Sunday, June 30, 2013

[Wrap Up] June 2013


It's the last day of the month again, and time to re-cap my progress in tackling my ever expanding To-Be-Read Pile!

Oh, and I just recently opened a Facebook page so please don't forget to Like it! Just click on the little button below:

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Before I re-cap the books I've read for the this month, I have a some good news to share!

At the last quarter of last year (2012), I joined the Online Romance Class by Filipino Author Mina V. Esguerra (Fairy Tale Fail, Interim Goddess of Love). Though I wasn't able to finish a manuscript for the class because of my academic endeavor (you can read the story about my spectacular failure here), I was able to meet new novelists!

I'm happy to share that I'm currently acting as the beta-reader for one of the new novelists in class. I've never been a beta-reader before but I found out that my meticulous nature (translation: OCD), and eye for spotting details were actually useful in editing! Who knew that being a little grammar nazi would actually work in my favor, right?

Anyhow, I may not have been able to finish a manuscript, but I'm definitely excited for my classmates in the online class! In the near future, I'm planning to feature more Filipino writers to help with their marketing and publicity. =)

Oh, and if you are interested to read the story I'm beta-reading, maybe I could entice you with its teaser?
Blast from Two Pasts

By KristelSVillar 
Fate’s been playing tricks on Cara Nicolas lately. She agrees to go on a blind date with her best friend’s fiancĂ©’s cousin, only to discover that the guy is her first love from elementary school, Lucas Lobregat. Now that would have been a charming story, except that the date turns out to be one of the worst ever. And they can’t even pretend it never happened, because they’re both suddenly part of the wedding preparations.

Just as she is starting to get to know more about the boy she used to love, Oliver Sta. Maria, an old flame who owes her some closure, surprisingly shows up. With two pasts resurfacing, which will Cara choose to rekindle? Or will she ever choose at all?

Another good news~! I got auto-approved by Anova Books Group at Netgalley! That means, whenever I request to read and review a book published by them, I can automatically have that book! And you know what that means? Moaaaarrrr booooksss for meeee! Hee.

Anova Books Group is a thriving London-based publisher producing high-quality illustrated books under the Batsford, Collins & Brown, Conway, National Trust, Pavilion, Pavilion Children's, Portico and Robson imprints. (credits: Anova Books Group Website)

Now, to complete this end-of-the-month wrap-up, here are the books I've read and reviewed for the month of June:



Friday, June 28, 2013

[Linking Up] Feature & Follow #26

Q: What is your preferred reading format?
Hardcover, eBooks, paperback etc.?

I choose paperback or hardcover, as long as its paper, because nothing beats the smell of new books, as well as those old and dusty ones I've kept on my shelf for too long. However, I have to admit that ebooks are more convenient because you can practically have a whole library in a handy-dandy reading device, and you can carry so many books anywhere with you.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

[Book Review] Ink

Title: Ink
Author: Amanda Sun
Date Published: June 25th, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Source: ARC
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: ★★ 

Barnes & Noble

About the Book:
I looked down at the paper, still touching the tip of my shoe. I reached for it, flipping the page over to look.
Scrawls of ink outlined a drawing of a girl lying on a bench. 
A sick feeling started to twist in my stomach, like motion sickness. 
And then the girl in the drawing turned her head, and her inky eyes glared straight into mine. 
On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building. 
Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets. 
Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Great premise, great potential, but failure in delivery - this is what sums up everything I think about Ink.

I had huge hopes for this book because it is set in Japan - the land of the rising sun, anime, manga, cosplay, J-dorama, Kendo, samurai and everything weird to normal folks. I confess that I'm an otaku, and I don't consider that as a negative thing. So when I received an ARC of Ink, I just couldn't contain my joy! I just had to read it! Then imagine that joy being sucked out little by little when I started reading the book.

The biggest thing which became a huge turn off for me in this book is the heroine. Let me be blunt and just say that Katie Greene is one annoying little prick of a stalker. I do not like her. I know I sound mean, but in all seriousness, never has a heroine ticked me off this way.

While I was reading the book, I groaned multiple times because of how annoying Katie was. Sure, she was this gaijin (outsider) and she's supposed to be broody and all unfamiliar. That's normal. Being thrown in a completely foreign environment makes a person vulnerable. I understand that perfectly. What I don't understand is why she just goes out of her way stalk Tomo. This is not something I could imagine a foreigner, who's all broody being in Japan, would do.

