Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ink & Lies by S.L. Jennings | Book Review

N/A
First Published: 2016
Kindle
Adult, Contemporary
Rating:
From International Best Selling Romance Novelist, Hope Hughes, comes a gripping, heartfelt tale of two lovers, fighting for the freedom to…
No. Scratch that. Too cheesy.
…two people, torn apart by the tumultuous tides of life, only to discover refuge in…WTF? What does that even mean? DELETE.
…two people, confused as shit as to where they should be and who they should love and none of this means a damn thing because it’s all lies!Lies.
I’m not Hope Hughes. I’m not some fierce woman romance machine. Hell, I’m not even a woman.
I’m a liar.
And while I refuse to believe my own BS, deceit masked in heartfelt phrases of love and devotion, I want to make herbelieve them. Because maybe—just maybe—if she can find the soul within my words, she’ll also be able to find the truth scribbled on my heart.
You see, I once lived for the perfect plot twist.
I just never expected to actually live it.
This is my story. Well, maybe her story. I just wish I could make it our story.
The one I’m still writing.
Ink & Lies is one of those books that had me dying to read it the moment I saw the cover. It's just so cute and has so many things I love (post it notes. coffee. pens. writing). And then I read the synopsis and I was like sign me up please!

August Rhys is a writer. More specifically, he's the Hope Hughes. You know, the Nora Roberts of this universe that has been bringing you to your knees for years with longing for all those fantastic book boyfriends?

Thing is, he doesn't believe in romance. He believes in two things: the Colonel, his hard ass grandfather, and his best friend Fiona Shaw. The shy, awkward girl who used to hide herself under clothes three times her size and cried while reading his books.

The love of his life. If he would just admit to it and stop acting like an idiot.
"I once told myself I wanted to write something that made Fi fall in love. And now that I see that it wasn't the words I wanted her to hold so dearly that she couldn't help but weep as she read. I wanted to write something to make Fiona fall in love with me. Not my pretty words or my pretty face or any of the other inconsequential bullshit I had deemed important. I just waned her to love me, her Rhys." 
So, yeah - friends to lovers type of story. Woot woot! This is one of my favorites troops in novels, and we had a pretty good version of it here. They were adorable together as friends, and they had incredible romantic potential. Everyone sees it! Even they do. If they would just admit it.

Now, before I move to the few issues I had with this book, I just want to tell you guys that I enjoyed it very much. It made me emotional and had me rooting for the main characters and going "JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY" at the book. I thought it had a fantastic male voice and the first chapter? gold. So don't take my ranting to heart, because yes, I would recommend this book.

But... some things prevented this from being a full four star.

The main one is SPOILER that just when Rhys finally accepts his feelings towards Fi, she doesn't accept hers. I mean, c'mon! Drama is fine and dandy but seriously? Like, we have three seconds of Fiona and Rhys together as a couple, and that's it. For the whole book. Their whole couple potential is completely wasted! END SPOILER 

And couldn't you find a better source of drama than Fiona settling down for Dr. Creepy McCreepy over there? That "doctor" was fucked up. He's great to laugh at, but making him an actual romantic rival? Errr, how 'bout no?

And then, there's something that Fiona herself said in the book - Rhys lacks motivation for the way he is. He constantly knocks down love, writing it off as fictional dreams, but then reminisces about his grandparents true love and how they were soulmates. It adds up about as much as 1 plus 1 adds up to 5. Get it? Because it doesn't add up? I'll escort myself out, thank you....
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig | Cover Wars

Welcome to another episode of The Cover Wars, where covers are pitted against each other for the title of the UNDENIABLE WINNER! 

Ready, set... go!

BLACKBIRDS BY CHUCK WENDIG 
For me, this is such a hard fight. Originally, I was interested in this story because of the Saga Press cover I saw on kindle when the whole series was on sale, and the art-style reminds me so strongly of art style of The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater which I love so much. I would hang those covers on my walls.

Ravens made of brushstrokes (or any birds, really) just get to me. They look so ethereal like this. 

But then when I went to Goodreads to see how my friends liked this book, I saw the Angry Robot cover, which is the most used cover for this book, and it's gorgeous as well. 

