My First Book Depository Experience

One of every bookworm’s worst nightmares is not finding a certain book in your area, or worse–in your country. And sometimes, e-books just aren’t enough. This was exactly what happened to me, so I turned to Book Depository. I’ve known about it for ages but I’ve never really bothered availing its services. For one, I just can’t wait that long to get a book, second, most of the books I want are available in Fully Booked (a local bookstore)–until one wasn’t. For some reason, Fully Booked didn’t have Joe Abercrombie’s Half A King. And by “didn’t” I meant they never had it and probably never will. Which in my opinion is absurd because, hello, it’s Joe Abercrombie! I desperately wanted a copy because I wanted to gift it to someone for his birthday (he’s been looking for it for ages), so I finally gave in and tried Book Depository.

Half a King

I’ll admit, the experience wasn’t perfect. The original 7-10 business days shipping (as stated in their site) didn’t push through and I was on a deadline. I had to get the book before my friend’s birthday. Three days after I sent my order (the book was available according to their site), it still hasn’t been dispatched. So, finally, I decided to contact them for help–and I have to say, their customer support system is beyond commendable. Their customer advisor, May Sherif, was very attentive and they don’t send “template” replies. They really answered my every mail. When my order still didn’t arrive after a week, they decided to dispatch another copy for me!

MAP

After a few days, my book finally arrived. It was in pristine condition and came with a bookmark. In the end, my first Book Depository experience turned out to be a very pleasant one. I’d definitely buy from them again!

 

 

 

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

3 Stars

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I should, but I didn’t. The Night Circus had a very good story, a solid concept, it sang a distinct sound. I get why some people saw some splashes of Gaiman in this novel. This book is incredibly descriptive and visual, the settings are always described in a way that make them very easy to imagine. I believe this book is a treat for imaginative minds. At first, I truly felt like a kid being thrust into a candy shop for the first time—but too much sugar can harm your teeth—and I think that’s what happened to me here.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

This is probably one of the most visual books I’ve read, and therein lies its greatest strength and weakness. The introduction to the circus was marvelous. In fact, I personally think the Prologue was the strongest chapter in the entire book. The first encounter with the Circus was enchanting. I could smell the caramel, popcorn, warm cider and candied applies in my head. It seemed as if I was literally there at the circus! But as the book went on, it felt forced and redundant. There were moments wherein I felt like the narrator was trying to push how great, grand and magical the circus was every chance he could get, raining the reader with a barrage of adjectives. It became too wordy. It felt like I was being forced to believe it—forced to smell the deliciousness and sweetness of the liquid caramel whose scent wafted through the air as it was drizzled in a slow pour, like maple syrup on a hot plate of pancake, on top of the warm and freshly-popped popcorn with melted buttermilk butter, held inside a fantastic bucket of black and white stripes with a sprinkled print of glittering stars. See what I did there? Too much of a good thing is not always good, and I think that’s why I found it difficult to truly love this book.

The characters were interesting, so varied, and likable in their own right but they felt so far away. Do you get what I mean? I liked them but I never got to invest myself in them. It never became personal, never intimate. At the end of the book, I knew I read a good story but I didn’t feel anything—except perhaps a slight craving for caramel-drizzled popcorn.

Calling all schmucks and cranks, the new Maze Runner trailer is out!

When I first finished the series back then, I said to myself, “Man this would make an awesome movie.” So when I heard about 20th Century Fox making one, I was ecstatic! I didn’t even care about the casting. I knew it would take a lot of effort to make a bad movie out of this series and I was thrilled! When the first trailer came out, it looked very promising… and now this! Ahhh, I’m so excited to see this movie!

Calling my fellow schmucks and cranks, the maze is open… get ready to run.

 

WICKED IS GOOD.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson

5 Stars

“Power is an illusion of perception.”

Phenomenal. The second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Magnum Opus not only lived up to the expectations of Way of Kings but also exceeded it. Honestly, is Sanderson partly digging his own grave here? Now that he has given us these two marvels, every book he writes after this will be expected to match their quality and that’s no easy feat!