The irony is this: At the beginning, Katie laments being different, being a foreigner living and studying in Japan. She even wants to leave and looks forward to nothing but leaving Japan, but then, she goes out of her way to stalk a guy who looks and acts dangerous. Curiosity? I don't think so. Try annoying stalker-tendencies.

Second annoying thing about Katie: she's like a love-struck unicorn in heat (Yes, I can be colorful even when I'm saying something negative). They barely know each other and she suddenly says she can't live without him. Wow. Just wow. I didn't even know Insta-Love could be as instant as this. And let me just say that the forbidden-love plot device between Katie and Tomo was also another turn off.

Next, Tomo - broody, violent and mysterious hot guy. Basically, imagine a hot anime guy and you get him. Nothing fascinating about him really, except his cool powers. I also don't relate to him that much as a character at all because he's two-dimensional.

All in all, you know that feeling when there's great premise and a promising blurb in a well-packaged book, but then those things are all overshadowed by cliche and two-dimensional characters? This is exactly how I feel. I know that the premise is great. It has potential to be something really awesome! But then the characters are all very annoying and the premise is wasted. What a tragedy really.

Monday, June 24, 2013

[Blog Tour - Book Review] Passion and Pain

Title: Passion and Pain
Author: Kathy Petrakis
Date Published: October 5, 2012
Publisher: Antartis Publishers
Source: ARC
Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary Romance

Barnes & Noble

Book Information:
The first book in the YA /NA Contemporary Series -
Dancers and Divas.
Contains mature content - recommended for ages 15+  
Does passion and desire guarantee success? Can friends really be trusted? Can true love be found beneath lust and deceit?  
These are questions tenacious street dancer Elena Martinez faces as she struggles to compete against the most talented students at New York’s top Performing Arts High School. Along with her best friend, the carefree and mischievous Sebastien Duval, they are determined to make center stage.  
But the singing diva Letitia has other plans. Beautiful, talented and popular, her desire for revenge could ruin everything for Elena and Sebastien. Now, they must fight against prejudice, treachery and deceit as Letitia sets out to destroy Elena’s friendships, her romance, her dignity and her dreams. Can Elena win the battle for true love, happiness and success?

It's like a novel version of Glee and Step Up showcasing the hard work and experiences of arts students.

This story is about Elena Martinez, a female hip-hop dancer who gets a scholarship at a top Performing Arts school. The whole story is about her struggles, her experiences, her friends and even how she pushes herself to become better at everything she loves doing.

Story-wise, it was nothing astounding or ground-breaking.  Personally, I think the story is okay. It isn't really special, but it's not that bad either, which leaves it pretty much mediocre. It didn't leave a lasting impression on me but it was good for a few hours worth of distraction.

Aside from Elena's personal struggle in improving her craft, this story also has those usual antagonists which make Helena's life a little difficult. And the leader among the antagonists is Letitia, who just happens to be better at Helena at just about everything.

Character-wise, the first half of the story made me cringe. Helena has a tendency to be a Mary-Sue. According to Wikipedia, a "Mary Sue" character is a poorly developed character, too perfect and lacking in realism to be interesting. I don't know about everyone else but during the first half of the story, Helena was auditioning for this and that. She gets the lead role even though she's just a freshman. She sings, she dances and she even acts. And in almost every thing she does, a character just praises her out of nowhere that she seems almost perfect.

Also, the writing-style was a little turn-off for me. It was Dialogue-Centered - meaning, most of the scenes with a lot of characters only move along through the use of dialogues and not actual narration. More often than not, the subtext or what the character feels should not be expressed in a dialogue, but in a narration to give it more emotional resonance. I feel that subtexts were lacking in this one.

In the second half of the story though, Helena's Mary Sue-ish tendencies were curbed when she fell for Letitia's brother. I think she really fell for him that's why logic was thrown out the window and she became a fool in love. I didn't like the guy though. I was rooting for Seb the whole time. 

All in all, this book is a great way to kill a few hours. If you love stories about young-adults, friendships, performing and theater, this book is definitely for you.

