Thursday, December 8, 2016

[Book Review] 33 Ermine Street



33 Ermine Street
Harvey Lincoln
Young-Adult, Contemporary Fiction

Rating:
★★★★★

33 Ermine Street is an ordinary account of an extraordinary courage of a British immigrant of Chinese descent. 

Story-wise, the beginning was somewhat dull. Shen, the protagonist, is as every bit as ordinary. I didn't find myself connecting with him within the first few chapters of the story because he seemed a little too sheltered. Sure, he's had brushes with unpleasant people, but he was mostly raised within the confines of the protective bubble of his parents. 

When the traumatic experience happened, it was only then that I understood why Shen was portrayed as a sheltered young man. Had the incident happened to a more experienced young man, he would not have been affected as much as Shen was. I think it would be safe to say that the incident at the bus was a catalyst for Shen's growth.

Character-wise, I really liked Sandeep and Alfred, because I thought they were the most distinct ones even though they were merely side characters. Malik comes close because of his developed background. 

It was also interesting to read a Filipino character being portrayed in a novel by a foreign writer. The names are too much though, in my opinion. The name Amihan is classically Filipino, but I draw the line at the name Bayani. 

If you ever meet immigrants of Filipino descent, or any Filipino for that matter, you'll know that they don't usually name their children obvious Filipino names. The most common male names in the Philippines, quite surprisingly, include John and Michael (which are not very Filipino-sounding).

The writing is raw at best, but for a debut novel, it's a decent one. The thought that kept occurring to me while reading this story is this: "Show. Don't tell." (May I suggest checking out this LINK to better understand what I mean.) 

My problem with the way the narrative is written is that everything was 'told' by the omniscient speaker. And if isn't given away by the narrator, it is conveyed through dialogue, which somehow, seems blocky and unnatural. The narrative also sounded too formal, and with very little distinction from the different characters.

All in all, I think this is a decent debut novel. I give it 3 stars because of Sandeep's wisdom, Alfred's change of heart, and Shen's courage.

LINKS:

Friday, July 29, 2016

[Book Review] Crushingly Close




Crushingly Close
Stella Torres
July 19, 2016
Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit


What's a woman to do when she's fiercely independent, and love comes knocking without warning? I think this pretty much sums up our main character, Agnes Escueta's, predicament in this brand new offering from Filipino #romanceclass author Stella Torres.

I think every woman goes through that moment where she has to choose between her hard-won independence, and the stirrings of her heart, thinking that choosing one is equal to losing the other.

What I like about this story is that it is character-driven. There are no super villains plotting the demise of our main character. There are no uber rich, snotty and all-powerful antagonists, who can ruin someone's life by waving their money and influence. I think this is where the the beauty of this story lies. It is relateable, and it is a slice of life. It can be anyone's story.

Agnes, the protagonist, is smart, successful and driven. She's also hard-working and family-oriented, and most of the time, logic dictates her actions rather than her heart. I love that Agnes has her priorities straight. Filipino family values were clearly showcased in the story through Agnes' constant worry for her sick father. I also love her voice, because she sounds stable and thoughtful. She sounds like someone who has had her character tested, but still remains standing.

As for the love interest, I was picturing Atom Araullo as Daniel Ferrer the whole time I was reading the story. He was my LI peg right from the very start. (hihi) I think it really takes some serious balls to go after the affections of a fiercely independent woman. Major thumbs up for Daniel for stepping up!

The way Daniel sees through Agnes' walls, and the way Agnes calls out Daniel's BS speaks volumes about how they see each other. I loved the gradual development of their connection to each other. It was like a push-and-pull between two people who are clearly into each other, but things kept getting in the way, and priorities had to be sorted. It would have been easier to let things die down, but I really liked that they made things work.

All in all, I really enjoyed this story. It has no grand and unrealistic gestures, but its beauty lies in its simplicity. And hey, giving in to the stirrings of your heart does not necessarily mean relinquishing independence. The two are not mutually exclusive, and author Stella Torres shows just that in this story. 


