Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo {4.0}

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #2
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 26th, 2016
Pages: Paperback, 536
My Rating: 4 Stars

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

I don’t even know how to start this review properly because I have such conflicting feelings for this. I usually rate books based on my enjoyment and how it manages to catch my attention. And while I didn’t fully enjoy this one because it just didn’t have that gripping factor that the first book had, I had to give this one points for how many times the plot took me by surprise and caught me off guard.

Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows, a book that completely took me by surprise. I was really excited to read this book, but I have to say that I was kind of disappointed in this one. While a lot more things happen in this book than it did in the last book, this book just didn’t have the excitement of the first book where my heart was pounding and I couldn’t put down the book no matter how hard I tried. With this book, a lot of things happened, and as usual Kaz was clever and surprised me with his schemes, but I just wasn’t as mind blown as I was with the first book.

The plot was definitely well thought out though, so I couldn’t give this book lower than 4 stars. The plot is so intricately woven, and everything has to be planned out and clear right from the start to pull it off. I know that’s a feat that can’t be pulled off by many. There were so many hidden agendas, but they all add up in the end. They just make sense, you know? However, because of the number of times it has happened already, sometimes it felt like too many. I know that I would be surprised by Kaz’ schemes, and while I did not expect what Kaz would do, I expected to be surprised. As a result, I was not that surprised anymore.

Nevertheless, the conclusion of this book is beautiful. Things were still not perfect for the characters, but they were good enough. I love how everyone just knew what they were supposed to do after everything, but at the same time let the tides take them where they may. I don’t know, I just think it was beautiful. But let’s not forget for a minute what happened towards the end, when it made me think that this book is so, so cruel. Ugh, I don’t know why that had to happen? I hope you all know what I’m talking about because I don’t want to put any spoilers.

Overall, I was kind of disappointed by this book, but not by much. I really loved how intricately woven the plot was, and I kind of wish there’s a next book even though the ending was beautiful.

something lacking stars
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Review: This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer {2.0}


Title: This is My Brain on Boys
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: May 10th, 2016
Pages: 342
My Rating: 2 Stars

Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself, anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.

That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.

But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?

Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.

With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?

This Is My Brain on Boys is an unusual book in that the manner in which the main character speaks reminds me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, and I’m not sure if that works for written novels. 
What I didn’t like:
1. The three robots: There are 3 people in this book who speak like Sheldon – Addie, Dex and Mrs. Brooks. I mean, I think it would have been understandable if Addie was the only one who was like that, but no, there are three of them. That made it unrealistic. 
2. Tess and Addie’s friendship is pretty weird: I think I would have liked it if there was an explanation as to how these two became friends because I don’t think it’s realistic. Addie is Addie, while Tess is more of the popular girl kind – wears makeup, worries about her boyfriend, etc. 
3. Kara and Kris’ relationship: Kris is a jerk because he went on kissing another girl while he is still in a relationship with Kara. Granted, Kara is a bitch and threatened him with whatever, but he still should have broken up with her nonetheless.
4. The ending: What is up with the ending? I expected some kind of reaction with Kris, but there wasn’t any explanation in the end. The ending felt like a nice close to the book, but I am not satisfied with it. 
What I Liked:
1. The experiment: The experiment is very interesting for me, and I liked it because we discussed a similar concept in my Social Psychology class last term. I like the fact that the author didn’t just invent something up, but chose something that actually has basis. Being subject to scary situation indeed increases our heart beat and we tend to associated this to attraction.
2. It’s an entertaining novel: Despite the fact that I didn’t like many aspects from this novel, I have this strange fascination with it. I didn’t just want to leave the novel as a DNF because I felt this need to finish it. 
hard-to-get-through stars

You Out of Nowhere Blog Tour + Excerpt! {4.0}

 

Get You Out of Nowhere on Amazon || Add it on Goodreads

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: November 4, 2017

Photography: Chi Yu Rodriguez
Cover Design: Miles Tan
Models: Bibo Reyes & Celine Bengzon

 

When I first saw the synopsis for You Out of Nowhere, I knew I had to read it! I mean, the synopsis features characters who seem like they have very different personalities, older woman and younger man romance, and a train meet cute! What’s not to love, right? And I must say, I was completely correct because I really enjoyed reading this book! Despite being new to the romance class community, and having just read 4 books, I couldn’t wait to read more because every book I’ve read so far is nothing short of fantastic.

