Thursday, July 31, 2014

JUNE, JULY 2014 RECAPS + BOOK OF THE MONTH.


Another late post for my monthly recaps! Go me! *wiggles head*

On a serious note, I've been getting my blogging/reading mojo back these past few weeks and am slightly proud of myself that I got to update my Goodreads account last night and post few reviews. Am even going to start 2 new features for the blog! Let's see how few are the posts I made for the past 2 months.

JUNE 2014 RECAP:

* June 01 - May 2014 Recap + Book of the Month!

* June 18 - 4/5 star review of Marie Rutkoski's THE WINNER'S CURSE!

* June 21 - Stacking the Shelves (50): The National Bookstore Edition!

* June 23 - Jenny Han in Manila Book Signing Recap.

* June 24 - 5/5 star review of Amy Plum's AFTER THE END!

* June 28 - Stacking the Shelves (51): The Unknown Edition!

* June 29 - 4/5 star review of Courtney C. Stevens' FAKING NORMAL!

JULY 2014 RECAP:

* July 02 - Blog Tour/Guest Post for Amanda Sun's RAIN!

* July 09 - 8/5 star review of Elizabeth Fama's MONSTROUS BEAUTY!

* July 26 - Stacking the Shelves (52): The Starbucks Edition!

* July 28 - 3/5 star review of Erika Johansen's THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING.

* July 30 - First glimpse of 1 out of 2 new features on the blog: THE FORM AFTER.

* July 30 - 3/5 star review of Stephanie Perkins' LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR!

* July 31 - June, July Monthly Recaps + Book of the Month.


Well, we will have 2 books chosen for those two months I've missed posting. And I think we have a general idea which books these are:



Totes adored and loved both of these books to bits and the feels these gave me? Unbelievable!

After the End Blurb:
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.
Monstrous Beauty Blurb:
Monstrous Beauty is a story of eternal love, magic and tragedy mixed beautifully. It is one of the so many astounding novels ever written. Thrilling, mystifying and excruciating to the heart, Monstrous Beauty brings the kind of love that will haunt and torment you. This is a book that will change you forever.
HAPPY BLOGGING!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

REVIEW: LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR BY STEPHANIE PERKINS.

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
(Anna and the French Kiss #2)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Edition: Paperback
Published: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Teen/Speak
Pages: 338
Source: Bought from National Book Store (signed)
Category: Contemporary, Romance
Trailer: not available.

Synopsis:

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the negihborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Stephanie Perkins, you're so capable of making my stone heart melt like a butter under the sun. First was with Anna and the French Kiss and now this. You should know that you're the one.

I have been putting off reading Lola and the Boy Next Door for months now because I feel like I should save the best for last. But my friends' influence over on Twitter were making me so jittery that I know I had to pick it up now. Besides, I needed a happy read. And I finally did it! I have finally met the gorgeous Cricket Bell.

I literally just finished reading Lola 3 minutes ago and my reaction was 'WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE DANCE?'. I was waiting for people's reaction over Lola's ginormous dress but it ended with their sugary sweet moon and stars. I seriously wanted to know how the night turns out. But seriously, I think it ended just at the right moment.

But.

I find some things off with Lola and the Boy Next Door (even though I practically tabbed the entire book). The book was TOO bland for my taste. How each situation felt so staged that I could easily predict what happens next. Or how Lola's unbelievable reaction when she learned Cricket's back. I totally understand that in order for us to see the right one, we have to be with the wrong person first. But come on, she's been claiming she loved Max but she's easily distracted by the sound of Cricket's name alone. I know she's young and her character obviously proved that. I was on the verge of getting annoyed because she couldn't make up her mind. She's leading a good person on. It took her so long to figure things out (thanks to Ethienne) and I hated how she treated her co-workers when she's upset. She's rude and impolite. She totally doesn't deserve Cricket, to be honest.

Then we have Cricket. He is just TOO perfect (again for my taste). I couldn't see any human flaws because even if he screws things up, his reasons are valid. No physical imperfections or whatnot, only loved one girl his entire life, sacrificed so much for his sister. I mean, his character is swoon worthy but I think he's someone too ideal whom I would easily get tired off. No challenges with Cricket. (What is wrong with me?).

Despite those, I enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door. Lola's amazing wardrobe that screams YOLO, Gay dads (am just envious of Lola, I love her parents so much), loyal best friend and her uberromanticworthmarrying boyfriend, Lola is one of the laid back contemporary novels I've read. The typical (but not so typical if you know what I mean) family setup and everyday issues are truly relatable. And the exciting fact that Anna and Ethienne are also in the book makes my heart so warm my cheeks blush! It was so amazing how Perkins entwined their lives because I adored Anna and Ethienne! That was such a thrilling twist!

