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December 27, 2015

Review ~ Battle Royale: Remastered by Koushun Takami and transalated by Nathan Collins

Battle Royale: Remastered

Synopsis:
Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.

Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan—where it then proceeded to become a runaway best seller—Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available in a new English-language translation.


Purchase links:

Review:

Just in case you're still not convinced: there's a lot of violence in this book. A lot. 

Here are the parts I liked:
a.)  The way the author described the most simple things up to the gory details. They made me visualize what was happening with lesser effort on my part. Everything is vividly flashing on my mind as my eyes scanned the pages, the reason why I cannot put the book down. This factor prevented me from being distracted. Compliments to the author and the translator. 

b.) The psychology of this book. Kids are killing each other and it was a brilliant idea that the author jumped from one mind to another. Every person had their reasons why they did what they did. Mostly, it took me to the part of the brain where paranoia kicks in, however, it was how they tried to assess a situation that interest me. They're trying to fight their reflexes by being logical. 

c.) The sense of camaraderie. This book is full of betrayal. I couldn't really blame the kids, though. It's all about survival and for those who chose to play the game, it's one of the easiest method to kill their classmates. That's why the bond between Nanahara, Kawada and Nakagawa is a nice touch. It's one of the soft touches of the book that proves there is still care, protection and honesty under violence, deception and treachery. 

There are two parts I want to point out:
a.) Having a utopian/dystopian story should have a strong world building. That is why I'm a bit disappointed when I reached the part of the book where they explained why the government is doing this.  I think the government here is still not developed. 

b.) Their names. I am really very sorry; my great weakness is remembering names. This book has 42 names to remember (at least!) and to make it more difficult, they're Japanese names that's why it's a bit confusing. 

Overall, I see why they had to produce a movie out of this book. It's just that good!

-Allyn

December 26, 2015

Review ~ The Poser by Jacob Rubin


the poser cover


Synopsis:

All his life, Giovanni Bernini has possessed an uncanny gift: he can imitate anyone he meets. Honed by his mother at a young age, the talent catapults him from small-town obscurity to stardom.   As Giovanni describes it, “No one’s disguise is perfect. There is in every person, no matter how graceful, a seam, a thread curling out of them. . . . When pulled by the right hands, it will unravel the person entire.” As his fame grows, Giovanni encounters a beautiful and enigmatic stage singer, Lucy Starlight—the only person whose thread he cannot find—and becomes increasingly trapped inside his many poses. Ultimately, he must assume the one identity he has never been able to master: his own.

In the vein of Jonathan Lethem’s and Kevin Wilson’s playful surrealism, Jacob Rubin’s The Poser is the debut of a major literary voice, a masterfully written, deeply original comic novel, and the moving story of a man who must risk everything for the chance to save his life and know true love.

Review:

Some books are meant to be savored, and The Poser by Jacob Rubin is one of those. Unlike the fast-paced, exciting stories I usually read, The Poser requires a very slow reading. The words used in this book are eloquent. It might be hard for young readers to understand but it will be a great material in expanding their vocabulary.

According to Shakespeare, 'All the world’s a stage', and Giovanni is everyone's understudy. He can mimic anyone down to the tiniest details. He can play any of the characters in the play of life. In doing so, however, he seems lost on what his part is in the play. I sympathize on how he seems to be lost when facing another being unless he mimics someone else. Like a disguise, he is quiet and unsure who he really is or how to be himself. This book raised intriguing questions about me, and my own 'thread'.

I love the magic of the words in this book; in Giovanni's view on life. How he describes an experience, a person, a feeling, or a place. Jacob Rubin created a perfect character for an impressionist: observant to the tiniest details and able to describe even the most mundane things.

I was not hooked on the first chapter or the second. I was hooked because of the magic of Giovanni's words. How he tells his story is fascinating. Like getting to know a complete stranger, this book requires patience and time, and it will be worth it.

~ Djan

Purchase links:

December 24, 2015

Review ~ The Getaway God (Sandman Slim #6) by Richard Kadrey


the getaway god cover


Synopsis:

Sandman Slim must save himself-and the entire world-from the wrath of some enraged and vengeful ancient gods in this sixth high-octane adventure in the New York Times bestselling series

Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude-not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer-James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark's problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil-the Wildfire Ripper-is stalking the city.

No ordinary killer, The Ripper takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He's also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. The trouble is, he's also Stark's worst enemy . . . the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice.

Review:

When I first started reading this series, it was exciting. I mean, a man who literally escaped hell just so he can get to the guys who sent him there? I felt that this was gonna be a violent and bloody book of revenge I can enjoy.

