Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Lost Prince 
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
Pages: 379
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from November 12 to 21, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it
SummaryDon’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them. That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for. Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten. 

There is a whole unknown world that exists around us, side by side, and no one knows it is there. Except for a few. A very rare few, who can see what no one else can. And the spirits of this world can be helpful or harmful, friendly or wicked, but above all, those who see the invisible world are constantly trapped by it. They will always walk between two lives, and they will have to find a way to balance them both. 

When I finished this book almost three weeks ago, I decided I wasn't pumped about it enough to write a review. You see, since I had neither praises nor criticisms, there was nothing worth saying, right? But since the day I finished the book, I couldn't help but feel bad for leaving it without saying anything. I felt I owed the original Iron Fey series that much to at least say something instead of just letting it pass me by.

I had high hopes for it. I did. And I guess everyone did, too. The Iron Fey series has been unimaginably fun, and after four main books, I'd grown to adore the Nevernever and everything in it. I remember Ethan, that little boy who was so quiet, who could see fairies, who was mature even when he was 4 years old. Well, he's grown up now, and he's changed. Broody Ethan hates the fairies' guts, which isn't very surprising since he thinks they took his sister away from him and made her their Queen, making it unlikely that she would come home. Ethan lives his life in fear of Them. He keeps a low profile, making sure to never attract any unwanted attention. His plan was going quite well until Kenzie St. James wants to be this tough guy's friend, and until Ethan accidentally looks straight at a fairy, and now They know he can see Them. Ethan then gets involved, involuntarily, with a new kind of fairies—the "Forgotten." And that leads him to the Nevernever, the place he never wants to set foot in, ever. But there he is.

I liked that this book brings back the old characters; it's a delight to see them all again. Meghan, Ash, Puck, Grimalkin, Razor, and what a surprise, Keirran! And he has a love interest! Honestly, I didn't particularly love the story. I felt it was quite mediocre, like The Iron Knight, only a bit better. I din't instantly like Ethan with his brooding nature, nor Kenzie with all her contrived enthusiasm to have something to do with the fairies. I think their characters are a bit too much, too constrained. Possibly to achieve sharp and clear contrasts between them, you know, opposites attract and whatnots. I had a hard time believing anything in this book, including their relationship development. One minute Ethan doesn't one to have her around, then another he wants to kiss her. As I said, it felt unnatural.

Admittedly, I was greatly disappointed. I was expecting mind-blowing, earth-shattering, but I only got alright and mediocre. A letdown, if I may. I guess I had my hopes up too high. Still a fun book on the whole, though. Looking forward to the next book!

This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Genre: *unidentifiable*
Release Date: August 17, 2004
Publisher: Random House
Format: Paperback
Pages: 509
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from November 23 to December 6, 2012
My rating: 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing! + Favorite
Summary: A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation—the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an' tho' a cloud's shape nor hue nor size don't stay the same, it's still a cloud an' so is a soul. Who can say where the cloud's blowed  from or who the soul'll be 'morrow? ... only the atlas o' clouds. 

On October 11, 2011 a certain wide-eyed girl added this book to her Goodreads shelf. Quite an impressionable reader that she was, she felt giddy with the idea of one day taking on something so big and sophisticated, yet at the same time, she couldn't help but feel intimidated by that very same idea. What if she wouldn't like it? She couldn't bear the idea of ending up not liking a book she'd been wanting to read for so long; the desire to love it was too much too handle. What if that desire wouldn't be fulfilled? How would she feel about all the time she spent believing she would love the book, but ended up not liking it the slightest bit? Now over a year has elapsed, her fear's died down quite considerably, and that girl's become me. And I was ready to take it on.

When I picked up David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, I did so due to the want to see the movie. Admittedly, had the trailer not been released, I would've had no incentive to pick up the book at all. Having read number9dream, I grew to adore Mitchell's brilliant writing skill and its complexity, and learned to be fond of  his peculiar style. But since one Mitchell a year is undeniably more than enough, I postponed Cloud Atlas, waiting for the time near the movie release date enough to start what would be a 15-day's journey of adventures of some sort, of explorations and sheer awesomeness.

Of course, I didn't know what to expect from Cloud Atlas, and I didn't really give much thought about what it would be like. All I knew was, since it's his highest-rated book, I was ready to be blown away. And then I dove in. I trusted that Mitchell had something wonderful in store for me, and I was hoping that it would be a nice surprise and that I would like it a lot.

Now, before I go any further, I think I should point out that this novel's first distinctive element is its form of narration. And here I quote Mitchell's Robert Frobisher (whose quote you won't come across until about 87% of the story), so that you have an idea of what the story-telling is like:
a "sextet for overlapping soloists": piano, clarinet, 'cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: in the second, each interruption is recontinued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky? Shan't know until it's finished, and by then it'll be too late. 
This book is, in Mitchell's own words, a "sextet" of six overlapping stories--each one is connected to another in certain ways, spanning across continents and centuries of time. Thus the book runs so: #1-#2-#3-#4-#5-#6 in its uninterrupted entirety-#5-#4-#3-#2-#1. #1 until #5 are interrupted mid-way and resumed after the 6th story (I love this). Strange? Yes! But it's also delightful. And I'd go with revolutionary instead of gimmicky. I learned about this before I started the book, which I'm not sure if I was supposed to, and it kept me eagerly anticipating and actively wondering how all this would play out. I'm not sure if it will enrich your reading if you know about this narrative form beforehand, but it's definitely not doing any harm, if you ask me, since it isn't a spoiler.

