young adult

To Be Continued by Prex J.D.V. Ybasco

25838466Title: To Be Continued

Author: Prex J.D.V. Ybasco

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 1 out 5 stars

Summary:

Not all stories end happily nor tragically. Most of them just need to be continued.Azalea Anthony is a writer, or what she claims to be.Vim Harvey is her friend, or at least what she wants to believe.Jasmine Morrish is Azalea’s archenemy, or so what Jash believes Azalea makes people believe…er–There are other characters, too: like Warren, the basketball player, Beatrix, the model, Tom, the perfect excuse of a brother, Eclaire, the eccentric bff, etc.They all hangout in one place where they can enjoy a steaming cup of debates, an aroma of gossips, a side dish of basketball, a topping of drama, and a menu of articles : The Big Coffee Shop.

I’ve been reading this book on and off for almost a year now–it’s probably time to throw in the towel.

I got to 52% before giving in–I was hoping this was going to be something different from all the contemporary YA I usually try to read because the blurb was interesting.

There’s just too much I couldn’t stand.

The characters – There’s a representative for every cliche in the universe–they just have more unique names than your normal YA characters. To be honest, a story full of characters with odd names that live in a world full of generic city names made me lol.

Azalea (or Euiea, as she wants to be called–don’t ask me why because it’s never explained!), the heroine, annoys me the most. She’s smarter than everyone else and looks down on everyone, even her friends. How she even has friends with her attitude, idek. She’s a fucking ~special snowflake and I honestly just wanted to punch her in the nose most of the time.

Poorly written characters representing every cliche in the book and no development whatsoever? No, thank you.

The plot – I struggled through half before it dawned on me–it’s just a typical love story where the girl goes through a traumatic breakup, then proceeds to secretly fall in love with her best friend. Wow, after building up Azalea as the perfect girl, she goes and does the most cliche things ever. Er. Okay.

Maybe there’s more to the story. Except I don’t want to continue reading this book anymore. If nothing interesting has happened by at least half of the book, why should I bother?

The writing – The writing and structure was just way too awkward for me to want to continue reading. I had no clue what was happening most of the time because I couldn’t understand what was going on. This book, imo, needs a ton of editing–or a lot of rewriting, really–because it was, quite frankly, awful. Grammar mistakes, incorrect use of idioms, and…just odd writing in general.

The girls are on their way home. Azalea likes savoring the afternoon air while looking at the gold patches scattered in the western horizon. She reveres Apollo’s curtain call and wants everything to be quiet. The atmosphere usually gives her lots of ideas and queer thoughts. Right now, she is thinking of why the streets of their subdivision are named after Kings and what better names they could have instead.

This description is actually some of the better writing in the book but I’ll never understand why the sun has to be referred to as Apollo. Sure, he’s the god of light and the sun, but this reference just comes out as plain awkward.

I’d recommend reading a different book instead. Y’know, so many books, so little time. So spend your time wisely on better books!

A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

51737Title: The Truth About Forever

Author: Sarah Dessen

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

A long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

Is it really always better to be safe than sorry?

The truth about forever?

Source
Translation: There’s no such thing as forever.

Memes and kidding aside, I actually liked a YA book??? One about teens falling in love???

The end of the world is nigh.

Just kidding. Again.

But it’s no secret that I am not a fan of teenage romance novels. Most YA novels that center around romance usually annoy me because of insta-love or the stupidity of the characters. Sure, they’re teens, but that doesn’t mean teenagers fucking become unbearably stupid when they fall in love.

(I mean, come on. I was a teenager. Once. I did stupid things, but I would never dream of doing some of the shit that goes on in YA romance novels.)

Ahem.

Anyway, The Truth About Forever, when summarized, sounds like your typical romance novel. Macy loses her dad and struggles with her grief and guilt while trying to be the perfect daughter so she doesn’t worry her mom, who also struggles with her own grief. They never talk about her dad, her mom gets rid of all the stuff that reminds them of him (harsh, I know), and they are very adamant about looking Toward the Future. (While never looking back at the past.)

Macy gets a job on a whim at Wish, which has chaotic, fun-loving catering crew. This crew includes Wes, a gorgeous boy with a mysterious past and well, you know where it goes from there.

Sounds typical, right? Like you’ve read this in a billion other novels before, right? I thought so too, but..surprisingly, it works.

It’s a fun, easy read about how people deal with their grief. That probably sounds contradictory, but it really was. It’s fun, but it deals with a deep issue in a great way. Everyone’s lost someone, somehow–a family member, a friend, a pet–and we all deal with it differently. Sometimes, we move on. And sometimes, we don’t. Or can’t. Sometimes, we need help from other people.