The woman (who is definitely Miriam and even looks like how Miriam probably does, which doesn't happen all the time) is beautifully made of ravens. But she is also being eaten by them, and between them you can see hands reaching and skulls and road signs and so much freakin' details! Every time I look at this cover, I see a new nugget of insight and detail - and let me tell you, they fit the story

At the end of the day I think both these covers are beautiful, and they have almost an identical color scheme and theme, but the Angry Robot one goes that extra mile with attention to details, deliberation and a fateful adaptation to the series namesake and protagonist - Miriam herself.

Bravo!
Which is YOUR favorite cover of the two?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Something About You by Julie James | Book Review

FBI/US Attorney #1
First Published: 2010
Library Paperback
Adult, Contemporary
Rating:
Fate has thrown two sworn enemies...
Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and for nearly ruining his career.
Into each other's arms...
Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it's no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension.
I've been a fan of James's ever since I read Just the Sexist Man Alive. You can say she had me at "shit happens". So, I was ever so thrilled to get my hands on the first of her sexy FBI/US Attorney series. But did I get what I wanted coming into this book?

Why, yes. Yes I did. 

It's the kind of love story that had me thinking about it even when I wasn't reading. That had me coming with possible scenes when I had to do something else. That had me excited to find out what will happen next, and when will they finally confess for god's sake!?

All that would not have happened if I didn't just adore the characters. 

Jack is a sexy assed, brooding FBI agents, and Cameron is a strong, steel nerved US attorney.
"At least in Nebraska a man could brood in peace."
Together, they were just so entertaining. They had this half-flirt half-tease relationship from page one, with hilarious, flowing and believable dialogues. Which is undoubtly why no one believed they really hated one another and found their so called animosity amusing.

The "no one" is consisted of Wilkins and Collin, two characters I absolutely loved, and even Amy who said one of my favorite lines in the book, a line I feel represents the whole feel of this novel:
"I changed my mind, Cam. If this was all a big setup and he's coming over to strip for me, I think I can handle it."
Julie James is brilliant in making her characters real and colorful, and she definitely made me want an FBI agent all of my own. 
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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Rules of Death In Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig | Spoilers!

Yesterday, I've talked to you about the book Blackbirds, but I had to make an extra post just to discuss the concept of death in it - because I still don't fully understand it. 

You see, Miriam sees how you're going to die. Throughout the book she sees countless future deaths, always insisting they can't be changed because of one incident where she took the active approach (instead of just telling people that they're going to die which, let's be honest, who's going to believe the crazy chick telling them that in seven years and three days they're going to be run over by a car?) and failed spectacularly.

Since that moment, she firmly believes that death can't be stopped, and she's just a spectator of it. She stops trying, and even starts to profit off the deaths she sees.

But at the end of the novel, she discovers that to stop death SPOILERS!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig | Book Review

Miriam Black #1
First Published: 2012
Kindle
Adult, Urban Fantasy
Rating:
Miriam Black knows how you’re going to die. This makes her daily life a living hell, especially when you can’t do anything about it, or stop trying to. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. She merely needs to touch you—skin to skin contact—and she knows how and when your final moments will occur. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But then she hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, and she sees in thirty days that Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and Miriam will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
A VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING--AND VIOLENT TALE

First of all, I would not recommend this to people who don't like cursing and violence, unless you're looking to get out of your comfort zone. This is not something I am overly comfortable with but I am okay when it's character driven (which it is, in here) and not used just for shits and giggles (see, it's making me curse as well!)

When I first saw Blackbirds, I was captivated by it's cover - which greatly reminds me of the drawing style for The Raven Boys, one of my favorite books ever. Then, I read the synopsis and I knew I had to have it. It didn't hurt that the entire series was on sale. So one-click I did.

My desire to read this book is what brought me back from my slump. I had to finish those books I was stuck on so I could move on to this one. And then I started it and I was... taken a back. In an interesting way, not a bad one. Because of three things;

1. THE WRITING STYLE 

The writing style is very straight to the point. This means that you get to hear of brain matter splattering and bowls leaking and a host of other unpleasant things. It's very in your face about it - telling you it's not going to beautify it, it's not going to be gentle, not going to let you escape it.

And I wanted to escape the images and sounds and *shudder*. But just like how Miriam can't escape it, neither can you the reader. You have to suffer along with her. The book constantly keeps you uncomfortable, because you have to be.

2. MOTHER EFFIN' MIRIAM BLACK

Speaking of Miriam, she's not the most likable of characters. She can see how people die and exactly when, and she gave up. She freakin' gave up. Because of one sour attempt to prevent death. Of course I get why. I get it! She's had a shit life, and the one time she tries to do something truly good it blows in her face big time. But this just illustrates how she's not a hero. But then again, is she supposed to be?

