Sunday, June 29, 2014

REVIEW: FAKING NORMAL BY COURTNEY STEVENS.

Title: Faking Normal
Author: Courtney C. Stevens
Edition: Paperback
Published: April, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 336
Source: ARC sent by the Publisher
Category: Contemporary, Romance, Stand Alone
Trailer: not available

Synopsis:

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.
Faking Normal is one of those books I didn't know anything about. I was sent this advance copy a few months back and was even surprised I got one. I didn't hear much fuss about either on Twitter or Facebook so I put it aside for a while. What do you know? I regret not reading it right away.

This book has a moving story. Very much moving. The power of healing laid across each page, produced in a print form. Stevens delivered a powerful story not only to give a different awareness approach about abuse but how to cope and heal from it. Her characters are broken in so many different levels but then they find hope from each other's brokenness. The ability to understand and accept abuse and even have the heart for such is evidently hard, but this book screams, "You are not alone".

The plot is very common. In this wide array of contemporary young adult books, there are a bunch you can find that are centered in abuse. Stevens however, managed to deliver a story in such a way that helps with healing. At first, I was skeptical I would love it because I hated how Alexi (abused female protagonist) acts so stupid at times. But Stevens, despite her character's weaknesses, used it to magnify how abuse terribly affects people, emotionally and mentally. Given this, I understood how Alexi made stupid and ridiculous decisions in order to be normal. Alexi tries hard to live her life like how a non-abused teenager would. It was like, her very own escape. From that point of view, I saw how vulnerable and at the same time strong Alexi truly is. She held on her secret for so long in order to save people she loves from the ugly truth. She doesn't want people to know that she has skeletons in her closet because she understood how it will change their lives forever. Even if it means damaging her own. Thankfully, Bodee is there the whole time. He used their searing pain to free Alexi from her burden and he's become her instant anti-depressant. I truly adored how Bodee opened himself up to Alexi despite his own pain. How he showed one can still love so deeply in amid of trials. It isn't too hard to fall in love with such lovely soul like Bodee.

Faking normal is a stunningly written story. Told from a soft spoken voice with a fierce heart, it resonates the altitude of healing. Molded in tragedy, Faking Normal is a story full of hope and love without judgement.

Thank you so much HarperCollins for the review copy!

"I'd like to hold you in the mountains, like to kiss you by the sea. Take you far, far from here to a place where you feel free. Cause we are safe, we are true, we are going to make it through. Crashing worlds, falling stars, breaking all of who we are- I want infinity with you."
"And more than that, Bodee left me with hope. For love. For wanting someone to touch me again and to lie with me without fear as my first response. Because Bodee slept in his sneakers, because Bodee asked for a kiss instead of just taking it, and because he kept space between us. He danced with two fingers until I asked for three or four... and his hand on my hip.
I know we're both still broken. Both of us. But Bodee's got the glue to make us whole.
He is love."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

STACKING THE SHELVES (50): THE UNKNOWN EDITION.


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews that showcases newly acquired books or goodies we bought, received or borrowed during the week.
That is absolutely right. UNKNOWN. Well, I titled it Unknown Edition simply because I couldn't remember WHEN I purchased these books. I know where but not when. I didn't buy them in one go though.

I bought most of these several weeks back. I've read and reviewed Divergent already, I just had to get a hard cover version to match the rest of the books in the series. Also, I gifted my paperback editions of Divergent and Insurgent to my friend.

Been lusting over Since You've Been Gone and The Ring and the Crown so I immediately bagged them as soon as I saw copies from Fullybooked. Alice in Zombieland is also one of the long list of books I've been wanting to get. However, because the hard bound it TOO pricey, I settled for this paperback version. Honestly? The paperback is still expensive. Then there's Hold Still. Yep, squealed like a pig when I saw one copy. The cover's so so gorgeous. I also have reviewed We Were Liars and totally loved it. Thank you Kai and Jesselle for being the #WWLSupportGroup .

