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September 29, 2014

Review ~ Deliverance (Courier's Daughter #3) by C. J. Redwine








Synopsis:

Everything hangs in the balance, and nothing is certain: Rachel has been kidnapped by enemy forces and is being taken to Rowansmark while Logan, imprisoned and awaiting trial, is unable to leave Lankenshire. Separated from each other and their Baalboden comrades, each must find a way to achieve what they desperately want: to rid their world once and for all of the Commander and the tech that controls the deadly Cursed One.

Fighting through her pain and embracing the warrior she’s become, Rachel will do whatever it takes to escape her enemies’ clutches and join Logan in his fight. But when she learns a secret that changes everything, she realizes that escaping Ian and his tracker friends is no longer an option if she wants to save the people she loves. Instead, she’ll have to destroy Rowansmark from the inside out—if she can survive the journey through the Wasteland.

Logan needs allies if he wants to thwart Rowansmark’s power grab and rescue Rachel. But securing allies will mean betraying his beliefs and enlisting the help of the man he hates more than anyone: Commander Jason Chase. Driven by his fierce love for Rachel and his determination to make their world safe, Logan may be just the weapon the city-states need to defeat the Cursed One.

But as Rowansmark bears down and uneasy alliances are tested, will Rachel and Logan’s love for each other be enough to surmount the unbelievable odds against them?


Buy from:

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository 



Review:


As with all the books I have read, I have both praises and light criticisms for this one.

I love this series. When I first saw Defiance in my local bookstore, the cover lured me in. After reading the summary in the back, I didn’t go out of the bookstore without that title with me. I have been following this series since the first year it started, and may I just rant for a moment because waiting for all the books to come out is pure torture. That’s two years of waiting, folks. Two fricking years. For a bookworm, that is pure agony.

Anyway, the first two books did not disappoint, therefore driving my interest to read this final book. I am happy to say that Deliverance did not let me down, either. It is full of surprises and unexpected turns that when I thought I had it figured out, something suddenly happens to throw me off guard. I liked the anticipation it built while I was reading, especially when I was nearing the climax and everything was about to go to the deepest pit of the tanniyins’ nest (not literally). For a moment there I thought I was going to palpitate from the anticipation and nervousness that everything would go downhill.

The plot is slow-paced, but the thing I liked about it is I didn’t feel bored. I didn’t feel like I was agonizing over the chapters. Sure, I was impatient in some parts but mostly I just enjoyed every turn of events. As I’ve said, this book has a lot of surprises and unexpected turns and those kept it interesting for me and kept me from being bored. The unveiled mysteries and unanswered questions in the past two books were slowly and precisely revealed in this final installment of the series, and I enjoyed watching it unfold before me.

I also liked C. J. Redwine’s style. The way the characters narrate the exact details made it so much easier to imagine the scenes. It’s like 3D in my brain.

Some characters have stayed with me. Three books down in the series but I am still somehow detached from Logan or Rachel. Quinn and Willow are another story, though. They are a very strong secondary character. I have a fetish for secondary characters sometimes that I wish they would be the center of the story. Connor, too. He’s an unexpected addition to the team but I like his wit and intelligence (or it might be because he has a passion for books and it struck my soft spot).

Here come the parts I wasn’t fond of.

First, for a YA novel, the characters are talking about murder and violence way too much. I imagine, even in action-packed fantasy novels, we don’t want the young adult readers to enjoy too much violence, even in books. I understand that it is part of the story, but maybe it shouldn’t have been labeled as YA. I know the readers are not stupid, but there is just something off in young adults enjoying a violent read.

Second, Logan and Rachel’s “voices” are alike most of the time. They have almost the same goal, the same people they hate, and the same people they want to see dead, so the “tone” of the narrations is getting similar. Sometimes, I find Rachel being too detached and Logan’s “voice” bordering on girly. I’m not fond of different POVs with similar “voices”.

