Jun 30, 2014

{Blog Tour} Book Review: Say Her Name - James Dawson

Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Release Date: June 5th 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC borrowed for blog tour
Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...
There are months to go before Halloween, but I have already found (and read) the Halloween book. Perfectly set and creepy right off the bat, Say Her Name had my attention from start to finish, and I was raving so much while reading it that my horror-movie-loving sister also got intrigued. Too bad she doesn't read.

Bloody Mary has always terrified me, and even in my dreams, I've never been brave enough to dare summoning the legendary ghost, so I couldn't keep myself from shaking my head as Bobbie Rowe and her friends stood in front of that bathroom mirror and completed the dare. And so begins the eerie events that escalate as the days go by, and before their five days are up, they have to learn the truth behind the legend before they become part of the paranormal statistic.

Reading Say Her Name was like watching a horror movie, but better - and believe me because I've watched my fair share, thanks to the aforementioned sister. I kept on squealing and screeching, particularly as I read the scary scenes because I couldn't close my eyes the way I do when watching said horror movies (which is probably why they don't scare me much anymore). And that's another reason why books > movies, friends.

And you know how characters in horror movies just have to act stupid, like split up inside a freaking haunted house? When I go into anything horror, I always dread experiencing another batch of irritation because of that kind of idiocy, but there is none of that in this book. The author knew how to move a horror story forward without the facepalm becoming necessary, so more props to him for that.

"Some people just shine a bit brighter than others and it's got nothing to do with what they look like."
Oh, and can I just mention the romance? Because normally, in horror movies, this is another thing that ends up being 'meh', but again, not here. Bobbie and Caine, the outsider boy who is also being haunted by Bloody Mary, were so swoony with their awkwardness and cuteness, and knowing if they would both make it through the five days alive and together was another reason why I couldn't put this book down.

A gripping, hair-raising horror mystery, the only problem I had with Say Her Name was the very horror-movie-cliche ending. If my sisters and I were reading this together, that ending would have been the point where we'd sigh and roll our eyes in unison. But! This book was still very scary, and I recommend reading it at night for full creeptastic effect.

MY FAVORITE PART is Mary manifesting. I had to put the book down and breathe for a while.


Jun 27, 2014

{Blog Tour} Book Review: Plus One - Elizabeth Fama

Title: Plus One
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Release Date: April 8th 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC borrowed for blog tour
It takes guts to deliberately mutilate your hand while operating a blister-pack sealing machine, but all I had going for me was guts.
Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol deliberately injures herself in order to gain admission to a hospital, where she plans to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. By violating the day-night curfew, Sol is committing a serious crime, and when the kidnap attempt goes awry it starts a chain of events that will put Sol in mortal danger, uncover a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population, and throw her together with D'Arcy BenoĆ®t, the Ray medical apprentice who first treats her, then helps her outrun the authorities—and with whom she is fated to fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.
Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights—and a compelling, rapid-fire romantic adventure story.
Plus One started out as a two-star book for me. The first hundred pages were a struggle to get past because I failed to connect with the main character, Sol, before she started running all over town and because the world-building was kind of inadequate at first, confusing me. Why is this society divided into Night and Day? What the heck does Plus One mean? And, worst of all, I don't understand French - please translate?! This book requires a lot of patience because - take my word for it - it gets infinitely better; five-star better, even, in my case.

The story is set in an alternate universe where, in order to maximize the diminishing work force in the face of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the government divided society into two: Day and Night, and people in each can only go out of their homes on the duration of their namesake. Sol, a Smudge, plans to kidnap her newborn niece from the hospital for her dying grandfather to meet, but that plan soon goes awry.

A French-speaking, blackmailing, curfew-breaking monster. And he didn't know the half of it: he didn't know I was an aspiring kidnapper.
Sol was a hard character to like. She whole-heartedly believed that D'Arcy was a selfish, privileged Day when in fact she was the selfish one who wanted everyone to drop what they were doing and risk their lives to help her kidnap her niece, like the world owed her that for everything she'd been through. But lucky her because despite the trouble she brought, D'Arcy still helped her, risking the bright future that he'd worked so hard for.

