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!

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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.

Bought:
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

ARCs:

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.


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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.

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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:


Non-fictions:



ARCs:


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.

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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?
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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!

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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."

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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! 
Best

Review: And All The Stars by Andrea K. Höst

Title: And All The Stars
Author: Andrea K. Höst
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Andrea K. Höst
Pages: 279
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Read from October 1 to 2, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it
Summary: Come for the apocalypse. Stay for cupcakes. Die for love. Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings. None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind. Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.


Everyone here wants to do something in the abstract, but to get anywhere, to find a way to fight them, we're going to have to gamble everything.

A pretty refreshing read! And All the Stars, thankfully, isn't one of those YA dystopian books that are pervading the market. It's not post-apocalyptic; it's takes place during an apocalypse! Yay!

Interesting as it is, I'm not sure if I understood everything this book threw at me, because honestly, I skipped a dozen of pages. I must say that the writing is very good. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the words made up the story. The story itself started out nicely, and I was like wow wow wow wow. But after a while the excitement died down and I was bored. Again. I should mention that I'm bored by a lot of books recently. I don't know anymore if my boredom results directly from the books being boring or from my newly-developed inability to enjoy anything. If I'm being completely honest with myself, I'd say the latter. But seriously, it's got to be because of the books too, right? Maybe it's just that I have been reading boring books, so I don't enjoy it, so I'm bored.

Anyway. Good writing, nice ideas. Is it alien invasion? Not sure, but it's the most likely. I like the skin color change idea. Midnight blue with stars? I'd love that. However, the book felt too long to me. Like way too long for its own good. There are parts where nothing really happens at all and everyone's just sitting there and watching their skins go blue or green, or walking out of the hiding place and walking back and whatever. It felt boring at times because of the tedious long-winded narration of nothings after nothings. And when something really does happen, it's awesome. Like fighting aliens and science talk and something like that. The drawback is that there are too few of these. I wish the book were more action-packed.

The romance in the book is quite unexpected, but it's pretty nice. I loved that Fisher isn't the real Fisher since we get to know him. And I understood what Madeleine feels like when she knows it's not him, when she becomes unsure who she's really in love with. I like the way the characters are all mature, even the younger ones are mature. Each of the characters is outstanding in their own ways and I like that. There's a character named Noi. I almost flipped when I saw the name 'cause I just knew that she must be Thai. I mean, no one writes about Thai people, only Thai food. So it's a little surprising to find her among the heroe, the Blue Musketeers. And I loved the alien-turned-hero Theoden, or whatever he is.
Fight. Always fight. No matter how impossible the odds, no matter who you've lost, how you've been hurt. If there doesn't seem to be a way out, look for one. If you seem to have come to an end, start afresh. Never, ever give up. 
In the end, I have to admit and remind you that I didn't understand everything. There might be some things I missed that could have changed the way I felt about this book. But the point is that this is the way I feel now. And while I don't love it like the others seem to (out of 17 ratings so far: 13 five-stars and 4 four-stars), I did enjoy it to certain levels and found this to be a very refreshing read. A good choice if you want to escape mainstream fictions!


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This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the author for review. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

Title: Crewel 
Author: Gennifer Albin 
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Release Date: October 4, 2012
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 2 to 5, 2012
My rating:  3 stars: I like it
SummaryIncapable. Awkward. Artless. That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail. Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested. Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape. Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.


No one knows why some girls have the gift. There are theories, of course. That it's passed down genetically. Or that girls with an open mind can see the weave of life around them at all times. Even that it's a gift only given to the pure-hearted. But I know better. It's a curse. 


When I finished Crewel last night, I was caught in such a whirlwind of excitement that I spent the next two hours thinking about it. It was a fun read!

Crewel is about 16-year-old Adelic Lewys--extraodinary teenager trying to do everything she can to appear  the opposite. The story is set in the world of Arras, which is a new world on top of Earth after its end. In Arras, girls who have the ability to weave invisible threads of time and matter are retrieved as Spinsters. Adelice is qualified as one. When she's taken in, Adelice learns more about what the threads can do (create lakes and mountains and people, for example), and what Spinsters can do to them (rip the threads to kill people and destroy buildings, etc.). What Adelice doesn't discover until later is that her exceptional ability to see the invisible threads with her bare eyes also sets her apart as a Creweler. 

