I first noticed Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass when several Goodreads friends began reading review copies of the book. It's bOriginally posted here.
I first noticed Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass when several Goodreads friends began reading review copies of the book. It's been getting a lot of attention lately and I heard positive things about it so I became curious. My friend Janice generously sent a copy and since I wasn't in the middle of anything when it arrived, I started on it right away.
Well, that didn't turn out as well as I expected. I'm a huge fan of YA epic fantasy when it's done well. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like that was the case with Throne of Glass. The premise had so much promise - I wanted to read about an assassin trying to balance court intrigue with the fierce competition to become the King's Champion. After just a few chapters, I knew I wasn't going to get what I expected. I found it odd that an assassin as notorious as Celaena is more concerned about her looks and her dresses rather than honing her fighting skills. I was surprised by how often the characters focused on physical appearances rather than personalities - even the prince kept noticing how pretty Celaena is when he should be noting how well she fights as his candidate in the competition. Aside from not being fully invested in the characters, I wasn't impressed by the world-building, either. I was initially intrigued by the mystery in the novel - what the country's history was like, why magic has been banned, who was behind the murders - but that eventually fell flat for me. I don't know, it just wasn't as tightly woven (if that makes sense) as I'd like.
I also wasn't a fan of the love triangle in Throne of Glass because I felt like it wasn't necessary and the romance felt under-developed because of it. Sigh, I hate to be so negative in a review but I just wanted to list the reasons why I felt like Throne of Glass didn't work for me. I was even tempted to DNF the book because I found the last hundred pages or so dragging, I just wanted to get it over with. It felt like I was reading paranormal YA (which I try to stay away from as much as possible) instead of epic fantasy. As always, feel free to pick up the book if this looks like the kind of thing you'll enjoy reading, I've seen mixed reviews for it so I guess it really depends on how well you'll be able to connect with the story. I feel like Throne of Glass would work for readers who haven't read the likes of Robin McKinley, Megan Whalen Turner or Kristin Cashore. But if you're like me and you're aware of the awesomeness of other novels, I have a feeling you'll just be disappointed. Throne of Glass will be released August 7, 2012....more
Ever since I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series, Ilona and Gordon have been auto-buy authors for me. So of course, Burn for Me was one of my most anticipated releases this year. I’ve been eagerly waiting for it especially when Ilona mentioned that the set-up of the world is similar to their Kinsmen novellas, Silent Blade and Silver Shark (which I both loved). I did a book swap with my lovely friend Holly and she sent me her review copy of Burn for Me. I read it as soon as I opened the package. I would have devoured the whole thing in one sitting if I didn’t have to stop and get some sleep because I had to go to work the next day. It’s been a few weeks since I got the package and I’ve already reread the book – it was that good of a read for me.
First off, I want to highlight that Burn for Me is the first book in a trilogy that focuses on Nevada and Mad Rogan. For some reason, I thought it was a trilogy that would feature different couples in each book, similar to the Edge series by the same authors. The Hidden Legacy trilogy is more like the Kate Daniels series in the sense that it has a slow burn romance spanning several books. This is more than okay with me because I love a good romance that has a slow build up. Especially one that starts with both parties not trusting each other, as was the case with Rogan and Nevada. Rogan is rich, extremely powerful and used to getting his way. This doesn’t go so well with Nevada and they clash when they first meet. But they’re also insanely attracted to each other so there’s a lot of tension and banter. Some of the back and forth teasing made me laugh out loud. Nevada tries to ignore the attraction because she’s a sensible and practical person who doesn’t want complications in her life. She has enough on her plate as the main breadwinner for her eccentric family (grandma, mom, sisters and cousins). Nevada’s family is hilarious, basically a bunch of quirky characters who constantly argue but really love each other to death. Hijinks ensue when Nevada is forced to work together with Rogan to achieve a common goal. Her family also gets involved in all the fun.
The Hidden Legacy world is very similar to our own, with the exception of the discovery of a serum that activated people’s magical abilities. Power, instead of money, has become the measure of one’s worth in the world. Alliances and marriages are made based on magical prowess. Powerful magical families are the ones who control and govern cities and countries, kind of like magical mafias. The worldbuilding has echoes of the Kinsmen and Kate Daniels novels but still remains very much its own. I'm amazed at how Ilona and Gordon are able to create such interesting worlds for their books. Nevada’s personality also reminds me a bit of Kate Daniels because they’re both no-nonsense individuals who are working in similar fields – investigative work. Plus they both have magical abilities and are more than capable of defending themselves in a fight. Nevada is still in the process of coming into her powers and it would be interesting to see how that develops in the next books. Reading (and rereading) Burn for Me was a real pleasure for me and I wanted the sequel the moment I finished the book. I feel like Burn for Me is a good introduction to Ilona Andrews for anyone who hasn’t read their work because it’s the first in a new trilogy, which means it doesn’t require that much commitment from a reader. Also, I think it has all of the things that I enjoy in their books - solid worldbuilding, great characters, romance and banter. Recommended for fans of adult urban fantasy, Burn for Me has made it to my best of 2014 list. It’s going to be a long wait for next year’s releases for both Kate Daniels and Hidden Legacy. ...more
Won a copy of this from MangoJuiced. My review is originally posted here.
Ginny has never been good with people – she doesn’t like strangers and she doWon a copy of this from MangoJuiced. My review is originally posted here.
Ginny has never been good with people – she doesn’t like strangers and she doesn’t like talking to people. She’s not comfortable with physical contact and only allows a handful of people to touch her. She lives with her parents, in the house where she grew up and fills her days with cooking. Food comforts her and that’s what she uses as a coping mechanism. Here’s a sample of the writing and how Ginny uses food to calm herself:
Her hand is close to my arm. My options are limited. I can’t run away. I can’t handle this.
I lose myself in food.
The rich, wet texture of melting chocolate. The way good aged goat cheese coats your tongue. The silky feel of pasta dough when it’s been pressed and rested just enough. How the scent of onions changes, over an hour, from raw to mellow, sharp to sweet, and all that even without tasting. The simplest magic: how heat transforms.