Now that the B-format paperback with such a pretty cover felt snug in my palms as though it belonged there, the journey began. However, much to my dismay, it took off onto a bumpy road—or you could say a stormy sea—and wasn't a very comfortable ride. The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing bored me in indescribably tedious ways. This part is written by Adam Ewing (aged 33, becomes 34 later), a lawyer of San Francisco, as a journal of a voyage on the "Prophetess" from Sydney to California. It's probably dated in 1849 or 1850. This part touches on racism, slaves, abolitionism, and friendship. What does it mean to be a friend? Is it correct when Dr Henry Goose—Ewing's uncut diamond of the first water—says, "Friendship between races, Ewing, can never surpass the affection between a loyal gundog & its master" or "The weak are meat, the strong do eat"? The writing in this part was difficult to get into. While the narration is interesting in that it's written in diary form with contractions and whatnots, it failed to interest me. Definitely not a page turner. It just made me sleepy. I'll admit it here, Adam Ewing is the part I liked least.

I encountered the book's first interruption when Ewing's journal is suddenly cut mid-sentence and gives way to Letters from Zedelghem. The numerous letters in this part are sent by Robert Frobisher (aged 24, if I interpret it correctly) to his old friend Rufus Sixsmith in 1931. Frobisher is a young English musician who runs away from home to work as an amanuensis for a great composer named Vyvyan Ayrs, who lives in Bruges, Belgium. While helping VA, Frobisher comes across temptations and frustrations in various forms, taking all the emotional whirlwind out on the letters he sends, making them very intimate and personal. He uses people; he falls in love; he talks about war and power; Zedelghem is the part I liked most of all the six stories. Frobisher is also the composer of the Cloud Atlas Sextet, which he says "holds [his] life, is [his] life." And when it's done, he sees himself as a "spent firework; but at least [he's] been a firework." I loved Frobisher's striking narrative voice, his wits and his honesty. He isn't the most likeable character if you think about it, yet he's got so much charm it would be crazy not to like him. When the story takes an unexpected dark turn, my heart ached terribly for him. It crushed me that the firework had to burn out so quickly and  tragically. The last letter put me on the verge of tears. I haven't read something nearly as beautiful as that in a long while.

Next, Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery is mystery/thriller set in 1975. If you look closely, you'll realize that it's intended to be a novel since its first page from the chapter number, which doesn't appear in the previous two stories. Like the repeated opening lines "Sixsmith" in Zedelghem, the chapter number in Luisa Rey serves as an element that tells you in which form the story is written—a novel, a mystery/thriller novel to be exact. Surprisingly, Rufus Sixsmith from Zedelghem appears as one of the main character in this novel. I won't say much about the plot of Luisa Rey because saying anything about it would be spoiling it for you. Let's just say that I really enjoyed this part. It revolves around power, money, truth, lies. Different as it may be from the previous two, it's easier to follow and understand, but still mediocre in my opinion.

The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish is the fifth part in this sextet of stories, which is set in Britain in our present day. Timothy Cavandish is a 65-year-old publisher running away from the cruelties the world lets loose on him, yet ends up in another one, and another one, and another one. The story is narrated in the first person POV with lots of humor and sarcasm that can make you laugh, and at the same time you feel bad for Timothy's plights. But no, not really, most of the time you can't help but find them hilarious. It makes you think about how we treat elderly these days. I really enjoyed this funny and colorful story, and I don't think there's anything more to be said. This is the lightest of all the six stories, which lets you relax a little before bringing you to the next part, which is going to be ten notches heavier

Set in the dystopian future in Nea So Copros (futuristic Seoul, Korea?), An Orison of Sonmi~451 is a long interview between an archivist and Sonmi~451, a genetically engineered fabricant. Sonmi~451 is an ex-worker of a diner called Papa Song, among other fabricants working other undesirable, unhealthy, dangerous jobs for "pureblood" human beings. The fabricants of the Nea So Copros are subjected to maltreatment as if they are perfectly dispensable, expendable slaves, but of course they don't know that; in fact, they think their jobs are the best thing in the world. What's so special about this particular Sonmi is that she has anomalously glitched, broken free from the mind-control of Nea So Copros, and developed a "human" mind of her own full of personal opinions. She isn't brainwashed anymore; she sees the truth as it is. She devours philosophy, history, books, because "we are only what we know, and [she] wished to be much more than [she] was, sorely." In a way, this story reminds me of George Orwell's famous 1984. What Winston Smith and Sonmi~451 share is their struggle against the power that be, their trust in the wrongest person, and their unforeseen downfall. Sonmi~451, however, being smarter than us sees it coming all along, and yet, being braver than Smith, willingly puts herself in that position just so she can try to make a difference, try to get the truth out there, even if the only person listening is the archivist. Dealing with heavy topics such as politics, utilitarianism, and ethics, this story is fascinating in its own right.

Now we've reached the last, central story: Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After. Notice all these apostrophes? The story's full of them; annoying at first, but I later found them to be a part of the story's charms. Zachry tells his story in an orison, which tells his recounting of the story of when he is 16 and meets Old Georgie for the first time, and everything after, including his meeting with a Prescient human named Meronym which would change things. Zachry lives in a post-apocalyptic future world where civilization has collapsed; he and his people live in the valley of Big I, Ha-Why. They don't supposedly speak the same language as the people of the old world anymore, thus this weird use of language in the narration. Tell-it-true, the voice of the narrator is—in his own words, a duck fart in a hurrycane—fun and honest, yay. I don't remember being bored, nay. I admit it's a little hard to decipher, but I went through it really fast. It even felt almost poetic to me, and I enjoyed Sloosha's Crossin' tremendously. And David Mitchell? You're unbelievably incredible. 

