Thursday, November 19, 2015

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Image via Goodreads
Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Release Date: February 21st, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Borrowed
Genre: YA, LGBT, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, wow! This book is awesome. I took my sweet time reading this, savouring it and just allowing the story to seep into my soul.

Aristotle, 'Ari', is a 15-year-old boy. He's trying to understand why he feels sad all the time even when he knows he has no reason to. He's angry and moody. Ari has no real friends until Dante.

I didn't think it was my job to accept what everyone said I was and who I should be.

Dante is the opposite of Ari. While Ari keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself, Dante wears his heart on his sleeve. Ari was ashamed of who he was whereas Dante accepted and embraced himself even when he knew that people would judge him for being different. Dante and Ari became fast friends over the summer.

I suppose Ari, in a way, loved Dante even then. He's never felt anything like that for anyone. By that, I mean he's never cared for a friend the way he did for Dante. And that scares him.

The writing is poetic and beautiful. If this wasn't a library copy, I would've highlighted all the sentences I loved instead of copying them out on a paper.

For the music to be over so soon. For the music to be over when it had just begun. That was really sad.

I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn't get- and never would get.

I could relate to Ari's angsty thoughts about life. Well, that's because I WAS that angsty teen stuck in an ecotone once. I was also trying to discover the secrets of the universe as well.




*For more book reviews, check out my Goodreads page*

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I know we're cool...

I've been listening to Gwen Stefani's "Cool" on repeat since last Saturday. This song- its melody and the vibe that I got from it- is exactly how I feel at the moment. The song, in its literal sense, is about two former lovers who still managed to remain as good friends after their romantic feelings for each other ended. But it is this pang of nostalgia I got that really pulled me towards this song. I just realised something: most of the personal posts I've done on this blog are on nostalgia... Anyway, as I was saying, I was feeling really nostalgic for the past week or so.

Last Saturday came too soon.

I sent one of my best friends off at the airport that day. She's starting a new chapter in her life: university. It's awfully selfish of me to only think of how I'm gonna miss her and that I won't get to hang out with her anymore.

I mean, sure, she's not the first of my friends to leave home for uni. But, she's the first of my friends whom I've sent off at the airport, knowing that it'd be quite some time before we can see each other in person again. I guess saying our goodbyes at the airport made the leaving part sadder.

I couldn't shake off this shroud of sadness and okay, loneliness that day. And by the way, making a solo trip to the mall after sending a friend off is not a good idea. If anything, it amplified my loneliness that day as I saw people hanging out with their buddies and enjoying their Saturday afternoon.

When I saw the music video for "Cool" on the tele, the song just stuck. It 'got' what I was feeling and that made me feel a little better. I have to remind myself that this is not the end and that after all that we've been through, I know we're cool...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Image via Goodreads

Title: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, historical fiction, fantasy
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London, working as a maid and trying to forget the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumours about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he's alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she's determined to find out if the accusations were true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward, Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the secret of her father's new life: He experiments on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. 

Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius - and madness - in her own blood.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was drawn into the story from the very first page, Megan Shepherd's writing took me to historical period London. As Juliet made her journey from the dingy basement of the university's medical building to a remote island where her father had free rein to carry out his experiments on animals, I was there each step of the way. The imagery created is so real that at times it felt as if I watching rolls of old films in my mind.

It has an interesting premise, what with a mad scientist, Juliet and two handsome love interests all being on an island filled with strange natives. Although I did make a right guess about one of the secrets which Juliet's father kept from her, I was surprised by other plot twists.

I enjoyed reading about the romance, maybe a little too much. Just a little. There's Montgomery, who was once a servant in the Moreau household before the scandal that changed Juliet's life took place. And there's Edward, a castaway Juliet met on her journey to the island. The interaction between Juliet and the two love interests are sometimes so charged with sexual tension. And I loved it.


View all my reviews

Friday, July 31, 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Image via Goodreads
Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Square Fish
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think I might have a little crush on Marissa Meyer right now because of this absolutely brilliant story.

When I first found out that the main character is a cyborg and the story has something to do with outer space, I was immediately turned off by the idea. But then, fate stepped in. After Cinder kept popping up in front of me, in bookstores and on my Goodreads feed, I decided to buy the book. I have since owned it for at least a couple of months before finally reading it.