I mainly stayed for the action, bloodbath, demons, and butt kicking (typical guy stuff). Who would have known that this contains a little bit of depth in story as you read?

I like Stark’s character, whose main problem solving skill is to stab anything that comes to kill him and worry about the repercussions later. The rules of the supernatural side of things from angels, demons, and God to the politics of the Sub-Rosa community doesn't faze him one bit.

Getaway God fell a bit short on my expectation though. The smash-anything-that-moves routine is only present in about 20% of the time, which I think was not a great look for Stark at all. The whole plot was bland and the only spice was when a certain dead man came back to mess with Sandman Slim.


The ending had a kind of interesting bit to it, so I'll see if the next book can redeem itself.

~ Djan

December 13, 2015

Cover Reveal ~ Your Irresistible Love by Layla Hagen

Today, we have a back-to-back cover reveal for the first two books in Layla Hagen’s new series, The Bennett Family. Yep, it's a double cover reveal! Check out the gorgeous covers for the first two books in this new series! Also, don't forget to look for the link of the giveaway. :)

LHYourIrresistibleLoveBookCover5_25x8_MEDIUM-updated

Book 1 Title: Your Irresistible Love 
Release Date: January 15th 2016
Description: Sebastian Bennett is a determined man. It’s the secret behind the business empire he built from scratch. Under his rule, Bennett Enterprises dominates the jewelry industry. Despite being ruthless in his work, family comes first for him, and he’d do anything for his parents and eight siblings—even if they drive him crazy sometimes. . . like when they keep nagging him to get married already. Sebastian doesn’t believe in love, until he brings in external marketing consultant Ava to oversee the next collection launch. She’s beautiful, funny, and just as stubborn as he is. Not only is he obsessed with her delicious curves, but he also finds himself willing to do anything to make her smile. He’s determined to have Ava, even if she’s completely off limits. 

Ava Lindt has one job to do at Bennett Enterprises: make the next collection launch unforgettable. Daydreaming about the hot CEO is definitely not on her to-do list. Neither is doing said CEO. The consultancy she works for has a strict policy—no fraternizing with clients. She won’t risk her job. Besides, Ava knows better than to trust men with her heart. But their sizzling chemistry spirals into a deep connection that takes both of them by surprise. Sebastian blows through her defenses one sweet kiss and sinful touch at a time. When Ava’s time as a consultant in his company comes to an end, will Sebastian fight for the woman he loves or will he end up losing her? 

Don't you just love that cover? I think it's absolutely gorgeous. Whoever is designing these covers is a genius. ~Zee

But there's more! Here is the cover for the second book of the series (which is just as gorg):
  LHYourCaptivatingLoveBookCover5_25x8_MEDIUM-updated

Book 2 Title: Your Captivating Love 
Release Date: April 2016 
Description: Logan Bennett knows his priorities. He is loyal to his family and his company. He has no time for love, and no desire for it. Not after a disastrous engagement that left him broken-hearted. When Nadine enters his life, she turns everything upside down. She’s sexy, funny, and utterly captivating. She’s also more stubborn than anyone he’s met. . .including himself. 

Nadine Hawthorne is finally pursuing her dream: opening her own shop. After working so hard to get here, she needs to concentrate on her new business, and can’t afford distractions. Not even if they come in the form of Logan Bennett. He’s handsome, charming, and doesn’t take no for an answer. It doesn’t help that Logan’s family is scheming to bring them together at every turn Their attraction is sizzling, and their connection—undeniable. Slowly, Logan wins her over. But what starts out as a fling soon spirals into so much more. Will they learn to trust their feelings? Will they have the strength not to let go of each other?

*Note: Synopsis is subject to change

Let's take a look at a teaser for Your Irresistible Love. This is my favorite one. :D
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Add these books to your TBR list! Just click on the links to be redirected to Goodreads:


About the Author:
I fell in love with books when I was nine years old, and my love affair with stories continues even now, many years later. I write romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world. And I drink coffee. Lots of it.





Giveaway:
 a Rafflecopter giveaway     

December 06, 2015

Bookish Diary ~ The Struggles of a Bipolar Book Jumper

I am not the type of reader who sticks on one genre. I adore varieties and love to do what I call is book jumping. I choose what to read based on what I feel at the moment.

Sometimes I wake up and still feel half-asleep, so I choose an exciting thriller-adventure to keep me company in those long commute to work.

Maybe I would feel a little bit sad at night and would want something sad and depressing too, so my problems wouldn't seem that big at all.

Mainly, I like books with humor the most because who doesn't need a good laugh now and again?