LINKSAmazon // Goodreads

At twenty-four years old, Agnes Escueta has risen from the ranks to become a producer for Sports Tonight. No one can touch her, it seems—not even crush-worthy anchorman Daniel Ferrer, who she gets to work with every single day. When a road trip to Indonesia throws Agnes and Daniel together, they find themselves working in close quarters. It doesn’t take long before Agnes finds herself being charmed by Daniel, and her defenses start to melt with his touch. With deadlines looming and a big game coming, Agnes must figure out how to let Daniel into her life without risking her professional reputation—and without breaking her own heart.

Stella Torres is the author of Save the Cake and the short story “Be Creative” from Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Arts Academy (Vol. 1)). She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and worked briefly in public relations, but has chosen to pursue her post-graduate studies in the field of education. She loves dark chocolate, hates flyaways, and is constantly in search of comfortable shoes.

Connect with the author:

Monday, July 25, 2016

[Blog Tour] Excerpt Reveal - Crushingly Close



Crushingly Close
By Stella Torres
July 19, 2016


“Well.” Daniel looked both ways before he spoke. “You wanted to talk.”

“Yes.” I jammed my hands into my pockets. “I just wanted to know—“ 
He grabbed my face and kissed me. Hard. 
With a kiss like that, it was hard to maintain my balance. I took my hands out of my pockets and wrapped my arms around his neck so I could kiss him back, but it still took a lot of effort to keep me standing.

The two of us came up for air, our breaths warm against our mouths.

“Nine minutes,” he said. “We’ve lost one.”

“What? Oh.” I didn’t have to check my watch. Mang Buboy was due to come back from his smoke break soon.

“Did you want to know where we stand?”

“That, yeah.” My knees strained from standing on tip-toes for far too long. “I’m—I—last night—“
“I want to be the one holding you.” He ran his hands through my hair. “I want to touch you in more ways than one. Would you let me be that for you?”

No words came out of my mouth when I tried to speak. All attempts at coherent thought went out of the window.

“Would you let me touch you?” he said. “Would you let me get close to you?”

I blinked. “I—I want you. I want everything.”

“Then let it go.” He dropped a kiss on my mouth. “Let it all go.”

The ping of the elevator interrupted my thoughts. I let go of him and sank back on my heels. “We should go back.”
“Good idea.” He held up his hand. “Room key?”

My hands went inside my pockets. No key card to be found. “I’ll knock.”

“Let me.” He rapped his knuckles against the door. “Kelvin, we know you’re in there.”

The door opened a few seconds later. “That was quick,” Kelvin said. “What did you talk about?”

Daniel and I exchanged knowing looks with each other. We had forgotten about the peep hole through the door.

“Nothing,” I said. “Hey, where are we on the FTP? Mang Buboy should be back soon…”

At twenty-four years old, Agnes Escueta has risen from the ranks to become a producer for Sports Tonight. No one can touch her, it seems—not even crush-worthy anchorman Daniel Ferrer, who she gets to work with every single day. When a road trip to Indonesia throws Agnes and Daniel together, they find themselves working in close quarters. It doesn’t take long before Agnes finds herself being charmed by Daniel, and her defenses start to melt with his touch. With deadlines looming and a big game coming, Agnes must figure out how to let Daniel into her life without risking her professional reputation—and without breaking her own heart.

LINKS : Amazon // Goodreads

Stella Torres is the author of Save the Cake and the short story “Be Creative” from Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Arts Academy (Vol. 1)). She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and worked briefly in public relations, but has chosen to pursue her post-graduate studies in the field of education. She loves dark chocolate, hates flyaways, and is constantly in search of comfortable shoes.

Connect with the author:


Thursday, May 26, 2016

[Book Review] The Naturals


The Naturals
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
November 5, 2013
Young-Adult, Mystery, Thriller

The premise and book description were interesting. These were what drew me in. I love serial killer books, have been a long time fan of Criminal Minds, devoured The Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay (all seven books) with gusto, and even breezed through the Dexter TV series (all eight seasons of it). This is the reason why I gave this book 4 stars.

The protagonist is likable enough, even though she could be a little too ideal. Sometimes, she's a bit bland, or mundane, but when she starts doing her thing, that's what sets her apart from all others. I would have loved to see her with more layers of personality though.

The serial killer aspect was a nice twist. I totally did not predict who was aiming for Cassie until it was revealed. I had a gut feeling it was within the group, but I had no way of knowing if it was one of the teens in the program, or not. This added to my enjoyment of the story.

