I've been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The TruthOriginal post One More Page
I've been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The Truth About Forever did not do it any justice. The thing is, I don't know how to write a proper review for this book without squealing or "sa-woon"-ing so much. Because believe me, I know I did that so many times when I was rereading this book.
But let me try again. Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever is one of my favorite books of all time. It's not my first Dessen, but it's the book that made me love Dessen and made her one of my auto-buy authors. It's one book I've reread multiple times and still get all swoony and happy and wishing for a romance like Macy and Wes did. Yes, even with their drama, because it made the ending so much satisfying in the end.
The Truth About Forever is about Macy Queen, whose life spun out of control when her dad died in front of her. Macy tried to hold it together for the sake of her family, hiding her grief and seeking perfection, thinking that this would help her mother who seeks perfection in everything she does as well, her own way of dealing with loss. The story starts with Macy's boyfriend, Jason, leaving for Brain Camp and Macy facing a long summer with her strict schedule and routine. She's okay, she always thought. Until one day, she meets the Wish Catering crew. One bad afternoon at her summer job, with a bad email to boot, she joins Wish, makes new friends, and meets Wes -- the seemingly perfect guy with his own not-so-clean past, who likes flaws. Things turn interesting for Macy as she gets to know these people, and as she realizes that maybe it's not so bad if her strictly-scheduled life unravels and she lets chaos in bit by bit.
Ah, this book. I think what makes me love this book more than I loved This Lullaby is how much I could relate to Macy. I'm fortunate enough to have my parents here with me so I can't relate to Macy at that front, but the schedules? The need to be as perfect as I can be (sometimes, anyway)? Oh, I've been there. At the next rereads, I found that I wanted to shake Macy so hard -- she needs to cry! She needs to snap out of the illusion that she needs to be perfect to hold things together. She needs to let go and reach for her mom so they could grieve together! Ah Macy, why do you frustrate me so much?
But it served as a good starting point. If there was anything that Sarah Dessen really knows, it's how to write a story that seeps into you and hooks you, pulling you in up until the last page. There's no need for magic or any supernatural creatures -- just plain everyday things magnified, with added significance. The conversations could be just any normal conversation, but somehow they pack a punch. For example:
"Honestly," I said.
"Come on. You have to admit it's sort of ridiculous."
Now that I had to define it, I found myself struggling for the right words. "You know," I said, then figured Kristy had really summed it up best. "The sa-woon."
"Wes, come on," I said. "Are you seriously not aware of how girls stare at you?"
How cute is that?
There's really nothing new with the story, but thanks to the writing and the vivid characters, it becomes a little bit extraordinary. This book is one of the reasons I appreciate characters more, why I believe that even the most common storyline can be interesting when the roles are played by strong, well-developed characters.
And then there's Wes. Dessen boys are well known among readers, and Wes is definitely my favorite. He just seems so...perfect. Strange to see a seemingly perfect guy in a book that tells the main character that perfection isn't everything, don't you think? Believe me, I'm still trying to find some kind of flaw in Wes. But I guess that's what crushes are -- it's so hard to find a flaw in them. I think I'm not that infatuated with Wes that I'd try and look for someone exactly like him (but hey, I wouldn't mind, haha), but I would like to have the same kind of development that Macy and Wes had. Their relationship is one of the most authentic ones I've read -- built on shared experiences and conversations. Now where is that guy I could play a game of Truth with?
So yeah, even on my third reread, I still loved The Truth About Forever. It reminds me of why I started reading YA and why I like the contemporary genre. If you're looking for a good contemporary YA novel you can sink your teeth into, or if you're looking for a good Sarah Dessen novel to start with, I highly recommend The Truth About Forever. Read it and sa-woon. :)...more
When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of theOriginal post at One More Page
When I first heard about David Levithan's latest book, The Lover's Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words, and for some reason, this gives me the feeling that this book has a universal feel to it, like anyone could relate to an entry here at one point. I ordered a copy off Book Depository a few weeks ago after I realized that it's cheaper there, and when it finally arrived, I actually dropped the books I was reading to devour this one.
The Lover's Dictionary is quite easy to devour given its short, dictionary-like format. This book, as mentioned in the blurb, tells the story of an unnamed couple, written using different words from a dictionary. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries, is a writer while the girl seemed like a wild, whimsical character who seems to have enchanted our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if the they decide to stay together or part.
The entries weren't written in chronological order so the timeline tends to jump from one anecdote to another, while others just seem like a sharing, or a comment on how the relationship is or how each has changed because of the relationship. It's equal parts sad and happy, a lot mushy and it tends to leave the readers pondering on what makes a relationship tick. There's something about finding common ground, which I really liked:
I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte's Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn't when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.
In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren't these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?
We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.
Or this, about being intimidated by one another:
Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.
The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.
I'm pretty sure the story the authors intended for the characters here is not the same for everyone, but I think everyone who's ever loved will find that they are able to relate to one or two or more entries in The Lover's Dictionary. This makes the book very rereadable, especially in random -- just pick it up, open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?
But alas, my own love life is still nonexistent. That fact made me a bit distant to the novel, because I can't relate. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover's Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even experiences (the proper place to elaborate on this is on my personal blog :P): relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot...but allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)
Whether you're a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. I'm sure you'll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary....more
One day early this year (way before I met the Goodreads people) I was going around Fully Booked in Eastwood when I suddenly had this little fantasy. I wondered: what if, as I was looking for books to get, I meet a guy who has the same taste in books as I do? A straight, single guy, near my age, who reads for fun? And let's make him cute, too.
It was a little fantasy that my friends and I entertained often, and it almost became a topic of a story for my fiction blog (one day I will write that). It was definitely something my single bookish friends and I thought would be very nice but may be rare, as we know few guys who are willing to read the same books we do, and most of the people we see in the bookstore near our office is filled with girls (that is, until I met the Goodreads people, again).
So it's no wonder why Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan would call to me. Okay, I didn't really pay attention to it first because I wasn't really a fan of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by the same authors, until I read a review. I checked the sample and fell in love with it on the first few pages, particularly on the opening scene. Dash finds a red notebook amidst the books in the Strand, and inside were a bunch of clues left by a girl named Lily. He figures out the clues and thus starts the passing of the red Moleskine notebook back and forth between the two. Dash and Lily accomplish dares all around New York City from each other and bare their innermost thoughts to the other through the red notebook, all the while wondering if the words represent the persons behind them.
The story happens during the holidays, so I figured Christmas should be the right time to read it (thanks again to Ace for giving me a copy during the Goodreads Christmas party). And I was right. I am so glad I read it at this time of the year. :) Like I said, I wasn't very enamored by Nick and Norah, but Dash and Lily really made me fall in love. There's so many things to love. Maybe it was the bookstore? Maybe it's the Moleskine notebook (which I love, by the way)? Maybe it's how the story unfolded despite it being slightly hard to believe?
Dash and Lily are two very interesting characters. They're not the angsty teenagers that we read in contemporary YA but they're very smart and witty teens who are very different yet they speak to each other in ways only they can understand. While I didn't find Dash particularly dashing, I thought he was very well-adjusted for his age. Perhaps it was all the reading that he does that makes him a gentler version of the male gender? I don't know, but I'd like to think so. Lily, on the other hand, is probably the most optimistic female character I've ever read so far. She reminds me of myself in so many ways: she bakes, she likes animals, her positive outlook, and in how she's never had a boyfriend. Lily is such a delight to read because I feel like I'm reading some things I write, almost like I was reading my journal.
And just as the characters, the story was very charming. It tried to tackle more than the usual boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love story and that's good, but sometimes the connections and issues feel a bit too messy and hard to follow. The entire interaction may seem a bit far-fetched too, and I don't think this will be very effective here in Manila, but I can forgive that for the sake of fiction (and that's why it happened in New York and not here, LOL). Despite that, though, I thought the plot was well-executed, and I found myself hanging on to every word all the way up to the end.
My copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares has so many dog-ears too because of the quotable quotes! For example:
Prayer or not, I want to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is possible for anyone to find that special person. That person to spend Christmas with or grow old with or just take a nice silly walk in Central Park with. (Lily, p. 75)
I wish I could remember the moment when I was a kid and I discovered that the letters linked into words, and that the words linked to real things. What a revelation that must have been. We don't have the words for it, since we hadn't yet learned the words. It must have been astonishing, to be given the key to the kingdom and see it turn in our hands so easily. (Dash, p. 87)
You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here's a hint -- ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn't just the women. It's the great male fantasy -- all it takes is one dance to know that she's the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know -- this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don't want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately. (p. 131)
And my favorite (and is very applicable for the coming year):
There are just lots of possibilities in the world...I need to keep my mind open for what could happen and not decide that the world is hopeless if what I want to happen doesn't happen. Because something else great might happen in between. (p. 227)
The blurb was right. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares is a feel good book that would make you want to start "...perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own." It doesn't have to be Christmas when you read it, but the holidays add to the ambiance. It's the kind of book that will surely leave you smiling long after you have read the last word. :)
I'm not about to start looking for a red notebook in Fully Booked...but as for leaving one? I'll never tell. ;) ...more
The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when somOriginal post at One More Page
The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when someone manages to acquire it, it's easier to borrow instead of finding a way to buy it. That's what my book friends and I are doing now, especially for hard to find/buy books such as Aussie YA books. :) Thanks so much to Chachic for letting her copy of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (and her other Aussie YA books) go around.
In Graffiti Moon we meet Lucy, who's about to graduate high school. We find her rushing after she receives a message from her instructor, rushing to meet Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose paintings have touched Lucy's heart and made her feel an instant connection. Then her paths cross with Ed, the last person she wants to see because of their unfortunate shared past -- but he knows Shadow. And he can bring her to him. What follows is a long night full of heart-to-heart conversations, graffiti art viewing and a possible breaking-in and stealing. Lucy realizes that Ed isn't so bad and their shared past may just be a misunderstanding...but if she finds out who Ed really is, will she still think the same?