That’s what I liked about this book. I liked seeing how Macy developed from being this girl who played safe and stayed in her comfort zone because that was what worked…to someone who learned to open up and enjoy life a little. And, little by little, learn to handle her guilt and sadness over her dad passing away.

I liked the romance too, it was kinda cute, and I enjoyed all those Truth games Macy and Wes had, but it wasn’t overpowering. It didn’t make the book all sappy. *spoiler* Every suh-woon moment had me laughing and yes, suh-wooing a little, too! Haha. *spoiler*

I think what made this book work for me was how likable all the characters were. The crew at Wish, especially Delia and Kristy, were so fun and silly and lovable that they kept me amused all throughout the story.

There were some stuff I didn’t like in this book, but they were few and far between, especially considering all the things that I enjoyed.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

26116473Title: The Outliers

Author: Kimberley McCreight

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything.

It started out so, so well. I tend to ignore/dislike a lot of contemporary YA, but this one had a hold on me from the start.

Wylie receives a mysterious text for help from her best friend Cassie and sets off on a road trip with Jasper (Cassie’s boyfriend, who Wylie hates) to find her. Wylie struggles with her inner demons all throughout, and it’s great how she doesn’t come off as horribly whiny and angsty.

The characters were interesting. Wylie, Cassie, and Jasper (Cassie’s boyfriend) all have their own struggles, and you can see the different ways they deal with it. They’re not so annoyingly whiny/angsty that it seems unrealistic, unlike characters in other contemporary YA I’ve read. You get little glimpses of their lives through flashbacks and little stories, and it got me curious. I wanted to know more about them, and I wanted to know how it all tied up to Cassie’s disappearance and all the weird stuff happening.

The road trip itself was pretty much everything I wanted it to be. The agony of waiting for another text from Cassie, that fear that started off as a tiny sliver when they started out, but soon became more apparent the further they got from home. The full-blown fear when they discovered people were not what they seemed to be.

I read a lot of the book while I was on a 12-hour bus trip home, and the descriptions of the surroundings as they started getting darker and, well, a bit sinister, started sending shivers down my spine because I took a night trip and could easily imagine myself in Wylie’s shoes. (For some reason, I imagined myself getting stranded in the middle of nowhere alone and having to ask from help from strangers…. *shudders* Needless to say, I did not leave the bus except for a quick bathroom break at a stopover for fear I’d get left behind lol)

I think I’d have enjoyed this book more if the plot twist that explains everything didn’t…feel kinda out of place. I guess I was expecting something else altogether, so I wasn’t expecting the plot twist to be so….scientific-ish. That and the fact that the story started getting a bit draggy around the last 1/4 of the book (this irony) just didn’t sit well with me. I am so disappointed I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. 😦

The book also ends in a horrible cliffhanger, which is probably understandable since this is part of a series, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read the next book. We’ll see. Haha.

Disclaimer: I won an Advanced Reader Copy through a book giveaway hosted by National Bookstore.

 

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

20801166Title: A Little Something Different

Author: Sandy Hall

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, andeveryone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

This is actually a 2.5 stars book but I’m rounding it off to 3 because that cover is goddamn gorgeous.

I started out liking this a lot. It’s cute to have several different POVs about a love story..and none of them are the main characters’ POVs. I thought it was an interesting way of showing how romance unfolds and how people perceive it. Plus Lea is Asian (!!!) so I thought it was nice to actually have an Asian girl as the main character at once.

The romance is pretty standard though. Shy, awkward boy and girl meet and there’s a spark but they can’t seem to get together even though everyone can see that they’re clearly made for each other. And there’s a whole bunch of people who really would like to see them get together.

That was interesting for the first 100 pages, then it started getting old. Because everyone, and I mean, EVERY PERSON in this book kept rooting for them. Even bitchy Charlotte the barista and always angry Victor ended up shipping them because they were so adorable and cute.

ed7789fc874dd3aab32de08235157432.jpgSeriously?!

Another thing: I thought the bench and squirrel POVs were unnecessary. I don’t even understand what the bench was doing there. It didn’t really contribute anything to the plot???

But hey, I think this book was cute, but I just am not a fan of all this saccharine sweetness. Plus matchmaking gets on my nerves (the trauma of spending your early 20s being matched to every single male in the vicinity by meddling “friends”), so although I thought Inga’s silly matchmaking game was funny at first, it slowly became annoying after she kept making little schemes to get Gabe and Lea together.

6d3d0160-7709-0131-099b-1a593329057b.gifYes, yes we get it. Please stop now.

