October 29, 2015

Review ~ Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Some loves will last ’til your dying breath

Every choice has consequences—but seventeen-year-old Layla faces tougher choices than most. Light or darkness. Wickedly sexy demon prince Roth, or Zayne, the gorgeous, protective Warden she never thought could be hers. Hardest of all, Layla has to decide which side of herself to trust.

Layla has a new problem, too. A Lilin—the deadliest of demons—has been unleashed, wreaking havoc on those around her…including her best friend. To keep Sam from a fate much, much worse than death, Layla must strike a deal with the enemy while saving her city—and her race—from destruction.

Torn between two worlds and two different boys, Layla has no certainties, least of all survival, especially when an old bargain comes back to haunt them all. But sometimes, when secrets are everywhere and the truth seems unknowable, you have to listen to your heart, pick a side—and then fight like hell…

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I still feel towards this book what I felt for the other two books: Mostly likable, sometimes enjoyable, never boring. It's becoming somehow disappointing because having the same reaction a whole series means no monumental development had happened. It is still the typical Armentrout book, and the few developments that did happen still wasn't enough to make my heart pound.

I have the same opinion for the characters (see my reviews on the previous books), and thank the big guy up there that Layla has come to her senses and stopped being dense and ridiculous. She’s still too girly, but less whiny and less childish here. I don’t like the clichéness (that’s a word for me) of this book, though. Sure, the MC is the center of it all, but getting all the glory in the end? Eh. That doesn’t really do it for me. Where is the justice for the other characters?

Roth lived up to his character. It’s refreshing to see that he is exactly what he says he is. I think that’s why he’s very loveable; he knows who exactly he is, and it doesn’t matter if he’s bad or good whatever.

Anyway, if I have a favorite book in the series, this would be it. The suspense is okay, the mystery is satisfying, the revelations are surprising, and the action is kickass amazing. Armentrout may write irritating female characters, but she sure knows how to write an entertaining action scene. I guess this is why I keep reading her books despite the similarities in every one. It’s always entertaining.

~ Zee

October 28, 2015

Review ~ Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

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This book has the worst love triangle of all time. Need I say more?

I feel towards this book what I did in White Hot Kiss: Mostly likeable, sometimes enjoyable, never boring. I’m afraid this will be more like a rant than a review.

I still don’t like Layla, and I think my dislike is quickly turning into hate. In addition to being too girly, too whiny, and too childish for my taste, she’s also too dense. I didn’t really see a character development in this book. She’s still the same. It’s very annoying how little faith she had on Zayne when he had so much faith in her. They supposedly grew up together, so shouldn’t she know him better by now? She is very irritating. I don’t know where she got her fears and insecurities when it came to Zayne.

I still love Roth. And Bambi. And I’m coming to love the demon kittens, too. Words still wouldn’t do this demon justice so I won’t even try.

I don’t have anything to say about Zayne except, poor guy. He was never a choice, at least I didn't think so from what I've read.

I don’t understand how there can be a love triangle. It was so obvious, especially in this book, that Roth was it for Layla. I don’t understand why there had to be confusion and voting who would be her happily ever after. No, I’m not being biased because I’m team Roth. If you look at it closely, you’ll realize that Roth was really it for her. It was so obvious that she felt for the demon prince was so much more powerful than what she felt for the Warden. What she felt for Zayne wasn’t as intense as what she felt for Roth. It looked like all along, she was the one who thought of Zayne as her big brother instead of the other way around.

I still enjoyed reading the action scenes. I still have a love-hate relationship with this series. I think the thing is, this series (so far) is the typical Armentrout book. I have read all of it from her other paranormal/fantasy series. I keep hoping that I’d see something different, but meh. Still, I like her writing for a light read.

~ Zee

October 27, 2015

Review ~ White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne… it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

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Mostly likeable, sometimes enjoyable, never boring.