Reading this way can be frustrating. Sometimes I'm in a middle of a book when suddenly I feel like reading a completely different book so I immediately drop the current read and pick up another. The worst that could happen would be me jumping from book to book, in search of the 'right' story.

This way of reading is really annoying because sometimes I forget where I left off at the last book and have to start over, or mix one story in my head with another and get all confused with the characters when the sequel comes out.

Now, if you are a struggling bipolar book jumper like me, you should:
1. Have a checklist. This way you can keep track of books you are reading.
2. Schedule. If you're reading two books at once, why not try scheduling one for daytime and another when night comes? That will be a big help especially for those who have day/night bipolar book jumping tendencies.
3. Limit your book jumping. Set a number of books on which to jump. It wouldn't do to have to read ten at a time. My personal limit is around four books.


Book jumping is actually the reason for the delay in my book reviews these days. It's not that what I'm reading is boring; it's just that sometimes I'm on search for something that feels right for the moment. Maybe my brain is just wired that way, or maybe I'm just plain weird, but I believe there's nothing wrong with that. As long as you can get to the last page in your own sweet time.

~ Djan

Ha. I can tell you guys that this guy can swing from one mood to another in a matter of seconds. He's not a bipolar (that I know of), and sometimes the mood swings from happy to annoyed is amusing to watch. It can be highly entertaining, especially when the whole gang is making fun of him. *wink* ~Zee

December 05, 2015

Review ~ Rage (Fate #5) by Elizabeth Reyes



Synopsis:

Fate is a Moreno Brother's spin off series

Having made it to the major leagues, AJ "Rage" Romero is determined to shake the stigma his temper has earned him over the years. He's finally managed a shaky hold of that elusive self-control.

Until he meets them . . .

Without warning, his coach and mentor's brilliantly gifted granddaughter Clair and her equally amazing mother Addison Lara blow into AJ's life. The harder he falls for Addison, the closer and more attached he becomes to Clair.

Having fallen so fast and hard, he agrees to respect the understandably protective single mother's wish to forever keep the identity of Clair's absent father unknown to everyone—including AJ.

But when the ugly truth about Clair's dad begins to surface, the fire in AJ's fiercely possessive heart is lit. As more of the troubling reality comes to light, his zero tolerance for secrets and dishonesty put his temper—and his love for Addison—to the ultimate test.

Self-control has never felt so impossible.

Purchase links:
amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | smashwords

Review:

I liked Rage enough, but I wished humor wasn’t absent in the whole book.

One thing is never absent in an Elizabeth Reyes book: short-tempered alpha males. Sometimes, I think I had enough of it, but then this author knows how to keep the story interesting despite the similarity of the male MCs in every book. I liked how she delivered Rage, though I really wished we had more humor. The intensity wasn’t bad, but it was stifling.

I didn’t like how I was introduced to the story, though. The prologue was unnecessary. It felt like the author eased me into their world, briefed me on what was happening before leaving me to observe the chemistry of the MCs. I never like that in books. I want the story to feel natural.

The characters were okay. Clair is adorable, though way too perceptive for a kid. Addison had the spine to be firm on her decision, though there was a time that she still gave in too easily. AJ is the typical Elizabeth Reyes hero, so I don’t have much to say about him.

I’m not fond of the ending. It’s too convenient for AJ. It’s also a downside for Addison. I mean, if that were me, I would be more careful even if I was sure of the guy. She’d been burned once, but it felt like she didn’t learn her lesson. Granted, AJ was it for her, but still. I wish that particular unexpected addition wasn’t thrown into the mix.

~ Zee

December 04, 2015

Review ~ Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2) by Sara Raasch



Synopsis:

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

Purchase links:
amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Book Depository

Review:


I’m a little sad that this book didn’t have as much impact as Snow Like Ashes did. Ice Like Fire is less magical and more political.

There are so many things that went wrong for me in this book, mainly because of Meira. I really liked her character in Snow Like Ashes, but her character development in this book disappointed me because I didn’t think it was a good development. This book shows how unfit she is to be a queen. Perhaps that’s understandable since she didn’t have the training and upbringing of a true queen, and it saddened me to see her kingdom no better off than when Winterians were slaves. She had advisers, but she kept disregarding their advice. She thought she could solve her kingdom’s problem on her own, which is just impossible. She kept rambling about losing herself and being what her kingdom needed her to be, but what she didn’t seem to understand is that she is herself, but that’s not what she, and her kingdom, need. From what I could gather, she needed her kingdom more than they needed her. She needed the help of those she trusted; the help of her people. She didn’t need to solve everything on her own, as what she was stubbornly doing. Her actions in this book show how young she is to take the responsibility of her kingdom in her shoulders. Also, she’s so weak when it comes to her emotions. I can’t believe how she won’t stand up against Theron. She didn’t know how to make a stand.