People often compare Graffiti Moon with Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and it is an accurate comparison. What music is to Nick and Norah is art in this novel. I am not an artist, so it was kind of hard for me to imagine how Shadow's graffiti pieces look (seriously, I can only imagine them as crudely drawn images because they're from spray paint cans, but I'm pretty sure they all look better than what I can imagine). However, I liked that this book was relatable enough even without much art knowledge. I like it when a story makes use of a magical night for two people -- magical in the sense that they end up spending it together and realize that their preconceived notions about each other were all wrong, or at least, inaccurate. I liked that there was a lot of conversations done in this book that made the characters get to know each other, and it wasn't just love/crush at first sight and then followed by intimacy the next second.
Personally, I didn't like Lucy at first. I found her fascination of Shadow and her belief that she will fall in love with this person because of his art kind of annoying and unrealistic. Color me jaded, I guess. Or maybe just...eh, unromantic? Maybe it's the teenage idealism of love that got to me. I ended up liking her after some time, though, especially after she had more conversations with Ed. Even if it was all in the span of a night, it was still filled with conversations and shared adventures, and not just eye-contact and an "amazing" kiss that would make them declare their love for each other "forever and ever".
But as much as I liked Ed and Lucy in this book, my real favorites are Leo and Jazz, Ed's and Lucy's best friends. I guess it shows how much I am more of a sucker for words than for art, seeing that Leo is a poet. My favorite piece from all of his works in the book:
Your jokes kind of make me laugh And your hair is faintly close to being cute Your smile isn't half bad, either You know, I almost, almost kind of like you
The dress you're wearing is short and sweet And your boots are kind of cool You're not, not turning me on You know I almost, almost kind of like you
The way you dance definitely isn't stupid I could maybe get used to the way you move I'm not saying I've made up my mind But you know, I almost, almost kind of like you (p 164-165)
I swear, Leo and Jazz are practically begging for a spin-off. Can I request for one, please?
Graffiti Moon will be released in the US by February 2012, but an e-galley of the book is available in NetGalley, so if you can't wait, sign up and get it! I still like the Australian cover of the book, though. And speaking of covers, look what I spotted in Madrid while I was bookstore hopping:
It took me a while to translate the book title, and if I hadn't seen the insides with Lucy/Ed/Poet headings, I wouldn't have recognized it. :)
Graffiti Moon is charming. It's one of those books that would leave the reader smiling, not because of a neatly-wrapped ending, but because of an ending full of possibilities. And possibilities are always good, right? :) ...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
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood is a loose retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a guy as the main characterOriginal post at One More Page
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood is a loose retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale with a guy as the main character. Dan Cereill's life just kind of fell apart. His parents split after his dad came out, they lost their family fortune, he moved to a new-old house and transferred to a new school and his mom opened a wedding cake business that was doomed to fail from the start. And then there's his neighbor, Estelle, who's caught his eye and his heart from the moment he saw her, but had absolutely no idea that he exists.
Oh what a cute, cute book this was. Despite the dreary set-up of Dan's new life, his voice was quite the contrary. Dan was sarcastic yet real, and he dealt with his problems with the best way a fourteen-year-old can. The humorous approach makes the entire situation just hilarious instead of pitiful, and at the back of my mind, I just thought that they would eventually get through this. As for how, that was the thing I was supposed to find out in the story. Since this is kind of a retelling of Cinderella, I liked figuring out what character was equivalent to that character in the fairy tale, even if it took me a while to figure out who was who. But even if you know how Cinderella turns out, the events in this story still took me pleasantly by surprise that, well, you just end up sighing happily by the last page. :)
The writing in Six Impossible Things was fresh and light and so readable that I never had a hard time connecting with Dan. Dan is awkward and dorky but still so lovable that I wanted to adopt him as my little brother or something. I think his may be the first time I will use it but if there was any character that fits the word "adorkable", it's Dan. Even if his crush on Estelle kind of qualified as "insta-love", at least on his side, it was still quite realistically done. Come on, don't tell me you've never had a "crush at first sight" moment with someone! :P Major plus points on how Dan and Estelle's relationship was developed -- it was about ten parts awkward most of the time, but about a hundred parts cute and "aww" inducing.
The other characters surrounding Dan and Estelle were a hoot too. I loved Dan's mom, in all her Radiohead singing glory (although I'm not really a fan of the band). I loved their friends and the guy who lived in the house behind Dan's new house and the bully. But most especially, I loved the presence of Howard the dog. Dogs in stories always wins my heart.
Let me repeat what I first said about this book: Six Impossible Things is a cute, cute book. This is a perfect book to read when you want to relax and laugh and feel the feeling of wanting to hug a book when you get to the end. Because that is really what you'd end up wanting to do when you're done with this. :) ...more
The longest flight I have ever been in before my Europe trip was when I went to Saipan to visit my dad, and it was onlyOriginal post at One More Page
The longest flight I have ever been in before my Europe trip was when I went to Saipan to visit my dad, and it was only a four hour flight. On the way home, I had already watched an in flight movie, read a little and we were still about an hour away from Manila. My brother and I were so restless that when we finally saw the Manila city lights, we were so excited that we almost started jumping up and down in our seats. I couldn't imagine how I could manage a flight longer than that until I flew to Europe last August. My flight from Manila to Europe was almost 16 hours long, with a stopover at Amsterdam to switch planes to get to Madrid. The Manila to Amsterdam was a killer with almost 12 hours of being up in the air. You can see how antsy that entire flight made me. I managed to watched four movies, read a lot and slept a lot, and still, the flight is not yet over. It almost drove me nuts, if I wasn't so excited to get to Europe.
I guess I would have been less antsy if I was seated with my friends on the flight, but as luck would have it, I was given another seat a few rows back from them ((And it happened with almost all my flights in Europe. What is up with that?)). I shared a row with a guy that I did not end up talking to at all, save for the occasional "Excuse me" when I had to squeeze in to get to the rest room.
I remembered that particular time while I was reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith that I borrowed from Pinoy Book Tours. They say people who meet at airports and share flights together have higher chances of falling in love with each other. I don't really know why -- maybe it's because of the enclosed space, the length of the flight, the novelty of meeting someone new in a sea of people who is also heading your way. Perhaps it's the idea that meeting the love of your life on the plane is a cute story to share in the future. I don't know really, except that that obviously did not happen to me. ;) Jennifer E. Smith explores this idea in her debut novel with Hadley who missed her flight to London to attend her father's wedding. As she waits for her next flight anxiously, she meets Oliver, who is also heading to London and who becomes her seatmate. Hadley and Oliver had no idea that the missed flight, this chance encounter and the next twenty four hours will change their lives.
This novel is both cute and sad in a lot of ways, and I was really surprised with the sadness aspect that it had. I was really expecting it to be just cute because of the premise, but I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the issues that Hadley and Oliver had. Hadley was angry at her dad for leaving them without any notice, for breaking their family and for having the nerve to invite her to the wedding. Oliver's own issues somewhat mirrored Hadley's, but being a guy, he wasn't one to share about it. The two main characters share an easy friendship at first, going through a typical getting to know phase albeit a bit condensed. They never felt too old for their age, even if their concerns were a little more serious than the normal teen had. Their conversations were witty and full of poignant things, and it's actually also the kind of conversation that I would like to have if I meet someone at the airport and end up sitting next to them in the next, oh, twelve hours.
I liked the author's writing here: simple but still filled with meaning and never really going into cliche territory. Some quotes I really liked:
In the end, it's not the changes that will break your heart; it's that tug of familiarity. (p.19)
Oliver's cheeks redden, and the smile she catches as he ducks his head is maddeningly cryptic; it is, Hadley decides, a smile with two meanings. The bigger part of her worries that it must be charitable, designed to make her feel less awkward about both the question and the coming answer, but something else keeps her wondering all the same: maybe -- just maybe -- it's something even kinder than that, something full of understanding, a seal on the unspoken agreement between them that something is happening here, that this just might be a kind of beginning. (p. 73)
But Hadley understood. It wasn't that she was meant to read them all. Maybe one day she would, but for now, it was more the gesture itself. He was giving her the most important thing he could, the only way he knew how. He was a lover of stories, and he was building her a library in the same way other men might build their daughters houses. (p. 139-140)
I finished reading this book in a day and it did leave me with a silly smile on my face, wondering about the possibilities of where Oliver and Hadley's relationship was heading after that. Of course, the realist in me started asking, "So what happens next? Do you think they're really in love? What happens when they go back? Will they be able to sustain whatever they built in the span of twenty four hours -- which isn't really enough time to fall in love and you know that."
I know, I know, how pessimistic. But don't worry, I managed to shut that side of me for a while if only to enjoy the happy and satisfied feeling of this book left me. Even if I don't really believe in love at first sight. :P
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith will be out by January 2, 2012. Thanks to Pinoy Book Tours for the ARC!
If I Stay was one of the books I really loved last year, and news of the sequel made me squee enough to guarantee a posOriginal post One More Page
If I Stay was one of the books I really loved last year, and news of the sequel made me squee enough to guarantee a post. :) It was a very, very long wait, though, before I could get my grubby hands on them. When reviews of the book start popping up every now and then as it nears the release date, I was even more intrigued. I wanted it, but because of my Lenten book buying fast, I had to wait a bit more.
I remember reading If I Stay in a day -- it was that hard to put down. I remember shedding a few tears over some parts, and that feeling of relief and happiness when the book finished on a positive note. Where She Went brings us three years after Mia's accident, in Adam's point of view. Adam is alone, lonely and jaded amidst all the fame that he and his band, Shooting Star, is getting. Something is missing, and when he almost breaks down on one interview before he goes to London for a sixty-day tour, he finds what it is, or rather, who is missing: Mia.
