I've loved Hyperbole and a Half ever since my colleague told me about the blog. I remember there were days when I'd read the blog and start laughing u...moreI've loved Hyperbole and a Half ever since my colleague told me about the blog. I remember there were days when I'd read the blog and start laughing uncontrollably at my desk, reading and rereading my favorite entries and hoping for more, more always more because the world needs more stories from Allie. I loved the drawings, the seemingly impossible stories about her dogs, the stuff about cake, the Alot and stories of her childhood. They were funny and crazy and just a delight to read, and the blog became one of my go-to places whenever I need some cheering up.
So I was thrilled when I found out she had a book coming out, because like I said, I can't get enough of her stuff. It took a little while, because of her adventures in depression, but I was glad when I saw the book up on Netgalley. It came at a pretty good time, too, because I needed something quick and funny to read, and this was just the one I needed.
Hyperbole and a Half contains some of the stories that you can find in Allie's blog, with some new stories, too. I had fun reading the stories in this collection, although I have to admit that some of them didn't make me laugh too much because I have read them too many times in the blog. I guess I can only laugh about them so much?
The other never-before-seen stories were funny, though, and I especially loved the one with the goose. Oh my Lord, I had a grand time reading that one, and I can't stop laughing over the images of the goose trying to get in the room, and the scene in the car. The funniest part of it were the actual photos of the goose to prove that it really happened -- you know what, even if it didn't really happen, I don't care. It was just so unbelievably funny that it is now a part of the favorite Hyperbole and a Half stories in my head.
I think most of my reading experience was hampered a bit by the device I used to read the book and the ebook formatting. I read the book in my phone because reading it in Hannah the Kindle Paperwhite won't be fun because the illustrations aren't colored. My phone has an itty-bitty screen though, and it made reading just a little bit bothersome compared to say, if I read it in an iPad or a bigger tablet. Plus the formatting was sometimes wonky, so I wasn't sure if I was reading a new story or if it's a part of the previous story until I'm sort of halfway through.
But I think Hyperbole and a Half is best read in print format, because of the illustrations. I liked it a lot (alot, heehee :P), and it was still pretty funny despite the technological limitations I faced. If you're a fan of her blog, go and get this, at least to have a print copy of the stories you loved. But if you're sort of new to her, you can dip your toes in her stories by browsing through her blog.
Oh, and like everyone else who reviewed this book said, I have to say it too: I missed the Alot. :(
I've only read one Leila Sales book, Past Perfect, and I had fun with it because it was so, well, fun. I remember really liking the setting and the ch...moreI've only read one Leila Sales book, Past Perfect, and I had fun with it because it was so, well, fun. I remember really liking the setting and the characters and how it felt like such a good summer read, so I dove into This Song Will Save Your Life with the same expectations: that this will be a light, fun read, a perfect companion for my recent trip.
But...I was wrong.
I was wrong about the light and fun part, actually. I honestly thought This Song Will Save Your Life is about a girl who builds a playlist and all that, and the "saving your life" part was just metaphorical, a symbolism of sorts. Well, it as kind of like that, but I didn't expect it to be so serious. In a good way, that is. Elise Dembowski is unpopular, but not because she did something. Or maybe she was unpopular because she tries so hard, too hard. But all Elise wanted was to be seen, to have friends, and when her last attempt failed, she gives up (and this was the part that shocked me and told me that this might be different from the previous Leila Sales book I read). Then Elise discovers an underground warehouse party where she meets people who knew nothing about her and calls her their friend. Ellie finds herself spending more time with them, until she gets into the DJ booth and realizes that there was something else to love about her new secret: DJing.
So this book is about Elise and her quest to fit in, a secret club, and DJing. The last two were a bit unexpected, but it was only unexpected because I didn't read the summary when I got the book; I just requested it because it was Leila Sales (and the cover was pretty). Like I said, I was surprised at how heavy this book felt at the start, at how big Elise's problems were to her. I didn't expect that at all, but that development was gripping enough for me to want to find out what happens next.
