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. 

ARC Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner {4.5}

Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 14th, 2017
Pages: 384 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

“If you’re reading this book, then you’re also that child reading by flashlight and dreaming of other worlds. Don’t be scared of her, that inner Beauty, or her dreams. Let her out. She’s you, and she’s me, and she’s magic.”

Oh my goodness, thank God I gave this one a chance! Honestly at first I was going to skip this one because I haven’t been having luck with retellings lately, but I’m glad I scheduled a buddy read and was able to read it. Just like the romance in this novel was slow burn, so was my love for this book – increasing with every page.

The Beauty and the Beast aspect of this book kicked in a bit late for me. I was already at 50% when I really started feeling the vibe. However, at the same time, I also felt and A Court of Thorns and Roses vibe. Granted, they stem from the same retelling, but it kind of felt similar for me when it came to having another world with different magical creatures; how only Yeva could hunt and provide for her family, and such. I thought it was going to be problematic at first, but I realized that Hunted has a story of its own to tell, and the thought quickly vanished from my mind.

“We curse everything, for we are cursed, and we have no arms to shelter her and no lips to press to her hair and above all no words to tell her that we know loss and we know pain and if they were monsters we could fight we would have slain them in her name long ago like the heroes of old. But we are not a hero. We are cursed.” 

My absolute favorite thing from this book is the Beast’s point of view. My goodness, they’re just a few short sentences, but they mean a lot. The words were straight to the point, but so full of meaning that I immediately connected with his character. They were only a few words, but the emotion behind them were so impactful. Also, I am someone who gets easily impatient by long narratives that seem pointless, so those short chapters really were perfect for me.

One of the things that makes or breaks a book for me to even considering giving it 4.5 or 5 stars is how much I could feel emotions from reading this book, and let me tell you that this book made me feel a lot of complex emotions. I was really both connected and invested in that characters and story, and I was really able to put myself in their shoes.

“Fairy tales are about lessons. Those who are virtuous and true are rewarded, while those who are wicked and greedy are punished.” 

One of my complaints about this book is how unsatisfying the ending is, in the sense that I still want more. The ending was not crappy or anything like that, but I felt like there should be so much more. I felt like there could have been a little bit more extension of that ending. Of course, this may be totally for selfish reasons.

Overall, my love for this book grew gradually. I was wary of it at first, but it just became more and more amazing. The Beast’s POV is gold, and I was left wanting for more. Too bad there isn’t a sequel. Anyway, I recommend reading this, especially at the height of the movie remake of Beauty and the Beast (for those who need more of it).

“To the girl

who reads by flashlight

who sees dragons in the clouds

who feels most alive in worlds that never were

who knows magic is real

who dreams

This is for you” 

4.5 surprisingly magical stars. 

Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera {4.5}

Title: Ruined

Author: Amy Tintera
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Pages: 355 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake. 
Thank you, Amy Tintera, for giving me a new fantasy series that I can excited about! Ah, this book is wonderful, and it kind of hurts that I won’t get to read the second book anytime soon. Amy Tintera created a world that is easy to love, no matter how complicated the politics may be. As you guys may know, I am not much of a fantasy fan, so it always takes me by surprise whenever I really, really enjoy a fantasy novel. And Ruined? Well, Ruined did amazing in the books of a not-so-fantasy-fan. Ruined is told in a dual POV, which I just love so much, so that was definitely an added bonus. 
In Ruina, people are valued for the powers they possess. However, Emelina, a member of the royal family, is regarded as useless because of her lack of powers. When the King of Lera waged a war against Ruina, killed her parents and took her sister hostage, Em pretends to be Princess Mary of Vallos in order to execute a complicated plan to avenge her family and save her sister. As Princess Mary, Em had to marry Prince Casimir of Lera, where she realized that Prince Cas is not what she expected at all.
One of my absolute favorite things about this book is the blood-pumping action that made it hard to resist to keep turning the pages. My heart was literally pounding because of the action-packed chapters, and I’ve never been more excited while reading a book! I felt everything as though I were the main characters, and that’s just one of the most amazing things ever. Although this book is action-packed, Tintera still managed to make this one well-paced. 
And the romance! The romance just made me feel so giddy. I’m a hopeless romantic, and I just love reading about romances like these. I feel like they’re full of tension, which just makes everything all the more exciting. Em and Cas slowly started seeing more of who the other truly is, and that process of liking each other despite not expecting to do so just makes me happy. 
Ah, Ruined truly is an amazing book, and I just cannot wait for the next books in the series! This is definitely a book that I would recommend. Oh, just please let me have the second book already!
4.5 surprisingly-amazing stars. 