 

You Out of Nowhere was so good that right after reading it, I just wanted to spend the whole day devouring books, despite the slump that I just recently got out of. From the very beginning of the book during the train meet-cute, and then them going on a date, I was already invested in their story. I mean, they were just so cute with all the banter going back and forth between them, along with all the harsh truths and realities mentioned during the train ride – I just knew that they would be perfect for each other, and they indeed were!

 

Kris and Ringo may seem like two very different characters at first glance, but as we learn their stories, they don’t seem that much different at all. They both go after what they want, and they both have been hurt in the past. However, they also know how to endure, and how to get past their struggles and face things head on.

 

 

Set in both the Philippines and Seoul, this book is filled with vivid imagery of both places, taking me right to where the characters are. I loved how Jay E. Tria wrote about the places here in Metro Manila, and how accurate they were – from faulty trains, to extreme traffic especially during Fridays. I also loved how it took me right to Seoul, as though I have been there before when I really haven’t yet.

 

With vivid sceneries, amazing characters, and very supportive families and friends, You Out of Nowhere is a book that is so easy to devour. Well, not really. To put it more accurately, it was kind of addicting, and even though I wanted to stop, I just couldn’t. To hell with school and other responsibilities, this book demanded my attention, and I gave it freely! Overall, I just loved this book and can’t wait to read more from the author!

 

Excerpt

Trainman

November 11, Friday

Kris

He was reading Pride and Prejudice.

What guy does that? And in public too, inside a packed metro rail train South-bound on a Friday night. I lucked on a seat by some karmic miracle, though standing squished among the mass of passengers seemed like the better idea than what I had now, my wide-ass hips crushed between the hard plastic seat’s edge and the woman beside me.

I hated commuting. I hated trains. I hated the co-ed cars of the train the most, especially during rush hour. And rush hour these days was taking on that distinctive stench of holiday panic, as it usually did in the middle of November in this Christmas-loving country. I had come from Quezon City and had to jump into the first train car that could fit me, running late as I was for this obligation all the way in Makati.

Obligation. Okay. Heh.

My best friend Daisy would kill me if she heard my brain, after all the things she had done for me these past few years, air quotes, air quotes.

I looked up from my phone again, straining a look at the guy standing in front of me. He was gripping the steel railing above his head like a lifeline, which did me the favor of seeing his flexed biceps.

He had a lean arm, decorated by faint lines of snaking veins, muscular in a way that was not at all rude. It wasn’t hard to notice its very pleasing personality, swathed though it was by the sleeves of his striped black-and-white button-up shirt. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows (thank you, god), in crisp, deliberate folds rising past toned forearms. I always thought that wardrobe move was both rugged and responsible.

I inched my gaze up his exposed skin, searching for tattoos. No trace of ink thus far. A bit disappointing.

My eyes travelled back down to his book. His edition was small, thick, and pink. Dog-eared and covered in plastic, the way one does to school books to make them last the year.

I dared look up as far as his nose, noting the tiny bump along the steepest part of the straight bone. I counted the lines marring his forehead as he kept it scrunched, taking care to miss his eyes should he look up from the pages, and decided he couldn’t be reading this romance classic for school. Not even for college literature class.

With his pressed shirt, nice watch, and tapered charcoal slacks, he looked like a corporate boy. A young, well-dressed one at that. Early twenties, easy. I’d learned from a string of stiff, boring dates that I didn’t like corporate boys much. Nor had I ever been inclined to go through the fun yet rickety ride of dating younger.

Those two things at least kept me from crushing too hard on this hot stranger and his intense occupation with only one of the best love stories ever known to womankind.

