Oh wow, I don't think I can write a review that would do this book justice. I can't even classify what genre it falls under. EmOriginally posted here.
Oh wow, I don't think I can write a review that would do this book justice. I can't even classify what genre it falls under. Emotional Geology is about so many unfamiliar things - it's about forty-seven-year-old Rose and her everyday problems as she tries to cope with bipolar disorder and a past that's been troubling her for years. Rose settles in a remote area in Scotland, hoping to immerse herself in her work as a textile artist. She finds a kindred spirit in Calum, a handsome younger man who teaches in the local school, climbs during his free time and writes poetry whenever he can. The story focuses on these two broken individuals - how they're both burdened by their problems, how they try to rise above them and how they form a friendship based on how they see the world as artists. You know how someone gets you even when you barely know each other? I think that's the case with Calum and Rose. The point of view bounces from first to third person with bits of poetry thrown in between, changing from the present to several years in the past to fully explain Rose's experiences. It was a bit confusing at the start but I became used to the writing as I moved forward.
This was a refreshing and enlightening read for me because like I said, I know nothing about textile artists, climbing, geology or even Scotland. North Uist seems like a bleak and quiet place. Megan, Rose's daughter, even worries that her mother has chosen a lonely life when Rose decides to settle there. I think it's an appropriate choice for Rose and it's the perfect setting for her story. I would love to visit the area if I ever get the chance. Some of the characters in the book, like Calum, are serious climbers and I never realized how dangerous the sport (or hobby or obsession) is. I've tried some wimpy local climbs (very easy trails) and I also have friends who are mountain and rock climbers and I don't think they face the same risks that the climbers in Emotional Geology do. For one thing, we never have to worry about snow or frostbite here in the Philippines. Even if I wasn't familiar with a lot of things in this book, I was drawn to the characters because they felt very real. Linda Gillard did an amazing job of making me feel like I was inside Rose's head. The author was able to illustrate how erratic Rose's moods are - what Rose was thinking and feeling during high and low points in her life and what causes her to react in a certain way. This might seem like a grim book but it has a message of hope as the characters struggle to move on so they could find the happiness that they deserve. Haunting, lyrical, Linda Gillard's writing will stay with you days after you finish reading Emotional Geology. Highly recommended for fans of literary and women's fiction. ...more
Thank you so much to my friend Maggie of Young Adult Anonymous for giving me a signed copy of Amy Spalding's debut novel, The ROriginally posted here.
Thank you so much to my friend Maggie of Young Adult Anonymous for giving me a signed copy of Amy Spalding's debut novel, The Reece Malcolm List. I kept hearing good things about this contemporary YA novel so I was pretty excited to read it.
I felt like I read this book at just the right time. I just came back from L.A. when I read this more than a month ago and I was able to appreciate all the references to L.A. in the book. I got excited whenever I recognized any of the places or things mentioned - like having a burger from In N Out, which is something that I always make a point of having whenever I visit L.A. I'm a fan of musicals although I'm not as into the whole thing as Devan is - I mean I would like to be but I obviously don't have her talent. I just enjoy watching musicals and I try to watch as many as I can. I wish I was more familiar with Merrily We Roll Along because that was the musical featured in the book. I probably would have appreciated Devan's rehearsals more if I've seen Merrily We Roll Along on stage or if I knew the songs. I also love having karaoke sessions (we call it videoke back home in Manila) with my friends though because I like to sing even if I'm all heart and no talent. So I could totally relate to the karaoke scene in the book, I find it interesting that for a seriously talented singer like Devan, a fun karaoke session lets her unwind.
I liked reading about the characters and how Devan slowly got to know them - her theater friends, her love interests, her mom and even her mom's boyfriend. There were interesting characters and dynamics within the novel. I really, really enjoyed reading this book and I felt like I would have fallen in love with it if it just had a little more emotional depth. I felt like there was enough room to draw upon the characters' feelings - maybe more grief or anger from Devan over all the bad things that have happened in her life. I guess I was expecting something like that since her father passed away and she suddenly has to move in with a mom she has never met. I think that this novel is a very good debut and I'm definitely curious about Amy Spalding's next book - it's just that I wanted more than the overall lighthearted tone presented in The Reece Malcolm List. If you're a fan of contemporary YA, then you should definitely check this one out. I'm not surprised that I've seen so many rave reviews for it because it's a really fun read....more
I won a copy of Mina V. Esguerra's latest, That Kind of Guy, when I joined the contest that she hosted. You can read all aboutOriginally posted here.