ARC Review: The Upside of Unrequited

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Pages: 352 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. 

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. 

It’s official, I’m adding Becky Albertalli to my list of auto-read authors! I’m always skeptical about reading an author’s sophomore novel when I have the debut novel 5 stars because more often that not, the author couldn’t top the first one. And more often than not, the second novel would be dull in comparison to the first novel. However, that was not the case with this book. This book is all sorts of fluffy and cute, and it’s as magical as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which if it wasn’t clear yet, I totally loved.

When I stated reading The Upside of Unrequited, I was not immediately hooked in, just as I wasn’t immediately hooked in when I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I guess with Becky Albertalli novels, you need to let the novel sink in first. As I got to know that characters, I loved them more and more. This book could have potentially been a shallow book, but with Becky Albertalli’s writing style and depth, this book became a book of growth, acceptance, family and forgiveness.

For instance, in this book, Cassie has her first girlfriend, and Molly feels left out because of it. Instead of it being annoying, Becky Albertalli allowed the two to converse and discuss what inevitable might happen – they may fall apart – but they also realized that they would try always to be there for each other. Another example is how Molly wants to get a boyfriend. But more than being a teenager who just wants love, Molly’s journey is also about resolving self-esteem issues and realizing that she is beautiful despite her imperfections – or maybe because of it.

What I really love about this book is how the family is not perfect, nor completely dysfunctional. With YA books these days, there is a slight tendency to just go on one extreme end of a spectrum. With this book, they seem like a very happy family, but there is actually conflict happening within – just like in real life. Molly and Cassie may be twins, but they still have their own unique identities. They may be super close, but they still have moments when they didn’t like each other very much. I also like how Becky Albertalli showed other types of families with this family, with them having two mothers and having have come from a sperm donor.

In the past few months I have been having trouble connecting with YA books, but I had no problem whatsoever in connecting with this one. I don’t have the words to describe how amazing this is, but for me it captures everyday life for a teenager. I like how Becky Albertalli spins everything into a lesson, and I just love how everything wrapped up together. This definitely did not disappoint, and I would want to read any other book Becky Albertalli publishes.

4.5 new-auto-read-author stars. 

Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Title: Before We Were Strangers
Author: Renee Carlino
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 18th, 2015
Pages: 320 pages
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?


“Once there was you and me
We were lovers
We were friends
Before life changed
Before we were strangers
Do you still think of me?”

I’ve had Before We Were Strangers for quite a while, and I’ve been wanting to read the book for so long now, but for some reason I have been putting it off. I remember being completely captivated by the synopsis of this one, and I immediately ordered a copy off The Book Depository because I haven’t seen a copy in the bookstores here in the Philippines. To be honest, when I started reading this the other day, I was debating whether or not this book was worth it. I was thrown off guard because I thought that this was going to be centering around adults around the age of 20-25, because the genre is new adult after all. However, I got two perspectives, starting with an already working male main character who was already divorced once, followed by their perspective set years ago back in college. It was not what I signed up for, and I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it because of that. However, as I read on, I felt more and more connected to the story, and I began to love it.

“The present is our own. The right-this-second, the here-and-now, this moment before the next, is ours for the taking. It’s the only free gift the universe has to offer. The past doesn’t belong to us anymore, and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed. But the present is ours to own. The only way we can realize that fantasy is if we embrace the now.”

I’m not sure about this, but I think most of the story takes place when Matt and Grace were still in college years back. It shows how they became friends, and how their friendship developed into something more. Although it seemed like there was always something between them, Grace didn’t want a serious relationship then. It gave us a glimpse of how Matt’s photography career began, and how Grace developed her skills with the Cello. Separated by Matt’s leaving for a job in another country and some misunderstanding, the two never saw each other again. At present, Matt still works for National Geographic with his ex-wife and his boss as his best friend. Then, one day, Matt sees Grace on the train, so he created a post on Missed Connections, which created the bridge for them to meet at the present again.

