None at the moment.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

ARC Review: Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publication Date: July 14th, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

  "Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul."

  Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.

  But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

  Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

  Something you must know about me is that I don't usually read middle grade books now that I am almost an adult, but there was just something about the synopsis of Serafina and the Black Cloak that drew me in. And while I didn't really love this book, I enjoyed it.

  Thinking of this one as a kid, I think I would have really loved it. I would have rated it 4.5, maybe. But as an 18-year-old girl, I'm rating it only 3.75 stars. I really liked the plot of this book, and I think that many would enjoy it. However, there were times when I felt like the narrative was too wordy. Most of the time, I only scanned the texts and only really read the conversations.

  I felt kind of bored during the first half of the book, but the story started to picked up around the second half. I must say, I really enjoyed the mystery of this book, and I think that kids would really enjoy it as well. I don't really have much to say about this book, actually.

  Serafina and the Black Cloak is definitely worth a try for kids looking for great mystery books. I think that they would enjoy it much more than I did.

Monday, August 3, 2015

ARC Review: Crimson Bound

Title: Crimson Bound
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 5th, 2015
Pages: 445
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

After enjoying Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, I couldn't help but request a review copy of this one, and when I was approved, I did a mental happy dance. I wanted to dive into it immediately, but school kept me busy. Now I finally had the time to read it, and oh my gosh, it was such an amazing read!

Crimson Bound was such a great sophomore novel for Rosamund Hodge. This one's so much better than Cruel Beauty, and I already enjoyed Cruel Beauty! The story was captivating and beautifully written, and I wasn't able to put the book down. I really connected with the characters too and I felt everything the characters were feeling even though there weren't scenes I could relate to, and I definitely felt all the feels!

The story was amazing and unique, and the world building was impeccable. Even though I'm new to fantasy, I was able to get everything more or less. There were unexpected twists - at least for me - and I was caught off guard in a good way.

There were things I didn't like though. First, the saying of the I love you seemed off to me. Maybe it's just me because it was already shown that they liked each other, but felt really off to me. Second, I didn't like how Rachelle kept repeating over and over again how she's evil and Amelie is innocent and how she has to save her. Lastly, I think this isn't anyone's fault, but I just don't like how this one is marketed as a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood because it's a misconception, and honestly, I was thrown off guard at first because I was expecting Little Red Riding Hood.

Overall, this one's an amazing novel, and really a lot better than Cruel Beauty. I definitely recommend this to those looking for a unique read. 

4.5 all-the-feels stars

Saturday, August 1, 2015

ARC August Progress Tracker #1

  ARC August is hosted by Read. Sleep. Repeat to tackle our huge piles of unread ARCs for the month of August.

The Tattooed Heart by Michael Grant 

0/400 pages

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

0/336 pages

Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

0/384 pages

Love Unscripted by Tina Reber

0/600 pages

Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

0/336 pages

The Fix by Natasha Sinel

0/336 pages

Camp Boyfriend by J.K. Rock

0/339 pages

Lingering Echoes by Erika Kiefer

0/278 pages

After Eden by Helen Douglas

0/288 pages

Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe

0/314 pages

Friday, July 31, 2015

ARC Review: Just Like Fate

Title: Just Like Fate
Author: Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young
Series: N/A, Standalong
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publication Date: August 27th, 2013
My Rating: 2 Stars

  Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

  The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two seperate paths--and she's about to live them both.

  Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

  Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...

  I was given an ARC copy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This review is a review of the ARC copy, not the final version. 

  We all make lots of decisions everyday - from small things like what to wear, to big, life-changing decisions. Just Like Fate shows us how making a decision can make an impact on our lives.

  I really loved the concept of this book. I definitely took a lot from it, and it was just an amazing experience. With just one decision that didn't seem significant at all, many of Caroline's experiences changed. It shows us that even small decisions can make a big impact on our lives. But the book also showed us how some things are just meant to happen. In some way, whatever choice we make is the right choice, because it made us who we are today. I really loved this quote near the ending of the book:

"He wasn't saying that I'd end up in the same place either way so it didn't matter. He was trying to say that whatever life I lived because of the choice I made is important. And maybe I found my way back to basically the same place - who really knows - but the mistakes I made make me who I am. We may be drawn to our fates like magnets, but whatever we pick up along the way means something. Mistakes mean something."

  So why am I only giving it 2 stars? The thing is, if it were based solely on the above points, this book would easily be a five-star read. However, there are still a lot to consider - the plot, the writing. As much as I love what I took away from the book, I hated the story. I was literally forcing myself to continue reading since I had to use this book for a challenge.

  I was ready to hurl the book across the room after reading the first 30% because ugh, I just hated the story! I hated how stupid and selfish Caroline was and how she was whiny and drowned in self-pity. She knew her mistakes, but she didn't make an effort to do anything about it.

