out of proportion. Perhaps the man never even noticed me at all -- but it struck me because I really wanted to do the kind thing, but I didn't because I was afraid. Just like how the other kids and grown ups in the book reacted to Auggie in Wonder by R.J. Palacio. August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that made him quite special to his family for his need of extra care. He has never attended a normal school, until he agreed with his parents to start attending fifth grade at Beecher Prep. Auggie is a perfect fit for the school, except maybe for his face. Told in Auggie's point of view as well as five more from the people around him, we follow Auggie as he faces one of the most challenging times of his young life.
I was prepared for a barrage of emotions that Wonder could probably give me, after reading several reviews and updates from Goodreads friends about this book. I knew that I was probably going to like it, but what I wasn't prepared for were what kind of emotions it would bring. Being a middle grade book, the writing was pretty simple and easy to read, especially since most of the narrators were kids as well. Wonder is bound to remind readers of their own middle school (or in my case, late elementary years, since we do not have middle school in the Philippines) experiences. It's strange to think of it, but young people can be very mean, even if it's not on purpose, and Wonder shows how it could be. My heart went out for Auggie, especially since he did not ask to look like the way he does. Like his parents, I wanted the best for him too.
The story was told not just in Auggie's point of view, but also with five other kids who surrounded Auggie's life. This made the book a little easier to relate to because let's admit it: most of us don't have what Auggie has. Of all the characters, I identified the most with his friend, Jack. I really wish I could be like Summer, that I could choose to be kind before anything else. I think Jack represents the side of everyone who tries to be good but fails, and then tries again anyway. And I think the trying is the most important part of it all.
There's a lot of buzz with what Wonder teaches, or attempts to teach, but I think maybe we shouldn't over think it too much. Sure, there are some parts that may seem a little simple, that the ending may seem to be a little too nicely wrapped up, almost like how a movie is done and we know real life is never that way. I see it as a simple thing: I see Wonder as a middle grade book that teaches kindness -- to quote, "...to be kinder than necessary." That as human beings, we do not just have "...the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness..." and to choose that even when it's not easy, when it's inconvenient, even when it's uncomfortable.
Even though reading Wonder reminded me of that particular incident I shared at the start of this review which brought back some of the guilty feelings, this book made me feel a lot better after reading it. A little bit more whole, even. With a stronger resolve to be kinder than necessary. I think that a book that can make its readers feel like that is worth a second glance.(less)
I love traveling. Granted, I'm not the most traveled person around, but I love being able to go to places. I love seeing...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I love traveling. Granted, I'm not the most traveled person around, but I love being able to go to places. I love seeing new things, I love being (almost) anonymous in a sea of people who may or may not understand me. I love figuring out how a train system goes and how I can go from one place to another. The itch to travel hasn't been that big in me until I got to go to Europe last year, and ever since then, I've been thinking of other places in the world that I must see in this lifetime. There's something about being able to achieve a traveling dream that makes you want to travel again, especially while I still can. I've got a bucket list of places that I want to go to and while a part of me wonders how will I be ever able to afford all those trips, it does not stop me from dreaming.
I guess that's why Wanderlove was such a hit with me. Bria Sandoval wanted to be a global vagabond, especially after her senior year in high school spun out of control and left her lost. She signs up for the Global Vagabonds tour to Central America, thinking that she would be with people her age. But the brochure she read was wrong and she ended up being with a group of tourists that followed a too-rigid schedule for her to actually find time to rediscover herself. Then she runs into a group of backpackers -- real backpackers who go from one place to another with just the clothes and the bags on their backs -- led by dive instructor with a bad boy aura Rowan, and his humanitarian sister Starling. Bria takes the chance and joins them. It's the trip of a lifetime for Bria, and she hopes that somewhere along the way, against the backdrop of Mayan temples and Belizean islands, she finds exactly what she was looking for.
Again, I love traveling. But truth be told, traveling is kind of a cliche interest among people my age, at least from where I come from. Everyone wants to travel, because it's such a good way to spend money and to see something new. But I know that only a few of those people who has put "traveling" in their interests can actually quit their jobs, sell everything and just travel.
I know I am definitely not one of those people.
The backpackers in Wanderlove? They're the real deal.
I wasn't really expecting to love this book so much. I was just expecting to like it, but not really like it. But I was captured from page one. I loved Bria -- her doubts and uncertainties, how she pretends to be a well-seasoned traveler even if that wasn't true. I loved how different she was from the first chapter to the last, and how her fears can translate into something universal, even if I'm not an artsy person. Bria's need to escape is something everyone feels, and something that traveling can quickly fix, even if it's just for a while. I feel you, Bria. I really do.
Also: the romance. This is another one of those slow burn romances that just makes my toes curl with delight. :) While the build up to the romance didn't really span months like how it was in Flat-Out Love, it was still believable with all the time that Rowan and Bria spent together. I loved how they danced around one another, how their conversations can go from disliking each other to having a mutual understanding that led them to protect one another from people who do not understand them. There wasn't too much drama in how their relationship was built up, and I liked how it all ended, especially where it all ended. Wanderlove at its finest. :)
Finally, the setting. I think it helps that the author is also a backpacker, so the experiences and the places that the characters visited felt very real. I have to admit that Central America was never in my bucket list. After reading this book, though, I also wanted to pack my bags and go see the places they saw. Okay fine, I don't think I'll go backpack like they did anytime soon, but I so want to go where they went. Someday, someday. I'll go there. Maybe after I hit South America next year (World Youth Day 2013 is in Rio de Janiero -- wohoo!).