- x o O o x - 

About the Author:

Twitter: @KathyPetrakis

Kathy Petrakis was born and raised in Sydney Australia by Greek immigrant parents. She always had a passion for the performing arts - dancing, acting and singing but they were hobbies giving way to a traditional professional career in banking. Before this book, her writing was used to entertain friends with her unusual, and often disastrous travel adventures from around the world.

By the hand of fate, Passion and Pain and Bittersweet were born while living in London, heaven for lovers of the performing arts. After launching Passion and Pain, she returned to Sydney for the launch of the sequel, Bittersweet.

For more information, visit

Friday, June 21, 2013

[Linking Up] Feature & Follow #25

Q: Activity: Favorite Literary Quote

I have quite a handful of quotes I like, but here are a few:

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares:

"Cinderella was such a dork. She left behind her glass slipper at the ball and then went right back to her stepmother's house. It seems to me that she should have worn the glass slipper always, to make herself easier to find. I always hoped that after the prince found Cinderella and they rode away in their magnificent carriage, after a few miles she turned to him and said, "Could you drop me off down the road please? Now that I've finally escaped my life of horrific abuse, I'd like to see something of the world, you know? Maybe backpack across Europe or Asia? I'll catch back up with you later, Prince, once I've found my own way. Thanks for finding me, though! Super-sweet of you. And you can keep the slippers. They'll probably cause bunions if I keep wearing 'em."

Maybe the prince would be relieved. Maybe he was tired of being asked who he was going to marry. Maybe all he wanted to do was go back to his library and read a hundred books, only everyone kept interrupting him, telling him he couldn't ever let himself be alone."

The Fault In Our Stars:
"You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers." (-Augustus Waters)

Once You Go Demon:
“Love doesn't keep to a schedule, and it doesn't respect your time. Sometimes it shows up a year too early, when you have other obligations. Sometimes it comes bumbling through the door to announce to you it had a sweet deal hooked up for you, but it got lost on the way over and now it's gone. And once in a while, and hopefully just once because that's all you really need it to, it shows up right on time, with a dozen roses, and a box of chocolates, just as you're pulling dinner from the oven.”

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

[Book Review] The Very Secret Weapon

Title: The Very Secret Weapon
Author: Tillman Gillson
Date Published: December 1, 2008
Publisher: BASCOM Hill
Source: ARC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Mystery

Barnes & Noble

Book Information:
Alex is as knowledgeable about Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Hermes, and Christian Dior as she is about Glock and Sig Sauer. Come along on a breathtaking race through a world of glamour and danger with a truly new kind of covert agent. She is a woman who not only loves her work but also has fully enjoyed a relationship free life until she meets a virile, mercenary who adds a great deal to her sex life and ropes her into love.  

''...This one's going to be trouble...'' 
Alex had this first impression when she met Simon Hewitt. As one of her country's very secret weapons, Alex has survived many difficult situations, often exercising her ''terminal abilities'' to eliminate threats to national security. She does it all while maintaining her facade of a chic Washington widow whose prime concerns seem to be shopping and socializing.
But this was one of a very few times when a man has threatened her life of romantic freedom and independence. While jetting around the world to be with this new lover, Alex finds herself up against the Russian Mafia, high priced assassins, and Arab terrorists.

Imagine a female James Bond and you get Alex - fashionable, sassy and more than capable of intel-gathering.

From the get-go, I had the impression that this book will be filled with adrenaline-pumping fight scenes against mafia groups, terrorists and the lot as most spy books do. However, as soon as I started reading, the action scenes came waaaay later because they were placed within the last quarter of the book.

First of all, this book is largely contemporary romance. Majority of the book alternated between Alex' intel-gathering and her growing relationship with Simon Hewitt. Oh, and shopping designer clothes and bags, too.  Their favorite shop is Hermes.

Story-wise, there wasn't really anything ground-breaking. In fact, the story is simple enough: a spy whose cover is being a socialite widow finds love in a man who shares the same trade as she does. She generally avoids relationships but is surprised to have found someone stable and completely compatible with her in the person of Simon Hewitt.

Character-wise, nothing ground-breaking either. I appreciate Alex, but she has that unrealistic quality in her. Simon, too. Truthfully, the characters didn't really grow on me. I only finished reading the book for the sole reason that it would be a waste to put it down.

Oh, and one thing that really bothered me when I was reading are the dialogues. They sound too stiff and formal. Sure, Simon could sound formal because he's British, but even Alex sounds too stiff, too.