  I also didn't like the writing much. There were times when there was no flow in the story. One minute she's talking about something, then the next paragraph she's with her friend Simone. It should have been in a new chapter if that was what's going to happen! Also, the text messages were capitalized, which just made me mad because IT LOOKED LIKE I WAS BEING SHOUTED AT RIGHT AT MY FACE, and there were so many texts.

  I seriously hated the reading it right until the last 15%, which made me smile and made my heart soar. I wish the whole novel could have been like the last 15% of the book, but sadly, that's not the case. You know, if I didn't love the lessons I learned from here so much, this book might have been rated just a star.

2.5 disappointing stars

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bookworms Unite Event Recap!

  Weeks ago, Dianne, Inah, Hazel, Miel, Aimee and Faye organized a meet for Filipino bookworms. I was hesitant to sign up at first since I thought that I might be out of place or it might be awkward, but I'm really glad that I did! Last Sunday was a lot of fun! It was a Sunday filled with, books, bookish people, bookish games and food - what more could I have asked for?

 Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

  When I reached the venue, the first people I saw were Hazel and Nina, and that made me really happy because they were bloggers whom I already met before. I was especially happy to see Nina since we haven't seen each other in ages!

That's be being weird, haha! 
Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

  The organizers prepared lots of amazing activities for us. There was a game called Finding Eros, where you need to find a fictional character's OTP. If you get 3 correct answers in 60 seconds, you win a price. I was too scared to join that since I felt like I wouldn't know the characters.

  Next is Word Soup, where we had to find 5 bookish words in 1 minute and 30 seconds. It was a word search sent from hell since it was so hard to find words, but luckily I managed to find 5 words!

Hardest word search ever! 
Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

Hazel trying to solve the word soup from Hell. 
Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

  Next we played Guess the Cover, where the organizers would show us a small portion of an upcoming release and we had the guess the title and the author. I was in a team with Jem and Nina, and from the start we knew we would lose since we were kinda clueless haha! It was still really fun though. If there would be a next meet, all three of us promised that we would study up and win ;)

Me and Fay
Photo grabbed from Fay of Bibliophile Soprano :)

  Another game we played was the Human Bingo, which was really a lot of fun! It was chaos, and I don't even remember who signed my paper, but I really enjoyed it. I was also the first one to complete the card, so yay! :D

 Me looking awkward and weird with the book I won.
Photo grabbed from Faye of The Social Potato Reviews

  There was also a raffle, but it's not exactly a raffle since everyone was able to get a book from that amazing stack below. It was only in the matter of order and being able to get the book we wanted. Thank you so much Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster and National Book Store for sponsoring those books!

Some of the books that were up for grabs
Photo grabbed from Erielle

  Afterwards was the most exciting of all the activities - Blind Date with a Book! The rule was we could get the same number of books that we'd bring. I brought 4 books and got 4 books in return.
These were the books that I gave away:
Alphabet of Dreams, Eragon,
City of Ember, For One More Day

The books that I got in exchange:
The One That Got Away, Bleeding Violet
The Mockingbirds, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC (eeep!)

All the books that we can choose from <3

  Here are all the books that I got from the event:

And just imagine my surprise when I opened Overboard and it was signed! Eep!

  I had so much fun in this event, and I'm really, really hoping for a part 2, part 3, and even a part 4! Haha!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ARC Review: Most Likely to Succeed

Title: Most Likely to Succeed
Author: Jennifer Echols
Series: Superlatives #3
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

  The "Superlatives Series" is about seniors at a Florida high school who are selected for their class Who's Who categories, and how the labels change the way they view themselves and alter the course of their lives.

  Most Likely to Succeed will focus on characters Kaye and Sawyer.

  Thank you Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for giving me a copy of this book!

  Kaye and Aiden, her boyfriend, have been nominated for Most Likely to Succeed by the senior class, which is just as well because Aiden is the president of the student council, while Kaye is the vice president. But ever since Kaye learned that there was a glitch in the results and Kaye and Sawyer were actually voted for Perfect Couple That Never Was, Kaye has been giving Sawyer more attention, and Kaye and Aiden's relationship has been going downhill. The attraction between Kaye and Sawyer is undeniable, and everyone knows it besides the two of them.

  Most Likely to Succeed was one of my most anticipated books of 2015. Ever since I read Perfect Couple (the first book I read in the series), I have loved Sawyer and I was curious regarding his and Kaye's relationship. So of course, I was looking forward to this book. But when I read it, I was sadly disappointed. I must say, this is my least favorite out of the three books.

  I have loved Sawyer's character since Perfect Couple and I continued to love him in this book. He was funny, charming, caring, hardworking, responsible and there's more to him than what meets the eye. Kaye, on the other hand, was whiny, annoying and bitchy, and I just couldn't help but hate her. There were times when I couldn't help rolling my eyes at Kaye's behavior because she was just too much!

