Why I Fancy Books


When did my love affair with books start? Growing up in a country where the libraries only stock reference books and the like on the shelves, reading fiction was a luxury a lot of us couldn’t afford. I remember actually be-friending my friends’ older sisters just so I could borrow their books. It came to a point where I was practically visiting them everyday on the pretense that I was there for my friend but in reality, I was actually there to borrow more books.

My country would have power outages, frequently at that. But imagine a young girl reading in her bedroom with the flickering candle light. It doesn’t matter how little sleep I got…I just have to finish that book because my friend’s sister would only allow me to borrow one book and for only one day.

When my family moved to Canada, my love for reading intensified. Life became ultimately better especially when I found out that books can be bought at a thrift store – where they were priced for as little as twenty five cents. I thought I died and gone to heaven.

But being in a new country where everything was so fresh and different, it’s sad to say that my love of reading eventually petered out – for years, I neglected reading. I got married, had kids…pretended to be an adult. It’s only been the last four years that I’ve found my passion for books again.

Honestly? I owe it all to Stephenie Meyer. It’s those damn Twilight books of hers! Edward Cullen owned my soul for about two years until Jace Wayland ripped it from him. Sad to say, it didn’t take long before Jace took a backseat. The boys from the various books I’ve read stole my heart, piece by piece until Jonah Griggs decided enough is enough. My heart only belongs to him now.

I’m a bit of a neurotic when it comes to books. I seem to be in constant panic-buying mode. I just had to have them, no matter how bad the book is *coughsHadescoughs*. Anyway, reading books has a way of taking me to places that I could only dream of…meeting characters that are larger than life itself. It’s a means of an escape without having to leave my bedroom. And you know what else? I’m learning about LIFE as I go along. I mean, who knew that some vampires can’t be killed by a stake to the heart nowadays? Or that werewolves can change even without the full moon? Lol. I read somewhere that books are the cheapest way to go on a vacation. Judging by my choices in reading materials, I’ve visited a lot of desolate places where people are being eaten by zombies! 🙂

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Publication Date:  September 5, 2011
Poppy
Format: Hardcover, 273 pages

Goodreads Summary

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it’s a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy’s car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend’s attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players’ girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won’t get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don’t count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

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MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS

I definitely had different reactions on certain parts of this book. The early pages made me cringe. I even debated whether or not I should flounce on the book. I’m not really that interested in having a peek at these kids’ mundane high school life (I’m an old woman, bear with me). Maybe I’m just bitter or jealous – for not having the full experience. But in any case, I really didn’t want to read about a bunch of girls having Kumbaya sessions at sleepovers.

I can pin point the exact moment Shut Out grabbed my attention. It was the part where Lissa caught Randy having a tongue-fence duel with a sophomore. Oh happy me. Randy was not really that bad of a character; he loved spending time with her family and he seemed to genuinely care about her. He just has his moments of idiocy, like all men do. But dude, the aforementioned scene won him the douche award. Just read the book to find out what else he did.

Cash Stirling wins the most perfect book boyfriend award. {Gratuitous sigh}
He’s handsome, athletic, all-around nice guy, though a bit oblivious. Oh well, you can’t have them all.

Lissa is a bit of a neurotic spazz – a trait that I found endearing.
Anyway, this book oozes sex – not in a very descriptive way wherein the kids are getting it on left and right, but how both genders use it as a weapon. It also touches on the age-old debate about the double standards in our society, where a girl who sleeps around gets called a ‘slut’, and a boy who does the same thing is fondly called, a ‘player’. But let me tell you, these darn kids in the book are having lots of them – sex, that is.

I absolutely loved Keplinger’s DUFF. She has this ability to make her characters so unbelievably real and is not afraid to tell you how it is. Some may cringe at the amount of sex the kids in her books are having but I thought that it was a real enough representation of what’s going on these days. I’ve read a lot of realistic YA fiction and I’ve got to say, no one has come close to even a speck of reality that Keplinger delivered. I’m slowly becoming a fan of this pull-no-punches author and I look forward to reading more of her future work.