Now that this review is getting unbearably long, I'll wrap it up soon. I could talk about this book forever if anyone's willing to listen. I adore it that much. I didn't include the connections between the stories above because it will be much more fun for you to try to see them yourselves. I myself looked hard for the  connections and hints, and I succeeded in gathering most of them (I think), and it just satisfies the perfectionist in me. How these stories are bound together is actually amazing, and I don't know how Mitchell did it but he did it so well. Birthmarks, echoes of each other's exact words, distant memories, transformations of ideas and forms and statuses. I love it. 

Above all else, I love the complexity of the book. And I love that I didn't always love it, but I ended up loving it all the same. It's like I was put to test in some ways, and passed it. Reading it felt so much like a challenge to me, and 15 days spent doing so weren't always happy days. I think very highly of this book, but it should be mentioned that it isn't always enjoyable. I mean it's a great book, but it isn't for everybody (as I said, hard to read)—if you're looking for pure entertainment ("escape literature"), I'm afraid this book won't satisfy you much in that department. Like most "interpretative literature," this book has a tendency to be boring. In all honesty, it's tedious at some points. There are parts that I just wished they'd be over soon, parts that dragged on and on, parts that bored me to sleep *coughadamewingcough*.

But after all is said and done, those parts slipped into the past, they weren't important enough to stay. But most parts still linger in my mind, forever imprinted here. For what I'm worth, I'd say this is one of the best works of fiction I've ever read in my life. I'm thankful for the movie that finally put the end to my procrastination, because as I went on this journey, I lived six different lives at six different points in time, read six different stories in different genres, most of which I couldn't identify. It's an eye opener in a way. I savored the brilliant writing, played with the ideas around in my head, laughed and cried with the characters, and highlighted the amazing quotes (got 94 passages). I finished the journey feeling somehow richer with maturity and life experience. This book is, after all, a memorable reading experience that's sure to be lived again. 

This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

November 19 to 25, 2012

I didn't have Stacking the Shelves posts in the past two weeks because I didn't buy anything! Yay! But for this week and next week, a bookstore near my uni is having a sale on selected titles. Usually these selected titles don't really catch my eyes but the new price tags just beg to be noticed, so I came home with a few.

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future
On The Tip Of My Tongue: Questions, Facts, Curiosities And Games Of A Quizzical Nature
Words Gone Wild: Fun and Games for Language Lovers by Jim Bernhard

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

November has been a very busy month for me, so that's why I haven't been posting as regularly as I wanted to. On a positive note, I finished the whole Iron Fey series up to date! My review on The Lost Prince will be coming up soon. :-) In the meantime, read my other Iron Fey reviews!

B's book blog!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Knight
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey #4
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: October 26, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
Pages: 394
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from November 5 to 11, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it
Summary: Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing. Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought. Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive. With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side. To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale. And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

I will be with her again, or I will die. There aren't any other options. 

I finished the previous book, The Iron Queen, with so great a satisfaction that I expected nothing less from this follow-up, but after pages and pages of adventure and mysteries and secrets, I ended up disappointed. This is not to say that The Iron Knight is a bad book, only it just didn't live up to its three predecessors, and is in my opinion the most mediocre one out of the four.

In this book, Ash sets out on a dangerous journey to the End of the World in order to earn a human soul, as it is the only way he can be with Meghan in the Iron realm without eventually dying from Iron. Ash isn't alone in this quest; there are the usuals—Puck and Grimalkin—and other two surprising characters accompanying him and seeing him through to the end. They follow a very dangerous path into the strangest and darkest parts of the Nevernever where it is said those who have gone in there have never come back.

As much as I love Ash, I didn't find the narration via his POV to be very satisfying. There were more than a dozen times when I felt like this book was written in the third person POV rather than Ash's, because if he's voicing the story, I didn't hear it. Only in some chapters did I really get into his head. Any other times it just felt like I'm reading dialogues. And I would doze off and then not pick up the book until another day came. In all honesty, I would say that I enjoyed Meghan's storytelling far more than Ash's.

When I neared the end of the book, I was praying so hard that Ash would change his mind. I was never one to compromise my identity, who I am, for someone else, so that's why I didn't completely agree with the journey he takes on. I didn't find his quest romantic, instead I found it stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid Ash. But what can I say? Love makes you blind, right? His undying love for Meghan didn't touch me quite as deeply as the sacrifices made for him, and the friendship offered to him by other characters. When Ash lives the future in his head, I felt his sadness and I hoped he would turn his back. A Winter Prince—invincible, immortal—wants to become a weak mortal for his love? I just couldn't grasp it. Why not wish for an immunity against iron instead? That would make much more sense.

The part that I hate the most is when it's one of those weird moments again when I don't like a book as much as everybody else. Every one of my GR friends who have read this all gave it 5 stars. Let me repeat, all of them gave The Iron Knight five stars. And when I finished the book, I was sitting there and all, "Really? Is that it?" and feeling very very very underwhelmed. My feeling and enjoyment while reading this have been sadly rather static in a pretty mediocre level. It felt almost as tedious as household chores. And I hate that because I feel like I missed out on something that nobody missed that could have added two more stars to this rating, or could have made me love this book with all I had. Which obviously didn't happen. 

On the whole, I'm happy with the way things turn out. Meghan and Ash get what they deserve in the end. In the past month I've been reading the whole Iron Fey series, and it has given me so much joy. Naturally, I felt sad that I had to let these characters go. I've grown to love them a lot. And I will terribly miss them.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Queen
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
Pages: 358
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 30 to November 3, 2012
My rating: 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing!
Summary: My name is Meghan Chase. I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it. This time, there will be no turning back.