If you're ever one who's loved traveling, or one who's wished to travel but never got to, I recommend Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard to you. I hope this book fills you with the same kind of love as Bria found and Rowan had, and that somehow, it also helps you find the place(s) in the world that would stick in your heart. :)
I leave you with this quote:
You got to find your own places. The places you get, girl, the ones that stick in your heart. And if you’re lucky, you find people to share them with.
I can't remember the last time I willingly read a paranormal romance novel. I really can't anymore. I am not denying tha...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I can't remember the last time I willingly read a paranormal romance novel. I really can't anymore. I am not denying that I used to like the genre, but after finding out that there seemed to be nothing new there, I just wandered off to other genres. So when rave reviews of Unearthly by Cynthia Hand popped up among book bloggers, I didn't pay attention. To me, it's just another angel novel that I will probably wonder why I even bothered after I finish.
And then even people who I know don't really read much paranormal started giving it glowing reviews. This got my attention. I only pay attention to some people when it comes to paranormal romances, so when they give a good review on a book that I normally wouldn't read and I know they normally wouldn't read either, I know I'd have to keep an eye on it. After reading one contemporary novel after the other last month, I gave myself a break from real life stuff and finally picked up Unearthly, wondering if I will like it as much as the others did.
Clara Gardner has angel blood -- she's 3/4 human, 1/4 angel, but that 1/4 makes all the difference in her world. She's different, and she has a purpose in this world. This purpose makes her and her family move to a new town after a series of visions. There she meets Christian Prescott, the boy in her visions that she somehow has to save. Clara and Christian had an instant connection and Clara wonders if it's not just her angel side that's attracted. But there's a catch: Christian has a girlfriend. And there's another catch: Clara also seems to be attracted to her best friend's twin, Tucker. Torn between her angel side and her human side, Clara has to make a choice between what she wants and her destiny as an angel.
It sounds like your everyday paranormal romance novel, right? I thought so too. But friends, believe me when I tell you this: it is so much more. I was very surprised with how good Unearthly is. Normally, I hate instant connections, I dislike love triangles, and I don't like supernatural creatures falling in love with humans, but this one is different. Clara is a believable heroine despite her powers. She's angel, all right, but even if she's angelic, she's also very human. I liked that there was a balance between her human and angel side and she's *gasp!* not a Mary Sue! She's awkward, she gets shy, she rebels from her mom and even if she's an angel, she has no idea what to do with her life. She's a refreshing heroine from all that I can remember of the paranormal romance genre, and I liked it.
The boys? Well, there's really no question who I'm rooting for, right? :) I found Christian a little too perfect, but it was actually in all good reason once you get to the end. Tucker, oh Tucker. I loved him. :) I loved how his character developed, I loved how he got into Clara's life. I liked that he wasn't perfect, and I liked that he's just...well, human. The description in the blurb says he appeals to Clara's non-angelic side, and it's easy to think that he's, well, evil, but he's not. The more accurate description should be, he appeals to Clara's human side, and that made him very adorable for me. The romance in Unearthly is *another gasp!* quite healthy, too. Lots of banter, conversations and time spent together -- none of those "I saw him and fell in love" thing. Yes, even the instant connection with Christian was toned down with conversations and whatnot. And it was definitely refreshing.
The angel mythology was probably my favorite of all in this book -- very well done, not too religious and not blasphemous, too. I liked how it seemed respectful of how angels are known, and it seemed very well-researched. I loved the idea of Glory, or the wing color, and how angels were given a purpose. This played very well within the story, and it also opened up a very, very surprising twist in the end that really shocked me. And that ending? OMG THAT ENDING! It's not really a big cliffhanger but it would definitely leave you wanting for more. More, I tell you. WANT! But the next book, Hallowed, isn't coming out until 2012. Long wait is long! :(
So, if it isn't obvious, I really liked Unearthly. Definitely one of those books that I am glad I picked up, and one of those books that I am considering getting in print form since my copy is an e-galley (it helps that the cover is very pretty, too) just so I can go back to it again when the next book is out. If you're planning to pick up a paranormal romance novel soon, or if you want something to surprise you, then definitely get this book. Take it from someone who's given up on paranormal romance -- this is one of the good ones. ;)(less)
I admit: I requested this book on Netgalley because of the cover. Don't you think it's so cute? This is the kind of cove...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I admit: I requested this book on Netgalley because of the cover. Don't you think it's so cute? This is the kind of cover that I would want to be printed as a poster and placed on my room. Or over my desk. The colors in this cover is enough to cheer me up, and I wouldn't mind just looking at it without really knowing what's inside.
Oh but wait, I actually read it. I don't know about you, but the book's synopsis reminded me of a John Green novel -- and not just because The Fault in Our Stars had a girl with cancer in it (I haven't read the book yet, in case you're wondering). Even the start of the book kind of reminded me a bit of Green, with the geeky guy and the "sidekick", but that is really pretty much where the similarities end.
Here's the thing about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl:this book had a guy named Greg who's content with just skimming and being under the radar and not making any real friends so he won't have to be ridiculed for being a part of a group. The only "friend" he had is black-guy Earl, who's had a difficult home life and whose default expression is "pissed". And then there's Rachel, the dying girl who Greg used to be linked to, and is linked to again because his mother asked him to visit her and keep her company. And there are movies, too - home movies, since Greg and Earl are big time movie fans and pseudo movie makers. Secret movie makers because they never let people watch any of them, until Rachel came along anyway.
Here's another thing: this book doesn't really have a real and solid plot that isn't mentioned in the title. This book really feels more like a study on high school and how a kid deals with having a friend (who he won't admit is really a friend) who's battling cancer. And even then, Greg didn't even admit it. He isn't out to win any trophies for friendship, or any of his abilities for that matter. Greg is so down on himself and what he can do that it made my heart hurt. At one point in the book, I wanted to shake him and say that he better snap out of his "Oh I'm good for nothing so I'll just make you laugh" type of thoughts. I guess there was just too much self-deprecating quips in the book that it got me a bit turned off -- it's either I'm just too positive, or his character is really just too negative. I'm not really sure.