All in all, this book gives a lot of details on how actual intel-gathering is done by covert agents. It's informative because the Author, as I found out from her Bio, worked for the CIA. But then again, while the book did have its highlights, it just didn't work for me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

[Book Review] Once You Go Demon

Title: Once You Go Demon (Pure Souls #2)
Author: Killian McRae
Date Published: 2013
Publisher: Tulip Noire Press
Source: ARC
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: ★★★


About the Book:
Heaven hath no fury like a demon reborn...
Proving that Big Boss is not without a sense of whimsy, Hell’s former all-star demon, Jerry Romani, finds himself a traded player in the classic war of good versus evil. Taking up residence in the human shell left behind by the death and damnation of Marc Angeletti, Jerry seizes on the chance both to win a trip to the pearly gates and reclaim the heart of witch Riona Dade. 
Not pleased with the butt-kicking the Pure Souls served up, Lucifer enlists his fallen angel compatriots, the Grigori, to stir up trouble topside. 
Time ticks closer to the inevitable: Marc's resurrection as a demon on Earth, and Jerry is determined to protect Riona and his shiny new Pure Soul status at all costs. He quickly finds two thousand years of living la vida demonica aren’t easily undone, however, and old habits are hard to break. Walking the true path is problematic, and Jerry finds his role reversed when he must convince Riona that it’s in her best interest to do the same. Even if letting her give into temptation is more conducive to his efforts. And just as Project Woo a Witch starts bearing some forbidden fruit, Destiny delivers one hell of bitch slap. Jerry may have been sent back to Earth to do something Riona can't, something that will ensure the only thing he'll be kissing where she's concerned is his ass goodbye.

Holy Drew Barrymore and the awesomeness of a thousand flying nunchucks! This book is crystal meth on paper and I am now a certified junkie! (Not that I'm an addict, or that I advertise the use of drugs, because I don't. Seriously.)

Thank you, dear Authoress, for summoning me to read and review this book for I have found heaven in a see of overrated cliches. (I'm being overly dramatic, ignore me.)

Following Father Marc Angeletti's sacrifice and consequent damnation to hell in Pure and Sinful (Pure Souls #1), Once You Go Demon deals with the aftermath of the priest's death and Jerry Romani's occupation of Marc Angeletti's body, much to Riona Dade's chagrin.

Thank goodness I learned from previously reading Book 1 in public, so I read this book inside my room, away from prying eyes. It would suffice to say that I did the right thing, because I really didn't want to be caught laughing out loud like a loony.

As always, the writing is quirky! The story-line is thick with plot twists that keep surprising you at every turn. The humor is ever present and the dialogues are sarcastic and overall fun, which  translates into me being a rabidly happy camper on sugar rush!

The characters are also very unique. I mean hello, goddess Persephone making sinfully forbidden love with an archangel! You just don't see Greek mythology interlace with Catholic characters in that position (pun intended). Plus, we get to see Buddha being slapped by Riona, which I think, is pretty sweeeet. LOL. (I should probably shut up because I might give out huge spoilers.)

Anyways, I WAS SO RIGHT WHEN I PROCLAIMED IN MY REVIEW OF PURE AND SINFUL THAT JERRY ROMANI IS A CHARACTER WORTHY OF MENTION! And yes, typing in all-caps was necessary to express the joy and admiration I feel for Jerry Romani a.k.a Gaius Gallicus. I was never on Team Marc when I read Pure and Sinful, so I guess it's but right to openly admit that I am on Team Jerry.

Jerry Romani is the highlight of this book, no doubt about it. I love the fact that he didn't try to convince the other pillars of his change of heart, he just proved their distrust wrong through his actions. Secondly, I also love the fact that even though he's head over heels in love with Riona, he chose to give her time to mourn and sort out her feelings. I think that really spoke volumes of how much he loved her.

Overall, I really, really loved this book! It's exactly my cup of tea with just the right amount of paranormal blend and wisecracks! And if there's ever a next installment, count me in!