“It was like the universe was teasing us; we saw each other just a second too late.”

My goodness, this book ripped my heart out to sheds! Although it has been more than a week since I read this book, I can still feel the hurt whenever I remember what transpired in the novel. There was a lot of deceit, hurt, misunderstanding, mistrust, and of course, love. It wouldn’t be complete without love, wouldn’t it? I really connected with the characters and the story, and although it was kind of predictable, it still ripped my heart to shreds. I felt like I could relate to the characters, although I wasn’t sure why. I was really able to put myself in their positions, and experience the story as they were experiencing it. My tears didn’t even care that people would judge me. It just continued to flow, because the emotions that this book made me feel were just too much.

“Life was passing me by at high speed as I sat back with my feet up, rejecting change, ignoring the world, shrugging off anything that threatened to have meaning of relevance.”

I really loved how the story turned out to be. It was kind of slow in the parts when they were in college, but the present point of view makes up for it in excitement. I love how the story was still kind of realistic, in how people just don’t forgive easily just because they love someone; especially because they love someone. I think the ending was a great way to tie things up, but of course I still can’t help but wish for more. Perhaps a companion novel from another character’s perspective?

“That’s why my mother always said we memorialize our past. Everything seems better in a memory.” 

Anyway, I really, really loved this story overall, and I would definitely recommend it! I really connected to the story, and there were so many amazing quotes in the novel as well. The emotions were just a shot straight through the heart for me, and although it hurt like hell, it felt amazing to feel all those along with the characters as well.

4.5 ughdssdfs stars. 

ARC Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day {4.5 Stars}

Title: The Possibility of Somewhere
Author: Julia Day
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Pages: 320
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Together is somewhere they long to be.

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted– he’s admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There’s only one obstacle in Ash’s path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden’s ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college — and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream — one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?
I was given a copy of this book by St. Martin’s Griffin 
through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh my goodness, this book definitely took me by surprise in such an amazing way! I have to honest, I didn’t think much of this book when I first requested it because I have been having a bad streak with smart/high GPA main characters lately, but this one definitely salvaged that trope for me. I’ll try to get into what I want to say quickly, but no promises!

Okay so most people are probably tired of the old cliché where the couple hates each other at first and then gets into a relationship with each other but I’ve always loved the tension that love/hate relationships brought. I just didn’t know how much I’ve missed them before reading this book, and this book definitely brought back my desire to read such books. Another old cliché in this book is where the characters have to hide their relationship because the parents and friends don’t approve. I thought that I was tired of this, but for a time this has been avoided since it has become cliché, and I think I kind of missed it. So yeah, definite plus points for this book!

When I finished like 10% of this book, I immediately knew that I was going to love it. It made me feel so giddy, and I couldn’t help but smile while I was reading the book, even though I was in public and people probably thought that I was crazy. It just made me feel light and fluffy, and all the amazing things that I look for in a contemporary romance novel, and I just freaking loved it!

I really connected with the main character and the story. There were also a couple of times where I got teary eyed because I just felt everything the main character was feeling. I definitely got the frustrations on her part, and I was really able to put myself in her shoes. In some ways, I felt like we were very similar, and in some ways the opposite. I really admire Julia Day’s ability to just make the reader feel every emotion that the main character is going through.

For a fluffy contemporary book, this book was sure filled with drama. A lot of things happened throughout the novel, and although I consider this book fluffy, there were some hardcore stuff going on with the main character’s family. In my opinion, that aspect was not delved into much, which I kind of preferred because I’m tired of the cliché.

I really admire Eden because she’s such a strong, independent woman. She stands on her own two feet and is not afraid to voice out her opinions. She went through a lot but she never complains. To add to that, she takes matters into her own hands and makes the best out of the situation that she’s in. She worked hard for what she wanted and never expected help from anyone. I really think that Eden is someone to look up to, and I feel like I actually already do. I just felt like I should be more like her and start taking matters into my own hands.