But the problem is, Mia is unreachable. She just graduated from Julliard and is about to start touring herself. Adam finds himself in one of her shows, and to his utter surprise, she invites him for a walk, after three years of zero contact. Elated, confused and still angry, Adam joins Mia as he finds out what happened, or did not happen between the two of them.
I will agree with everyone: this book is packed with emotion. It may not be as morbid or as tragic as If I Stay, but it's sad in a way that you just want to hug Adam and try to make him feel better. It's kind of sad when you see a guy feel so down and out, and hopeless. Girls are often more emotional, so seeing a guy so broken? It's just hard not to feel sad for him too. And we know that his reasons for being broken is valid...but the thing we want to know is, what exactly happened?
This book kind of reminds me of 500 Days of Summer, where I felt more sympathy with the guy rather than the girl. But Mia isn't Summer because I also understand why she wanted what she wanted. What she did wasn't very nice, but still, she needed it. And sometimes, when we think we do some things so we won't hurt other people, we still end up hurting them more. And that's what happened to Adam.
I liked how the story unfolded in Where She Went, and how it all ties up neatly with If I Stay.The ending scene felt a teensy bit cheesy, but still perfect for Adam and Mia's characters. This book left me with a very satisfied, albeit slightly wrenched, heart. :) It's a very good sequel. :)
Oh, and a funny note. I was reading this book while watching a Blessed John Paul 2 documentary. I can't help but shed tears every time I watch a JP2 documentary (you should see me during his beatification! Crying rivers for no reason!), and this book played on those emotions and made me cry more. I was a sight. :P I will have to try and reread this (and If I Stay) next time without other things that could make me cry to see if it still has that effect. :P
Edited to add: After some thinking, I realized something else. The story arc for these two books could be used as a Filipino movie, the ones I love to watch. No wonder it resonated with me so much. :P...more
My friend and I were browsing in Fully Booked sometime before Christmas when I spotted this Lang Leav's Love & Misadventure and started browsing.My friend and I were browsing in Fully Booked sometime before Christmas when I spotted this Lang Leav's Love & Misadventure and started browsing. I opened to a random page, read it, and cursed. Then I called my friend and we started picking random pages, cursing every now and then at the pages we read, because damn, the stuff we read kinda hurt. That was the time I added this book in my wish list, and hoped someone would give it to me. Because, as I said on my Twitter: "Lang Leav's Love & Misadventure: <3 </3"
Love & Misadventure is a collection of poetry and illustrations by Lang Leav that talks about love, and some misadventures in love. It's quite melancholic and perhaps a bit painful and bitter at some points. The book is short, and I finished reading it while I was waiting in the bank, and it left my heart just a little tender in some parts after I was done.
Except that it didn't leave me as wowed as I was when I first read it. Perhaps I was expecting it a little too much, especially after I've read several pieces before I finally sat down and read the entire collection. That, or this is another case of "mood reading" - when things I read at first resonated because I can relate to it more compared to when I finally read the entire thing. I also felt that some of the poems felt too...young. Not necessarily juvenile, but just something that felt like it was coming from a very young place. Did that make sense?
I don't know; maybe I just wasn't in that mood when I was reading this (granted, I read this right after I finished Brené Brown's Daring Greatly, so that may have affected my appreciation). That's not to say that the pieces I first read didn't resonate with me again -- it did, but maybe less because I've already read them before. I think Love & Misadventure is good, except maybe my personal hype had already faded from when I randomly read some pages of it.
Or, you know, I just really stopped relating to the poems I liked first. If that's the case...then that's good, right? :)
Oh, but if you liked the poems in Love & Misadventure and you want more, then I will direct you to Mindy Nettifee's The First Time and Filipino author Marla Miniano's blog. I think you'll like these, too. :)
When I was in elementary, we used to have these character books, where we write the names of all the characters of the cartoon shows we watch, and weWhen I was in elementary, we used to have these character books, where we write the names of all the characters of the cartoon shows we watch, and we match them with the people in our class. I almost never get the "lead roles" because there's always someone else for them, even in my own notebook (but I don't put myself in the lead roles there because as a rule, everyone can read that notebook, and I didn't want to be thought of as conceitedor something), so I usually I put myself in the secondary roles -- the ones that still matter, but not really the star of the show. So for the pages based on the Peter Pan anime that we all grew up with, I am usually Tiger Lily.
I've seen Tiger Lilyby Jodi Lynn Anderson in other blogs for a long time now, but I'm not that much of a fan of Peter Pan and its retellings, so I didn't really care for it. I've heard good things about it, though, but I didn't think it would be my thing, you know? Then I ran into it again, while I was looking for other books to read in my Kindle, when the books I was currently reading weren't doing just what I want for me. But I was kind of wary, too, especially since I knew this was a love story, and not a happy one at that. We all know that, right? I mean, Peter Pan is with Wendy, and even Tinkerbell knows that. But what happened before Wendy arrived in Neverland? Did Peter ever belong to someone else?
Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily explored that. We meet fifteen year old Tiger Lily, a loner among her Sky Eaters tribe. She's often quiet and usually fierce, and most people in her tribe are afraid of her, save for her adopted father, Tik Tok, a small guy named Pine Sap, another girl named Moon Eye and finally, the little fairy who started following her, Tinkerbell. We follow Tiger Lily's story through Tinkerbell's eyes, with how she saved a man, and how she was set for marriage, and how meets Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Soon, quiet Tiger Lily is entranced by the childish yet charismatic Peter, and she starts sneaking out just to be with him. But when she is called to do her duty for her family and her tribe, she must make a choice. With the pirates looming around the boys and someone trying to change the way her tribe works, Tiger Lily is dealing with a lot, but it's Wendy Darling who ends up threatening her the most.
Oh, my heart. I knew this isn't a happy story, I really did. But I didn't expect how much this will make me sigh and kind of wreck havoc over my heart. :( Tiger Lilyheld me captive, and I couldn't stop reading it when I started. A lot of what the readability had to do with the writing -- there was simple yet beautiful prose in the story, and it perfectly fits the almost somber and whimsical mood of the story. The quotes I included below are a proof of that. It's like the author chose her words very carefully, so it would really sound like how Tinkerbell would see it, and say it.
If you're a purist for Peter Pan's stories though, you might get a little disappointed with how there were some things lacking in Anderson's depiction of Neverland. Save for the fairies, there's no magic. Neverland is a place that is somewhere in the Atlantic, and not "Second star to the right and straight on till morning". The boys don't fly, and Tinkerbell doesn't spread fairy dust so they can think happy thoughts. There were some seemingly magical elements, but they weren't blatant, and they're still sort of believable and I didn't mind it. It made the story a little easier to get into (except that I kept on expecting the boys to fly. Heh).
The story isn't fluff, though. Tiger Lily is also quite brutal in some scenes, and the complicated relationships add to this brutality. But can a book this brutal be beautiful, too? I think so, I really do. Because oh, my heart. My heart broke so much for Tiger Lily and Peter, and how their story has been doomed for the start. Knowing that it was doomed didn't make me want to stop reading, because I wanted to know how it all played out. Maybe I was wishing it wouldn't end the way I was already expecting it. Or maybe, I just want to see how it ends, because it couldn't possibly have an absolutely ugly ending, right?
I'm pretty sure it was the latter, because when I got to the end, I sighed. My heart sighed, several times, and Tiger Lily left me with a little ache there -- it hurt, but it was also beautiful, and I know that I couldn't ask for anything more.
I'm glad I read Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson now. I think I read it at the right time, just as when I needed something like this. Oh, my heart.
Back in college, I was friends with two girls in my org, and we were often called as the Powerpuff Girls because we wereOriginal post at One More Page
Back in college, I was friends with two girls in my org, and we were often called as the Powerpuff Girls because we were always together. Our little group was also known to be the "ate's" or the older sisters of the other younger members of the org, which was kind of why we had a kind of impression on others that we always laughed about when we were talking amongst ourselves. Privately, we call ourselves manang's (another term for older sisters in some Filipino dialects, but colloquial use refers to being old fashioned older women) because we all have our own levels of being...well, manang. We had levels of being manang based on how people often approach us: one was the ultimate manang because of her strictness (and also because she's an officer of our org), I come in second because I'm not as strict but not everyone finds it easy to approach me and finally, the last member of our group is the least manang because she's was just naturally friendlier and the younger members find it easier to confide in her.
Fast forward a few years later, and it's no surprise that the least manang among all of us is married. The remaining two -- well, we're still pretty manang. :P
I can't help but remember this particular college memory while I was reading Mina V. Esguerra's latest book, That Kind of Guy. Julie has always been a good girl, and has always done what was expected of her. How she ended up with bad boy Anton was a mystery, even more when he popped the question to her. The only obvious thing to do when he asked her to marry him was to say no -- after all, she wasn't even sure if she knew Anton well enough after 11 months of "dating". Julie figures there are enough safe guys out there that fit her personality better, but does she really want that?
Okay, of all of Mina's heroines, I find Julie both the easiest and hardest to relate to. I can relate to her manang ways, obviously -- about how she does the right things, how she tries to be honest and tactful, about how she tends to play safe. I also couldn't relate to her because unlike Julie, I'm not exactly friendless because of my (attempts at) honesty. I don't know if that makes me less of a manang then? Anyway, I think Julie can be either likable or unlikable depending on the reader's POV, but like Mina's other heroines, her voice still sounds so authentic that it feels like I'm just hearing a story of a friend over a meal. The hero in the story is a familiar one for those who have read Mina's old books -- he was mentioned once in Fairy Tale Fail and was one of the secondary characters in No Strings Attached. I liked that he showed another side in this book, one that wasn't really expected based on how we were introduced to him in the previous ones. You don't need to read the two books to really get into this, though, but it's nice to be surprised at the depth of his character in That Kind of Guy. While Anton is still not going to top my favorite Mina guy (Lucas of FTF -- who has a teeny mention here, squee!), I was surprised at how much I ended up liking him in the end.