You've become a major player in this war. You're balanced on the edge of everything—faery and mortal, Summer and Iron, the old ways and the march of progress. Which way will you fall? Which side will you choose? 

When I read The Iron King and The Iron Daughter, I felt they had a great potential but weren't quite there yet, so they both got four stars from me. I didn't expect the third installment, The Iron Queen, to surpass the previous two, and that's why I was so blown away by how truly amazing this one is, which I didn't see coming at all. This book is much better than the first two and that made me believe that this is Julie Kagawa at her best.

The story picks up instantly where book two leaves off: Meghan and Ash's exile from the Nevernever. Meghan thinks that she won't be bothered by the fairies anymore, but she's dead wrong. Iron fairies are still roaming the mortal world looking for her, because the false king believes that by killing Meghan, he'll get King Machina's power. At the same time, the false king's army has been getting stronger and attacking Summer and Winter. And Meghan might just be Nevernever's only hope to defeat the false king and restore peace.

The first half starts off pretty slowly and maintains its pace throughout, which made me a little impatient. But when the second half starts, things pick up fast and remain fast until the end, which I loved. I read the second half all in one sitting, and I really couldn't tear my eyes away. Julie Kagawa gives me excitements after excitements after romances after heartaches after sadness after excitements. I said in my reviews of the previous two books that the fight scenes for me felt somehow lacking. However, in this book, Julie Kagawa gave me everything and then more. It was breathtakingly fun! Fun fun fun! Best fight scenes in the series are in The Iron Queen. Epic battles. I loved it. With everything thrown my way, it was indeed difficult to stop. I swallowed it whole, I took everything in all at once. It was delightful.

The characters are more developed in this book, fully formed. I liked Meghan more now, seeing her grow from a feeble helpless half-breed to a strong warrior deserving to be Queen. And although I couldn't make up my mind earlier, I'm now Team Ash. That boy does crazy things to my stomach, let me tell you. He's so cute, like, he makes me bury my head in my pillow and squee endlessly, come up for air and then bookmark those lovely scenes. And hot scenes, because, well, they're so hot. But my being on Team Ash doesn't mean that I don't like Puck now. I still do, but less than Ash. Poor Puck, getting his heart ripped out and stomped on. He'll continue to make my heart ache, I'm sure. Grimalkin still amuses me endlessly with his wits and sarcasm. Bad kitty, as Razor says. Razor is so cute.

And if anything is to be said about Julie Kagawa's writing, I'd repeat it: this is Julie Kagawa at her best. I don't know how she does it, but she pulls it off beautifully. Her words make the story flow very smoothly and reinforces the story very well, making us see things more clearly and feel things more intimately. So charming.

Apart from all the fun it gave me, this book made me shed a lot of tears (oh, Ash). And I loved every minute of the journey I traveled with Meghan. I hope it's only getting better from here, as I am now ready to take on the next books.

 This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

October 28 to November 3, 2012

Uni has started and I've been distracted, so I almost didn't buy any books this week! I did, though, buy only one! ONLY ONE! Hooray for self-control! And I also got one book for review. :-)

I've wanted to read Writing Tools for sometime now, and as I'm taking English Composition I this semester, this is the right time to read it! 

As for HOOKED, you might wonder why I got it now. It's not open to request on NetGalley yet, but I got an invite because I won Liz Fichera's contest, so I get this ARC early. Thanks, Liz! :-)

This week on the blog I posted two reviews:

So that's it for me this week. Back to studying literature. :-) 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Title: A Thunderous Whisper
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 7 to 9, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it (2.5)
Summary: Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he's been off fighting in Spain's Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he's as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias's father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She's actually making a difference in the world. And then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, her mother. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

No matter how loud the world gets, sometimes a single voice can be heard. 

I was first interested in this book because it's about World War II, and because someone said it is like The Book Thief, which is my number 3 most favorite book of all time. And when someone makes a comparison like this, I couldn't help but feel the need to check this book out, as it could be the next best thing that would happen to me for all I knew.

But it wasn't. It's not bad, but it's nowhere near as life-changing or sublime as Markus Zusak's masterpiece. It does have some lovely quotes that I highlighted, but other than that I didn't like anything particular about it. I wasn't into the story—I found the idea that small children can make a difference a bit too optimistic and far-far-fetched.  I was turned off by this notion, to be honest. Maybe this is because I didn't feel like the story portrays it convincingly enough, or well enough, or just enough. And in the end, I didn't believe they make any significant differences at all, and I mean at all, so that renders the title, A Thunderous Whisper, and what it stands for kind of invalid to me. And unlike The Book Thief's, the characters in this book aren't outstanding enough to secure a place in my heart. Most of the time I was just irritated by Ani and her mother.

This was an okay read to me. It's not that boring, not that bad, but also not that good. I expected it to be more interesting, but it sadly didn't measure up.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Daughter
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: August 1, 2010
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Format: Paperback
Pages: 359
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from 21 to 25 October, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

Because if I was going to play in the Unseelie Court, I had to be made of ice. No, not ice. Like iron. 

In The Iron King Ash kept his word to help Meghan on her quest to the Iron realm, and now Ash expects Meghan to fulfill her end of the bargain by going back with him to the Winter Court. Meghan gladly goes with him to the place where being a Summer fey is something to get you in trouble. And on top of that, she's Oberon's half-breed. All the more troubles come her way. Ash has to act cold and distant, and it's killing Meghan to think that after all they've been through, Ash is just going to walk away, saying none of that was real, that everything was just his way of making her come here. Just when Meghan thinks that she's defeated the Iron King Machina, and that there is no more threat to the Nevernever, the Winter Court is attacked from within by the new Iron King's soldiers. Blamed for the death of the oldest Winter Prince and for stealing the Scepter of the Seasons, Meghan has to prove herself and the Summer Court innocent by getting the Scepter back before Winter starts war with Summer, which can bring the end of the Nevernever, and the start of the Iron realm's ruling power.