I don’t understand why Mather needed to have his own POV. I didn’t learn anything interesting from him, except Feige.

Despite the political plotting, I like the way the other kingdoms are explored. I was given a bigger picture on how the kingdoms exist with and against each other. I liked the differences in tradition. Sara Raasch delivered in her one of a kind world building.

The thing I hate the most in this book—in this series (actually, in most of YA series)—is the love triangle. We already have a strong story here: strong plot, strong characters, strong bonds—SO WHY DO THE AUTHORS FEEL THE NEED TO ADD LOVE TRIANGLE AS A CONFLICT? WHY DOES THIS AUTHOR HAVE TO SMEAR HER STRONG FEMALE LEAD WITH THIS WEAKNESS? WHY CAN’T FEMALE LEAD HAVE OTHER WEAKNESS ASIDE FROM THE LOVE INTEREST? I don’t understand. Love triangle is a nuisance in a good story.

Ice Like Fire is a weak sequel to a book as great as Snow Like Ashes. This sequel is idle. What is that called—second book syndrome? Yeah, I think Ice Like Fire is suffering from that. I think I’ll be further disappointed if the third book is a bang. An idle book between two great books feels like a waste of time.

~ Zee

How did you like this book? Let's keep the spoilers in minimum. :)

December 03, 2015

Bookish Diary ~ Top 7 Phrases You Should Avoid Saying In The Presence of a Bookworm


Book enthusiasts understand the sacredness of books to a level a mere mortal can never comprehend. We may seem a little bit crazy and intense when it comes to the thing we love best (books, duh), but that's just how we roll. For your own safety, avoid these careless remarks when we are nearby: 

1. "He's/She's not real." Our minds are strong. They are as real to me as this cup of coffee I have in my hand as I read the last paragraphs of Winter. My love for the characters is strong enough to bring them to life.

2. "You're just sitting there. Isn't that boring?" I am flying aboard a pirate ship being chased by a monstrous whale. Sometimes I'm watching how my hero takes down a demonic hellhound with a broken sword. We are always somewhere far off. We are never bored.

3. "Didn't you just finish that? Why read it again?" It is not a matter of why we read it again but when we will read it again.

4. "You read too much." And you have too much time of idleness. Seriously, go bother someone else; I'm too busy trying to choosing my next read as the current book I'm reading is almost halfway done.

5. "The movie was better." Just. . .no.

6. "I've never read a book before." Oh, you poor thing. (Starts piling books into your arms)


7. "It's just a book." Probably the last sentence you'll ever say. I'll have it engrave in your headstone.

~ Djan

What should we add to the list? There can't be just seven. *wink*

December 02, 2015

Review ~ Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy



Synopsis:

What if you'd been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?

Purchase links:
amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Book depository

Review:

 I liked the nastiness in this book. Does that make me a bad person?

Side Effects May Vary represented teenagers’ immaturity well enough. This book hit my opinion of ‘believable’ right in the nose. Alice is not a good person on a good day, but I liked how her character is portrayed. I can easily imagine her as a real person. She wants to come out on top of everything, always. She has to have the last word. She has to show everyone that she won, even when the victory cost her a part of herself. You know how people say if you hate a person, you hate something in him/her that’s part of yourself? Well, I guess I hated Alice’s attitude because it’s a part of me that I hated. I think that’s why I like her character. I can relate to her somehow.

I liked the angst in this book. I could almost feel every bitter, hateful word hitting me in the chest. I liked the portrayal of all the other characters, because they were all believable. I liked everyone’s interaction with each other. I wanted to cry for Alice, for her Mom, for her Dad, and even for Harvey. There were times when they all got so frustrating that I just wanted to cry in frustration, but in the end all was well.

This book is not about a bucket list. It’s not about Alice’s road to recovery. It’s not about her battle with cancer. Side Effects May Vary is about acceptance and redemption.

~ Zee

December 01, 2015

Review ~ Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher



Synopsis:

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Purchase Links:

Review:

Very few authors can create an original concept for the fantasy genre, for almost all avenues had been exploited. Of course, it only takes tying up different concepts together to create a great working story, but this tends to be very hard to do because you have to make sure to balance every element you've put and remember all of them.

Jim Butcher’s Aeronaut's Windlass is a combination of steam-punk tech setting set on an almost apocalyptic end, where humans live on Spires way above ground. The surface is said to be riddled with monstrous creatures since the beginning so only the unlucky and the stupidly reckless go there.