To end this review, let me give you a quote from Jerry Romani:

"The only insane thing in all this is how much I loved you, even when I was damned. And how much I still love you now. And how we're not doing anything about it, for the sole reason that you're not ready."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

[Feature] I Published a Novellete on a Whim

Title: She Caught Me
Author: DR Lee
Publisher: DR Lee
Date Published: June 6, 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit, Young-Adult


Book Info:
Novellete; 10,400 words 
Melissa Castillo has had enough of hiding her feelings for her best friend Samuel Torres. They've been best friends for far too long, and she has been in love with him ever since forever! It also doesn't help that Sam is a big tease. He always drops an innuendo or two when they're together, but doesn't really act on it. 
Now that College graduation is just around the corner, Melissa finally convinced herself to push her inhibitions aside. She hatches a plan to reveal everything she felt for him without actually telling him!

 - x o O o x - 

About the Author
D. R. Lee (me~!) is the pen name of a law student hailing from the Philippines. Outside of her academic endeavor, she does writing, painting, and a whole lot of reading. On a perfect day, she talks with the people inside her head and tells their stories through printed words. You can reach her via email:

- x o O o x - 

I had the idea for this novellete since high school. I originally wrote the story on a scraggly-looking notebook, and allowed my friends and classmates to read it. I also published the same story online as a fanfic, then as an original novellete under a different pen name. It even won as Fic of The Year 2011 under the Short Story category in an online forum (which I shall not mention).

On a cold morning, last June 6, 2013, I woke up at 4 AM and was unable to go back to sleep. It was the crack of dawn and I have nothing to do. Admittedly, I do lots of impulsive things when I'm bored (such as publishing on a whim).

Out of boredom, I clicked on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (where I had an inactive account) and did a little research about e-publishing. I also researched about Smashwords (another e-publishing platform), and compared the two.

Ultimately, I decided to go with KDP because of the ease and speed with which I can publish.

That same morning, I whipped out my very basic photoshopping skills to conjure a simple book cover out of scratch. I also formatted my complete manuscript and uploaded it on KDP. After tweaking a few more settings, my manuscript was set for review. A day later, it was available on Amazon.

Truth is, this publishing on a whim is nothing but an experiment. I'm starting with baby steps here.

I don't really hope to earn a dime out of the novellete I published. Come on, it's just 10,400 words, and since the minimum price on KDP was $0.99, I was forced to have it priced accordingly. Personally, I would have given it for free.

So far, She Caught Me is solely available in mobi format from Amazon for $0.99, but I'm thinking of giving it away in PDF and Epub formats for free in exchange for a review.

For now though, my next step is to facilitate my Goodreads Author page so that I can interact with readers and promote my novellete.

Today, a novellete; tomorrow, a bestseller!

Friday, June 14, 2013

[Linking Up] Feature and Follow #24

Q: Activity: Spine Poetry. Create a line of poetry with your book spines (take a picture). Not feeling creative? Tell us about your favorite poem.

Mine is this:
The Calligrapher's Daughter
Sarah's Face
Before I Say Good-bye

The poem is pretty cool! LOL. I should do this more often!
The picture will be added later, though. I got class in an hour and I still have to study. =)

Oh, and please LIKE Book Junkie Joint on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

[Blog Tour - Book Review] Between Friends

 photo TourBanner-

Title: Between Friends
Author: Amanda Cowen
Date Published: March 22, 2013
Publisher: Amanda Cowen
Source: ARC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit


Book Info:
Between Friends by Amanda Cowen. 
Amanda Cowen Books. 178 pages. E-book.
$0.99 on Amazon for Kindle.
The only way to have a friend is to be one…especially between the sheets… 
When neurotically challenged and unlucky in love Megan Daniels, is propositioned by her life-long friend Ben Romano with a coin toss (heads, they sleep together, tails they don’t) the night before they are about to attend a destination wedding, she drunkenly accepts his challenge. But when Megan wakes up the next morning with a bad hang-over and Ben in her bed, she is more than mortified. It isn’t until the tropical heat begins to ignite emotions Megan never ever believed she could possibly have, that she starts to question if risking their friendship is the answer to finding true love.

A delightful, no-fuss, quick read! Perfect for those who love light-hearted romances.

While the plot (best friends falling in love) is cliche, overused and predictable, the author was able to weave a story that draws the reader in. Personally, the overused plot didn't really bother me because the story-telling and the characters more than made up for it. Also, I've always had a soft spot for best-friends-turned-to-lovers kind of story. Hee.