It’s not surprising that when her world is shaken by several events (the death of her parents, the presence of strangers in her home because of the funeral and her sister’s demands), Ginny turns to food. Even though I’m not a good cook like Ginny is, I could relate to how food comforts her. I find food comforting too but my interests lie in consumption rather than production. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. The Kitchen Daughter is something that I’d recommend to readers who like their fiction with generous helpings of various food items. Just make sure that you have a snack within reach when you decide to pick this up. Each chapter starts with a recipe and this is it how it looks on my Kindle:
I think we’ve established that there are a lot of food references in The Kitchen Daughter but it’s more than just about food – it’s also about Ginny coming to terms with the death of her parents and in the process, learning more about herself and her family. It was interesting being inside Ginny’s head because she’s such a unique character. Right from the start, the reader knows that there’s something different about Ginny. When asked if she has a condition or anything, she says that what she has “is a personality.” I liked that the story is told from her perspective because it gives us an inside look of how she processes everything around her. It makes me realize that I take so many things for granted in my life – that I’m not socially awkward, that I’m not bothered by physical contact, which I think is a big thing when you live in the Philippines because people have no respect for personal space around here (e.g. public transportation). So even if I don’t think I have a lot of things in common with Ginny, I could still sympathize with her.
I feel like The Kitchen Daughter is a quiet sort of novel because it’s mostly about Ginny and her internal struggles – how she copes with everything that happens in her life and how she tentatively reaches out to the secondary characters. It’s a book about relationships between family members and between friends. It’s also about the intricacies of life – how people have different ways of handling grief and sadness. The Kitchen Daughter is a heartwarming read and a well-written debut novel, the kind of book that you read during a weekend afternoon when you want to get cozy. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jael McHenry has in store for us next....more
Magic Gifts is a Kate Daniels novella and is Ilona and Gordon's Christmas gift to their fans. It's available as a free downloadOriginally posted here.
Magic Gifts is a Kate Daniels novella and is Ilona and Gordon's Christmas gift to their fans. It's available as a free download for two weeks after they uploaded it on Christmas day. Hurry and grab a copy if you haven't downloaded it yet! Ilona and Gordon are so generous for giving their fans a freebie like this. I've seen some of the snippets for this novella on their blog and it's great to see all the scenes come together to form a story. Magic Gifts occurs after Magic Slays and at the same as Gunmetal Magic, which is Andrea's book and will be released next year. The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series and this might contain some spoilery bits for the earlier books. Check out my reviews through these links: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays
I think I've said it often enough but I have a feeling I will keep saying it over and over again: I will read anything written by Ilona and Gordon. I read this as soon as I downloaded a copy on my Kindle. I love their short stories because they feel like bite size snacks compared to their novels - delicious snacks that readers can gobble up in one sitting. In Magic Gifts, we get a glimpse of how things are between Kate and Curran. I think it's awesome that their relationship keeps on developing. I like how their romance spans the entire series and even when they're already together, the banter between them is still funny and sweet at the same time. And yet this novella isn't just about the two of them. There's a little bit of Andrea, Kate's best friend and business partner, as well as their shapeshifter sidekicks: Derek and Ascanio. I can't wait to read more about Andrea's story and I'm really interested in seeing where things will go for her. There are also a few scenes with Jim, Kate's former colleague in the Mercenary Guild and the head of security of the Pack. I thought Jim and Kate's arguments were hilarious. Aside from the characters, I also like the worldbuilding in the whole series and how each book and novella focuses on a different mythology (and the magic tied to that culture). Magic Gifts is about Norse mythology and Vikings. All in all, a lovely Christmas treat for Kate Daniels fans. Thank you again, Ilona and Gordon!...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
I dare you to read Angie's review of Unsticky and not be convinced to read the book as soon as you can. I believe several other bloggers were persuaded to do just that. Ari of Emily and Her Little Pink Notes (who is on a blogging hiatus) has also been recommending Sarra Manning's YA books but I haven't had a chance to read them yet and I thought Unsticky would be a good introduction to the author's work. Thank you so much to the lovely Celina of Celina's Books and Magazines for tracking down a copy of this for me. :D I was so excited when I received the package that I started reading it immediately.
Whenever my girlfriends and I talk about our jobs, there's always a point where we share our frustrations about how hard it is to get a decent salary in a third world country. This is why so many of our friends go abroad to work. There's always one person who concludes the discussion with, "we should just look for a rich boyfriend/husband so we wouldn't have to worry about money anymore." And this is what happened when Grace met Vaughn in Unsticky. He's a rich, older man who needs a female companion to handle the social aspects of his job as an art dealer. She's a fashion assistant with huge amounts of debt and no idea how she's going to pay them off. But both of them are so much more than that. They're two flawed people who don't even know the real meaning of love so they'd rather have an arrangement than risk involving their hearts in the process. Here's a quote from Grace that perfectly describes their relationship:
"We're broken. It's like we have all these jagged edges that scare other people off, but when we're with each other, our jagged edges fit together and we're almost whole."
Grace is a much more believable shopaholic than Becky Bloomwood ever was. You don't ever get to a point where you want to shake her and say, "stop buying stuff!" because her urge to buy something to make herself feel better is understandable. There's not much in her life that makes her feel good. I know I indulge in retail therapy from time to time although I'm not and never will be into designer items. Why would I buy a handbag worth thousands of dollars when I could buy books instead? Grace's problems don't magically go away the moment she strikes a deal with Vaughn. She still had to go through so much and this is probably why the book is so long. I didn't mind though because it kept me absorbed. It was so much fun watching Grace and Vaughn get to know each other. I'm not a big fan of May-December pairings but it just worked with these two. Vaughn's own issues worked well with Grace's and they understood each other. Can I just say that it's so funny that Vaughn has a thing for desserts? Both main characters are far from perfect and I think that's what makes Unsticky so good. Unsticky has made it to my best of 2011 and now has a permanent place in my list of favorites. I'm so glad that I already ordered You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. I'm going to read it as soon as it arrives. ...more
I read Whiskey Road by Karen Siplin along with good friends Janice and Holly. We all finished reading the book a couple of weekOriginally posted here.