That being said, though, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really is hilarious, and it's a good book to lift you out of a bad mood with all the quips and tangents and all the movie stuff (if you don't think of the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph and stuff). I also loved Earl -- maybe even more than I liked Greg -- for all his tough-guy persona with a soft heart inside. I can imagine his "pissed" and "mega-pissed" expression, although I can't exactly think of him as an actor. I think most of my LOL time happened when Earl was present, although he also showed that he had a more difficult life compared to Greg. Personally for me, if anyone had the right to complain about his life, it was Earl. Rachel also had more rights to complain, with the cancer and all. I liked Rachel's quiet presence in the story, her snort-laugh and how she changed (but also not really changed) Greg's life. I thought all the scenes with her was pretty poignant, and I liked how she really tried to help Greg even if he wasn't willing to be helped that much. Their dynamic was pretty unusual, but it worked, and it really made the book true to its title.
Overall, this book is an enjoyable read, albeit not really as much as I expected. I guess I was used to having books make me feel so many things and think so many things that I imposed these expectations on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl too, when it's really not that kind of book. I doubt this will be one of my favorites but in the grander scheme of things (Wow, look at me using this phrase, haha!), this book is one I'd recommend for anyone who's looking for a few lot of good laughs.(less)
I am a city girl, and I am sort of proud of it. Sort of, because I know sometimes I imagine myself living somewhere remo...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I am a city girl, and I am sort of proud of it. Sort of, because I know sometimes I imagine myself living somewhere remote, away from the rush and hustle and pollution of the city. However, I don't think I can stay in the province too long -- I kind of like the rush, and most of my friends live in the city, too, so staying away from them is kind of torture.
I think Janie Gorman from Ten Miles Past Normal would be able to relate to my sentiments pretty well. Fourteen-year-old Janie experiences a withdrawal from the city soon after she steps into high school, five years after she convinced her family to move to their own farm. Nine year old Janie was so excited to live in a farm after one field trip, and to her surprise, her parents agreed and they moved, making Janie the coolest kid in middle school. High school was a different story, though and she knew it the moment she went to school with hay stuck in her hair.
Janie just wants to be normal, but it's hard when everything in her life pushes her to the "different" zone. As if her Farmville-like life wasn't enough, her celebrity blogger mom tries to attempts to bond with her, she joins the Jam Band even if she knows little about singing, and she has to make a project about an influential woman -- something that her best friend knows more than she does. And as if that wasn't enough, her mom has to go and plan a hootenanny. Hoote-what? Exactly. Who's normal? Janie isn't.
The blurb gives away most of the plot, but don't worry, it isn't really spoilery. What makes Ten Miles Past Normal such a fun read is Janie. She's a fun, creative and often cynical girl who just really wants to be normal and be noticed, but not in the way she often is. Janie's far from being an outcast though -- she's just very different, and that difference is what makes other people wary about her. Her voice was absolutely delightful. I love her quips and her observations, and I find myself cheering for her as she discovers more of herself. The book goes from a flashback to the present time every now and then, but the author wrote it so well that you wouldn't get mixed up in it. The other characters were hilarious, too, especially Janie's mom (I kind of wished there was more shown to her blogger side), her new-found Sharpie-tattooed library friend Verbana, ultimate crush Jeremy Fitch and of course, Monster Monroe! Together, they all make a wacky cast of characters that I could picture very well -- I think they'd all work very well on TV, too. :)
The lesson shared by Ten Miles Past Normal isn't really new, but it's nice to be reminded of it every now and then. Sometimes, you find yourself looking for other things you think you can't find at home. But once you go back, you realize that they were just there, and you just couldn't appreciate it in the first place. Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell is a fun, coming-of-age story that is really suited for early teens but will entertain adults my age too.
Oh, and one more thing about me and the city: I just realized that where I live is already considered a rural area in reference to Metro Manila. Goes to show that maybe I'm already where I'm supposed to be. :D(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. :)
When I decided to read Clean by Amy Reed, I was fresh from finishing Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson, so the entire setting felt a little bit familiar. Clean however is far from the mixed genre that Ultraviolet was -- this is contemporary YA through and through, something that deals with something I haven't really quite read about much but means a lot right now: addiction and rehab.
Clean is about five teenagers Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason and Eva, who formed a little group in the rehabilitation center they all landed in after they made very bad choices in their lives. Olivia is the girl who strives to be perfect in every way and ended up being OCD and anorexic. Kelly is the beautiful, popular girl who has an addition to cocaine and alcohol, and in some ways, sex. Christopher is the church kid who somehow got into meth. Jason is an alcoholic who is guilty about something he did to his family. Eva is addicted to painkillers, thinking it would numb the pain of her mother's death. Away from cutting tools, drugs, alcohol and bad influences, the five form an unusual friendship that would help them through their time inside rehab. The book is told in Kelly and Christopher's POVs, interspersed with dialogues and essays they had and submitted to their therapist.
While I was reading this, I was also watching an episode of If You Really Knew Me (the same show I referenced in my review of Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers). I found that show relevant to this book too, probably because Clean involved teens coming to terms with who they are, only in a bigger scale. The teens in this book are truly messed up because of so many things that anyone can experience. The books shows that no one is exempt to the temptation of addiction, or at least, looking for an escape from life. Sometimes even the most unexpected people will provide the means for addiction -- like parents, for instance. I can't help but feel bad for the characters in this book, especially Jason. His tough exterior is really just brought about by the equal and possibly more terrifying toughness of his military dad. Even if it was only told in Kelly and Christopher's POVs, the other characters never lost any of their voices. The in-between therapy sessions and essays gave us a pretty good view on what the other characters were thinking, and I think Kelly and Christopher were effective in sharing the spotlight.
