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 churOriginal 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....more
I love traveling. Granted, I'm not the most traveled person around, but I love being able to go to places. I love seeingOriginal 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 admit: I requested this book on Netgalley because of the cover. Don't you think it's so cute? This is the kind of coveOriginal 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....more
When I spotted Somebody to Love in Netgalley, I immediately requested it, having enjoyed Until There Was You last year.Original 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. :)...more
I wasn't sure what to expect with Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones because if I were to judge this book by its cover, iOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't sure what to expect with Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones because if I were to judge this book by its cover, it didn't give me the chick lit vibe. It gave me a romance novel vibe, sure, but not really chick lit. Am I the only one getting that? I want chick lit, but I'm not entirely sure if I wanted a romance novel -- if you get what I mean. Nevertheless, I requested this from NetGalley because the blurb seemed interesting despite its familiarity, and I heard good stuff about the author on Twitter.
Maybe it's the leftover February air that made me start reading this, and once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Save the Date starts with Lucy Wiltshire dancing around her kitchen, preparing a meal for her boyfriend Matt, expecting a proposal coming very soon. However, she was crushed when Matt says he's choosing his job over her, and he had to move away, just as when Lucy can't leave her hometown because she was about to open her foster home for adolescent girls, Saving Grace.
Fast forward two years later, Lucy seems to be doing well, until life decided to throw her a curve ball: she loses funding for her foster home and she needs money, quick. Enter old schoolmate and rich boy Alex Sinclair who was running for Congress. A chance encounter between the two gave Alex a good image for the election, so he proposes to Lucy: they would pretend to be a couple and get engaged to boost Alex's image, and Lucy gets paid to be his fake fiancee, enough to fund Saving Grace for years to come. Left with no choice, Lucy says yes, praying that she wasn't making a mistake. As they play along with the lie, demons from the past surface and they find out that God's plans are higher than our plans and He can work His purpose even in our flimsy human plans.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. This had the same vibe as A Billion Reasons Why but it has less of the Southern drawl and more of real and sympathetic characters. I liked Lucy from the start -- she's a darling, but she was far from a weakling. She's been toughened up by the hardships she experienced in her life and even if she suffers from a big inferiority complex, her heart is always in the right place. I admire her passion for the girls she's caring for and her fierce loyalty to what she believes in, even if sometimes it comes off as stubbornness. While I'm not much taken by Alex's described good looks and his charisma, I thought he was good for Lucy. He is far from perfect which I really appreciated, and I'm sure his faults and his growth in the story is something that other people have experienced. I liked how their relationship developed and how they saw each other in a better light despite the lie that they have built for their image. I lost count at how many times I sighed and wished that they'd realize that they were perfect for each other, and that one of them would make a move that would break the the pretend relationship they have so they could move into something real. Their banter was refreshing and witty, none of the gooey, over the top exchanges that didn't feel natural. I liked that even if it seemed like an outrageous story, everything in the story still felt real, like it could happen to anyone.
This modern-day Cinderella/The Princess Diaries-like story by Jenny B. Jones is definitely worth the read. I can't relate 100% with everything, but Save the Date shares important lessons on love, compassion, forgiveness and allowing God to work in our lives, and I think those concepts are pretty universal, anyway. While there's nothing really new in the premise, the characters, their voices and the author's humor shines through in the story, making this a very, very good read. :) I look forward to reading more of Jenny B. Jones' books....more
I cannot imagine myself having an eating disorder. I love food too much, and I can't imagine not eating. Of course, whOriginal 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.