I read Whiskey Road by Karen Siplin along with good friends Janice and Holly. We all finished reading the book a couple of weeks ago but haven't gotten around to writing reviews of it until now. I'm going to link to their Retro Friday reviews as soon as they're up. I always enjoy doing readalongs because it's fun to discuss details about the book with friends who are reading it at the same time. Although we haven't been lucky with some of our other readalong choices before, we all enjoyed reading this one. Thanks again to Michelle for passing along her copy.
This is the first time I've read a novel with a paparazza as a main character. I found it fascinating that Jimi loves her job, not because of the money, but because of the thrill that she gets out of the chase. She's like a private investigator - hiding in Dumpsters or up in trees just to get the perfect shot. Paparazzi are not always portrayed as nice people, you know? So it's good to get a different kind of perspective, it felt like Jimi justified her reasons for doing what she does throughout the course of the book. When she gets tired of it all, she plans a cross-country trip on her motorcycle on the way to visit her brother. She wanted to see how beautiful the countryside in America is but doesn't expect to get robbed along the way. I was surprised by how big an issue racism is in this novel. Granted, most of it is set in rural America but I had no idea that it was still a problem. I even checked the publication date - 2008 - which is fairly recent. I have a feeling I'll remember this book if I ever get the idea that it would be nice to go on a road trip to explore rural America (hint: probably not a good idea when you're a minority).
While Caleb isn't exactly warm and welcoming, he's a lot friendlier than other people in his town and I liked that about him. Felt like he was seeing Jimi for who she really is, instead of just looking at the color of her skin. I liked how both of them warily circled each other in spite of their attraction. It took time for them to get to know each other before they acted on what they were feeling. Both Caleb and Jimi have problems and neither was looking for a relationship when they first met each other. These two have a quiet kind of love story, focusing on how they're both getting over the difficulties in their lives and how they're reluctantly falling for each other. One of the scenes that stood out to me was when Jimi discovered that Caleb loves motorcycles just as much as she does and they go for a motorcycle ride on Whiskey Road. Note to self: ride a motorcycle someday. Whiskey Road is an under-the-radar novel that I'll recommend to readers who like slow burn, complicated romances. I think I got the original recommendation for this from Angie and I don't think I would have found out about it if not for her review. Feel free to recommend other titles that you think have the same feel as this one....more
A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet is a Robin Hood retelling. I found out about it when trustedbook bloggers started giving it positive reviews. I was delighted when this pretty little book showed up in a surprise package that I received a couple of weeks ago. Again, thank you to the lovely ladies - Angie and Holly - for sending me a copy of this. I couldn't resist reading it right away, you guys know how fond I am of thieves in fiction.
I can't get over how gorgeous the cover design for Scarlet is - doesn't that just draw you in? It's the kind of cover that would attract my attention even if I knew nothing about the premise. I think Scarlet's eyes look very expressive and I love that she's disguised as a boy in the cover, because that's how she usually is in the book. Few people know that Will Scarlet is actually a girl. Just in case you didn't know, I also enjoy reading girls in disguise stories. Scarlet is one prickly character. Even though she's been working with Rob, John and Much for the past couple of years, she still doesn't fully trust them. She works with them but she still holds a part of herself back, never explaining her past and where she really came from. Which is funny because these boys want to take care of Scarlet. Can I just say that I found it refreshing that there are only four people in Robin's band in this retelling? It makes it easier to keep track of them and be invested in who they are as characters. Rob is the leader, John the playful charmer and Much is the quiet one. Here's a funny little quote about the band:
“Of a band with three actual boys, why is it that all the maids lust after the fake one?"
My heart went out to this little group - how they do the best that they could to provide for the people and shelter them from the Sheriff's cruelty. As much as Scarlet pretends that she only stays with the band because it's convenient for her, she does it because she cares for the people. Here's another snippet that I really liked:
"I left little packages in front of the doors; the people looked for them in the morning, and I knew, in some bit of a way, it bucked them up.
I did as much as I could, but it weren't like I could get everyone something every night. That seemed like the cruelest part. I tried not to think 'bout the people that woke up and rushed to the door and didn't find nothing; it made my chest hurt."
You got to love a thief with a conscience. She steals not for herself but for the people. It's rare for a sneaky thief as good as Scarlet to be afraid of anything but her comrades quickly discover that there's something about Gisbourne, the Thief Taker, that frightens Scarlet. I liked this air of mystery about her, it made the book a quicker read because I kept going, waiting for Scarlet's past to be revealed. I also liked the slow burn romance although I'm not a fan of the love triangle. It's not surprising that more than one guy is interested in our feisty heroine but I did feel like it was unnecessary for her to have more than one love interest. As expected, Scarlet was a really enjoyable read. Highly recommended for fans of Robin Hood retellings, thieves in fiction and girls in disguise. Will I be checking out A.C. Gaughen's books in the future? Definitely....more
I really liked reading If I Stay and actually felt bad that it took me so long to read it. The good thing in that is I don't haOriginally posted here.
I really liked reading If I Stay and actually felt bad that it took me so long to read it. The good thing in that is I don't have to wait for the companion novel and I got to read it while the story is still fresh in my mind. WARNING: This review contains spoilers for If I Stay, even the summary for Where She Went has spoilers so avert your eyes if you haven't read the first book. Trust me, you don't want to see spoilers. Here's the link to my If I Stay review instead.