And that was when I realised all the fun I'd missed out on all this time. That and the fact that I was wrong to hold prejudices against cyborgs being main characters of any book.

First of all, I have to say that Marissa Meyer did a superb job on the world-building. The whole idea of the Eastern Commonwealth, the other continents and the moon is just so interesting. And the fact that all of these are interconnected to execute this story is genius.

The characters are equally wonderful. My favourites are definitely Cinder, Kai, Iko and Peony. I really appreciate the fact that Marissa Meyer created a main character who doesn't lose her head when the prospect of love comes around. Cinder is a likeable character who has far important issues, such as the risk of death or imprisonment, to deal with than a romance with a certain guy. And she knows it.

And there's Kai, who's the new Emperor of New Beijing. He's sweet and he might have a little crush on someone but he didn't forget that he's a leader of his nation. So, thank you, Marissa Meyer for showing me that YA dystopian heroes do have the ability to prioritise and take appropriate rational actions when they are facing an impending war.

Monday, June 29, 2015

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Image via Goodreads
Title : P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved                        Before #2)         
Author: Jenny Han
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Contemporary Romance
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Lara Jean,
I've waited a year for you! One whole year for you to figure things out with Peter. But the wait was worth it. So, don't feel bad about it...

I had tons of fun reading this book. Just as the first book did, the sequel also manages to put a smile on my face. Oh, the feels! Lara Jean is as lovely as ever. Also, I love how themes on family, friendships and love play into the story. This is such a cute story,

In P.S. I Still Love You, we finally got a proper introduction to John Ambrose McClaren, whom we met briefly in the first book. He was one of the recipients of Lara Jean's love letters.

I am torn between Peter and John. I like Peter's character- he's sweet and he's confident of himself. But then, there's John and every moment he shared with Lara Jean is just so cute and romantic. And now, I have a crush on him.

I really enjoyed this book, as much as I did the first book. If Jenny Han decides to write a third book to this series (I'm keeping my fingers crossed), I'm all game.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Image via Goodreads
Title : Still Alice
Author: Lisa Genova
Release Date: February 26th, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: Bought
Genre: Adult fiction, Contemporary, Illness
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:


Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life - and her relationship with her family and the world around her - for ever.

Unable to care for herself, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose as her concept of self gradually slips away. But Alice is a remarkable woman, and her family learn more about her and each other in their quest to hold on to the Alice they know. Her memory hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once in a blue moon, I would come across a book that affects me emotionally- one that leaves me staring into the space, pondering over the plot and my feels for a few minutes after closing the book. Still Alice is that kind of book for me. I know it's too soon to tell but I bet my emotions over this book will probably stay with me for weeks. This is not much of a book review. But I just want to pen down my feels on this book.

Still Alice is about Alice Howland, a Harvard Psychology professor, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It was heartbreaking to watch Alice struggle to remember simple things, like her children's names. The thought of how a person's cognitive abilities deteriorates as Alzheimer's disease slowly takes over is terrifying.

When the subject of Alzheimer's disease came to mind, I've always thought of how hard living with an AD patient is for the caregivers. Never have I given any thought on how this disease affects the lives of the patients and how difficult it is for them. This book has shed some light for me on Alzheimer's disease. It has also given me some insight on the disease from the patient's point of view.

I thought of what I would wish I'd done with my life if I have AD. I asked myself that same question again but imagine myself as old and healthy. I gave different answers to the same question. The regrets I might have in life don't matter. What matters is the time we have now. Still Alice showed me that.

The core to this story, for me, is love. The love and support from family and friends make our lives meaningful and worthwhile. Even if we don't remember about it one day.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Recommendation: Short Stories

Here's a list of short stories I've read this year which I find really thought-provoking. They are definitely worth a read.


1. The Egg by Andy Weir

Image via Goodreads

This short story really made me think about life in general and how we treat people. I never expected a 4-page story to be so... deep. I would recommend everyone to give this a read. It's definitely worth it. Besides, it's super short.

You can read The Egg here.









2. Ponies by Kij Johnson

Image via Goodreads

Don't mistook the cover for a fluffy read about ponies and rainbow. This short story is actually kinda dark. It's a very interesting depiction of peer pressure and how it controls our actions.