I think That Kind of Guy will be able to speak to a certain kind of girl who rarely has a starring role in chick lit books -- the good girl. This isn't about a good girl deciding to be bad, or a good girl getting into scrapes that she didn't deserve because hey, she's good. It's about that kind of girl who wasn't sure what kind of guy she really wanted, if she would take the risk or go for the safe choice. The fun thing about this is that Julie never really had to change much about her being a good girl, even if she tried to be not. Julie didn't have to change to someone too wild or too careless for her story to move forward. The growth of her character came not from a shocking revelation because of her sudden wild changes, but from the things she proved that she already knew but just needed to be brought out. In the end, That Kind of Guy was really about being certain of your choices and acting on it, even if the outcome is not really guaranteed. To quote (this one is really more specific about those choices):
Next time, just say something. It doesn't have to be the first date. Maybe the third or the fourth. Don't wait a year if you're sure. Certainty is sexy. And owning up to your attraction is sexy, too, and if you do it right and you're not creepy about it, I bet she will respect you for it anyway even if she does not like you back. (p. 157)
It's no surprise that I really liked That Kind of Guy. :) I think it just proved Mina's strength in drawing out characters that different readers can relate to. I really liked the epilogue too, and I'm curious if that new character will have her own story eventually. If she does, then I can't wait to find out what Mina has in store for her. But even if she won't have her own story, it doesn't change the fact that I am still going to read everything that Mina writes. :)...more
I'm still fairly new to the urban fantasy genre, and I am still avoiding paranormal romance (maybe I should make a postOriginal Post at One More Page
I'm still fairly new to the urban fantasy genre, and I am still avoiding paranormal romance (maybe I should make a post about that sometime) so when I received a review request from HP Mallory for her books, I was kind of hesitant to accept it. But I'm not really one to say no to free books, so I thought, why not?
I finally found the time to read To Kill a Warlock when we started moving a week ago. I figured after reading about zombies, I need to take a break from the gore so this should be a perfect read. And since we were moving, all my books were packed, so all the reading I could do was in my Kindle.
So Dulcie is a fairy and one of the best Regulators from the Association of Netherworld Creatures (ANC) in California. As a Regulator, she monitors the activities of the different paranormal creatures in her area and makes sure they act in accordance to the laws. But after her Regulator job is finished, Dulcie hides in her house and works on her novel, which she hoped to published so she can be rid of her Regulator job. Her more or less regular Regulator (ha, sorry, I can't resist!) job is disturbed when a warlock dies and she was the last one who saw him. The story follows Dulcie as she tries to figure out who killed the warlock, work on her novel and figure out her relationships with the different men in her life which included a vampire, a demon, an elf and a Loki.
To Kill a Warlock is generally a fun read, with a spunky heroine who's had a broken heart and dreams of being a published writer. The story is pretty tight, with a good -- although not really unique -- concept about a group that regulates paranormal creatures among humans, and of course, lots of romance for Dulcie. That being said, however...I don't think To Kill a Warlock really worked for me. :( I hate it when this happens, especially since it seemed like many readers liked the book and the characters (and that I got this book for review). I did not hate any of them, really, but they just failed to make an big impression on me that I just didn't care about them as much as I normally would. As the story got to the climax, I found myself just flipping to the next pages, eager to finish because I was getting tired of how they seemed to be going in circles. When the major action has finished and everything has settled, I thought it was over, but it wasn't...and it led me wondering, "What else could happen after all that?" I didn't feel very satisfied at the ending because I felt like it was a bit of a cop out -- everyone sort of at peace with each other, with Dulcie having three guys going after her. In the end I was just confused.
It's not that it's a bad book. I have to give some merit to the author because I enjoyed myself in some parts of the book, but as a whole, I was underwhelmed. I think I can put the blame on Ilona Andrews and their Kate Daniels series with how I viewed To Kill a Warlock. The Kate Daniels series is my first time to read adult urban fantasy and I loved every bit of it, so I got kind of spoiled with their world building and character development in those books. So much so that my expectations were a bit too high when I read To Kill a Warlock. Perhaps if I read this first before any of the Kate Daniels books, I'd think otherwise....more
I can't exactly say I'm a huge, huge fan of David Levithan's books, although I admit that I like reading his stuff. IOriginal post from One More Page
I can't exactly say I'm a huge, huge fan of David Levithan's books, although I admit that I like reading his stuff. I mean, I enjoyed The Lover's Dictionary immensely and I am rather charmed by Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, but it doesn't make me feel like I would go out and read everything he ever wrote. For Mr. Levithan, I still rely a bit on reviews before I actually get one of his new books again.
And that is why I got myself a copy of Every Day. Truth be told, the summary isn't enough to get to me -- I tend to avoid paranormal things unless I'm watching the series or I strike a particular mood, and Every Day's synopsis kind of reminds me of those insta-love things that I don't really like. Granted, it seems more sci-fi than paranormal, but it wasn't until I read Wendy's review of the book that kind of sealed the deal for me.
So A is a...being. Something. He wakes up in a different body everyday, and he has no attachments, no nothing. He cannot afford to have them because nothing is permanent in his world anyway. Until one morning, when he wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend, Rhiannon. Suddenly, there's something that makes him want to stay -- and it's Rhiannon.
We don't get explanations why A jumps from one body to another, so we pretty much have to accept what he can do at the start. It was a bit hard for me to swallow, especially when my mind gets confused when A is in a female body but in my mind he is still a male. Then I recount his/her interactions with Rhiannon, and it gets even more confusing. There's a lot to question, and if you're sci-fi buff, you'd wish for an explanation, and that was never really provided in the book.
However, there is something about the way Levithan writes. Just like Dash in Dash and Lily and that unnamed narrator in The Lover's Dictionary, Levithan's words captured me and made me dog-ear so many pages in the book. Case in point:
What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity?...The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations - all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be. (p. 23)
This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it's just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be. (p. 175)
Every Day had the right amount of angst and hope and sentimentality to make me sigh at the early parts of February. Some book club friends and I had a readalong for it, and we had a very interesting discussion about love, about A and if there's anything selfish about falling in love. I honestly felt sad for A because he cannot afford to have memories, and so he clings so hard to Rhiannon because she seems to be the only good thing that he can hold on to.
It's sad, and somehow you knew it was a doomed thing from the start. I wondered how Levithan would end it, and I was really pleased with what he did with the ending. It seemed the most right thing to do. It wasn't the easiest decision, but perhaps it was the best for the both of them. It doesn't make it less sad, though.
But...that's love. More than being a decision, love is choosing what's best for the other person, even if it is at the cost of your own happiness. I read this article sometime last year that hits this right on the head (emphasis mine): How do you truly know whether you are committed to this person and that you truly love him or her? Here’s how you know: Your love is directly proportional to your willingness to act unselfishly, to even let the person think less of you, if in doing so you are serving their spiritual advancement.
Every Day isn't the kind of book that will give you all the warm fuzzies, but I think it's a pretty good one even so. And while I still can't say I'm a huge David Levithan fan after this, I will still be on the look out for his books, if only to read passages such as the ones above and one like this:
When first love ends, most people eventually know there will be more to come. They are not through with love. Love is not through with them. It will never be the same as the first, but it will be better in different ways.
Fairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relateFairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relate to Ellie, the protagonist, with her fairy tale whims and romanticism. While I never had a Prince Charming like her, I knew the feeling of wanting to have a fairy tale romance, one where I have a set guide for who Prince Charming should be. I know about obsessing about a guy, and I sort of know how it feels to restoring yourself when experiencing a loss.
I have to admit that like Ellie, I think I’d also prefer to have a guy like Don, but I would find someone like Lucas intriguing. Out of my league, but very intriguing. Lucas and Ellie’s development was done gradually, and it was nice to see that it wasn’t a rushed romance — nothing is more disappointing than a rushed romance in a chick lit novel, I swear. Lucas seemed sexy, yet he had a good heart, even if he seemed a bit hard to see. I kind of wish I got to know more of him through the story, but since the story was told in Ellie’s point of view, we only know as much as she does.
Here’s my favorite part (a spoiler, so if you’re reading/planning to read this, skip this!):
“You think you’re funny,” I said ruefully. “I have no idea what my life is going to be like now.”
…”You told me that your life wasn’t all about work. That you had a lot of things you looked forward to when you got out of the office…Then that’s exactly what your life is going to be. You’ve still got your family, your hobbies, your friends, and none of that will change…And I’m probably going to, you know, start calling. Driving you home. Taking you to movies you hate…And then you’ll probably want to introduce me to your mom. Your nephew Dylan will love me because kids like me, and I’ll tell him about my brother’s job and our pirate story, and he’ll just be so attached to me. And then you’ll want me to go to church again, and we’ll probably discuss that at length. But I probably will go to church with you at least once, and it will be in your college church, to erase the memory of what that douche did there.”