I love the Aeronaut's Windlass pirate-y feeling—with captains and airships set in a steam-punk setting. The world is designed like those old pirate stories set in old England but with sailing through the skies instead of the sea.

Intriguing is the best word to describe this start of a new series. A captain with dark history, a noblewoman set on making her mark on the world on her own, a caste of warriors with unbelievable physical prowess and crazy old men with strange powers. All these elements promise one strong series that a fantasy fan like me will enjoy.

The part I enjoyed the most was how Jim Butcher gave cats a completely different role, not as pets but an equal to humans, with their own language and tradition. Though I am not a cat person, the way Jim Butcher tried to show us a bit of insight on how cats think is very accurate. I also feel that in the coming parts, the cats’ and humans’ tolerance for each other will be tested at some point as we go along.

The technological aspect of the story confused me a bit. My mind is not wired for that stuff so I tend to gloss over them. Though, I'm fascinated by it, it's sometimes hard for me to keep track when they started talking about trim crystals, webs and the like.

I expect more on adventures aboard the Predator going to distant places and sky battles plus more privateering on Grimms ship and crew. This was one heck of ride to read.

~ Djan

November 30, 2015

Review ~ Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) by Kendare Blake



synopsis:

Old Gods never die

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

purchase links:

Review:


Antigoddess became a struggle to read about halfway in the book. It's not a bad book, per se, but I didn't like it. Too many things were unexplained, even when I got past halfway of the story,which made the whole thing seem to go nowhere.

The representation of Greek mythology is accurate in the characters, which I liked very much. However, I didn't feel much sympathy for them. Perhaps it's because I really didn't get their background; what happened to the gods before they got sick? All background I got was two thousand years ago, which didn't really help at all. Plus, one of the main characters, Cassandra, was so lame and so dense for someone so important in the plot.

I wouldn't have minded that the book is slow-paced if the book wasn't so vague in the details. I kept hoping that things would get clearer the deeper I get into the plot, but in the end all I had was a mountain of questions without so much as a single answer to any of it. There was a showdown between the gods and goddess, but no reason was mentioned. Why are the gods and goddesses killing off each other? Why do they believe that killing one another will make the last one standing live? Why do they want weapons? Why is there a war? Why are they dying? Why was Apollo not affected? Why do they believe that Cassandra is a weapon? Why did Olympus fall? Why did the gods scatter around the world? Why, why, fucking why?

I don't like reading books, especially a first in the series, that fires me a mile of questions a minute but not give me answers where the answers should be in the story. I think it's a ploy to keep things interesting, to keep the readers guessing and hungry for more, but all it does is confuse the hell out of me and lose my interest. I hoped the action would at least make up for the lack of details, but meh. No such luck. The writing is not bad, but it's completely lacking.

I don't think I'll be reading the other books.

~ Zee

November 29, 2015

Review ~ The Hollow Boy (Lockwood and Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud



Synopsis:

As a supernatural outbreak baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests against the psychic agencies throughout London, Lockwood and Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness between the team now that Anthony has shared his childhood story, and Lucy is feeling more and more like her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro. Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including an old school where bloody handprints and a glowing boy are appearing. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood and Co.'s concerns when a living assassin makes an attempt on Fittes's and Rotwell's lives. Can the team get past their interpersonal issues to save the day on all fronts? Danger abounds, tensions escalate, and new loyalties form in this third delightfully terrifying adventure.

Purchase links:
amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Book Depository

Review:
Jonathan Stroud did it again with this amazingly new series. Although this is the third book, it is the first time I am writing about a review for this series.

Lockwood and Co. is set in London, where the world accepts the existence of ghosts and the harm they inflict upon civilians. People have taken up defenses against this otherworldly presence and have turned ghost hunting into a business. These businesses mainly employ children as they have the clearer way to see, feel, and hear ghosts. One such company is Lockwood and Co.

The story is funny and exciting, which seems to be a trademark of Stroud. Though the story is told in Lucy's POV, I grew to love the witty, smart, and mysterious Lockwood. I keep imagining him as some kind of a Sherlock type of character: a quick-witted, silver-tongued devil that can be a bit dense at times but always pulls through at the last minute.

Actually, the way the characters’ traits compliment each other is great. However, with the addition of new characters that will join this trio, I would love to see how they would fill Lockwood and Co.'s shortcomings.

Lucy's pettiness over the new recruit Holly only enhances her character, making her more believable and solid in my mind. I will love to see this character grow even more.

It is great how at the end of each book there's a kind of a glossary so you can keep track of the terms, classifications of ghost, uses of anti-ghost objects, and such. This was really well researched because I remember reading up on various items mentioned and their uses to ward off evil spirits.

