Mini-review spree: Shine, Trese, The False Prince, and Zombies vs. Unicorns

I’ve already read 5 books so far this year and I’m feeling slightly panicky because  something tells me that if I don’t blog about them soon, my lazy ass is gonna just shrug it off and I’ll ignore them forever…and I don’t really want that to happen. Lol.

So to counter my laziness, I figured I’ll do mini-reviews for each book I’ve devoured so far because I figured that if I attempt to blog about them one by one, they might end up as drafts that never see the light of day. (Ugh, I’m sorry I’m so lazy T_T)

These books deserve recognition. Plus, they’re part of my reading challenges. Yes, challenges with an “s” because I am a masochist who wasn’t content with just one challenge. Guess who’s going to be crying at the end of the year as she struggles to complete them all. XD

The first challenge is the one I posted here, and the second one is a personal goal I decided on not so long ago: read 20 books by Filipino authors this year. I really, definitely need (and want) to be more aware and discover the gems of my own country’s literature.

Anyway, TL;DR: here are the reviews (which are short and probably don’t make much sense because I scribbled them down during lunch, hah)!

23300702Title: Shine

Author: Candy Gourlay

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult, Filipino Literature

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is not a ghost story, even though there are plenty of ghosts in it. And it’s not a horror story, though some people might be horrified. It’s not a monster story either even though there is a monster in it and that monster happens to be me.

  • Part of my 2015 Reading Challenge: A book you can finish in a day
  • Book #1 in my Read 20 Books by Filipino Authors challenge

Review: I was excited when I found this at NBS Megamall. I was torn between buying this and Tall Story, which is written by the same author. I chose this one because I liked the blurb and the cover more. Lol. I’ll definitely go back for Tall Story next time because Shine was such a good book. I started reading it on my way home and was totally engrossed in the point that I almost missed my bus stop. Haha.

Shine describes a small town so well that it had me missing my own hometown – although I definitely do not miss the gossip that spreads around, especially rumors that are definitely not true. Rosa is subjected to this kind of gossip and is alienated from everyone else because she has the Calm, a sickness that leaves a person’s throat damaged and with scars akin to rope burns around their neck. There’s a legend of a girl with similar traits who sucked the life out of a boy once upon a time, and so naturally all the superstitious neighbors are afraid of Rosa. I felt my heart go out to her because she yearns for freedom and to be able to express herself and not live in fear. But the one good thing is she has the Internet, and you are free to be anyone you wanna be on the Internet.

This was so interesting to read although I felt that the backstory kinda overshadowed Rosa’s story towards the end. Also, I wanted to know more about the Calm and I never really got why Rosa and her family moved back to this small town when it was clear none of them were really comfortable there. If it had been up to me, I’d have gone anywhere else in the world where people didn’t judge you and you had to live in fear.


Title: Murder on Balete Drive (Trese #1)

Author: Budjette Tan (Author), Kajo Baldisimo (Illustrator)

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mythology, Filipino Literature

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


When the sun sets in the city of Manila, don’t you dare make a wrong turn and end up in that dimly-lit side of the metro, where aswang run the most-wanted kidnapping rings, where kapre are the kingpins of crime, and engkantos slip through the cracks and steal your most precious possessions.

When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.

  • Part of my 2015 Reading Challenge: A graphic novel
  • Book #2 in my Read 20 Books by Filipino Authors challenge

Review: I really, really love the artwork in this graphic novel, especially the fact that it isn’t an imitation of the Japanese manga style. I mean, I totally appreciate that style because I read TONS of manga, and i know people wanna draw like that (me included lol) but I deeply appreciate that I’m reading something that doesn’t remind me of manga every other second. The noir vibe is awesome too, and totally fits the story of Alexandra Trese, the detective who takes care of crimes and suspicious activities caused by supernatural creatures like tikbalangs and duwende. I really love the idea that odd things happening around Metro Manila are caused by supernatural beings and that there’s kickass woman kicking their butts and making sure they don’t harm humans.