Third, I didn’t like Rachel’s character development. Yes, she has come a long way from Defiance and she has learned a lot of lessons along the way, but I didn’t like the way she always put the blame to someone. She kept blaming others for the things that are happening to her now when she’d had the choice to do differently. I don’t know why she didn’t realize that she played a big part in the mess they were in now with the choices she did in the past. She gave the impression of too stubborn and too proud to admit her mistakes by acknowledging her “wrong” decisions. Logan got a little annoying at times, too. However, unlike Rachel, this guy takes all the blame.

This journey with Rachel and Logan and their team has been an enjoyable one, and I am sad that the series has ended (though I am also happy that there is no more book to wait a year for!). Despite the parts I didn’t like, this is a satisfying conclusion of the Defiance Trilogy. I hope the author decides to write a novella about Quinn (again) or Willow this time, or maybe Connor. Just a little something for old times’ sake. ;)


~ Zee

September 28, 2014

Review ~ The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg








Synopsis:

Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.
BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?


Buy From:

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository 


Review:

This book is a “cute” read. Light-hearted, but with enough touching moments in just the right parts. The concept of the book is great, and the plot follows through.

Brie’s “voice” is something that held my attention fast. Yes, she’s a whiner, she’s na├»ve, she’s a little moody—going from being a sweetheart to a vengeful bitch from one second to the next—she’s stupid, and she’s sometimes too annoying because she’s so in love with someone it’s unbelievably exasperating. But then she’s fifteen, and teen agers go all through those stuff. We’ve got to admit we’ve been there before. So I’m hands down amazed at how the author captured and executed that fifteen-year-old tone.

This book is very relatable, especially to those who have been through a break-up before. The five stages of grief that Brie went through after her death is something, I think, for all the teen agers out there who is going through heartbreak.
Although the characters took a while to grow on me, I did love them all in the end. I like Brie’s sassiness, Patrick’s sarcasm, Jacob’s ability to hide his secret in the deepest pit of his intestines (which started the whole mess), Emma, Sadie and Tess’s loyalty, Jack’s adorableness, and Hamloaf’s goofiness.

The most heart-wrenching part of this book is what became of Brie’s family. It shows that not every story has a completely happy ending. Something really has to be lost along the way. I’ll have to say that’s a really nice touch, although it struck my emotional locker and threatened to spill my tears. Brie’s emotions struck me best in the parts where her family was involved. The words drip of sadness, anger, and grief that it almost felt like my own. I like that in books I read.

The twist is something I had not seen coming. It took me completely by surprise, but I couldn’t be sure if I liked that surprise or not. For the most part, I was just like, “Oh, that’s unexpected.” But it did not shake my world. It just fell flat to me.
I enjoyed reading this book for the most part, and I recommend it to those who could relate to heartbreak.



~ Zee

September 26, 2014

Review ~ Havoc (Dred Chronicles #1) by Ann Aguirre








Synopsis:

Perdition is under siege. Mercenaries have boarded the station with orders to take control of the facility—and execute the prisoners. Their commander is offering full pardons to the first five inmates willing to help the mercs complete their mission.

Dresdemona “Dred” Devos hasn’t survived hard time just to surrender to the Conglomerate’s armored thugs. Leading a ragtag army of inmates, Dred and her champion, Jael, wage a bloody guerilla war of chaos and carnage against impossible odds. But no matter how dire the outlook, the Dread Queen never backs down…


Buy from:

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository


Review:

Havoc is my best read of the month so far.

I like the way Ann Aguirre writes. There are no ‘wasted’ words, if you know what I mean. Everything she puts in the book turns out to be something bigger later on.

This series, Dred Chronicles, is a brilliant story. I’m amazed at how Aguirre can keep the story going in such a very small community. The action never ceases, the mysteries keep piling up, and the anticipation keeps on building. I like it that there is a touch of romance and some steamy affairs to keep it interesting, but what I like the most is how the author never gets carried away by the romance. These scenes are simple and short but sweet.

Dred’s character development is akin to remarkable. I like it that despite the air of arrogance and bravery she always carry around her to keep her people at bay, she knows how to acknowledge her weaknesses. I also like her leadership because she dives headfirst into danger to protect her people and her ‘kingdom’.