I loved where If I Stay ended and I felt like it stood well on its own. Which is why it took me a while to pick up Where She Went even though it's written from Adam's point of view and I thought he's an amazing guy based on the first book. I just couldn't get over the fact that Adam and Mia broke up after everything they've been through. I felt like they had a forever kind of relationship in If I Stay - I thought they had a real connection. I couldn't resist reading this, however, when I received a copy for my birthday. It still took a couple of chapters for me to get over the idea that Mia left Adam. Things made sense from Adam's side of the story - how his band became popular, how he reluctantly started a relationship with a celebrity and how messed up his life has been the past couple of years. It's funny because even though everyone around him and Adam himself thinks that he's a jerk, I believed that he's still the great guy he was in If I Stay - he just has more reason to be emo and angry. I'd love to quote some of the sections that I really liked but they might be spoilery so here are some lyrics from Adam's songs:
"You crossed the water, left me ashore It killed me enough, but you wanted more You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist Waved from your side, threw me a kiss I started to follow but realized too late There was nothing but air underneath my feet" -Bridge
"I'll be your mess, you be mine That was the deal that we had signed I bought a hazmat suit to clean up your waste Gas masks, gloves, to keep us safe But now I'm alone in an empty room Staring down immaculate doom" - Messy
Oh Adam. Did I enjoy reading Where She Went? Surprisingly yes, in spite of my reservations. I should have known to trust Gayle Forman because she's an excellent storyteller. I enjoyed seeing everything through Adam's eyes. It gave the initial story in If I Stay more depth, while adding in layers provided by the years when Adam and Mia were apart. Although I think it would have been better if we got more insight into Mia and what she was thinking. Don't get me wrong - it did feel like everything fell into place quite nicely - but I kind of felt like there wasn't enough of Mia in this installment. I really liked that Where She Went has New Adult characters because we really need more novels like this. Both If I Stay and Where She Went are contemporary novels that I highly recommend. I feel like I've been lucky in my contemporary reads in 2012, so far. *keeps fingers crossed that will continue for the rest of the year* I look forward to seeing what Gayle Forman has in store for us next - looks like Just One Day and Just One Year will be companion novels too. ...more
Let me just say that I love the US cover in the edition that I have, showing a girl standing in front of a mirror in a library.Originally posted here.
Let me just say that I love the US cover in the edition that I have, showing a girl standing in front of a mirror in a library. The library and mirrors play major roles in the story so it's an appropriate cover design. Heart's Blood is a haunting retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I was surprised by how different the whole atmosphere in this one was compared to the Sevenwaters series. This one is much darker with a mysterious curse surrounding the chieftain of Whistling Tor, Anluan. Caitrin discovers the place while she's running away from her own problems. Desperate to be employed as a scribe, she willingly works for Anluan transcribing family documents. This is a perfect professional set-up for both - Caitrin knows not a lot of people will employ a female scribe and most people are afraid to visit Whistling Tor, let alone live and work there. As she learns the secrets of the area, Caitrin becomes determined to find a way to break the curse. I liked that Caitrin is a scribe, she was trained by her father who had the same profession, which is unusual in a world where women focus on domestic duties. I also liked that Caitrin has a complicated past and in the course of getting to know Anluan, she learns how to deal with her own troubles. This is retelling where Beauty does not just help the Beast but has to overcome other difficulties in her own life. The secondary characters were also well-developed and I liked how they had their own stories but they're united by their loyalty to Anluan.
I was able to predict part of the outcome of the story and as a result, I wasn't wowed by this story like I was expecting. I'm a fan of unexpected events that blow me away. I also would have loved the interactions between Caitrin and Anluan to have more depth - I felt like the two of them didn't have enough scenes together and I wasn't as invested in their love story as I would've liked. Though darker than her other books, Juliet Marillier's writing in Heart's Blood retains its standard beautiful and lyrical flow. While this book didn't displace my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling from its position (the title belongs to Beauty by Robin McKinley), I still enjoyed reading this and I hope that Juliet Marillier will continue to write retellings for other fairy tales. She already has retellings for The Six Swans (Daughter of the Forest) and Twelve Dancing Princesses (Wildwood Dancing) but I'd love to read more. I guess I'm just glad that I still have a couple of books from her backlist to go through. I fell in love with her writing in the Sevenwaters series and I can't get enough of it, even if I don't end up loving her other books. Recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings or readers of dark, haunting fantasy.
PS: Wasn't able to take a picture of the back cover but I loved that The Book Smugglers has a quote on it. Yay Ana and Thea!...more
I've given up reading YA paranormal romance because I've discovered that it's not something that I enjoy. However, Unearthly reOriginally posted here.
I've given up reading YA paranormal romance because I've discovered that it's not something that I enjoy. However, Unearthly received positive feedback from many reader friends last year so I thought it would be a good idea to give it a try. Readalong buddies Holly and Janice agreed to pick up Unearthly as our next read. Can I just say that I love that our readalongs have become a regular thing? Thanks again to my book BFF Celina for my copy of Unearthly.
Unearthly was a pretty easy read for me. I was surprised by how fast I went through it and I apologized to my readalong buddies that I wasn't able to pace myself to read it in chunks for our discussion. It's just that I kept wanting to find out more about the angel-bloods and Clara's purpose (basically her mission in life as an angel-blood). However, I'm sorry to say that I didn't enjoy reading Unearthly as much as I expected. I don't know if it's because my expectations were raised based on all the glowing reviews that I've seen or it's really just a case of YA paranormal romance not being a good fit for me. The things that put me off the genre were present in Unearthly - girl chasing after a hot guy who seems perfect (even if it's supposedly tied to her life's purpose), love triangles, the story focusing more on the romance than on the worldbuilding. Clara is a smart girl and I wanted to tell her that she can find out more about her purpose, without having to go crazy over a good-looking guy who is already in a relationship with someone else. I wanted to whack her in the head with something. By the time a more reasonable love interest came along, I was too annoyed to find the romance swoon-worthy.
Did I regret reading Unearthly? No, I'm more frustrated than anything else that I don't have the gene present in other readers who loved this. Like I said, Unearthly was easy to fall into. It's just that I wanted the story to have a more solid foundation - maybe a concrete history of angel-bloods or deeper friendships between Clara and her new buddies. It felt like the mythology was a bit flimsy and I wanted something other than the romance to hold on to. If paranormal YA is your kind of thing or if you find the premise intriguing, then I have a feeling you'll love this more than I did. I'm still curious about the sequel (and I already borrowed a copy) because I want to know more about Clara's purpose - maybe her mom will reveal more details about her past. But I'm definitely not getting my hopes up. I have a feeling I'd find Hallowed easy to read but I don't think it will end up in my list of favorites. Unearthly reminded me a bit of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which I thought was amazing but didn't work for other readers. So you never really know unless you give the book a try. Heads up, this post from Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks shows pictures featuring the setting of the book - it might give you a better idea of how everything looks like.
If I had to describe this book in one word, I'd probably go with cute, and I mean that in a good way. Flipped is a he-said, sheOriginally posted here.