Ah Lucas. Where can I find someone like you? ♥ Fairy Tale Fail is a fresh and cute story that’s sure to make you sigh and be kilig. :) ...more
I wasn't exactly a Sarah Ockler fan and while so many people raved about her debut, Twenty Boy Summer, I was just prettyOriginal post at One More Page
I wasn't exactly a Sarah Ockler fan and while so many people raved about her debut, Twenty Boy Summer, I was just pretty lukewarm about it. So I wasn't very interested to read her newest book, Bittersweet until I started reading cute reviews about it from some of my trusted reviewers. Curious, I borrowed a copy from a friend and read the first few pages, and before I knew it, I was halfway through. :D
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler is about Hudson Avery, whose bright figure skating career is just ahead of her. But that was three years ago, before her father left. Now she's the best cupcake maker in the small town of Watonka, baking and serving luscious desserts in their family. diner. When Hudson receives a letter from her old mentor's foundation for a shot at a scholarship, she starts dreaming again. But with Hudson's family relying on her, she's not sure if she can actually go for her dreams. And don't get her started on Josh Blackthorn, the cute hockey player who's sending her seriously mixed signals.
Okay, here's the thing: I loved Bittersweet the moment I read about Hudson being a figure skater and then later looking for the perfect cupcake "to fix all things." A cupcake should be able to fix most of the things, if not all, don't you think? I don't think I've ever shared in this blog ever so let me share this now: 1) I like to bake and 2) I used to dream of being a figure skater. The only one I only really got to do was the first one and I have long ago abandoned the dream of being a figure skater -- I don't think I have the skills or the body for that. :P However, reading Bittersweet had me living vicariously through Hudson, and I was in a very, very happy world in the next few days of reading the book.
But it's not a completely happy book. Hudson has been burned and she continues to be burned out in the things she's doing. She wants something big, to do something she loves, and I can definitely relate with what she's feeling. That being said, however, Hudson is not so jaded that she's just full of angst. She's a funny and reliable narrator, and I loved being in her head for the story. I loved her passion for both cupcakes and skating, and I really, really wanted the best for her as the story goes on. I also loved the other characters, particularly her past and present best friends Kara and Danielle and I completely adored her little brother Bug! The boys of the hockey team were also a very good addition, and I loved that particular angle in the story.
Bittersweet is also one of those books with the slow burn romance, and a love triangle that isn't so annoying. I really liked how balanced the attention was, and for a moment there I wasn't sure who Hudson would pick (but I was definitely campaigning for one number fifty-six). The love triangle also didn't mean enemies for the two guys concerned, which was also a huge relief because who needs guys beating each other up? I was also glad that she wasn't the kind of heroine who's also fixated with having sex on top of her other problems in the book. The book's ending reminded me a bit of a Disney movie, but I like Disney movies so I think the ending was just perfect. :)
On a final note, here's a warning when reading this book: don't read it hungry! Or, just make sure you have a couple of cupcakes on hand. I didn't, but the moment I finished this I went to the nearest cupcake store near my office and got myself some treats. This book also made me really, really crave a cupcake baking session -- I've never really made any fancy frosted cupcakes, but this book made me feel like maybe I could. And I should. Soon.
Like I said, I wasn't a big fan of Twenty Boy Summer, and I wasn't really interested in reading any other Ockler book after that. But now that I've read Bittersweet, I think I have changed my mind. Bittersweet is a cute, cute contemporary YA book, and I am definitely acquiring my own copy soon. :)
Last: writing this review had me craving for cupcakes again. Like these:
I heard about What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones from Angie, but since she wrote about it for Retro Friday, IOriginal post at One More Page
I heard about What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones from Angie, but since she wrote about it for Retro Friday, I didn't think it would be easily available here. Imagine my surprise when I spotted this during one of my book hunts. I shouldn't have bought much then, but I'm easily swayed.
What does Sophie's mother doesn't know? A lot, actually, especially the ones about her love life. Sophie is in high school and while she says she's not boy-crazy, she can't stop thinking about kissable lips or obsessing about her boyfriend Dylan. She also can't stop thinking about her online guy friend Chaz. And while we're at it, she also can't stop wondering about awkward, unpopular boy Murphy. There's a lot that Sophie's mother doesn't know, and Sonya Sones regales these things to us in this wonderful, easy-to-read novel in verse.
I'm really starting to like reading novels in verse. This is my third verse novel for the year, and they make for excellent in-between book. I read this in less than two hours, and it gave my mind an easy break after all the serious books I've been reading. Sophie is a good narrator, and I immediately warmed up to her. She's popular but she's nice, and not completely selfish. I liked her relationships with her friends and her family, especially her relationship with her mom, which I could kind of relate with. It wouldn't be entitled this without the mother aspect, right? While it's not as strong and dramatic as the mother aspect in A Girl Named Mister, I think it still packs a punch. I especially like this passage:
There's this real corny thing that Channel 5 does every night after the late movie, just before the news comes on.
They flash this sign on the screen that says: "It's eleven p.m. Do you know where your children are?"
And just now, when it came on, I heard this little tap tap tap on the wall coming from my mother's bedroom and I tapped right back.
What My Mother Doesn't Know is sweet and charming. Despite the less words, it was still very eloquent. Don't be fooled by how the blurb makes the books so simple or shallow. Sonya Sones hit the nail on the head in portraying a teenage girl's preoccupations and experiences in first (second and third) loves. This is one of comfort reads that's quick, easy and just right. If Sonya Sones' work are all as comforting as this, then I'm definitely getting her other books. :)...more
Because I enjoyed the novel so much, I thought of writing a review for it in the way the novel is written. It might get a tad personal and long (just as how I tried to review This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen), but I hope you keep on reading. :P
================================== from: Tina < hello @ tinamats.com> to: Achieving Friends :) date: Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 7:19 PM subject: Save as Draft, and all sorts of thoughts
This may be a very surprising email for you guys to get because...well, do we really communicate using emails now? There's Facebook and Twitter, and well, there are other ways we can communicate...but indulge me for a while. Sometimes a book can make you do silly stuff. ;)
So I just finished reading this book, Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee. It's this book filled with emails and text messages from this girl, Izzy, to her friends and her guys. It starts with Izzy in 2008, where she joins an online dating website and meets Marty, a nice and sweet guy who seems to be very interesting. However, even after a great first date, Izzy tells Marty that she has decided to exclusively date her best friend, Peter and she was sorry. Then we are brought back to 2006, where Izzy first meets Peter, and how their relationship started from best friends to lovers.
I'm going to stop there so I won't spoil you. I thought Save as Draft would be one of those typical chick lit romance novels with only a difference in format being an "electro-epistolary" novel, but I was wrong. I was very pleasantly surprised with this, and you may have seen my tweets during the weekend about this book -- I was literally laughing out loud at home while I was reading this because Izzy reminded me SO much of myself. I love Izzy - her over thinking, her flirting, even her depressing moments remind me so much of the times I felt the same thing! Girls, I think we'll all see some of ourselves in Izzy, or even her friends. The way they exchange emails and all that feels like they were actually exchanging dialogues instead of mere emails, and it's just like how we tweet each other sometimes, haha. I think we will definitely see some of the guys we know in Peter and Marty, too.
The book is littered with so many funny exchanges that's the stuff you can see in modern sitcoms but also things you can see in real life. Of course, I'm no judge for that with my still single since birth status, but these are the things we usually talk about, you know?
I think the biggest "lesson" I picked up with Save as Draft is how relationships are never black and white. I've talked to some of you about this before, and again, given my single status, I know I'm highly idealistic. That's why I like books like this -- they show a side of reality that I have not yet experienced and give me a bit of a warning, if you may. Something to remind me that things will never turn exactly the way I like it. Remember how I used to say that I wanted a guy who had no issues or hang ups in life just so things won't be complicated? Well, if I keep on thinking like that, then I know I would never ever settle down with anyone because a guy (or a girl, for that matter) without issues or hang ups does not exist.I think the author was very good at showing that relationships can be messy. There's no perfect relationship just as there is no perfect person. Even if the person seemed perfect at the start, you'd realize eventually that he's a workaholic, or he has issues with fat people (this really kind of grated my nerves there) or he's too presumptuous (haha this reminds me of someone!). It's all gray and there is never a clear thing, and sometimes you just really have to follow your heart, you know?
And excuse me for being emo there. These are the things we usually talk about when we're drinking.
I think this is the first time that I was confused at who I wanted the heroine to end up with. I mean, even my Best Friend vs. the Other Guy thing couldn't decide: Izzy fell for her best friend, but there was also this other perfectly nice guy there that I liked for her...is real life really like this?!
It's a very, very good book, and I won't spoil you anymore because I'm going to make you guys read this! I was entertained all throughout, and I bet you guys will, too. Save as Draft is not a relationship manual, but it's given me a little insight on what I must remember when the day comes that I enter a relationship: (1) never substitute face to face communication with emails/tweets/chats/texts/what-have-you and (2) never let anyone dim my sparkle.
Oh, and never ever do anything you'll regret when you're drunk. ;)
Rambling off. Can't wait to see you guys again -- this weekend?
P.S. I just thought of a perfect Valentine's Gift. I just hope this book gets to the Philippine shores on time. :)
If you're looking for a quick, fun yet meaningful read about relationships and how messy it can be, do get this book. Save as Draftby Cavanaugh Lee will be out in hardcover on February 1 under Simon & Schuster. ...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
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
I hardly ever start reading a book without first having some idea of what it is about. More often than not, the book’s cOriginally posted at Pinoy Pop
I hardly ever start reading a book without first having some idea of what it is about. More often than not, the book’s cover and title do a good job of that, and if they don’t, the blurb at the back definitely will, and these factors determine whether or not I buy a book. That wasn’t the case for Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (first book of the Caster Chronicles). I’ve been seeing this book around but I didn’t pick it up because I couldn’t figure out what it was about. It was always shelved beside the other vampire young adult (YA) romance books, and I wasn’t in the mood to read another Twilight. The cover was beautiful, like its title, but neither told me what those "creatures" were. The blurb wasn’t enticing either – it still sounded too much like the other supernatural YA romances out there. I only picked it up when I heard that a sequel was coming (with an equally beautiful cover) and when I saw that almost all of the book blogs I followed were excited about it. I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Beautiful Creatures is narrated by Ethan Wate, who hails from Gatlin, a small Southern town where everyone knows everyone. His mom’s death caused his father to become a recluse who left him under the care of their superstitious housekeeper, Amma. Unknown to Amma, Ethan had been having strange dreams about a girl he had never met, dreams which left physical evidence even when he woke up – dirt on his bed, water around him, and even a song on his iPod. When Lena Duchannes moves into town, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her, even when all his friends were ostracizing her. Despite Lena’s attempts to push him away, Ethan presses on, determined to find out the connection between him and Lena, and maybe help her blend in. But in the town of Gatlin, it’s never easy to fit in, especially if you have a secret as big as Lena’s.