I also like how being a teenager complicated things for the major characters. There were personalities clashing, hormones raging, and emotions flaring between the teenage game-players. This is even aside from the attractions that were slowly building up between characters. Admittedly, I belong to #TeamDean on this one.

What bothered me though, was the reason why these teenagers had these preternatural abilities. Are they really just THAT talented? Why? Genetics, maybe? Bio-lab experiments? What's the cause for these abilities? I need a credible and plausible back story for this.

All in all, I really enjoyed the mystery-thriller bit. #TeamDean all the way!

LINKS: Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

[Personal Update] Failures and Fighting Spirits


November last year, I took the bar exam full of eagerness and optimism. It was an experience in, and of itself. It was mentally-exhausting, and emotionally-challenging, and was something I hoped to never go through again.

May 3, 2016, the bar exam results came out, and I didn't make it.

I was hurt. I cried for a little bit. I mourned. It felt like all the hard work I put in was all for naught. I felt inadequate, I felt stupid, and I began doubting myself. It was a grand defeat, and although I fought with everything I had, the end-result was the same: I did not pass the bar.

Come May 9, 2016, it was the national elections.

I am an avid advocate of Miriam Defensor-Santiago for President. In my younger years, I may have thought of the woman as comical and insane. I clearly remember her promising on national television that she was going to jump out of a plane. However, after years and years of witnessing the woman achieve excellence beyond her co-leagues, she gained my respect. She became an inspiration, an icon for strong women, and an example of excellent leadership.

She had a dry wit about her. She's fond of hyperbole and exaggerated statements that become very effective catch-phrases and punch lines. And underneath the satirical nature of her statements, she remains steadfast and unyielding in delivering excellent public service. She has been a faithful public servant for several years, and has dedicated most of her life to serving her country.

When the partial and unofficial results of the election was announced on news programs last night, I felt a physical ache in my chest. It was so disheartening to see someone who has given her best to this country remain unappreciated.

To have dedicated the best years of your life to public service, and be failed again and again, yet still remain faithful to serving this country? How does she do it?

Witnessing her defeat, I felt my failure in the bar exams pale a million times in comparison.

I felt actual, physical heartbreak for the iron lady who stood alone and courageous against the face of corruption, death threats, and even her failing health. She could have chosen to work anywhere else in the world, and be compensated with thousands of dollars. Yet she still chose to be in public service.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, you really are the best President we never had. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. Thank you for fighting the good fight, and for standing firm in your principles. Thank you for being someone to look up to, and for being an example to the youth.

 As for my own failure, well, I am made of sterner stuff. I am still young, and I have my battles ahead of me. If Miriam can fight the good fight, so can I.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

[Linking Up] Feature & Follow #03


Follow me on Bloglovin, Twitter & Facebook.

POST PROMPT:
What are your favorite genres in books?

I'm an eclectic reader, so my reading preference is all over the place. However, I would never say no to smart rom-coms, young-adults, and mystery thrillers. See? All over the place. haha!

I have a long-standing love affair with horror. Ever since my mom bought me a copy of Washington Irving's The Sleepy Hollow and a novelized Buffy the Vampire Slayer way back in high school, I love me some good ol' toe-curling horror. 


Friday, April 8, 2016

[Personal Update] Howdy?


Okay, so first off, I apologize for the lack of updates and book reviews. My offline life has been a bit too busy. I've been helping out with the family business, and sneaking in a little bit of writing on the side. I don't exactly know when I'll be reviewing books regularly again.

I can't believe it's April already! Huh. To say that I'm dreading the months of April to May is an understatement. I'm terribly horrified of what these months will bring to me. The Supreme Court announced that the 2015 bar exam results will be coming out late April to early May. It's my make or break moment, so...

Anyways, this is just me checking into say that I am still well and alive; extremely anxious and catatonic, but alive.


Monday, March 7, 2016

[Feature Filipino] Book Review: #StrangeLit- Fateful Turns


#StrangeLit : Fateful Turns
By Various Authors
September 2015
Paranormal, Horror, Fantasy

Have I ever mentioned I love reading short story collections? I felt like a child given her favorite candy when I received an ARC of this short story collection. And since the theme of the stories involved fantasy, horror and paranormal, it was double the fun for me.

