Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lettering and Calligraphy #18 - Nowhere But Here

Lettering & Calligraphy is a new feature on the blog where I can share to you guys my other hobby besides reading. This feature will showcase my letter and calligraphy works of quotes from various books. I'm not an expert or even anywhere near , but I just wanted to share my works. :)
"Our fears are what stiffle us and we're only scared of what we don't understand." - Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
  Katie McGarry will probably always be one of my favorite authors and I would read anything that she publishes.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

ARC Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Pages: 464
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

This is my second novel written by Victoria Schwab (the first being A Darker Shade of Magic) and I must say that she does not disappoint! To be honest I was really worried about This Savage Song because I’m a newbie in Fantasy novels so I was really wary about the monsters. However, it turned out that I was worrying for nothing.

The thing about Victoria Schwab is that she writes in such a compelling way that even when I need to put down the book for a while, the events that took place in the world she created would always be playing in my mind. She has this ability to make things stick out. I think part of this also stems from how unique her books and her worlds always are. It’s as though they have their own genre.

In This Savage Song, the author created a world were monsters are born from the vicious deeds of people. There are three types of monsters - Corsai, Malchai and Sunnai, and August is the latter, who are born from the most extreme bad deeds. Kate, on the other hand, is a human who construes herself as a badass in order to gain her father’s approval. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not at all done in a petty manner.

I really enjoyed the companionship (if you can call it that) between Kate and August during the latter parts of the novel. I really liked how there was no romance between them, and how they were there for each other, but not at all in the cheesy kind of sense. These two characters are so complicated in that they are unlike any other character I’ve ever met before, and so their companionship is also something that is complicated. These two are just as unique as the plot, and I really don’t know how V.E. Schwab managed to do it so well.

Oh my gosh, that ending! I don’t know what this author is trying to do to me, but that ending is just ahbkshdfk! I can’t even find the right words! I really need the next book, like since I read the last word of this book. Ugh, waiting so long for the next book will hurt my brain and my heart.

Thank you, V.E. Schwab, for yet another amazing novel. You never cease to amaze me, and the feeling as well as the experience of reading this book is truly unique and unforgettable. You are one of the best authors of the fantasy genre, and I look forward to reading more of your work. Just please, don’t kill us with cliffhangers every time.

4.5 oh-my-freaking-goodness stars. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cover Reveal: Bedmates by Nichole Chase!

Everyone makes mistakes, especially in college. But when you're the daughter of the President of the United States, any little slip up is a huge embarrassment. Maddie McGuire's latest error in judgment lands her in police custody, giving the press a field day. Agreeing to do community service as penance and to restore her tattered reputation, Maddie never dreams incredibly good looking but extremely annoying vice president's son, Jake Simmon, will be along for the ride.

Recently returning from Afghanistan with a life-altering injury, Jake is wrestling with his own demons. He doesn't have the time or patience to deal with the likes of Maddie. They're like oil and water and every time they're together, it's combustible. But there's a thin line between love and hate, and it's not long before their fiery arguments give way to infinitely sexier encounters.

When Jake receives devastating news about the last remaining member of his unit, the darkness he's resisted for so long begins to overwhelm him. Scared to let anyone close, he pushes Maddie away. But she isn't about to give up on Jake that easily. Maddie's fallen for him, and she'll do anything to keep him from the edge as they both discover that love is a battlefield and there are some fights you just can't lose.  Image Map

Thursday, May 26, 2016

ARC Review: What Happens Now by Jennifer Castle

Title: What Happens Now
Author: Jennifer Castle
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 384
My Rating: 4 Stars
"I know what it is to want something so badly, you feel like your cells aren’t properly bonded together without it.
I also know what it’s like to get that something.
And honestly, I’m still not sure which is worse..."

Ari Logan is battling to win her war against depression and the dark night she hurt herself on purpose. It’s not easy: her best friend is drifting away, her mom’s emotionally checked out, and she spends her days playing caregiver to her handful of a half-sister, Danielle. But it’s summer, and anything is possible...

That’s when Camden Armstrong steps onto the beach of Ari’s local swimming lake.

At first, Ari quietly longs for Camden from afar, seeing in him everything she wants to be. When the two discover a true connection the following summer, Ari lets herself fall not just for the quirky and self-assured Camden but also his friends, tumbling into their world of independence, adventure, and shared sci-fi fandom. As Ari’s romantic dreams come true, she must unlock the mysteries of the very real and troubled boy behind her infatuation, while also struggling with her own demons, obligations, and loyalties.

From the award-winning author of "The Beginning of After" and "You Look Different in Real Life," "What Happens Now" is a touching, insightful novel about learning to heal, learning to love, and what happens when fantasy becomes reality.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

What Happens Now is so much different than what I expected it to be. I thought that it was going to be a dark tale about depression and cutting, but turns out that it's not. It's much lighter than that, although that's not to say that it doesn't mention those things. But actually, I think that I prefer it this way.