At first I felt a little underwhelmed by The Iron Daughter because there was so much running around but nothing accomplished. I'm not saying that it was too slow, but the story just felt all over the place with no clear direction to me. I also felt that the novel was too focused on the love triangle. It is without a question heart-rending, as I can't really pick one myself (as I said in my Iron King review, I keep changing sides) but I wanted more than that. I was prepared to give this book 3 stars when there still wasn't much going on, but when the plot came together nicely I changed my mind. When actions started it was pretty much heart-stopping, and much much better than the earlier parts. I felt terribly sad and cried at the losses that come to pass, and the choices the characters have to make. Feelings are made very clear in this book and it tears my heart open. Sacrifices always get me, and those present in this book ate at my heart.

There are lot of things I liked in this book. I liked how the clues dropped in the first book played out in this one, but not to the full extent. I feel there's still a lot coming to be revealed and unraveled, something grand waiting to jump out at us once the puzzle pieces fall together. And I can't wait for that to happen. I want it to be epic. My love for the characters grew as I got to know them better, especially Ironhorse. I've grown to love his BOOMING VOICE and his loyalty. Ash is as usual a heartthrob. And Puck is just hilarious and adorable. Grimalkin is, well, Grimalkin. But sometimes I didn't like Meghan. She only stands there and is protected and isn't really doing anything on her own. But I also understand that this character is still being built up in the progress, not yet completed. I can't wait to see her when she's her true self. I didn't like that strange things happen but no one asks questions. They just accept it, but why? I would question a lot of things, were I those blind characters. This is one of the things I felt isn't very neatly done. You don't answer questions just to show the answers in an epic way later, but it still doesn't change the fact that you refuse to acknowledge issues that need to be addressed when they come up by ignoring them altogether (and probably wishing we don't catch that). Another thing is that the book says Meghan's power got sealed, and it must take Oberon or Mab to undo it. But then near the end, Meghan uses her power openly, so here's the question: When does it become undone? I don't think it ever does. Tsk tsk.

When I finished this book, my heart was racing. What an ending! My heart ached for Puck. I could feel danger looming ahead. This was almost amazing, but it wasn't there yet, sadly. I actually liked the first book better. With all these questions hanging in the air and clues that still need to be played out, I hope the third book is better!

This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (4)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

Week 4: October 21 to 27, 2012

Apparently I'm still not over fairy tales since here I was again on a fairy tale and classic shopping spree. As if last week didn't happen.

Endless Summer (The Boys Next Door, #1-2) by Jennifer Echols
Le Morte D'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table by Thomas Malory
Aesop's Fables (Wordsworth Children's Classics) by Aesop
Irish Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer

Webster's Compact Writer's Guide by Merriam-Webster
Webster's Compact Rhyming Dictionary by Merriam-Webster


Dancing In The Dark by Robyn Bavati
One for the Books by Joe Queenan

This week I finished:

The Iron King, Winter's Passage, and The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Read my Iron King review here!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Format: Paperback
Pages: 363
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from 19 to 21 October, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined. Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

You would do anything to find your brother—put yourself in danger, bargain with the enemy, give up your own freedom—if it means saving him. You'd likely do the same for your friends, or anyone else you care about. Your personal loyalty is your breaking point, and your enemies will certainly use it against you. That is your weakness, princess. That is the most dangerous aspect in your life. 

I picked up The Iron King because I was given an ARC of Julie Kagawa's The Lost Prince, which is a new series within the Iron Fey series. Not that I would've never done so if I hadn't got The Lost Prince. Actually, I had wanted to read this series for a long time, but never got around to it. I'm glad that I finally did now, because the first book is so good already!

For some unexplainable reasons, I've been unable to greatly enjoy books lately. I'm not sure if it's because of me or the books. Anyhow, I was a little afraid that if it's the former, reading this at this time might not be a good idea. But it wasn't the case at all. As it turned out, I enjoyed this a lot more than the books I recently read. Although I don't usually read fairy books, I think I'm in love with fairies now, thanks to The Iron Fey series. I plan to read a lot more fairy books from now on.

Where do I begin? I just adore almost everything in this book. Meghan Chase, 16-year-old, is an outcast at school and has one best friend: Robbie Goodfell, who always calls her "princess." But of course, she doesn't know that he means it literally, as she is, in fact, the Princess of King Oberon, King of the Summer Court in the Nevernever. Meghan doesn't discover this until one day her good little brother Ethan is kidnapped by fairies and is replaced with a changeling that wrecks the house. Learning about fairies and that Robbie is actually the playful fairy Puck in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, Meghan decides to enter the Nevernever to try to bring Ethan back home with Puck's help. But once she sets foot in the fairy land, more troubles come her way.

To say that the story kept me on the edge of my seat all the time would be quite an understatement. I couldn't do anything else. I had to read. I had to know. It's exciting and refreshing and thrilling and enchanting. I love the Nevernever world building where everything looks beautiful and magical, where creatures jump out at you and try to eat you, where cats talk, where things are vivid and alive. I love how the story gives me one thing (Ethan's abduction) which leads to another (trying to find Ethan in the Winter territory) which leads to another (Ash) which eventually leads to the Iron realm. There's always something hidden waiting to come up, and I love that it's not predictable, not clearly stated in the first place. The adventure is more than fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed Meghan's journey.