I won a copy of Mina V. Esguerra's latest, That Kind of Guy, when I joined the contest that she hosted. You can read all about it here. I enjoy reading her novels because I can relate to her characters and of course, the local setting.
Manang is a Filipino word that is roughly translated as "older sister" and is usually used as a term of respect. It's hard to define but manang is also used to describe conservative girls. My friends and I say we're manangs when we'd rather stay home on weekends (and in my case, read or blog) instead of go out and party. A girl can be a manang in so many different ways - from the way she dresses (no sleeveless tops or short skirts or dresses) to the way she dates (not willing to be set up on a blind date). Julie is a manang in the sense that she's a good girl. She doesn't do wild parties and she doesn't date random guys. In fact, she's never been in a serious relationship. When a friend suggests that she should loosen up by dating a fun guy, Julie agrees to try things out with Anton. She's just as surprised as everyone else when it becomes apparent that Anton wants to start a serious relationship with her. I was curious about Anton when I first met him as Tonio in No Strings Attached. I wanted to see how Mina would write about a playboy settling down. I wasn't disappointed, Anton turned out to be a really sweet guy in spite of how he was initially portrayed as a wild party boy. Here's a quote from the book that I really liked:
“Before I met him, I wondered how I could possibly fit a relationship into my life. My days felt full, of people, things, and concerns, and I wondered what I'd give up to accommodate someone new. Anton made it seem easy. He didn't take me out of my life; instead, he sort of slid into the empty spaces and made himself comfortable.”
It's funny because even though the book is written from Julie's point of view and I have manang tendencies, I liked Anton's character more than his girlfriend's. His actions and his lifestyle made sense when he explained them. I guess I just couldn't understand why Julie wasn't invested in their relationship but then again, that's something that Julie herself is trying to figure out. What I like about Mina's books is that I still enjoy reading them even if I can't fully relate to her characters. Why? Because I feel like her books are stories that can actually happen to some of my friends. I guess a huge part of that is because of the local setting. I liked watching Julie and Anton's love story unfold. I also think it's nice that they have such different personalities and yet they go well together. I'm already planning to recommend this (andmaybe even buy copies to give as gifts) to my girlfriends. That Kind of Guy is available in local bookstores all over the metro and will be available as an ebook soon. Mina, when will your next book be released? :P...more
Hazel Osmond was kind enough to send a copy of her second novel, The First Time I Saw Your Face (quite a mouthful) after she foOriginally posted here.
Hazel Osmond was kind enough to send a copy of her second novel, The First Time I Saw Your Face (quite a mouthful) after she found out that I enjoyed reading her debut, Who's Afraid of Mr. Wolfe. I really appreciate receiving a copy of this book from her not only because it's a signed copy, but also because it's not locally available. I'm always up for contemporary romance with more depth than usual and I feel like Hazel Osmond's books fit that description.
Let me take a moment to comment on the cover, I'm usually not a fan of real people in book covers but I think they did a great job in choosing the model who posed as Jennifer. I like how stylish she looks - from her French manicure to her classy black top (or is that a dress?) - reminds me a bit of Unsticky's cover. Only half of her face is shown and that's in keeping with the book's plot. Also, check out the hot pink spine, I think it looks good on my contemporary romance shelf:
The book's summary is pretty vague, isn't it? I don't think it would be too spoilery if I flesh it out. Skip ahead if you'd rather not know details about the book though. Jennifer was planning to be a successful stage actress when a horrible car accident leaves her face scarred. After the accident, she decides to come back to her family's farm, live a quiet life as an assistant librarian and forget her dreams of pursuing an acting career. Enter Mack Stone, former tabloid journalist who is being blackmailed to work undercover. His mission? Get as close to Jen as possible so she can dish out the details of her celebrity cousin's love life. Their story is told from alternating points of view, which I think is a good idea because readers will see how Mack was reluctant to take advantage of Jen right from the start.