“I am very fond of walking.”

“Sorry?”

Shit. Did I say that out loud?

I flicked my gaze up and got my answer. Corporate Boy was staring back at me, eyebrows lifted, mouth threatening the smile that was already crinkling his eyes.

Yes, I said that out loud.

And yes, okay, now I knew he had kind biceps and a beautiful face.

Man, this was painful.

I cleared my throat and tried a smile instead of pretending I hadn’t heard him, since I was a grown up like that. “I was trying to remember if that was only a line from the movie or if it’s also in the book.”

“Oh. I think it’s just from the movie.” His brow wrinkled some more. His forehead looked like a map of waves now. “I should know that, the many times I have read this.”

“Your favorite book?”

He pursed his lips, blinked a few times, and turned to me again. Plump, just-bitten lips. Deep, dark eyes. A feathery fringe of lashes. Why so pretty, mister stranger?

“You do not know me so you can’t judge me,” his baritone voice drawled. “So I’m going to be honest and say it’s high up there.”

“Okay.”

“My ready answer is that I’m reading it to help my sister write her book report, and that’s also true.”

No, my goodness. Stop it. Shut up.

“Do you like it too?”

He didn’t seem to have noticed I was having mild palpitations over here, thanks to the hot-guy-who-reads-and-dotes-on-sister fantasy reel he’d conjured in my head. I tucked a stray curl away from my cheek, pinched the inside of my wrist and forced my mouth to make words.

“Oh, I’m in love with Mr. Darcy. My friend says half my dates didn’t work out because I was expecting them to be brooding yet sensitive and to own both a heart of gold and half of Derbyshire. Or you know, Derbyshire’s contemporary equivalent in the Philippines.”

Wonderful. I was now babbling to a beautiful stranger on the train about my book boyfriend and my complete inability to keep a real one. Daisy would sock her fist inside my mouth and store it there for safekeeping if she knew.

He didn’t laugh, or worm through the sweaty, sticky, after-office train crowd to get as far away as possible from me, Weirdo Train Lady. The smile settled in his eyes, rumpling the corners.

“That’s too bad,” he said, and nothing else. He went back to reading.

I wanted to demand what that meant. Too bad, what, sir?

He’s a stranger he’s a stranger he’s a stranger.

I had to force a chorus of those words to drill the reminder in my head. Why should I care what this guy thought about my love life? Too many people I knew already had loud, decisive opinions about it anyway. No need to add another critic.

I turned my glare to my phone as it lit up with Daisy’s text. You better be walking up the mall already. I could hear every note of aggression in each perfectly spelled word. She was antsy and nervous, more so that I could psyche myself out to be, since I had categorized this night’s activity as yes, an obligation.

She was my best friend and she cared a bit too much about me. I was doomed to love her for it.

Do I lie? My thumbs hovered over the screen, preparing to type a reply. I was two stations and a 20-minute walk away from where she wanted me to be. The only difference between telling the truth and telling her what she wanted to hear was that if I gave her the latter, she’d be all the less anxious. I should be a good friend and do what good friends do.

The train ground to a halt, sending my left side crashing against the steel railing as the woman beside me hoisted herself up and barreled through the crowd to the opening door. My phone dropped to my lap as I focused on breathing through what felt like three broken ribs, and on swallowing the little oaths lined up in my throat, itching for release.

Another jolt, a swoosh of fine fabric and warm skin beside me, and the train was rumbling away again.

“You should breathe.”

I did—a long pull of musty, sweat-drenched air—before turning to Corporate Boy who was now settled to my right. “Thanks. I forget sometimes.”

The smile inched up his mouth this time. And he really shouldn’t have done that, because now I knew his mouth was beautiful too.

“I haven’t been on a date for going on a year.” The words came out of his lips sounding rehearsed, as if he’d spent the past few minutes assembling them in his head.

“Too bad?” I dared, eyebrow hitching.

“There you go.” He laughed, short and quiet. I barely heard the sound. “Now we’re even and I can go back to reading with a clear conscience.”