I can't remember the last time I willingly read a paranormal romance novel. I really can't anymore. I am not denying thaOriginal 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. ;)...more
Out of all the Disney princesses, I find Princess Aurora a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty the prettiest. Maybe I**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!...more
What do you get when you cross the niece of the head of the Japanese mafia with a Southern belle in need of protection aOriginal 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. :)...more
It's kind of funny that the next NetGalley ARC I read is another book that has recipes and other cooking tips in them, bOriginal post at One More Page
It's kind of funny that the next NetGalley ARC I read is another book that has recipes and other cooking tips in them, but this time, the characters are way older than Ariel, M and Nicki from The Crepemakers' Bondwere. I guess it's fate, or maybe even divine, as far as books go, because reading them almost consecutively gives me an idea on how different YA/MG chick lit is to adult chick lit.
You know another funny thing? There seemed to be a lot of Christian chick lit that is set in the South. Atlanta, specifically. Maybe it's because there are more writers from that area? Or is it because it's just a charming place to set a story in, because in this book, I am charmed. :)
Emma Rae Travis is an award-winning contradiction -- she's the best baker in town, but she's also diabetic, so she isn't allowed to eat more than three bites of her baked confections. But the real point of the story isn't her diabetes, but her baked goods and how it helped her meet Jackson Drake, owner of the new Tanglewood Hotel. Pretty soon, Emma is a part of the hotel staff and with Jackson's crazy and efficient sisters, her semi-goth best friend Fiona and her separated parents...well, it's a circus, alright.
I love myself a good chick lit, obviously, as it's the genre I really started loving in the first place. I found that I hardly get to read much chick lit though, because there doesn't seem to be many quality chick lit out there. It's easy for chick lit to be stereotyped because it seems like there's only one story line for all books like that. I beg to differ, though, because there's a plethora of stories that can be written under that genre. You don't need a fashionista girl with a gay best friend living in a busy city working as a writer looking for Mr. Right for a book to be chick lit!
This is why I liked Always the Baker, Never the Bride because it doesn't fall under the usual chick lit stereotype. Sure, the leading man is handsome, and sure there's a crazy family, but I liked that Emma is her own person, and she's not a fashion slave. Emma is a bright and strong protagonist, one that I can't help but get attached to as I read the book. The best thing I loved about Emma? She's a baker! I bake, too, so that is definitely something I can relate to, but I am sure I won't be as good as her because my cakes tend to fall apart before I can even get them out of the oven. :P
The Christian aspect of this novel is well written, too, and I liked how it wasn't preachy. Prayer was subtly incorporated, and Jackson's grief and fears were real for a guy his age and with his experience. Emma's religious conflict, though, felt a bit blurry. By blurry, I wasn't sure why she was having the conflict in the first place -- maybe I missed it in the first few pages? I wasn't sure if it was because she didn't grow up in that environment or she lost it along the way, so her religious transformation didn't leave a mark in me as much as I wanted it to. I do like the romantic dynamics explained in this novel, though, especially the concept of After Care. Ever wondered why some guys act so sweet and do something special and then disappear afterwards (and it drives us crazy that we over think so much)? That is after care. :P I'd leave you to read the book to understand what it is, but if you're really curious, I may just explain it off the review. :P
This is a cute and fluffy read, and the romance was nice and well-developed, too. However, I felt a bit underwhelmed by the end. I was waiting for a big "oomph", a big conflict that would wreak havoc with Emma and Jackson and everything they worked for, but I felt like it never came. I also felt that Emma's diabetes wasn't properly spotlighted, but maybe that wasn't really the point of the story, so I could let that go. I just didn't find the game-changing (and sometimes tears-inducing) climax that I found in the other Christian chick lit books I read this year in this one, so that part just kind of made this just okay. It wasn't bad, I wasn't disappointed, but I felt that it needed a bit more to make it more memorable.
Always the Baker, Never the Bride is already out paperback. Thanks to Netgalley for the ebook ARC!...more
Ever since Tosca announced that she was writing this book in 2010, I have been eagerly waiting for this to come out. IOriginal 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....more
I am a cookbook person. By that, I mean, I can only cook if there is a cookbook involved. I'm not the type of person whoOriginal post at One More Page
I am a cookbook person. By that, I mean, I can only cook if there is a cookbook involved. I'm not the type of person who can mix everything they can find in the fridge and make something absolutely amazing with it. I guess this is why I know I'm more of a baker than a chef because baking needs precise steps and ingredients and you just cant throw everything in a mixing bowl and stick it in the oven to see if it would work. In the kitchen, I follow instructions, I don't give them or make them.