Vague, I know, but after I finished reading the book, I understood why the book’s summary wasn't any more detailed: revealing any more would spoil the story. Beautiful Creatures has an excellent plot, one that even some of the most critical book bloggers praised. At first glance, the book seems like it’s the typical boy meets girl--with an added dose of superpowers--but it's much more than that. While the romance is an integral part of the story, it wasn’t there just for the sake of having the characters fall in love, as it connected Ethan and Lena to their pasts. Underneath the romance is an intricate web of details: the social groups and hierarchy of the town, the history of the curse that links Ethan and Lena, and most of all, the supernatural world that lies under the unsuspecting eyes of Gatlin residents. Aiding the plot significantly was the setting: Gatlin is a living, breathing setting that almost felt like another character – and perhaps it was. Garcia and Stohl definitely took time to build this small town, complete with histories, eccentricities and secrets. It was almost as if the residents of Gatlin (save for Ethan, Lena and her family) were one entity being represented by different personas, united in one purpose: to drive away anything that tries to shake things up. Click here to read the rest of the review. ...more
That was just it. You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anyt
That was just it. You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything. One minute you're walking through a dark woods, alone, and then the landscape shifts, and you see it. Something wondrous and unexpected, almost magical, that you never would have found had you not kept going. Like a new friend who feels like an old one, or a memory you'll never forget. Maybe even a carousel.
One time during junior year in high school, my friends and I started scribbling on spare pieces of notebook paper. It waOriginal post at One More Page
One time during junior year in high school, my friends and I started scribbling on spare pieces of notebook paper. It was a story about a group of friends that we started passing around our group, leaving a part hanging so the next person could continue the story. We never finished the story, but I remember we had a colorful cast of characters, and I ended up continuing the story and posting a snippet of it somewhere that I cannot remember for the life of me. Anyway, we also had the same kind of exercise during my college literary folio days -- one would start a story and then another would pick it up. I adopted that exercise for our NaNoWriMo group, and although it never really flew, it was a fun project.
So that's really one of the reasons why I was curious about Angelica's Daughters. This book is a collaborative "dugtungan" novel by five authors: Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Susan Evangelista, Veronica Montes, Nadine Sarreal, Erma M. Cuizon. They are all writers on their own but their friendship (and writing classes) led them to collaborate on different short stories. One day they decided to upgrade into writing a novel, passing on an idea and a chapter to one another, until they came up with the story of Angelica.
Angelica's Daughters revolved around three female descendants of Angelica de los Santos. First was Tess, whose 8 years of marriage dissolved after she found out her husband Tonio was dating a younger woman. She flies home to the Philippines to gather her thoughts and herself and spends time with her Lola Josefina. Josefina had secrets of her own, one that she wasn't sure that her granddaughter (or anyone else in the family would understand). In the course of Tess' stay, a cousin gives her a bundle of letters from their Angelica, a distant grandmother who was the subject of many of her childhood stories. They were never really sure if all those stories about Angelica were real or not -- like how a guy killed himself when Angelica refused to give him her love, or how wives were often jealous of her because of her beauty. Through the letters, Tess got to know her better but there were holes in the story that she longed to be filled. On the annual Tayabas fiesta, Tess meets her younger cousin, Dina, who carries a darker secret that is eating her alive.
As I was thinking of how I was going to review this book, I realized one thing: Angelica's Daughters could pass as a perfect comfort read. It's like the local version of a Sarah Addison Allen novel, but maybe even a bit better because it hits closer to home for me. There's a certain grace and lyricism in the prose that makes me immediately sink into it, and marvel at the familiar feelings it evoked. There's really something about a well-written Filipino work that just hits the right spot, like how a perfectly cooked dish can satisfy the strongest craving. Case in point, this particular line:
She served herself generously from the garlic fried rice and daing. She took her first bite and closed her eyes with pleasure.
I totally started salivating for garlic fried rice and daing (dried salted fish, for my non-Filipino friends) after I read this line. :) The entire novel had that feel of home that made it such a good comfort read.
Besides that, the book also had an interesting angle of history. This kind of reminds me a bit of old history readings in school, or watching movies based on Philippine history. Note that it didn't really have the "required reading for school" feel, but it provided a sense of nostalgia for the early Spanish era in Philippine history. Angelica's letters to her aunt and her stories were vivid and she felt very much alive in those letters. She may not be the nicest or the most honest character, but she is a well-formed character that it's hard not to be curious about her as the book goes on.
I had a few nitpicks though. For one thing, I felt that Lola Josefina's angle wasn't really that explored, up until she admitted her secret to Tess. I wasn't even aware that she was the third person in the story until I finally figured it out. Also, I thought Dina was introduced a little too late in the story, almost like she was an afterthought, like she was only there to be the receiver of Tess' wrath.
Also, there was the dreaded insta-love. I wished there wasn't an insta-love thing between Tess and Luis -- I could accept Tess liking/lusting after him during the first time she met him and danced with him in the disco, but the idea of her falling in love with him felt a little too quick for me. I was never a fan of insta-love, anyway, and personally, I would've been fine if Tess ended up not having a love life in the end. After all, she still had to find herself after her marriage disintegrated.
Nevertheless, I thought Angelica's Daughters was a well-written and enjoyable novel that deals with family, love and moving on from past mistakes. It's chick lit, but it's not really hardcore fluffy chick lit that I think even guys will like to read this. Plus that recipe for Angelica's special tsokolate-espeso is a must-try. This is one of the good ones in Filipino fiction, and I hope more Filipinos get to read this book. :)...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
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
I attended my godsister's wedding yesterday, the second wedding I attended this year. I came out of my brother's weddingOriginal post at One More Page
I attended my godsister's wedding yesterday, the second wedding I attended this year. I came out of my brother's wedding last October relatively unscathed with questions about my own wedding, but this time around, I wasn't so safe. For one thing, I was called for the bouquet toss even if I was trying to make myself scarce at that point (my godsister called me out). Then as we were saying goodbye to the newly weds and my godsister's parents, they were all saying to me, "Don't forget to invite us to your wedding."
Sigh. Sure I won't forget. I figure it would be less exasperating question if I was actually nearing the altar, but alas, I'm not.
That is probably what Carla in Mina V. Esguerra's latest novel, No Strings Attached, felt, especially when her friends started getting married and having a life very different from her own. It doesn't help that the only remaining single in her group of friends was Tonio, the guy who likes to play the field. Carla is tired of being set up with stable banker types that she doesn't really like, and at the same time, she doesn't like how Tonio does it. Then she meets Dante, and things go from cold to sizzling hot between the two of them. The only catch is Dante is five years younger. Does she stay or does she go?
I've been hounding the bookstores ever since Mina announced in Twitter that her new book would be out soon, and I was giddy when I finally got my hands on it (boo on Eastwood stores for not having them in stock as fast as the other branches). This is another light and quick read from Mina, albeit a little different from her first two novels, My Imaginary Exand Fairy Tale Fail. I can't really pinpoint if it's more serious or not, but it is certainly different. Like what Chachic said, the story focused not on how the love story unfolded, but on the complications of the relationships, especially to the people around Carla and Dante.
Mina shows how chick lit does not always have to deal with heroines finding their soul mates or wanting to get married. Sure, it has romance and there is the set-ups and talks of weddings, but No Strings Attached has a different kind of romance. It's one that we don't really get to see on movies or TV or read in any other books. I liked how No Strings Attached tackles a different kind of love story, one that I am pretty sure some Filipinas experience as well. I liked how Carla seemed like a very real person, and her friends offer enough contrast to her for the readers to see the different sides of the story without telling it to them in a long monologue of sorts from the heroine.
I can't really relate to Carla's predicament, but I do know I see myself in her best friend, Mary's shoes. I don't necessarily set my friends up with stable banker types, but I'd probably react the same way she did if I find out that some of my close friends are in a relationship similar to Carla's. I'm not proud of it, but the good thing about books is some characters act as a mirror, and it helps me to realize or remember things about myself that I need to keep in check (or sometimes even get rid of) in order to be a loving friend.
It's not my favorite Mina book (that slot still belongs to Fairy Tale Fail), but it's another good local chick lit to be lost in for a couple of hours (or days, if you're not a fast reader). I guess I don't have to say that I am her fan now, but if it needs saying: if there's a Mina Esguerra fans club, I am definitely in. ;)
Oh, an in case you were wondering, I didn't catch the bouquet. :P...more
The first time I went to the island of Boracay in the Philippines ended in some sort of disaster, and I haven't really "recorded over" that memory yetThe first time I went to the island of Boracay in the Philippines ended in some sort of disaster, and I haven't really "recorded over" that memory yet. To the uninformed, my month-old phone took a dip in the saltwater on our last day at the beach, so the last few hours on the island was kind of stressful. Not to mention that moment where I thought I was going to drown at Ariel's Point while I was snorkeling, and that it was rainy half the time. It was a good vacation in some ways (Hello, Boracay PubCrawl!), but you know, not exactly the most relaxing one.