“You will have to see the truth, child, before you can expand upon it. Just as a man should know the law before he breaks it.”

In Words of Radiance, we learn more about the orders of the Knights Radiants, the nature of spren, the Voidbringers, the magic system that binds Roshar and, most importantly, we are given more pieces of the massive puzzle that encompasses all of the Shardworlds’ eventual fate.

In Way of Kings, my favorite characters were Kaladin and Szeth. They still remain to be among my favorites but Adolin and Shallan have been added to that beloved list as well after reading this book.  Shallan reminded me too much of Sansa in WoK but here I got to see her strengths, her wit, her resolve and her weaknesses. Funny how her dark past made me like her more. I hate perfect damsels in fiction and she proved to be far from one. In this book, some of Szeth’s shroud of mystery were dissolved only to be replaced by another of greater and even more exciting proportions. I think I practically squealed from my seat when Nightblood made an appearance. What is Brandon Sanderson playing at here? Not that I’m complaining or anything—this twist will surely make a very interesting third book. If you’ve read Warbreaker then I’m sure you’ll be familiar of what I’m talking about.

The fight scenes in WoR were not as intense as WoK’s battle at the Tower but they were still pretty marvelous. The first half of the book was a bit slow but I didn’t mind. There were a lot of things going on and it was important for the readers to get through them carefully or they might miss some important things. All in all, this was another brilliant book for The Stormlight Archive and the moment I flipped the last page I was already aching for more. Seriously, how long do I have to wait until the third book comes out? You need to read this as soon as possible so that we can wallow in the misery of waiting together! Yes, I’m serious. And yes, you need to grab this book now if you haven’t already. If you do already have it but have yet to start it, why Stormfather, what are you waiting for?! Start flipping those pages! Epics like this aren’t made to wait!

“But the sky and the winds are mine. I claim them, as I now claim your life.”

 

 

My review for The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1)

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon. Too often, we forget that.”

After reading Way of Kings, it’s clear to me that Brandon Sanderson held himself back with great restraint when he did Mistborn. This book, this beginning of a grand, ambitious, luxurious and what shall become an epic fantasy series, is what happens when he lets it all go. This is how fantasy books should be like! There’s a reason why Fantasy has always been my favorite genre. Nothing can pull a reader into a totally different world the same way it does—completely and absolutely, the kind that makes you truly forget where you are and who you are— and Way of Kings most definitely did that to me.

 “A story does not live until it is imagined in someone’s mind.”

This world—this massive world of magic, depth, war, of places and people that can only ever exist in the realm of our minds—has wholly captured me. Sanderson’s magic systems, his world-building, a cosmos so rich and so vast… his stories are like the fantasy books of old. The thing I’ve always admired with Tolkien’s work is the thought and effort put behind it. His Middle Earth has its own history, its own mythology, and its own life apart from the lives of the characters that dwell in it. Sanderson’s books are the same. All of his books are connected, coexisting, intertwined, enclosed inside the same universe—bounded inside one cosmos. Different worlds, Mistborn, Elantris, Warbreaker, and now Way of Kings—each has its own story, its own rules, its own chaos, yet they are all connected by a string that only we readers know of. Sanderson gives us a small piece of the grand puzzle for every book he gives us. I truly applaud Brandon Sanderson for the grandness of the world he has created.

“The prize is not worth the costs. The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself.”

I noticed I was too overwhelmed by the grand scheme of things that I forgot to actually write about Way of Kings alone. Well all I can say is that this is one hell of a start for an epic fantasy series. It’s fantastical world is filled with colorful cultures and characters that will hook any fantasy fan. The story is told from the point of views of very, very different people with, at first, seemingly urelated lives. One by one their individual stories mesh and I’m sure more of them will collide in the following books. The characters are complex, intriguing, annoying, frustrating, yet fascinating all at the same time. I admit I have my favorites: Kaladin and Szeth. I’m looking forward as to how their stories unfold and clash in the next book. This book started off slow but not in a boring way, but in a controlled pace—a needed control for us to see more into the characters and their histories. The first half of the book was a perfect expository to the pool of action that followed. I swear I was at the edge of my seat while reading the battle at the Tower! I couldn’t sit down at all fearing for the lives of my favorite characters. The book ended in a way that made me want to run to the bookstore and grab Words of Radiance at once.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories. I strongly believe that The Stormlight Archive is one in the making, and I am in for the full ride.