If I had to describe this book in one word, I'd probably go with cute, and I mean that in a good way. Flipped is a he-said, she-said kind of novel for middle grade and younger YA readers and I believe I would've loved it if I read it when I was younger. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy reading this now because I did, I just feel like I would've been able to appreciate it more if I was the target audience for it. It was so funny how different Juli and Bryce's perspectives were! I liked that the story spanned several years starting from when Bryce moved in as Juli's neighbor in second grade all the way up to eighth grade. I think the portrayal of the characters as kids and then young teenagers was very realistic. It was hilarious that Bryce couldn't grasp what chickens, hens and roosters are and how they differ. At first, Juli only wanted to be friends with someone her age because she doesn't have any neighbors to play with. But when she first saw Bryce's brilliant blue eyes, she was mesmerized and she's been after him ever since. It doesn't matter that Bryce has been running away from her, Juli just thinks he's shy. Both Juli and Bryce grew and developed as characters as the years passed by although in Bryce's case, it was more towards the end of the book.
I loved Juli's nutty family and how her parents are so supportive of the kids while Bryce's dad was the opposite of that. It's not surprising that it takes time for Bryce to become a better person because his dad is kind of a jerk and of course, Bryce looks up to his father. Juli's dad is such a sweet and compassionate character and he really listens to Juli when she tells him her problems. He kind of reminded me of my dad and how I felt like I could talk to him not just as a dad but as a friend. I can totally understand why Juli thinks her dad is the best dad ever. Yay for awesome parents in YA! This is a story about puppy love, friendship, family and learning to see beyond people's appearances to who they really are inside. I recommend it to fans of younger YA books or to anyone who's looking for a quick read because this one is a lightweight at 224 pages but still manages to have some depth.
Thank you, Joy, for giving this as a gift. I love getting books as gifts and I really enjoyed reading this one. I'm now curious about the movie and I wonder if it's as charming as the book is....more
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
Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer was a book recommended by Angie of Angieville and my copy was sent as a gift by Nomes of InkcrusOriginally posted here.
Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer was a book recommended by Angie of Angieville and my copy was sent as a gift by Nomes of Inkcrush when I won her giveaway. I was craving for some contemporary romance reads along the lines of Unsticky by Sarra Manning and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty so I asked Angie for suggestions and this was one of the titles that she mentioned.
I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that Seeing Me Naked is so much more than its flirty title and cover. I have the UK edition with the white cover but I think I like the US edition with the yellow cover more because it's understated and less smexy. I was expecting a light and fun book crack that will go down just as easily as the milk tea drinks that I'm currently addicted to. What I got was something more complicated. Elisabeth's story deals with some weighty issues tied to her relationships with the people around her - her unusual family, her inconsistent childhood sweetheart and a guy that she just met named Daniel. Added to all that are her problems balancing her hectic schedule as the pastry chef in L.A.'s hottest restaurant. I have a cousin who's a pastry chef in L.A. and I know hard that kind of job is - staying on your feet the whole day while cooking delicious treats, not having holidays because those are actually the busiest days for restaurants and thriving in a highly competitive industry. Elisabeth's situation is no exception. She chose this career path because she wanted to stay away from her father's literary shadow. I'm a huge fan of pastries and desserts in general so that's one of the reasons why I was curious about this book.
I love that while Elisabeth's romance with Daniel is an essential part of the story, it doesn't necessarily take center stage. It's actually more subtle than the other relationships in Elisabeth's life. What she has with Daniel is what keeps Elisabeth calm and steady in an otherwise turbulent existence. It doesn't mean that their relationship is easy because they still had to resolve some issues but it was nice to know that Elisabeth could rely on Daniel. Even though Elisabeth tried to stay away from her father's profession, her whole family still has a huge influence over her. She craves for her dad's approval, she finds comfort in her mother's love and her brother Rascal is actually her closest friend. My favorite scene in the book is actually a pivotal moment for their family. I'm not going to spoil it but let me just say that it was the banquet towards the end of the book and that particular scene had me in tears. Like I said, I didn't expect to get emotional over Seeing Me Naked but I'm glad that it surprised me. For me, the mark of a good book is when it can make you feel like you're right there with the characters. I think it's great when you get to laugh and cry with them. After finishing this, my first thought was that I want to read more books like this. I'm going to look for Liza Palmer's other novels and I'm hoping that they will be just as good as this one. If you have similar suggestions, please let me know. Highly recommended for contemporary romance or women's fiction readers....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
When Lennie goes back to school after her sister Bailey passed away, she knows that nothing will ever be the same and she feelsOriginally posted here.
When Lennie goes back to school after her sister Bailey passed away, she knows that nothing will ever be the same and she feels like no one understands what she's going through except for Bailey's boyfriend, Toby. She's bowled over when she meets the new student at band practice, Joe Fontaine of the incredible eyelashes and grin the size of continental United States. She doesn't understand why she's so affected by this stranger and why he occupies her thoughts when she should be thinking about Bailey.
It was easy for me to empathize with Lennie, having experienced the loss of a loved one a couple of years ago. I love how this book tackles grief and how Lennie handles hers in ways that even she doesn't understand. The Sky is Everywhere is so much more than a story with a love triangle as the summary implies. Even if the story occurs after Bailey passed away, you still feel like you get to know Bailey through Lennie's memories of her. I like how the book deals with loss, but balanced with that unhappiness is the sense of wonder and giddiness that comes with falling in love. Lennie struggles to cope with her sorrow and learns to accept that life goes on even without her sister.
There are a lot of quotable lines from this book but here's one that I especially liked:
My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.
I highly recommend this book because I have a feeling a lot of people will be able to relate with Lennie and everything she's going through. I enjoyed reading about the quirky secondary characters - it seemed like every character in this book has a very original personality. I also liked the poems scattered all throughout the book, poems about Bailey that Lennie writes in every surface that she can find. In the UK paperback edition, I've seen that the text is blue and it looks like handwriting in a journal and that the poems come in colored pictures that make the whole thing look like a scrapbook. I have the US hardcover edition, where everything's in black ink. All in all, a very strong debut for Jandy Nelson and I will watch out for any other book that she writes....more
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a very absorbing read. Each chapter end was writteOriginall posted here.