He didn’t though. His book was folded inside his palm and he was looking straight ahead. It couldn’t be a good view. A man was standing in front of him, hands gripping and body hanging from the handrails, looming over him like a grimy shadow.

“How many more stations for you?” He turned to me. He seemed to have made the decision that my face was a better sight than the man’s sweat-stained Keep Calm and Eat Bacon t-shirt.

The train was crawling into Buendia station. I expected the lurching stop this time. I gripped the metal bar beside me for leverage. “Getting off on the next. You?”

“Same.”

He breathed in once. Again. He was sitting so close I could feel it brush my ear, could feel it send static through my unruly locks. I could swear I caught him staring at my long, curly hair as strands lifted with his breaths, as if he wanted to sweep them away.

I know, I know, it’s a mess. But grooming beyond the basic social requirement is pointless in commute hell.

His gaze dropped back to his book as his fingers pried the worn pages open.

Huh. I expected more words. Just as well. My mother always said not to talk to strangers. She might have mentioned a special clause for the hot ones who read romantic books and weren’t ashamed of it. Those rare ones were sure to be serial killers.

Sometimes I wish I could strangle the voice of my mother that lurked within the recesses of my head. The many rules and don’ts she’d planted in me. I was in my thirties and still they were there, stamped where I couldn’t wash them off with beers or bury under hours spent out beyond midnight. I shouldn’t be blaming Mr. Darcy. I should be blaming her for my present disinterest in committing to a man.

You love your mother you love your mother you love your mother.

I was humming the words, making myself spurt out laughter. After forbidding me to have a boyfriend all through my school years, my mother was now all out with Daisy on fixing this aspect of my life.

Fixing, they dared call it. As if I had a leaking pipe. As if crossing over to thirty flipped a button that made a dashing man and a marriage pour out from heaven. Never mind that I had a business I loved and friends who got me. Oh no, it wasn’t enough, because my mother needed grandchildren.

I made the mistake of turning to my right, because Corporate Boy was staring at me, eyebrows raised.

“What?” I demanded. “Never seen a woman laugh to herself before?”

He seemed surprised, but also ready to answer. But the train made another awful stagger, screeching to a full stop. I craned my neck to look out the grubby window, as the voice crackling through the speakers confirmed my worst fears.

“The train ahead of us is having technical difficulties. We will wait here until it can depart from Ayala station. Please remain seated. Good evening and apologies to all.”

“Who the fuck is seated?” someone yelled out from the mass of bodies.

“You tell them, sir,” Corporate Boy cheered.

“Right on,” I seconded the motion.

Corporate Boy and I settled deeper into our hard plastic seats.

A moment later he was sighing out a gust of wind. “I’m in so much trouble.”

“Yeah?” My phone lit up again. I didn’t dare read it. “Big date? Shit, sorry. That was prying.”

“It’s okay. I also suck at small talk.”

“Hey!”

He laughed. This time I heard it, deep and bright and full to bursting. I felt it shake inside his chest, his arm sharing the tremors with mine.

“Yes, it’s a date, and a setup too,” he said. “Looks like my awful streak is a solid one.”

“Don’t worry. One look at you and she’ll be a puddle on the floor.”

Okay, I just told him I thought he was hot. The trick to fix such a mistake, I’d learned, was to keep my eyes averted until I could mumble out better, less embarrassing words.

“I mean, it looks like you made the effort. That’s a nice shirt.”

He was smiling. I heard it. “I like your shirt too.”

“You know them?” I brushed my hair away and looked down at the shirt in question. I was wearing the name of a recent favorite local band. Excitement washed over my shame and I tipped my head to look at him. “They’re not very mainstream, but they have an old school sound that I miss with all of these EDM hits ruining the world.”

As if the train driver were my personal fairy, the speakers started booming out a stale Chainsmokers song.

“Like this piece of catchy shit.” I started singing out the words, just to get it out of my brain before it embedded itself into a week-long Last Song Syndrome.

“Are you going to a gig?”