This one is an uncomplicated read, and that's something that worked in its favor. Sure, sometimes reading a mystery-thriller or a book with conspiracy theories is definitely excitingly pulse-racing, but there are moments when all the reader needs is an uncomplicated book - something that will delightfully distract the reader for a few hours, and leave them feeling positive. This book is exactly like that.

As for the characters, well, I appreciate Megan. I don't like how she seems like a doormat to her friends, but I have to admit that there are people like that. People who are sensible, nurturing and people who like taking care of their friends by keeping them out of trouble. She has her quirks, too, which for me, are adorable.

Then there's Ben Romano. Seriously, Dude, why did you have to wait so long before making a move on Megan? Sure, she's a little dense, but surely Ben could have made a more aggressive move to actually send a clear message to Megan.

All in all, this book is one fun ride because of the roller-coaster of emotions contained in 178 pages. Like I said, fans of light-hearted romances will definitely love this one.

Author Bio:


Amanda Cowen is the author of the New Adult Contemporary Romance BETWEEN FRIENDS.

She is also an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fanatic, a country music junkie, and a hater of roller coasters (they terrify her!). When she isn't trapped at her computer writing her next story, she can be found eating cupcakes, hanging with her family, or stuck in a good book!

Amanda would love to hear from her readers. Contact her via her blog,, become a fan on Facebook or follow her on Goodreads.

Don't forget to check out the other stops for 
Amanda Cowen's Between Friends Blog Tour!

Monday, June 10, 2013

[Book Review] Claim Me

Title: Claim Me (Stark Trilogy #2)
Author: J. Kenner
Date Published: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Random House - Bantam Dell
Source: ARC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Rating: ★★★ 

Barnes & Noble

About the Book:
For Damien, our obsession is a game. For me, it is fiercely, blindingly, real. 
Damien Stark’s need is palpable—his need for pleasure, his need for control, his need for me. Beautiful and brilliant yet tortured at his core, he is in every way my match.
I have agreed to be his alone, and now I want him to be fully mine. I want us to possess each other beyond the sweetest edge of our ecstasy, into the deepest desires of our souls. To let the fire that burns between us consume us both. 
But there are dark places within Damien that not even our wildest passion can touch. I yearn to know his secrets, yearn for him to surrender to me as I have surrendered to him. But our troubled pasts will either bind us close . . . or shatter us completely. 
Release Me is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

Sizzling, intriguing and pulse-racing! Pick this up already and be Damienized!

Damienized, v. To be needful of Damien, especially in the sense of fucking and dirty talk. See, e.g., Nikki Fairchild.

Picking up from where the first book left off, the agreement between Nikki and Damien is finally down to its last day. With Nikki's portrait completed, there was no longer any reason for the two of them to continue their arrangement, but of course, they both couldn't deny that they didn't want it to end.

In this second book, we see more of the emotional development between Nikki and Damien and how they each deal with things that are out of their control. Especially Damien because he's known to be a little bit of control freak. I love that Damien was humanized in this book. We see another side to the handsome billionaire from Book 1.

The first parts of Book 2 deal with the development of the relationship between Nikki and Damien. I think this was necessary so that the events in the last quarter of the book would have a huge impact. And come on, seeing more of Damien's sweet sincerity as he tried to protect Nikki definitely earned him brownie points.

The writing is both poetic and sensual. I have to say that J. Kenner knows exactly just what to write and how to draw the readers in. I love her writing style! It's an irresistible mix of picturesque words with deep emotional undertones!

The characters are also endearing in a way that they grow on you as you read through the book. When I read the first book, I was honestly in love with Nikki Fairchild (and I'm a girl at that) because she's equal parts balls and vulnerability. However, as soon as I read through the second book, Damien Stark caught me hook, line and sinker! He just earned himself a permanent spot in my Fictional Boyfriends List!

All in all, I think this book is just perfect! Mind you, I've been reading too many contemporary romances lately. It's exhausting to read too many romance novels with too much raunchy details and with little or no whatsoever plot. This one was definitely a cut above the rest!

Oh, and just to end this review, I give you a picture of my Damien Stark:

Um, well, the truth is, my default image for every possessive and dominant Billionaire fictional character in just about very book I read is always Matt Bomer. Hee. (Yes, including Christian Grey and Gideon Cross.)