You can read Ponies here.










3. The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

Image via Goodreads

This short story depicts a moral dilemma. Would you sacrifice the freedom of one child for the happiness of thousands? Or should thousands suffer in exchange of one child's freedom? It's utilitarianism versus liberalism. For me, I chose to walk away from Omelas.

You can read this short story here.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Procrastination

     One of my enemies during finals is, you guessed it: procrastination. That along with TV that decides to air all of their best programmes while I'm supposed to be studying for exams. And let's not mention all my TBR books that are lazing on my bookshelf behind me while I'm studying.

     During exam week this time (ahem, this week), I found myself doing some of the following activities that are not relevant to my tests:

  1. Doing household chores at night. Last Saturday, I was home alone because poor Grace had to stay home and study for her finals. And did she really? Well, no. At around 9 p.m., she decided to vacuum the entire house. Yes, at night. I mean, maybe she was procrastinating but at least she did something productive, eh?

  2. Writing a silly story. It's about a girl who could turn the river pink just by doing her laundry washing by the river. I seemed to be fond of anything to do with chores this week...

  3. Doing research on musical instruments. I've always wanted to learn to play at least one musical instrument in my life. Okay, so the guitar and harmonica didn't work out for me. And I'd lost interest in them after a few months. But I have a reason for that. Are you ready for this? It didn't work for me because it's just not meant to be... Anyway, I've decided on going back to basics and try learning to play the recorder.

  4. Buying a recorder. Yep, I went to the mall today and bought myself a recorder. Thank goodness that it's inexpensive!

  5. Watching YouTube tutorials on how to play the recorder. And I've made progress! I've learned how to place my fingers on the recorder for the music notes B, A and G. But I still play terribly. Gotta work on that.

  6. Watching the pros play the recorder. That is, until I discovered that one of the maestros is actually 15 years old.... What the heck am I doing with my life? That's when I awake from my fantasy of becoming a pro musician. Oh yeah, and I have two more papers to sit for this week.

Well, I guess it's time to get back with my revision and stop procrastinating by blogging about my issue with procrastination.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Angelfall by Susan Ee


Image via Goodreads
Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Release Date: May 23rd, 2013
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Source: Borrowed
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
Purchase Link: Book Depository

Blurb:


It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

My rating : 5 of 5 stars

This is my first reread of Angelfall. I didn't write a review on my first read last year as I know that I could never do this book justice. In my opinion, it was just that good. This time around, I  have a strong urge to recommend this book to every one. Well, here goes nothing.


I am not, and have never been, a fan of fantasy books about angels. But I make an exception for this book. It's dark, twisted and just awesome.  I enjoyed the plot, the twists and the characters.

Angelfall is one action-packed book. I was fed scenes after scenes of action that I am sucked into the story right from the very beginning.  Another thing is that there is absolutely no insta-love. I love the witty banter between Raffe and Penryn. I love how they started as enemies and slowly became friends and maybe something more. I love reading about Penryn's Mom and her crazy antics...Okay, now I'm just gushing about the book.

Anyway, I just simply have to post some of my favourite banters between Raffe and Penryn:
“Here, I’ll show you how to use it. Let me see your foot.”
“That’s a pretty intimate demand in the angel world. It usually takes dinner, some wine, and sparkling conversation for me to give up my feet.”
And
“I never kid about my warrior demigod status." 
"Oh. My. God." I lower my voice, having forgotten to whisper. "You are nothing but a bird with an attitude. Okay, so you have a few muscles, I’ll grant you that. But you know, a bird is nothing but a barely evolved lizard. That’s what you are.” 

Penryn might be one of  my fave heroines in YA fiction. She's badass and would do anything to keep her family safe from harm. This girl is tough. She's not some damsel waiting to be saved. Go girl power!






Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Book Haul

I might have gone a bit overboard this month...