This book doesn't really have a big climax. It's not necessarily boring -- there was a part that got me really worried for one of the characters, but the ending made up for it. The story flows from one event to the next, making readers root for our little group and wishing them strength to overcome their trials, all leading to a hopeful ending. Clean is contemporary at its core, and while it isn't an easy to novel to read, it's definitely an important one.
Oh, and I really like the cover on this one. I wonder how it would look like in the wild. :)(less)
When I spotted Somebody to Love in Netgalley, I immediately requested it, having enjoyed Until There Was You last year....moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I spotted Somebody to Love in Netgalley, I immediately requested it, having enjoyed Until There Was You last year. I wasn't really planning to read this soon, but then I started and got to know Parker (and the Holy Rollers!) and I just couldn't stop. Somebody to Love introduces Parker Harrington Welles, a children's book writer who relies on the trust fund she had and building her world around her one and only son. She is essentially rich, but she didn't really live as a rich girl. Which was fortunate, because when her father got jailed for an insider-trading scheme, Parker is left penniless save for what she had now and a house left to her name by an estranged aunt. Thinking she could easily sell the house for extra money to start again, she was surprised to find that the house was more of a shack and it needs a lot of work. Enter James Cahill, one of her father's lawyers, who was asked to help Parker with whatever she needed. Parker had always been annoyed at James not only because of a shared history, and she really wished he wasn't there...except that he's proven to be helpful in fixing the house. That, and he's looking pretty...well, hot is the only word to describe it.
This is only my second Higgins book but she's slowly becoming my go-to read for anything light and fluffy but not too light and fluffy. I loved Parker for being a writer, and for being an all-around pretty good person despite the fortune she had in her name. Here's a girl focused on her career and her family, and it was a refreshing thing to read. I liked her wit, and I know this is weird, but I liked that she talked to herself because I do the same thing too! 'Talking aloud, the writer's affliction.' So that explains it! :P
I haven't read the other Higgins book set in Gideon's Cove, Maine (Catch of the Day -- which Angie recently reviewed) so I wasn't introduced to this place, but reading it in Somebody to Love was a very lovely experience! The small-town charm, the diner, how everyone knows each other -- I want to go there! Of course, everyone knowing each other isn't always a good thing, but I guess I wouldn't mind if Vin, Maggie and the others are there. My favorite scene in this book is the part where Parker first enters the diner and sees everyone in town there -- for what reason? It's for you to find out. :)
Of course, I can't not mention the romance in this book. I've been getting very lucky with the romance in the books I've been reading -- almost all the books I read lately have this slow-burn romance going for them, and Somebody to Love is no exception. While James and Parker have a history that I wasn't really much of a fan of, the development of their relationship was such a pleasure to read that I can't help but giggling every now and then. I liked that James wasn't just a token hot guy, but a character with his own hang ups and history and had his own story going for him. He's an individual completely different from Parker, and reading their conversations and watching their relationship grow was the best part of the book.
Somebody to Love is definitely a mood-lifter, and it's a great book to read in between serious books or when you just want to be lost in a good romance in a pretty place with interesting neighbors to boot. :) After this, I am definitely getting the two other Higgins books that this was spun from - Catch of the Day and The Next Best Thing. And then I will work my way through the rest of Kristan Higgins' back list. :)(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)
One of the books that absolutely surprised me last year was Cynthia Hand's Unearthly. I can't keep stressing it enough,...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One of the books that absolutely surprised me last year was Cynthia Hand's Unearthly. I can't keep stressing it enough, but you know, when a book surprised you, you would have the tendency not to stop talking about it. And this is for a paranormal romance novel friends. That is really something. With that premise in this review, it was obvious that I was one of the squealing readers who well...squealed, when I saw that the next book, Hallowed was available in Netgalley. I was supposed to read it as a reward for finishing NaNoWriMo, but resistance was futile and I ended up reading it even as I was writing.
Spoiler warning for Unearthly in the next few paragraphs -- stay away if you haven't read it yet.
Hallowed picks up from where Unearthly left off, where Clara was still reeling from the events that happened in the fire and how she messed up her purpose by saving Tucker instead of Christian. There was also that fact that Christian was actually an angel, and how she can't deny the attraction between them, even if her heart belongs to Tucker. But there are other things that require her more immediate attention, like her angel training with her friend and the fact that the Black Wing could return, and finally, there was her dream. Her dream that tells her that someone important to her is going to die, soon. And there is only so much she can do without falling apart.
This book was...well, it's a lot to digest. On one hand, there's Clara, who's still a very entertaining character. Her voice still sounds authentic despite the different challenges she had to face, and she never wavered one bit. Her relationship with Tucker was still as sweet as ever, and sometimes I kind of want to stop reading because they got too sweet. :P The great addition in this book, IMHO, was Christian. Love triangles are kind of an old thing in YA, particularly in paranormal romance, but I think the love triangle in Hallowed was exceptionally done. I liked how there was never really a clear answer on who Clara would and should choose, and how the two guys seem to have equal footing in her life. I'm still a huge fan of Tucker, though, but I would like to see how Clara having Christian in her life would play out.
I also really loved that there were more revelations to Clara's angel heritage, and her powers as well. The high points in the book is really with knowing all these things like Clara's powers and the rest of her family. The revelation is done gradually so we never get too much information, and there were some truly surprising parts. As with Unearthly, I thought the mythology here was also well done, and yet there still seemed to be more that could be revealed in the later books.