This collection is as diverse as the different authors whose stories are featured within its pages. Most of stories aren't like the usual paranormal stories that has been written before. Also, most of them were engrossing enough, and very helpful to kill time, but of course, I have my favorite.

What really stood out for me was Justine Camacho-Tajonera's The Mermaid From Siquijor. At first, the beginning threw me off because the chapters were disconnected, and there were too many characters involved. However, the interconnection of the characters was gradually explained as the story progressed. I thought that the story of the bearers of the light was really well-thought-out and very well-written. The downside is that, I don't think foreign readers would be able to relate.

All in all, this short story collection is engrossing, really interesting and unique. I highly recommend it for people who would like a paranormal fantasy collection that offers something different than vampires and werewolves.


Friday, February 26, 2016

[Book Review] The God's Eye View


The God's Eye View
By Barry Eisler
February 2, 2016
Thriller, Fiction, Suspense

Let me start by saying that I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was interested to read this story because of its synopsis. And truth be told, it felt like Christmas came in February when I got this book, because I have been a fan of Barry Eisler since I read John Rain. That being said, I'll admit being guilty of slightly fan-girling on Twitter. That is all I'm going to admit.

Be warned. This is a very scary book. It will make you uncomfortable, but it will make you think. It is not scary in a horror, or paranormal kind of way, but scary in a conspiracy-theory-and-paranoia kind of way. If some aspects of the fiction in this book turned out to be real, the implications are astounding. And you have to read the whole story to understand that the fictional aspect of this book might not be that far-fetched from reality.

While reading this book, Sir Francis Bacon's famous quote kept leaping up at me. The quote says: "Knowledge is power." This quote probably sums up the whole story pretty well. The core issue in this story is this: how much government intrusion into private rights is enough and when is it too much?

I love that this book effectively weaves reality and fiction. It was so effective in doing so that many times throughout reading the book, I kept asking myself which parts are real and which parts are not. At the end of reading the whole story, I was reeling because I was effectively absorbed in a world that was not much different from reality, and learned a few things along the way. This book doesn't only tell a story, it also educates. This is what I really appreciate in this book.

The writing was steady, as was the pacing. I love that the author did not hold back on the gore, and was consistent in tying up together the intricate events one by one. The characters were dynamic, and there was growth for both Evie and Manus as the story progressed.

It was interesting to read about a really advance monitoring system that could have been the perfect surveillance tool if not for the people who run it; the ghosts inside the machine. Also, there was one persistent thought that kept occurring to me while I was reading about God's Eye. Essentially, the government leaders may change, and the name of the project/machine may change, but it's all just semantics really. At the heart of it all, knowledge really is power. And it is definitely better to know more rather than less.

Lastly, I really loved the list of resources and reading materials at the end of the book. I was thinking of researching people and events after reading the story, and the resources listed within the book was really, really helpful.

Kudos to the author for writing such a thought-provoking masterpiece! I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in an intellectually-charged suspense thriller.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

[Feature Filipino] Book Review: Plain Vanilla


Plain Vanilla
By Ines Bautista Yao
February 12, 2016
Young Adult, Romance

Despite its length, I think this is one well-written story about young love. This is actually my second young-adult story from Ines Bautista Yao, and she remains consistent in keeping her voice young and relatable, which is something I really appreciate.

Truth is, I got a little confused with the story when I began reading because I thought 'Plain Vanilla' meant something else. LOL. The fault was entirely my own, and partly because FSOG has given the term 'vanilla' a different meaning. It was funny because I got confused and thought, 'how in the hell is there going to be a love scene in this story?! WTF?!' When I finally recovered, I had the urge to smack myself senseless for my sheer stupidity. haha!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this Valentine offering! Tempest (Pesty! Great nickname, by the way.) is a really charming character even if she thinks she's boring and normal. I'd rather describe her as stable and grounded. She might not see herself this way, but I think her cousins did a great job at keeping Pesty from the brink of depression and hopelessness.

I don't have a crazy family as Pesty, so I can't say I can relate, but the way her family was described in this story was downright hilarious. I couldn't help but chuckle and smile while I was reading.

All in all, this was a really great story, which I wished my tween self could have had an opportunity to read.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

[Feature Filipino] Book Review: One Night At The Palace Hotel


One Night At The Palace Hotel
by Bianca Mori
February 14, 2014
New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Short Story

I was given a copy of the story for free in exchange for a review. It's a short story, and a quick read, so I said yes.