Title: Unreported Murders (Trese #2)

Author: Budjette Tan (Author), Kajo Baldisimo (Illustrator)

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mythology, Filipino Literature

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


When dusk arrives in the city of Manila, that’s when you become the most likely prey of the criminal underworld.

Kidnappers and thieves will be the least of your worries.

Beware the criminals that can’t be bound with handcuffs nor harmed with bullets.

Beware the ones that crave for your blood, those who hold your heart ransom, and the ones that come to steal your soul.

When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police call Alexandra Trese.

  • Book #3 in my Read 20 Books by Filipino Authors challenge

Review: Trese is definitely an interesting series and I’ll be hunting for the next volumes soon. I couldn’t help but laugh at the parody of showbiz people in the A Little Known Murder in Studio 4 case. The Association Dues of Livewell Village reminds me of a Supernatural episode I once watched where people also sacrificed others every year to continue to have fulfilling and successful lives. Although the two are very similar (and also Supernatural freaked me out more but then that’s probably because I could actually watch the spooky things move lmao), it didn’t really bother me for some reason. Embrace of the Unwanted amused me by recreating the urban legend of the Robinsons mall snake man and revealing it to actually be a rebellious dragon teenager (but still the offspring of Gokongwei lol). The most interesting thing, though, is that each and every Trese story seems to remind me of how people can be so selfish and will sacrifice anything – even another person’s life – just to get what they want. If only Alexandra Trese could hunt those people down too and teach them a lesson (although a lot of them got punished in their own way hehe).


Title: The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1)

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Genre:  Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

  • Part of my 2015 Reading Challenge: A trilogy (Will read the other books in this series soon lol)

Review: Sage is the snarky narrator and hero of this book. He fights with everyone and is unbearable. I swear, if I were there I might have murdered him. But even though he can be annoying, this brazen orphan who defies the noble every chance he gets had me lol-ing so much because usually the “peasants” are so obedient. It was so funny seeing the ehm, people of higher standing getting pissed off and bewildered by this horrible nuisance of a boy. I figured out what the plot twist would be at around the middle half of the book, but there were still some surprises in the end that had me laughing and cheering tbh. Definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series.


Title: Zombies vs. Unicorns

Author:  Holly Black (Editor), Justine Larbalestier (Editor), Alaya Dawn Johnson, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Kathleen Duey, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, Diana Peterfreund, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Anthology, Horror, Young Adult

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

  • Part of my 2015 Reading Challenge: A book with nonhuman characters (Unicorns – definitely not human. Zombies – debatable lmao)

Review: There were so many unique approaches to these creatures that have been stereotyped since forever. Especially unicorns. They’re not the kind and noble fluffy animals you’ve always though they were. The zombies weren’t the typical chase-after-you-then-eat-all-your-brains sort either. Okay, so some of them did eat brains. And there were fluffy unicorns too. But we also have killer unicorns with blood red eyes and zombies who fall in love and hang out with their loved ones..and so much more. The winner of this battle is the reader–I’ve never had so much fun reading about unicorns and zombies.


  1. i enjoyed reading this post! and kudos to you for having read 3 filipino lit this year! and you’re done with 5 books when it’s only january 9. omg ikaw na!!

    i’ve heard a lot of raves on trese but never got to read it. your review suddenly made me go, okay, i think i REALLY should start reading it!! shine seems nice too. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks Patti! Numbers can be deceiving, though. I read two of these books (The False Prince and Zombies vs Unicorns) in a rush because I’m lending one of them to Anj this Friday and the other so that Anj (again lels) can determine if she wants to buy The False Prince (and the succeeding books in this series) in hard copy. Which is beneficial to me kasi hihiramin ko na lang sa kanya kung bilhin nya. Hahaha. XD

      Also Trese is super thin so I read each volume in less than an hour. It’s really refreshing to read Pinoy komiks pala! (Aside from Kikomachine, which I’ve been an avid fan of since forever. Haha) It’s got that Supernatural vibe but at the same time doesn’t scare me as much kasi the creepy monsters aren’t moving. Nyahahaha. I hope you enjoy it when you read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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