Miriam is such a gray character. Honestly, I don't like her at all. She's crass and self-destructive and kind of condescending. She's cruel at times and her self hatred doesn't stop her from doing despicable things, but rather enables her. And she's sunken herself so deep in self-pity, she uses every small thing as an affirmation of her belief on fate, stuck in one single place.

It is what it is.

but is it?

There are so many moments in this book that I wanted to shake her. Wanted to shout at her - TRY HARDER! Why are you giving up after one word? Why are you accepting this? Why are you being this mean? WHY ARE YOU OKAY WITH THIS!?

If it wasn't for the visions she saw--visions that proved she did care, despite herself--I might've actually hated her. 

But I think this is part of the point, in a way. Because these books are Miriam's journey. By the end of this book we can already see a big change in her. We can already see a hint of where this is going. By the end of the journey, two, three, four books into the future, I think we might even love her, despite her flaws. 

3. THE CHAPTER'S STRUCTURE 

Now, this is probably my favorite thing about this book, because I think it was brilliantly done. This book works on two (possibly three?) timelines and jumps between points of view at exactly the right time. 

Wendig uses his different points of view and timelines expertly to get the most out of them. This is a weird comparison, but it brought to mind City of Bones for me, where there were two small parts of Jace's point of view all of the sudden and it threw me off big time because I didn't quite understand why or how and it was so unbalanced it jarred. 

But here, we might only get one or two chapters from Harriet's point of view, but they're exactly where they need to go for maximum impact. They say exactly what they need to both progress the plot, scare the shit out of us and add to the story. Heck, her backstory bits might be my favorite of the book - they're morbidly hilarious, which is the last thing I thought I'd say about this horrifying lady. 

And if I think the usage of povs was fantastic, the juggling of the timelines was phenomenal as well. Between every few chapters on Miriam's present, we got little interludes of the past, when she was having an interview with a collage boy about her abilities. This is where we got some much needed backstory. 

Those always cut at exactly the right moment to make us want to see the next bit of the interview, while always separating between two points in the main plot-line that you're bound to be invested in. So suspenseful, with (seemingly) very little effort! And they always add new (important) tidbits that little by little unravel some of the mystery that is Miriam Black in the present. 

Am I going to read the next book? Absolutely. Am I going to be thinking about this book and the questions it raises about predestined fate, death and life and cheating destiny--if there is such a thing? Heck yes. 

This book is going to stay with me for a while. Which is why I had so much to say about it.

Note: Click here to read an in-depth look on the rules of death in Blackbirds, which was one of the things that bothered and intrigued me most about this novel. 
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Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Stillburrow Crush by Linda Kage | Book Review

N/A
First Published: 2010
Library Paperback
Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating:
Sixteen year old, Carrie Paxton, isn't the most popular girl in her small town of Stillburrow. But that's never concerned her before. Her life revolves around her writing, and she loves her job as the student editor of the school paper.
But when she gets assigned to interview the football team's beloved quarterback, she takes one look into Luke Carter's blue eyes and is a goner. Suddenly, she doesn't like her lowly rank so much. Then her dreamy, popular crush surprises her when he starts to act as if he likes her in return. But there's no way Luke Carter could possibly.
So, deciding to read this book didn't come easy. It was back when I'd just started reading contemporary books, and while it did sound like something I might like based on the other contemporaries I tried, the rating on GR wasn't that high, and some of the reviews I had read (and one particular spoiler that was totally out of context) made me hesitant.

But eventually, I decided to give it a shot. And good thing I did, because I really enjoyed this book!
"You have a crush on me?"
"No," I replied regally. "I just said I didn't."
"But you did before?" I had him completely baffled. "I thought I heard your brother say you had Rick Getty's picture all over your wall." I cringed. Just how much had he heard in the store? Oh well, I'd worry about that later.
"That was last year," I said. "You're the hot topic this year."
"Me?" I didn't think he was trying to be vain and draw compliments out of me, because the poor boy honestly sounded confused.
I loved it.
The book, quite surprisingly, opens up with the promise of a death. We find ourselves in the middle of a funeral, but we have no idea whose and what does it have to do with the story. Carrie, our main character and the voice of the story, starts recalling just how we got there.