To be honest, I was a bit put off by the beginning of the story. Everything sounded so... superficial. I honestly don't know if there are any others who felt the same, but I'm pretty sure I was really put off. Nonetheless, I continued reading, because even if the background of the main character was off-putting, it was still interesting enough.

A family desperately clinging on to a family name, and a legacy that has long been rendered obsolete was pathetic, but the good thing was that the heroine recognized the futility of her family's actions. I was surprised at how much Consuelo was willing to bend over for what her family wanted. I had to resist the urge to bang my head in frustration several times over the course of reading this story. It wasn't funny how I wanted to shake Consuelo up to straighten her head. Then again, while she may be pliant and obedient at the beginning of the story, there was definitely growth in the latter part.

All in all, this story is solid despite its length. It'll be frustrating, and maddening at times, but it's a good read!

Note: The schedule for this blog post was supposed to be on or before January 31, 2016. In all complete honesty, the deadline flew out of my head. I didn't realize I missed it until I checked my email for posting details again. I apologize for my blunder.  


Monday, February 1, 2016

[Feature Filipino] Book Review: Just A Little Bit Of Love


Just A Little Bit Of Love
(Short stories set in the world of 
Only A Kiss)
By Ines Bautista Yao
November 18, 2016
Short Story, Young-Adult, Romance


I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I thought, why not? I find short stories delightful because they're quick reads, and for a compilation like this one, you get several stories in one book. It's practically a steal!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories. I was reminded of my own high school days; football especially. Only that I wasn't a fan, I was a player, and I played against guys. It was really effective in bringing out nostalgic feelings of high school and early College years.

What this book contains are well-written tales of innocence and young love. I would have loved for the stories to be longer because I would have loved to read more. Also, I appreciate that the characters actually sound like teenagers. This is a little tricky to pull off, but readers won't have a problem with the characters in the stories. (*nudge* Full length young-adult story, perhaps? *nudge* )

All in all, this is a pretty solid compilation as far as young-adult short stories go, and I highly recommend it to everyone, who would like a quick read, or two. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

[Book Review] Mafia Girl


Mafia Girl
By Deborah Blumenthal
March 1, 2014
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance


I very rarely rate books with 1 star, because I understand the amount of effort and patience put into writing and producing a book. Let me just be honest and say that I didn't like this book at all. I didn't like the heroine. I struggled in finishing this book because I was hoping it was going to turn around from the downhill slope it was rushing into.

Plot-wise, I have no idea what this book was trying to do or what message was it trying to convey. The gist of it all is that Gia, the mafia don's daughter is different from her family in that she's going to be someone outstanding. She'd be different in the sense that her life has a different direction from the crime family that she has. This is a struggle because she's used to being the mafia don's daughter and has a reckless nature to boot. It's a search for her own identity outside of her crime family background. Basically, she's a brat with a good head on her shoulders, or so she thinks.

In my opinion, she's a boy-hungry brat who gets by with her father's connections, and actually enjoys a life of crime and recklessness. I mean, come on, if you had a good head on your shoulders, and you truly want to be different from your family, you'd think twice about stealing a vehicle and going past a speed limit while you're a minor. Hello, that's common sense. But you don't. And what's worse? She even hits on the police officer who arrests her. I wanted to bang my head on the wall while reading this part, and the subsequent parts thereafter involving Gia and Officer Hottie. There is a limit as to how many times you leave your actions to the dictates of your hormones. Also, Gia, how can you say you're in love with Michael when you call your best friend's older brother (whom you occasionally make out with) just to see his reaction about the dress you're wearing? And don't even get me started on your best friend/cuddle buddy who is not gay.

In conclusion, I did not like this book at all.


Monday, January 25, 2016

[Book Review] Guilty Pleasures


Guilty Pleasures
By Manuela Cardiga
December 5, 2013
Contemporary Romance, Erotica 


This book is wonderfully exquisite, both in the romance aspect and in the mouth-watering dishes featured within its delightful pages. It was not a very good idea to read this book from midnight until the wee hours of dawn because it made me crave for dishes I haven't even tasted but sounded soooo good based on the descriptions in the book alone. Yes, I might sound crazy, but trust me, if you read this book, you will experience such a thing, too.