Lola and the Boy Next door is a sweet, colorful and warm read. With a romance so familiar yet all brand new, it would no doubt sweep you off your feet! It is definitely added to my growing recommendable books!

"Life is too short to be same person every day."
"Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring."
"Sometimes a mistake isn't a what. It's a who."
"I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else."
"I was crazy about you, but I didn't know what to do. It was paralyzing. There were so many times when I wanted to take your hand, but.. I couldn't. That one small move felt impossible."


Here is the current status of my (signed) paperback copy of Lola after reading it!

Originally posted on my Instagram account!

Monday, July 28, 2014

REVIEW: THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING BY ERIKA JOHANSEN.

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Edition: Paperback
Published: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 448
Source: eARC provided by the publisher; Print ARC borrowed from Chyna of Lite-Rate-ture
Category: High Fantasy
Trailer: not available.

Synopsis:

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.
Lady Kelsea grew up with her foster parents in a secluded forest. On her 19th birthday, she was fetched by the Queen's Guard so she could start ruling her kingdom. Her mother, Queen Elyssa, died and she has no idea who her father is. With the help of Mace and the Queen's Guard, she tries to fix her kingdom that was ruled and left rotting by her uncle for more than a decade. She rescues her people from being shipped to Mortmesne. Her mother signed a Mort Treaty in order for the Red Queen to not invade Tearling. When Kelsea sat as the Queen, her jewels guide her magically in seeing what dangers are happening in her kingdom. She also met the Fetch. A mysterious man who saved her life once. She is now faced with so many controversies and secrets and she has to be strong and wise in trusting. Her life is in so much danger as well as her kingdom. She has no idea who she is up against. The Red Queen is a mystery as well as her past.

The Queen of the Tearling is a very unique novel. From what I understand, it is set in a world where Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings exist. What I found a little inconsistent is the era reference. How can a world with such renowned books exist but they still use stallions for rides? They don't have cars. That threw me off a little as well as the fact that the novel appears to be a huge epilogue. It is divided in 3 books but a lot of questions weren't answered. I was left wondering who is who and what is what and I believe that some questions should have been answered. The ending is another horrible cliffhanger that I nearly cried out of frustration.

I wasn't impressed by the world building as well. I guess I was expecting a rich world but I was shown only bits and pieces. I wish I was given a parallel universe where such an amazing plot would transpire. I love High Fantasy novels but The Queen of the Tearling didn't meet my expectations. There should have been more to this. I feel like a lot of vital parts were missing that holding on to this story until the end has been a little bit difficult. I wasn't completely blown away by it.

The characters also were presented as if the author is holding something back. Kelsea as an example, was lost. She didn't know what happened to her mother or who is her father, what is the jewel's true power and where is the crown, who is this mysterious and alluring Fetch and what is the Red Queen's motive in the story. These questions were left hanging and I was hoping I would get at least a decent glimpse by the end of the story on who these characters truly are. But I was left disappointed.

Three parts I truly adored though are Kelsea's love for books. That part in the story truly put a smile on my face. And then Mhurn's fate and THE FETCH.

The Queen of the Tearling would have been a very interesting novel if given more clarity and balanced world. It is mysterious enough that a huge cliffhanger totally let me down. Slow paced as it is, I would have expected something from the plot that would compensate it. I would still recommend this to all fans of High Fantasy novels who love a heroine who fights for what she knows is right and a Queen who rules with her heart.

Thank you Harper and Chyna of Lite-Rate-Ture of the ARCs!

Quote to follow.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

STACKING THE SHELVES (51): THE STARBUCKS 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.

HELLEW BEAUTIFUL BOOKISH PEOPLE!

After almost a month of not posting StS, I am finally back! So this is another late Stacking the Shelves post because I've purchased these books second week of June if am not mistaken. My life lately has been all about laziness that I have been the most unproductive person around. Seriously.

This was taken at Starbucks in Glorietta 4 (mall) and I think it was the first time I used VSCoCam app to edit the photo (thanks to Sab The Book Eater for teaching me how to use it). I really liked the outcome of this one and it took almost 200 likes on my Instagram account (@TheBookaholicBlurbs). I just quit my job that time and all I wanted to do was just relax and be merry.

I ordered their Caramel Crunch Frappe, if you want to know. Teehee!