The book was a bit slow at the start, and again, because I didn't read the book's summary, I wasn't really sure what would happen. I wasn't sure about the secret party warehouse angle at first, until the other characters grew on me and I wanted to know what would happen to them. The romantic angle made me cringe a little, and you know how when you read something like that that it was doomed from the start, and you're not sure how to feel if it didn't end up doomed? I had that feeling in my stomach while I was reading it. The writing was clear and vivid that I could almost feel how it was to be in that party, to dance and sing with other people as Elise changes the music, to be one with the crowd and all that jazz. And this is coming from someone who doesn't really party.
The other side of Elise's life really hurt to read, too, and it made the contrast between her day life and her night life really stand out. It made me realize yet again how high school kids can be mean even if they didn't intend to -- how a simple act of ignorance of another person can really break someone, even if you didn't intend to do that. There was that particularly mean action made for the sake of "postmodern art" that really got to my nerves, but I liked how it was handled in this book, and how in the end, Elise found a reason to like herself more than wishing that other people like her too. And isn't that the point? That we be convinced of our worth, to know that it has never been tied to someone else?
I was really liked This Song Will Save Your Life, and I think not knowing what it was about when I first read it contributed to how much I liked it overall. I didn't end the book wanting to be a DJ, nor wanting to find secret warehouse parties, but I did end it feeling a little bit more compassionate for other people and for myself, too. And I think that's good enough.
Daphne Sweeten is a professional nose -- by that, we mean she's a chemist who is trained to be a perfume creator. When...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Daphne Sweeten is a professional nose -- by that, we mean she's a chemist who is trained to be a perfume creator. When she gets stood up on her wedding day, though, her sense of smell disappears. Trying to piece her life back together, she works for a small company in Ohio, hoping to get her sense of smell back and fly back to Paris, which she gave up for the supposed love of her life. But her new job requires her nose, too, and her new boss, Jesse, doesn't seem to notice that she cannot smell anything. They're not creating perfume anyway -- she can definitely do this, right?
I've always considered Kristin Billerbeck books as a comfort read ever since I read and liked her Ashley Stockingdale series years ago. It's been years since I last read a Billerbeck book, but even so, it was easy enough for me to get immersed in the book. There's a certain familiarity in the way she writes, in her characters and her stories that makes her books easy reading, hence the comfort read label. :)
The Scent of Rain has that Billerbeck formula -- a girl who has some sort of romantic fiasco, a guy who's all bad news for her and a guy who's obviously good for her. Then there's the supporting cast: the best friend, the family (who, more often than not, cares for the main character in a really strange way), and the church group who will help her get back on track. And there's the villain, who we all hate, but we will eventually understand, because of something that will happen. This book has all the common ingredients in a nice and clean chick lit novel, with the bonus factor of the main character's job, a perfume specialist. I really liked the scent aspect of the book, and it gave me a whole new perspective with how to scents work with our senses. And I agree -- scents can bring memories! I remember holding on to a perfume bottle for so long because it reminded me of this particular memorable event in my life. :)
It's a very enjoyable read, and I found myself rooting for Daphne and wishing that Jesse would finally make that step to move their relationship forward. I liked the set-up, though, and their relationship seemed very organic despite the short time they spent. There was just the right swoon, too, but not too much that it's too cheesy. It was fun, but not mindless and it's clean but not too prudish.
I think my only complaint is that certain event in the end that brought about the big changes -- it felt a little too convenient despite it being a bit surprising, bordering on being a deus ex machina. But other than that, I really enjoyed reading The Scent of Rain. It's not super duper amazing, but it's good, and it makes me want to start looking for my own personal scent.
Reading this book ma makes me want to revisit the Ashley Stockingdale series to see if I still like it as much as I did on my first (and second) reads. Hmm.(less)
Ever since Tosca announced that she was writing this book in 2010, I have been eagerly waiting for this to come out. I...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Ever since Tosca announced that she was writing this book in 2010, I have been eagerly waiting for this to come out. I loved her first two books, Demon and Havah: The Story of Eve, and a novel about Judas Iscariot is something that I know only Tosca can write with the same heart-wrenching clarity and sensitivity that she did in her first two books. When it came up available in Netgalley, I immediately got it and saved it in my Kindle. Of course, it took me ages to finally start it, until I decided that it would be my Holy Week read.