The blurb has made it no secret that this partnership would turn into a romance, but despite that I seriously had my doubts because it was difficult to imagine love blooming between these two very different people, but it happens, and good gravy. The history! The chemistry! The kissing! Theirs truly is one epic romance. It's not the kind of romance that makes you squeal and blush; it's the kind of romance that makes your heart soar.

Four hundred billion suns spiraling through space together. Our solar system just one grain on that galactic carousel. The carousel itself a speck in the cosmos. And here I am in this small clearing, on the surface of the earth, as transient and unnoticed to the universe as the dry blades of grass that are poking into my shirt. It’s too much to comprehend up there, too enormous, and I’m so small when it’s on top of me. It frightens me, like I’m being crushed.
Filled with exquisite prose and a variety of characters who only made the story more unique and unpredictable, Plus One is not a book to be devoured; it's a book that has to be savored. To be honest, I could have done with at least a hundred more pages as nothing much was resolved with regards to the dystopian aspect of the story, so sequel, please!

MY FAVORITE PART is D'Arcy topping Sol's Milky Way ♥


Jun 23, 2014

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: MELT - Selene Castrovilla


Title: MELT
Author: Selene Castrovilla
Release Date: November 6th 2014
Publisher: Last Syllable Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: eARC for blog tour
MELT is a brutal love story, set against the backdrop of The Wizard of Oz. Sixteen year old “good girl” Dorothy just blew into the small town of Highland Park – where the social headquarters is Munchkinland (Dunkin’ Donuts.) There, she meets Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism? And then there’s his family's secret – about to be unleashed. 
Told in dual first person, Joey's words are scattered on the page - reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason - until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away? 
MELT is based on true events. It is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. It will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul.
MELT is not a book for the faint of heart. I went into it on a lazy Sunday morning and having completely forgotten what the blurb said, and instantly it had me in its grip. This is one of those books that is just impossible to put down, and because of its length - three hundred twenty-eight pages, according to Goodreads, but it does feel significantly shorter than that - I don't think anyone would have to.

Dorothy is an all-around good girl: she has good grades, does not smoke, drink, or care for her social status. But when her parents' job bring her to Highland Park, she meets Joey, someone that everyone considers to be a bad boy through and through. He drinks, has a mangled fist from numerous fights, and even a rap sheet, but no one in their small town knows the horrors that he's subjected to daily at home. No one knows, and when they see him, no one cares... except for Dorothy.

They ain't doing nothing new to me.
I already got myself locked up in my head.
The moment we enter his head, it is easy to discern that Joey has a twisted life. His story broke my heart because, once we get past the booze and the fighting, he really is a good guy who just wants a normal, loving family to come home to. So the entire time as Dorothy tries her best to unravel him, I kept waving my internal pom poms for her.

There is, undeniably, quite a bit of insta-love in this book, but it was so beautifully done that it didn't bother me one bit. And who was I to question the sparks that flew right off page one, the same sparks that melted my heart right alongside Dorothy's and Joey's? Their relationship goes through its highs and lows, Dorothy desperate to tear down his walls and Joey letting her in while still keeping her at a distance because he's sure that once she learns of his real life, she'd bail.

A gripping tale of love, the lack of it, and just what both can do to a person, MELT is one book I will never forget. The author truly nailed the dual POV and made me not just read the story, but experience it, and I only breathed for real once I got to the end.

MY FAVORITE PART is the ending. Sigh.

About the author:
Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April 2013. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons.


Jun 20, 2014

Jun 18, 2014

Book Review: Twinmaker - Sean Williams

Title: Twinmaker (Twinmaker #1)
Author: Sean Williams
Release Date: November 7th 2013
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: signed ARC from TBD Affiliates
Clair is pretty sure the offer in the ‘Improvement' meme is just another viral spam, though Libby is determined to give it a try.
But what starts as Libby's dream turns into Clair's nightmare when her friend vanishes.
In her search for answers, Clair seeks out Jesse - a boy whose alternative lifestyle might help to uncover the truth.
What they don't anticipate is intervention from the mysterious contact known only as Q, and being caught up in a conspiracy that will change everything.
Twinmaker is not a book for the impatient. The reader is expected to catch on to meanings of the jargon used in this futuristic world and someone who's not focused on the book is bound to be confused, maybe even give up entirely, as I was tempted to do more than once. And how could I not feel that way when most of the first few chapters confused me? I was like, are they actually teleporting? What in the world is the Water Wars? An explanation early on would have been nice.