It was my turn to laugh. A gig, a blind date. What was the difference anyway? I could very well be an old, jaded vocalist, fed up with the same old music playing, with how each night would end with me exhausted and unsatisfied and leaving the bar alone.

I should try this analogy with both Daisy and my mother after tonight.

“Sure. It’s my final gig, at least for a while. Because I’m so tired of these things not working out.”

“Is it a sound system problem, or a crowd control situation—?”

“It’s a me problem. I suck at gigs.”

His gaze found my mouth and my blood rushed to the space under the skin of my cheeks.

He caught my gaze. His eyes weren’t black as I first thought, but a deep, rich brown. I saw alarm flit there for a second. One blink and it was gone.

I took that as my turn to steer this small talk at which we both suck. “So, who’s the monster that set you up?”

“My boss.” He chuckled at the sympathetic gaze I fixed him. “She has her rare, more, er, charitable moments. I’m trying to not feel too weird about it. I guess she took pity on me.”

“Have you been very pitiful lately?”

“I guess. I’ve been drinking a lot the past few months, I am nearly incapable of getting drunk now.”

I let out a short whistle. “Congrats. Your liver is now steel on the outside, rotting on the inside.”

“I’ve stopped, okay.” He looked part amused, part worried. Part proud. “I am too young to die. All my hopes and dreams can’t go to waste.”

What a serious man he was. “Sounds like you have plenty.”

He shrugged, massive shoulders lifting. His shadow loomed over me when he was standing, and beside me now, he had to dip his chin a few inches so he could catch my eyes. For someone talking to a stranger, he sure made a habit of maintaining eye contact.

“I hope this girl I’m meeting tonight is nice,” his voice rumbled. “Because I really want to get married someday.”

“First date and you’re thinking about marriage?” My voice might have risen to a squeak a little bit.

“I’m going in with a goal in mind,” he said, sharp jaw set.

“How old are you?” I surprised myself at daring to ask him his age. I didn’t think I’d get a reply.

“Twenty-four, turning twenty-five.”

Ah, the quarter-life crisis. My ex-boyfriend Adam and I used to talk about getting married at 25. The age passed us and we didn’t, because we both realized we were still kids hitting wall after wall with our inflated little heads, confident and ambitious but naïve with no idea what we really wanted.

Three years past that age, he dumped me. A year later, he married someone else. I guess he figured out his life then.

“That’s not too young to get married.” Corporate Boy seemed to have read my silence as judgment.

That was partly true, fine, I admit it. Beyond that I was puzzled. And curious.

“I hope you’re not measuring yourself against Lizzie Bennet,” I quipped, keeping a straight face. “At least look to Mr. Darcy. He was older.”

“I am capable of heading a household.” His tone was flat but he didn’t sound annoyed.

“Sure you are. Everything about you reeks of stable income and a complete roster of fancy benefits. I just pity the girl you’re meeting tonight. What if she just wants to fool around, you know? Toe you under the table. Make out with you in the car. That kind of a simple life.”

I’d turned away but I swear I could feel his eyes on my mouth again. It must be a new superpower. I hoped my lipstick was as matte and long-wearing as the tube promised.

“My boss knows where I am. She said she found me the perfect girl.”

I scowled. “There is no such girl.”

“Okay, okay, you’re right, I take it back,” he said, palms up. He ran one hand down his face, as if he felt worn out. “I meant a girl who might want something lasting too, instead of just footsies and kissing. Though I’m not against any of that.”

“Why would you be?”

I wished the train would leave now, because I treasured Daisy and I really didn’t want her to end up in prison for strangling me for being so late. Also because I knew if we stayed still like this any longer, Corporate Boy would start asking me questions. Surely he’d retaliate for my terrible small talk.

I also wished the train would stall for a few minutes longer. Because Corporate Boy was gorgeous and his shirt felt good against my bare arm, and it had been a while since I’d wanted to figure out the spaces between a man’s words the way I did with his.

I blamed it on his friendship with Mr. Darcy.