This novel definitely made me feel all the feels, and that’s both the good feels and the bad feels. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but that made sense in my head haha! Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I think I really missed the old clichés, and it’s also a way for me to break from the new clichés. I recommend this book for those who love relationships that start with the couple hating each other, because I promise you, feels!

4.5 i-can-totally-relate-and-all-the-feels! stars. 

ARC Review: The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner {4.5 stars}

Title: The Memory of Things
Author: Gae Polisner
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

The powerful story of two teenagers finding friendship, comfort, and first love in the days following 9/11 as their fractured city tries to put itself back together.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows. She is covered in ash and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a New York City detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and unforgettable pain—it tells a story of hope.

I was given a copy of this book by St. Martin’s Griffin 
through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was only in prep 1 when the planes hit the twin towers. I remember not understanding what my teacher was saying when she told us the news the next day, and I just proceeded to talk with my seat mates. Being in the Philippines and being just a kid, I was clueless about what happened. It wasn’t until years later that I learned and was able to comprehend the tragedy that struck New York that day.
According to the author’s note, this book is not about tragedy but about hope, solidarity and peace amidst tragedy, and I think that it’s the perfect description for this book. Kyle was moving away from the twin towers when he saw a girl in need of help. The girl lost her memory but Kyle took her with him to their apartment. This story follows how Kyle took charge in the absence of his parents, needing to take care of his paralyzed uncle and the girl who lost her memory, all while tracking his parents and sister through the disaster. 
I know that this is not about tragedy, but let’s just talk about that for a moment. Being in the Philippines and a kid when it happened, I didn’t really know how big of a tragedy 9/11 is (and I use is because it still affects a lot of people until today). I knew that it was a tragedy, but I didn’t care much. However, reading this book really made me feel what it was like to be in the middle of the tragedy, and the horror that everyone experienced. This book made 9/11 resonate in my heart and my memory. 
Gae Polisner’s writing style is just amazing that it allowed me to experience everything as if I was there myself. She writes in such a way that I was able to really absorb and internalize everything, and that’s such a powerful thing for her to have because not all authors can do that. Sure, most authors can make us feel something, but not to this extent. And I’m glad that Gae Polisner used her talent to write about this topic because it’s something that not many talk about. 
Now onto the romance part. The romance is the clichéd convenient romance because they’re the only two teenagers there, but it was also realistic in a way. They knew that things will be different after the tragedy, and they would have to deal with people outside of their bubble. In that way, it was realistic for me. Romance is not the central part of this book and it didn’t really make me feel a lot of feels, but I think that it was a really important part of the story, with what the author was trying to get across. 
Aside from the above-mentioned things, I don’t really know what more to say about this book and I why I really liked it. It’s just amazing overall and I don’t know what details to give. The whole book just tied together so well from beginning to end. It’s such a powerful novel, and I believe that everyone has to read it. It wasn’t boring in any way, but it was kind of somber because of the overarching frame of tragedy. I would really like to read more books like this one when I get the time, and if you guys have read anything like this, please recommend some to me.
4.5 cuts-through-you stars. 

Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Mental Illness
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 10th, 2015
Pages: 133
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

“Sometimes I wonder if my heart is a black holes – it’s so dense that there’s no room for light, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still suck me in.”

Ah, how do I write a review about this one? I read this book three days ago, and my mind still can’t form a coherent review to explain all the feelings I had while reading this book, and all the feelings that I still feel whenever I remember the book. However, after closing the book, I had an odd sense that I was supposed to read this book in that exact moment, and it was just an amazing experience. 

“We all want to believe that every day is different, that every day we change, but really, it seems that certain things are coded into us from the very beginning.”

Afraid that they wouldn’t be able to go through with their own respective suicides, Aysel and Roman made a pact to do it together on April 7th. However, as Aysel spends more time with Roman, she sees the world as she has only seen when she was a child, and more and more each day, she hesitates to go through with their agreement. The question is, will she be able to convince Roman to stay with her?

“I want to keep feeling everything. Even the painful, awful, terrible things. Because feeling things is what let’s us know that we’re alive. And I want to be alive.”

Reading this book definitely requires you to be open-minded about both depression and suicide. A big chunk of this book talks about suicide planning, and if that’s something that you cannot stomach, then you better avoid this book. However, if that theme is fine for you, then this book is an amazing book that you have to read ASAP. 