I think the UK editions are so pretty, look:
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a very absorbing read. Each chapter end was written in such a way that it encourages you to keep on reading and I think that's the mark of an excellent writer. Other people warned me that the language might take some getting used to. Todd's lack of education is clearly reflected in the way he narrates but that didn't bother me at all. Patrick Ness created a very intriguing world with this trilogy and it reminded me somewhat of Sharon Shinn's Samaria. Todd was believable as a boy on the cusp of manhood, as innocent as his foster fathers can keep him and clueless about his town's past. He has no idea of what's real and what's not in his world. When he discovers something unexpected, he has no choice but to run, together with his accidental friend, Viola. My favorite character in the entire book is Manchee, Todd's dog. I feel like if dogs could communicate with their masters, they'd act exactly like Manchee. At first I found him hilarious because he acted the same way as Dug, the talking dog in the Pixar film Up with his constant shouts of "Squirrel!" before running after the smaller animal. Manchee is a steadfast companion and the best friend any boy could ever have.
To be honest, I was hoping I'd love this just as much as my blogging friends did but that didn't happen (please don't hate me!). I really liked it but it didn't make me emotional, which is what other readers experienced. Others had really violent reactions to this book: they cried, they wanted to throw it against a wall, they had to pause before they could continue reading. I feel like I was more of a casual observer and I was kind of detached from the characters instead of being fully engrossed. And I can't even explain why. There wasn't anything specific that pulled me out of the story, I just wasn't sucked in. I'm starting to think that maybe I'm missing the dystopian gene? Why do I end up just liking the post-apocalyptic books that others love? But then again, I loved The Hunger Games and The Giver so maybe it really is just a matter of taste. Like I said, this is a really good book with excellent writing and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to fans of dystopian lit, I just wanted to explain why I didn't love it. I'm still looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy since I already have copies and I am curious about what will happen to Todd and the rest of the characters. I just don't think I will be as enthusiastic about this series as the rest of the fans are....more
Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon is a Chinese-inspired YA fantasy novel. Last week, I mentioned in my KniOriginally posted here.
Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon is a Chinese-inspired YA fantasy novel. Last week, I mentioned in my Knife review that R.J. Anderson is a fellow Sounisian and Megan Whalen Turner fan. I believe Cindy Pon is also a fan and look, they even went surfing together! My friend gave me a copy of Silver Phoenix for my birthday last year so I've had it for almost a year. I'm sorry it has taken me this long to read it but there are just so many books in the TBR pile.
I know there's been a lot of talk about the cover for this book and how the design from the hardcover (pictured above) changed to this design for the paperback. I don't want to go into that here but I wanted to point out an artwork for the book that I found from the author's website:
Isn't that beautiful? It shows Chen Yong and Ai Ling. How I wish that this lovely artwork was used for the cover instead. So I really liked that this book is different from other fantasy novels because of its Asian flavor. I may not know a lot about Chinese history and culture but it was refreshing to read about Eastern myths for a change. Several people warned me that I might go hungry while reading this book because of all the food references. I just said that we have a lot of Chinese restaurants here in the Philippines so that's not going to be a problem. I thought it was great that Ai Ling had such a big appetite and that most meals are described in detail. At the start of the novel, Ai Ling reminded me of Disney's Mulan because they're both unsuccessful at becoming proper brides and they both run away from home to go on quests. That's where the similarities end and Ai Ling's story goes a different way.
As much as I loved that Ai Ling's adventures involved demons and mythical creatures derived from Chinese lore, I felt like there were too many of them in the story. I mean yes, I get that Ai Ling is coming into her own powers and these demons were needed to show how she developed her abilities while fighting against them but eventually, I got tired of it. Also, I wasn't as invested in Ai Ling as I would've liked - I wasn't rooting for her because I felt like she would be able to get out of whatever predicament she manages to fall into because that's what kept happening in the book. It felt like there was a disconnect between me as a reader and Ai Ling as a character and that kept me from being truly immersed in the story. Those were some of the problems that I had and while I didn't exactly fall in love Silver Phoenix, I'd still recommend it to fantasy fans because of its unique world. It's certainly better than some of the YA paranormal books (yes, I'm not a fan) that are available right now. I think it would be great if more Asian YA fantasy novels are released in the future. I would probably pick up the sequel, Fury of the Phoenix, to find out what happens next to Ai Ling because this one was a bit open-ended. Oh it looks like Fury of the Phoenix will be released on my birthday, March 29. :)...more
I have been hearing good things about Andrea K. Höst's books for a while now. I’ve been curious about And All the Stars, particOriginally posted here.
I have been hearing good things about Andrea K. Höst's books for a while now. I’ve been curious about And All the Stars, particularly, because it’s a standalone. My friend Estara was generous enough to send me a Kindle edition as a gift a few months ago and I downloaded it right away. Now I’m not a big fan of science fiction – I rarely venture into that genre and would only do so if a book comes highly recommended by someone I know. I don’t know why but I tend to get confused by the details in sci-fi (while I don't have that kind of problem with fantasy novels). I was in the mood for something different so I decided to give And All the Stars a try last week.
