Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Point | Hardcover, 297 pages
Publication Date: April 29th, 2014
Young Adult | Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I’ve had my fair share of stories that feature celebrities falling for the unsuspecting townie. Most of them have been really romantic. Catch a Falling Star, however, was as bland as they come. That’s not to say there wasn’t much to enjoy about this book. And who knows? Maybe it was meant to highlight a realistic portrayal of these type of relationships; and if that was the case, the author was relatively successful. But if you’re expecting to swoon, fall in love, and even develop a mild crush on this celeb, you’d be disappointed. I know I was.

Carter Moon is not what you would expect of a girl from Small Town, USA. While most have dreams of getting out of dodge, she’s perfectly happy helping out at her family’s restaurant. In fact, she won’t even complain if she ends up doing exactly that for the rest of her life. So when a Hollywood Invasion reaches Little, California, she was unprepared for the tremor of changes the caravan brought about.  She also did not expect to be at the spotlight when Adam Jakes’ PR team saw all the possibilities of what ‘pretend romance with a small town girl’ could do to the troubled star’s notoriety.

Carter was hesitant at first; She couldn’t find any redeeming qualities to the teen heartthrob. When circumstances backed her into a corner, she finds herself in a scripted romance with the Hollywood It boy. In a surprising twist of fate, Carter would find what she wants out of life through the manufactured relationship she has with Adam. But the question remains, does she have what it takes to pursue a dream that she once put on hold?

It really is about family and friendship. Carter’s family is dealing with the troubles that her older brother brought upon their household. The only thing that boggles the mind is for someone as principled as her mother was, I thought she’d have more of a staunch objection to Carter’s business transaction with Adam’s PR person.  Her mother is a supposed activist who’d rather be fighting for the rights of whatever cause she deems relevant. In the meantime, their home life is somewhat in disarray;  the parental units seem to have given up hope that they can somehow save their errant son from a sure path to destruction. Carter Moon, however will not have it. So yes, knowing the type of person Carter is, I was not surprise with the ease in which she made the arrangement.

As far as the romance goes, there was no chemistry to speak of between Carter and Adam. He’s all sparkle and shine but there really is not much there. Though, I feel like their relationship progressed as it should since they’re practically strangers. So the basis of being friends first worked well.

Overall, I think readers will be disappointed if it’s romance you’re after. But the book’s strong suit is the friendships and the camaraderie in a small town setting.


Continue Reading

Gasp [Visions, #3] by Lisa McMann

Simon Pulse | Hardcover, 274 pages
Publication Date: June 3rd, 2014
Young Adult | Suspense
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The last book to Lisa McMann’s Vision series finds our young heroes struggling to find the next heir to the curse. The curse that started with Jules, that she consequently passed on to Sawyer when she saved him from imminent death. While they saved a number of students from a school shooting, Jules knew that somehow, someone must have inherited the vision curse.

When they eventually find the unfortunate carrier, their efforts to stave off a fatal disaster were met with strong opposition. So much so, that they were not able to prevent the tragedy from happening. Jules was not impressed, and a little pissed at the person who didn’t try harder to save those who died. Redemption comes in the form of another tragedy, however. Jules and the gang are determined to save lives. This time, they’re even more prepared; well-researched, and very hopeful that they could at least minimize the number of deaths. But would it be enough?

At home, the Demarco family suffered a tragedy and a blessing at the same time. Without divulging too much information, they will be given a chance at new beginnings. Jules hopes that their dad doesn’t fall back to the same abyss of depression that incites a need to hoard things. Meanwhile, her relationship with Sawyer remains strong; Trey has found a boyfriend in Ben, and Rowan’s on-line relationship with Charlie seems to be unstoppable. All in all, personal and family life is infinitely getting better. Another reason why I didn’t mind this series coming to an end. I knew that these kids are going to be just fine.