I mostly don’t like Layla. She’s too girly, too whiny, and too childish for my taste. Sure, she can kick demon ass, but then her she couldn’t decide about her priorities especially when a guy is involved—typical Armentrout female.  I love Roth (WHO DOESN’T?!). Words would not do him justice, so I won’t even try. I’m indifferent towards Zayne. I didn’t really get the impression that he looks at Layla as a little sister. He’s just too proper. He has his charms, but he’s not putting it to good use. I don’t know how to feel about that. I like it that he knows his priorities, though.

Oh, I want my own Bambi, too. Better yet, I want my own Roth so I can have my own Bambi.

I like the world-building, though I’m confused about the Wardens-coming-out-in-public part. If the normal citizens have no idea that demons exist in their midst (like, literally), what exactly do they think the Wardens are protecting them from? (Please enlighten me).

I enjoyed reading the action scenes, though somehow, reading it from Layla’s perspective, it feels . . . I don’t know, girly.

White hot Kiss is good for a light, entertaining read.

~ Zee

October 26, 2015

Review ~ Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place cover


On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

Purchase Links:

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Raw and depressing.

That’s how I’m going to describe this book. It made me cry, not because of sympathy, but because of depression. After reading it, I felt like I needed to call someone because I felt like I needed help, but since I read this at midnight and finished at dawn, there was no one to call and I was left alone to wallow in depression. If this book is food, it will be under the unhealthy ones.

Liz Emerson is not a likeable MC. She’s obviously a bitch, a horrible person, and a girl who desperately needs attention. Oh, she’s got attention, alright, but not from the ones who really matters. I don’t hate her, but I don’t like her, either. I guess I get where she’s coming from, but that didn’t excuse her behavior. You can’t blame anyone but yourself for your horrible behavior, no matter what everyone might have done to you.

I liked the story, though. How twisted is that? I liked it because there was no sugarcoating, no unrealistic behavior, and no ridiculous ending. In my perspective, the story ended just like how it should—with a tinge of hope, even though there was no redemption. It felt more than just a book. It felt real.

I liked it, but it made me so depressed that I can’t give it a 5-star rating.

~ Zee

I need a list of cheerful books suggestions to wash away the bitter taste in my tongue that Falling Into Place left. I need a light YA read.

October 25, 2015

Review ~ The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) by Marie Lu


Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

Purchase Links:

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We often read stories of how a simple guy can step up and be the hero that slays the dragon, or how a girl can rise up to more than what society had planned for her and save the world.

But how about a story of a girl eager to earn love and finding none? A girl wanting acceptance, a place to be, a place to better understand who and what she is, but instead ending up abandoned, friendless, and consumed by something dark that is festering in her heart.

If there is a reluctant hero, Adelina is a reluctant villain. Adelina is a malfetto—a survivor of a plague that swept throughout the nation. Almost all survivors were young, and almost all of them were marred by something physical...or something else. They exhibited paranormal powers and are called the Young Elites. Adelina lost an eye, which left half of her face scarred. Because of this, Adelina's father tried to see if she would produce powers like the rumors say, doing cruel means to do so. Years of cruelty that made its way into Adelina's heart, a darkness that is waiting to spring forth...

The story so far...
Adelina, together with her sister Violetta, had fled the capital, determined to seek out her own Young Elites to seek revenge against the Inquisition. Meanwhile, Queen Guilleta had taken the throne and gave free reign to the Lead Inquisitor, Teren, to further punish the malfettos. Meanwhile, the Dagger Society is expecting a visit from their biggest ally...the Queen of Beldain, whose kingdom worships the malfettos as children of gods.

Marie Lu once again delivered. She promised an insight on a villain’s mind, and she has done it. As the story progressed, we can see Adelina's struggle as she tried to cling to the light, but she slowly fell down the dark side instead. Each step she took, each time she killed, she tried to justify it with thoughts of her and her sister's safety and the safety of all malfettos. Each time she took those steps, she liked it more and more, enjoying the power she had over others. Yeah, sure, she would cry and feel guilty but deep down she enjoyed the darkness inside her. The only one holding her back was Violetta, who was the voice of reason for her.

