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

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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