The First Time I Saw Your Face is all about the slow burn - it's a quiet kind of romance filled with scenes that are all about the characters getting to know each other. I know I keep saying this but I'm a fan of romance that takes time to form. Jen feels like there's no way someone good-looking like Mack will ever be interested in her. And Mack has conflicting emotions, he genuinely likes Jen but he can't find a way to get out of the situation he's in. I was worried about these two and how the problems would get resolved once Mack's secret is out in the open. Overall, I found their love story sweet. I also liked how well-developed the secondary characters are - from their family members to the rest of the townspeople. Both of their families play significant roles in the story. I also found it interesting that the setting is Northumberland instead of London. Northumberland sounds beautiful based on the book's descriptions but I'm not sure if I could ever stand how cold it is over there. I had fun reading this one, very easy to get into so I recommend it to fans of Hazel Osmond's first novel as well as readers interested in British contemporary romance. The ebook has already been released and the paperback is coming out on August 16. ...more
I first read this in 2012 (the first discussion that I joined for my book club) and I decided to reread it now that the whole series is available. ItI first read this in 2012 (the first discussion that I joined for my book club) and I decided to reread it now that the whole series is available. It has a intriguing premise, and the first book serves as a good introduction to the series. While it can stand well enough on its own, it also sets up the possibilities for future books. I'm glad I reread The Raven Boys because even if I remember the gist, I had forgotten the details of the story. It took me a while to finish it because real life kept getting in the way, and it's the kind of book that requires a bit of effort to sink into. Just like when I first read it, I liked most of the characters with Adam as an exception. I'm seriously annoyed at how stubborn he is and how he lets his pride get in the way of making sensible decisions. His friends just want to help him and he keeps pushing them away! Anyway, I liked everyone else and how Blue changed the dynamics of the group, kind of balanced it out a bit. I think it's great how the boys are so protective of each other, how they're always there when it matters the most. I think their relationship will continue to grow with the rest of the series. I also liked the world Maggie Stiefvater created. She seamlessly integrated magic into a very realistic setting. And her words are lovely. Beautiful writing. Diving into The Dream Thieves next....more
Novel Gossip is a new feature that my good friend Michelle and I started a few months ago. Our inaugural post was The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand.Novel Gossip is a new feature that my good friend Michelle and I started a few months ago. Our inaugural post was The Chocolate Rose by Laura Florand. We both loved Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (my review, Michelle's review) last year so Rose Under Fire was one of our most anticipated reads this year. Since it's a book set in a concentration camp, we were pretty sure that it would be heartbreaking and that it would be a good idea to read this together so we can provide moral support as we go along. Click here to read our thoughts about this historical fiction novel. While we did our best to refrain from putting in spoilers, it's pretty hard to have an in depth discussion without going into some of the things that happened within the book. If you'd rather go into Rose Under Fire without prior knowledge of its contents, then feel free to skip our discussion (although we hope you'd drop by after finishing the book)....more
I'm not much of a historical romance reader but I really enjoyed my first Tessa Dare! Thanks to my friend Kim for getting me a signed copy when TessaI'm not much of a historical romance reader but I really enjoyed my first Tessa Dare! Thanks to my friend Kim for getting me a signed copy when Tessa visited Manila for a book signing. I thought the banter between Ransom and Izzy was a lot of fun. I also liked Izzy's back story, and how rooted it is in stories of adventure. I'm interested in reading the rest of the books in the series but with lower expectations because I heard they aren't as good as this....more
Zack and Jasmine went to the same high school but they were never that close. They reconnect when they bump into each other inOriginally posted here.