My bookish friends and I ordered Eleanor and Park Barnes and Noble Exclusive Edition and it is absolutely stunning! The illustrated pages are amazing! (I have photos of the illustrated pages on Instagram). And lastly, the most special of them all, my shimmering copy of City of Heavenly Fire. It is special not only because I waited so long for this or TMI is a fave but I bought this book when Mom and I went out for a date. :)


BOUGHT:
- City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6) by Cassandra Clare
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (5/5 stars)
- Hold Still by Nina LaCour
- Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena Showalter
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (Barnes and Noble Exclusive Collector's Edition) (8/5 stars)
- The Ring and The Crown (The Ring and the Crown #1) by Melissa de la Cruz
- Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
- Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Just want to say it took fifteen shots to find the right angle for this photo. Haha!

Thank you Fullybooked and National Bookstore!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

REVIEW: AFTER THE END BY AMY PLUM.

Title: After the End
Author: Amy Plum
Series: After the End #1
Edition: Paperback
Publication: May 20, 2014 by HarperTeen
Pages: 336
Source: ARC sent by the Publisher
Category: Dystopia, Romance, Sci-Fi

Synopsis:

"I have no idea what is truth and what is fiction. I'm all I've got now. I can't trust anyone."

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.


PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE:
Amazon 🔼 Barnes and Noble 🔼 Book Depository



I don't know if it's just me or what, but ever since Die for Me, I've always been lusting over Amy Plum's books. When I learned that she's writing a totally different novel from The Revenants series, the jolt of excitement was automatic. The moment I saw that After the End was available as an ARC, I said all the prayers I could that I would be granted one. It was totally an answered prayer.

I don't normally read synopsis. That way I won't get my hopes too high or I could avoid judging a story over a bad synopsis. All I know about After the End is that it's a dystopian novel. Today, am so glad I didn't read the synopsis. I was blown away by how deep the story truly is as opposed to what was printed at the back of the book to tease me. Am just so glad that I loved After the End more that I thought I would.

Juneau, together with the rest of her clan, lives in a somehow remote place in Alaska. They all grew up there knowing there is no life outside their small town. They were taught that after World War III in 1984, all of the towns were destroyed, almost a few survived and the surrounding has been toxic with radiation. Juneau is going to be a Clan reader next to Whit, her Mentor. He teaches her how to be a good leader and more specifically, how to commune with the Yara. The Yara's mark is visible through their starburst pupils. One day while on a hunt, she heard brigands nearby and she was shocked that their entire village people were captured. She sets off to find and save her father and the rest of the clan that as soon as she steps outside the border, she realizes there was no signs of war. She continues her search and with the help of her connection to the Yara, her path leads to the truth about her and her people, about Whit, her starburst and to a person that will help her find her family, a beautiful city boy named Miles.

This is no doubt Plum's best book yet. The way she plotted and wrote After the End is stunning and brilliant. At first I was introduced to confusion and nearly gave up on it. I wasn't connecting to it. Thankfully, I persevered and was completely caught off guard how truly satisfying the book is. Am deeply in love with the concept of being shunned from the rest of the world then braving what unknown there is outside the comfort zone in a dystopian kickass way. The plotting wasn't just a mere plot but inception of consistent plots. Every single turn of each page is so trivial to the entirety of the story that I wouldn't allow myself to miss a word. I inhaled After the End like how I need oxygen. The unexpected turn of events and unparalleled revelation kept me clasping my mouth from shouting. It kept me awake all night, unable to put it down. Am too afraid to stop reading feeling and thinking the story might go somewhere else without me and also eager to be there every step of the way. How Plum managed to entwine small details with big details I don't know, but am happy she did it this way. It perfected the story, it exceeded my expectations, it completed me.