“Because loving you saved me. It’s made me see myself differently, see the world differently. I owe you everything for that.”

Oh, the feelings that this book made me feel! I just felt so connected to the main character that I still have heavy feelings whenever I think of this book. This one definitely took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. My Heart and Other Black Holes showed me that there can be unexpected happiness right around the corner; you just have to hang in there long enough to see it. 

“I wonder if that’s how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out. I don’t want it to win.”

My Heart and Other Black Holes is a book that I put off reading for a while now because of the heavy topic, but now that I’ve read it, I can’t help but tell everyone else to read it. Even though I still can’t form coherent thoughts about all the things that this book made me feel and think of, I still hope that you guys can give this book a chance. As early as this April, I am certain that this would be one of my most memorable reads of 2016. 

“I wonder if joy has a potential energy. Or if there is a potential energy that leads to joy, like a happiness serum that lingers in people’s stomachs and slowly bubbles up to create the sensation we know as happiness.”

4.5 memorable stars. 

SST Review + Giveaway: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Title: Girl in Pieces
Author: Kathleen Glasgow
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Mental Health
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 416
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in 
exchange for an honest review as part of the Sunday Street Team. 

When I first read the blurb for Girl in Pieces, it was either in early January or not even 2016 yet, but I already felt like I needed to read the book. So just imagine my surprise and happiness when I got approved for this book! I was really excited and began to read immediately.

However, to be honest, I didn’t really like it at first. Yes, I was excited to be reading a book about cutting but it felt awkward at first because the writing style is very much unique. I also felt like the way the other characters (Blue, Luisa, Ariel, etc.) was weird and unnatural. I don’t know why it felt that way, but it felt like that at the start. As I read on though, the way they talked either became better and more natural, or I just got used to it.

“Everyone has that moment, I think, the moment when something so … momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you have to stop. For a long time, you gather your pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this pieces should go there, and that one there.”

What I really love about this book is how the author truly understands cutting. Kathleen Glasgow understands the struggle of trying to fight something that’s always on your mind, and how your worst enemy is yourself. Throughout Girl in Pieces, Glasgow showed the characters’ relapses, despite wanting to get better. This is a dark, dark book, and I felt like it really took me into the mind of a cutter. A cutter who is not looking for attention, but one who is only trying to help herself in the only way she knows how.

This book is heavy in both the topic and the emotion. It talks about living on the streets, mental facilities, cutting, sexual abuse, alcoholism – all the things that we prefer not to mention in our everyday conversations when these are precisely the things that we should be talking about. I truly admire Kathleen Glasgow so much for bringing all these into attention, and for making people not only aware but feel that these things truly exist.

“I cut because I can’t deal. It’s simple as that. The world becomes an ocean, the ocean washes over me, the sound of water is deafening, the water drowns my heart, my panic becomes as large as the planets. I need release, I need to hurt myself more than the world can hurt me, and then I can comfort myself.”

This book also brought about heavy emotions for me. The characters experienced a lot of complicated things in their past. They suffered through so much and they’re all broken in different places. No matter how hard they tried, they tended to go back to their all tendencies and habits. They experienced things going the complete opposite way of how they wanted things to me. They had to help themselves because otherwise, no one would. They had to go through a lot of shitty and crazy and traumatic things because the universe just wasn’t listening to them. These are all struggles of everyone, but theirs were in a much larger scale. Everything just felt so real to me while reading the book that I couldn’t finish it in one go.

When I got to the end of the book, I felt like wanting to cry and hug Charlie and the author at the same time. Then I got to the author’s note and I wanted to hug Kathleen Glasgow even more. Kathleen, you obviously won’t be reading this, but I admire you so much for being brave enough to share your story to the world; for being able to show the world your strength and weakness. Thank you for creating the words for those who, like Charlie, couldn’t voice their struggles out. Thank you for bringing cutting into the attention of everyone. Thank you for writing so beautifully, and for touching my heart. As early as now, I can say that this will be one of the closest books to my heart. Thank you.

“My own body is my deepest enemy. It wants, it wants, and when it does not get, it cries and cries and I punish it. How can you live in fear of your very self?