 

About Flair

FLAIR (or #romanceclassFlair) is a new, ongoing project and it’ll bring you steamy contemporary romance (in English) by Filipino authors. There are four new titles from four different #romanceclass authors about to be released, and these books will be unapologetically sexy. What can you expect from Flair? HEAs, Filipino characters, fresh telling of familiar tropes, lots of heat.

Flair is not a publisher, but there is a single Flair team that is working with the authors on all the books. The team is composed of #romanceclass community authors, readers, editors, designers. Follow Romanceclass Books on FB, romanceclassbooks on IG, and #romanceclass on Twitter to get the updates!

 

About the Author

Jay E. Tria is inspired by daydreams, celebrity crushes, a childhood fascination of Japanese drama and manga, and an incessant itch to travel. She writes contemporary young adult and new adult romance. Sometimes, paranormal fantasy too.

Visit her website http://www.jayetria.com.

Email: jayetria@gmail.com

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wattpad: jayetria

Review: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson {3.5}

 

Title: The Sky is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date:  March 9th, 2010
Pages: 288
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Adrift after her sister Bailey’s sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet, seductive Toby—Bailey’s boyfriend who shares her grief—and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs… though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.

Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes colossal mistakes and colossal discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.

As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.

The Sky is Everywhere is a book that I have been wanting to read for the longest times. It had been on my TBR even before I’ll Give You the Sun came out. I had high hopes because after all, it’s a Jandy Nelson novel. However, when I started reading, I was kind of disappointed because it wasn’t quite as I imagined it to be. Thankfully, the ending salvaged the book for me.

My main problem with this book is not the love triangle per se, but lying, as well as cheating in a way. Okay, so technically it’s not cheating because she’s not official with any of those guys, but she promised Joe that it was nothing, yet she still kissed Toby every time she saw him. And I do get the part about the grief and understanding each other, but I just don’t know if it’s realistic that they both love other people but keep on getting back together. It’s kind of a hard concept to grasp for me, and it affected my reading experience because it went on for most of the book. However, I really liked how the author resolved this in the end.

The Sky is Everywhere encompasses so much within a 300-page novel. I’m still debating whether or not I like it. I mean, it’s about friendship, family, relationships, love triangles, musical band, dead sister, lost mother, cool uncle, grandma with her own issues, Toby, Joe, Joe’s family background, Sarah, etc. I kind of feel out of breath just enumerating all those. I learned so much from this book though, but at the same time it’s kind of hard to grasp everything at the same time. And as a result, I think some of these aspects were not fully explored.

Negatives aside, there were things I liked about this book as well. I love how kind Uncle Big is, and how in touch with his emotions he is. People often have misconceptions about big guys, but he’s a softie who loves love. I also love how Gram has her own issues that she’s fighting with because grandmothers in novels don’t really have much stories to them. Although a bit late into the novel, I connected with the characters and the story. I may even have shed a few tears towards the end when Lennie talked to Gram, and then to Joe. I liked the way it tackled grief in a sense that it lingers. How you might forget for a while but it comes back in waves. I felt like that was realistic.

Overall, this book was not what I expected, which kind of affected my liking of the book. However, I was finally able to connect and understand the characters towards the end of the novel.

3.5 not what I expected stars

Mini Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson {4.5}


Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: May 14th, 2013
Pages: 378 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson: his debut novel for the young-adult audience.

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings—merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery, one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in worldbuilding, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.
After reading The Rithmatist, I am now a hundred percent sure that Brandon Sanderson should be on my auto-read authors. I have only read two books by Brandon Sanderson – this one and Steelheart – but I think that’s enough for me to be certain that I love his writing style. 
Brandon Sanderson writes in a such a way that’s refreshing. With the newer fantasy books, it seems like the authors are trying to cram everything into one book; and even though the book is 500 pages long, it seems as though they still can’t contain everything in those pages, so sometimes I get tired trying to read them. And yes, those books are exiting, but Brandon Sanderson brings a sort of calmness to the genre.
The Rithmatist is just a little more than 300 pages, but Brandon Sanderson managed to build the world properly and make it exciting enough that I never got bored. The pacing was just enough. Unlike other fantasy books that go from one extreme end to another being boring and too exciting, the pace of this book was perfect. I never got bored, and I never felt overwhelmed with everything that was happening. With fantasy books, it’s hard to find something like this because it takes a while for authors to build the world. 
4.5 chill yet exciting stars. 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon {5.0}