The characters are the life of this book, I believe. They're very well crafted, and I love them. Meghan is a likeable character. She cares a lot about her family and she puts them first. A lot of times she makes difficult choices in their favor, putting herself at risk. I like that. Robbie/Puck got me since he first appears in the book. He's that playful, humorous, ever-smiling person you want to have as your best friend. I love when he's trolling just as much as when he's dead serious and heartfelt. Prince Ash, Puck's competitor in the fight to win Meghan's heart, didn't make me like him instantly like Puck did. He's cold, distant, and I'd say intimidating. But along the road, Ash grew on me to the point where I love them both equally and cannot pick one, therefore I resort to siding with whoever is in the scene or is speaking. They both made my heart flutter and my stomach flip, I become that giggly girl I used to be when I was 14 again. Fun times. I'm sorry Grimalkin, even though you warn Meghan (and me) to not fall in love with Ash ("Do not lose your heart to a faery prince. It never ends well."), I did anyway. And I also love you, Grimalkin, for your indifferent attitude, your tendency to appear and disappear at will, and your belief that "I am a cat" is a correct answer to any questions. You are adorable.

Good writing is hard to come by these days. If you ask me about the writing, I'd say it's SO GOOD. There was never a moment when I felt like the narration weakened the story, or annoyed me, or could have been better. To put it another way, the writing reinforces the story very well. I love the way the author describes the abstract, especially feelings—she made it look like the easiest thing to explain, and it's so to the point and beautiful. The words flow smoothly and the use of figurative language in the book impresses me a lot. So, kudos to that and all the elements that make up this book! It's a wonderful read!

PS. There are a few things that I didn't like about this book, and so I didn't give it 5 stars. I'm not going to delve into it, because these are quite minor. But one big thing is that the fight near the end doesn't feel grand enough for me. It hardly stirred any emotions in me I wanted to feel at all. The scene which is supposed to be a climax feels too much like an ordinary scene when it should be grand, and amazing, and heart-stopping. But this problem aside, this book is a delight to read.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

Title: The Opposite of Hallelujah
Author: Anna Jarzab
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Delacourte
Format: eBook
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 9 to 12, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child—and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro’s parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can’t understand why her parents cut her sister so much slack, and why they’re not pushing for answers. Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate Caro’s new boyfriend and put her on the outs with her friends and her parents, she seeks solace from an unexpected source. And when she unearths a clue about Hannah’s past—one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her—Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

No, Caro, you don't understand. You don't even try to understand. You live in a world that revolves completely around you, and you never once, not even for a second, try to see what other people might be experiencing or feeling. You just never think about anyone else, and it's beneath you. 

The Opposite of Hallelujah is one of those books that take me pretty much by surprise. I'd go in expecting one thing and end up getting another. I don't usually handle long books well, but this one didn't feel long to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was constantly interested in the characters and the story. I found this book to be quite well written.

As I finished this book eleven days ago, I found it hard to try to recall what I wanted to say about it once I was done reading it. I don't remember much, so this review is going to be short and, hopefully, straight to the point.

This story is about a lot of things: sisterhood, friendship, family, religion, and coming to terms with the past—holding on to it and letting it go. And I enjoyed that a lot. I liked how the author put those things together and made it work. Watching Caro learn a lot of things and grow up in a lot of ways before my eyes was a good experience. I think the author did a very nice job portraying Caro as a stubborn brat who doesn't care much about anyone, and developing Caro's character gradually until she becomes an opposite of herself. I liked how she stands up for herself even when everyone else backs out of her life. She doesn't beg; she needs no one's help; and she's determined to figure things out on her own. Unraveling Hannah's past was also thrilling. Not only that, but also learning how that past affects her choices, making her become the person she is today. A lot of that has to do with her faith in Christianity. I usually don't like it when religion plays a big role in books, but this one doesn't seem preachy. It's not trying to make a point, but just giving food for thoughts, and that was good enough for me. More than the plot, I enjoyed the characters and their development throughout the story. The author's prose kept me going and captivated.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (3)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

Week 3: October 14 to 20, 2012

Since Thailand's second annual book expo started this week on October 18, I had a lot of new members to welcome to the family. I went two times already: on the 18th and today. And in three days I've taken in 9 fictions, 3 non-fictions (one is borrowed from one of my teachers), and 4 dictionaries. I also got accepted for 2 ARCs this week. Yay!

Fictions and Fairy Tales:



This week I finished reading: 

I'm currently reading: 

  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
    I was accepted for The Lost Prince ARC, so I had to read the whole Iron Fey series first! So far so good. :) 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Title: Summer of the Mariposas
Author: Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Format: eARC
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 12 to 17, 2012
My rating: 2 stars: Nothing special
Summary: When Odilia and her four sisters find a dead body in the swimming hole, they embark on a hero's journey to return the dead man to his family in Mexico. But returning home to Texas turns into an odyssey that would rival Homer's original tale. With the supernatural aid of ghostly La Llorona via a magical earring, Odilia and her little sisters travel a road of tribulation to their long-lost grandmother's house. Along the way, they must outsmart a witch and her Evil Trinity: a wily warlock, a coven of vicious half-human barn owls, and a bloodthirsty livestock-hunting chupacabras. Can these fantastic trials prepare Odilia and her sisters for what happens when they face their final test, returning home to the real world, where goddesses and ghosts can no longer help them? Summer of the Mariposas is not just a magical Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, it is a celebration of sisterhood and maternal love.

We hiked through the sparse woods, making our way carefully down the beaten path we had created that summer, the summer of the mariposas. 