The plot itself is pretty "standard" - girl at the bottom of the social pyramid meets the boy ruling said pyramid and can't help falling for his charms - and vice versa. What made the book interesting were the characters, starting with Carrie herself. 

Carrie is kind of hard to pin down, mostly because I had a love-hate relationship with her. She was kind of mean sometimes, and she had a tendency to overreact, but she was also very honest and sassy. And I love sassy. And I totally approve of how she dealt with loving Luke, even if in real life I'll probably never be able to be like her and just tell the guy I like that I do like that. 

Speaking of the love interest... he was very sweet. He wasn't the mean, bad boy jock stereotype at all. I loved how he worked to change Carrie's judgmental view of the rich people in town. Did he make some mistakes along the way? sure. But that just made him so much more real and believable. Really, I don't understand how you can dislike this guy. 

As for the two of them together? Once they started (sort of) going out, it was so extremely sweet! Luke is someone who can ground Carrie, while Carrie is someone to inspire and encourage Luke. They just... fit. And the ending on these two... I APPROVE. 

What I don't approve of is all the heartache Marty went through *sniff*. Okay, okay, I don't actually disapprove of it, this is just my broken heart speaking...
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Guys - It's Alright Not to Read ALL The Time

You may have noticed the blog has been quite sparse for the last month. This is due to a few reasons, the most important of which is that I simply have no time.

I have been absolutely swamped.

I'm practically a social butterfly right now, which is so weird to me 'cause I'm an introvert through and through and I am not used to going out of the house for non-work related things for more than once-twice a month, definitely not one-two times a week. I love my friends, and I love hanging with them (we're pretty low-key), but that much social interaction is exhausting for me. I feel drained from the lack of me-time.
Still, this is the best kind of exhaustion.

The bad type is the one I get from work, especially as I am acting as the office supervisor right now because ours is on a trip to India (I am so jealous) and I am basically holding everything together single handed. There is a major rant I could be having on the subject, but I'd rather not open it on the internet. Where, you know, anyone could see it.

I'm getting sidetracked.
Between all that, I find that I barely read or focus on the blog - social media wise or content wise, though, this mostly applies on these extra posts that I love to make that are not reviews. Reviews are, for a lack of better word, easy for me. The discussions are the part I enjoy making the most, and that's the part I have the least time for.

And more than anything I barely read. from three books a week, every week, I moved to one book on a good week. Instead, I cruise aimlessly on YouTube videos and watch shows and generally occupy my time with things that take less brain power than reading. Two years ago, even last year, this would've have filled me with guilt. I would've felt like a total failure, and would beat myself up over not reading.
This year, not so much. I think it has something to do with opening a blog that is about every form of story-telling which allows me this freedom, because I know I can still create a constant flow of content even in the drier reading months, but more than anything - I don't think it's bad that I've slowed down.

It's okay to enjoy watching shows more than reading sometimes.

It's okay to feel like you're not "up to" reading.

It's okay to take some time off, it's even okay to take this slower pace and keep it. 

Because you know what? As long as you're having fun with whatever it is your doing - watching a show, reading a manga, cruising tumblr, listening to maddeningly addictive musical numbers, what ever it may be, AS LONG AS YOU'RE HAVING FUN, IT'S OKAY. It's not wrong.

So I've decided to free myself from this senseless sense of "failure" and let myself be. I am not going to focus on numbers and goals anymore.

I AM GOING TO FOCUS ON ENJOYING MYSELF. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Top OTP from Embraced by the Moonlight by Saki Hiwatari | Manga Review


Embraced by the Moonlight by Saki Hiwatari
Proceeded by: Please Save My Earth
Completed at 85 Chapters, 15 volumes
Reading Status: Finished
Published: Sep 26, 2003 to Nov 26, 2014
Mystery, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
Rating:
Since the conclusion of the original series, Rin and Arisu are leading happy lives. Their son, Ren, is a very normal boy. But one day, a man and a woman as beautiful as an angel appear in front of him and tell him about a power! What is this power Ren suddenly has? The much anticipated sequel to "Please Save My Earth"!
This idea is inspired by Nick and Nereyda's Infinite Book List.

A LOVE THAT TRANSCENDS AGE

I've talked to you before about Please Save My Earth, one of my favorite manga. And in it, I've mention Rin and Alice's love - Rin and Alice have memories of their past lives, where they were a married (alien) couple on the moon. I loved them in Please Save my Earth. But in Embraced by the Moonlight? I SHIPPED THEM SO HARD IT HURT.