Aside from the history, the "present day" world-building also could have been better. The technology behind teleporting was explained well - although I presume science geeks would have a lot to say about it - but "fabbing", as in duplicating everything from food to clothes, was not. Or maybe it was, but I forgot about it somewhere in the middle of reading these five hundred pages.

But what this book lacks in world-building, it makes up for in its characters. There are a lot of them here, but the story is of course focused on Clair and her race to save her best friend Libby - a race that takes her farther than she ever imagined and makes her rethink everything she believed to be true her whole life. Her love for Libby was really touching albeit quite unrealistic because not even once did she get angry when Libby kept on antagonizing her after she'd gone through Improvement.

Clair's fight to reveal the truth about Improvement to the world gains her many friends and enemies - okay, more enemies than friends, but two people are by her side the whole time. First is Jesse, the outcast who answers her call without question, who helps her even when it's out of his comfort zone. I saw the romance coming more than a mile away, but I love how it's subtle and doesn't distract from the story at all. Clair also finds a friend in Q, the mysterious entity who is able to hack her way into almost anything as long as there's a signal. Without a doubt, Clair would have died a dozen times over if not for Q. 

"...but anything was possible in a world where people could be reduced to data - data that could be edited, copied and erased as easily as any other electronic file..."
Fast-paced and plain unpredictable, Twinmaker is one book that action fans will enjoy, although I imagine that nitpicky readers will have the same reservations as I did. The story could have progressed faster, indeed, so patience, I say again, because I can definitely say that it is worth it, and the sequel can't come fast enough.

MY FAVORITE PART is the ending. Whoa.


Jun 14, 2014

Book Review: Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil

Title: Life in Outer Space
Author: Melissa Keil
Release Date: February 1st 2013
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository
Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.
Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.
Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies... but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.
There are a lot of great books out there, but only a few are stand-outs, gems within their genres. Life in Outer Space is one of those rarities. For some reason - well, it's obviously the title - I actually thought this was a sci-fi book, and that's just the first of the many amusing oddities this book has. I have Dianne of Oops! I Read a Book Again to thank for making this one known to me. God knows how it pulled me out of a weeks-long reading slump.

Right from page one, I knew this book would turn out to be something completely different from what I'd thought it would be (sci-fi expectations aside). It's not hard to relate to Sam, the awkward and realistic and a tad bit cynical main character, and his geektastic group of friends who supplies what little color his otherwise dull life has. Victims to the Mean Boys and Girls of their school, they stick together and hide in their own safe haven, counting down the days until they get out of the hellhole that is high school.

I guess some people enter your orbit and get stuck, and there's nothing either of you can do about it. 
At least until Camilla, the nerdy girl who's cute and connected-to-famous-people enough to be inducted into the cool group on her first day at a new school, barges in on their monotonous life. Sam knows they should stay away from her and her attempts at friendship because what would a girl like her want to do with people like them? But that proves hard to do when Camilla invites him to play World of Warcraft and wears her hair a la Princess Leia to school. Slowly but not-so-subtly, Camilla alters his life from existing to truly living.

We watched Dirty Dancing. Mike fell asleep, but I had to admit I kind of liked it, which made me question my own sexuality, raising a whole heap of other questions I chose not to examine.
See, what I loved most about this book was how it dealt with heavy issues in a light way. I kept laughing at the weirdest, most inappropriate parts, earning me weird looks from the people around me. It has the kind of humor that's so brutally honest it's hilarious, and combined with the peculiarities of the characters, Life in Outer Space makes for one adorable, feel-good book that I recommend for anyone looking for something fresh. Oh, and can I just say how much I loved the friendship and romance in this book? Because aww.