I don't think there's much to say about Crewel considering that I had a lot of problems with the world-building of Arras. I mean, I liked the idea of another world built on top of war-torn Earth, but honestly, I don't think it was built strongly enough. I could see holes in it everywhere and my questions multiplied as I went on reading. And I couldn't wrap my brain around the government and social ranks in Arras to understand it. Most of the time, really, I just didn't know who's bigger than who and who does what. This is to say that the world-building is not flawless, and I'm not sure if it was believable enough for me either. 

As for the story, I have mixed feelings. While it was exciting in some places, it bored me in others. I liked the mystery the author creates when "Creweler" is first mentioned. The pacing was okay. But the glamorous parts about glamorous clothes and glamorous cosmetics of the glamorous Spinsters couldn't bore me more. The romance was good . The girl-hate annoyed me sometimes. It was just silly. The characters are okay. I didn't like any of them especially. I felt like the book started out good, and then everything went statically okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, and then things picked up really fast and suddenly in the last pages. That's why I said I was still excited when I finished it. That's the only parts in the whole book that could excite me. 

All in all, Crewel is a fun read. Despite the problems I had with it, I found the writing very good. The ending left me wanting to know more. Perhaps I will like the story more if the next book answers my questions. Looking forward to it!


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

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Ever by Jessa Russo

Title: Ever 
Series: Ever, #1
Author: Jessa Russo 
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Pages: 295
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from September 28 to October 1, 2012
My rating: 1 star: I don't like it
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious. Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible. Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.
Some girls lose their hearts to love.
Some girls lose their minds.
Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

Seven-hundred and thirty days since the only guy I've ever loved died in my arms, followed me home from the hospital, and never left my house again.

Prior to the beginning of the book, Ever and her best friend and crush Frankie has got into a car accident that ended up killing Frankie but not her. Ever came home that night with Frankie's ghost, and his ghost has been around in her house ever since. Frankie's ghost is not only visible to Ever, but also to her father, mother, and best friend Jessie--they all can interact with him. Ever is still pretty much in love with Frankie until a new family moves into Frankie's old house. When she meets Toby, things start to change. 


Now, the book blurb sounds really appealing, don't you think? I read the blurb and was interested, because it sounds dark and dramatic. But the book itself doesn't quite measure up. It's not that I'm disappointed, because disappointment would suggest that I have an expectation that isn't met. I didn't have any expectation. I finished this book annoyed and irritated. I didn't like this at all and couldn't see anything good in it, to say the least. 

I hated that the pages are filled with nothing going on. Dates, make-out sessions, lying, blushing, sneaking, etc. All these don't quite contribute to anything! Not even the plot! I didn't even like any of the characters. Ever seems to me a very annoying person. The fact that her father's death doesn't bother her enough to talk about it or be sad about it bothers me to no end. After his death, she cries a bit and goes right back to being obsessed with boys. Are you kidding me? The best friend Jessie is a flat character whose only function is as Ever's personal cheerleader. And Toby, oh Toby, can you be any more cheesy? Sent on a job and falls in love with that job. Jeez. 

In the end, I don't even know what this book is really about. Ghosts? No, not really, since the only ghost we see in the story is Frankie, and not that much attention is paid to him. Which leads to another disturbing question: why is he there at all? I mean, what's the significance? What's the point? You know, the whole ghost thing never fits seamlessly into the story. It always made me feel like it's out-of-nowhere and awkward. The whole book reads like a contemporary book, but then the ghost shows up and goes all "What's wrong, Doll?" or "dollface" or whatever, and then it's just weird. The ghost thing is displaced and everything else is very poorly done. 

The most frustrating part of this book is when, near the end, something else ENTIRELY is introduced into the story that changed the book's direction. There has been no foreshadowing or anything, so this thing coming into play is just very forced and contrived. Like the idea just occurred to the author and she thought it would be fun to put it in the book, and then she did, and never went back to edit the whole book to make room or drop hints for this thing. You know what I mean? It's just bad. So throughout the course of  book, the story kept changing genre directions, and it's more than annoying. Contemporary? Paranormal? Fantasy? WHAT? And then before I could answer, it abruptly ended, which totally caught me off guard. Excuse me? Is this supposed to make me feel like I'm hanging off a cliff and dying to read the next book or something? If so, I'm sorry to say that it unfortunately backfires. 

Although this book sounded like something I might enjoy, it was the opposite. There's nothing about it that I enjoyed. The writing is mediocre; the plot is... wait, what is the plot?; the characters are weak and flat. I'm not glad I read it. If anything, I'm glad I got it over with and wish to have nothing to do with it ever ever ever again. Take that, Ever.


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