But you see, Hallowed isn't really a book that is centered on the romance, or even on Clara's angel powers. This book is really about family and loved ones and yes, loss. Saying anything more would be spoilery, but it's probably the thing that could make or break the novel for other people (although I use the term "break" loosely). Hallowed has the capacity to punch you in the gut -- hard -- and leave you reeling with different emotions. That is what makes this book so different. And good.
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand will be available by January 17. Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy!(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)
What do you get when you cross the niece of the head of the Japanese mafia with a Southern belle in need of protection a...moreOriginal post at One More Page
What do you get when you cross the niece of the head of the Japanese mafia with a Southern belle in need of protection and a straight-edge lawyer who hates the said mafia? Tessa Lancaster is the niece of Teruo Ota, the head of the San Francisco yakuza. Left by her dad when she was young and living with a difficult relationship with her mom and sister, she becomes some sort of mercenary to her uncle's mafia, working as an enforcer for her mafia cousins. She was doing fine just like that until she decided to take the fall for her cousin Fred's careless murder of his girlfriend, landing her in prison. Seven years later, Tessa is out, and she's turning over a new leaf, after meeting Christ in prison. But her reputation precedes her that everyone's still afraid of her, making it hard for her to live a normal life. Until she meets Elizabeth St. Amant with her three-year-old son on the run from her husband who's trying to kill her. Elizabeth hires Tessa to be her bodyguard, which would be a fine job if not for Elizabeth's lawyer, Charles Britton. Unbeknownst to Tessa, Charles was the reason why Tessa served extra years in prison, and Charles does not trust her...but he can't deny the attraction that he feels for her. Throw in Tessa's Uncle wanting her to work for him again, her mom, her sister and her new found faith, and...well, God only knows what could happen.
I'm not just saying this because Camy is one of my favorite authors, but really, Protection for Hire was such a fun book. This book is reminiscent of her Sushi series with all the wackiness and hijinks that the characters get into. But because Tessa had such a shady past and a heavy responsibility on her shoulders, there were more risks involved for Tessa. Tessa reminds me a bit of Venus, my favorite Sushi sister, but a bit more vulnerable especially since she's been trying to live her faith. Her vulnerability is what made Tessa so endearing, and I rooted for her from the start up to the end.
The other characters surrounding Tessa were a hoot, too. Camy's characters are one of my favorite things to read in her novels. They always feel so real, and I felt like I could easily be friends with them. In Protection for Hire, I loved Charles' family, especially his mom and his brother! Such a darling family, and I don't care if Charles' mom cooks all the random food. Plus, she was a breath of fresh air from Tessa's annoying (yet, well meaning...most of the time, anyway) mother. As always, there's the heroine's crazy family, which seemed to be a staple in Camy's stories. I thought Tessa's immediate family would be similar to the Sushi sisters' clans, but I was glad that it turned out to be different, and dare I say, more entertaining to read. The Japanese mafia aspect was very interesting too. It was the first time I've read about the yakuza, and while it wasn't really discussed in detail here, I liked the overall mafia/The Godfather-like feel that the story had.
Now, I wouldn't have liked this so much if the plot wasn't as good as the characters. There's lots of action, funny moments and yes, romance, in Protection for Hire, enough to keep me glued to the pages. There were moments of shock, too -- the good kind, the one that made me sigh and smile with delight when it happened. :) There was enough suspense in the story to have me guessing about what exactly were they up against. It almost came to a point where I was a bit overwhelmed with all the plot twists but in the end, I think it still paid off well. The wrap up at the end felt just a teensy bit rushed for me, but I guess it was still in character given Tessa's family.
Protection for Hire is a fun, action-packed and romantic book that will definitely satisfy those who crave for that kind of stuff. If you're wary of the faith aspect of the novel (being that it is a Christian novel), don't worry -- it's never preachy or in-your-face. If you've ever been one who has tried to move on and make up from past mistakes and yet still find yourself under a microscope and slapped with your mistakes on the face over and over again, then you will be able to relate to Tessa. Throw in the a cast of hilarious, gripping plot and good writing, and...well, you have yourself a really awesome book. :)(less)
When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, w...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, when I found out about it, I have only read one Courtney Summers novel (Some Girls Are), but I really liked it and I was looking forward to reading her other books. Then the new one was about zombies? And it had that awesome, awesome cover? Where can I get this?!
I had to go through a lot of lengths to get a galley of this book, and I would like to thank all those who helped me get this from the bottom of my zombie loving heart. :) I feel a bit ashamed that it took me so long to read and review this...but better late than never? ^^
So the world is ending, but Sloane Price doesn't care because as far as she knows, the world has ended ever since her sister left her alone with their abusive father. She just really wants to die, and the apocalypse seemed just timely, until she was saved by several kids she knew from school. Now she is in the school with them, helping seal exits half-heartedly, listening to the incessant pounding of the undead outside who wants to eat their flesh. What follows is a story of human will, of what people will do when the odds are stacked against them, and just how far one would go to survive...or die.
INTENSE. I described Some Girls Are as intense, but it had nothing to the intensity of this book. This is Not a Testis an exhausting book. It has so much character conflict (internal and external), and it's not just because of the zombies. In fact, most of the zombie action didn't happen until in the latter parts of the book, and that's an entirely different kind of intensity. The rest of the book is all about human struggle and the will to survive even if it seems all better to just give up and do nothing.
I can't say I liked many of the characters, especially Sloane because she's different from all the zombie novel heroines I've read. Most of them have the determined will to live, not a will to die. I wanted Sloane to snap out of it, to pick herself up and be thankful that she's still alive and has a good chance of survival. She frustrated me, and the other people she was with kind of frustrated me too, because I wasn't sure what their real motives were. Well fine, they wanted to live, but I guess the entire situation of the apocalypse in the book has also caused me to not just trust anyone. I swung between liking some characters moderately to not liking them at all, but that doesn't mean they're not good characters. They're just...well, not so much likeable. Perhaps it is hard to like some people in a genuine way when zombies are out to get you outside and you're worried if you're going to live another day.