Judas Iscariot. The traitor. The betrayer. It's so easy to hate him, and blame him, because if he didn't sell Jesus for 30 silver coins, then maybe Jesus wouldn't have died. It was simple, right? But have we ever wondered that even if Judas hadn't done what he did, would Jesus still have died? After all, it was salvation history, and it was God the Father's will for the Son of Man. Would someone else have betrayed him? And we always associate Judas with something evil, but if he was evil, why would he even be a part of Jesus' closest circle? Why would Jesus even call Judas friend?
Iscariot doesn't attempt to answer this, but instead presents what we know of Jesus' time in an even more clarity. Tosca brings us to the heart of that time -- the social and political unrest of the Jews against the Romans, the religious customs of the Jewish and how important it is to them, and how the Pharisees just seem to be everywhere. And then there's Jesus, who shocks everyone and speaks of a radical faith, heals people, drives out demons and resurrects the dead. We see all this in the eyes of Judas bar Simon, who came from a tumultuous childhood and is desperately wishing for a messiah. When his paths cross with Jesus the Nazarene of questionable birth and he follows him together with eleven other men, he wonders if he is the one. He wonders, and dares to hope, torn between love for his master and wanting a specific vision for the people. In Iscariot, we see Jesus through human eyes -- through doubting, human eyes and a heart that is so scared to hope -- and it brings the readers this question: if I were Judas at that time, would I have done the same thing if I thought it was the right thing?
What an unsettling novel. It's kind of hard to explain what effect this novel had on me. It reminds me of the Gospel during the Palm Sunday mass -- you know, the one where the priest is Jesus and the mass goers are the people and we all had speaking parts in the Gospel? My heart clenched like crazy when I had to say, "Crucify him!" The second time I had to say it, my eyes burned with tears, because I knew that at several points in my life, I had crucified Christ because of my sins. And I keep on doing it whenever I fail to be loving, when I fall into sin. In Iscariot,we see Judas and the apostles in all their humanity, and how they tried to follow Jesus even if they do not understand him. Tosca weaves a story of how everything must have been like for Judas as he fights against himself in hoping that this charismatic Nazarene could be the savior of all -- and how he tries to act as a good friend when he realizes that maybe his master may not be what he expected him to be. Tosca's writing was rich and colorful, and it puts all those miracles and stories in the Gospels in a more concrete way, so much that it felt like I was also there. Here's a favorite part, when Jesus calmed the storm:
In a flash of lightning, I saw the sandaled feet of Jesus, flagging against the floor of the boat, loosely in the water, like the body of a dead man, floating. Had he drowned, then, there beneath the stern? Had he departed from us silently, without even a word of farewell? Soon we would all be fortunate to float like that on any water here.
I told myself to let go, to lunge forward and seize him by the legs. Then the boat jinked sideways, throwing us all backward. For a horrifying instant, I thought we would capsize. I opened my mouth to cry out to him, only to be slapped in the face with a crashing wave that slapped my ears and sent my head ringing.
It was John who fell down over us, grabbing me by the arm when I nearly fell over the side. "Master! Save us!"
It was a horrid sound, that scream. I would remember it for the rest of my life.
I covered my face, trying to shield my eyes. Against the dark, I saw him, the pale of his tunic in the sluicing blackness, rising up. In my deafness, I heard him when I should not have against the screeching gale:
The words had not been shouted to the furious wind or issued to the sky, but spoken as through directly to my heart.
I'm not very good with history or theology, so I can't speak if this book is super accurate, but for a piece of historical "fiction", this definitely made me think. It made me feel sympathetic at the least, and it made me see Jesus in a different light. It made me see my Savior's passion and death in a different perspective. It made me see my own humanity, and the depth of Jesus' love even for those who He knew would betray Him.
And aren't we all that, anyway? Haven't be betrayed him at some point in our life? And won't we betray him in the future, because we are human and we are weak? And Jesus knows that...still, He loves us without a doubt.
I finished reading Iscariot before 3:00pm on Good Friday, and I was a little overwhelmed with the time and how it ended. I knew how it would end, and yet...it left me somber. It left me sad. Would there have been redemption for Judas, if he had just waited? Could he have become someone like Peter, who denied Jesus but accepted mercy which led him to become the great church leader that he is? If he had just waited until Sunday, would he have believed that Jesus was indeed the person he had been waiting for his entire life?