Yes, I've bought 14 books this month. Used up all my book vouchers on nine books and bought another five second-hand books from a friend. Technically speaking, I didn't pay more than RM 50 for all the books shown in the pic. So, I guess I'm still a rational consumer then.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Arts and Crafts

Arts has never been my forte. My Arts teacher in primary school made the mistake of entering me in an inter-class drawing competition (as a last minute substitute for my classmate who couldn't make it to the competition). We were asked to draw the hibiscus and I guess you could guess what happened. I still have a vivid memory of my drawing (as 11-year-old me felt really humiliated by it). My drawing of two droopy-looking hibiscus sticking out of a bare tree branch placed last. The worst part of it all is that all the drawings are put up on display in the teachers' lounge, for everyone to see. I think my Arts teacher was quite appalled by my drawing and that was the last time she ever asked me to participate in any arts-related competition.

When I was told that I had been delegated to make a group birthday card for a friend of mine, I was worried. What if the card looks hideous? What if they all hated it? Didn't they know I almost failed arts in school???

After that, I did a lot of online research and had decided that making a pop-up card is probably my safest bet. I mean, I don't need to draw or paint anything as long as I could find a template for the design I want. Thank you, Internet!






I have to say, I'm quite pleased with the carriage pop-up card. It's not perfect but it looks better than my hibiscus drawing, that's for sure. I then decided, on my friend's suggestion, to decorate the envelopes too. Again, thank you Internet for all the wonderful ideas.



I even tried my hand at Zentangle and am quite delighted by how it turned out. I mean, I don't understand what exactly it is that I drew but at least it looks... nice, I guess.

Zentangle!








Friday, April 17, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Image via Goodreads
Title : Red Queen (Red Queen #1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just when I thought that I am growing out of the YA genre and that YA novels no longer have the flair to attract me as a reader, Red Queen came along and proved me wrong. It felt like ages ago since a YA dystopian novel managed to fascinate me and keep me interested from start to finish. So, I guess it's safe to say that I truly enjoyed every minute of my read.

In Red Queen, the world is divided by blood- silver and red. The Silvers have special abilities such as the power to control fire, water and even minds. They live a life of luxury. The Reds, however, are those without any powers and are made slaves in a country ruled by the Silvers. When Mare Barrow, a Red, discovered that she too has an ability (her ability is actually pretty cool but I won't spoil it for you guys), the King had her introduced to the world as a lost Silver princess. Consequently, the King had her betrothed to one of his sons. Mare has to cover up the fact that she's a Red or risk being killed by the Silvers.

Mare kinda reminds me of Alina from Shadow and Bone. Not personality-wise but more on how they went from being an anonymous citizen to being discovered to possess an ability that they aren't supposed to have. Even though both Red Queen and Shadow and Bone may share similar themes- each is set in a fantasy world and each is about a character who discovers a power within themselves but they are definitely different from each other.

Ah, where do I start on the love interests of Mare. Well, we have Cal and Maven, both are princes, one of whom is betrothed to Mare, one of whom broke my heart. Anyway, as I was saying, I do enjoy a love triangle as long as it's executed well and does not feel forced. Though I'd already predicted a love triangle between Mare with both princes, I'd say that the romance is more of a slow and subtle development.

One other thing I appreciate about Red Queen is that its characters are flawed. Anyone is capable of betrayal.They don't always do the right thing. They make mistakes. I suppose that makes these characters more believable, more real to me.

As for the plot twists in Red Queen, I swear that my jaw literally dropped a few times throughout my read. And the plot twists actually make sense. There are some subtle hints of the possible plot twist in the beginning which I didn't put much thought into at first. And when it happened, it just took me off guard. Brilliant!

I'm very excited to find out how the plot will progress in the sequel. One more year. I just need to wait one more year for the sequel. Must. Be. Patient.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dinner

"You have lipstick on your teeth."

Well, that was certainly an interesting way to be greeted with when I joined my friends for dinner last night.  Nevertheless, I'm grateful that someone cared to inform me about it.

I had expected the dinner to be an awkward affair and that I would  have to eat in awkward silence, trying to come up with a conversation topic.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed myself. Sure, there were a few awkward moments but hey, if Grace is just being Grace, awkwardness is inevitable. Well, at least it was kept at a minimum.

Last night was just a night when 6 friends come together for a meal to catch up with each other.

As I watched the five familiar faces sitting at the table, chatting and laughing at some joke, it suddenly dawned on me that it has been two years since we've graduated from secondary school. Two years since we've parted ways. And yet, at that moment, everything felt like the way it was two years ago.