Review: Crave by Melissa Darnell

Publication Date: October 15, 2011
Harlequin Teen
Paperback, 416 pages
Goodreads Summary

Savannah Colbert has been shunned all her life by the kids of the Clann. And when she undergoes some drastic changes after a strange illness, Savannah learns secrets about the group and about herself—dangerous secrets. For the Clann are powerful magic users, and Savannah herself is half Clann and half vampire—a forbidden, unheard of combination. Falling for Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman isn’t just a bad idea—it could be deadly if anyone finds out. But her attraction to Tristan—and his to her—isn’t something either of them can resist for long.

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MY TAKE: 2/5 STARS

This book is a single serving of everything on the YA menu. You’ve got witches, vampires, and star crossed loves, combined with the clichéd cliques of high school. It’s a buffet…with a side order of cheese – a lot of cheese.

I liked the better part of the beginning of the book – and when I say the better part, we’re talking the first three pages or so. I thought the first page that gave me a glimpse of Savannah’s and Tristan’s natural reactions toward each other were a good preamble to this story. And when I turned the page to the Prologue, I was already salivating for more.

Sadly, this book started out pretty strong but let up with its intensity in the middle. You’d think that the story would take off even more after Savannah found out she was a half-vampire, half-witch. But it didn’t. It got even slower, if that was even possible. There were so many parts of this story that probably should’ve been left out of the finished product, perhaps those parts where Savannah kept agonizing about the Brat Twins or when she decided to be the manager of the Charmers(resisting the eye roll here) or when Tristan became a quasi-manager himself (say, what?!). Tristan was supposed to be a studly football player but opted to follow around a dance team as an escort/manager. I’m sorry, but now you just sound like a wimp to me. I probably skimmed through most of the parts where they were either preparing for a game or at a game. They were pointless.

*head desk*

There are a lot of things that bothered me with this book. Bullying is very rampant. The character doesn’t do anything about the ‘accidental’ pushing, shoving, and verbal abuse she got from the members of the Clann. I just can’t like a book that justified these acts okay. And the character did just that, by thinking that if she ignored them, they’d go away. I’m sorry…just no.

Crave is very unoriginal from this genre’s standpoint. But that’s really okay – only if it was executed very well. As it was, I thought that when Savannah was finally told she was a half-vampire, half-witch, her reaction was a little blah. She accepted her parents’ decisions quite easily with very little questions.

When she finally went through the change, I waited for the bloodlust and got none. What kind of vampire (half or not) does not thirst for blood? Instead, you’ll read about Savannah prancing around school being chased by hormonal boys who suddenly noticed she grew a full cup size over a week’s time. I understand she’s part witch too, but come on! There’s got to be a part of her that yearns for blood, no? The whole Tristan-Savannah romance thing was painful to watch. It was a cheese-fest of epic proportions.

Over all, Crave is a cookie-cutter YA paranormal read. No plot twists await for you here.

On another note, I think I’m a minority on this one, so please – my opinion about this book is just that…MY OPINION.

Arc provided by Net Galley and Harlequin for an honest review.

Review: As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

 
Publication Date:  September 15, 2011
Dutton Juvenile
Format:  Hardback, 224 pages
 
 
Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There’s only one problem: Ava can’t remember any of them – and can’t shake the eerie feeling that she’s not who they say she is.

Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn’t know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

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MY TAKE 2/5 STARS
 
Let me see if I can give you a breakdown of what this book is about.

…hold on…

…still thinking…

…Nope. Sorry. I got nothing.

Even if I try to put into words how I perceived this book, I think I’ll just confuse you even more.
I’d like to give this book five stars for originality; because no one, I MEAN no one, can probably duplicate the story line that Elizabeth Scott created. We’re talking alternate universe where one or more of the same person can exist but not in the same space. Where the government was free to vanish criminals – innocent or guilty – into a dystopian world where food was scarce that you would need stamps or tickets to avail of your basic needs; where no one is trusted and you are being watched, listened, and stalked, day in and day out. But there was also a parallel universe where life was normal, where kids go to school and they worry about cliques or if their crushes will finally talk to them.

I think the premise is simple enough to follow. But when the characters’ worlds collide, that’s when I ran into a mountain of problems.

The story focuses on Ava, a girl who woke up not knowing who she was. Little by little, tidbits of her memory unearth a million of questions that I still felt were unanswered. I’d like to give props to Ms. Scott for successfully inciting this reader’s empathy with Ava’s character. I was as confused as Ava was…and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

For a book of 224 pages, I thought that there were too many things going on that it could’ve probably used a hundred more. Everything was vague and muddled. I’d like to have a one-on-one talk with Ms. Scott just so she could explain this book to me.