We would never know.
I admit that I may be just a little biased because I love everything that Tosca has written, but if you would read any of her work, I think Iscariot: A Novel of Judasis the best place to start. It's not the easiest thing to read, but it's one that will leave you longing for your Savior.(less)
Mira Grant is back, and she's not writing about zombies. This time around, she's writing about worms -- tapeworms, to be exact. Genetically engineered...moreMira Grant is back, and she's not writing about zombies. This time around, she's writing about worms -- tapeworms, to be exact. Genetically engineered parasites that everyone in a future world has, that somehow keeps the world healthy. It seems impossible, but SymboGen Corporation made it so, and everyone in the world has those tapeworms that they try to keep healthy. Even Sally Mitchell, a girl who survived a freak accident. She was almost dead, but suddenly, she's alive, with no memory of her old self. She's considered a SymboGen miracle, and she tries to live her life as normally as she can while she tries to live a new life from the old Sally that everyone knows. But it's not so easy, especially when people are starting to have a sleeping sickness, the kind where people start to shamble like...well, zombies. And they're getting violent. And somehow, they're always all around Sally.
So Parasite got me excited because this is Mira Grant, the woman who wrote my most favorite zombie series so far. When I started reading this, I kind of felt bad that she wasn't writing about Shaun and Georgia and the rest of the Newsflesh gang, but I was excited to dive into this new world that she wrote. As with Feed, Parasite's world-building is very detailed, so much that I felt that if I tried to look for research about the SymboGen implants, I felt that I would find some. The articles and the passages inserted in between read like real ones, and I actually read them instead of just ignoring them (like I do sometimes), so I can get into the story.
Sally/Sal reminded me a little bit like Georgia, but less of the bad-assery that the latter had. I liked her, because she seemed like a genuinely nice person, albeit a little confused. But it's understandable given her predicament. I liked her family, too, even if it felt a little strange that they seem to be all high-profile ones. Truth be told, almost all the characters in this book seemed to be different shades of gray -- I'm not sure who's really a good guy or if they're somehow a part of the bad group or something. The only person I was convinced was on Sal's side was Nathan, her boyfriend, but then sometimes I don't feel that too much, either.
The story was action packed at some, but it got a little too long and rambly at some point. I knew Feed was also like that, but I didn't really notice it then because I got the topic (blogging) and I liked the zombies. In Parasite,I struggled a little, because sometimes I felt like I couldn't keep up with the science talk. Kind of like how I felt sometimes with Deadline. That being said, though, there were a lot of parts that kind of made me go "WTF?!" because of pure...well, strangeness of it. Like, I don't know, extracting x number of pounds of tapeworm from someone's body? Er, right. :/
Overall, though, I liked Parasite. As always, there was a time when I truly worried for the characters, and I really wanted to get to the bottom of the story. Of course, since this is a part of the series, I didn't get most of the answers I wanted because they will be revealed in the next books. My prediction did come true, though, and I saw it coming the moment it was explained in the book. I won't say what it is, but it's definitely kind of...well, surreal and again, WTF?!
If you're a fan of Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy, Parasitemay be a hit or miss, depending on how attached you were to the former. I liked Parasite, though, even if I terribly missed my zombies. But there were some kind of zombies in this book anyway. Not quite the zombies I know, but I'll take it anyway. If you're into medical science fiction (is my term correct?), then you will probably enjoy Parasite.
Now the next question is: will you ever agree to have a tapeworm inside you if it would make you live longer?
I never really go to the graphic novels section of NetGalley, but anything Avatar: The Last Airbender related is an auto...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I never really go to the graphic novels section of NetGalley, but anything Avatar: The Last Airbender related is an automatic pick for me. I loved the series, so reading this was a definite treat.
The graphic novel picks up immediately where the series ended (spoiler warning if you haven't watched the entire series yet), where Aang and Zuko and the rest of the gang were working on bringing back peace in the world. One of the things they were planning to do was to return the Earth Nation land that the Fire Nation invaded back to its rightful owners, but trouble looms when resistance comes. Zuko experiences a personal crisis and asks Aang to promise something...something that Aang wasn't sure if he can really fulfill. But a promise is a promise, right?