BOUGHT: (Fullybooked, Fort)
* Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
* Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) by Kendare Blake
* This is Not a Test (This is Not a Test #1) by Courtney Summers
* Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (gave it 8/5 stars)

Also, if you haven't read Monstrous Beauty, am begging you guys. Go ahead and read it because it was phenomenal!

Lastly, I will be starting a new meme on the blog. Am not sure though when to start it, tomorrow or on August. It includes bookish photos so if you want to check it out, please be back often! Hee!

Thank you so much, Fullybooked Fort!

What did you get this week? I wanna see your haul!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

REVIEW: MONSTROUS BEAUTY BY ELIZABETH FAMA.

Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Edition: Paperback
Published: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)/Square Fish
Pages: 352
Source: Bought from Fullybooked, Fort
Category: Paranormal, Romance, Fantasy
Trailer: not available.

Synopsis:

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

Captured by the beauty of the cover, Monstrous Beauty gave me an emotional wreckage worse than my previous reads had put me through. I wasn't surprised at all by the colorful world of it because friends babbling about it nonstop when I told them I wanted to buy a copy. It was the unexplainable sensation put together that bombarded me most. Monstrous Beauty can be summed up in two perspectives: beautiful inside and out and love is the powerful magic of all.

Looking at the cover of this magnificent book on Goodreads and on Instagram, I’ve always marveled by how pretty it truly is. The moment I touched the cover, I knew, pictures didn't do it justice. One can say it is something plain but the amazing typography alone is mesmerizing. Add to it the soft flow of the mysterious woman's hair in water is just absolutely stunning. Then the feel of it. The feel of the cover is therapeutic. Comforting to the eyes, challenging to the mind, penetrating to the heart.

Monstrous Beauty is more than the eyes meet. The simple yet fantastic world building set in a small town, down to the breathtaking underwater empire is mind-blowing. From a modern world we know it today, I didn't expect that I would be totally blown away by how magnificent Fama wrote this. Her version of an old mermaid tale surely set my mermaid story standards to a whole new level. The beauty of the sea can be frightening yet it can transform one's weary soul to a blissful one. Images of different sea creatures flooded my mind faster than I intended it to be because the creatures in this story are foreign to me. Fama embraced her characters and made them her own. The danger she mixed with the beauty made the sea very much intoxicating. It was everything a reader can ever hoped for.

The discovery of an ancient dark secret and ancestral history is my second favorite aspect of Monstrous Beauty. How everything is intertwined smoothly without any single flaw deserves a round of applause. Goosebumps every page turn, sweat on my forehead and fast heartbeats are my companions while reading. How brilliantly the plot was dissected to bring unraveling emotions to the reader was phenomenal. Fama gave her readers a wonderful story and the way she wrote it is lyrical to me. Very crisp, very detailed. Mind and heart blowing, indeed.

My number one favorite aspect of Monstrous Beauty is of course, THE love story. The plot is remarkable. From the smallest decision to not conceive, all the way down to a vast discovery of a curse, sure did wonders to my mind and heart. Hester is brave enough to face the unknown on her own and the pain she has to go through? Indescribable. I’m so glad she has Peter.

“Let me stay a little longer, Hester.” This line. This is the culprit of why my heart is bleeding so bad. I think this is how it feels like to have a massacred heart. Ezra, after being pinned for more than a hundred years, asked Hester for more time to be with her before she unpins him. His character is the literal meaning of “forever is not enough”. Even through the tragedy he and Syrenka experienced in their first life together, he still loved her so dearly he’s willing to sacrifice one more time for her. This, for me, is a modern take (and much painful version) of Romeo and Juliet. Ezra is a character of nobility and embodies true love that he’s proven no amount of time can ever make him stop loving Syrenka. His love is so tender and pure than even curse couldn’t stop him. By remembering his character right now while I am typing this, I couldn’t help but sob and wail because the rawness of the pain I have for him is real. He is stunning, heroic, one of a kind, gentle and loving. I will wallow with him in this tragedy.

Monstrous Beauty is a story of eternal love, magic and tragedy mixed beautifully. It is one of the so many astounding novels ever written. Thrilling, mystifying and excruciating to the heart, Monstrous Beauty brings the kind of love that will haunt and torment you. This is a book that will change you forever.

"The more she loved, the more she ached."
"It's bittersweet, isn't it," he murmured.
"What does that mean?"