This is not your regular type of shipping, where you anxiously wait for them to realize their feelings and be together and have beautiful babies, because that ship has sailed with the ending of Please Save My Earth. Instead, we're transported about fifteen years into the future. You get to have this experience with very few couples that you love.

ALICE AND REN ARE MARRIED. They have an eight year old son themselves. And they're one heck of a couple. We get to see what the future holds for these two - we get to see them blissfully happy, we get to see their matrimony fights, we get to see how they are still facing their past lives and how they continue to affect them to this day.

While a huge part of this sequel series is actually about the next generation - Rin and Alice's son Ren and their friend's daughter Kachiko, Rin and Alice are a major part, and all of Ren and Kachiko's adventures somehow connect to the journey Rin in specific has yet to finish from book one.

These two are one of my biggest manga OTPs, and I have spent the majority of this manga smiling broadly and enjoying every moment of seeing them together.

Aside for this dashing couple, the manga has a ton more to offer. Firstly, you have the adventures of two young kids that manage to be mature and deal with life altering subjects while still acting like kids would. This is so important to me because oftentimes, stories decide to neglect the "kid" aspect of the equation in order to have "meaningful" adventures.

Then, you've got a BROTP TO SHIP THE SHIT OUT OF! In PSME we got to see very little of Rin and Shion's interactions, and what more we never got to see them separated. What is their relationship like? How does Rin feel about Shion and vice verse? We get to explore all this in Embraced by the Moonlight and let me just tell you... EPIC BROTP. Literally gives me life.

And not just these relationships - every character and relationship in this manga are complicated and layered and are not just black and white - the adult and child ones.

Whaaat? still not convinced you should read this manga. Okay. How 'bout I tell you IT'S SO FUNNY AND CUTE? And so hopeful about life? AND THE FEELS ARE HAVING A FIELD DAY WITH IT!

Seriously, I implore you to read this manga series. Even if you don't like manga.

And someone please come asdfghjk with me over Rin and Alice!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas | Book Review

First Published: 2010
Kindle Bundle
Adult, Historical Romance
Rating:
She harbors a secret yearning.
As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always been more comfortable outdoors than in the ballroom. Even though she participated in the London season in the past, the classic beauty and free-spirited Beatrix has never been swept away or seriously courted... and she has resigned herself to the fate of never finding love. Has the time come for the most unconventional of the Hathaway sisters to settle for an ordinary man—just to avoid spinsterhood?

He is a world-weary cynic.
Captain Christopher Phelan is a handsome, daring soldier who plans to marry Beatrix's friend, the vivacious flirt Prudence Mercer, when he returns from fighting abroad. But, as he explains in his letters to Pru, life on the battlefield has darkened his soul—and it's becoming clear that Christopher won't come back as the same man. When Beatrix learns of Pru's disappointment, she decides to help by concocting Pru's letters to Christopher for her. Soon the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher develops into something fulfilling and deep... and when Christopher comes home, he's determined to claim the woman he loves. What began as Beatrix's innocent deception has resulted in the agony of unfulfilled love—and a passion that can't be denied.
If I am completely honest - and I always thrive to be - I was surprised by how much I liked this novel. Beatrix has always been my second favorite Hathaway sibling (right after Leo) so I knew I had nothing to worry on that front, but we had very little build up toward her story in the other novels, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I got? Captain Christopher Phelan. I loved this guy. He returns from war a changed man, a man who no longer fits into the rule he used to occupy before, and he doesn't know what to do about it. Atop this feeling of isolation, he suffers from PTSD, which of course was a term that didn't exist at the time period of this book. So, he fears he's half mad.

The only thing keeping him going? Pru, the girl who wrote him all those honest letters while he was employed. But of course, Pru didn't write them, but Beatrix. Wonderfully free spirited, outdoorsy, compassionate and intelligent Beatrix Hathaway. 

Animals and humans alike are attracted to the unique way she looks at the world. And both cannot help but be soothed by her, which Phelan desperately needs.

The romance between them is very sweet. Beatrix is completely sure of herself and her love to Phelan. She doesn't let anything stand in the way of her showing him affection, of convincing him to take her on. To take himself on. 

And the way Phelan dotted on her was nothing short of delightful. He never spared an opportunity to show her how much he loved her once he realized who she was. Was never afraid to tell her that he did. Was never afraid to let the whole world know about it, too. 