I commend the entire book in a heartbeat. I want to also commend the characters. Juneau, such a strong-willed character whose love will never falter despite betrayal. She's naive, brave, wise and unselfish. Most of all, I love her faith in things she knew is right and her unique sense of humor. She's one amazing female protagonist I will adore and there isn't a single thing I hate about her. Her character is the only match for Miles'. Miles character is the typical boy-next-door I know. Handsome, rich, rebellious. He gets sarcastic when he doesn't understand or believe things. However, his voice captivated me, not only his hilarious line deliveries but the depth of it is so strong I was swept away. Getting to know him added rainbows to the story. He's very alluring and funny to listen to. I may have found my OTP in him. I do. I love Miles.

The debate whether who's the bad guy can be easily won. But along the way to discovery, you will find yourself confused. Will you side with Whit, who might have done everything to protect the clan or will you pick Murray, who is a little obsessed with whatever caused the starburst? This, along with the ending I will never ever accept, is the ultimate ending of book one. And once you reach this point, you would beg even the god of Pop-Tarts for the next book.

After the End is truly mind numbing, heart breaking and fist clenching dystopian take. The depth of my love for this book is undeniably immeasurable. It took my breath away in a surprisingly beautiful way. The striking prose combined with the astounding mystery behind the plot, this book is worth all the praises the dictionary can ever produce. Brilliant, wonderful, magnificent.

Thank you HarperCollins International for the review copy!

"Doubt everything [...]. Doubt everything at least once. What you decide to keep, you'll be able to be confident of. And what you decide to ditch, you will replace with what your instincts tell you is true."
"Something is nagging at the edge of my consciousness. It's a good feeling, but I can't quite place it. And then suddenly I do. It's a feeling of being where I'm supposed to be. A feeling of knowing that I'm in the right place at the right time. With the right person."

Monday, June 23, 2014

BOOK SIGNING: JENNY HAN IN MANILA 2014.

Where I relive the experience and share all the feels before, during and after meeting these fantastic authors WHO ARE BASICALLY LIFE.


Dear Jenny Han,

Hi! Did you enjoy our fresh mango juice?

I just want to thank you, first of all, for granting National Bookstore's request for a book signing event. And second, this is just to let you know also that I had a blast meeting you last Saturday, June 21. I enjoyed Burn for Burn and To All the Boys I've Loved Before and having my books signed by you, cutie Jenny, is one of the joys of being a book blogger. Aside from being with my awesome bookish friends, meeting and knowing you a little more are the highlights of the day.

#PHYABookBloggers

How did it feel that you finally met some of hard core fans? While others were asking you questions, I was so busy staring at you and taking notes of your answers. Through this interview, we got the chance to know you a little bit deeper and again, thank you for giving us this chance. You're so tiny and shy and we totally loved your nails! (You rocked your dress, by the way.) Here are some of the questions you happily answered. Since is a recap slash written in a letter form slash inspired by To All The Boys, I have to include these:

🔼 That you would bring the Bible along with 2 other books if you get stranded on an island.
🔼 That you and your sister are pretty close and she gets to take care of you as much as she can.
🔼 That you don't outline much when you write thus there's nothing much you can share yet about PS: I love you.
🔼 That you totally loved our shirts (To All the Boys inspired) and we totally loved your nails.
🔼 That if you were in Lara Jean's shoes, you would lie, lie, lie.
🔼 That the Summer Trilogy is a little bit inspired by your first love.
🔼 That you find it harder to write stories for kids.
🔼 That you usually write in the afternoon.
🔼 That you did write love letters in the past as a way to move on.
🔼 That your American/Korean heritage influenced your writing a lot.
🔼 That Shug, To All the Boys and Summer trilogy have something in common: first love and siblings' relationship because those are what you love most to write about.
🔼 That you have your nailarts done by a Japanese salon in NY called Studio L (if I spelled that right) and you have nailart blog: justanothermanimonday.tumblr.com/
🔼 That the difference between writing on your own and collaborating with another author is like how you have to discipline your own kid then collaborating is more like sharing the responsibility of disciplining someone's else kid with their parent.
🔼 That you and Siobhan worked on your books by planning the whole book out together.
🔼 That there would be no spinoffs for Jeremiah.
🔼 That you have 3 more stories your wanted to write, hoping you would not run out of stories to tell.
🔼 That if you have to be in one of your books, you would choose to be a nanny and enjoy food and wine.
🔼 That Peter Kavinsky is more like James Marsden.
🔼 That you tend to write smaller stories and you find it more intimate. Fantasy world buildings are huge.
🔼 That you think it is healthy to write love letters to the people you love instead of having the guts to tell them in person. It is all about who writes the letters. It is kind of figuring out how you feel as you write the letter.
🔼 That your book Shug will always be special to you.