Plot-wise, it is somewhat like a paid-gigolo trope, but better. I'd have to say that while Lance Packhard and Christian Grey had similarities in background and in how they became the person that they are, how their stories turned out and even their personalities are vastly different. I also love that the way Lance worked to gain Millie's affection, which is not a typical courtship. I really thought it was creative how Lance went on to such great lengths just to be close to Millie. The how-to entries in the book he was working on were really witty, too!

The characters are also unique and I would say very much developed and complex. You could not help but feel for the characters and think of them as real people. Lance is your typical handsome-and-he-knows-it, arrogant ladies' man. The twist is that he puts so much effort to maintain such persona, which is a huge relief for me, because I believe that an attractive man has to have some sort of regimen to maintain his physique and looks. Think models. (Newsflash: It is not easy to look model-gorgeous.) This puts a bit of realism to Lance as a character, which is something I really appreciate. As for Millie, I love how she's her own person. She's an unconventional female lead and pursues her passions rather than be boy crazy. She's really shy and oblivious to other people, but when she's in her element, she shines so brightly.

I also really like the parallelism of Millie and Lance's expression of passion. While Lance thinks of passion as sex and love-making, Millie pours hers into her business and cooking -- this is something that I've always believed. Different people have different passions, and it would not be wise to judge one based on another. It was very interesting to witness Lance slowly understand Millie's motivations, and despite of it all, falls for her harder.

Oh, and I love Serge so much! He's gay, he's black, and if that isn't enough, he's a dwarf. He also has a pretty foul mouth and unpredictable temperament. Above all of these, he's very witty. He's a colorfully complex character and I love how entertaining his quips are. I wouldn't have enjoyed this book so much if it weren't for him.

All in all, this book is a solid read. While it has a few common romance elements, it is highly entertaining (and mouth-watering) and can stand on its own.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

[Book Review] When In Rome

When In Rome
By Amabile Giusti
Translated by Sarah Christine Varney
January 26, 2016
Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance


I had no idea I would like this story very much! The only thing in the description that really had me sold was Luca, who is actually a writer. It's always a delight for me to read about characters who are writers and/or librarians in books, but this one was more than that. This book is like an extremely delicious banana split sundae in very generous servings after weeks of drought and starvation! It's been weeks since I've read something that thoroughly entertained me, so this book was heaven-sent. What's even more to love is that the humor included within the pages actually make sense, and there are actually lines in the story which I thought was very well-thought of.

I also really appreciate it that the plot kept me on my toes. Most of the time, I couldn't guess what was going to happen next, or what ridiculous situation Carlotta was going to be involved in. This is a rare feat considering I read almost everyday and could say for certain that I have read my fair share of predictable books and stories. Kudos to the author for this!

The heroine -- Carlotta, I think it's safe to say that she's unconventional and interesting. In a family where there is already a predetermined standard (set by her mother) in order to be treated as someone precious, it was a huge act of courage to stay being who she is. I love that she's unapologetic for her being her own person, and that she pursued her passions despite how difficult it is to do so.

The minor characters and side-stories were very interesting, too! I love that Carlotta found a group of people who are just as weird and neurotic as she was. They played a huge hand in making the story very interesting.

Now, on to Luca -- to be honest, I wasn't really sold. I enjoyed Carlotta as a character more than I enjoyed Luca. He was initially the reason why I was drawn to this book in the first place, but it was Carlotta who captured my heart. I guess Luca just didn't really measure up for me. While their romance was believable and had a stable pacing from the beginning, I would have appreciated it more if Luca did more groveling on Carlotta's feet. I think he needs to work a little harder for the girl. I mean, come on! Carlotta deserves to be treated like a goddess more than anything, you lucky piece of bagpipes! Hohum.

Also, how cool is it that the author is Greek, the book was translated into English by an American, and, read and reviewed by a Filipino? When I thought of Amazon Crossing this way, it blew my mind. This only goes to show that enjoying a story or a book is universal! Someone from the Philippines can thoroughly enjoy something that was written and set in Greece.

I would've written a 5-star rating for this book had Luca measured up, but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns in this unexpected delight of a book. I definitely recommend it!