I didn’t notice that much development in Jael, except that he seems to be getting more ‘human’. Despite his history, in Havoc he seems to be feeling more emotions and less thinking of himself as the scientific experiment he is.

I find Tam the most mysterious character in this series. We are already two books down but this man remains a complete mystery. All the readers get is his life in Perdition, but nothing from the past. Might this be a big revelation? I am already thinking about a thousand conclusions who Tam might be and what he did to be sent in Perdition. He seems to be someone connected to a royal family, but I can’t be sure.

What I really like the most about this book is the battle of intelligence. We get not only a blood bath but also a clash of cleverness and intellect. Mercenaries were sent to wipe out the prisoners under the orders of the Conglomerate. Vost, the head of the black ops, is an outstanding leader. I think he’s as brilliant as Tam. So, we get both intellectual leaders and clever plans and strategies. I like what Aguirre did here, making both camps smart. It makes it difficult to guess what will come next because both teams seem to be winning.

The ending is very shocking, but at the same time, it is not. When you read the book, you will know what I mean. I knew what was going to happen because everything points in that direction, but it is shocking because I did not expect it. It gives the readers another wave of doubt and anticipation. It left me hanging, big time.

I recommend this book to those who like action-packed reads. Havoc is full of it, and no chapter is boring.



~ Zee

September 24, 2014

Review ~ Desert Heat by Elizabeth Reyes







Synopsis:

Besides working three jobs, worrying about her family back home, and running from her past, the worst thing to complicate Bethany Amaya’s life further would be a romance. But after a second-run in with the irresistibly sexy detective Damian Santiago, that’s exactly what she gets. In the blink of an eye, she’s caught up in a passionate romance with one of the most intense men she’s ever met.


Awestruck for a second time by the beautiful and intriguing performer, Damian is both surprised and delighted that Bethany agrees to something he didn’t even expect to be asking for so soon—exclusivity. As things heat up, Damian’s skills of detecting and reading body language begin to raise suspicions—Bethany is keeping something from him. Try as he might to calm his suspicions, the blatant signs become impossible to ignore.



Some things are better left unsaid. At least that’s what Bethany keeps telling herself. She never imagined falling in love so quickly, and she refuses to get Damian caught up in her troubles. She knows what he suspects—sees it in those possessive eyes. With Damian’s suspicions mounting, time is of the essence. The race is on, and Bethany finds herself scrambling to fix the past before the truth comes out and Damian finds out that it’s much worse than he suspected.



Buy From:

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository


Review:

I just love this book. Elizabeth Reyes’s way of writing has captured my fangirl heart and I won’t stop until I have read all of her books, and when I’m done I might just pester her to write more and fast. Desert Heat might be the hottest novel of Elizabeth Reyes yet.

I like the twist and mystery of the book. The way the author pulled it off is good. Elizabeth Reyes sure knows how to build the readers’ anticipation.

I will admit that when it comes to this author, we get pretty much similar characters. Alpha males, women who stand up against them, hot affairs between MCs. I have not read all of Reyes’s books but from the half I’ve read I have noticed the similarities of the characters, but it does not bother me. I guess my favorite thing about this author is no matter how “redundant” the characters seem to be, they never get old for me. The way she puts different twists and different conflicts in each book grabs me every time. So while I think the redundancy in the characteristics of the MCs might not be a good thing for the books (because for some it gets old fast), Elizabeth Reyes makes up for it in the execution of the story. That’s another thing I like about her.

The plot is good for me; it’s neither slow-paced nor fast-paced. It’s just the right pace, I think. The character developments are good, too. However, one thing I didn’t like about Damian is he moved a little too late. He’s supposed to be an intelligent detective, but sometimes he really lets his emotions get in the way.

I like the way Desert Heat kept me guessing about its characters and their predicaments. Like, what is Bethany hiding? That totally shocked me. In all the possibilities I’ve thought, not one was correct. I like that, because it just proves that the book is not predictable (I hate predictable reads).

Have I mentioned that this book is sooooo hot? I’m not much for that kind of hot affair (I like the romance and mystery but hot scenes get old really fast for me) but I know there are readers who are, and this book might just be perfect for their taste.