So far, I haven't encountered problems with this series, though I have to admit the first two were a bit better than Hollow boy. I hope Stroud can come up with a much exciting plot for the next one.

~ Djan

November 24, 2015

Audiobook Review ~ November 9 by Colleen Hoover

This is my first-ever audiobook, and I think I’m already addicted. Now that I have two jobs that occupies most of my time, audiobooks are great for me to keep up on my reading list. I can listen while working. However, though I’d like to listen to more, I don’t think I’ll be hearing novels often. The paperbacks are just much cheaper. Anyway, on to my review.



If you want the short version of my thoughts, I’ll indulge you. While listening to this audiobook, I was like:
1st November 9: Interesting.
2nd November 9: This is weird. *some minutes later* I’m falling in love with words.
3rd November 9: WHAT THE HELL? *speechless*
4th November 9: Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THAT.
5th November 9: I can’t even.

Last November 9: THAT’S IT? WHERE’S THE REST OF THE BOOK?

Synopsis:

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Purchase links:
amazon | B&N | iBooks | kobo | book depository | audible | iTunes (audio)

Review:

Performance:
This has been a half-pleasant-half-annoying experience for me. I didn’t like Angela Goethals’s narration. I don’t think her narration technique (and even her voice) fit Fallon's character. I got the impression that she was trying to sound seductive and husky but failing miserably. She sounded awkward. I can’t really imagine her as the Fallon in the book. It’s a little contradicting. Her reading speed is also too slow, enunciating each word down to the last sound. It annoyed me for two reasons: 1) I got impatient and the slow reading was wasting my time, and 2) I had to keep changing the reading speed every chapter because I listen to Fallon’s POV at fast-forward and Ben’s POV has to be normal speed because then Zachary’s narration would be too fast. Zachary Webber’s narration was okay for me.

The Story:
A book within a book—I feel like everyone who has read November 9 is sharing some kind of an inside joke.

What I like about Colleen Hoover is she has a knack in sucking me into her story whether I like it or not. There’s always something keeping me immersed in the world she built. No matter how cheesy, annoying, sweet, or heartbreaking it becomes, there’s still something in her words that makes me stay even when all I want is to leave that story and never revisit it again. Her writing style is flexible. If someone gave me this book to read without telling me who wrote it, I wouldn’t have pegged it as Hoover’s work. It’s amazing.

November 9 is mostly about redemption, but it’s also about finding yourself and falling in love in two different ways. It’s full of beautiful words. I liked it so much that when the bomb dropped, it felt like it dropped straight to my heart.

What didn’t work for me was Ben and Fallon as individuals. Their story happened in the span of five years, but it didn’t feel like it. It felt like they were never separated at all, not just because of their ease in each other’s company but because of the lack of character development that should have been there since it was always a full year before they see each other again. A million things can happen in one year, yet this book failed to show the changes in the characters, or even the things that happened to them in the year they’ve been apart. I’m not satisfied. It was always them, a lot of them and not enough her and him.

I have a love-hate relationship with the plot twist. Now that’s what I call a plot twist, but it ruined some of the story’s appeal. I am convinced with Fallon’s reaction to it all, and how she handled it, but. . .that plot twist dampened Ben’s sincerity about his feelings to Fallon. Suddenly I was wondering if his feelings was genuine or he was just confusing it with some other emotions. (It hurts to be cryptic but I don’t want to spoil it any more than I already have).

The ending felt a little rushed, but overall, I liked this book. Hearing it in audiobook heightened the experience because some of the lines were golden and the way the narrators delivered it was epic. I am glad I listened to the audio version first.

I love Colleen Hoover, but this book gave me so much heartache that I’m starting to rethink my feelings for her.

~ Zee

November 23, 2015

Review ~ Breakout (Dred Chronicles #3) by Ann Aguirre

Breakout cover


Synopsis:

All hell is breaking loose in the edge-of-your-seat follow-up to Havoc and Perdition from New York Times bestselling author Ann Aguirre…

The prison ship Perdition has become a post-battle charnel house with only a handful of Dred’s soldiers still standing and now being hunted by Silence’s trained tongueless assassins. Forging an uneasy alliance with mercenary commander Vost—who is their only chance at escape—the Dread Queen will do whatever it takes to end her life sentence on Perdition and keep the survivors alive long enough to cobble together a transport capable of getting them off station.

