Tag Archives: fiction

Blind Date with a Book: Bookends by Jane Green

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3 Stars

Ever since I can remember I have loved books. Not just loved, but been passionate about. I regularly spend hours at a time browsing in bookshops, losing track of time, losing myself in another world.

My colleagues and I at work decided to organize a Blind Date with a Book event. This was the book that I got. If you’re curious, the teaser that got me was “How I met Your Mother meets Mean Girls”. I’ve been on a high fantasy reading streak and I figured it would be nice to read some chic lit as a break and I loved both HIMYM and Mean Girls!

Bookends is about a group of late twenty-somethings trying to figure out their lives. As the teaser promised, it did remind me of Friends and HIMYM. There isn’t that much fuss to the story. It’s chic lit and it’s supposed to be a light read, and it was. What I liked the best about the story was the Bookends bit. In the book, Bookends is a bookshop cafe that a couple of the main characters put up. The truth is, one of my dreams in life is to be able to put up my own book café—a place where I can share my love for books and food at the same time. Until now, it’s still a dream. Reading about the characters’ journey in their business venture was bittersweet. A part of me was so happy because they were doing what I’ve been dreaming of doing ever since—and another half of me was jealous because they are actually doing it, even if they are just fictional people.

One day, I tell myself, I will do it. I will fulfill that dream. It’s just that I’m not sure when.

I saw a lot of myself in Cath—too much, even. Somehow the story was more personal because I saw a lot of myself in her. This was a fictional girl living a part of my dream, and it was both sad and sweet. If only real life was easier.

Because isn’t that the thing with fantasies? Fantasies are absolutely safe, as long as you never try to make them a reality. Whether you’re fantasizing about wife-swapping, or café/bookshops, it’s still a truism that they will always be safer when they are kept locked in your head.

I picked this book blindly not knowing what story I was about to get myself into, and it turned out to be more personal than I ever intended it to be. I finish this review still wondering if I’ll ever have the courage to do what Cath did—and it scares me.

Also, thanks to Ann for lending me this, it was a good Blind Date!

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Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu

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4 Stars

I’ve been on a reader’s block for quite a while, and I didn’t know if I still had it in me to be able to read at the same pace like I used to—but it turns out I only needed one good book to wake me up from my reading slumber. I’ve had Legend for a long time now but never really bothered to start it. This afternoon I had an insane attack of boredom so I decided to flip a few pages—only, I wasn’t able to stop. I literally couldn’t stop reading from the moment I started (I was even scolded by my dad to put down the book because I was reading during dinner). It’s been a while since I’ve read a good dystopian book. I mean, there are just so many out there nowadays. The last series that I really liked were Chaos Walking and Partials and both of those have been ages ago. I picked up this trilogy because of the hype, and hype comes with expectations. Fortunately, Legend delivered.

“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything’s possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time. You try to walk in the light.”

Like most books of this genre, Legend has the dystopian staples: A perfect society that’s not so perfect, rebel groups, secrets, and teenage protagonists who are too capable for their age (seriously). The story flows through the POVs of two characters: June and Day. One’s from the system, the other is the rebel—and of course (no-brainer here) they fall in love. What I liked about this book is that even though it follows some YA cliches, it managed to have its own voice and it didn’t feel like I was just reading a rehashed version of Lord of the Flies or 1984. The characters were well-written and likable. The pacing was neither too fast nor too slow and it gave just enough information each chapter to keep you reading. Although, I was able to guess who the “killer” was way too early—blame my history with mystery and thriller novels. Legend uses a “plague” plot device, similar to Matched trilogy—the only difference is that Matched had no direction whatsoever, Legend does. At least, I hope so. I’ve only read the first book but so far so good. I’m looking forward to reading Prodigy and if it’s anything as good as this then I think my reading appetite will be happily satisfied.

Eight Minutes by Lori Reisenbichler

3 Stars

The publisher has given me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What happens when we die?
Where do our souls go?

Does afterlife exist?

These questions may have different answers for everyone. We all have different beliefs, some are skeptics, and some are believers. These are questions that have prodded my mind since I was little—which is why I’ve always been fascinated by real-life stories about near-death experiences and astral projections.

On the night that Shelly Buckner finally became a mother, she very nearly became a widow. Her husband, Eric, seriously injured in a car accident on the way to the hospital, was dead for a full eight minutes before being revived—all while Shelly was in labor. Those eight minutes changed everything Shelly thought was possible.

Three years later, their son, Toby, brings home an imaginary friend. But he’s no ordinary playmate—John Robberson is a fighter pilot and Vietnam vet. As Toby provides unlikely details about John’s life—and Toby’s tantrums increase—Shelly becomes convinced that John was real and now wants something from Toby. But her husband has his doubts, and as Shelly becomes involved, even obsessed, with finding out the truth, their marriage begins to disintegrate. Torn between protecting her child and keeping the peace with her husband, Shelly desperately searches for a way to finally put John Robberson out of their lives.

It’s hard to discuss the book without spoiling too much of the story so I’ll be very vague. The story’s focus is on Shelly and I liked how the author built up her character. You’ll really sympathize with her and feel for her even if she can get a bit crazy at times. All the characters, not just her, were very well-written (although, I didn’t like Eric very much). Personally, I liked how realistic the book portrayed relationships and the impacts one aspect of your life could have to you and the people around you. I was able to put myself in Shelly’s shoes—what if my boyfriend or someone close to me suddenly changes like that? I honestly don’t know how I would deal.

The story can be a little creepy at times but that’s part of its charm. I actually thought this could easily have been a horror story, but don’t worry, it isn’t. I just wish the pacing was a bit faster but overall it was a really good story. If you’re into books like If I Stay or Lovely Bones then you would love this book.