I gave this book two stars because I neither hated it enough to give it less, nor liked it enough to give it more. So what happened here? Oh, I merely tolerated it. Being given two stars is just as bad as one in terms of mental health if you use my rating system. It's not bad, but it doesn't stir anything within me except for never-ending, terminal, utter boredom. The kind that can drive me crazy, kill me, make me fall asleep within 3 minutes, and make me so bored that I want to cry because there's nothing else to do, and because I blame my chronic cannot-not-finish-books disease that's slowly killing me and damaging my happiness. With that said, I assume you now understand the way I feel about this book. 

I don't want to say anything much, simply because I don't really care enough about this book to want to talk about it. As a student of literature, I am fascinated by the idea of reading Homer's the Iliad and the Odessey one day. So when I saw that this book claims to be a retelling of the latter, I was deceived into wanting to read it. But honestly, it did not feel like it, it was not a retelling if you ask me. It annoyed me and bored me and annoyed me and bored me endlessly. The five girls took turns irritating me rather than made me like them. The journey wasn't fun. It dragged on and on and on and on. It could've ended much earlier than when it does. All I wanted to say is that if Homer's the Odessey were remotely anything like this, I'd stay far far away and never look back. 

The moment I finished this book I let out a big heavy sigh and almost cried. It would be tears of happiness. Not because the book made me happy, but because I was happy I got it over and done with. It's still a wonder to me, 2 days later, how I brought myself to finish it. I was tolerating it for so long, putting it down and not wanting to pick it up. It asked so much from me and I didn't even want to spend any more time reading it. It's true that I didn't hate it, but it bored me so much that I wanted to die. And that's worse. Now I can move on with my life. Finishing it felt like an accomplishment in its own right, and that's about the only good thing that came out of reading this book. It's just not for me.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

Week2: October 7 to 13, 2012

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository)

I actually have an old paperback edition at home but this movie tie-in looks so good I couldn't resist! Haha.

This week I've finished 3 books:
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
A Thunderous Whisperby Christina Diaz Gonzalez
The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

I've posted these on the blog:

Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Cover Reveal: Reaction by Jessica Roberts

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cover Reveal: Reaction by Jessica Roberts

Title: Reaction 
Author: Jessica Roberts 
Series: Reflection #2
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Links: Goodreads | My Reflection review
Summary: Harmony… I’ve previously had that in my life, but only once, briefly, a while ago. It was during the time I’d started my first year of college. My own apartment, a new old car, and a life free of deadbeat stepfathers, all of which was fulfilling enough. But if it wasn’t, I also had a best friend, soul mate, and boyfriend all in one. Yes, life was near perfect. But one stormy night can change everything… For many months I rested in a prolonged sleep, fighting for my life. Well, more than fighting for it, also dreaming of it. Dreaming of him. Thank goodness, the dream is over and I’m back in the real world now. And all I want is for everything to return to the way it was. But nothing’s the same; most of all, us. Once again, I find myself at the crossroads of a ruthless battle, this time not for life, but love. Do I fight for the guy I twice fell for, or do I let her take him away?

About the Author
JESSICA ROBERTS grew up in the San Francisco, California Bay Area where she spent most of her time playing sports alongside her six siblings. She was crowned Miss Teen California her senior year of high school, and went on to Brigham Young University where she graduated in Human Development. Her love of family, church, writing, athletics, and singing and dancing keeps her life busy and fulfilled. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three children.

Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Title: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Ember
Format: Paperback
Pages: 260
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 6 to 7, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: “I’ve left some clues for you.If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions? Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I was perusing a particular favorite when I saw a peek of red. It was a red Moleskine...

And so begins something beautiful between Dash and Lily. I seriously can't get over how good this book is.  I didn't realize that this is a Christmas read, so yesterday when I felt like reading it, I just did. We don't celebrate Christmas here anyway, so it would be a little silly to wait two months to read this. I'm totally glad I picked it up because I didn't like the last five books I've read that much and I started feeling tired of reading after all those dull books. To put it another way, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares helped me take my mind of things and start afresh, with humor and cuteness and fun. I finished this book more than satisfied.

As I'd read one David Levithan book before, I'd expected nothing short of magnificent writing in this, and he did not let me down at all. Man, can he write! But since I'd never experienced Rachel Cohn's books before, I wasn't sure if I would like it. I wasn't sure what this would be about and what to expect from it. The blurb sounds simple enough: boy meets girl. There didn't seem to be much sophistication or complexity, so I thought this might be just another time-killer that wouldn't be worth thinking about afterwards. But I was wrong. Its simply story of ten days in New York was more fun than all my last five books combined together.

The story begins on December 21, just a few days before Christmas. Dash visits the Strand, known for its 18 miles of books, to look for J.D. Salinger's old editions. And then he sees a red Moleskine sitting on the shelf. Inside there are instructions that will set him running around in the bookstore looking for clues. The red notebook belongs to Lily, but really it's her brother's idea to get her to meet someone. And little do they both know that it will lead them to do crazy stuff like sit on Santa's lap or watch Gramma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, meet interesting people like wax celebrities, and go hunt for clues in the most unlikely places like behind mama's behinds and the wall of a restroom stall. It's an adventure that opens up doors for possibilities, and I'm not just talking about landing in jail or getting locked up in a bookstore's basement here. Oops.