 

My review for Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2)

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

5 Stars

Before Eleanor and Park, there was Juli and Bryce.

I remember the first time I read this book, I think I was around eleven. I was at the sweet age of butterflies and puppy love. This book left an impact because at that time I was only starting to understand what the fuss was all about. Few days ago, I decided to read this book again, wondering how different my perception would be from my eleven year-old self. The funny thing is, I think it still has the same effect as it did many years ago.

“One’s character is set at an early age, son. The choices you make now will affect you for the rest of your life.”

At this point in my life, there are very few books that can make me feel like a little kid again. Flipped is one of them. It’s amazing how this short book is able to bring me back to my childhood, to the time of first loves and first heartaches, no matter how long it’s been. The story’s strength lies on its simplicity and, ironically, therein lies its complexity. Through my second reading, I saw things I think I might’ve missed many years ago. Back then, all I saw was a story of innocent love, of how Bryce reminded me of my crush, but now I know there’s more to this book than meets the eye.

“Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss. But every once in a while you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”

Materialism, false pretenses, prejudice, superficiality—these are things my eleven year-old self has yet to comprehend. But now I see the big picture. I love how the author was able to create two societies through two families. In a way, they are foils of each other.

“Get beyond his eyes and his smile and the sheen of his hair—look at what’s really there.”

Today, people care too much about appearances that we forget about substance. I think more adults should read and re-read Flipped. It not only brings back the tenderness of childhood but it also reminds us something that we’ve forgotten—something that we should always remember. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky (Awaken #3)

4 Stars

I’ve been staring at my screen for a while now, tears still damp on my cheeks, trying to figure out how to write this review.  I haven’t cried over a book and haven’t been in this state of both bittersweet heartache and contentment since  Please Ignore Vera Dietz. In this trilogy ender, Maddie’s story has finally come to a Still Point.

First of all I would like to thank the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book. I’ve always loved the Awaken series and it is truly an honor. Still Point, how do I even start? I read this book in three hours, no breaks, no standing, nothing—and the emotional aftermath is still with me as I write this.

“Life is supposed to be a risk. It’s written everywhere around us. We are meant to take chances. We are meant to explode and shatter and spiral. Even if we break, we’ll come back to a still point.”

Still Point is a very satisfying ending to a series that has captured me from book one, although I must admit the closing chapters felt a bit abrupt and too rushed in terms of how the events played out. In this final installment, Maddie and Justin face the final battle against Digital School. I think, the core of this book is about making decisions and realizations about ourselves that we never even knew about. Things happen, people change, and we learn that choices we once thought we made aren’t always our final ones. This book left me heartbroken, contented, satisfied and sad all at the same time. I am pretty sure fans will end up feeling the same way as well once they finish this.

I don’t want to say anything that might spoil the story but I think the final words of the book summed it up perfectly, justifying it in a way that I cannot argue with. Not all people will like how this story ends but how can you hate something if it ended right? As for me, I accepted it for what it was and relished the end of a good series. Let’s just put it this way—life happens the least way we expect it, in ways that shape us into who we are, into who we will be, and sometimes we end up somewhere we never expected to be in but that’s how life is. If this series has taught us anything, it’s that life is meant to be experienced. Never settle for anything less.

“Our fingers have spaces between them, just like life, and things fall through. Part of my life was ending so a new part could begin. But first you have to let go. You have to open your fingers and let slip.”

EXPECTED RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2014

Continue reading Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky (Awaken #3)