Zack and Jasmine went to the same high school but they were never that close. They reconnect when they bump into each other in college and they become good friends. Zack then asks Jasmine to pretend to be his ex because he's never had a girlfriend before and the girl that he likes doesn't want to be with someone who's never been in a relationship. Jasmine agrees, not knowing the consequences of that little lie. Fast forward to the present day, Zack is about to get married to a girl that none of his friends and family really know. It's up to Jasmine to confront Zack but before she can do that, she has to sort through her own feelings first. My Imaginary Ex was pretty easy to read even though the story is interspersed with flashbacks to fully flesh out Jasmine and Zack's friendship. The story sort of reminded me of My Best Friend's Wedding because it has a similar theme with the movie.
I'm not a fan of best friend love stories probably because my high school boyfriend was my best friend and we didn't really get our Happily Ever After together. Don't get me wrong, we're still good friends but now I feel like I have a certain fondness for love-hate relationships more than best friend love stories. Does that make me sound weird? :P In any case, I'm sure there are more people who will appreciate the friendship that is the foundation of Jasmine and Zack's relationship. While I didn't get to connect with the characters in this one as much as I did with the characters of Fairy Tale Fail, it's still quite an enjoyable, light read. The characters are believable and the author does a good job of describing the life of a young professional in her mid-twenties, living in Manila. Mina mentioned over Twitter that Summit is going to release another book of hers any day soon. I'm looking forward to that!...more
My love affair with Laura Florand's Amour et Chocolat contemporary romance series started with The Chocolate Thief. I was captivated by that first book and I knew I would want to read the rest of the novels as soon as they came out. I have been really curious about The Chocolate Touch ever since I found out who the two main characters are going to be - both Dominique and Jaime were mentioned in the first book. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of this and I read it as soon as I could. I was a bit bummed that The Chocolate Touch's cover didn't follow the design of the first two and I don't think the couple in it is a good representation of the characters. But that's a minor quibble that has nothing to do with the contents of the novel.
A draft of my review for The Chocolate Touch has been sitting on my dashboard for weeks. I don't know why but I just couldn't find the right words to describe what it's like to be immersed in Laura Florand's delectable version of Paris. But let me try. What I love about the Amour et Chocolat books is that even though each book features a French chef or chocolatier, their personalities are so distinct that reading about them never gets boring. Plus I feel like the writing in each has a different tone - The Chocolate Thief is deliciously entertaining, The Chocolate Kiss is whimsical with magic realism feel to it while The Chocolate Touch has such a sweet and endearing romance. This latest installment in the series is filled with warmth that's very comforting, like drinking hot chocolate on a rainy day. Kind of similar to how Jaime visits Dom's chocolaterie everyday, consuming his creations and letting them revive her both physically and emotionally. I liked the contrast between Dom and Jaime - how he initially felt that he's such a brute compared to how delicate she looks and that he has to be careful with how he treats her. But appearances can be deceiving and Jaime has a core of steel that makes her the perfect match for Dom. I had so much fun reading about the tentative nature of how they got to know each other. Both of them have complicated pasts and there's a reason for why they feel like they don't have much to offer (even though they both think the world of the other person). Here's a snippet that I particularly liked:
He didn't talk, but a man who had Paris in the springtime didn't need to talk. Better not. Better just to concentrate on the cool breeze off the river, stirring his shaggy black hair, the bridges that stretched away through the centuries, that fresh young green on the trees along the quays. Evening was falling later and later. The sun was only starting to set now, easy blurred shades of pink and gold and gray through low strips of clouds. The sky above them was blue, clear, but blurring toward gray. Half the world looked in love, couples strolling hand in hand along the Seine. At the edge of that sunset, in the west, far away along the river that simmered with pink and gold, the Eiffel Tower rose, gentled by the low haze.
Lovely writing right there. Laura Florand sure knows how to set a scene. And write mouth-watering descriptions of chocolates, caramels and pastries. Just thinking about them is making me hungry, I may have to hunt down some desserts tomorrow. Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed is seeing how Dom and Jaime relate to their friends and family. It was nice to see characters from the earlier novels, especially the members of the Corey family. They're just too funny. If you're a contemporary romance reader and you've never read any of Laura Florand's books, then you must give them a try as soon as you can. Highly recommended for fans of chocolates, Paris and romance. It goes without saying that I cannot wait for the next book in this wonderful series. To get a better idea of The Chocolate Touch's setting, check out the author's pictures of the real-life chocolatier who inspired the book.