What Happens Now is different from most YA contemporary romance because it delves into the serious stuff about relationships, where they fight about things that matter in relationships. Most other books have couples who often fight just because of some misunderstanding or something similarly unimportant. In this book, Camden and Ari talked about the fact that there should be a give and take in their relationship. I really admired how they actually talked about things to each other, instead of making the other just guess. Well, Camden sometimes did, but Ari always talked to him whenever that happens.

What Happens Now features a lot of relationships, such as an old friendship, new friendships, mother-daughter, sister-half sister, and daughter-stepfather. It was actually quite surprising to see how Ari was closer to her stepfather rather than her mom, and it's a welcome one because most YA would feature characters who hate their stepfathers. However, Ari has a rocky relationship with her mom, mostly I think because they just don't have the same "language" of things, so they get what the other is trying to convey.

The only thing that I didn't really like with this book is the fact that it has a not-so-solid beginning and ending. The beginning weirded me out a little, and I was completely thrown of by it. Because of the beginning, I thought this was going to be another book just focused on the main character's relationship with a boy. The ending, on the other hand, felt inadequate to me. I didn't feel a sense of closure, and as I said, they always talked things through in their relationship, so I felt disappointed that they didn't do so in the end. I just felt like there was something lacking.

Overall, What Happens Now is a great and quick read. I wouldn't really classify it as a light read - although I did mention that it's lighter than what I expected it to be - because it tackles a lot of things, which you have to read this book to find out. So yes, I do encourage you to read this book. I know that it might not be for everyone, but I really liked reading it.

4 light-and-cute stars

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

ARC Review: 26 Kisses by Anna Michels

Title: 26 Kisses
Author: Anna Michels
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 24th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 304
My Rating: 4 Stars
Kasie West meets Morgan Matson in this hilarious and heartwarming debut about a girl’s summer mission to get over her ex-boyfriend by kissing her way through the alphabet.

Getting dumped by her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. So she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, to move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.

From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the break-up doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

I know most people would most likely frown upon the main character for everything that she did in this novel and for wanting to go through the 26 kisses despite everything, but I think I understand why she had to do it. I wouldn't do anything like that myself nor advise it to any of my friends, but I get why she thought she had to do it.

26 Kisses, in my opinion, is the perfect summer beach read! It's a light and quick contemporary read with lots of drama for us to enjoy and/or frown upon. It's all about being a teen and doing stupid things that, yes, we might regret later on, but will also ultimately contribute to the shaping of our characters. Nobody ever said teens were smart, right?

I really enjoyed reading this book, which kind of makes me miss being in high school, actually. I loved that I was able to devour this one in one sitting, and it kept me entertained for a while. Although there are a lot of things that people will frown upon, I think it's good that the main character did what she did in order to find herself; in order to learn what it truly means to love, be a good friend, and live a good life.

I also really connected to the main character. I felt like I was right there with her in every step of her journey. I also love how Veda is really close to her mom, and would really talk to her about all the things that are happening in her life. Veda's friends are pretty great too, in their own ways.

I am sure that this is not the type of book for everyone, but I sure enjoyed it! I definitely read it at the right time! Oh, and one more thing - happy book birthday to 26 Kisses!

4 light-and-cute stars

Sunday, May 22, 2016

SST: Outrun the Moon Review + Giveaway!

Title: Outrun the Moon
Author: Stacey Lee
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 24th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 400
My Rating: 4 Stars

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in 
exchange for an honest review as part of the Sunday Street Team. 

  Outrun the Moon is the type of book that should be assigned as book reports in high school. I have to admit that I usually hate reading books about tragedy, but I also have to admit that this one surpassed my usual expectations. Stacey Lee is a master with words and diversity, and I’m so glad to finally have read a novel written by her!

  I’d like to think of Mercy Wong as someone who is called hard-headed in the Chinese community. Where westerners value independence, most Asians value interdependence. It was very nice for me to have read things about Chinese superstitions because while I am Chinese and my parents grew up there, I was born in another place. Although I understand that Mercy’s parents are from Hong Kong, rather than Mainland China.

  I didn’t expect this book to touch my heart so much. The emotions I felt after the disaster took place felt raw and very much real. Stacey Lee paints a vivid picture with her words, but she also has the ability to make readers feel the emotions of the character, as if I were the character for a while. I really felt Mercy’s grief and unwavering hope as I read, especially near the end.

  Outrun the Moon is an amazing novel about a headstrong, resourceful, practical and compassionate Chinese girl in the time when there were a lot of prejudices about Chinese people. What I admire about Mercy is how she didn’t hate the people because of how they treated her, and in the times of disaster, she didn’t hesitate those in need, even if they were the Whites who once mocked her.