Elizabeth Reyes never fails to keep me wanting more of her romance novels.



~ Zee

September 22, 2014

Event Recap ~ Jen and Lissa in PH (with a little history of my reading habit)



It only takes the right book to make someone fall in love in reading.

I didn't fall in love with books until four years ago (I'm frozen in time--I always think of it as two years ago then realize my mistake a minute later). The first book I've ever read is Every Storm by Lori Wick and it was soon followed by Scared to Death by Alan Gibbons and (after watching the movie) the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. What really made me crave more reading materials were Julie Garwood's historical books, though.

A few authors have visited my country in the past, but I wasn't that interested in meeting anyone yet. The only one I would have really loved to meet was Nicholas Sparks but I only borrowed the books from my friends and didn't own any yet to have it signed. So, yeah. I didn't get to meet him and it's such a waste because I might never have another chance to.

Anyway, I started caring for authors only this year, when I got my own laptop and started following and stalking their social media accounts. There have been a few who had a signing this year, like Gayle Forman and Stephanie Perkins, but I did not get to see and meet them because of unfortunate circumstances and bad timings.

Today, though, I finally had the pleasure of meeting an author--two authors, actually. It's the first book signing I've been to (though not my fist signed books) and the first time I attended the Manila International Book Fair. I hit two birds with one stone. *winks*

One of our local book stores invited authors Lissa Price and Jennifer E. Smith to have a book signing in three different locations in the country. I was able to come on the last day of the signing in the MIBF 2014 (thankfully! We had a nasty storm Friday until Saturday and our area was flooded until Saturday night). It was a very delightful experience and I enjoyed every minute of it, even the long line.



Because of the limited space, the signing only had 200 slots.
My sister and I were 197th and 198th on the line. It was a close call but we made it!
(I later learned that they closed the signing at 300 slots because there was a lot of
readers hoping to see and meet the authors)




While waiting in line, we took a picture of the books.
Butterflies were somersaulting in my stomach that time.






The pictures are a little blurred because I was shaking so bad from the excitement. 
Sorry. First-timer here. :D




...and then my big moment arrived!





THE VERY FIRST AUTHOR I'VE MET!
(I was very irritated with the staff who took the picture because the book wasn't captured.)
But I got to hug the lovely Ms. Price! *swoon*
(Oh, and Ms. J. E. smith was photobombing. LOL)



Click on the picture for the
book synopsis




Click on the book cover for the book synopsis
 









I couldn't say anything but "Oh, my gosh".
Oh, and "Can I hug you?" So, yeah. :D
 





Click on the cover to see book synopsis





After meeting (and hugging) the authors, my hands were shaking so bad from the excitement and I think I had a little trouble breathing normally. My younger sister would have laughed at me, except she was in the same state as I. The experience was super. <3



~ Zee

September 11, 2014

Bookish Diary ~ I am one happy fangirl



I woke up this morning feeling grumpy and moody because I only had three hours of sleep and I have fourteen straight hours of non-stop work from my internship straight to my part-time job as a tutor. It's really exhausting, and I'm not a morning person to start with, so waking up in a bad mood is not really a surprise. However, a surprise did make me smile minutes after I sat up in bed.

I make it a habit to open my email first thing in the morning so I won't miss any memo from my internship or some other (bookish) things. When I checked my email right after sitting up in bed, I saw that I have 33 unread--and all of them a notification from Amazon that I have received a kindle book from author Ann Aguirre. I knew immediately what amazon is talking about since a couple of days ago Ms. Aguirre's assistant told me in an email that the author herself will gift kindle copies to me. I did not, however, realize how much books I'm going to receive.

Last month I participated in Ms. Aguirre's Big Mortal Danger Contest. It was held in honor of her new YA Book, Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1). I won a "branded flash drive containing my backlist" (that's what was written in the contest prizes). It was fun participating in the contest, and it really made my creative mind going. I'm so happy I won something. Again, I just did not realize how much I won--until this morning.