I have so many questions.

What happened to the world that the government suspected everyone?

How did Ava know what the chemical composition is of an explosive?

How did those kids end up in a dark place where they are trained to be some sort of government spies?

Plot-wise, I felt like Elizabeth Scott threw me in a vast ocean without a life jacket; not necessarily to drown but to find my way to the shore. You have to find your way to the end of the story – a story which I found difficult to follow. Some of the dialogues were stilted, which at some point annoyed me. Even so, I thought that the dark undertones made the writing strange and beautiful.

I have read reviews of this book, and I am probably missing the whole point. If you like solving puzzles or being thrown in a world full of mysteries, then this book is for you.

In the end, I was just happy to finish this book. Reading this was not a pleasant experience.

Confessions of an Addict (6): In Which I Decided to Fly Solo.

My Sunday is a lazy day. I usually spend it in my bedroom – donning my pyjamas, and only leaving the premises to find something to eat. Even then, the hubby is like a butler who comes in from time to time bearing gifts of junk food and caramel iced coffee. I read, eat, tweet, watch football – all in the comfort of my perpetually unmade bed.

Yesterday, Rachel Caine tweeted about Smart Chicks Kick It Tour schedule and I realized that the only one possibility that I could attend these kind of book signings is if I will be willing to spend the money to actually fly over wherever it’s being held. I live in the middle-of-nowhere, Canada, so our bookstores rarely  host events like these.

My dear Mr. B booked me a day trip to Vancouver for their stop on October 1st! I’m so freaking excited I barely slept last night! I’m scared too because I’ve never flown without my husband anywhere.

I can’t wait to meet the authors in attendance! Oooooo and the autographs! swags! Hmmm…I wonder if Beth Revis will have some ARCs of A Million Suns…Lol. I’m just hoping I don’t get lost. Vancouver is such a hugely populous city compared to ours.

‘Don’t worry about it, honey,’ said my husband. ‘Airport, bookstore then back to the airport for you. There’s no chance you’ll get lost.’

Hah! Doesn’t he know me at all? I get lost as soon as I walk out of my front door.

…Oh! and stay tuned. There might be a SIGNED BOOK giveaway in the horizon!

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 420 pages
Little, Brown & Company

Goodreads Summary

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. 

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


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MY TAKE: 5/5 STARS

As I sit here and ponder on the magnificence of what I’d just read, I can truly, honestly say that I will probably fail to write a review that will give this novel its due justice.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone lived up to the hype – and more. It delivered in spades and didn’t – not once – disappoint. Even the ending, which would have normally driven me to rant for days, couldn’t damper my irrevocable love for this exquisite masterpiece. Laini Taylor created a complex world with equally complex characters. The history, the legends of angels were molded and twisted into something unbelievably multifaceted and unique.

I often found myself stopping just to savor the words. The prose was as beautiful as the heartbreaking story of reincarnated love itself. 


I fell in love with Karou’s blue hair, her grotesque but beautiful art and her wry humour. The anonymity of her past added to the sublime beauty of her character. Her’s and Akiva’s love story were one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful story I’ve read in a while. I have the deepest hope that the second book to this series will bring some happiness to these two. But since there will be three books, I am not holding my breath.

We’ve been bombarded with a lot of angel books lately or an impossible romance between two mortal enemies. But trust me when I say, Laini Taylor wrote this book with the absence of clichéd plot lines in mind. This book is highly imaginative, dark, deceptively funny and deliciously sensual.

The only problem I have with this book is that I’d have to wait for a long time for the second book and with how this book ended, the wait will be extra, extra painful. 

IMM #7

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren, which features books that I procured this week…mostly purchased since, well, I haven’t got the courage to beg from the publishers lol. Okay, okay, I bring you this week’s episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition. 

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Sacrifice by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
Enthralled by Melissa Marr & Kelly Armstrong et al. 
Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett
Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
The Girl of Fire & Thorns by Rae Carson

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly
The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry
Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
Whispered Lies by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Hotblood (A House of Slide Novel) by Juliann Whicker
Under the Stars by Rebecca A. Rogers
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
The Erotic Treasury (????) by Susie Bright

As well, this week, I’ve gotten another copies of A Long, Long Sleep and Remembrance which brings my total copies to 3 and 2 respectively. Watch out for some giveaways because I noticed that I’ve got some duplicate copies of other titles as well through no gaffe of my own doing this time.