Both Dash and Lily are very likeable characters. I love that Dash's chapters are written only by David Levithan, and Lily's by Rachel Cohn. The result is that they have clear voices of their own that are consistent throughout the story. I especially adore Dash; I love him instantly. Dash–a connector of words. Haha. He sounds just like the author who wrote him, and I already liked him a lot to begin with. Dash's sarcasm and humor and his vocabulary kept me entertained, and I found myself laughing out loud with more frequency than I have laughed to any particular book before. I don't know if he's genuinely funny to everyone or just me. His fondness of bookstores and Oxford English Dictionaries (20 volumes!) made me sure we could be great friends. Lily is just as adorable and funny (but in a different way). I love that Lily is very close to her extended family relatives. Like really, really close. Close enough to involve all of them in this journey of the red notebook. It's very heartwarming to read about. Lily's innocence and her alter ego known as Shrilly, as well as her emotional attachment to her dead pet gerbil (and the grudge she holds against the murderer even if they've all grown up) make her endearing to me. I wish Lily exists in real life so I can watch goalie Lily save babies like she saves goals. It will be hilarious.

I haven't felt this good in a while, and I thank Dash & Lily's Book of Dares for being more than I'd expected, and for making me laugh and smile when I really needed it. The characters are well-crafted. I love all of Dash's friends and Lily's relatives. The beautiful writing is refreshing, and the simple plot is brilliant. A super wonderful read!


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being A Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
First publication: February 1, 1999
Release Date: February 2, 2009
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 231
Format: Paperback
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from September 26 to 27, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it + Favorite
Summary: This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them. 

Honestly, I don't know how to begin to write this review, so I'm starting it with this lame sentence just so I can finally start it after thinking about it for over a week. Normally when I leave a book unreviewed this long after finishing, I won't bother anymore, because I'll have forgotten what I want to say anyway. But not this book. I guess I have a lot of things to say about The Perks of Being A Wallflower but no ways to say them. None that I find good enough anyway.

Through a series of letters addressed to an unknown recipient, 15-year-old Charlie tells his story. It involves a lot of problems, I think all of the problems, that teenagers go through. It's interesting how this book was first published in 1999, and now thirteen years later these problems are still relevant in today's society. What he goes through isn't much different from what teenagers these days encounter. Fitting in, drugs, sex, homosexuality, psychological issues, suicide, you name it. A lot of readers seem to think that the author crammed too many issues together to fit into one little book, but it didn't feel that way to me. And it's true that the problems aren't given much depth, but it didn't bother me either. It didn't feel forced or too much; it felt just right and natural to me. This may be because I felt connected to Charlie as if it was me Charlie's talking to, as if I was that recipient of those honest heart-felt letters. There's something in his voice that grabbed my full attention; a voice tinged with such sadness that it broke my heart over and over.

I found Charlie to be a great character. I knew from the beginning that he's autistic, and that only added to how much I liked him and made him awesome by default to me. (I should mention that I have a strange liking for books told by an autistic character and I don't know why exactly that is.) The honesty in his letters allowed me to be close and connected to him and let me feel what he feels. Charlie's sensitive, he sees, he listens, he understands, he pays attention to things around him and sometimes gives those things too much thoughts that he ends up hurting himself. He suffers from the past that's haunting him, partly making him the way he is. But I found beauty in his being this way. A lot of times I just wish I could tell him that it's alright and give him the tightest hugs possible just so I could absorb some of his sadness and alleviate his pain.

The secret of Charlie's past, when it emerged, came as a huge blow to me. I didn't see it coming. I even missed it the first time; it only hit me when I re-read the last few pages. It rendered me completely speechless and I could only sit there and think about it and let the pieces fall together. The clues were all there, I just didn't look deep enough to think they would mean something. I asked my friends who have read this and 80% of them missed it and were shocked to learn the truth, so I guess this is just very subtly included in the story. Miss one negligible sentence and you can miss the whole thing. I'm not going to spell it out for you  and ruin the shock. I just want to say that after I learned about this, it made everything much clearer about Charlie. I truly felt sorry for him; he's in no way deserving of what's been done to him, and the person it made him become.

Besides Charlie, I really liked almost all the other characters too. Especially Patrick, Sam, and the English teacher Bill. Patrick and Sam really shine in all their crazy moments. And I love Bill for his attentiveness. They reach out to Charlie and let him in, and be his friends. I don't think Charlie can ask for friends better than them. They're lively characters with their own voices and I love all of them.

This book made me sad. In a good way. The good kind of sadness that makes me think about things. The kind that gives me teary eyes and a ghost of a smile that would tremble as the tears roll down. It didn't make me cry all the time, but it did when I read really good parts. This is what I love about this book. If I were to describe it in one word, "poignant" would be it. That, and also "beautiful."


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (1)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

Week1: October 1 to 6, 2012

Yay! This is my first Stacking the Shelves post! Actually I've had 15 In My Mailbox posts on my blog and then got too lazy to continue for like 5 months. All the books acquired during that time are sad now because they aren't featured on the blog. Aw, it's okay, books. I'll make sure you get the spotlights weekly from now on, okay? Here we go.

This week I welcome three new members to the family shelves! 
The last of my John Green collection! I planned to have a John Green readathon sometime this month. :-) I have never read any of his books yet, and I really can't wait to read them all! 
I really like Sarah Dessen. I've read Dreamland and Just Listen and was impressed by both of them. So why not try her highest rated work? ;) Plus, I love the title! 

I marked this book as to read since October last year, and I couldn't be a worse procrastinator. I adore David Mitchell's writing in number9dream and can't wait to get started on this! And the movie's coming out at the end of the month! With Tom Hanks in it! Big deal! I love Tom Hanks so unconditionally and endlessly. 

So, this is it. My first post, yay! Thank you for stopping by and leave the links to your posts in the comments. I'll check them out. 

See you soon! 
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