On another note, I think the book has an excellent pacing, and the days they spent inside the school blended into one another quite well that I felt I was with them as well and I didn't know how long it has been when they were inside. There were times when some of the action lagged, and but it quickly picked up with heavy, spine-chilling scenes that really snapped me out of my sleepiness when I was reading this before bed. The last few scenes were creepily scary and quite sad, but it was the kind of zombie action that I was looking for! In the end, I was just really...exhausted, but in a good and satisfying way.
So this pretty much seals my love for Courtney Summers. I am looking forward to getting Fall for Anything to finally read all that she wrote, and I am definitely, definitely going to get everything else she writes from now on. :)(less)
Talk about choosing a very creepy book to start my year. Choker by Elizabeth Woods is one of those books that I had no...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Talk about choosing a very creepy book to start my year. Choker by Elizabeth Woods is one of those books that I had no idea what it was about, but I read it because I saw good reviews from other blogging friends. Note that I said saw and not read, because I thought it wasn't something I'd be able to get a copy of anytime soon, but thanks to Simon and Schuster's Galley Grab, I got an ebook copy.
Choker comes from what Alexis Henning and Sydney Powers start calling Cara Lange after she chokes on a piece of carrot during lunch at their school. Quiet, almost invisible Cara was hardly noticed in school until that incident, and even being saved by her crush Ethan Gray didn't help. What helped her to gain a bit of confidence back and make friends was when her childhood friend Zoe, shows up out of nowhere. Cara's life improves significantly as she makes friends and catches Ethan's attention, but weird things start to happen too and she can't help but wonder if her best friend is somehow involved.
This book ups the creepiness by making things seem so ordinary and yet you know something...well, weird is happening in the background. I really and truly feel sorry for Cara, here. I've had my loner moments back in high school, but Cara doesn't just go by unnoticed but people pick on her too! Sometimes I want to shake her and all and tell her to be more assertive, because nothing is really going to happen if she allows herself to be just that. Zoe definitely comes off as a stronger personality than Cara but you'd know right from the start that there's something odd about Zoe, which was proved further as the story went on.
I've often said before that I would rather have a love issue than a friendship issue because friendship issues hurt more. Of course, I have no experience in the love issues department, but friendship issues, I've had a lot. I hated it when I had fights with my close friends because it's hard to find someone else who will sympathize with you. Choker reminded me of those reasons, and it was a breath of fresh air to read something that is not romance, even if it is very creepy.
If you think you know what will happen in the novel based on my review...well, you're wrong. There's a twist in the end that caught me (and other readers, for sure) by surprise, and even if it isn't an entirely new concept, I thought it was a great (albeit creepy, again) way to turn the story around.
Choker is a solid debut from Elizabeth Woods. Don't let the pink cover fool you. Choker is out in hardcover from Simon & Schuster. You can read an excerpt of the book here.(less)
Meredith Zeitlin's Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters was like a walk down high school memory lane and I rememb...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Meredith Zeitlin's Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters was like a walk down high school memory lane and I remembered my own freshman year (mis)adventures. The book's heroine, Kelsey Finkelstein, is an incoming high school freshman and she's planning to make her mark. This means going up to the next level and rebranding herself, even if her family is being impossible to her. With her friends behind her and her middle school rival out of the way, Kelsey is determined to be a new person in high school and maybe even catch the eye of her long-time crush. If only it were that easy! Soon she finds herself at the receiving end of a junior's wrath and the subject of a mysterious school paper photographer (that always catches her in her worst moments) among others. Will Kelsey ever be able to do what she wants to do with all these catastrophes?
Ah freshman year. Those were the days. My freshman year in high school was a memorable one, only because I was pretty much excited at being a high school student. I considered transferring to another school when I graduated elementary but I eventually decided not to because most of my friends stayed in the same school. My parents just suggested it to me, in the end I stayed, which was a good thing too, because staying in my small high school made me one of the achievers. :P That's what being in a small school (4 sections per batch with 35-40 students each) does, I guess. Anyway, I was surprised at the number of new students in my class, though, which almost made me as a new student too because my other friends were distributed to the other three sections. There were so many awkward moments in the first days because we were all trying to get to know each other, and pretty soon, I found a comfortable group of friends.
The happy moments didn't really last long -- I think puberty tends to make teens a lot cranky and bitchy to one another. I often call my freshman year as a year when I became almost like a war freak. Not because I would go and pick fights but for some reason I end up being a part of some petty fights! There was a particular time when I tagged along with my best friend from another section because some people from our group was mad at me and they managed to get everyone else to hang out with them leaving me behind. There were also times when I'd be a part of the group who leaves someone behind and then we'd have a confrontation of sorts. There were so many misunderstandings between the groups of friends, about things that I can only think of as petty when I remember them now.
Oh but don't get me wrong -- my freshman year was pretty fun overall, despite all those petty fights. I ended the year on a good note, and my friends and I all made up before the year ended. I remember feeling pretty sad that freshman year was ending and it was the only time we can be called freshman ever again. Until college, that is (and I loved college).