#PHYABookBloggers
My signed goodies!
I had so much not not only seeing my book blogger friends, JB and Chad but also because it was just so nice to meet you, Jenny! It was a fun day! Thank you so much for being so sweet and I truly hope that you enjoyed your stay!

Love,
Kate

PS:

Thank you Simon and Schuster for the Ashes to Ashes ARC. Thank you also National Bookstore for bring so many awesome authors in our country. You guys are the best! Really!!

PPS:

Thank you again, Jenny!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

STACKING THE SHELVES (49): THE NATIONAL BOOKSTORE EDITION.


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews that showcases newly acquired books or goodies we bought, received or borrowed during the week.
I ummm.. bought these books back in April before the Mafi, Riggs and Rossi in Manila #VTRinPH book signing and unfortunately, I've been terribly lazy to blog hence the late post. Funny thing was, I had all these books reserved from out local bookstore and then when I was about to check out, my card got declined. (Actually, it was my nephew's card, it wasn't activated at that time.) Damn. So I went back after 3 days and I was so thankful that the lady from the Customer Service area reserved them even though a ton of people were trying to get their copies for the signing. So here you go. It was really embarrassing but funny at the same time!

Also, during the signing, I nearly killed the lady who helps people with their books to be signed. I just unwrapped my hard bound books from the saran wrappers yet she managed to ruin the dust jackets! I was seriously delirious and mad!


BOUGHT: (All from National Bookstore, Glorietta 1)
- Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins
- What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
- Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs
- Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
- Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) by Veronica Rossi
- Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi
- Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi
- Scripti Sticky pads for book tabbing

THANK YOU SO MUCH, JB, CHAD AND NATIONAL BOOKSTORE!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

REVIEW: THE WINNER'S CURSE BY MARIE RUTKOSKI.

Title: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Edition: Hardbound
Published: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages: 355
Source: Bought from Fullybooked, Fort
Category: Fantasy, Romance
Trailer: Here.

Synopsis:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
When I first inquired about this book from our local book store, I was saddened to learn that it wouldn't be sold here in our country. By just merely looking at its gorgeous cover, I knew I had to have a copy added to my bookshelf. I tried, along with my other bookish friends, to talk to our bookstore so they would order it. Our persistence didn't falter and eventually, they listened to our heed. They did order it and a month ago, I finally had the chance to pet my fantastic copy of The Winner's Curse. It is so stunning I couldn't stop staring. Then I just had the worst case of reading slump.

It lasted two long months. I've never been this tired of reading and blogging. Usually, I would just go ahead and read different genres until I get my groove back but I kept dumping books. I only lasted around twenty pages on each one that I tried reading then I'ld give up. Reading was seriously hard for the past couple of months. Until I gave this one a try.

The Winner's Curse is a high-fantasy novel. I have been in love with this genre for so long that I know The Winner's Curse would lift me up and break this reading slump curse am into. It did. It did. It also left me so broken , so so broken.