I like how Adelina's character progressed so far. It is a perfect example of how the desire for power and having the means to achieve that goal can twist a person, especially if that darkness is already there. The way the Daggers, the Inquisition Axis, and her family treated her are a carefully thought-out fertilizer for her to be a villain. The question now that comes to me is will there be anyone who can pull her out of that dark place before it's too late.

Violetta, I believe, is a key character in the story and I hope she would play a more important role in the next book. Although she did in The Rose Society, I think a little more development and exposure would be nice.

Some of the Daggers where kinda useless, like Gemma and Lucent, in this book. We also didn't even see Michel until the very end. Plus, Adelina's Rose Society is composed of just two other Elites, and they managed to take the throne. What does that say about the Daggers?

I think we need a bit more background on the society and its citizens. The only glimpse we had were the Fortuna Court and the riots. It doesn't give a big picture on the world the Young Elites in Kenettra live in. This is an issue that needs to be addressed, I think. Other novels that go in the fantasy direction have a clear picture of how the people are inside the world that was created.

Overall, character developments are the best part in The Rose Society, as well as the consistent 'evil' growing within Adelina. Brownie points to Teren, for being an obsessed homicidal maniac with a cunning intellect.

~ Djan

Read Zee's review here!

October 22, 2015

Recommendation ~ How Magnus Chase Can Give You the After-Percy-Jackson Fix You Need

For Riordan fans, the title of the book is a spoiler. Magnus Chase. Chase. As in Annabeth Chase. Yes, the Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series. For those who haven't read any of Riordan's work before and Magnus Chase is your first, you have 10 books to wade through about Annabeth and the rest of the Camp Half-Blood crew.

I actually just bought this book by chance. I've been losing track of the release dates of a few books (that's what happens when you read too many series and several of them are set to be released in the same month). However, seeing the stack of Magnus Chase and The Gods Of Asgards in my local bookstore, I automatically grabbed a copy and bought it.

When the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and The Heroes of the Olympus series ended, many faithful readers were left clamoring for more. Since Riordan has been through three of the greatest mythologies (Greek, Roman, and Egyptian) it was about time he brought us the world of Vikings and Norse Gods.

The funny thing is, Magnus (whose name was borrowed from Cassandra Clare's Shadow Hunter series) has really a lot in common with Percy. He lives with his mom (who I think was a bit of a hippie) and doesn't know who his father is. His world suddenly turned upside down when fire giants, mythical creatures, gods, and dying were thrown at his face. Amazingly, he just rolled with it. A fire giant attacking? No problem, just cut the dude’s nose with a magical un-rusted sword that's been stuck underwater for centuries. Dying? Oh, just escape this amazing hotel called Valhalla, where hacking each other to death every evening is the idea for entertainment. No worries on that one because everyone's right as rain the next day. You’ll have to read the book to know more about what I’m talking about.

Magnus is also good with horses and amazing with sea stuff like fishing. Doesn’t that sound a bit familiar? 

With everything going on in this book—the quest, a rhyming premonition with a scary Nordic Fates, a place where those who died valiantly gather and practice killing while waiting for the end of the world, and even gods wanting to hurry that end of the world—you’ll feel right at home in this new series if you miss Percy Jackson and his crew.

And the magic sword—never forget the magic sword.

~ Djan


October 21, 2015

Bookish Diary ~ Who Still Remembers Goosebumps?

As a kid, I was pretty lucky to attend a school that had a great library. Here in the Philippines, that is already a big deal, especially in public schools. Our school Esteban Abada Elementary School had a foreign benefactor who would often donate books to our library.

I grew up reading about a giant dog, a family of bears who talk, and myths from all around the world, plus plenty of books by Adarna Publications that teaches moral lessons Pinoy style.

When I was around 10, I enjoyed this horror series for children made by R.L. Stine. But now if I think about it, I don't know how that could have been classified as book that can be borrowed by 8-year-olds. Some stories in the Goosebumps series were a bit of hair-in-the-back-of-your-neck-and-arms-raising worthy.