Lisa is very adept in writing an eventful book packaged slightly thinner than your average novel, which, admittedly is what I like about her YA series. They tend to be fast reads; and yet the reader would be not left unsatisfied that something was missed, nor would they suffer from a case of the whiplash. In this book, not only did they have to deal with one disaster, but three. <spoiler>The Demarco’s house and restaurant burned to the ground<end of spoiler>; plus the other two disasters which I would leave for you to read. This time around, Jules and Sawyer has the help of Trey, Ben and Rowan; which makes for an almost smoother sleuthing for our heroes. All in all, everything that I’ve come to enjoy about these novels were amped up in the third book. It’s funnier, sweeter, and more suspenseful.


Continue Reading

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

May 27th, 2014
Young Adult | LGBT
5 out of 5 Stars

“Because anyone who thinks there is something wrong with being gay is like those people you read about in History who believed in segregation. But I bet you Ethan cares, because it sounds to me like he has a crush on you, too.” – Chapter 9, page 107

Imagine for a moment that you’re a fourteen-year-old boy. Your parents just told you that you will be doing summer school, not because you failed, but because your grades could be better. Your parents, who has the combined obsessive tenacity of Rain Man if Rain Man has a twin brother, insist on keeping the tradition, the culture, the civility of a good Armenian family. You have very little choice but to go.

You then find out that the school’s infamous D.O. [drop out] would also be taking the summer classes with you along with his company of rejects. But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. After all, he did save you from a beat-down. In fact, he looked a little worst-for-wear on the first day of summer school. Clearly, Ethan at least, is chivalrous and kind to defend you. Then you started hanging out with him; started cutting class, even. You discovered a world outside the rigorous, traditions instilled at your home.

It wasn’t smooth-sailing at first; for a moment, you thought he was embarrassed to be your friend. But he surprises you again! He is a full, out of the closet gay boy who hangs out with a crowd that you’ve apparently misjudged. Ethan is the coolest boy you know; he dresses nicely; he is funny. He knows the best way to enjoy New York City in under  $10. He likes Rufus Wainright, and art museums. Why would he possibly want to hang out with you?

Soon, your friendly feelings toward Ethan becomes an inexplicable, complicated thing. Is this a crush? But you’re not gay! How could you possibly  have a crush on a boy when you’re a straight boy yourself? And you’re only fourteen! And you’ve had crushes on girls; you’ve even kissed a girl before. Shouldn’t you know right away if you were gay?

Thus is the story of these two boys; one lived in a carefully protected world, ensconced by his family’s constant need to conform in the small community of Armenians in New Jersey. And the other, a free spirited boy, who’d learned the pain of a broken heart at such a young age. Their story is one of the sweetest, awkwardly romantic LGBT book I’ve read so far. Funny as it is heartfelt, and inspirational in its honesty.




Continue Reading

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Points | Hardcover, 276 pages
February 25th, 2014
Young Adult | Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The title led me to believe that HEA is not in the cards for this couple. And for a while there, it certainly looked like it was going to end that way. Spoiler alert: all the nose twitching and the misting eyes were all for naught.

Certainly, this book was adorable, and cute. But it wasn’t all smiles. It was frustrating when they didn’t read each other well, but sweet when they realize how foolish they were being.

Our couple met when they were in 7th grade. Macallan, having just recently lost her mother, was not feeling generous to the new surfer boy from California. Her tune quickly changed when she discovered they share a love for British comedy. Their friendship over the years was not smooth sailing to say the least; through break-ups with other people, and widening distance brought on by complication of their sexual orientations, the two never really lost sight of each other. Is it really possible for a boy and a girl to remain best of friends without adding love to the equation? I believe Harry and Sally have answered this question a long time ago.

If we’re to based the answer according to the majority of the romance books we’ve read that asked this question, the answer would be a resounding “no”. It is really impossible. It took Macallan and Levi years to figure out that the comfort they found in each other, and the ease of their relationship were the very foundation of a successful romance. Of course, it also didn’t take long before they messed it all up. Relationships are so complicated.