 


Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date:  May 30thth, 2017
Pages: 380 pages
My Rating: 5 Stars

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When I first read the synopsis for When Dimple Met Rishi, I immediately wanted to read it. Fake and arranged relationships that turn into love are guilty pleasures of mine when it comes to romance novels. When I learned that this also features Indian characters, I just needed it in my hands! However, I was kind of put off because of the low Goodreads rating. Speaking of, how can such an amazing book not even have 4 stars?! How appalling! Anyway, I’ve read both positive and negative reviews on this one, and I kept them in mind while reading the novel. I mostly remembered the negative ones, but I couldn’t help but disagree with those because I just loved When Dimple Met Rishi so much!

 

I saw so much of myself in all the characters – Dimple, Rishi, Ashish, and Celia – and I just couldn’t help but fall in love with each of the characters. Being born of immigrant parents myself (Chinese in the Philippines) I sometimes feel like I don’t belong anywhere as well (Dimple) and how I still want to uphold the traditions of my ancestors (Rishi), at least those that I know of. Most of the time, I do things I’m uncomfortable with as well so as not to break the status quo and be branded as overreacting (Celia), and always have a defensive stance and not let people see me hurt or sad (Ashish). Sometimes I also don’t have the courage to speak up for what I know is right (Isabelle) and just like the parents of Dimple and Rishi, I often don’t know how to show love, understanding and acceptance in a way people would understand.

 

When Dimple and Rishi is a very dynamic book that encompasses so much. It showed Dimple’s relationship with her family, as well as Rishi’s relationship with his family. Here, it was seen that there were a lot of misunderstandings and ultimately, all our parents want for us at the end of the day is what would be best for us. Sometimes they don’t understand that what makes us happy may be the best things for us, but we to do our parts as well and make them understand. I also really loved how the relationship of Ashish and Rishi took a turn for the better after they talked to each other, although it still wasn’t perfect in the end.

 

I also loved how it featured aspects of Indian culture because it’s books like this that make people more open minded about the different cultures in the world. I had some issues because there were no translations for the Indian words in the novel, but that’s a minor issue for me. The aspects of respect towards elders and having to call relatives confusing titles is something similar with our culture as well, and I’m glad that I learned new things about Indian culture.

 

My favorite aspect is the journey that Dimple’s character took. She was very headstrong and stubborn at first, but towards the end of the book I believe that she has learned a lot. She often criticizes herself, but she’s also very adamant when it comes to her goals. Some people might find her character annoying, but I find her character to be full of potential. My favorite is probably when she learned to listen to her heart and learned to speak up for herself when it comes to her parents.

 

More than just about feels and romance, When Dimple Met Rishi is about culture, family, self-discovery, personal growth, gaining courage, learning to break the mold, and most of all, learning to listen to your heart and following it despite the criticisms of others, and most especially yourself. This book made me so happy and made me feel so many different things. I loved it to bits and pieces, and I wish everyone could appreciate it as much as I did. This is definitely a must-read!

 

5 dynamic stars

ARC Review: Throwing Rules to the Wind by Thessa Lim {4.0}

 

Author: Thessa Lim
Series: Of Heads and Hearts #2
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: –
Publication Date: October 31st, 2017
Pages: Paperback, 248
My Rating: 4 Stars

A complicated office romance is not what scrupulous travel writer Zara Castillo has planned for, especially not when her career is finally taking off, but her easygoing colleague Matthew Villanueva is everything she wants in a man. When their relationship is tested by distance, issues she thought she had long buried emerge once again. Zara delves into her past in a quest for answers. Now she must face her demons or lose the love of her life.