(Of course, the matchmaking issue is my issue, not the book’s fault. XD)

All in all, I thought the book was too cute and sweet for my liking, but I think other people who enjoy romance would really like it! (And you’ll notice I may have used the word “cute” too many times in this review, which makes me think I should put it on my list of words not to use–inside joke for those who read the book. Hah!)

Exit, Pursued by A Bear by E.K. Johnston

images.jpgTitle: Exit, Pursued by A Bear

Author: E.K. Johnston

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.

“I know,” says Polly.

This is the perfect book. And I have a new favorite author.

Before anything though–this is a story about rape. Probably not something everyone will want to read about, but I do hope a lot try reading it.

For some reason, I didn’t think anything would top the beauty that is A Thousand Nights, but this book did. It is so, so wonderful because even though it tells the tale of something horrible, there is so much support for Hermione.

I don’t think I can say anything to express just great this book is. It’s not a typical rape story because the heroine doesn’t end up despairing over life and rebelling and basically making her life more shitty. But the emotions Hermione feels and the ordeals she goes through seemed realistic. (Although, of course, in real life someone would probably be feeling far worse if they were alone :().

I cried while reading the book. When I finished the book, I cried some more. Because I wish everyone had a support system like Hermione did. I wish everyone had an awesome friend like Polly, ready to defend them and shut people up when they say the dumbest, most ignorant things. And I wish people would stop judging rape victims and treat them as VICTIMS, instead of saying shit like they asked for it and making excuses for rapists.

There is so much vileness in this world. But maybe, just maybe, this book will open the eyes of some people and there will be less ignorance and horrible shit in the world.

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

imagesTitle: Ash & Bramble

Author: Sarah Prineas

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Retelling, Young Adult

the 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

A prince.

A ball.

A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight.

The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after.

But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress.

A past forgotten.

A life of servitude.

No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

I enjoyed this book because it has a very interesting approach to fairy tales. There are so many retellings these days that it’s kinda getting old. There’s only so many ways you can twist the story before things start getting repetitive. Or dull. Or maybe I need to start reading a different genre for a change (even though I love retellings!!). Lol.

Fairy tales usually tell the story of a poor, unfortunate girl who gets the happy ending she deserves through magic. In Ash and Bramble, a different point of view is presented. What if there is something more sinister behind the scenes? What if someone is orchestrating these happy endings, and people get hurt in the process? What if people, including the heroine, get forced into roles and have to act them out, with no say in the matter? What if Cinderella’s lovable fairy godmother wasn’t as good and nice as she seemed?

Quite interesting, right? That’s what kept me reading until the end, even though there were several times I was starting to get bored or frustrated.

For one, I disliked how the two main characters used different point of views to tell their side of the story. One minute you’re with Pin, our heroine, walking through corridors and making a nuisance of herself, all while using the first person narrative. Then, just as things get interesting, you suddenly find yourself reading things in the third person, because you’ve switched to Shoe’s (the hero, duh) view of the events. It was confusing the first time, and disconcerting most of the time. And frustrating all the time, because usually whatever is happening to Shoe is boring. It didn’t add to the anticipation of finding out what happens to Pin, it just made me sigh and put the book down and find something else to do.

Another thing I didn’t like, and it’s probably just me being nitpicky, is that I just can’t accept (or imagine) Cinderella in a red dress. Not to mention the description of the dress reminds me of Katniss, the original girl on fire. X’D

At the hem is the faintest hint of ashy gray, but the rest is flowing silk the color of living flame. I burn against the shadowed walls of the dressing room. I turn and the skirt swirls with vermilion and gold and the brilliant crimson of glowing embers. The air shimmers around me as if with the heat of fire.

See what I mean?

All in all, the premise is interesting, but I found the execution lacking. The evil behind the mysterious Story wasn’t explained properly enough for me, and I don’t really like the main characters enough to continue reading this series. I thought the descriptions of things were written quite well, and there’ll probably be more about Story in the next book, but that’s not enough for me to continue, especially when I have a TBR list that’s as high as Mt. Everest. Haha.

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)!

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2014 Favorite Reads (Part One)

One of the questions I hate the most is “What is your favorite book?” It’s impossible to answer. How am I supposed to choose out of all the beloved books that made me weep and laugh and rage and soar? I’d rather eat dirt than answer that question.

Of course, if you’re more specific, like if you wanna know what are my favorite books I’ve read this year, well…that’s answerable. Although it took me ages to actually write this post, mainly because I was so torn about what to choose. So many wonderful books, so little space on my list.

Choosing favorites is always tough, so I’m dividing them into parts (otherwise the list may grow bigger than I expected and i’ll end up not posting anything lmao). This post is about the top 5 books I loved reading during the first half of the year! O(≧∇≦)O

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