This book was so adorable, and far from fluffy by my standards. It’s not going to answer that question realistically, but anyone looking for answers in fiction is really doing the ‘reading’ thing wrong. Enjoy the book, people, and don’t look too much into it. 🙂

Continue Reading

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Walker Books | Hardcover, 342 pages
April 15th, 2014
Young  Adult | Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Smitten. Absolutely smitten. This book is everything you need to spend your day in the lazy comfort of your pyjamas with a cup of tea or coffee. It is mindless entertainment at its finest; while managing to squeeze your heart in small painful increments. To be perfectly honest, it took me a while to decide on what kind of rating I should give this book. This is one of those instances when the rating came with some heavy deliberation. While I didn’t rate it begrudgingly, the book made me question the folly of defining my reading experience by a number. Come to think of it, I’ve been doing plenty of that lately.

Open Road Summer is a story about a couple of friends smarting from their recent respective broken hearts. Reagan just got rid of the cancer that was her ex-boyfriend, while Dee got unceremoniously dumped by her childhood sweetheart. This summer, they decided that they will try to heal each other through the salve of their friendship; because boys will come and go, but their bond is stronger than most. Reagan just didn’t anticipate Matt Finch to crash their Boys Suck party.

Reagan is an admirable girl who saw the truth of how she was ruining her life by acting out. Before it was too late, she realized exactly how fruitless her actions were. The only person that she was hurting was really the only person she would protect with her own life, and that’s Dee. Because even with her run-ins with the law, or the obvious cry for help, there are a lot things her father didn’t know about her – not the way Dee knows her anyway. Reagan is far from perfect: she’s rough, unapologetic, and immature in some ways. But her staunch loyalty knows no bounds.

I love their friendship; it’s the kind that even some siblings fail to achieve. They leave the judging for other people outside of their two-person circle. I also love the contrast between characters, and how it worked so flawlessly. It was not contrived in anyway. Dee is the complete opposite of Reagan. Where Reagan is balls-out fierce, Dee is the quiet sufferer. But try to dictate her life and she’ll tell you exactly where you should go. I really felt for Dee and Jimmy. I wish there was a book about them before this. I think a prequel of how their relationship started, and its eventual end would be just the perfect preamble for this book.

Open Road Summer is perfect in the way it’s meant to be written. Readers will fall in love with this story of friendship, broken hearts, and new beginnings. I suspect Emery Lord have found a niche in the annals of contemporary romance. It’s hard to believe this  is her first novel.

Continue Reading

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Publication Date: March 4th, 2014
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux BYR | Hardcover, 355 pages
Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

“The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.”

This book is hardly worth reviewing, to be honest. After all, what else could I say that hasn’t been already said? With a barrage of 5-star ratings on Goodreads, would anything I say persuade another reader to read this book? I think not. My opinion is just going to get lost in the void of awestruck reviewers; those who fumbled awkwardly, aimlessly for the right words to say. Oh well. I’m going to try my best to articulate my reading experience, nonetheless.

I’ve never been a devoted fantasy reader; heck, I’m not even a hobbyist reader of the genre. See, I’m not very adept at reconstructing worlds beyond what my feeble imagination could muster. It tends to bring on bouts of headaches and the odd times, nose bleeds. I think this is why I ADORE this book. I mean, sure, it’s a fantasy novel, but the world building is not complicated that you won’t even miss the requisite map on the inside cover normally found in books from this genre.

I’m also wary of the detailed description the authors go through when they describe the people’s wardrobe of the era. It’s not that I’m not interested in it; I just wish there was a subtle way of doing that without having a page dedicated on the outfits alone.

I think the reason why this world is easy to follow is due to the fact that it’s based on one that we’ve read and seen in films before. That is, if you’re into Greco-Roman war, and the politics of the time, then reading this book would be flawlessly easy. The Herrans staged their bid for liberty the way the Greeks delivered the nails to the Trojans’ coffin: in a very covert fashion. They didn’t see it coming.

“As a General’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.”