  The pacing of this book was moderate, but when it got to the ending, it became rushed. The whole thing happened so fast, and I was really annoyed at how it ended. Nevertheless, there were still some parts of this book that I enjoyed, especially those time that I was able to look deeper into Sawyer's character, and those times when the four from the first two books were present.

2.5 disappointing stars

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: Rainfall

Title: Rainfall
Author: Melissa Delport
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: -
Publication Date: June 26th, 2013
Pages: 263
My Rating: 2 Stars

Paige’s father has Alzheimers, and her fiancé is shot and killed in an armed robbery. Paige fights her depression and pulls herself out of the dark place that she has succumbed to, with monumental effort and a new-found determination to live her life to the fullest, doing things that both terrify and exhilarate her.

When Paige meets Adam, the attraction is instantaneous. Adam grew up in an orphanage and has no recollection of his life before the age of six. Paige falls head over heels in love and embraces a happiness she never dreamed possible. Until the day she finds Adam in bed with another woman.

Wanting nothing more to do with him, Paige cuts Adam out of her life, until she receives a mysterious visitor, who reveals secrets about Adam's past that shock Paige to her very core.

Determined to fight for the man that she loves, Paige finds herself on a journey that will change her life forever.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Rainfall is a book that I really wanted to like, but sadly, that was not what happened. When I read the book, it felt like there were too many things crammed in the first 10% of the book that I wondered what would be left to tell. And since it was full of narration, it was like everything was just being "told" and not "shown."

The romance progressed too fast for my taste in this book. In the first 10% of the book, they were pretty much in love already, which I hated. I wouldn't have continued with this book were it not about Dissociative Identity Disorder. The only reason I had to continue was because I wanted to soak up every information I could about the disorder because I felt like it was really interesting and informative.

I think I liked the story alright, but I didn't like the writing style. I liked the plot and where the book was going, but I just didn't feel connected to the characters. There were also some transitions that didn't have chapter breaks, and I had a problem with those.

I started liking the book at around the last 5% or 10% of the book. Before that I yell and shake some sense into the main character at times. (view spoiler)

I've seen other people's reviews of this book and many of them seemed to like it. It's still worth giving a shot for that reason and for the great plot. I guess I'm just the bad sheep in this one.

what-the-fuck stars

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dress Up That Cover #43: The Heir

  Dress Up That Cover is a new feature where I create an outfit based merely on the cover, not the story nor what the characters would wear. Colors of the outfit will all be taken from the cover design, so the books may be ones that I haven't read yet. All sets will be created via Polyvore.
  This week's feature is The Heir by Keira Cass. I really loved The Selection, but I was annoyed at The Elite so I decided not to continue on with the series. I still love the covers though!
The Heir #2
The Heir
Which design do you prefer - the long or short one? I personally prefer the short one :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

ARC Review: Never Always Sometimes

Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Series: N/A, Standalong
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Never date your best friend 

Always be original 

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken 

  Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.

  Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

  Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love. 

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Note that all quote mentioned here were taken from the ARC copy, not the final version.

  Oh wow, this book is amazing! I didn't think that I would like this book when I started reading it since it felt kind of boring to me. I mean, I enjoyed the writing and the actual conversations, but in terms of the story, nothing was happening at first. But after I finished the last page of this book, all that was in my mind was "Wow!" over and over again.

"A little better than you found it." "The Best you can ever do is to leave the world a little better than you found it."

  Never Always Sometimes' story is brilliant, just brilliant! I am now convinced of how amazing Adi Alsaid is! You know, if this plot had been transferred to another book in another writing style, I am almost certain that I would hate every moment of it (I won't say more about what happened because it's a spoiler). But with Adi Alsaid, the way he walked me through the story, everything felt like a new discovery - a way of learning about oneself and others. The way it was written was just amazing, and it had a way of forcing me to love it even if I didn't think I would at first.

"We like to think that we're formulas that even out exactly, that we are perfect matches with each other. But we're not. We match up with lost of people, more or less."

  The plot of this book was brilliant in such a way that all the "turning around" (I have no idea how to say it in English, but in Tagalog, it's "pasikot-sikot) had a point. That is the main reason why I didn't hate this book - not one bit. It's one thing to think of a plot like this one, it's another to be able to execute it well, and Adi Alsaid did both! 

  One of my favorite things from this book was how the title and the cover made sense. I always love learning about why a book is called such, and if I see part or the whole title inside the story. But in this one, the words weren't said together; they were mentioned separately and they just made so much sense.

"There was no greater proof of an underlying connection than the universal hatred of Monday mornings."

  The ending of this book was the perfect closing of the book, which I can only say for really, really few books. It made me smile so much to the point that my cheeks were already hurting. At first I was only going to give this book 4 stars, but as I was writing my review I realized just how much I loved the book, so I'm bumping it now to 4.5 stars.

  I definitely recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more of Adi Alsaid's books! I haven't read his debut novel yet though, so for the mean time I have that to read while I patiently wait for his next book.

4.5 amazing stars!