I'm going to take myself to the corner to swoon in peace, thank you very much.

But this wonderful novel was filled with a bittersweet feeling - because I am not nearly ready to say goodbye to the Hathaways! I have binge this entire series in a week. I have become attached to this family, like they were close friends of mine. I have rejoiced in their victories and felt sorrow at their losses.

I don't want this to be the end!

Please, Kleypas, write more novels featuring this peculiar family. I will settle for stories with them as supporting characters only, anything you'd like, but give me something. I am not okay! 
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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sequel Phobia: Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer


Today I'm going to start a new trend on the blog called... Sequel Phobia. It's about--you guessed it--sequels I'm afraid to read. This has been on my mind a lot lately, as the process of revamping my old reviews brought up some old faves that I was super excited for... and never read. Even if I actually own the book in question.

But... why?

With this first book I'm going to talk about - there is a very defined reason.

Natural Born Angel is the sequel to Scott Speer's Immortal City. When I read Immortal City way back in 2012, I fell absolutely in love with it. I was uber excited for the sequel, waiting for its release eagerly. And then it did release and I bought it... And saw some early reviews. 

A few words popped out at me: blah blah blah Love Triangle blah blah blah unnecessary drama blah blah blah Jack acting like a jerk blah blah blah...

Hold on. Wait a minute. WHAT? What what what what??? Nope. No. None of that sound good. Gah, why does it sound like I would hate the sequel to a book I love? I don't want to do that! I don't want to ruin my good experience! AHHH. 

Okay. I'll put it on a back burner for a while. Wait until I'm in a really good mood that nothing can ruin. Yep, that's what I'll do. that's the plan.

THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT HAPPENED.

I'm not even joking. That mess up there? That's what happened inside my brain. The entire thought process. The whole plan. I've still not managed to grab that elusive mood that would upscale my petrifying fear of ruining the characters and world for me. 

I need help.

Do YOU have any advice as to how I might convince myself to read this sequel? 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: Immortal City by Scott Speer

First Published: 2012
Paperback
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
Jackson Godspeed is the hottest Angel in a city obsessed with Immortals. Everyone loves him.
Everyone except Maddy Montgomery, that is.
She's not interested in shallow celebrities... until Jackson takes refuge in the diner where Maddy works and an irresistible connection pulls them together.
But as Maddy is drawn into Jackson's glamorous world, she's exposed to more that the paparazzi. A serial killer is murdering Angels. Maddy and Jackson could lose each other for ever.
While I started Immortal City wary of hoping for too much, in lieu of never reading a truly great angel story, it became promising very quickly. Mostly because of how unique the plot was, when in theory it shouldn't be. The general premise is fairly unoriginal: supernatural boy falls for normal girl... Been there, read that, have the bookshelves to prove it.

But it's the setting of Immortal City that truly sets it apart; imagine modern time with one key difference - Angels "came out of the closet" years ago and are now saving people from unnatural deaths as Guardian Angels... for money. Only the rich can afford this premium luxury, while everyone else watch the angels with starstruck eyes, following their every movement through the tv and fantasizing about winning their own angel.

Because not only are they now an enterprise, they're also the Kardashians of this world.

Can we just take a minute to appreciate this? Have you ever heard of a story commercializing angels? I sure as hell haven't.

And surrounding all that, there is a strange,  impossible murder investigation. Angel murders. Angels who are supposed to be un-kill-able--unless by another angel. I'm not sure I'm doing the intensity of this setup justice, but trust me that it was insanely intense.

These different plot lines are transmitted through three different point of views.

The first is that of Maddy, possibly the only girl in the world who is disinterested in the angels. Despite this unoriginal role, Maddy turned out to be a strong and logical girl with a very likable voice. You know you truly like a character when you understand where they are coming from and forgive their annoying parts.

The second point of view is that of Jackson, a superstar angel about to become the youngest guardian to date. He was cute... but sometimes really clueless, which is surprising considering he's such a hotshot. My one major problem with Jack was how often he hurt Maddy because of his high sense of duty and justice or his silence. I think the silence part was more aggravating.

Like, if someone calls your girl trash... anything other than outrage is unacceptable in my opinion. I kept wishing we'd see him truly protect Maddy; from emotional harm as well as physical. If he would have just fought against his dad and defied his stepdad, even by asking him some effing questions...