I know what you’re thinking: Great. Just another girl forced to marry or suffer the consequences of her choice, whatever that may be. But you would actually be wrong. The easiest way to appease its readers is if:

a. Kestrel does choose marriage, and only if she marries the man of her choosing.


b. Kestrel chooses service in military, therefore cementing her name in the YA Hall of Fame in the Female Kick-Assery Category.

But no. This girl only ever wanted to play the piano.

Pretty lame, right?

Uhm no. Kestrel is one of those selfless characters who fights for what she wants, and by using what she’s got. She’s one who sees the lies and frauds that people try to perpetrate. She has a heart for the abused (which is how she ended up buying a slave to begin with), and one who will stand up for them even if it meant taking part in a very lopsided duel. She uses her smarts; she uses what she knows about people in order to manipulate the outcome of a dire situation. This girl kicks ass in a very subtle way.

Now, if there’s one thing that’s troubling me about this book, is the potentially messy romance that’s about to unfold in the coming books: [Spoiler alert] she got engaged to the emperor’s son (to save Arin’s people), she’s in love with Arin (the slave), and Ronan remains imprisoned (and we all know this girl cannot resist rooting for the underdog). [End of spoiler]

In a way, this book instantly reminded me of how much I love Finnikin of the Rock. While the latter ripped my heart into slivers of unrecognizable mess, The Winner’s Curse spells a probable doom that I will suffer the same fate. I’m not one to look forward to an impending torture, but I can say with all honesty that I will gladly lay down my defences, and declare, I volunteer!

Continue Reading

The Originals by Cat Patrick

The Originals by Cat Patrick
Little, Brown | Hardcover, 304 pages
May 7th, 2013
Young Adult
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Very cool concept. I’d have liked it more if the author gave it a little hint of suspense. I read it in four hours, tops – which goes to show that it had me by the nose, regardless.

Quick Story:

Clones, Lizzie, Betsey, and Ella Best have lived a third of their lives since they’ve learned they weren’t triplets. They were a product of the only successful cloning hidden from the world. Every day, they take turns living the life of one Elizabeth Violet Best; which was working for the most part, until Lizzie meets Sean Kelly.

Lizzie felt cheated of a life to call her own. When the complication of living one person’s life in three bodies arises, the sisters start breaking the rules set by their mother. Rules that were created to protect them became their shackles. They start doubting the real reason why they couldn’t come out as triplets as they did when they were kids. Little by little, the seeds of doubt sprouted budding leaves of lies that will ultimately reveal who they are and the truth about their own mother.

My Thoughts:

I’ve always had this preconceived notion that clones are like robots; automatons who can’t think for themselves but for what they were initially programmed for. In this respect, the sisters can be likened to those machineries. They did what they were told without questions. It all changed when the heart (and hormones, for that matter) became part of the equation.

I have to admit that I was plagued with questions in the beginning. It started to irritate me that they would live this way when they could easily pass themselves off as triplets. But as I delved deeper into the story, I grew to understand why: they were essentially on the run because they were technically stolen genes. So my first thought was that they will be chased; that there’ll be some bad people who would try to find them, take them for the purpose of experiments. Unfortunately, there were no suspense here. No chases, no men in black. There was a woman, and that was it. Even that turned out to be nothing.

The mother gave me the impression of having some hidden agenda from the get go; that her purpose for totalitarianism-like upbringing holds a different meaning other than for the girls’ protection. In the end, I wasn’t placated – much like Lizzie had some lingering doubts to the bitter end.

I really think this book could’ve used a bit more thrills. I was hooked to the story but it was lacking, somehow. The revelations were anti-climactic, and to be honest, I couldn’t even gather enough “care” in the world to be disappointed.

My opinion? Read it; not for the story itself but for your chance to meet Sean Kelly: the Clark Kent in disguise if Clark Kent fronts an indie band. So dreamy.