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.

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)

Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie Mcguire (Maddox Brothers #1)

2 Stars

A lot of people will probably hate me for this review but I have to be honest. How do I even begin? I feel so many conflicting emotions right now but hovering above them all is disappointment. Beautiful Oblivion left me with a strong feeling of dissatisfaction. I think the only thing worse than starting a book with prejudice is starting one with too much expectations.

I loved Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster so I was very excited to read this one—which I think contributed to the frown on my face as I write this review. Most reviews I’ve read from fellow book bloggers and in Goodreads have been positive and everyone talked about this big twist—people were shocked, upset, surprised, you name it. I blame the lateral-thinking addict in me for being so epicly let down by the twist that shattered the Jamie Mcguire fanbase because I was not surprised at all. I figured it out very early on in the book, probably too early—that it killed all the excitement. I believe I’m not the only one who had it all figured out from the start. Was it because I knew there was a twist and I was actively looking for it? Honestly, I felt that the secret was laid out so clearly throughout the story it was almost impossible to miss! This is why I’m baffled as to how many have failed to see it.

The “Big Secret” aside, let’s get on with the story. This book is about a different Maddox brother, Trenton. What is it about the Maddox boys? There’s something about them I can’t quite put a finger on. Maybe it’s the darkness in them? Come on, I’m sure every girl dreamt of taming the bad boy , being that one girl that finally gets the wolf settled—I think this is where the charm of this series comes from. Trenton definitely lives up to the Maddox name. He has the looks, the charm, the fighting skills, almost everything Travis—only, he’s not Travis. Sorry but I’m still a Travis girl through and through. The story runs parallel to BD and WD so we get to see snippets of events as seen by the people around Abby and Travis. We even get some “deleted scenes” so to speak–things that happened off-text from the original books. I thought those parts were interesting.

Beautiful Oblivion is supposed to be the first part of a series focusing on the Maddox brothers and I’m guessing all of them are just as hot as Travis and Trent, and I’m sure Mcguire fans will devour them just as eagerly. The truth is I didn’t enjoy this book as much I would’ve liked. It’s hard not to compare it to Beautiful Disaster, impossible even, and that’s where lies the problem for me. Travis and Abby’s story was volatile, tender, destructive, innocent and all-consuming all at the same time—this one just didn’t have that same fire and gentleness. That doesn’t mean this is a bad book, it just didn’t hit the right spot for me. Anyway, I’m sure fans of the original books will still find themselves engrossed regardless of its shortcomings.

“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. Every woman who’s met you wants a shot at you. How could you ever think you’re the consolation prize?”

 

My Goodreads Review

Read my other reviews for Jamie Mcguire’s books:
A Beautiful Wedding
Walking Disaster
Beautiful Disaster

Want to know what THE SECRET is?
*Ultimate Spoiler* Read at your own risk!

Continue reading Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie Mcguire (Maddox Brothers #1)

Paradigm by Ceri Lowe (Paradigm #1)

3 Stars

“There’s surviving and then there’s living.”

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. First thing’s first, I’m sure many young readers will notice the eerie resemblance between the covers of Divergent and Paradigm, and I really wish they chose a different cover for this one because the two are totally different in theme and in story.

I really liked the idea behind this book. For a young adult dystopian novel, it has a very realistic and mature backbone. For a brief backstory: a devastating Storm hit the Earth around 2015 that nearly submerged everything to nonexistence. Thankfully, Paradigm Industries saw something like this would happen and built a massive underground complex made to withstand years of isolation to ensure survival. The story happens through the eyes of two characters: Alice and Carter. Alice’s story revolves around the beginning of the Storm, right after the world ended, and the new one began. Carter’s, on the other hand, happens generations later—a time wherein the new society has long been established.

“We must want to work together, to live together, to survive together. Or we all die together.”

I must admit, Paradigm hit something close to home. I live in the Philippines and I don’t know if you guys are aware but my country experiences devastating typhoons almost yearly. In fact, it was raining while I was reading this book. And here, when it rains—it pours. Some might think the Storm in the book can’t really happen, but you’re wrong. I’ve seen it happen, although perhaps not as cataclysmic as in the novel. The city I live in has been flooded to more than 10 feet high, submerging houses and buildings, more than once, and not long ago, a part of my country has been massacred by typhoon Haiyan—so yes, I am fully aware of how destructive water can be, which made it so easy for me to visualize Paradigm’s world. It was interesting that the main cause of the apocalypse in this story was the climate. It’s a relevant and more mature theme when compared to its peers. One thing I was not fully satisfied with the Storm was its origin. There wasn’t enough information given to how it came to be. Was it global warming? Was it a government experiment gone awry? I suppose, and hope, more explanation will come from the following books being that this is the first of a trilogy.

Another thing I’m disappointed with was the lack of character development. I liked Alice’s character, but Carter seemed to pale in comparison. I couldn’t connect with him at all. It greatly bothered me how weak his character was—I mean, all his life he was preparing for this one thing, then one day he meets some strangers and a girl who he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, who tell him things and he suddenly bends his beliefs just like that? I believe in the power of curiosity but it was shown from the early chapters how solid his views were. It was as if in a snap he decided to tread another path. It felt so out of character that I couldn’t find a way to root for him afterwards.

Overall, despite some of those misses, this is a promising debut novel. Readers might find some themes of the book in resonance with The Kill Order, Matched, City of Ember, and A Brave New World, but it still offers a fresh story.Will I read the next book? Yes. However, I do hope there will be more backstory and better world-building in the following installments. And I hope Carter finally finds his backbone along the way. After all, he’s the one carrying this story to its future.