Also, this quote from the book was really neat:

Monday, January 18, 2016

[Book Review] Zipless

Zipless
By Diane Dooley
June 16, 2014
Romance, Short Story, Novella, Contemporary


This was a  good story, not the best I've read but certainly good for some light reading. It was entertaining and plenty helpful in killing some time. I wish it would've been longer though. I think that the story would have been more effective if everything was allowed to take root first before moving to the next level. Since this story was short, everything felt rushed to me, even the romance aspect. Sure, the lust and sexual tension was there, but I hoped that they had more time to develop feelings for each other. The obvious chemistry and creative compatibility that they had was understandable, I wouldn't argue with that. However, I don't think one can call it love so soon after meeting each other. I wouldn't call it Insta-Love between the two of them, because I think there was definitely something that might have been better if it was given more time to grow. That's the only solid issue for me -- the pacing of the romance.

I think this was why the romance aspect wasn't as effective for me. I thought that the lyrics which Lou and Crash were beginning to write in their heads were really creative. Lou's background was solid as was Crash's. This is the first book from Diane Dooley that I've read and I wouldn't hesitate to read one of hers again, provided it be longer next time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

[Feature Filipino] Book Review: When Cocoy Became Kikay


When Cocoy Became Kikay
By C. P. Santi
March 25, 2015
Middle Grade, Young-Adult, Contemporary


I'm amazed at how much I actually related to Cocoy as a character. Reading about her friends and her complicated relationship with Jaime transported me to a time when I experienced something very eerily similar.

Before I started reading the story, I thought that this was a classic make-over trope -- something I'm neutral about. I don't particularly like it, but I don't hate it either. When I started reading about Cocoy's boyish ways, she reminded me of myself. I was a tomboy in high school, and even up to College. I was on the basketball varsity team, and most of my barkada were guys. I was even suspected of being involved in same-sex relationships when the high school administration made a crackdown. When a teacher asked me to my face, I looked at her incredulously. This was an experience that was awkward as hell, but still makes me laugh to this day. What I'm trying to say is that, saying I relate to Cocoy is an understatement. What she experienced was something I experienced, too, which was why this story hit too close to home for me. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who experienced, or is experiencing something similar.

Cocoy has a solid and strong voice. She knows her Art of War tactics very well, which is something I also really liked about her. She's my kind of girl! I also really appreciate her friends who were very discernible from one another. You will not get confused about who is who. I also really liked that, for such a short one, it packs so many things that I'm very sure a teenage-reader would be able to relate to. It's all about being comfortable in your own skin, never having to say sorry for who you really are, and to chase after your dreams no matter how hard it may seem. It's about not dulling your shine simply because people aren't comfortable with what you can do. 

The only downside though, is that, I think it needs a glossary for the Filipino words. This is for the benefit of international readers, who are not familiar with the setting and the Filipino jargon. All in all though, I think this was a very pleasant read, and I would recommend it to everyone.

Monday, January 11, 2016

[Book Review] Abby Spencer Goes To Bollywood


Abby Spencer Goes To Bollywood
By Varsha Bajaj
March 1, 2014
Middle Grade, Contemporary Fiction


Fun, fascinating and quirky! Abby's voice is refreshing and witty. While reading this book, I thought Abby should definitely be my friend. I have a feeling we'll get along so well. The fact that her father is a Bollywood superstar is simply a bonus. I love that she's adventurous and willing to try new things. And can I mention just how awesome it is that she has her own imaginary orchestra playing inside her head whenever she experiences something surreal? I also think that she's very wise for her age. Thirteen is a fragile age for most teens, especially if there are father issues involved, but Abby dealt with things without being melodramatic and angsty -- something which I really appreciate.

I also loved reading about Mumbai in this book. Personally, I have only seem Mumbai through movies which alternate between really colorful production ensembles and decrepit shambles of poverty. Yes, admittedly, I have seen a few Bollywood movies. It's hard to see a middle ground between the luxurious city in romantic comedies and the poverty-stricken areas in other movies. While I understand that creative liberties may have been taken, it's still refreshing to read about Mumbai through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl who is practically a stranger.

Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan.
(Who's your daddy now? *cough*)
Another thing I appreciate about this story is that the whole storyline focused on Abby. By the middle of the story, I got a little scared that the storyline might stray from Abby and focus on the reconciliation and eventual happy ending of her parents. While I appreciate a happy ending, I feel that it would have been unrealistic to have her parents reconcile and suddenly find themselves in love with each other again. I'm glad that they left things where they are in the ending and somehow left a glimpse of hope for things to get better between Abby's parents. 

Oh, and one more thing! While I was reading this book, I kept picturing bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan in my head! Well, initially, I thought Amir Khan would be perfect as a father figure but as I kept reading, Hrithik Roshan was persistent. Apparently, I have my own imaginary casting director in my head who dictates who I picture as book characters. See! Abby and I should be friends!

All in all, this book was a delight and I highly recommend it for some light reading.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

[Announcement] The Perfictionist Giveaway Winners!


Congratulations to the following winners!

Sandi F. T. 
Grand Winner of the Grand Swag Pack
(1 Starbucks 2016 Planner in White, 1 Coloring Postcard Set, 1 Paperback Copy of Kids These Days, 1 Red Faux-Leather Bound Journal)

Cejesska C.
Winner of Ebook Swag Pack
(Un)Breakable by Kesh Tanglao
Songs Of Our Breakup by Jay E. Tria
What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
The Kitchen When It Sizzle by Chrissie Peria
Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano

Irene J.
Winner of Ebook Swag Pack
All's Fair in Blog & War by Chrissie Peria
Blasts From Two Pasts by Kristel S. Villar
In Over Her Head by Anne Plaza
Blossom Among Flowers by Jay E. Tria
The Real Score by Kesh Tanglao

Nicole A. S. 
Winner of Ebook Swag Pack 
Just A Little Bit Of Love by Ines Bautista Yao
When Cocoy Became Kikay by C.P. Santi
This Side of Sunny by Agay Llanera

Do wait for the email from me! =)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

[Feature] Daphne, The Non-Reader


Everything started when I saw Daphne holding a book. Specifically, she was holding Kesh Tanglao's The Real Score. I raised one curious eyebrow and thought of it as an oddity. 

Daphne is a non-reader. 

I've known her since she was in diapers and I have never seen her read a book out of her own volition. And if she was ever reading any book at all, I could say for certain that she'd be dozing off by the third page. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw her holding a book, and actually reading it; a book that's not a textbook or a school-related book. She was reading it. On. Her. Own. No one forced her to read it. I did not even insist that she read it. She voluntarily picked up a book from the pile of books on my shelves, and actually finished reading it!
  
I could not explain how I felt then. I was ecstatic, of course! I mean, for so long, I've been the only one in the family who's into reading. I've always left my bookcases and shelves open, hoping that anyone from my family would be open to reading them. Finally, Daphne came around!

But of course, I didn't want to keep my hopes up. I thought maybe it was a one time thing, and she'd be bored of reading. 

I was wrong. 

A ninja pic I took of the non-reader. hehe
The next day, I asked her if she was done with The Real Score. She said yes, and told me that she started reading Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Later that day, she told me that she didn't like Love Story all that much. She said The Real Score was better. 

Today, she said she wanted to read another book. I told her I recommend Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, but we couldn't find it on my shelves. Someone probably borrowed it. *sigh* 

Anyways, since she seemed to be getting more interested in reading, I handed her Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, because she told me someone recommended Dan Brown's novels to her. She though the book was really thick but took it nonetheless. hihi

As a fervent reader, it makes me giddy to witness a convert first hand. I hope this twist lasts, and she decides to dabble in leisure reading for good. After all, I still have a ton of books lying on my shelves, waiting for another reader to get to know their worlds. 



Friday, January 1, 2016

[Linking Up] Feature & Follow #02

Question of the Week:
What books are you most excited for in 2016? - Suggested by
Alison Can Read
Follow me on: GFC & Bloglovin!

Decisions, decisions. I haven't really thought of the specific books I look forward to in 2016 as I've only recently started book-blogging again. However, I'm really excited for the books in a few of the series I've been reading!
Sylvia Day's Crossfire series will have One With You out this 2016. Penny Reid's Knitting in the City series will have Happily Ever Ninja

Plus I'm also really excited to see Amabile Giusti's When In Rome in bookstores. The book will be out on January 26, 2016. I think the story was originally written in Italian, but was translated into English. I was given an ARC of the English version and I really loved the quirky characters! 


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