What. Fun. I loved this graphic novel, and it brought back fond memories of the series I loved. I love that it picked up where it left off, providing excellent continuity. I love that everyone was there too, and honestly, I could imagine the graphic novel all animated and their voices still rang in my head (Dante Basco!). The funny and serious parts were pretty balanced, and the "oogie" moments were hilarious.
It's also quite apt that I read this a few weeks before I got to watch the first few episodes of Legend of Korra. If you're a fan of the series, you really shouldn't miss this. The only thing I wish is that it was longer, or, that I have part 2 with me already! And part 3! Please, NetGalley, please have it in your catalog? :)(less)
I read The Next Best Thingby Kristan Higgins because I need to get into the "romance" mood while I was writing my ro...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I read The Next Best Thingby Kristan Higgins because I need to get into the "romance" mood while I was writing my romance novella. Back that time, all the books I was reading were not in the romance genre and I needed the appropriate feels, as well as a reference for my story, and this was the closest I could pick. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to read this as much as I wanted to during the time I was writing the first draft of the novella because I was too busy. Plus my mind just won't get into the mood without it being influenced too much)
I've had my eye on this book ever since I read (and liked) Somebody to Love. I met Lucy and Ethan in that book from Parker's POV, and I liked them so much that I wanted to read how they got together anyway, especially when the dad of Parker's son is Ethan. Strange set-up, don't you think? In The Next Best Thing,Lucy Lang is a young widow who is ready to date again. She isn't looking for spark -- just a nice man who wouldn't die on her anytime soon or even make her too in love because she's not sure if she can suffer the loss again after her husband died. With that in mind, she had to take the first step: she had to tell Ethan Mirabelli, her brother-in-law and best friend, that they have to stop hooking up. But Ethan isn't convinced that Lucy needs anyone else -- will he be able to convince her that he's what she wanted all along?
This was lots of fun. I loved Lucy and the people that surrounded her in that small town. The entire town felt so real, with Lucy's mom and aunts who were also all widows (The Black Widows), Lucy's in-laws, her 'nemesis' Dorall Anne and even Jimmy, her deceased husband. I love that Lucy is a baker, and she's also as neurotic and lovable as Kristan Higgins' other heroines are. I liked how Lucy and Ethan's relationship was shown, from when they met to how it all finally ended -- the push and pull, the tension and how they tried to be around each other. I loved how Lucy got to the realization at the end, and how she made peace with her past. That "grand gesture" in the end was messy and funny but still perfect for the two leads.
I really liked The Next Best Thing, and I think I liked it especially because Parker was also there and her character was quite consistent there as it was in the spin-off. If I were ever to have Lucy moments, I would want to have a friend like Parker. (But I think I already have several Parkers in my life :D)
The Next Best Thingis another really good book from Kristan Higgins. I'm still working through her back list, but I won't read too fast because I want to make sure that I always have one of her books unread in my shelf whenever I need a pick-me-up. :)(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)
Chelsea Knot cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during he...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Chelsea Knot cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during her best friend and resident queen bee's party. She spills the secret, thinking that it would elevate her popularity but instead there were surprising and violent results -- one that almost ended up killing someone. Guilt-ridden, Chelsea confesses what she knows and instantly became a social outcast. She takes on a vow of silence, thinking she wouldn't cause anyone harm if she just won't speak up, even if she gets bullied in school. Despite this silence, Chelsea meets new friends in school who accept her, and for the first time since everything happened, she wonders if she can finally move on.
I liked Hannah Harrington's debut, Saving June, which I read earlier this year, so when I heard that her next book, Speechless, is available for request in Netgalley, I was one of the many people who requested it. I was curious with the idea of going silent on purpose -- I am a very talkative person, so I'm not sure if taking on a vow of silence is something I can really do. I doubt it, actually, and that is why there is fiction! :P
I didn't like Chelsea at first, and it was so bad that I almost gave up on the book. While I enjoyed mean girl novels such as Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are or Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall and Shirley Marr's Fury, I am almost always annoyed at their sidekicks, because they're usually the type of people who are mean on purpose because they want to be popular. Not that the popular girls aren't mean on purpose sometimes, but in movies and books, the sidekicks are usually twice as annoying. Chelsea is exactly like that, and I really didn't like her from the prologue and even early into the first chapters.