MY FAVORITE PART was Sam's karate intervention :))


Jun 12, 2014

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: Girl of Rage - Charles Sheehan-Miles

Title: Girl of Rage (Rachel's Peril #2)
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Release Date: May 25th 2014
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Age Group: New Adult
Source: eARC for blog tour
Four days ago, Andrea Thompson agreed to fly to the United States to help her sister Carrie. Four days ago, everything changed.
Now Andrea is lost and on the run. Dylan Paris is missing. Julia and Crank Wilson are under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. The Thompson family is scattered and in danger, and Andrea’s very identity may hold the key to unlock decades of buried secrets.
Andrea, the youngest member of the Thompson clan, sets out on a search to find answers. Who is attacking her family? Who is trying to kill her and why?
As Andrea seeks her answers, everything she thought she knew about her family will be turned upside down.
Girl of Rage picks up right where Girl of Lies left off, with the Thompson family under attack on all fronts by adversaries unknown to them. The sisters struggle to keep themselves safe while trying to discover the truth about the ugly past that their parents hid from them, one that carries with it a gruesome event that a handful of people in positions of power means to hide forever, no matter the cost.

I held out hope that this book would be less like its predecessor and more like the Thompson Sisters books and I ended up being disappointed because of that, but that's not to say Girl of Rage isn't a good book. Reading this felt like watching a telenovela that took its time telling the story of every single character, like throwing in a bunch of random ingredients into a pot and having nothing to do but wait and see what dish comes out of it. It requires a big amount of emotional investment in the characters to fully enjoy this series, which, fortunately, I have a ton of.

What surprised me the most about this sequel is how it made me feel for characters that I used to hate. *cough* Adelina *cough* In here we learn that there is more than a lot of history to everyone, and that has made them who they are now. The multiple POVs certainly made it easier to sympathize with everyone. 

Overall, Girl of Rage is better than Girl of Lies. More gripping, fast-paced, and unpredictable, I found it easier to plow through, and I am looking forward to reading the third book. Now, just what is up with that series title?

MY FAVORITE PART is the ending.


About the author:
Charles Sheehan-Miles has been a soldier, computer programmer, short-order cook and non-profit executive, and is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books, including the indie bestsellers Just Remember to Breathe and Republic: A Novel of America's Future. Charles and his partner Andrea Randall live and write together in South Hadley, Massachusetts.


Jun 7, 2014

Beautiful People {1}

Beautiful People is a meme designed by Sky and Cait that will help writers learn more about their characters. As a few of you may know, I'm an aspiring writer and the MC of my current WIP is a tad bit secretive; she even keeps secrets from me. Mainly about how the eff I should finish writing her story but I guess that's my problem. Oh, well. Anyway, since I need help figuring her out, I'm going to answer these questions in relation to my MC.

1. What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?
       Her full name is Astrid Vann. I chose her first name because in Norse it means "divine strength". The last name is totally random.

2. How old are they, and when were they born?
       She's seventeen, and she was born in the 707th year since the Exemplars arrived on what is to be the great nation of Morwakas. (My WIP's high fantasy, so bear with these things you can't understand lol.)
3. Describe their physical appearance.
       Astrid has black hair that barely touches her shoulders and has ink blue eyes. She's short - around 5'3" - and her best friend Vic always reminds her of it whenever she starts pestering him. No photo, but I like to imagine her as Isabelle Fuhrman despite the numerous obvious differences in appearance. *shrugs*

4. Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences.
       Impulsive. Aside from her family and Vic, she doesn't have much to lose, so she does practically whatever she pleases.
5. What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?
       Long Live by Taylor Swift. It's the song that inspired my entire WIP <3
6. Which one of the seven deadly sins describes your character?
       Wrath. If Astrid wants something, she'll do everything to get it, especially if it's revenge.

7. If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?
       No comment.
8. What is their favourite word?
       Money. My own materialism somehow made its way to her.
9. Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.)
       Vic, so she does something about it a.k.a. my WIP :))
10. What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?
       Sight: books. Sound: fire crackling. Smell: the meat cooking in that fire.