"Being together, but not being together."
"We are meant to be together, Hester. I knew it when I first saw you [...]. Until then I have been sleepwalking through a miserable existence. And then with no warning you were there -- I still don't understand how it's possible -- and I couldn't believe my luck. I couldn't bear it that you walked away before you discovered it yourself."
 "Let me stay a little bit longer, Hester."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BLOG TOUR (15): RAIN BY AMANDA SUN + GIVEAWAY.


Click the banner to go to the scheduled blog tour list!
Hello, everyone!

Today is my blog tour stop for our Most Anticipated Sequel for Ink, Rain by Amanda Sun! I loved Ink to bits (reviewed it last year here) and am so happy to be a part of this tour Amanda organized! I missed the rich culture of Japan, Jun and of course Tomohiro! (I nearly typed Tamahome, though).

For today's blog stop, I will be sharing an awesome thing in here (aside from the giveaway). Are you ready? I will be sharing with you guys those yummy Japanese food in Rain! These pictures will surely make you salivate and hungry!

Thank you so much, Amanda, for sharing these!

Source
Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)
In RAIN, Katie and Tomo go with Ishikawa for a dinner of okonomiyaki, which basically translates to “What you like, fried.” There are two major styles of okonomiyaki—Hiroshima, where ingredients are layered, and Tokyo, where ingredients are mixed. Somewhere between a pancake and a pizza, okonomiyaki can include batter, noodles, meat, cabbage, egg, bacon, shrimp, and so on. You get to choose the ingredients and cook it on a griddle right on your table. Usually mayonnaise and okonomi sauce are drizzled on top, and sometimes seaweed or bonito fish flakes top the deliciousness.

Source
Nikujaga (肉じゃが)
Inspired by the British beef stew, nikujaga is pretty much what its name implies—meat and potatoes, usually with onions and served in a brother seasoned with soy sauce and mirin. It’s the ultimate in comfort food, a quick and tasty meal that Diane often serves Katie on those busy school nights. The reason this dish is in RAIN is because my hostmother makes the most delicious nikujaga, and I wanted to make everyone aware of the tastiness so that they, too, could go out and make this.

Source
Omurice (オムライス)
Are you drooling yet? I thought so. Then have a look at this dish, another of my absolute favorites: omurice (or omuraisu). Taken from the words omelette and rice, you can guess pretty quickly what’s in it. The egg is usually decorated with ketchup, sometimes forming words or pictures, or just a quick drizzle of happiness. And I’m not even someone who usually likes ketchup. The rice is usually fried with its own set of delicious ingredients. It comes in all kind of variations, and you can get it at restaurants or make it at home for yet again more tasty comfort food.

Source
Dragon fruit (ドラゴンフルーツ)
This Asian fruit has grown in popularity, I think. At least, when I was kid, I’d never set eyes on it before living in Japan, but now I can find it easily in my local grocery store. With a bright exterior, the dragonfruit holds a speckled black-and-white center that goes perfectly with the inky feel of The Paper Gods.  Dragon fruit is somewhat sweet, and the texture is a bit like a kiwi fruit. I hope you can buy one at your grocery store and give it a try!

Source
Takoyaki (たこ焼き)
You see this one a lot at summer festivals, sold hot and fresh by food vendors. Battered bites of octopus, friends, that’s what these are. Usually they’re sprinkled with bonito fish flakes and drizzled with mayonnaise, and sometimes served with a side of pickled ginger. They are pretty chewy, but they’re crispy batter and unique flavor make them a popular favorite on those hot summer nights.

Did those make you hungry? Sure, I did! I only tried Dragon Fruit and Takoyaki! But my favorites are Katsudon, Tempura and Ramen!

And we are giving away awesome prizes here, open to US and Canada residents only!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



AGAIN, THANK YOU SO MUCH, AMANDA!

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About Amanda Sun:

I’m a YA author and proud Nerdfighter. I was born in Deep River, Canada, a very small town without traffic lights or buses, and where stranger safety is comprised of what to do if you see a bear—or skunk. I started reading fantasy novels at 4 and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. Hopefully my work’s improved since then.

In university I took English, Linguistics, and Asian History, before settling into Archaeology, because I loved learning about the cultures and stories of ancient people. Of course, I didn’t actually become an archaeologist—I have an intense fear of spiders. I prefer unearthing fascinating stories in the safety of my living room.

The Paper Gods is inspired by my time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan. That and watching far too many J-Dramas. I currently live in Toronto with
my husband and daughter. When I’m not writing, I’m devouring YA books, knitting nerdy things like Companion Cubes and Triforce mitts, and making elaborate cosplays for anime cons.