Continue Reading

Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison

Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
Edgmont USA | Hardcover, 336 pages
February 12, 2013
Young Adult | Mystery | Suspense
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I struggled with this book; it turns out, I don’t have the capacity to be patient when the book I’m reading contains a much more evolved mystery. And boy, did this book ever tried my patience.

Quick Story:

Notes from Ghost Town is a story about a girl whose realization that she was in love with her best friend came a little too late. Because a week after they kissed, he was murdered. As if that’s not enough to push her into a tailspin of emotional and mental chaos, the accused murderer (and admitted guilty party) was her mother.

Olivia Tithe is a talented painter; but when a sudden onslaught of colour blindness took away her ability to paint, she lost interest in everything else: food tasted bland and everything turned grey. A week or so before her mother’s sentencing, she starts seeing the ghost of Lucas Stern, her best friend. Proof that she’s well on her way to insanity. She’s always known it’s in her blood; after all, her mother is suffering from Schizophrenia herself, and why she admitted to being guilty of killing Stern. But Olivia knows her mother is innocent. She could never kill a boy whom she’d loved as though he were her own son. She has nine days to prove her innocence, but with everyone dissuading her from delving further, it will be difficult to find a someone who would sympathize. Time is running out for her mother, and for Lucas, who is slowly sinking into a realm where the restless dead exist without peace.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t think it would be possible to grow bored with a mystery novel. It’s supposed to keep you flipping the pages until you unravel all its intricacies. At first, I was genuinely vested in the story. But as time goes by, my interest started waning.

I know a good mystery novel does not reveal its secrets until you get closer to the bitter end. Notes from Ghost Town certainly accomplished that. But for an impatient reader like me, it became a painful practice in the art of waiting – waiting for the story to unravel; waiting for the characters to reveal their true selves.

Herein lies the frustration I have with this novel; which, to be honest is probably the same reason it works for fans of this genre. It was stingy with clues; it gave no hints, and gave away no suspects. Oh don’t get me wrong, the author threw me a bone; but if clues were bones, she gave me a stirrup (smallest bone in the human body). As such, it wasn’t substantial enough for me to bite. It took away the enjoyment of solving the mystery in the midst of reading, and as a result, I grew bored.

Olivia, while she was a fantastic actualization of a girl on the cusp of possibly losing her mind, was a little hard to reach. She didn’t appeal to my sense of empathy, to be honest. She was a mixture of a lot of things but nothing definite.

The grey space that Olivia found herself was something I didn’t enjoy reading. I don’t know how a kiss could bring on such a dramatic change to her world. Was the kiss that good that it spurred on such a drastic/traumatic reaction? Not to mention it’s the equivalent to an injury suffered by a blunt force trauma to the head? Perhaps it’s to add on to the sense that she’s completely losing her mind? However, it felt unnecessary to me. As if seeing Stern’s ghost is not enough to warrant a trip to her therapist’s couch.

The novel itself seems a little disorganized, and lacking – from its characters to the small arches that encompasses the entirety of the story as a whole – I felt dissatisfied over all.

If you’re a true lover of mystery novels in a Young Adult milieu, this book is probably more your forte. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a mystery novel from time to time, but it has to sustain my interest throughout.

Continue Reading

Cress [The Lunar Chronicles, #3] by Marissa Meyer

Cress [The Lunar Chronicles, #3] by Marissa Meyer
Feiwell & Friends | Hardcover, 550 pages
February 4th, 2014
Young Adult
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.
In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Once again, Marissa Meyer continues to awe. Cress was the perfect blend of action, romance and a futuristic fairy tale only Meyer could pull off – and in a near flawless fashion at that!

Quick Story:

Cinder, Capt. Thorne, Wolf and Scarlet continue to evade Emperor Kai’s army and Queen Levana’s clutches. With the help of Cress, an exile that has spent her last seven years living in solitary confinement, they’re virtually hidden in plain sight. But when an attempt to rescue Cress goes awry, the group suffers an unfortunate setback.