If Dred and her crew can win the deadly game of cat and mouse, the payoff is not only life but freedom—a prize sweeter than their wildest dreams. Yet the sadistic Silence would rather destroy Perdition than let a single soul slip from her grasp…

Purchase links:

amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | book depository

Review:

I must say I am satisfied with the conclusion of the Dred Chronicles.

The Dred Chronicles began in a prison ship called Perdition, on an asteroid in outer space. Perdition is the final place where the worst of the worse criminals are sent. It is a so-called dump site for those deemed too dangerous by society, where no ordinary prison can hold them.

Perdition has long since been left to the inmates, where the most powerful claimed territories and subordinates. All manner of bloodthirsty fiends can be found in this place.

The way Ann Aguirre wrote this series is riveting. Sci-fi fans can have their imaginations taken for a ride into a new place. The twists and turns are not frustrating but they keep you excited. It is truly a well-researched and thought out novel.

The characters are realistic (or as realistic as they come), and they can give you an unexpected pleasure on how they react. I usually judge how well a character is by how much they come alive inside my mind, and Dred really does as well as some of the other characters. Dred will surely be imprinted inside your mind as one heck of a kick-ass heroine.

Don't even get me started on the setting. The idea about a whole place with tons of high profile criminals crammed together means that it will only be a matter of time before they take over so what did the author do? She placed it on a barren rock in outer space and made the whole thing manned by machines and computers. The place being operated by machines means no human guards can be killed by riots. The criminals have the place to themselves, running it how they see fit. The strongest and smartest are on top, Dred being one of them when she took over her side of Perdition with other key characters. Of course, being outside a planet means there is a limit in how destructive the tenants can be or else they risk killing everyone on board, including themselves.

Expect a lot of blood bath, betrayals, and a dark and gloomy tone in this book, with a lot of exciting twists and sucker punches that you wouldn't want to miss.

The Dred Chronicles is a great read for those who are searching for a little sci-fi excitement, and if you've been following the Sirantha Jax series, you'll get to see some of the stories of other characters like Jael and Tam. Bored is an emotion you'll never feel once you've turned that first page.

~ Djan

November 22, 2015

Bookish Diary ~ The Difference Between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement



Getting a new and original angle in writing the next bestseller or award-winning piece can be hard in the days when every subject and context seems to have been tackled. A great amount of research must be done to avoid plagiarism or copyright infringement. You don't want to spend all your time writing about how an orphan with a scar on his forehead saves the wizarding world only to find out that it's already been done. You'll just be known as a fan fiction writer and won't even be paid because publishers won't touch your story with a ten-foot pole for fear of legal repercussions from the author who wrote it first. Before writing, get to know these facts about copyright, plagiarism, and how best to protect your original ideas when they do come.

During a seminar held by Mr. Kevin Hernandez, a senior law student from University of the Philippines that I had the pleasure of attending a couple of weeks  ago, I learned all about copyright and the laws that govern them that is essential for aspiring writers (and other creative people) to know.

Plagiarism vs Copyright Infringement.


Plagiarism is the 'crime' most unwitting students commit. But did you know that copyright infringement is usually present during plagiarism?

For a quick explanation, plagiarism is the failure to cite sources (e.g. quotations, pictures, articles), while copyright infringement is the failure to get consent from the authors of said source. So, basically copyright infringement can occur even if you do not plagiarize. Do not mistake one with the other.

That leaves us this question: So do you have to email every author every time you want to quote a favorite line in a novel? The answer is no. As long as the quote is for personal use, research, educational studies, you can quote it as long as you cite its source so as not to plagiarize. This is called 'fair use' doctrine.

The 'Fair Use' doctrine


The 'fair use' doctrine grants us the right to use materials for criticism, comments, teaching, or scholarly research regardless of copyrights. This means as long as we do not make money out of it, it is okay. Of course, this must also fall under the four factors of fair use, which are:

1. Purpose and Character. I repeat, as long as it is not for money or personal gain, you can quote without consent. Just cite the source.
2. Nature of copyright. Is it fact based or fiction? Government laws, news ideas, factual information, or even ideas can be used. These are often unprotected by copyrights and ruled to be in public domain depending on the nature of how you express them. Writing with malicious intent or defacing a person or group cannot be grounds for infringement or plagiarism but you can get serious jail time with libel. For fiction based, like novel fan fictions, are allowed as long as you do not sell them without permission from the original authors. Main concern here really is all about money.
3. Amount of substantiality of the portion or how much you use. Citing the whole article would be a bit much.
4. Effect on potential market value.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce your intellectual property. Copyright is immediately granted upon the creation of the work as long as they fall under the two categories of copyrights, which are:

Original Works - These are the works that you thought up yourself. These are protected upon the sole fact of their creation, meaning that if you want to publish a novel, you must first turn that story line idea in your head and into the novel itself. Meaning, if you just dish out the idea, whether it is verbal or written, others can steal it. So before you brag about how you will be the next bestselling author to an agent or a publisher make sure you got the complete novel printed out and ready to be read.