It would be very difficult to talk about And All the Stars without giving away minor spoilers but I’ll do the best that I can. I really enjoyed reading this because of the surprising twists and turns so I wouldn’t want to ruin other readers’ experience by bringing up spoilery details. The story is set in present day (or not too far into the future) Sydney, where strange spires suddenly shoot up in the middle of well-populated cities all over the world. The spires spray an unknown dust-like substance that produces a cloud of haze. No one knows what the effect of the dust is on living things and I was wondering right along with the characters. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long as the story unfolded quickly. I have to be honest, I did have a hard time getting into And All the Stars at the start - I found it a bit difficult to picture the opening scene. I had to pause and try to figure out what was being portrayed. And that happened several times throughout the book, I would be thrown out of the story for a short while because of difficulties in imagining the scene. I didn't let it bother me all that much and I would like to be clear that I ended up really enjoying the book as a whole. It may be a minor thing but I really liked that Manila was mentioned in this one because that rarely happens:
Other major cities were mentioned as well, emphasizing that what's happening in Sydney is also taking place on a global scale. Aside from that, there's also a pretty diverse set of characters within the story. I could relate to that because of where I live now (Singapore), which can be considered a cultural melting pot. Madeleine is a likable heroine, so devoted to her art that everything else fades away while she's drawing or painting. While I've never had that kind of artistic talent, I enjoyed reading about it. Another aspect of the story that I enjoyed was how at its core, And All the Stars is about friendship and people getting together to help each other in the midst of a crisis. Of course, I'm also a big fan of stories that surprise me and this one did. There was a scene that made me stop and say, "Wait, what?" and then I just wanted to finish reading this as soon as I could. Plus there was a slow burn romance that I could totally root for, one that is much more complicated that I initially expected, making it all the more swoon-worthy. I also liked that this is a short standalone (the paperback edition says it has 204 pages) and is a perfect sample of the author's writing. Can't wait to try the rest of her novels. Highly recommended for fans of unusual YA. Like I said, I'm not a big sci-fi reader so you don't have to be one to appreciate And All the Stars....more
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history whOriginally posted here.
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history which I know nothing about. However, if a book comes highly recommended by someone I trust, I can't help but give it a try. Plus, Angie sent a copy already so the least I could do was read the book, right? :) The Road Home has two sections: the first part deals with Rebecca working as a nurse in Vietnam and the second part is about her coming back home to the States. I thought The Road Home was a standalone novel but looking at Ellen Emerson White's website, it looks like she wrote a series called The Echo Company which focuses on a certain soldier's experiences in Vietnam and Rebecca comes into the picture in the latter books. This is probably why when I was reading The Road Home, I felt like I came into the middle of the series.
As the story starts, Rebecca is working in an American hospital in Vietnam. She's a Radcliffe-educated nurse straight out of college and she signed up mainly because of issues with her family. It sort of felt like things already happened to Rebecca and the book is dealing with the aftereffects of those events but I didn't really mind. Rebecca's helicopter was shot down in the jungle and she was MIA for a couple of days until she meets a squad of American soldiers and one of them, Michael, becomes a close friend. Based on hints throughout the novel, Rebecca used to be a cheerful and lively girl and everything changed when she was lost in the jungle. Mostly she runs on autopilot as she tries to save lives when she doesn't even understand the point of it all. During her remaining time in Vietnam, we see her struggle to connect with other people: the Chief Nurse Major Doyle, Michael and even her mother and father through letters.
The Road Home is more than just Rebecca's story of coming back from Vietnam. It's about coming to terms with everything that she encountered while she was there and trying to understand how she's going to go on living when so many people died. Rebecca lost touch with herself when she went off to join the Army and this novel is about her finding herself again. The characters are believable and real - from their experiences during the war to how lost they were after they came back. It's an understatement that it's difficult to overcome the horrors of war. Your heart will break several times over while you're reading this one but I think it's worth reading. The last few chapters are my favorite part of the novel, when Rebecca decides to go on a road trip. Plus the ending? *sigh* It's perfect for the story. So again, I thank Angie for encouraging me to read a book that I normally wouldn't have picked up. I never thought I'd find comfort in a novel about war. I'm baffled that the book is out of print because it deserves to be read by more people. ...more
Vastly different from the first book in the series, Days of Blood and Starlight is all about the cycle of vioOriginally posted at Chachic's Book Nook.
Vastly different from the first book in the series, Days of Blood and Starlight is all about the cycle of violence and vengeance involved in the never-ending war between the seraph and chimaera. Karou and Akiva are on opposite sides of the war and both are struggling to make the most out of their current situation, to find a way to atone for everything that they’ve done previously. The peace and tranquility of Karou’s human life in Prague gives a nice contrast to the war-torn world of Eretz. If Daughter of Smoke and Bone was about an epic love, its sequel is about soul-crushing heartbreak. Heartbreak not just for Karou and Akiva but also for all their people, for everyone who has only ever known war. I can’t say that I loved twists and turns that the story took but I have to admit that it’s a compelling read. Laini Taylor has a beautiful writing style. I wanted to keep reading but also didn’t want to continue because I didn’t want the characters to go through more pain. While it’s not easy to read, I did appreciate the empathy that this kind of story invokes in the reader. I really just want things to get better for everyone (well not the villains, of course). I started the third book right after finishing this one because I couldn't wait to find out what’s going to happen....more
I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuildingOriginally posted here.
I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuilding and to understand the terms that go with it. This steampunk novel is set in a fictional country where there's a strict caste system. Only the icarii, couriers who can fly using metal wings, can move freely across all castes. It's funny because I'm afraid of heights but I would love to try flying using those icarus wings. Taya is an icarus who suddenly gets involved in Ondinium's politics when she rescues the wife and son of one of the country's most powerful leaders. Taya was an easy character to like, she's a no-nonsense type of person who strives to be the best that she can be in her job. She loves to travel, which is fitting since she's an icarus, and longs to be assigned as an envoy in other countries. Another character that I liked right from the start is grouchy, sarcastic Cristof who's the exact opposite of his handsome and charming brother Alister. Cristof is a member of the highest caste in the country but he chose to turn his back on his prestigious lifestyle. He works as a clockwright instead because he's fascinated with the inner workings of clocks and other mechanical devices. I think he's the steampunk equivalent of a nerd and I found him endearing. Cristof's geeky charm trumps Alister's suave moves. Another intriguing aspect of the novel is the relationship between these two brothers and how they do what they can for the other person even though they have such different views in life.
There were some parts of the novel that went way over my head like the mechanics of the icarii's metal wings and the discussions about programming and subroutines. Programs what? But those things didn't pull me out of the story so I didn't really mind them. There's a lot of action, some mystery and political intrigue in Clockwork Heart, which made it such a fun book to read. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that I enjoyed reading this because I'm a fan of political intrigue in fiction. You really don't have to be into steampunk to like this novel and I have a feeling most fantasy fans would take pleasure in reading Clockwork Heart. I was able to predict one of the plot points and had an "I knew it!" moment but all of the other events were a surprise. It's only the middle of the year but I have a feeling that this book will make it to my best of 2011 list. I really don't understand why it's out of print. I heard that there's a second book in the works and I'd love to read that as soon as it becomes available. Read this if you get the chance, it deserves to get more attention!...more
Read this for the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge. Series review originally posted at Chachic's Book Nook.