I haven't had the chance to go there again, but I got a taste of the island when I read Chris Mariano's Cover (Story) Girl.Chris is a fellow book blogger and a classmate in #romanceclass, so it was no question that I will buy her book the moment it was released. Cover (Story) Girlis about Gio, who works in a museum in the island of Boracay, keeping it neat and organized and ready for visitors. In the middle of preparing for an exhibit, Jang Min Hee walks into his life, and starts messing with it -- literally and figuratively. Thing is, Gio wasn't sure what's keeping her in the island and why she's sticking with him. She tells him all these stories and he goes along with her, sometimes even saving her from some trouble. Gio is mystified...but how will he know which among Min Hee's stories are the truth?
Okay here's the thing: I was just a teensy bit hesitant about this because of the Korean angle. I'm not a fan of K-pop, or K-drama or anything Korean, really, except maybe for the food. And maybe Daniel Henney. Every time some friends squee over Korean stuff, I just look blank, like how I look blank over anime. I was kind of worried that I wouldn't get or like the story, because of the Korean things...but I'm glad to say that it didn't. I liked Min Hee a lot. I liked what I learned about her from Gio's eyes, and how she seemed so flighty at first and then had more depth later on. She provided a fun contrast against Gio, who likes his routines and his organized life. Okay, maybe he can be a little boring, but it worked well for the story, and I liked how he lost this as he spent more time with Min Hee. Gio reminds me a little of Macy from Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever,all organized and perfect until people came and threw her out of the loop. Gio is the kind of good guy I like reading in fiction, and it was fun being in his mind in this story. I liked reading his POV, and I think Chris did really well with it.
The story can feel a little slow and quiet, but I think that adds to the charm. You won't really get too many exciting things at the start, except for Gio and Min Hee's banter. The quiet flow of the story fits into its setting, which was my favorite part. I really liked that this was set in Boracay. I've only been there once, but reading this made me miss it. I liked how Chris focused on the quiet part of it and not much on the partying that happens there. I was never really a party girl, so I appreciate how there was more of the lesser known side of Boracay (and Aklan) in the story than the usual. And of course, the calamansi muffins. Oh my Lord, this book will have you craving for Real Coffee's calamansi muffins, if you've had them before. If you haven't, then you might want to bake some on your own, instead. (I really should do that.) Because calamansi muffins are yummy.
I really liked Cover (Story) Girl,if it's not too obvious yet. By default this can be considered as a summer romance read because of the beach elements...but if it's rainy and cold where you are now (which is also how it is on my side of the world now), Cover (Story) Girlis also a really good rainy day companion. Come to think of it, it's a perfect companion anytime you want some swoon. :D And again, don't forget your calamansi muffins!
This is a book written in verse. My second one. And I thought it would be a nice writing exercise to write a review the sameOriginal post at One More Page
This is a book written in verse. My second one. And I thought it would be a nice writing exercise to write a review the same way.
The Day Before was about a girl named Amber who seemed to have ran away to the beach to spend one day for herself. The circumstances were mysterious, and I was kept in the dark for most of the time. Amber meets Cade. There was attraction. But there was something about Cade that disturbed Amber. Like he had a dark secret. Amber didn't want to destroy their moment, but she also didn't want to lose him.
This book reminds me of several things. A Walk to Remember is one. It had that kind of vibe, and I was ready to scoff. How overused is that story? But I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't like that.
Amber and Cade had problems of their own. Fears, really. Unusual circumstances that people their age shouldn't deal with. But they had to. The problems and situations were real and scary. But there was hope. And it was beautifully done.
The verse writing made it easier to read. The pop culture references made it fun. Like Amber and Cade, I want to listen to Matt Nathanson on a drive. Although instant attraction is never my thing, The Day Before made it seem almost sweet. Like anything was possible. And I liked that.
The Day Before left me smiling. This review doesn't really do it justice. I'm not even sure if this attempt is the least bit poetic. Lisa Schroeder does it so much better, and I look forward to getting lost in her other worlds of verse. :)...more
A week ago, some colleagues and I were discussing relationships and romance, and how one must go in choosing a mate. PerOriginal post at One More Page
A week ago, some colleagues and I were discussing relationships and romance, and how one must go in choosing a mate. Perhaps "choosing a mate" is not the proper phrase to use (frankly it sounds a bit too bestial for me), but the discussion was about how the other person can be qualified as a potential guy or girl or will they be cast off into the friend zone. It was quite an interesting discussion, and I was surprised at how some of the guys told me that I needed to find someone who I don't share too many common interests with but someone who is my opposite -- someone who complements me, to use their term. That kind of got me confused. I mean, I know people say "Opposites attract" but if you have no common ground, how will you even start talking? Isn't having something in common -- even a little -- a prerequisite in building good relationships?
It's timely that I started reading Love Starts With Elle by Rachel Hauck as I semi-wrestled with these questions. We first meet Elle Garvey in Sweet Caroline, as one of Caroline's best friends and someone who could not wait to get married. She was so set to find a man in Beaufort that she started Operation Wedding Day in Caroline's book, where she made a list of men that are qualified for her husband standards and set off to date them, only to find herself disappointed after kissing and dating many frogs that she hoped would be her prince. We see her at the end of Sweet Caroline done with her Operation Wedding Day and still no groom in sight, and yet she was still somewhat happy at the state of her heart.
We meet Elle again, this time a year after the events of Sweet Caroline, happily managing her own gallery and in love with assistant pastor Jeremiah Franklin for the past two months. Elle is at the peak of her career and life, and there was only one thing that would make her happier -- a ring. Jeremiah provided that for her immediately at the start of the story, but not without revealing a catch soon after she gives her yes: they would have to move to Dallas because Jeremiah accepted the a pastor job at a big church there. Elle felt torn, but she said yes, all in the name of love (cheesy, but it's the only way I can describe it).
It's here we see trouble brewing. Elle tries her best to submit to her husband-to-be's whims and wishes, but she can't help but feel stifled with Jeremiah's passion for ministry and lack of concern for her. Elle loves Jeremiah, but she also loves her life and her dream and her art -- one of them will have to give, but which? To make matters even more confusing, Elle becomes friends with her tenant, handsome and gentleman Heath McCord and his daughter, who both just happen to be there when she needed company the most.
Now, there is really nothing new or surprising in this novel, and I think everyone who's read the blurb will know what will happen in the end. And it is true: there's really nothing so surprising in how the story unfolded -- the storyline is pretty typical. In a way, it reminded me of the local movie Miss You Like Crazy (John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo), with less angst and more chaste.
So why give it a pretty high rating, if the story's so typical?
First reason: Love Starts With Elle is a breath of fresh air. I am really not a romance reader, but I like my share of chick lit. I love how everything in this book is still chick lit, yet it's also not your typical chick lit. Of course, it's Christian, so you won't expect to read any sex scenes in the book, but it doesn't sugarcoat the consequences of the actions of the characters. Case in point: Elle's younger sister, Julianne, had a child out of wedlock, and she had to deal with knowing who the dad was in the novel. Another example: Elle wasn't immune to the charms of Jeremiah, and she had to struggle with physical intimacy with him, and she knows that if she wasn't careful, she wouldn't be able to stop herself. I liked how the author wrote a very realistic setting and cast, which is kind of hard to do when writing Christian fiction. I think it's a common misconception that Christians/Catholics/religious people are if not too religious and always in church, are happy all the time. That is far from the truth, because we also get hurt, angry, sad and all that. The only difference is we believe that there's Someone who's willing to share (if not take) the burden from us, and that there is a bigger purpose for all the trials, one that we may not see or understand now, but will in the future. I think Hauck was able to convey that effectively in her novel, especially when Elle and Heath were both struggling with their own brokenness in the story. Elle's divine affirmations in the story felt a bit over the top for me at first, but I have to remind myself that God communicates to us differently, and who am I to say that He won't communicate in the way He did with Elle, even if she was fictional?
Second reason: the characters. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am very particular to characters in a book. The Beaufort people shone so much in this novel that I really believed they existed. I loved their little quirks, the Southern charm and the townspeople who were far from perfect, yet still lovable. Furthermore, Elle Garvey is a well-written protagonist, and she was very human. Human in the sense that she wasn't perfect -- she got angry, was lazy, she felt far away from God, she was tempted. I could relate very much to her because like Elle, I grew up in a Catholic family and I grew up knowing God. People expect me to be always connected to Him, to always do good and all that stuff, but I'm not. Heath, on the other hand, is a pretty good male lead. His brokenness and grief was beautifully written, and while I can't empathize, I felt his pain in losing his wife and his confusion in raising a girl on his own. Heath is the awkward father and the handsome protector rolled into one, and even if he seemed a tad too perfect for me, I liked his character.
Compared to Sweet Caroline, this book actually has a semblance of villains! Spoiler warning starts here. Jeremiah Franklin is probably the most stuck-up guy I have ever read in Christian fiction, ever. I knew he wasn't good for Elle, and I remember mentally chiding Elle for sticking with him. I swear, I couldn't stand him. He reminded me of my friend's ex who we all disliked too, after he broke up with her. He was ambitious, self-centered, and unreasonable -- and he was supposed to be a pastor! For a character in Christian fiction to elicit this much dislike from me is something new, and I have to commend Rachel Hauck for that! His ending with Elle was kind of too clean, and I felt that he should have gotten more spite than he did...but then again, we must forgive. :P Spoiler warning ends here. Julianne, Elle's sister, is also a tough nut to crack, and I found myself getting annoyed at her a lot, too, but she managed to have her own redemption in the end.
So did I get my answer to my questions about complements and similarities and potential partners? In a way...yes. I learned, from Elle's story, that having something in common isn't really a prerequisite and neither is being opposites. Sure, it's nice to have something to talk about, and it's also nice to find someone who complements your personality. But if we're talking about forever and with bigger issues in life (ex. faith, family matters, direction in life), there has to be balance: you can't be too similar the other because there would be no growth, and you can't be too different, too, because you won't go anywhere. Each person must be willing to meet each other halfway (and sometimes, even more) to make the relationship work.