Now this is a fun meme! :D

Jun 6, 2014

{Blog Tour} Book Review + Giveaway: Don't Fall - Rachel Schieffelbein


Title: Don't Fall
Author: Rachel Schieffelbein
Release Date: May 27th 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: eARC for blog tour
Goodreads | Amazon
In which a teenage girl endures the over-protective love of her adoptive mother until she falls for a boy who has her wanting to spread her wings, pitched as a contemporary retelling of Rapunzel.
Seventeen-year-old Anya leads a very secluded life in a house on the edge of town with her adopted mother. She doesn't go to school, but instead has a private tutor. Her over-protective mom keeps her so sheltered that she doesn't even have a best friend.
But Anya doesn't seem to mind. She has her books, her photography, and her daydreams, and would do anything to please her mom. Until one day at the library, the only place she's allowed to go, she takes a picture of a beautiful boy.
Before long she's lying to her mom, and sneaking out late at night to meet Zander. But Zander wants more than a secret romance. If Anya wants to be with the boy of her dreams, she will have to risk her relationship with the only other person she's ever cared about.
At every mention of Rapunzel to describe a story, what I find myself most curious about is the reason behind the mother hiding her daughter from the rest of the world, and although Don't Fall didn't end up as dark as I'd thought it would, it was still a heartwarming read.

Anya's mother has her living a very sequestered life, and between their house and the library, Anya doesn't have much to do aside from photography. One day, she takes a photo of a boy at the library, but he catches her before she manages to sneak away. Zander and Anya hit it off and the friends become lovers, but their relationship soon feels the strain of Anya's overprotective mother.

Somehow, even outside the library and our clearing in the woods, we were still in our own world. Everything else could fade away, and he and I would remain, tied together by something I couldn't quite explain. In its simplest term, love.
It would be easy for some readers to mistake Anya and Zander's romance for insta-love when it's actually more like insta-attraction, which is realistic for two recluses like them. It was so much fun to watch their reluctanct advances towards a relationship, their Tuesdays-and-Thursdays-only meetings at the library and then at a cupcake shop. The story truly is focused on their romance and how it affects Anya and her mother, and it's perfect as a lazy day read.

I thought up all sorts of dark, twisted back stories for Anya's mother and her unusual way of rearing Anya, and while it didn't disappoint, I feel like I wanted more from this aspect of the book. But Don't Fall certainly made up for it in many other ways. Quite a handful of references to other well-known YA books are made in this one, but even without them, I believe Don't Fall is worth a read.

MY FAVORITE PART is the ending :3


About the author:
Rachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.


Jun 5, 2014

{Blog Tour} Excerpt + Giveaway: The Polaris Uprising - Jennifer Ibarra


Title: The Polaris Uprising (Polaris #1)
Author: Jennifer Ibarra
Release Date: October 20th 2013
Publisher: Tiwala Books
Age Group: Young Adult
No citizen shall be left behind.
Life in Neress is simple. For nearly four decades, people have known exactly what’s expected of them. Obey the rules, follow the path that’s been laid out, and everything will be provided for: food, shelter, education, safety. No need goes unmet.
But the cost is steep: you lose all rights to make your own choices in life.
In seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will come of age and take over for her father as president of this idyllic nation. Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are finally opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.
Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.
Here's an excerpt!

Jun 2, 2014

{A Reader's Digest} May Recap!

I've been wanting to start doing monthly recaps since January of this year but for some reason, I'm only getting to post one now! *glares at busy schedule mixed with procrastinating self* Aside from reading the books I'm supposed to read and review, I had to move into a tiny apartment with my siblings while our house is getting renovated and I'm still not done adjusting to the bathroom being the only place in the house where I can be alone. Seriously. This place is that tiny. And summer in the Philippines, you guys. It's like hell on Earth. When I get home from school, I'm so drained of energy that I barely manage to stay awake for the rest of the day. Ugh. It's also kind of been a sad month for my fangirl self because it's sunk in that I'll be missing the Taylor Swift and One Direction concerts that'll be held here in Manila. Sigh. Sobs. :c