The only book challenge that I signed uRead this for the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge. Series review originally posted at Chachic's Book Nook.
The only book challenge that I signed up for this year is the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge, and I went for the Modern Age level. This means I need to read and review at least one graphic novel per month. On the reading part, that's definitely not too difficult to accomplish! The reviewing part is more difficult. I received Vol. 1 of The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist), Clayton Cowles last Christmas and I bought the next two installments right after. I read all three volumes together so I'm consolidating mini reviews of them in this post.
Vol. 1: The Faust Act - So many people were gushing about WicDiv and it kept being mentioned whenever I asked for graphic novel recommendations. I was excited to get started on Vol. 1 because I thought the concept for the series was brilliant. I was intrigued when I read the premise, and immediately wanted to find out more about these young men and women who turned into gods, and manifested their powers by performing concerts. They thrived on these performances, and the audience loved them. Kind of similar to how much influence rock stars and pop stars have in the real world, just a little bit more intense. I thought the artwork was gorgeous and reminded me a bit of Jem and the Holograms, one of my favorite animated shows when I was younger. Vol. 1 served as a quick introduction to the series, showing readers a wide range of characters. I enjoyed reading it but I was mostly confused by the time I reached the end. I felt like I couldn't get a clear grasp of the storyline. Good thing I already had a copy of Vol. 2 with me so I could dive right in.
Vol. 2: Fandemonium - Vol. 2 continues with the story that Vol. 1 started and introduced a few more of the gods. I went through Vol. 2 pretty quickly because I wanted to understand what was going on. And yes, I did get some of the answers that I wanted but even more questions were raised. Just when I thought I would finally see everything come together, BAM! Something else happens that I can't figure out. I know I'm being very vague here but I don't want to accidentally mention any spoilers. Similar to how I felt when I finished Vol. 1, I wanted the next installment ASAP. I was lucky I started reading these just as Vol. 3 was released.
Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide - I was so glad Vol. 3 was readily available in Kinokuniya Singapore. I didn't have to wait too long to find out what happens next. Going into Vol. 3, I had no clue that the illustrations would be different from the earlier two installments. Each chapter was illustrated by a different artist. While the idea may seem appealing to other readers, I really liked the original artwork and wanted the story to continue in that way. I found the abrupt changes jarring. On top of that, I still felt mostly confused even if I was already in the third book in the series. Sadly, it was a disappointing read for me. I just wasn't invested enough in the story or the characters.
After reading three volumes, my conclusion is that WicDiv isn't a series for me. There's too much violence, too many questions, and not enough answers. I wouldn't have minded the violence if I loved the story, but sadly, that wasn't the case here. As always, I'm glad I tried something new. But I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that I would have a better experience with my March graphic novel read....more
This is a freebie now until the 17th! It's the prequel to Mina's upcoming Chic Manila book, What You Wanted. While this short story is a freebie, I thought it would be the perfect time to write an equally short review for it. :)
As the title and the premise suggests, Wedding Night Stand is set during a wedding a few hours away from Manila. The happy couple who tied the knot? Julie and Anton from That Kind of Guy, another book from the author's Chic Manila series. I think it's pretty cute how these books are loosely connected. They're standalones but it feels like a treat whenever I see cameos of previous MCs. Also, it feels realistic because even though Metro Manila has a population of almost 12 million (according to Wikipedia), it still feels like such a small world sometimes.
I started reading Wedding Night Stand past midnight last Sunday. You might be wondering why I would start a book that late when I would have to wake up early the next day for work. That's because I was in denial that the weekend is over. Anyway, this was the perfect choice because I was able to finish it in one go. And I didn't have to give up that much sleeping time for it. It's short, flirty, and steamy with just the right amount of sexual tension for two attractive individuals who happened to be assigned seats next to each other. Can I just say that Damon's a really hot guy? Kulang na lang ng kanin. There's also a tiny bit of sweetness in there, when the two characters side with each other after learning about the other person's story. I picked this up, knowing that Damon and Andrea's romance would be continued in another book. But I think it can stand well enough on its own. So grab it while it's free!...more
After reading The Chocolate Thief, the first book in the Amour et Chocolat series, Laura Florand earned a place in my auto-buy aOriginaly posted here.
After reading The Chocolate Thief, the first book in the Amour et Chocolat series, Laura Florand earned a place in my auto-buy author list. She was generous enough to send me the ebook for the novella Turning Up the Heat. This installment is different from the rest of her books because it's part of another series set in Provence called La Vie en Roses. The Chocolate Rose ties both the Amour et Chocolat and La Vie en Roses series together. Having said that, Turning Up the Heat is still very much about food, a theme that is consistent in all of Laura Florand's books. Daniel is a celebrity chef, one who manages a famous restaurant and has numerous TV engagements, while his wife Lea is his supportive manager. They fell in love as teenagers and got married soon after, the story is set after they've been married for more than ten years. I liked that this novella went in a different direction than usual - instead of giving us a couple about to start a relationship, Laura shows us how difficult marriage can get even though the love is obviously still there. Every marriage has its own problems and when husband and wife both lead busy lives, lack of communication is definitely an issue. After everything they've been through together, I was rooting for Daniel and Lea to figure things out so they can have a happy ending....more
I've had Rat Queens Volume 1 sitting in my bookshelf for a while now and I really don't know why it took me so long to pick it up. This was awesome! TI've had Rat Queens Volume 1 sitting in my bookshelf for a while now and I really don't know why it took me so long to pick it up. This was awesome! The four ladies who are part of the Rat Queens are all great - they're spunky, funny, and a little bit crazy in different ways. It's actually a little surprising how much there is about them in just one graphic novel volume (some things are just hinted at, of course, but it's fun to look forward to more revelations in the next installments). The artwork is gorgeous and goes very well with the story. An engaging start to the series. I'm going to add this to my best of 2015 pile, together with Nimona. Glad I don't have to wait for Volume 2 to be released, I'm planning to dive straight into it....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