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters gave me that bittersweet feeling of being back in high school again, and a huge relief that I wasn't there anymore! Kelsey is a vibrant narrator -- a classic 14-year old girl who wants to make things different for herself. I saw myself in her (although I saw my sophomore self, not freshman) and if my 14-year old self read this, I bet I would have wanted to be friends with Kelsey. However, at my age now, I wanted to reach in the book and hold her back, to tell her to relax and that it will be okay. Those disasters weren't really disasters, and she could treat her family better. But knowing myself during 14 and Kelsey? I doubt she'd listen. :)
I liked the cast of characters around Kelsey, although I thought some of them felt a little bit like the typical TV high school cast -- the bully, the hot guy (who didn't turned out to be so hot at all) and the annoying sibling. Still, I think they were able to play their roles well. I liked Kelsey's friends and how they often emphasized how their friendship is more important than boys, and even if one of them put a boy first, they were still all there for each other afterwards. I was pretty shocked at what they are doing at the age of 14-15 though -- getting drunk? Partying like crazy? It never happened when I was at that age -- to me, anyway. Okay fine, I was that age 12 years ago so this comment doesn't really count anymore. Who knows what high school kids are doing now? I'm just not used to it, I guess. The first time I had alcohol was 16 (and it was a teeny-tiny shot that gave me a headache). :P
There were just some times when I thought the book felt a little long for my liking, but since it covers an entire year of high school, I guess it had to be that way. I didn't always like Kelsey, but she grew on me by the end of the book. Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is a fun read if only you're willing to go down your own memory lane and remember your own high school experiences. It ended on a pretty open note which leaves a lot to the imagination. However, if Ms. Zeitlin will come out with sophomore, junior and senior year books for Kelsey and her friends (preferably narrated by her other friends too), then I would definitely be in line to get them to know what happens next. :)(less)
In a town called Smitten, their main source of income is their lumber mill. With the lumber mill comes the men, who's us...moreOriginal post at One More Page
In a town called Smitten, their main source of income is their lumber mill. With the lumber mill comes the men, who's used to providing for their families, content with the life of being men despite the fact that their town had a very...well, feminine name. What happens then, when the town's only source of income closes? The women come to the rescue, of course. Taking advantage of the town's name, a group of friends planned to turn their town into a romantic tourist spot. Armed with lots of ideas and a whole lot of faith, Natalie, Julia, Shelby and Reese work with the rest of the town to and pray that their ideas would take off and put Smitten on the map -- and maybe, along the way, they would find someone to be smitten too as well.
I love short stories and anthologies for the simple fact that they're so easy to read and digest. I got Smitten from Netgalley because of that, followed by the fact that one of the authors in this book, Kristin BIllerbeck, is a favorite. I was in the mood for a cozy romance last month (being February and all) while I was in the middle of some (sort of gross) zombie books, so I picked up Smitten ready to be, well, smitten. Interestingly, the authors of this book are all friends with each other in real life, and they even had a note at the start of the book to share their story of their friendship. Like I said, the only author I have read there is Kristin Billerbeck, so I was looking forward to reading what she wrote there, and I was also curious with how the other authors write. Maybe this would convince me to get some of their books too.
The best thing about this book IMHO is the setting. The town of Smitten came alive to me from the first page, and I was rooting for the girls' ideas to come to fruition in the town. Smitten seemed like such a picturesque town that needed some feminine touch, and I looked forward to reading how the town improved towards the romantic direction in each story. It may seem a little too much of a perfect town at some point, and maybe if I thought of it a little further as a too nice town it would be a bit creepy. But I want to be there, and I want to spend some time in their town even if I wasn't a part of a couple.
The stories were pretty entertaining, too, although I can't say I liked all of them. This is a collection of stories but I realized that it's not really an anthology because the stories are all connected to each other and you can't read the next without reading the one that precedes that because you'd get spoiled. Think of it as a series of spin-offs in a book. The thing with short romance stories, though, is they don't have as much time to develop the romantic relationship from the ground up. By this, I mean, the stories can't really start from the two characters getting to know each other for the first time and then their relationship developing from something because it would need a longer length to make the relationship feel more realistic to avoid the risk of it being another insta-love story. Unless of course that is the real intention. But anyway, with this in mind, the love stories in Smitten were all about the girls and their old time friends or old acquaintances in the town that they never really paid attention to, or have pined for but has been unrequited for some time until this. To be perfectly honest I had a hard time adjusting to that because I was used to reading full-length novels with the romance starting from the very start. The idea of old-time friends suddenly turning into lovers took some time getting used to (You know this just shows how I think of the friend zone, LOL. But let's not talk about that here). But once I got used to it, I got all the nice tingles when the stories developed.
But as nice it was for the romantic relationships to start from friendships in Smitten, I felt that the shortness of the stories kind of hindered the book from delivering a bigger "oomph". For some stories, I was just getting used to the two characters dancing around each other and (wholesomely) flirting when suddenly, they're on their first date or someone's confessing their love or someone is stealing a kiss from someone. Before I got used to that, the couples are fighting, or having an argument or dealing with old issues. The only story that didn't feel too abrupt at some point was the last (my favorite among the four), and it even had some kind of foreshadowing from the previous story, which made it exciting for me because it felt like a spin-off (and you know how I love spin-offs). I'm sure the word count limit is an important factor and it's one of the things that made the stories so and we can't really do anything about it as a reader. I just really wish that the stories were just a little bit longer.
Despite those nitpicks, Smitten is still a pretty good book. It was exactly what I expected it to be: a nice and cozy, fluffy, romantic read. Granted, there could have been more swoony moments, but overall, it's a nice (and clean!) book about romance and faith. My favorite story is Reese's, but like I said up there, don't skip the stories! Reading the first three makes Reese's story the most satisfying of them all. :)(less)
Missy didn't mean to cut so deep. She didn't mean to, really. All she wanted was the comfort of the blade against her sk...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Missy didn't mean to cut so deep. She didn't mean to, really. All she wanted was the comfort of the blade against her skin, the pain and the blood. She didn't want to hurt herself seriously, she just wanted to make the pain of being humiliated by her ex-boyfriend go away. But as she lay dying, Death intervenes and gives her a new blade - the sword of one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War. Now Missy is also War and her sword can cut down anything and anyone that goes in her path. The power was addictive, but Missy must learn control else she is rid of her title and will be back in her room dying from cutting herself too deep.