Goosebumps is a collection of stories about kids coming face to face with real life monster horrors from werewolves, ghost, and Abominable snowmen, to cursed Halloween masks and a dummy coming to life. There is even a camera that kills people with only a snap of a picture. In these stories, the kids (who are always the protagonist) would step up and beat them, but it always end with a surprising twist.

One of my favorite stories is about Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy that came to life. He often messed with his owner (usually a kid), and the blame for all the troubles the dummy made would usually fall to the owner. I also loved One Day At Horrorland, where the monsters were real and the rides were a killer. The staff was dressed up as monsters, but in truth, it was their real skin. The only way to destroy them is to pinch them.

The series was so popular then it even had its own TV show in the US, which I hadn't been able to watch considering we didn’t have cable then.

R.L. Stine is an amazing horror writer. He also had another series about a certain street where weird and horrifying things happen. He also writes adult horrors.

The amazing thing is, Goosebumps will have a feature movie this month, featuring Jack Black as R.L. Stine. The story is about Zack Cooper (Dylan Minnette) moving to a small town and meeting Hannah, his new neighbor. He finds out that Hannah's father is R.L. Stine himself, the writer of the famous Goosebumps series. R.L. (Black) keeps all the monsters in his stories locked up in his which Zack accidentally releases.

Meet the monsters on this coming Oct. 21 at cinemas near you.

(That last bit sounded a lot like a promotion, doesn’t it? Heh. ~ Zee)

~ Djan

October 14, 2015

Bookish Diary ~ October Book Haul

Once upon a time, there was a girl torn between two books. . .

. . .but eventually said, "Screw it, I'll buy them both." And she lived happily ever after.

Meh. Actually, she didn't. Live happily ever after, I mean. Come on, we all know two books are not quite the source of happily ever after. It's more like two million. *wink*

Anyway, on to my book haul. When I buy books, I usually do it in one go because traffic is a real bitch here in my part of the country, and even going to the book store that is only about two miles away can take ten years and three weeks. So when I say book haul, I do mean a book haul.

My (Zee) book haul
I have been coveting pretty much everything in this picture. I'm so happy I finally have them.

My to-read list just keeps on piling up. I don't even want to look at my unread kindle ebooks. I am officially a book hoarder. Still, I'm a happy girl. I still have no idea how I'm going to fit them in my shelf (which is about two books away from bursting). Wish me luck, or better yet, if you have an organization technique hidden in the pockets of your mind, please throw them my way.

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)
Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2)
Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements #3)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I'm not very patient when it comes to books that interest me, but--zeus--this series really tried my patience. I've been wanting to read this since more than a year ago, but the second book hasn't came out then, and when it finally did I learned that there's a love triangle (I'm sorry if that's a spoiler) and I just had to wait a year for the last book to come out. I suck at love triangles, guys. I hate it, and it leaves my heart broken when I have no idea if the guy I'm rooting for will be the one. Now I'm finally going to find out--and I really, really hope that I won't get my heart broken. Again.

Bad Girls Don't Die (Bad Girls Don't Die #1)
From Bad To Cursed (Bad Girls Don't Die #2)
As Dead As It Gets (Bad Girls Don't Die #3)
by Katie Alender

This one is a kind of a funny story. I bought the third book first--for my sister. She saw it in the bookstore and walked up to me saying, "I want this." Then when I checked it out in Goodreads when we got home, I saw that it was the last book in a trilogy. Imagine how loud my groan was and how my sister and I stared at each other before laughing. I've had As Dead As It Gets for a year now, and I was only able to buy the first book last month (I forgot about the series until I saw it in Manila International Book Fair). Still, my sister and I refused to read it because of possible cliffhangers. Today, though, I finally completed the series. Proceed to my book appointments then, books.