If you would be interested, I also reviewed Release Me, which is the first book in the Stark Trilogy by J. Kenner.

Oh, and also please watch out for my upcoming review of Complete Me, the last book in the Stark Trilogy series.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

[Feature] Yes, I'm Writing a Contemporary Romance Novella

Earlier this year, I signed up for an online writing class organized by Filipino author Mina V. Esguerra (Fairy Tale Fail, Love Your Frenemies, Interim Goddess of Love). Aside from a few meet-ups in Manila, the class was mostly held online through a Facebook Group and through Emails, which was ideal for me because I live all the way in Iloilo City.

The objective of the class are as follows:
  1. The goal is to FINISH writing a contemporary romance novella of about 30,000 words.
  2. The course is free, with monthly assignments and meetups, but everything else will be online.
  3. Open to Philippine residents (those far from Manila can participate online and skip the meetups).
  4. Online component will be via a closed Facebook Group called "Yes I'm Writing a Contemporary Romance Novella".
There were about a hundred participants in total, but so far, only twelve has successfully submitted a finished manuscript before today. (Today, June 9, 2013, is the deadline for finished manuscripts, by the way.)

I was able to submit Assignment Number One without a hitch, since it mostly entailed roughly describing our ideas for our novellas. By Assignment Number Two, I was stumped because it required hours of thinking, planning and even fleshing out exact details to write about. 

I was able to complete about half of Assignment Number Two, but was soon kidnapped by my academic endeavors. I'm in law school, and I wasn't able to meet the deadline for Assignment Number Two because of my exams. Then came Assignment Number Three which coincided with my finals and deadlines for papers and school projects. It was at this point that I decided to write at my own pace. 

Did I give up in class? Yes, painfully so. Did I give up in writing? Hell, no. Let's just say that I took a much-needed pause from writing.

I was a constant lurker in the Facebook Group. =) The participants were all friendly and supportive of one another. I guess it's because we all share a love for writing and because we all want to be published someday.

Aside from the assignments, Miss Mina V. Esguerra was also gracious enough to share random tips for writing. She also shared her work process and was patient enough to handle all our submissions. I also really appreciate that she shared her own experiences when she ventured into online e-publishing and its costs, which was something most of us wanted to try out for ourselves.

Miss Mina also confronted us with questions that we didn't think we'd ask ourselves, such as: What are your goals in writing? Do you want to be picked up by a local publisher? Do you want to self-publish? Do you want to make writing as your main job?

Personally, I wish to be published locally someday, then I want to try out online self-publishing for the international market. I don't really aim for writing to be my number one source of income or be my number one job because writing has always been something I do for fun or to release stress. Let's just say that writing is a creative outlet for me. If I could earn from writing as a hobby, then that would be really awesome.

Today, June 9, 2013, is the deadline for the finished manuscripts and the day the class finally comes to an end. (The Facebook Group will live on, though. Hee.)

Do I have a finished manuscript? No. 

Did I learn a lot from the class? Definitely.

Despite failing spectacularly in class, I'm looking forward to reading the finished novellas by my classmates. It would be awesome to feature more local authors and their works in my book blog. *hint* *hint* *nudge* *nudge*

Friday, June 7, 2013

[Linking Up] Feature and Follow #23

Q: Have you broken up with a series?
If so which one and why?
I broke up with the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Couldn't handle the drama, and I never could relate to the characters. I guess it was just too dark and too dramatic for my taste.

Please do like Book Junkie Joint's Facebook Page! Thank you!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

[Book Review] Don't Read This Book

Title: Don't Read This Book
Author: Various
Edited by: Chuck Wendig
Date Published: June 2012
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
Source: ARC
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror

Barnes & Noble

About the Book:
Down a lonely alleyway, under a starless sky, lies a city that never was, yet is: the Mad City, where nightmares walk the streets, and a good night's sleep can get you killed. Here, then, is a book from that place.Within these recovered pages are the tales of the Awake, insomniacs who've walked those perilous streets, bringing a bit of the power of dream with them to fight back the night - always at a terrible cost. For many, it will not end well. For a few, they might just become heroes - or at least find their way back home. For you, a choice. Turn away. Don't read this book. And maybe you'll continue to rest easy. Or open the cover and enter a world unlike any you've ever dared to imagine! Don't Read This Book introduces 13 forbidden tales from the Mad City and the world of the Don't Rest Your Head RPG.
This one just put my nightmares into words! Richly haunting and spine-chilling!