Of course, that is coming from someone who has never been in a relationship before -- so feel free to correct me. ;)
Overall, Love Starts With Elle is a pretty good book. Despite the typical storyline, strong characters and a pretty vivid setting is worth it enough for me to give this book a high rating. It definitely satiated my need for tingles and good, clean, fictional romance. ;) I am inviting males who are willing to read romance/chick lit to read this book -- I am very curious to know what you think about Elle and Jeremiah's relationship drama. :)...more
If there was a book that I could blame for my being a bookworm, it is definitely Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley. I didn'Original post at One More Page
If there was a book that I could blame for my being a bookworm, it is definitely Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley. I didn't start with SVH like most people (and I hardly read them, now that I think about it) -- I started with Sweet Valley Kids after I saw my classmate reading it back when I was in 3rd grade. When I grew older, I started on Sweet Valley Twins, and read so much more Sweet Valley after that. I remember even getting random Sweet Valley books from Book Sale whenever I needed a quick read because that's what Sweet Valley has always been for me: quick, easy and comforting reads. A reminder that somewhere, somehow life can be absolutely perfect (even if it sets a totally bad standard). :)
It's been years since I last read a Sweet Valley book, so when news of Sweet Valley Confidential came out, I knew it just had to be one of the books I must read this year. No excuses -- as a girl who practically grew up in Sweet Valley, there is no way I cannot read this. :-)
So I'll keep the summary brief to avoid spoilers. It's roughly 11 years since Sweet Valley High, and Elizabeth is living on her own in New York City, refusing to answer her sister's calls. She is lonely and angry, and the only person she is willing to talk to from her hometown is conceited rich boy Bruce Patman, who is now her best friend. What happened to Elizabeth? Why is she refusing to answer her sister's calls? What did Jessica do that made sweet, calm and well-loved Elizabeth Wakefield flee and close her doors? And how did she become best friends with 1BRUCE1, of all people?
When I finished reading the book, I knew I looked like this (thanks, Hyperbole and a Half for the accurate illustration):
I know some of my friends and Twitter followers have read my reaction, and I can't help it. When I finished the last page of the (e)book, I actually sat on the bed and stared into space, wondering what the heck just happened to what I read.
The appeal of this book lies in the nostalgia it brings. I didn't really read that many SVH books but I was still familiar with the people there -- Lila, Ken, Steven, Todd, etc. It was definitely a trip down memory lane and I can't help but remember all those crazy stories that I read back then. The magic dolls, the numerous beach trips, the people who all wanted the twins dead or at least want to be them. Of course, since the books were written by ghost writers, continuity errors abound, but I can easily forgive that. It was fun seeing the characters and laughing at how silly they all were and are, even after 11 years. Sometimes I want to shake them: Elizabeth, stop being angsty! Jessica why are you always crying? Todd! Caroline, why are you still meddling with your friends? Why haven't you all moved on from high school?!
It's not bad. In fact, I found Sweet Valley Confidential very entertaining, and it kept me amused while reading and hours after I finished reading. However, it was very brain-numbing, and it was probably because of the sheer ridiculousness of the plot. The twins are still perfect gorgeous beings that everyone loves no matter how self-absorbed they could be. You'd think that people would have grown up from their high school woes, but no, everyone's still hung up with old high school issues and hardly anyone has moved out. Come on -- I'm hardly in contact with some of my old high school friends. Was Elizabeth the only one brave enough to move away? Wait, scratch that -- it's not even bravery. She ran away from something, and if she were really and truly brave, she would have stayed to face the entire mess. Also, the big reveal of why Elizabeth left? TOTAL DUD. I expected more from you, Francine!
The writing leaves less to be desired, bordering on cheesy at times. The POV and tense switching can get a bit annoying, although I have to give it to Francine Pascal -- there were distinct differences in the characters' voices that made you know who was speaking a few lines in. Sometimes, though, I feel like she was drunk when she wrote some of the parts, or at least, very sleepy. "He heard her and turned to look but almost without recognition, so frantic was he." (p. 262) "So frantic was he"? Archaic-sounding much?
Now you see why I ended up like this after reading?
In the end, this book reminds me of what Jessica said in one of the Sweet Valley Jr. High books (I loved that spin-off -- probably my favorite of all the SV series). After she and her sister threw a party and invited their old middle school friends who ditched them when things were going bad at the party, Jessica realized what it means when people say, "You can never go home again." That is exactly what I felt after finishing Sweet Valley Confidential. I grew up in Sweet Valley, it's been fun hanging out with all those people, but I don't think I can ever feel at home with them. I think it's time to move out.
So. Do I recommend Sweet Valley Confidential? It's not really that terrible. It's like reading a trashy romance novel (with trashy love scenes to boot!) or a gossip magazine about your favorite fictional characters. You have to expect that it's like that so you won't be annoyed at the time you spent reading this book. If you're just the curious kind who didn't really love (or at least like) the books before, I don't think you'd be able to finish this. But if you were a fan, get ready for a fun, mind-numbing and slightly ridiculous trip down memory lane. :) ...more
I think I mentioned it before that sometimes, you need to be in a certain mood to appreciate some books. Sometimes, no matter how other people like aI think I mentioned it before that sometimes, you need to be in a certain mood to appreciate some books. Sometimes, no matter how other people like a book, if you're in not in that kind of mood, you won't be able to relate to any of the characters no matter what you do, or you won't be able to feel what the book wants you to feel. (Of course, there are some books that are just really hard to get into, even if you are in that same mood, but that's another story.)
So, Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (and illustrated by Maira Kalman). I've seen this book and wanted this book when it was published, but I think I saw a not so good review of it somewhere, so I stopped wanting it. I have to admit that this is the kind of book that is right up my alley, especially since I was all about embracing your inner romantic last year. Then the book fell out of my radar, until it came back again and a friend lent me her copy because I figured it was time to read it.
Then I tried. I read the first few chapters, and then had the extreme desire to throw the book away so I stopped. I didn't want to throw the book away because it was bad, no. I wanted to throw the book away because it was getting too close for comfort. And the truth comes out. :P Suffice to say, maybe I was in the mood for this book, but it was too hard to read it because I was too much in that mood. Did that make sense? Anyway, months later, I decided to try reading this book again because some girls in our book club was reading this. I figured, why not join them? It could be some sort of release, as a good friend told me when I mentioned it. So I put my brave face on and started again.
Why We Broke Up is a break-up story, a long letter from Min Green to Ed Slaterton, her ex-boyfriend, telling their story from her side based on the items in the box that she was returning to him. These items (the illustrated parts of the book) were remnants of their short-lived relationship: bottle caps, a box of matches, movie tickets, a protractor, a note, a book, among other things. Take it, it's yours. This is why we broke up. Either you have the feeling or you don’t, Min writes, and we are left to wonder what exactly happened that led to Min and Ed's break-up.
Warning: this is a book full of drama. Every page is dripping of Min's bitterness and anger and heartbreak, and...well, it was kind of expected because of the title alone. The hard part of it, I think, is that I was kept in the dark why they broke up. I just know they broke up, but I didn't know why, and Min just kept on repeating "this is why, this is why" with every item she wrote about. It wasn't until the very, very end that we know, but the entire time, she just rambles on and tells their love story without a hint of the real reason why. And it's hard to see, too, especially since Ed seems a perfectly good guy from the start. Okay, perhaps he's not perfect -- he seems secretive, he has this thing about saying "no offense" and he seems judgmental about some guys who aren't into sports and labels them "gay", but he seemed to really like Min, so why is Min being so damn dramatic about everything?
Since I was reading the story from Min's POV, it was easy to pin the blame on her. You know how when a friend tell us a love problem, the first thing we often do is to try to find what our friend is doing wrong because it's something we can fix, because we know our friend better than the other party? It's that kind of thing. I read everything from Min's POV, so it was easier to try to find something that she did wrong...until I found out the real reason why they broke up and then, damn it. Ed, you're an asshole. I understood why Min is so angry. Granted, she wasn't perfect, either -- she shouldn't have jumped right in ahead in the relationship, she should have took her time, she should have seen the signs from the start...but well she's a teenager. This is young love. We have all been there. And I guess even if we have the wisdom of the years with us, things like this still hurt just the same.
The best part of the book, though, is Min's friends. I loved Al and Lauren (there was another name, but I forgot, eep), and to some extent, Jillian, that girl that Ed dated before Min. I loved them, and what they did for Min in the end. They didn't do anything so special, really, but they did what good friends do in times like this. I reread the last parts of the book because of them, and I was glad that Min had them with her in the fallout.
I've never been in a relationship, so it follows that I've never been in a break-up...but there were some times in my life where it seemed like the pain I was feeling is something akin to a break-up -- at least, based on what I read and saw on TV. And maybe that's why I ended up liking this book, because in some ways, I have been there. I know at least a fraction of what Min felt. Whether it's a relationship ending, or an almost-relationship that never became one, there's still pain there, and it hurts just the same. But the good thing I got out of all of this is...well, reading Why We Broke Up was strangely cathartic. Huh, my friend was right. Reading this book at the end of the year was a surprising release of feels. ;)
So yeah, I liked Why Why Broke Up. Perhaps if I read this last year, or any other time later, I wouldn't have liked it as much. But I liked it, and I am glad I read it, despite all the drama. (Because trust me, I've had enough of drama in the past year. :P)
Either you have the feeling or you don’t.
P.S. The illustrations were a good touch. :)
P.P.S. And no, I don't think I'm the "return all things" type person. I think I'm more of the "throw things away" one. ;)