Saturday, February 28, 2015

STACKING THE SHELVES (63): FEBRUARY 2015 HAUL 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.

Hello! It's the last day of the "love" month *cringes* and am super stoked for March already! I can't wait to be out there making new memories! I've been stuck at home since last year and this boredom will truly be my undoing. Job hunting has been difficult because most companies are trying to hire people through agencies and I don't like that so am crossing my fingers that March will bring me some good news. Am also excited because my TBR for this month is just amazing I can't wait to read!

These are the books I received these past couple of weeks. Anvil Publishing sent some books for review and I was happy because Anvil is one of our local publishing houses! It was also my first time receiving an ARC from Scholastic PH! There, there! Enjoy!


FOR REVIEW:
* Never Just Friends by Mina V. Esguerra (DNF review)
* Welcome to Envy Park by Mina V. Esguerra
* The Harder We Fall by Mina V. Esguerra
* Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine Doyle

BOUGHT:
* The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

GIFTED: (EEEEEEEEK!!!!)
* I Was Here by Gayle Forman
* Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy #2) by Pierce Brown (8-star review!) (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Thank you SOOOOOOOOO much Anvil Publishing, Scholastic Philippines, National Bookstore, Dianne of Oops, I Read a Book Again for I Was Here and Kai of Amaterasu Reads for Golden Son ARC!!! You guys are the bestest best ever!

Friday, February 27, 2015

DNF REVIEW: NEVER JUST FRIENDS BY MINA ESGUERRA.

Title: Never Just Friends
Series: Standalone
Author: Mina V. Esguerra
Edition: Paperback
Publication: Anvil Publishing / 2015
Source: Finished copy provided by the publisher
Pages: 134
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Trailer: Not available.

Synopsis:

It's too easy to fall in love with Jake. Don't do it.

Lindsay and Jake have loved each other (as friends) since their senior year in college, and she made sure they didn’t become more than that. The guy now known as Jacob Berkeley, star of a wildly successful TV show, was always too much for her. Too handsome, too many questionable hookups, too restless. Also sensitive, fun, and genuinely caring. She's his emergency contact, his "zombie apocalypse buddy," his holiday dinner companion.

They've kept up this low-maintenance friendship for years, surviving graduation, their new careers, her move to New York City to work as an environment consultant. But then, days before a big climate change conference, he shows up, with big news. Jake wants to pick up what he never managed to finish in college. He wants to save forests again, work in environmental research - and he wants her.

Don't fall in love with Jake...Why again?
Well, let's see how this will go.

This is my first ever DNF review. I tried so hard to finish reading it thinking this is just a hundred and thirty four pages long but I failed miserably. I picked it up over four times trying to get myself immersed in the story but nothing -- I got nothing. I have a strict policy that I won't DNF much less review one but I guess there's always an exemption to the rule. I tried, I promise. I tried and tried and tried until finally, I just gave up. (I technically finished it but I skimmed hard core so I don't think it would count. You know what I mean.)

Am just going to make this very quick, alright? So here are the reasons why I DNFed this one:

1. There was something about the writing style that I find absolutely weird.
2. The attempt in humor just...flailed.
3. Female main character was initially mad at the Male MC for not contacting her for a year and then when he came back, she immediately gave herself to him. She should have at least let him make it up or something but no, she just did it with him right away.
4. Male MC was always a jerk.
5. Male MC just wanted to have sex, all the time, anywhere.
6. The plot would have been interesting enough (campaign for saving the environment or something) but it didn't make sense at all. It felt so pretentious to me.
7. It was so confusing who was the narrator.
8. I couldn't relate to anything - Female MC, Male MC, the plot -- AAAAH NOTHING!
9. There were a ton of unnecessary self-monologue-ing that makes the story all jumbled up.
10. Did I say something about the plot not really making sense to me? I mean, what was it about really?

There you have it. I've seen mixed reviews on Goodreads, I don't want to be the ONLY black sheep. I just simple can't lie to myself, I would never have enjoyed this even if I read it thoroughly.

Never Just Friends didn't make it to my favorite reads list. The experience was weird, stiff and a little off that recommending this would be hard.