So yeah, I received 33 (THIRTY-fricking-THREE!) kindle books--all of Ms. Aguirre's published books so far. Though I haven't read all of her books, she has become one of my favorite authors. There's something in her writing that catches me everytime I read something from her. So far I haven't read a book of hers that I didn't like, which makes me look forward in reading more. Then this, receiving all her books in one morning--it's just impossible not to lose the bad mood even in an unholy hour. To say I'm stunned might be an understatement. I'm so overwhelmed with that much books from one author and receiving it all in one morning.

Now, they're all sitting in my kindle happily waiting for me to read them. Here are some of them:




I've been really wanting to read I Want It That Way (because I'm a sucker for romance books and she wrote a New Adult!), Havoc (because I loved the first book, Perdition--it was brilliant and awesome!), and Mortal Danger (I'm a sucker for YA, too!). Now those three anticipated reads are sitting in my kindle waiting to be devoured. ;)

This is like receiving an early graduation gift (I'll be graduating college in December! YAY!). Although there wasn't an actual wrapper to tear, I'm still as giddy as a kid on Christmas/birthday. This is the biggest (and most overwhelming!) gift I've ever received.

I'd really hug this author if she's on hugging distance, but maybe someday. *winks, winks*
Those books really made my day. I can't thank her enough. *sending hugs to her all the way from the other half of the world*

~ Zee

September 10, 2014

Bookish Diary ~ Gonna sleep with a smile on my lips tonight


I'm going to graduate college (hopefully) this December (got my fingers and toes crossed!). One of my mother's sisters-in-law gave me an early graduation gift--an allowance specifically for books! I haven't received any other (advance) gifts but I have a feeling this might be the best of them all--except, of course, if I receive more books. ;)

So with an excited flutter in my stomach, I went in my internship and spent the whole day in the office staring at the clock and thinking what books I'm going to buy. It was the longest seven hours of my life. If I could fly, I would have flown the mile it takes from the office to the nearest book store (yes, the book store is only a mile away from the building I'm doing my internship in--very convenient!). I couldn't leave the office fast enough when my shift finally ended. I think I was  actually bouncing like a kid in the car on my way to the book store.

The hardest part for a bookworm is what to read next, and earlier, I walked around the store debating what to pick up to take home with me. If I had my way I would've carried the whole book store home but, alas, I can't afford it.

I ended up buying these five lovelies:



To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han


I was a very happy kid when I walked out of that book store. I was high from the smell of books.

When I got home, of course I just had to announce it to the world. I tweeted, posted in Facebook, and now blogging it.

Then one of my favorite authors, Kate Evangelista, saw my tweet an retweeted it. She even replied to me, which just made me swoon (I'm weird like that). That prompted my memory that she is going to be in the 2014 Manila International Book Fair on September 20, so I opened up her twitter account and stalked her. I saw her tweet about the time she's going to speak in the MIBF and I asked her if I can have my book, 'Til Death, signed there. This is how it went:



I fangirled severely after that. I might have broken some china and furniture, but in my high-as-a-kite-from-a-twitter-conversation state I can't be sure. ;)

Kate Evangelista is one of my favorite authors and one of my inspirations in my (future) writing career. It has been my dream to publish a book and to become a real author, but I doubted my abilities and my chances because the literary market in my country is small. After discovering that Ms. Evangelista is also a Filipina and she has published six books internationally (Savor, Taste, Romancing the Bookworm, Reaping Me Softly, Unreap My Heart, 'Til Death) my hopes rekindled in my chest.

I emailed her a couple of times and she has been very wonderful. She encouraged me to write and pursue my dreams. Now that I will actually have the chance to meet her in person, to say I'm excited is an understatement. My excitement can be bottled up and sold around the world. If it can feed people, children in Africa will never starve. That's how excited I am. (Now I'm starting to doubt if I can settle down enough to sleep tonight)

If you haven't read her books, please give it a try. ;)

This day has been a very happy one for me. Five paperbacks at a time, a chance to meet one of my favorite authors, a twitter conversation with her... I can't wipe my silly smile off my face.

Have I mentioned how excited I am to meet Kate Evangelista?



~ Zee