There is a reason why little kids fear the dark and sleeping alone at night, and this book explores the idea of a world dancing between the brink of sleep and consciousness. In this book, such world is dubbed as the Mad City, an alternate dimension where nightmares are as real as they all get.

First of all, I'm a 'night person'. Even when I was a little kid, I always slept late (I also wake up late), and I always slept with the lights on. Growing up, I struggled with insomnia, so if I were to be asked if I could relate to the characters in the short stories in this book, the answer would be a huge YES.

Reading the short stories in this book reminded me of the childhood fears I outgrew, such as the monster beneath the bed, and creatures that move through the night. I love how each of the story contributes a little to paint the gruesome world of Mad City.

There are thirteen tales in this book but I can't possible review all of them, so I'll just mention a few that really stuck with me. The first which I really liked is the one entitled Don't Be Your Father. I really love the twist at the end when the father became the very thing that he wished to protect his daughter from.

I also liked Don't Forget Your Kids. The idea of being able to use memories as a means of exchange is brilliant. Plus, I also like how creepy the story was told. It's a little bit sad, but it's creepy as well so I liked it.

And my most favorite one out of the thirteen short stories is the very last one: Don't Chew Your Food. I loved the twist at the end! The monsters who were supposed to be the predators got what they deserved when they encountered something way out of their league. It was the perfect blend of fear and unexpected twist!

All in all, I really enjoyed this collection of short stories! It was definitely effective in giving me the creeps!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

[Personal Update] School Opening in the Philippines

Head's up!

While summer vacation is just starting on the other side of the world, it's already the opening of classes here in the Philippines. As a student myself, that means less time to read books, less time to write reviews, and less time online.

My classes officially start on June 10, 2013 - that's next Monday.

Don't worry though, I have a couple of reviews lined up so this blog wouldn't be so empty while I'm busy with real life. Don't miss me too much!

Oh, and Book Junkie Joint has a Facebook Page now! Please do like! Thank you!

Monday, June 3, 2013

[Book Review] Dance of Shadows

Title: Dance of Shadows
Author: Yelena Black
Date Published: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Source: ARC
Genre: Young-Adult, Paranormal, Mystery, Horror

Barnes & Noble

About the Novel:
Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts... 
Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames...  
Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed...

After the many contemporary romances that I've read, I was hungry for a bit of mystery-thriller combo, so I leafed through my TBR pile and found Dance of Shadows.

I'm more of a singer than a dancer, but I have to admit that I like watching ballet. There's just something mesmerizing about watching the fluid and graceful movements of a ballerina that makes it hard for me to tear my eyes off. Plus, from what I know of ballet, it's a kind of craft that masks the pain to show only what's beautiful and ethereal through movements, so I was curious to read about the hardships of ballet students in Yelena Black's Dance of Shadows. It also doesn't hurt that it has a mystery vibe going on for it.

First things first! Let us take a second to admire the beautiful poster! LOL.

Now, we go to the review proper. Heh.

Story-wise, I'd have to say that incorporating a ritual dance in ballet is something unexpected. Nonetheless, it was a great plot-device. Everything started out great, but half-way through the story, I don't know what happened. And I really think that this story had something going on for it, I just don't know why there was a downhill.

As for the characters, well, let's just say they became a little too stereotypical. Vanessa, the wide-eyed freshman to an elite ballet school. Zep, the mysterious and gorgeous upperclassman, and Justin, the guy who seemed to have an agenda of his own but stalks Vanessa for some unknown reason.

Oh, and I'll just have to say that the love line in this story is absolutely incorrigible. It's one thing to have a crush and be infatuated, and it's another to be in love. I really cringed at the part where Vanessa's whole world just seemed to revolve around Zep aside from ballet, even though he's always missing in action. And how can she be in love with someone she barely even knows?

All in all, this one is a lengthy story which started out great but slowly fizzled out.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

[Linking Up] Feature and Follow #22

Q: What blogger would you most like to meet in real life? 
Tell us about him or her.

I want to meet Lilith Saintcrow! She's a blogger and an author. I have a few books written by her and I want her autograph! I sound like a fan-girl, don't I?

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