Sorry. I tried.

Thank you Anvil Publishing for sending a finished review copy!

ZERO STARS - DID NOT FINISH
No quotes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

REVIEW: THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE BY CYNTHIA HAND.

Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Series: Standalone
Author: Cynthia Hand
Edition: Kindle (eARC)
Publication: HarperTeen / February 10, 2015
Source: eARC provided by the publisher though Edelweiss
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary (Mental Illness), Romance
Trailer: Not available.

Synopsis:

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

PURCHASE THE BOOK HERE:

The last time I cried (really, really cried, like the ugly sobbing kind) was when I watched The Fault in Our Stars. I remember feeling so tired and empty after. There's this weird feeling in my chest, it was like my entire chest cavity was stuffed with cotton. I couldn't breathe well, I just stared at nothing for God knows how long and the pain lingered. It was like something in me died. After the movie, the only word that came out of my mouth was "beautiful" and I apparently, I kept saying it over and over. I thought nothing could top that raw emotion because it felt real to me. Only, I was so, so wrong. After I read The Last Time We Say Goodbye, I felt everything again. This time, the pain was almost unbearable. And the ugly sobbing lasted an entire night.

It is always a good thing when you let books surprise you. As usual, I didn't know anything about this book aside from it's contemporary, that Epic Reads said it was good and that Cynthia Hand wrote it. This is my second Hand book, I absolutely enjoyed Unearthly. The Last Time We Say Goodbye magnified every single feels I never thought I would have towards a book. The story was well-written, the twists were plotted amazingly and placed at the right timing, the pacing was perfect, the characters were captivating. This book is so perfect I couldn't tell you how much I love every bit of it.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye encapsulates so many things: hate, pain, loss, hope, forgiveness and healing among other things. Its words act as a double-edged sword, you slice your heart page by page until tears is the only thing you know. Though it didn't focus much on how the loss part happened, it expounds the gravity of grief and regret. Its take on realities such as divorce and suicide is something that would leave a mark in your heart. The honesty of it, of how people deal with horrible situations, of how we could possibly cope with such was so compelling I can't find the perfect word to describe it. Am not saying it is amazing to go through this emotional and bumpy ride but this story is just simply unbelievably good. Our ability to see hope in amid of hopelessness is incredibly highlighted and our capability to feel in amid of numbness is amazingly crafted. This story is a story of regret that most of us hold on to, it is a story of healing that most of us long for and it is a story of undying love, a proof that "the people we love are never truly gone."

*cue tears.*

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is packed with heightened sense of grief. Not only immensely emotional, but it is thoroughly sensitizing and absolutely moving.

Thank you HarperCollins International for the eARC!

"Then he said, “All the best things are like that, though, Lex, the most beautiful things. Part of the beauty comes from the fact that they’re short-lived.” He picked up a bouquet of deep-red roses, held it out to me. “These will never be as beautiful as they are at this moment, so we have to enjoy them now.”"
"..because we hurt too much to forget."
"There's death all around us. Everywhere we look. 1.8 people kill themselves every second. We just don't pay attention. Until we do."
"..but you never know when it's going to be the last time. That you hug someone. That you kiss. That you say goodbye."
"Don’t cry any more tears over me, Ash. I’m not worth it. But I want you to know, in case I ever do give you this letter and you read it first before you burn it or something, that for just a little while, you made me feel like I was really alive. Like I was special. Thanks for that. Thanks for picking me to be the one who got to stand in your sunshine for a while. I’ll carry that around with me for the rest of my life—that you saw enough good in me that you wanted to hold my hand and kiss me and smile at me like I was the only guy. Be happy."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

BLOG TOUR (16): THE FORGETTING BY NICOLE MAGGI.


Today is my stop for Nicole Maggi's The Forgetting Blog Tour hosted by Sourcebooks Fire! This is the first blog tour I joined this year and I will be sharing a guest post and I asked Nicole her playlist while she was writing The Forgetting and a photo of her favorite writing/reading nook!

Title: The Forgetting
Author: Nicole Maggi
Publication: Sourcebooks Fire / February 3, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance

Synopsis:

Georgie's new heart saved her life...but now she's losing her mind.

Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant, but the organ beating in her chest doesn't seem to be in tune with the rest of her body. Why does she have a sudden urge for strawberries when she's been allergic for years? Why can't she remember last Christmas?

Driven to find her donor, Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a girl her own age who fell out of the foster care system and into a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but Georgie is compelled to find the truth - before she loses herself completely.
Do you have a playlist you listen to while writing the book? I’d also like to see your favorite reading/writing nook :)
I like to create a playlist for my characters while I write. I need some kind of noise while I write, which I think harkens back to when I wrote my very first novel (still unpublished). I was working at a huge investment bank as an assistant on a trading floor and I’d be blissfully typing away while people screamed trades over my head. I much prefer music now, though!

There were a few songs that I connected powerfully to while writing THE FORGETTING. I am completely and totally in love with Florence & the Machine and several of her songs inspired me. In fact, the original title of the book was HEARTLINES (it changed late in the game for various reasons) and I took that from this song because of the lyric “Just keep following the heartlines on your hand” which is really the catchphrase of the book:


The next Florence & the Machine song that inspired the book is Shake It Out…that line “’Cuz I am done with my graceless heart / so tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart” is what Georgie’s journey is all about in a nutshell.


The last Florence & the Machine song I’ll include is All This And Heaven Too. I love this song because it’s all about how love is a power that we can’t truly understand. The first line of the song is “And the heart is hard to translate / it has a language all its own” and that’s exactly Georgie’s experience with this new heart and the love it feels for Nate.


One of the other bands I love is First Aid Kit, which is a Swedish sister duo. Their album STAY GOLD has so many great songs, but this one, My Silver Lining, is my favorite. That lyric “I won’t take the easy road” is what Georgie’s journey is all about. And the lyric “I try to keep on keeping on” is my motto as a writer.


The next song is Lanterns by Birds of Tokyo. I just love this song because it’s an empowerment message, and that lyric, “There is so much more I could be” is so true for Georgie.


The last song I’ll include is Home by Phillip Phillips. This song is all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway, and that is definitely what Georgie does every step of the way in THE FORGETTING.


And Nicole's favorite writing/reading nook:

Photo provided by the author.

About Nicole:

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads
Nicole Maggi wrote her first story in third grade about a rainbow and a unicorn. After working as an actress in NYC, she now lives in Los Angeles with her family and two oddball cats. Visit her at nicolemaggi.com.

PURCHASE LINKS FOR THE FORGETTING:

Amazon * B&N * Chapters * Indiebound * BAM


Thank you so much Nicole and Sourcebooks Fire for having me!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

REVIEW: BETTER THAN PERFECT BY MELISSA KANTOR.

Title: Better than Perfect
Series: Standalone
Author: Melissa Kantor
Edition: Paperback (ARC)
Publication: HarperTeen / February 17, 2015
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary (Mental Illness), Romance
Trailer: Not available.

Synopsis:

Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either.
*Warning: Rage ahead*

I don't hate the book, I hate the character and how slow the pace was.

Okay. *eats chocolates to channel inner happiness*  Here we go.

Juliet was the dumbest character ever.

She was a perfect-A student, an achiever, a focused person and she knows what she wants. Her relationship with Jason has been steady for four years and they've been working so hard so they can get accepted in Harvard. She has her wonderful best friend Sofia as well. Her family is wealthy. Practically, her life is the type most people would be envious of. But her parents separated and in Juliet's eyes, her life started to fall apart. Her mother overdosed and has to be sent to a mental facility for treatment and that was what appeared to be the last straw for Juliet. She started seeing life in a different light -- stupid light -- and well, her choices started to become dumber.

I totally get THAT irritable feeling of doing things just for the sake of doing them or to simply please others. It feels like you're being choked with an invisible rope. When Juliet realized she wasn't happy anymore, I related with her frustrations and the need to be free from all the things she realized she hated doing. THAT I understand. But the rest of her choices? Dumb. And it gets dumber as you go deeper into the story. And it was painful to watch a character with full of potential to break apart page by page by page.