I highly encourage everyone to read this book. It’s a wonderful novel that everyone truly needs to read. It’s unique and heart-wrenching, but you will come out of it better and more understanding. Truly, Kathleen Glasgow is an author to look forward to!

4.5 you-have-my-heart stars
If you or someone you know is struggling and 
needs help, please consider contacting:

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
To Write Love on Her Arms:
National Runaway Hotline: 1-800-621-4000  

About the Author:

Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona. She writes for the radio show The Writer’s Almanac and can probably provide you with some interesting anecdotes about historical literary figures if you asked nicely. You can find out more about Kathleen by following her on Twitter: @kathglasgow, Instagram, @misskathleenglasgow (where she posts about sunsets, depression, spirit circles, and books) or her website:


Review: What Things Mean by Sophia Lee

Title: What Things Mean
Author: Sophia N. Lee
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: May, 2015
Pages: 133
My Rating: 4.5 Stars


What does it mean to be different? 14-year-old Olive is struggling to find out. Everything about her is so different from the rest of her family. She is big-haired, brown skinned, and clumsy in a family of cream-colored beauties who are all popular and Good At Sports. She closely resembles a father she has never known, and about whom her mother never speaks, and no one wants to tell her why. She turns to books and other things in her quest to find answers, and as a way to cope with her loneliness. When she learns the truth about her father, she must decide whether or not she will let the differences in her life define her forever.

A unique coming-of-age story unfolding through dictionary-style chapters, What Things Mean takes a closer look at the things that define a life, and the many ways in which we find meaning.

*Grand Prize Winner, Scholastic Asian Book Award 2014

I was sent a copy of this novel by the author in exchange for an honest review.

When Sophia Lee sent me an email regarding this book, I was immediately on board because I love supporting Filipino authors. I didn’t know if I would like the story, but it seemed pretty interesting to me. I felt excited to be reading a contemporary novel by a Filipino author. But then I read it and boom! It’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read and I would read anything that Sophia Lee writes in the future. 

“Maybe, that’s how it’s meant to be. Maybe we all have to let go of things, and people, in order to keep our balance. Maybe that’s the only way to keep moving forward.”

What Things Mean is written in a way that each chapter starts with definitions of a certain word that would be relevant in the chapter. It follows Olive, a fourteen-year-old girl who feels different from her family. Only she has dark skin and likes pickles in her family, and she thinks that her father might be the source of the difference. However, the thing is, no one in her family is willing to tell her about who he is. 

“Maybe she’s trying to understand how, in the space of a minute, something can turn from a thing that fulfills you entirely to something that empties you out.”

What Things Mean is written in such a beautiful way. There were so many notable quotes that I had a fear that I would ran out of sticky tabs (I put sticky tabs when I find a nice quote). Another amazing thing about this book is how I’ve never been in the situation of the main character, but I definitely felt everything that was narrated in the story. Tagos talaga sa puso, grabe! 

“Light always remains. The world turns, and days pass, and the sun warms the places that need it. Maybe that is how it is with everything else. Things go where they are needed, and when they do, we simply learn how to live without them.”

I really think that this is the type of book that should be made into book reports. I think that those in high school would really be able to appreciate this one because it’s easy to understand but at the same time it’s also very meaningful. Everyone is sure to find a quote or two that would be relevant in his/her life. Plus, this book is a quick read, although it’s also a book that’s meant to be savored and taken in slowly. 

“I was always going to be somewhere, stepping over some line. We all were – even if we didn’t want to admit it. There was only forward or backward, and an infinite line of changes either way.”

Another thing I enjoyed is reading about the Filipino culture within the pages. Every time I saw things like chocnut or adobo, I smiled because it’s rare that I get to read something that’s not literary fiction with references to Filipino culture. I’m actually not actually Filipino myself, but I was born and grew up here, so this is the culture that I know and love. 

“I know now that things are always more than what they mean. Things mean different things to people. People are the ones who give meaning to things.”

I really, really loved this book, more so than I first thought I would. This book deserves to be read by everyone, especially Filipino youth. It’s so meaningful yet concise at the same time, so there would be no room for boredom. I definitely recommend this! 
Thank you Sophia Lee and Scholastics for providing me a copy of this novel!

4.5 amazingly-written stars.