But that doesn't stop me from watching cooking shows and marveling at the food they make nor reading books that has a lot of food involved. I think that's one of the reasons why I got attracted to The Crepemakers' Bond while I was browsing NetGalley -- it's a foodie book. Thrilled with the prospect of reading a novel with food involved, I totally glazed over the fact that this is a book with eighth-graders in them.
Is this where I say uh-oh?
Well, not really. I guess I have been too used to reading books where the characters are already in high school that I expected this book to be one and didn't read the blurb properly. For the first few pages of the book, I felt confused at how young everyone seemed to be in the book, and at some point, immature. Then I realized that the characters weren't even in high school yet. Not that high school students are the most mature people in the world (I know I was pretty immature back in high school -- don't you deny you weren't!). I do have to remind myself every now and then while the characters were making kind of stupid decisions that they are still young and they don't really know better.
The Crepemakers' Bond is a pretty good book about changes and friendship. I liked how the author focused on the fact that things change when the person you thought you get along with very well who isn't in your immediate family starts to get in your nerves when you start living together. There's a reason why your best friend doesn't live in the same house as you do (if your best friend isn't anyone you're directly related to) if you're not old enough to have separate activities with them: living with them will drive you nuts. I've had my share of living with roommates and we had good relationships because we don't see each other 24/7. This was a hard lesson for Ariel to learn especially since she really loved M as a sister, but I liked how the author let her go through it with all the rotten feelings that having a fight with a friend entails.
As for the characters, Ariel (named after The Little Mermaid) is a pretty well-rounded protagonist, given her age. She isn't perfect, but she felt like the perfect and realistic eighth-grader, as compared to the ones I grew up reading in Sweet Valley. I also liked that Ariel had a hobby to take her mind off things, which is cooking. I loved that this book had recipes in between chapters, and they all seemed yummy, too. That seemed like a pretty healthy hobby for a girl her age, both physically and emotionally. I also liked that the recipes had creative and fun names based on when Ariel made them, like Crepes of Wrath or Achy Breaky Artichoke Hearts Dip or Once Misunderstood Twice Baked Potatoes. Plus points, too, for the cooking references at the end of the book -- totally useful for non-cooks like me. :P
As much as I liked Ariel, I wasn't really crazy about her best friends, M and Nicki. M's single letter nickname kind of got on my nerves after a while in reading and I kept on calling her Mattie in my head. I thought Nicki felt a bit underdeveloped, and I felt that she was very inconsistent as a character. I never felt any connection with her, but perhaps the author really meant for it to be that way? Research in Goodreads tells me that M has her own book, cutely titled Discovering Pig Magic. So maybe Nicki will have her book soon?
Reading this book made me realize that I really am over that stage of my life. While I like reading Young Adult fiction, I don't think I'd go back to middle grade anymore. This is still a good book, but I have outgrown it. If I had a younger sister or cousin or niece at that age, I'd recommend this book to her, though, because of the friendship lessons it gives, and borrow it every now and then to try out the recipes. :P
The Crepemakers' Bond will be out on October 1, 2010. Thanks to Netgalley for the ebook ARC!...more
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 uI'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. :(
Mira Grant is back, and she's not writing about zombies. This time around, she's writing about worms -- tapeworms, to be exact. Genetically engineeredMira 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?