And then...somehow, she just grew on me. I find it really cool how Hannah Harrington made Chelsea a character who can say so much despite not having much of a dialogue in the book. The transition from an annoying mean girl sidekick to someone who's pretty likeable is very good, and I find myself siding with Chelsea up to the end.
There were just several things that kind of niggled at me in the book: the span of time where Chelsea changed from being a selfish mean girl to someone who thinks outside of herself didn't seem too believable, although I admit that silence can really make people think (I have tried that...several times, but not as long as Chelsea did in the book). I also wished that Chelsea chose to speak again for the first time in a different situation. I don't know, somewhere more...monumental? I wasn't that impressed with the scene where she finally broke her silence. Also, the supporting cast seemed a bit too traditional of the YA characters -- the quirky crowd that people don't often notice in school who just always seems cooler and would always save the day. Not that I minded them -- I loved Asha and Sam and the rest of Chelsea's new friends, and I love the diner set-up, but a part of me thinks the diner set-up has been done one too many times (that, or the diner crew in Bittersweet is still my favorite). On the upside, I think there's a cameo of Jake and Harper in one of the scenes, so fans of Saving June would really like that. :)
But I think my favorite aspect of this book is really the romantic lead, Sam. I liked him way more than I liked Jake, but it may be because of my tendency to go for the good guys. And by "good", I mean the guys who don't really have too many issues in life. I liked how Chelsea started to get to know him and how she started liking him and how it didn't really take much "speech" for the two of them to like each other. I especially liked how Chelsea said that she knew she didn't have to say anything to keep him because she knows he understands...and it's just...sweet. New fictional YA crush!
On a more personal note, I found that Speechless hit a few uncomfortable spots for me, mostly because I can really relate to the talkative, gossipy Chelsea. Sometimes, it just feels so fun to talk and gossip, and more often than not, I never really thought of the repercussions of it until later. So in a way, Speechlessreminded me to watch what I say, and if unsure, just enter the silence and zip it.
Speechlessby Hannah Harrington is definitely different from the author's debut, but not in a bad way. It's more of...this bookis a less angsty, happier sibling of the previous novel. While I really liked Saving June, I think I liked Speechlessjust a tiny bit more. :) And yes, it may be just because of Sam. :P Overall, I know I will be looking forward to whatever Hannah Harrington comes up with next.(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)
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)
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)
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)
I've never read any Kristan Higgins, but I've read about her in the reviews of my other book blogger friends. It's been...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've never read any Kristan Higgins, but I've read about her in the reviews of my other book blogger friends. It's been a while since I last read a chick lit book, so when I heard that Higgins' latest book is available in Netgalley and that it was very entertaining, I decided to get it for some light reading.
Cordelia Osterhagen, also known as Posey, is pretty happy with her life. She has a business that she loves, her family is kooky but fun and she even has a sort-of boyfriend. Never mind that this sort-of boyfriend is owner of her parents' restaurant rival. Then she finds out that Liam Murphy is back in town, and it rocks her world. See, Liam is the guy who broke her heart sixteen years ago, and she felt that she never really got over it. Now that he is back, Posey is determined to not be affected by his charms, but it's proving to be very, very difficult.
They were right -- this was a fun and light novel. I loved the entire quirky town of Bellsford. It reminded me of those Southern towns I've read in other chick lit books I liked. I also love Posey's family and friends, especially his gay brother and his partner. :) I also loved Posey's business and her colleagues and her pets! Everything about the novel is so positively charming that it wasn't hard not to fall in love with it.
The build up for the romance is my favorite in this novel. Posey and Liam both have their own issues, but the scenes they had together and their banter are so entertaining to read that I can't help but smile. I especially liked how Posey gets to her realization about Liam and how she stands up for herself even if it means she could get her heart broken by the same guy again. It was also fun to be inside Liam's head so we know he is not just your ordinary bad guy. Also, thank you for the fade to black scenes. :)
Until There Was You is really a fun and light novel, but not so much that it doesn't have an impact. I am definitely stocking more Kristan Higgins' novels in case I am in the mood for something to cheer me up in between serious reads. :)(less)
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.
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. :)