He did become fiercely protective and kick-butt when he realized he loved her, even if that realization happened like a week quickly. But, WOW what a first kiss! The romance in here kind of reminded me of Twilight's, which in my case is not an insult or anything but to some people...

The third point of view that isn't mentioned anywhere in the synopsis is that of Detective Sylvester. From his side comes the murder mystery, as he is responsible with catching the killer. He was a great character, one that made me excited for those little breaks in the dominant plot-line to see the hunt for the killer.

When it came to the twists in this book, I kind of figured them all out from a mile away. I even knew who the killer was!... sort of. I kind of hoped my other option would've been the killer, if only for them to have an excuse to kill him/her. Maybe in the sequels?

But what the book lacked in plot twists, it all but made up for in the action department and the surprising way things unfolded. The book starts slow, building the world and characters, but it was never boring. And it ups the ante considerably as it nears the end. To the point where I simple couldn't put it down until I had finished.

And let me tell you, Speer knows how to make you sweat. I literally held my breath. The last few chapters just put me in a hyperventilating mess of "oh my god"s. I did not expect any of it. Speer sure knows how to surprise and scare! He managed to make me fall for the same ruse twice, god damn him!

And then it ends on a somewhat cliffhanger? You're an evil man, Scott Speer. 

The only thing less the stellar was parts of the writing. While I applaud Speer's ability to effortlessly switch from one character to the next, the descriptions sometimes seemed to lack. They just didn't play in my mind--couldn't play in my mind. The logistics of it made no sense. But it was a rather small thing, really, on the grand scale of things.

And what a scale that was...
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Reasons To Read Please Save My Earth by Saki Hiwatari | Manga Review


Please Save my Earth by Saki Hiwatari
Completed at 138 Chapters, 21 volumes
Reading Status: Finished
Published: 1987 to 1994 (no dates specified)
Mystery, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi
Rating:
Mystic dreams of a previous life in the moon lead to the bonding of seven students in an attempt to uncover the secrets behind what they have forgotten. As various truths are sought and avoided, Alice must hurry remembering if she is to save the fragile Rin from self-destruction. For only after facing the grave errors of the past, can they all move forward and live fully in the present.
I'm a huge manga fan. And Please Save my Earth is one of those manga I find myself re-visiting often. And whenever I do, I get flooded by feels just as if I was reading it for the very first time. It's one of these manga that I would recommend for anyone, and here are the reasons;

Please Save My Earth tells not one story - but two. The first one is of six modern day teenagers and one eight year old child who have memories of their past lives. Those memories and personalities interfere with their present lives, especially for the eight year old.

The other story-line is that of their past lives - seven alien scientists from planets far more advanced than earth who were stationed on the moon and died there from an outbreak, which led to them being reborn on earth.

Please Save My Earth expertly weaves together the two stories, one a tale of finding a way to release the memories and finding one's self, and the other a heartbreaking tragedy tinged with hope, making you desperate to know more about both and specifically the characters of the leading four: Rin and Alice and their past selves Shion and Mokuren.

Every character in this manga series is just so flawed and imperfect, in the most lovable way. You will love them to pieces, because they're real and gray and layered and they're not just one thing or the other. That's why the story looks slightly different from every character's eyes.

Also, this idea of reincarnation is way cool. I hope I was an alien in a past life.
This is probably the one most people are going to have the biggest reserves about. Please Save My Earth features many complicated and layered romantic relations/feelings. But the main two are something even beyond that.

The first relationship happens in the past; between two scientists aboard the Moon Base. One is a man who only knows war, fear and loneliness, he has a very weak grasp of what love is and he is afraid of it. The other is a woman who receives adoration from everyone around her because of her abilities and beauty, but only wants one person to love her for herself. 

imagine you had the memories of this love. This wretched, often misguided love that ended before having enough time to blossom because of the disease. And imagine that you're now eight years old, and the woman you've loved --and presently love-- is nine years older than you and has no idea about anything.


I bet you just went "Whaaa?"

Yes, there is a giant age gap. And it's the type of age gap that bothers people more because the woman is older (not that I understand the double standard there). And yes, the boy is incredibly young. But if you read the manga, you see all those are just incorrect assumptions--or rather, meaningless ones.

Because Rin, the boy in question, is more adult than child due to his memories, and the love he feels for Alice is not some fleeting infatuation, but the real deal. And even if you're skeptic at first, by the end of the manga you will believe this love with all of your being.
Yes, I cry. Every. single. time. 