The Lipstick Laws is one of those books that is good to read when you have been too immersed in out-of-this-world bookOriginal 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 first heard about Jamie Tworkowski from my friend Isa, after she shared with me this quote:
Don't get me wrong. It's not that i don't like love. i lo
I first heard about Jamie Tworkowski from my friend Isa, after she shared with me this quote:
Don't get me wrong. It's not that i don't like love. i love love - i think it's the best thing that happens on the planet. It's the biggest dream inside me. But i bought a lie somewhere along the way. i bought the lie that says i'm not alive if i'm not in love. i bought the lie that says if i love someone but then they stop loving me or they start loving someone else, then i must have no value or power or worth. i bought the lie that says if i'm not in love, then i'm as good as dead.
I had no idea who he was until then, until I found out that he is the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), "...an American non-profit organization that aims to to present hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery." ((Source: Wikipedia)) I found out about TWLOHA back in college, I think, because some of my favorite bands (Switchfoot, Anberlin, Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, etc) support the organization. That's the most that I knew about Jamie and TWLOHA, and I was vaguely aware that there was a book coming out. When I received an email from the publicist asking if I wanted to review the book, I immediately said yes because if most of the book contained nuggets of wisdom like that quote that Isa shared to me last time, then I definitely want to read this book.
If You Feel Too Much is, at its core, a collection of Jamie Tworkowski's blog entries through the years. The topics range from work, family, friendships, romance, love, addiction, depression, self-injury, and brokenness. That's a lot to digest, but since these came from blog entries, they're really easy to read. If you're reading this as a memoir with a chronology of events, you might get a bit disappointed because some of the chapters feel a little bit disjointed, and sometimes some of them seemed to carry the same thought. Some of them may even be seem too short, but that's easy to overlook because the everything here is full of heart. More than being readable, this book is super relatable. It doesn't matter if the context of the entry is different - there's some sort of universal truth that makes the reader connect to the things you read in this book.
Jamie's thoughts focused a lot on reaching out, on being a friend, on opening up to people and offering love. Inversely, he also talked about how if we don't have the strength to reach out and to offer love, then it's okay. We don't have to be strong all the time -- sometimes, we need to be on the receiving end, too. If You Feel Too Much does not just tell its readers that we are not alone, but more importantly, we all have a part to play in this life. As Sierra De Mulder (who was mentioned in the book, too) wrote: your voice is someone's favorite voice, your face is someone's favorite face.
If You Feel Too Muchis all about the pain and beauty and loss and hope that makes up our being human. If you feel too much, too, then this is the book for you. Read it all in one sitting, or read it bit by bit - if only to remind yourself of the truths that we often forget about ourselves.
If you feel too much, don't go.
You are not alone in these places.
Other people feel how you feel.
You are more than just your pain. You are more than wounds, more than drugs, more than death and silence.
"I used to think that somewhere along the line, I'd find the key to that perfect life...and once I had it, everyday would be golden and easy, and ever
"I used to think that somewhere along the line, I'd find the key to that perfect life...and once I had it, everyday would be golden and easy, and everything would fit. But life isn't like that. There are only perfect, glowing moments, like this one, and then there are the everyday moments that weave them together into a shimmering path that can always be seen, even in the dark."
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 IOriginal 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....more
I've never read any Kristan Higgins, but I've read about her in the reviews of my other book blogger friends. It's beenOriginal 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. :)...more
When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, wOriginal 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. :)...more
My supply of Christian fiction has sort of run low ever since I started reading more YA books, so new books from my favoriteFull post at One More Page
My supply of Christian fiction has sort of run low ever since I started reading more YA books, so new books from my favorite Christian authors are always exciting and squee-worthy. One of the dream team-ups I had ever since last year when the news went out was Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee, and I have waited with anticipation over this book, Forbidden. Imagine my excitement when I saw that the book was available in Netgalley.
In the year 2005, geneticists discovered that there is a certain gene in our DNA that controlled the emotion of fear, further leading to the discovery of other genes that control other kinds of emotions. After a war that devastated the world, humanity vowed to destroy everything that led to that war, particularly the emotions that come with it -- love, joy, passion, anger, hatred, sorrow. Out of all emotions, only fear was allowed to survive. And because of this, peace reigned.