It's been a while since I last read Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler and I almost totally forgot about having its sequel, Rage in my Kindle. I enjoyed Hunger a lot, so I was looking forward to reading the next book about War even if I had to read the last few pages of Hunger first to remember what happened to Famine.
Missy didn't mean to cut so deep. This line alone was an indicator of what kind of issue book Rage will be. Rage deals with self-mutilation, where the person deliberately injures themselves without any intent of suicide. I remember there were days the older sister of a friend was showing us how to cut out a name on her arm so the scars would form the word -- a different kind of tattoo. It was kind of fascinating, but I was too chicken to really do it. That, and I don't have any name to carve on my skin, anyway.
But that was the closest I got to seeing self-mutilation face to face. I'm ashamed to admit that this has become a little joke among my friends and I, especially when we talk about something sad or "emo" and we'd often make slash-wrist movements to emphasize the point. I realize now that that may not be the most sensitive thing to do after I read Rage, especially since self-mutilation is really no laughing matter.
I liked Rage. It was different from Hunger, mostly because of the main character. Missy is angry and sad and her reactions to things around her. The War persona fit her personality because she bore so many grudges. They weren't senseless grudges, though -- what happened to her was really bad, and it saddens me to think that it may happen or have already happened in real life. I couldn't relate to Missy, but I really sympathized with her so bad and I wished the people around her would give her a break. The main issue was handled well enough that it gives the reader information on what it is about and why they do it, and how to find a way out of it, all creatively wrapped around the idea of what War can do not to bring war but peace. That being said, though, the fantasy elements took a bit of time getting used to and it took me a while to connect how War could be helpful instead of destructive. Nevertheless, it was still pretty cool and engaging.
Rage falls into the category of books that are important to read because of the issues it tackle. I really applaud the author for doing this, and I can't wait to read about Pestilence (the book is entitled Loss, and the premise sounds awesome) and Death in the next installments of the Riders of the Apocalypse series. (less)
The Lipstick Laws is one of those books that is good to read when you have been too immersed in out-of-this-world books...moreOriginal post at One More Page
The Lipstick Laws is one of those books that is good to read when you have been too immersed in out-of-this-world books, particularly ones full of magic or suspense or people chasing other people to kill them. This is the kind of book that you'd want to read to get back to reality, to remind you that real life could also be as exciting (and sometimes, as terrifying) as fantasy ones.
I picked up The Lipstick Laws as a palate cleanser after reading books about witches and warlocks and zombies. Even if I have been reading a few contemporaries in between the fantasy ones, I felt like my brain needed something easier, something with less mystery and emotional baggage than the ones I have read recently.
April is practically invisible in school, until she gets paired with popular Britney Taylor, who accepts her into her circle of friends. Even if Britney was a horrific friend, April could not resist the lure of popularity, especially if it would make her new crush, Matt Brentwood, notice her. Before she knows it, she takes The Lipstick Oath, and it sends her life spiraling out of control because of the silly rules and the price of Britney Taylor's friendship.
I have never watched Mean Girls movie in full, but this book reminds me of that. Britney was absolutely horrible and shallow and it's easy to dislike her for her stuck up attitude, at least until the author reveals why Britney changed and what she had to live with. This gives Britney more dimension as a villain in April's life, even if it doesn't excuse her attitude. April, on the other hand, can get a bit frustrating at times because it took her so long to realize what she was in danger of turning into something she was trying to destroy. While her epiphany on how she was acting didn't make heavenly light shine upon her but instead felt more like a light bulb moment, it felt like a natural realization for someone April's age to think as she assess her situation. I like how the author gave the heroine and the villain unique voices and yet still manage to juxtapose their lives for us readers to see how similar they can be.
Reading The Lipstick Laws makes me very thankful that my high school life wasn't like that. My high school life was relatively boring, really, save for some contests won and Student Council projects and trips. Then again, I wasn't a part of the popular clique -- I wasn't even sure if there was a popular clique in my school. This lack of similar high school experience prevents me from empathizing with the characters in this novel, but it certainly did not make me enjoy this book less. :)
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 a book written in verse. My second one. And I thought it would be a nice writing exercise to write a review the same...moreOriginal post at One More Page
This is a book written in verse. My second one. And I thought it would be a nice writing exercise to write a review the same way.
The Day Before was about a girl named Amber who seemed to have ran away to the beach to spend one day for herself. The circumstances were mysterious, and I was kept in the dark for most of the time. Amber meets Cade. There was attraction. But there was something about Cade that disturbed Amber. Like he had a dark secret. Amber didn't want to destroy their moment, but she also didn't want to lose him.
This book reminds me of several things. A Walk to Remember is one. It had that kind of vibe, and I was ready to scoff. How overused is that story? But I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't like that.
Amber and Cade had problems of their own. Fears, really. Unusual circumstances that people their age shouldn't deal with. But they had to. The problems and situations were real and scary. But there was hope. And it was beautifully done.
The verse writing made it easier to read. The pop culture references made it fun. Like Amber and Cade, I want to listen to Matt Nathanson on a drive. Although instant attraction is never my thing, The Day Before made it seem almost sweet. Like anything was possible. And I liked that.
The Day Before left me smiling. This review doesn't really do it justice. I'm not even sure if this attempt is the least bit poetic. Lisa Schroeder does it so much better, and I look forward to getting lost in her other worlds of verse. :)(less)