It's like, I can't deal with all these emotions, from the past and from the present. You get so in-tune with these characters that you can't separate yourself from them so when you see their tragic pasts; you are sure to cry. When you see the past trying to take their present and making them miserable; you are going to cry! And when you see them finally grasping happiness after everything... you guessed it; you will cry!
\
Honestly, one of the more underrated manga out there, despite being somewhat of a pioneer in the Shoujo genre in Japan - I highly recommend it to everyone out there. The art-style is very eighties (if you read manga, you probably know what I mean) but another nice aspect of the manga is watching it evolve and get some fineness as the series progresses.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

DNF Review: Blind Attraction by Eden Summers

Reckless Beat #1
First Published: 2013
Free Kindle Version
Adult, Romance
Rating: DNF
He can seduce with a single glance.

Peering down at a sea of fans, rock star, Mitchell Davies can’t deny the innocent beauty of a woman in the front row. He’ll stop at nothing to get to know her. When a public altercation leaves her weak and defenseless, he takes the opportunity to be her savior.
She’s been sheltered from the world.

Alana Shelton wants to spread her wings and experience life away from her restrictive upbringing. But she isn’t prepared for a gorgeous stranger to sweep her off her feet while at her most vulnerable.

Attraction will bring them together, but their pasts will try to tear them apart.

He wants to teach her how to trust, but she’ll show him how to love. In a glamorous world of rock-and-roll, only time will tell if they’re up for the challenge.
DNF at 66%
Blind Attraction started interesting enough. I liked the idea of a truly sheltered girl, who lived in a house for abused women which her mother runs. That's some interesting back story there. But I was also immediately wary because of the instant connection the two share in one of his concerts. 

I carried on, and at first it was alright, but then... I just kind of got tired of the never-ending sex scenes, especially when they were repeatedly done with other people hearing/seeing them. Like, sure, this could be fun but it came across as kind of tacky and seriously, can no one get a semblance of privacy in this book?

I skimmed every sex scene after the first one.

Admittedly, this might have been as much my mood as anything else but I wanted plot. I wanted them falling in love. I wanted them talking. Less physical stuff and more meaningful stuff. 

But it really lost me when Mitch decided to back off to give Alana a... better shot at life? To make the hard decision so she won't have to? Dude, let her decide what she wants to do with her life and for god's sake, what's so bad about you aside for the being away part? And, frankly, I don't think a photographer would mind traveling all over the world with the band.

Of course, Mitch has no idea she's a photographer because they've known each other a total of two days, which consisted mostly of sex and him physically helping her due to her blindness.

So, yeah.

Ultimately, I've read so many better rock-star romances that I decided to just drop this one, even though I've read (or skimmed) more than half of it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

On Unsubscribing and Why It's Difficult

This post is just some random thoughts that I had to write down. A few days ago, I unsubscribed from a few of the blogs on my mailing list. This is something I rarely do because I always feel so bad for those sites. I know how hard it is to make a wide audience base for yourself and how discouraging it can be to lose followers.

But at the same time... I wasn't a real follower to these blogs.

These are the blogs I almost certain I subscribed to because of some giveaway or another. I don't read their posts because their writing style doesn't engage me and they mostly feature books that are of not interest to me.

(it might be notable that I am an engaging subscriber to some blogs that are like this but have such an addictive writing style they might even get me to read those books I never planned to)

Can I count as a follower if I only check out the giveaway posts and most of the time I do nothing with them as well? If the blog covers novels that don't attract me? If every posts that comes into my inbox gets moved to trash without barely a glancewith only one in a million titles actually catching my interest???

There, I said it.

So I did some thinking with myself. I hate un-following. But in this case, isn't my "following"... worse? Aren't I somehow a cheat and a liar and I actually off-set their stats because I'm a ghost follower that doesn't really exist, like those bots and what not?

I AM NOT A REAL FOLLOWER. 

What do their stats need me for? What do I give them that requires I stay on board? Whose feelings am I going to hurt if for all intents and purposes I never "existed"in these bloggers lives to begin with?

These were the things that finally decided it for me. Maybe they are just excuses to make myself feel better about unsubscribing, and maybe if doesn't even matter if they are. I am going to do some real cleaning to the blogs I'm subscribed to. I am going to try and only subscribe to blogs I want to read the content of, and all those giveaways be dammed.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO UNFOLLOW? DO YOU THINK A "SILENT FOLLOWER" IS WORTH SOMETHING?