The dinner last night managed to put a smile on my face. Maybe having a tinge of nostalgia isn't so bad after all.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Harry Potter

Can someone get me onto the next train to Hogwarts?

I can't believe it took me SOOO long to finally read the Harry Potter series. Yes, I was one of those readers who had refused to get caught up in the Harry Potter hype all those years ago. 

Last month, a friend of mine lent all the seven books of the HP series to me. So, I'd marathon read the HP series and I absolutely loved it. I can't believe that I'd missed out on all the fun for so long. 

Thank you, Joyce, for lending me the books!




Friday, February 27, 2015

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Image via Goodreads

Title: The Jewel (The Lone City #1)
Author: Amy Ewing
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:

"Today is my last day as Violet Lasting. Tomorrow I become Lot 197."

The Jewel is a shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing.

Sold for six million diamantes, Violet is now Surrogate of the House of the Lake in the centre of the Lone City, the Jewel. Her sole purpose is to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess – a woman Violet fears and despises.

Violet is trapped in a living death, her name and body no longer her own. She fights to hold on to her own identity and sanity, uncertain of the fate of her friends, isolated and at the mercy of the Duchess.

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.
 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's certainly different, considering that I've never read any YA books on surrogacy before. Overall, it was interesting and entertaining.

Violet Lasting is born a Surrogate. That means that she has some special gene that allows her body to carry a child for the Royalty and fix the defect genes of the child. You see, children carried by women of the Royalty always ended up with defects. Their solution? Sterilize the women and implant their embryos into the Surrogate.

Being a surrogate in the Lone City isn't all that it seems. Surrogates are sold off at an annual auction and are treated like pets by the women who bought them. They can't pick out what they wear. They can't leave the house they were bought into unless it is to accompany their mistresses to an event. They can't even tell people their names. They live a seemingly glamorous life but are without freedom. 

For the first half of the book, we see how Violet is faring as the Surrogate of the House of Lake and find out what the Duchess has in plan for Violet once she is pregnant. The second half of the book, however, focuses on the romance between Violet and Ash.

Ash is the companion *coughs* boy toy employed by the Duchess for her niece. Usually, I find the romance the most enjoyable part of my read. But this time, I just..... I just don't care about Violet's relationship with Ash. So, we all know that Ash is good-looking and... I guess that's it. I just find him boring. I really do hope there will be a more interesting love interest for Violet in the sequel.

The Jewel ended in a major cliffhanger. There are a couple of plot twists in the end. After the first one, I thought there were no more and whaddaya know, another plot twist is thrown in my face, but that did leave a hopeful note as to how I wish this story would progress. So, yeah, I had fun reading this.




Friday, February 13, 2015

Collide Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


Thank you YA Bound Book Tours for letting me take part in this book tour! You can check out the full blog tour schedule here.


Title    :  Collide (The Taking #3)
Author:  Melissa West
Release Date: February 9th, 2015
Publisher : Entangled Teen
Pages : 320

Pre-Order Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Blurb:

Military legacy Ari Alexander has survived alien spies, WWIV, and a changing world order. But when the new leader of Earth uses Jackson—the only boy she's ever let herself care about—to
get to her, Ari has no choice but to surrender. To free Jackson, she agrees to travel to the national bases to train others to fight. What she discovers is a land riddled with dying people. Ari has the power to heal by turning the fighters into aliens—half-breeds like her. If she succeeds, together, they have a chance at overthrowing the alien leader, Zeus. But if she fails, everyone she holds dear will be wiped away forever. Once again, everything Ari’s come to believe is thrown into question. In a world of uncertainty, loyalties are tested, lies are uncovered, and no one can be trusted. If Ari and Jackson have any hope at survival and at preserving a life for the future, they must fight the final war with their eyes wide open. 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Collide is the final book in The Taking trilogy. So, if you have not read Gravity and Hover yet, you should go check out those books first before reading this review.

I was so excited when I received a review copy of Collide. However, as eager as I was to find out the conclusion to this trilogy, part of me didn’t want it to end. It was two years ago when I picked up Gravity in my local bookstore and since then, I've been hooked on The Taking trilogy. It was also during that time when I started to truly get into reading. For me, The Taking trilogy will always have a special place in my heart.