Derivative Works - Derivative works are a compilation of original works, or works based on an original idea. Books such as compilations of short stories or fan fictions fall under this category. If you are planning to sell such works, you have to obtain a written consent from the original author and publisher, because sometimes the copyright for the written works may belong to the publisher so getting the go ahead from the author may not be enough.

Your intellectual properties are copyright protected as long as you are alive and 50 years after that. This cover news articles, thesis, screenplays, books, and other written works. Photos have 50 years of copyright protection from the date of publication. For unpublished photos, it is 50 years from creation.

Usually for authors, the copyrights belong to your publisher although it is still your intellectual property and your name is still on the cover of the book. That means the publisher has rights to how they might use your story. This can be amended on how you would draw up your contract with them.

Important things to remember:
1. Mere data, news of the day, laws, government works, ideas, comments, and criticism are unprotected by copyrights and considered public property. This means that use of scientific data on sci-fi books, crime-solving procedures, and the rest can be use for your write-ups. Of course, you need professionals to explain them to you so maybe thanking them wouldn't hurt.
2. Using quotations and other copyrighted materials for social media posts and blogs are okay as long as you do it just for fun and for personal use and not for economic gain.
3. Your blog posts, comments, text messages, and photos posted on internet and social media websites are automatically copyright protected.
4. Submissions of literary works or photos to newspapers, magazines, or online portals usually just grant the publication a one-time reproduction right unless you give your consent to grant them bigger rights to do so.
5. Try to mix different factors to your story to create an original write-up. Fan fictions are actually a great way to practice as long as you just do it for fun. The possibilities are endless, especially if you write for fiction and know how to mix up different genres together.

6. Remember to get permission from the author or publisher if for example you use a part of their book to be mentioned by your character. Same goes for movies, TV shows, or music. Ever read Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn? There are some songs mentioned there so the author would surely secure consent. Unless the person is dead for 50 years and above, a citation would do.

~ Djan

November 21, 2015

Review ~ Relish (Vicious Feast #2) by Kate Evangelista

Relish cover

Synopsis:

I left Lunar Manor broken, seeking comfort in the hands of Laurel "the Dragon" Hardy, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Gossip. Okay, I may have used him to ease the pain He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named caused by his confession of loving someone else. On New Year's Eve! Granted, he was drunk off his ass, but still! I stay with Larry mainly because the dreams are getting worse. Worse enough to wake me in the middle of the night needing the touch of another to save me from losing my mind.

Unfortunately, the handsome bassist of the uber successful indie rock band, Vicious, is never far from my mind. I thought I was rid of him once and for all only to have him show up at my hotel in London. Luka Visraya's power over me is intense. No matter how far I run, I always end up circling back to him.

If you think my story is just some romance about two lovers getting back together, think again. Little did I know that returning to Luka meant I'd be plunging myself into a world more familiar than I ever thought possible. Trust me when I say I didn't believe it either when the truth finally came out.

Review:

What on Earth did I just read?

As soon as I hit the climax, I decided that Relish is such a huge disappointment to me. The book was going so well, but once the revelations hit. . .it went downhill, and fast. Relish didn’t seem like a paranormal book at all until the climax, which is very bad, considering that this book is a paranormal one—or supposedly, anyway.

I like Kate Evangelista’s writing style—it’s solid, it’s entertaining, it’s good. Relish, though, needs to be polished. The world-building sucked, if you considered the book all in all. I was so excited to read this book because I really liked Savor, but then Relish is such a huge let down. This book could be so much more, if only the world-building and twists are placed right.

The ending was rushed, considering all the paranormal things happened (and was revealed) there. I understand the twist, but it didn’t do the story justice. I got the impression that this book is two different stories forced into one, and not in a good way. It was pretty good until the last 60 pages, from where the story went from confusing to completely bizarre.

I’m very disappointed with this book. I hope there are no more books like this from Kate Evangelista, because I really like the way she writes. She just needs practice in world-building when it comes to paranormal stories.

~ Zee

P.S. This book is out of print (but temporarily, I think). It has become a limited edition because the original publisher closed its doors to the publishing community some time ago. The first book, Savor, is currently circulating in local book stores (Philippines) under Sparks Books. I'm not sure if they are going to publish Relish locally, too.

Anyway, I need good recommendations so I'd stop reading books I end up not liking. *sigh*