What’s in your mailbox?

Review: This is Shyness by Leanne Hall

Publication Date: August 2nd, 2010
Text Publication
Format: Paperback, 272 pages

Goodreads Summary

A guy who howls. A girl on a mission to forget. 

In the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and the border crackles with a strange energy, Wolfboy meets a stranger at the Diabetic Hotel. She tells him her name is Wildgirl, and she dares him to be her guide through the endless night. 

But then they are mugged by the sugar-crazed Kidds. And what plays out is moving, reckless…dangerous. There are things that can only be said in the dark. And one long night is time enough to change your life.

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MY TAKE: 4/5 Stars

I’ve been sitting here staring at my blinking cursor. You know it’s bad when you’re suffering from a mild case of ‘reviewer’s block’ (get it? heh). Maybe I shouldn’t blame myself per se, perhaps I should hold this book responsible for rendering me speechless, grasping for words to describe the mentally stimulating experience I just had.

The entire book happened in one night…or one day, depending on how you look at it. Shyness is a city in perpetual darkness and in most instances, lawless and timeless. It’s quite difficult to explain all the things that make this book unique. I can’t decide which I love more, the world of Shyness in itself or the characters. At first glance, this book can be classified as dystopian; set in the future where a city lay in all its derelict goodness. Normally, I’m big on asking the whys, when and what of a certain outcome in a book but I found myself accepting all the reasons why it was always nighttime in Shyness.

There were theories thrown in the book – most of them out of this world. And this was what made Shyness unique. From its peculiar and unforgettable characters, to a world lacking in daylight and adult supervision, Shyness had the ability to silence all the questions I’d normally ask.

Questions like:

Why the heck is the city over run by sugar-crazed kids and monkeys?

What the heck is Wolfboy? (A much hotter image of a changed Teen Wolf came to mind.)

How is it possible that the gargantuan sun chose not to rise in Shyness and yet a stone’s throw away, along the border, it chose to perch on the horizon like an egotistical fireball taunting the citizens of Shyness?

The characters of Wildgirl and Wolfboy were equally charming. They had me laughing and wishing for those nights when nothing else matters but to live for the moment. On the surface, these two were just two kids who have that instant attraction – out to see where the night was going to take them. But each one had agendas why they stayed together. These two played with me and teased me until they almost drove me insane. It took them forever to kiss even though they were fighting the urge to do so the entire night. And when the sublime moment finally happened, it left me wanting to write a note to the author demanding for a sequel. Honestly, it wasn’t enough. Well, this book isn’t enough. There has to be more.

First of all, I felt that Wildgirl was still a closed book. She never did tell Wolfboy the real reason why she wanted to forget or to run away. I learned more about Wolfboy than I did Wildgirl. Perhaps the author intended it – to make Wildgirl’s character hard to read.

Second of all, I wanted to know who Diana’s real father was. Although it was hinted that she had the most incredible blue eyes like Gram’s, perhaps, it didn’t make it conclusive that Diana was indeed, Wolfboy’s niece.

I thought the ending was rushed that didn’t give me reconciliation. I was sighing and smiling for the most part of the book, but the ending left me scowling and a bit dissatisfied.

In spite of that, I still think this was an amazing head-trip; totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It’s a well-written book that will make you fall in love with the world and its characters. Definitely, recommendable!


Waiting on Wednesday #5

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine which showcases books that I’m just dying to read!
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Expected publication: October 18th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena’s Claiming. Even Lena’s family of powerful Supernaturals is affected – and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What – or who – will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He’s being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn’t by Lena – and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself – forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn’t know why, and most days he’s too afraid to ask.
Sometimes there isn’t just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there’s no going back. And this time there won’t be a happy ending.

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*chews nails* Oh man. The synopsis sounds so ominous, isn’t it? I’m simultaneously scared and excited to read this third instalment to the Caster Chronicles series. I just want my boy Ethan to have a moment of peace. But I guess, if you live in mystical Gatlin, it’s just too much to ask.