Collide took off right where we left off in Hover. Ari is back on Earth and war between humans and Ancients is close approaching. And it's up to Ari and Jackson to finally bring this war to an end. 

Let's talk about what I like about Collide. I like that Collide is much more action-packed than Hover, right from the very beginning. And we get to read more about Jackson and Ari. Jackson, for me, has changed a lot since book 1. Instead of the arrogant boy we were first introduced to in Gravity, he's just really sweet to Ari. Sometimes, a little too sweet for me when he wouldn't want to let Ari out of his sight for fear of losing her. Although sweet Jackson is great, I kinda miss when Jackson was arrogant. 

In Hover, we learned that Zeus could somehow toy with Ari's mind. This time, Zeus took it to the next level, blurring the lines between Ari's dreams and reality until she thought that she might have gone mad. Even I started questioning Ari's sanity at one point and I have to say that I quite enjoy that.

There was this one scene in Collide where Ari went to her parents' room to find her Mom and ended up sleeping with her Mom hugging her. That scene just warms my heart. That is probably my favourite scene in Collide, followed by the epilogue. I loved the epilogue- it was everything I wanted and more. I had fun reading Collide and I can't believe this trilogy is over.





Other books in this trilogy:
(book covers linked to Goodreads)

    






About the Author:



Melissa West writes young adult and new adult novels for Entangled Teen and Embrace and Penguin/InterMix. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.

She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.


Author Links:



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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Image via Goodreads

Title: White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Romance
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb: 

One kiss could be the last. 

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses. 

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever. 

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul. 

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne… it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have avoided reading this book for so long when I found out it's about gargoyles and demons. I thought that such a combination just wouldn't do it for me. And boy, was I so wrong.

Jennifer L. Armentrout has done it again. She has solidified her status as one of my favourite authors. She has convinced me that gargoyles and demons could make a great story.

I gotta admit that when I was just 50 odd pages into the book, I was still iffy about the whole story concept and was ready to shut this book as soon as I find that it's not working for me. That thankfully did not happen.

When I think of gargoyles, the characters from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame came to mind. I couldn't imagine them as attractive beings. Well, JLA certainly changed my mind on gargoyles. The gargoyles in this story are known as Wardens and their job is to keep the demons in line and send them back to hell when they cause trouble.

The main character, Layla, is half-Warden and half-demon. She is adopted by a clan of Wardens and as she has the ability to 'tag' demons, she helps the Wardens out by tagging demons for them to hunt down at night. I really like Layla as the MC. She's constantly having an inner battle on who she is. She was taught to hate the demon side of her. However, no matter how hard she fights that side of her, she's always reminded that she's not truly part of the Wardens clan.

I feel that the characters are well-developed.  As the story progresses, Layla went through her struggles and developed as a stronger person that I just can't help but root for her. As hordes of demons start coming after her, she discovered secrets that the Wardens kept from her and learned more about her identity. I cheered when she embraced who she is born to be.

Now, let's talk about Zayne and Roth. Zayne is a Warden and totally off-limits since his father is completely set on Zayne mating with another gargoyle- Danika. Yes, they use the word 'mating'. Apparently, the number of gargoyles is running low and they need to remedy that. I see Zayne as a brotherly figure in Layla's life. Of course, what does it matter what I think about Zayne. But seriously, though he's kind and protective of Layla (well, let's just ignore the fact that he ignored Layla to hang out with Danika)- I just couldn't imagine him and Layla together as anything more.

Okay, I'd much rather just talk about Roth. I think I may have a crush on a fictional character, again. Roth is a demon and he was sent to the topside with a task which has something to do with Layla. I won't talk about the task because of spoilers in case you haven't read it. Roth is just... awesome. Cue my fangirling- he's funny and he accepts Layla as she is and even gives her time and space to embrace who she is, never pushing her to do things against her own will. He's there for Layla when she's in danger. He's great. I mean, I even grew fond of his snake- Bambi.

Plot-wise, everything progresses smoothly with some plot twists thrown in that kept me interested in the story till the end. That plot twist at the end just... I can't even... Let's just say that I need the sequel now.



Friday, January 30, 2015

Mail!