As the impending wedding of Emperor Kai and Queen Levana looms in the horizon, Cinder had no choice but to seek out the man responsible for her escape in prison. Meanwhile, she will have to use her Lunar powers if they have any hopes of defeating the evil Queen.

My  Thoughts:

Nothing short of brilliant! If you haven’t been on the Lunar train, then you’re missing a fantastic ride. Meyer delivers another perfect installment to what’s quickly becoming a perrenial favorite. Though the wait for each release is painstakingly tortorous, the reward is an absolute bliss. The hazard of loving these books as much as I have been is that I am running the risk of repeating myself. There really is no helping it, though.

In here, we find a new character in Cress, a lonely soul trapped in a satellite whose main purpose of existence is to spy on the Commonwealth. Her fascination with the Earthens, however, had led her to protect Cinder and her crew. It doesn’t help that she’s got some mad love for a dashing Captain in the person of Thorne. Their story did not go too far, so I’m looking forward to the next succeeding books.

This book made  me want to relive Scarlet and Wolf’s story. They had very limited interactions here made even less by the events that happened after Cress’ failed rescue. Wolf’s anguish was very palpable and that’s all I’m going to say about that. You’ll have to read the book to know why.

I have a feeling that I’m probably going to like any pairings that Meyer will offer up, and that’s already obvious in the next book, Winter. I already like the crazy princess and I can’t wait to read more about Jacin Clay.

I’ve become more aware of the magnitude of Levana’s (and the Lunars’ for that matter) powers in this book. The Earthens are simply no match for their mind manipulation. How in the world could Cinder lead a revolt against her will be an insurmountable mountain to climb. One that I look forward to reading in the future, I might add.

Emperor Kai and Cinder finally reunited! Even more awesome? It involved a tranquilizer. Oh how sweet it is!

If the 5-star rating isn’t enough to persuade you, then I don’t know what else I can say. Fantasic, brilliant, wonderful – words that all seem redundant considering I gave it a 5.

Continue Reading

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
Harper Teen | Hardcover, 400 pages
Publication Date: January 28th, 2014
Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Series ender, Into the Still Blue was pretty much everything I’d hope for. The other books in the series set the precedents to this last book. I’m really happy that Ms. Rossi remained consistent throughout the series. Her characters stayed true to themselves, which is something that some authors had problems with *coughsShatterMecoughs*.

Quick Story:

What remained of the Outsiders and Dwellers will have to work together if they have any chance of reaching Still Blue. Hess and Sable’s combined armies has the transports, the map and most important of all, they have Cinder – the only person able to control the wall of Aether that divides the dead world and Nirvana; also known as, Still Blue.

My Thoughts:

There are only a few series that I can truly say I had a hard time saying goodbye. Under the Never Sky is one of them. Through the Ever Night destroyed me. It was heartbreaking and made the wait for the third book even more painful. Here, we see how much of Roar’s pain had changed him. It was hard to watch him be angry all the time, even more so when his anger is directed to Perry. His thirst for revenge made him act stupid, to the point that he almost got Perry killed. I wish he’d gotten a happy ending. I wish what happened to Liv was all but a nightmare. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

The pulse-pounding action is one of the best thing about this series, and I’m glad that didn’t change as well.  This book showed a more mature relationship between Perry and Aria and is also one of the reasons why I hated saying goodbye. I liked that Perry doesn’t have any problems putting their romance on hold because of his responsibilities to the tribe but that doesn’t mean they’d lost that fire. They have an innate connection that borders on ethereal and infinite so when they do get together it got pretty explosive.

I really wish there could’ve been more in terms of epilogue. It simply wasn’t enough, so much so that I thought the ending was a bit anti-climactic. I’ve gotten so immerse in the arid, barren land that I’d hoped we’d gotten more insight to what it’s like to live in their version of paradise.

All in all, Under the Never Sky trilogy is one that I highly recommend. You’ll never be bored reading these books and I guarantee that you would not be able to put it down.

Continue Reading
1 2 3 7