The Winner's Curse, as explained in the book is winning a prize but losing something of yours in return. In the story, Valorian Lady Kestrel bought a taunting Herrani slave (for fifty keystones) she couldn't even understand why. She trusted her instincts that Arin, the slave, is more than a slave. She brought him home and since he's a black smith, she allowed her to work. She was also told by the auctioneer that Arin can sing only to be disappointed. The connection between Kestrel and Arin is too strong that onset of the story, I felt it. As they go along knowing each other, Kestrel learns major things about Arin, like how he can speak Valorian and how he could ride a horse. No slave is capable of those. She continues to trust him and even though she's suspecting something is amiss. Kestrel was being forced by her General father to join the military but she knows in her heart she cannot do it. She couldn't fight. What she's good at though is strategizing and figuring out things piece by piece. With this, she learned who Arin truly is only she's too late. She's in love with him. Her enemy.

The story is truly wonderful. I loved how the romance built slowly and how the development took place. Kestrel and Arin took a whole lot of time in figuring out what they truly felyt for each other without compromising their place in the society. I loved how the story twisted me from hoping that they would eventually run away and fight for what they feel. But I was wrong. I was broken all at once. Even though I slightly predicted Arin's character, I didn't see the ending coming. It was a punch in the gut. Well, it was a cut in the heart.

The world in the book that I imagined is really similar to the mountains I've seen in the Game of Thrones. Rich, beautiful, heart-warming. But also bloody. The war between Herrani and Valorian is action-packed and clever if I may say. Fighting for freedom isn't new to any of us but the author's take on her story is quite unique. The strategy Kestrel and Arin came up with are very solid that by the time they're done planning, you can immediately smell victory. That alone is a strength I couldn't highlight in this book. Not only a fantastic world buidling or amazing plotting one would enjoy but also brilliant characters, not sloppy or too cheesy ones.

The Winner's Curse is a story full of bravery, love and sacrifice. With Kestrel's ability to love unselfishly and Arin's courage to fight for his people, this book will surely capture ones heart. The False Prince meets the Game of Thrones, you will never go wrong with the unique voice of The Winner's Curse.

"Isn't that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?"
"He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark."
"Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

MAY 2014 RECAP + BOOK OF THE MONTH.


Woah. I posted 4 Stacking the Shelves post for this month. So that means it's either I received a lot of books for review or I bought a lot! I gotta have to limit buying again some time soon because I quit my job recently and my TBR pile is skyrocketing! I didn't review much as well this month. Just finished 2 books for blog tour and one title that got my interest. Aww. Have to make it up next month! (hopefully).

May 01 - May 2014 New Release Picks!

May 03 - Stacking the Shelves (46): The Collective Haul v3 Edition!

May 07 - Blog Tour: 3/5 stars for Melissa Kantor's MAYBE ONE DAY!

May 10 - Stacking the Shelves (47): The HarperCollins Edition!

May 14 - 5/5 stars for Emily Lockhart's WE WERE LIARS!

May 24 - Stacking the Shelves (48): The Fullybooked Edition.

May 25 - #WingsPHBlogTour Intro post!

May 27 - Happy 2nd Birthday, The Bookaholic Blurbs!

May 31 - Stacking the Shelves (49): The Book Sale Edition!

May 31 - My stop for the #WingsPHBlogTour and I gave 8/5 stars for Wings by Elizabeth Richards!

And before I end my recap, I would also want to share the book/s that I truly loved and can blurb about 24/7/365 here. The title/s not only made me fall in love with it but the impact it has on me is tremendously strong that I have book hangover for days!
The runner up for this month's BOTM is WE WERE LIARS and the Book of the Month for May 2014 is


My Blurb:

Wings is the perfect conclusion to such amazing series. I will never have sufficient adjectives to describe how Wings gave euphoria and all sorts of unnamed emotions to me. Highly fitting to be the last installment (because there is nothing that would top this), every fiber of Wings suited the need for answers and satiated the cravings for action. Gripping with blood and vengeance, Wings turns out to be the key to all the madness. Treacherous, dangerous and brutal it may appear but Wings is by far the best part of the series. Breath taking and breath stopping altogether!