OKAY THIS IS THE SPOILERY PART.


Even the encounter with Declan felt forced to me. Aside from the inception of confusing sub-plots, I didn't like how Declan and their intense physical attraction popped out out of nowhere. I appears that Declan's part was put out there just to spice things up between Jason and Juliet's perfectly boring relationship. But the execution was plainly wrong. It insinuated cheating. Even Juliet's "love" for music felt hypocrite like, where did it come from?

Better than Perfect was not for me. I think Kantor's novels aren't for me, for that matter. I failed to connect with the character and I failed to see her point. Making bad choices is a part of life, as long as you know you're just going after what makes you happy. But Juliet's choices are just dumb, dumb, duuuuuuumb there's no other word for it but DUMB.

Thank you so much HarperCollins International for the review copy!

"Everything I looked at had the power to hurt."
"People could want different things. It was possible to love somebody but to grow away from that person."
"How bizarre that you could know someone so well and love him so much and then not have him in your life anymore."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: BOOMERANG BY NOELLE AUGUST.

Title: Boomerang
Series: Boomerang #1
Author: Noelle August
Edition: Paperback
Publication: William Morrow (HarperCollins) / July 8, 2014
Source: Finished copy provided by Fullybooked
Pages: 325
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Trailer: Not available.

Synopsis:

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret.

Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started?
I haven't read a lot of New Adult novels lately so when I was asked to review Boomerang by Noelle August, I couldn't pass up the chance. I've been wanting to read this book since last year so thank you Fullybooked for the review copy.

Mia woke up naked in someone else's bedroom. She couldn't remember how she got there and who the guy she's with is. Worst, she can't locate her panties. What she realized though is that she has to rush to her new office, it's her first day of being an intern. The guy -- Ethan -- needs to be somewhere else too only to realize they are headed to the same office, interning to same company. It would have been good news to them because their sexual desire for each other is unbelievably strong, but Boomerang's company policy hinders them and the company will only hire one. They have to beat each other to land the job. But Ethan's distracted by Mia and Mia couldn't get Ethan off of her mind. They have to decide which is important: the job or to be together.

Boomerang was such a fun read. I may have found it a little shallow because the plot is too typical and predictable and I may have wrapped it up as a novel that most of the time focuses on the intense sexual needs, I still enjoyed it. I couldn't stop giggling and smiling because a.) I liked how the alternating POV was laid out, the flow was crisp and it was fun knowing what the other character's thoughts are immediately b.) both characters are relatable. Their dilemmas are things that most of us have faced in real life and I saw bits and pieces of myself through these characters c.) There’s just something I liked about the writing. It was so conventional and conversational I just flew through the book with so much smile in my face. That is what I enjoyed so much in Boomerang, the light and bubbly premise.

Mia’s character was described as perfect if you try to imagine her. I almost hated that aspect but then I realized Ethan is the one describing her and I started appreciating it. Ethan sees her in such a special way, a cheesy way but its romantic, swoon worthy even. Mia is an achiever that even personal circumstances didn’t stop her from giving her assigned task the best she could. And Ethan complimented her character. This story perfectly presented how women take simple words from people they care about while men are showcased by how they hide and contemplate their true emotion. Complicated yes, but it is the absolute reality.

Boomerang is a fast-paced romance I adored. It’s full of romance that toys emotionally and physically. It puts smile on your lips and doesn't stop there: it tickles the heart too. Humorous and delicious, Boomerang is a must read!

Boomerang is available in Fullybooked and thank you so much for the review copy!


"Suddenly we're trapped in a staring contest. Her gaze is so direct and her green eyes are like prisms. They hold so much light inside them. There are questions and jokes and stories in her eyes. I know right then I want this again. To be looked at by her again."
"Best thing in the world is winning something you really fought for. And it doesn't matter if it's your thing. Make it your thing."
"We're all scared of giving up the power of being the person who cares less."

 GIVEAWAY TIME!

Fullybooked is giving away a finished paperback copy of Boomerang! This giveaway is open for PH residents only (sorry international peeps) and ends on February 28! Enter below and goodluck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 7, 2015

STACKING THE SHELVES (62): THE RASPBERRY TRUFFLE 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.