480 years later, we meet Rom Sebastian, a simple, ordinary man who sings songs for the dead. On his way home from a funeral, he meets an old man who tells him of an Order called Keepers and leaves a vial of blood wrapped in a vellum with strange symbols. Citadel Guards caught up with them and to Rom's horror, they killed the man. Soon Rom is on the run from the guards with his childhood friend Avra, confused and scared to why they were running away. When he decides to drink some of the blood in the vial he carried, long-forgotten emotion surface within him together with the fear that he has been so used to feeling: sorrow. Anger. Passion. And most of all, love.
Early into the first pages of Forbidden, I couldn't help but compare this book with Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Both books have the same premise and almost the same environment. But where Delirium lacks, Forbidden totally makes up. The world building in this book is solid, so real, and contains the signature Dekker that I have known and loved. I found that the world building here makes the idea of a world operated by fear because of genetic means more plausible as compared to that where "love is illegal and I'd have to cut a vague area under your ear to get that love out". This book had touches of Dekker's Circle series, with the countries and royalties and guards and the people. The composition of the world contains both ancient and modern elements that somehow mesh together really well -- from advanced alchemy to the hierarchy order of the Brahmin. This somehow gives the readers a clue that while it is set in the future, it doesn't mean that it is actually advanced. Maybe the truth is, the world is going backwards because of the fear that the people were kept in.
Add to the world building, we have the fleshed out characters, which I think is Tosca Lee's expertise. I liked how different and conflicted the characters were -- Rom with his good heart, Avra's loyalty, Neah's hesitation, Triphon's bravery. Feyn's wisdom, Sarric's greed, Jonathan's innocence. These all seem like typical character traits, and I have to admit that some of the characters' actions were predictable, but I think they were able to give life to them. People may be a bit turned off with the jubilant exaltation of emotions that some characters did in the book, but I thought it was forgivable as they've never experienced emotion like that before. Taking the reactions of the characters in this context, it wouldn't seem exaggerated but just right. These characters were also involved in the right amount of action that it made me cringe and be surprised a couple of times. There was a particular part in the book that got me shaking my fist, but knowing I was in the hands of good writers, I know well enough to trust them.
Forbidden is very, very good. So what's keeping me from giving it five stars? Well, it may be just me, but I cannot shake off the similarity of this with the Circle series. Also, this book feels just a tad like a prequel rather than the real first book. While there is action, I felt the climax and the ending was just a little anticlimactic. Perhaps I was expecting more...erm, bloodshed there? Not that there wasn't enough bloodshed earlier, but I just thought there would be more there. However, that may be just because Dekker and Lee are preparing us for the next book in the trilogy. And the ending really did leave a lot of loose ends that I'm sure will be picked up and played with in the next book.
I will finish this review with a quote from the book that pretty much sums up the message of this book:
This is the mystery of it. Life is lived on the ragged edge of the cliff. Fall off and you might die, but run from it and you are already dead!
Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee is now out in paperback and hardbound in all stores. In the Philippines, I saw some trade paperback copies of it in Fully Booked. Must. Get. Finished. Copy!...more
In a town called Smitten, their main source of income is their lumber mill. With the lumber mill comes the men, who's usOriginal 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. :)...more
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 skOriginal 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. ...more
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 chI'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. WhenOriginal 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....more
Chelsea Knot cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during heOriginal 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....more
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?...more
I read The Next Best Thingby Kristan Higgins because I need to get into the "romance" mood while I was writing my rOriginal 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. :)...more
I never really go to the graphic novels section of NetGalley, but anything Avatar: The Last Airbender related is an autoOriginal 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? :)...more
One of the books that absolutely surprised me last year was Cynthia Hand's Unearthly. I can't keep stressing it enough,Original 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!...more