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)
by Marie Lu

The much-anticipated sequel of The Young Elites. If you know what happened in its ending, you'll understand my pain and the torture I went through while waiting for this sequel. It will be another round of torture waiting for the third book, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it--in about eight hours. Huh.

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

*fangirl dance* I only read this book a couple of weeks ago because I didn't want to feel the torture of waiting too long for this sequel. Seriously, I've had enough of waiting a year for sequels--not. Anyway, I really loved Snow Like Ashes. You can see how much I loved it here. Unfortunately, all book stores in my country don't have the hardcover edition yet--they all ordered the International edition, which is a paperback. I wanted it too much to wait for the hardcover edition, so I just bought this paperback. I guess I'll just get the hardcover when it's available just so I can be consistent in my collection. I smell a possible giveaway in the future for this exact book.

Side Effects May Vary
by Julie Murphy

There's this girl I found in Goodreads whose opinion I trust when it comes to great books. It takes a lot to impress her--and I mean a lot. So far, her reviews hasn't lead me astray when it comes to good books. She was impressed with this one, so I decided to give it a try.

The Last Time We Said Goodbye
by Cynthia Hand

I loved her Unearthly series, and it's usually a good sign for me when an author has written good fantasy/paranormal/dystopian/sci-fi books and then published a contemporary one. I'm pretty excited in reading this one.

 When You Give a Duke a Diamond
by Shana Galen

by Gaelen Foley

If you're reading this post and you've read a book or five mentioned above, feel free to let me know how much you liked/hated it. Toodles!


October 02, 2015

Review ~ Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch


A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own. 

Purchase Links:

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I had so much feels in this book. This is now my favorite high fantasy book, the only one that I wish I could crawl into and live there. Only a handful of books made me wish that since I have always been pretty satisfied to see the characters living in their own world, but Snow Like Ashes made me want to not just see it in my mind, but to feel it as if it is my own.

I love the world-building of this one. I'm in love with Sara Raasch's brain, and her talent in weaving words together and make them appear magical, and with her world that takes me back to my childhood where I wished there was magic--but this time so I could live in Primoria.

Meira, the Winterian girl who tells the story of her kingdom, is just what I want when it comes to female characters. She has a backbone as firm as a steel, and a personality that somehow remind me of my own (though she's more badass than I can only hope to be). Her fears, doubts, selfishness, and immature thoughts felt genuine--so genuine that even though this is a fictional book and a high fantasy at that, her character felt realistic. Meira is more realistic than many other female characters I have read in contemporary books. The thing that made me like her more is her flaws. It's very amusing to know that she's weak when it comes to handsome guys getting in her line of sight. In all her badassness (I firmly believe this should be a word), she gets weak in the knees when there is a hot guy around. It should be annoying, but the way it is written made it amusing instead. It'sa good thing she didn't wallow in girly, dreamy thoughts over hot guys when they are not around--out of sight, out of mind.

This book awakened my enthusiasm and violent reactions when I'm reading. I didn't just breeze through the whole thing like I always do recently. Snow Like Ashes actually made me scream in frustration, straighten my spine in excitement, kept me on the edge of my seat in anticipation, punch the air and squeal in delight when something good happens, made my heart thunder in my chest as if there was a battalion of horses beating against it, made me heave a huge breath of relief, and even proved that I'm not completely numb to emotional pain that stirs a few tears. I used to do all that once upon a time, but too many dull books and bad plots/character developments have dampened that enthusiasm. In Snow Like Ashes, though, my reactions flew out of me as if they were never snuffed out at all.

Sara Raasch's magical talent in forming words that drip with emotion also helped restore that enthusiasm. I didn't just read those words--I felt it. I didn't just read the characters and sympathized with them--I felt them. I felt their desperation, their victory, their loss as if I was one of them. I didn't even mind the love triangle, and that's saying something.

Snow Like Ashes is an action packed, thrilling, and haunting read. It's perfect in its own way. It is worth every minute of precious sleep I lost because I couldn't put it down. It is an experience I want to live, a world I wish could be my own.

~ Zee