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Susanna Kearsley’s writing from some of my book blogger friends. I’vOriginally posted at Chachic's Book Nook.
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Susanna Kearsley’s writing from some of my book blogger friends. I’ve been curious about her books for a while now so I was thrilled when my friend Heidisent me a signed copy of The Winter Sea last year. I thought it would be a good introduction to Susanna Kearsley. I picked it up when I was in the mood for a historical fiction novel and I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed reading The Winter Sea.
I thought The Winter Sea was a lovely read with excellent characters, an atmospheric setting and unique plot. It’s funny how interested I was in reading a book that is heavily tinged with Scottish history when I know next to nothing about the Jacobite revolution. I had to do a bit of Wikipedia research to get a better understanding of this part of history. I think Susanna Kearsley did an amazing job of making history come alive by intertwining Sophia and Carrie's stories. It was a pleasant surprise that I wasn’t bored by the historical aspects of The Winter Sea. I thought it was interesting how Carrie’s ancestral memory surfaces as she was wandering along Scotland, doing research for her next novel. She feels the pull of the place and decides that she needs to spend more time in that area. Being near Slains awakens something inside Carrie and she’s able to write about Sophia’s memories. That's the only supernatural element in the book and I liked how seamlessly it was done. I love how Carrie describes her writing process and how she gets swept away by the stories in her mind. A non-spoilery snippet:
"...I could feel the stirrings of my characters - the faint, as yet inaudible suggestion of their voices, and their movements close around me, in the way someone can sense another's presence in a darkened room. I didn't need to shut my eyes. They were already fixed, not truly seeing, on the window glass, in that strange writer's trance that stole upon me when my characters begin to speak, and I tried hard to listen."
Carrie’s description of how writing makes her forget about everything else around her is similar to how I feel about some of the books that I read. Whenever I’m engrossed in a well-written novel, I tend to focus on it and ignore my surroundings. I really liked Carrie and Sophia and I was rooting for both of them. I loved that there was a sweet and slow burn romance for both of these ladies because they deserved to have that in their lives. Carrie's story was more quiet and mellow compared to Sophia's adventures during a difficult time in history. I was worried about how things will work out and that kept me absorbed in The Winter Sea until I reached the end. I even found the descriptions of the winter sea in Scotland charming, how it was described as kind of desolate but still has its own beauty. I’ve seen The Winter Sea compared to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I read the latter ages ago and wasn’t impressed. In my opinion, The Winter Sea is a much better read. I’m delighted to have discovered a new historical fiction author to enjoy. I’m already planning to reading the rest of her books. Mariana and The Rose Garden have been suggested as good ones. Although it's a different kind of historical fiction, this reading experience reminds me a little of when I first found out about Mary Stewart just because it's a lovely feeling to have an author's backlist to look forward to. ...more
Seraphina is a lovely book. I remember rushing to a bookstore in Manila to grab a copy of this on its release day because I'veOriginally posted here.
Seraphina is a lovely book. I remember rushing to a bookstore in Manila to grab a copy of this on its release day because I've heard such good things about it and I couldn't wait to read it. I was disappointed in the books that I read before Seraphina so it was a pleasant surprise that I found a YA fantasy that I could really sink my teeth into. Seraphina is exactly the kind of character that I love, one who possesses admirable inner strength. I'm also a fan of the world that Rachel Hartman created, where there's a tenuous peace between humans and dragons. I liked how distinctly different humans and dragons are - the latter sees the former as a weaker race, prone to emotional decisions that aren't always logical whereas dragons are more detached and analytical. And I found it intriguing that dragons can take human form. I really liked how subtle the romance was, it wasn't the focus of the story and they started out as friends. There were so many details to love in this novel and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel - I wonder how long do I have to wait to read it? Here's a quote from the book that I loved:
“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”