Guess what came in my mail this week? 

Aren't the covers just beautiful?

Uh-huh, I finally have my own collection of the Ruby Red Trilogy. And I got a free bookmark! I'm sure that's not a big deal (since my wallet is now considerably lighter) but I'm just glad that the books are now in my possession.

In September 2014, I posted a series review on the Ruby Red Trilogy (you can check out that review here). Since then, I have searched all of my local bookstores for the hardcover copies of this trilogy. And all I could find is the paperback copies with the hideous covers that just would not do for me. 

In December 2014, I finally caved and decided to buy those three books online via Book Depository as a late Christmas present for myself. 

I'm just so psyched to have them on my bookshelf and I can't wait to reread them. By the way, I may or may not be gazing at said books as I'm writing this post. 

So, if you're still reading this post, you'd probably get that I just wrote it as an excuse to show off my books. Anyway, that's all from me now. Have a lovely weekend!











Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Image via Goodreads

Title     : Any Duchess Will Do
Author  : Tessa Dare
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Publisher: Avon
Source: Borrowed
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Purchase link: Book Depository

Blurb:
What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season--or any season--but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training"...and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure--a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess--can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've been in a reading slump for days and lemme tell you, it sucks. I was once again on Goodreads, scrolling through my long list of TBR books, trying to decide which book to read next when Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do caught my eye. For some reason, historical romance novels could always bring me out of a reading slump.

I flew through this book within a day. It made me smile, laugh and left me with a feeling of contentment.

Griff, the Duke of Halford, was kidnapped by his mother, the dowager Duchess, to Spindle Cove. She insisted him on picking out a bride from the ladies there. So, Griff chose Pauline, the barmaid, thinking that she would most probably fail in duchess training provided by the dowager Duchess herself.

Perhaps the dowager Duchess was not the most agreeable person in the beginning of the story but I found myself liking this character. She wants grandchildren so much that she would even drug and kidnap Griff to make sure of it. Is it twisted of me to like her for that?
“More to the point, I am fifty-eight. I need grandchildren before my decline. It’s not right for two generations of the family to be drooling at the same time.”
Pauline had always been the rock in her family. She took care of her sister, Daniella, when she couldn't fend for herself. She had great dreams and she did what she need to realize that dream for a better future for her and Daniella.

I love Griff and Pauline. I can't really convey my feels properly. I just love that Griff cares for Pauline. Even when she was merely a stranger and a barmaid no less, he wouldn't wish to see her mistreated and had a natural instinct to protect her.

Did the romance progress way too fast? Was it predictable? Perhaps. Okay, yes. But I don't really care. A predictable love story is what works for me when it comes to historical romance and I could never seem to get enough of it.






Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Image via Goodreads 

Title : Splintered (Splintered #1)
Author: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: Borrowed
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Purchase Link: Book Depository

Blurb: 

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Splintered is an okay read for me. I only truly got into the story in the last third of the book.

I was a little creeped out when a moth "the size of a crow" makes its appearance in the beginning of the story. Having a phobia of butterflies or any insect that resembles one, I could empathize Alyssa's Mom when she went berzerk and accidentally hurt her daughter when she tried to kill the moth.

As you can tell from the blurb, there is in fact a love triangle in the story. Usually, I have a hard time picking out a character to root for in the case of a love triangle. Such is not the case for this book.

Maybe it's just me but I find Jeb really annoying. He treats Alyssa like some damsel in distress in need of his saving. News flash, Jeb: she's more powerful than you. Just let her do her thing and quit trying to be the hero!! Jeb is the kind of character which I hope the MC have as a friend, not as a love interest.

Morpheus, on the other hand..... Yes, he has his faults and he may be the reason why Alyssa's Mom is in the asylum. Morpheus is actually the moth.
"Why would I want you?"

He lifts three fingers to countdown. "Mysterious. Rebellious. Troubled. All those qualities women find irresistible."

Hmm... I may have fallen for Morpheus because of all those traits.

All I can say is that if Alyssa doesn't end up with Morpheus, I wouldn't mind having him all for myself. But then again, things might not work out between Morpheus and I since I might end up shrieking when he wrapped his wings around me.

I had fun reading this book, especially the last third of the story, and I might even pick up the sequel.