Last week of January, I received a wonderful email from Fullybooked. Got these review copies (one is for giveaway so watch out for it and one if for review). I've finished reading it last night and my review will be up on the 15th. I absolutely enjoyed it. Also, Fullybooked gave me their 2015 planner! After I picked up these goodies, I walked around a bit (which is what I usually do when am in Fort) then decided to chill out in Starbucks. I used to be a Starbucks coffee addict but not anymore. Anyway, I tried their new Raspberry Truffle Frappe and it was delicious! (Forgive the photo, I obviously took this shot against the light!)

That day was just so laid back. I miss days like those a lot.


FOR REVIEW:
* Boomerang (Boomerang #1) by Noelle August

GIFTED:
* Fullybooked's 2015 Planner

Thank you so much Fullybooked! This means the universe to me! Thank youuuuuuu!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY (44): RED QUEEN BY VICTORIA AVEYARD.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine that highlights our much anticipated books.
Expected Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Add to Goodreads

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.
Am a sucker when it comes to High Fantasy novels! Am currently reading my eARC of this but I wouldn't be able to post my review this month. Am sticking to my Contemporary themed reading for February! But I totes cannot wait to finish this!

Thank you, Edelweiss and HarperCollins for the review copy!

Monday, February 2, 2015

BOOK SIGNING: JAMES FREY IN MANILA 2015.

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

I started my February with so much fun! I attended my first bookish event for the year and met NYT Best Selling Author of The Lorien Legacies and Endgame, Jamey Frey! I liked how he's straight to the point and his "adult" kind of humor (well, maybe because am adult also). He answers questions the way he wanted to. I mean, there's no pretenses or something which is absolutely a breath of fresh air for me. The event was a little short but I didn't have to "behave" the entire time. I didn't feel shy or intimidated unlike with the past authors I've met. That's what am basically saying. :)


James Frey didn't use the mic anymore since there were only a few of us so I didn't record the Q and A anymore (my phone recording app sucks without mic LOL). Instead, I wrote teeny tiny phrases from the said Q and A.

* The logistics of having the book published around the world is the hardest. They have to make sure the puzzle + prize are legal.

* MIT people made/wrote the puzzle embedded in the book.

* The only rule is that there are no rules (when it comes to writing but he said it probably wouldn't work in real life. :D )

* He said a few times already that he wanted to make a "chase" scene here in Manila to be included on Endgames' Book 2. (AWESOMESAUCE RIGHT?)

* What sets Endgame apart: totally not dystopia, characters are diverse and there is no boring love triangle! (FTW)

* The character that most resembles him would be Jago. (Did I spell that right?)

* And he wouldn't change anything in the book!

(For the complete Q and A transcript, visit Kai of Amaterasu Reads' Recap HERE)

Dianne of Oops, I Read a Book Again - Nicole of The Twins Read - Precious of Fragments of Life - Sab of Sab The Book Eater and Kai of Amaterasu Reads!

Dianne and Sab with Jello, Deavelle and Mary Ann of Teen Readers' Diary.

With THE Fab Chad of NBS!
With Book Goddess friend Kai and ARC of Golden Son!
I won my copy of Endgame from last year's raffle here and today, I won an Endgame shirt! Isn't that wicked?! I asked James Frey to sign it and he did! I liked how it didn't feel awkward to take selfies with him! He's cool, surprisingly!

Sorry for the blurry shot! (looks at Louie!)
Dianne, Precious, Kai and I had lunch at Seattle's Best in Greenbelt and spent a good hour or two brainstorming what we could possibly do for E. Lockhart's signing in March. Then we headed to the public signing and man, Filipino readers are just the best! Authors are practically rock stars! I always look forward to hearing the screams!

Check out these photos by National Bookstore from the signing in CEBU and MANILA!

James Frey's Message to PH Fans!

My signed goodies! Thank you HarperCollins for the book, NBS for the shirt and Sab for the Polaroid Shot!
With James Frey!
Thank you National Bookstore for everything! You keep rocking my world!