Set in Metropolitan Manila with travel bouts to different islands in the Philippines, Throwing Rules to the Wind explores the lights and shades of seeking closure, forgiveness, and love.

When I first started reading Throwing Rules to the Wind, I thought that this would be solely centered on romance, but boy am I glad that it isn’t just about romance! This book encompasses a lot of things, which made me like it even more.

My favorite thing about this book has got to be how Zara turned back to her past not to give excuses nor to wallow herself in self-pity, but to discover herself, learn and grow from all her past mistakes. She did this in order to understand herself, ask for forgiveness, and eventually, forgive and accept herself as well. Throwing Rules to the Wind is not merely a love story, but also a story about trust, family, binding friendship and self-discovery.

Throwing Rules to the Wind is a quick and short read, but I can’t say that it’s cute because it has a more serious vibe to it. With themes of cheating, divorce and mistrust in Zara’s past, I would say that this is more focused on Zara’s journey on how to learn how to trust again, and her friends, family and Matt definitely helped her. This also featured aspects of her career, and I loved how this book featured different parts of the Philippines. I especially loved it when they went to Pagudpud because I have been there, and yes, the view was truly breathtaking!

Overall, I really enjoyed Throwing Rules to the Wind. I can’t wait to read more from Thessa Lim!

4 self-discovery stars

Review: Deeper by Robin York {3.0}

 

Title: Deeper
Author: Robin York
Series: Caroline and West #1
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: January 28th, 2014
Pages: Kindle, 132 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

In Robin York’s sizzling debut, a college student is attacked online and must restore her name—and stay clear of a guy who’s wrong for her, but feels so right.

When Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend posts their sex pictures on the Internet, it destroys her reputation as a nice college girl. Suddenly her once-promising future doesn’t look so bright. Caroline tries to make the pictures disappear, hoping time will bury her shame. Then a guy she barely knows rises to her defense and punches her ex to the ground.

West Leavitt is the last person Caroline needs in her life. Everyone knows he’s shady. Still, Caroline is drawn to his confidence and swagger—even after promising her dad she’ll keep her distance. On late, sleepless nights, Caroline starts wandering into the bakery where West works.

They hang out, they talk, they listen. Though Caroline and West tell each other they’re “just friends,” their feelings intensify until it becomes impossible to pretend. The more complicated her relationship with West gets, the harder Caroline has to struggle to discover what she wants for herself—and the easier it becomes to find the courage she needs to fight back against the people who would judge her.

When all seems lost, sometimes the only place to go is deeper.

 

After Caroline Piasecki’s ex-boyfriend Nate posted pictures of her naked online, the whole school began discriminating her and calling her names and her reputation is ruined. When West Leavitt punches Nate, Caroline warned him not to get involved with her life. But Caroline is drawn to him, as he is to her. They start spending time together, and the attraction becomes undeniable.

I didn’t know what to expect when I read this book, which is just as well because I know that I would be disappointed had I had any expectations. I’m still debating between 3.5 and 4.0 stars for this one.

What I liked: 
I liked how this book explored an issue that people tend to stay away from, but needs to be discussed. What started out being just a little prank had a great effect on Caroline, and I loved how the effects were explored. I liked how a story was already established before all the sex began, unlike many of the New Adult books out there nowadays. I liked how Caroline became stronger and stronger and was able to stand up for herself to everyone in the end. I also loved how she was flying solo at the start to how she found her niche in her group of friends.

What I didn’t like: 
I wasn’t really able to connect with the story or the characters of the book. There were times that the story felt dragging, and I was always consciously aware of how many the pages were left. I think the characters were not explored well – their backgrounds were clearly mentioned, but not explored, leaving me to question things about the main characters. I also didn’t like how it ended because I didn’t know what happened to the families. It’s like it had a proper ending closure-wise, but story-wise, not really.

Overall, I was able to enjoy this book because I liked bits and pieces here and there, but I think that it could have been better.

could-have-been-better stars