  This novel left me in awe and admiration because it was not what I expected. I thought this would be a light read, but no, no, and another no. Even now that it has been a few hours after I read this, I still carry the emotions I had when reading the book with me. Outrun the Moon is a novel that I believe everyone should read not only because of the wonderful writing, but also because of all the great insights that it has to offer. I just know that I will have a book hangover over this! 

:O stars

About the Author:

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Californian with roots in San Francisco Chinatown. Born in Southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. She has lots of experience with earthquakes, having skinned her knees more times than she wants to remember diving under tables. One day she hopes to own a hypoallergenic horse and live by the sea. See what she's up to on Twitter & Instagram: @staceyleeauthor.

The San Francisco Getaway

The Show Me San Francisco

The Hand Knit Shawl

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Stacking the Shelves

I was too excited to read these two books that I bought and devoured them immediately! 

Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for these lovelies! 
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Griffin for this one! 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Blog Hops

Top 5 Reason Why I Love YA Contemporary Romance:

  1. The feels.
  2. Light and quick reads.
  3. Fluffy yet meaningful content.
  4. Easy to relate to.
  5. I don't have to learn a lot of new terms.

Book Blogger Hop

Do you keep a Blog Roll List?

 No. I thought about doing it before, but I didn't push through. It's hard to choose my favorite blogs so now I think it's better not to keep one at all. 

Mini ARC Review: The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

Title: The Last Time We Were Us
Author: Leah Konen
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 10th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 368 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

A passionate summer love story about a girl, her childhood best friend recently released from juvie, and the small-town lies that have kept them apart. A teen romance debut with a dark edge.

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Local teen convict released early.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

“Everything is not what you think.”

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?

“You’re the one person who believes in me.”

Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

   The Last Time We Were Us had a rocky start for me. For the first 20% of the book, I was bored and almost wanted to put the book down. It just wasn’t holding my interest, and I wanted to give up. However, as I read on, the plot became better and better. And although this is just a “meh” book, I didn’t anymore want to give up on it.

   This is the type of book that is mostly just in between, but it has some good parts and a few bad parts occasionally. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I never really hated it anyway. What I really love about this book is despite the fact that it has more than 300 pages, it still was a breeze to read and I managed to fly through it in a day. There are actually some pretty great quotes too!

   The Last Time We Were Us and I didn’t hit it off, but I still didn’t hate it overall. It’s a light and short read, and it kept me busy for a while. I guess this book just sn’t for me.

well-that-went-downhill stars

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ARC Review: Even If the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia

Title: Even If the Sky Falls
Author: Mia Garcia
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date:  May 10th, 2016
Pages: Kindle, 304
My Rating: 1.5 Stars
All she needs is one night to be anyone she wants.

Julie is desperate for a change. So she heads to New Orleans with her youth group to rebuild houses and pretend her life isn’t a total mess. But between her super-clingy team leader and her way-too-chipper companions, Julie feels more trapped than ever.

In a moment of daring, she ditches her work clothes for DIY fairy wings and heads straight into the heart of Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, where she locks eyes with Miles, an utterly irresistible guy with a complicated story of his own. And for once, Julie isn’t looking back. She jumps at the chance to see the real New Orleans, and in one surreal night, they dance under the stars, share their most shameful secrets, and fall in love.

But their adventure takes an unexpected turn when an oncoming hurricane changes course. As the storm gains power and Julie is pulled back into chaos she finds pretending everything is fine is no longer an option.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

  When I first read about Even If the Sky Falls, I wanted to read it immediately. It also helps that the cover looks amazing, so of course I really wanted to read it. However, I must say that I am disappointed by the book. The first few pages were very promising, but as I read on, I hated it more and more.

  At almost 10% of the book, I felt like there was something about the way it was written that didn’t fly well with me. Although it was very interesting, I just didn’t feel connected to the story nor the main character. I didn't feel any feels from the romance, and the way it went just felt weird and unnatural to me. I thought that there was no chemistry at all between the two characters.

  I also hated the fact that there were quite a lot of things written in Spanish, when I don’t know a single word of Spanish. I always hate that because how the heck would I understand it? Another thing that I hated is the fact that it seemed to jump between past and present per chapter without any warning, so you’d read the first sentence in a chapter and think it’s a continuation, only to learn later on that the chapter is actually about something from the past. It was very confusing, and I just got annoyed when I learned about it.

  I actually had luck in the past with books that happen in a span of 24 hours like Where She Went and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but this one just didn’t go well for me. For contemporary novels, especially those that happen in just a day, I usually fly through them quickly. However, I read this one in a number of days. I just wasn’t grasped by the story, and I just really didn’t like it.

  I also hated how the ending felt lacking somehow. I felt like it just ended abruptly, and there were still so many questions left unanswered. I mean, they didn't even talk, they just kissed and it ended right there! I feel cheated somehow.

  I tried so badly to like this because the premise is very interesting and it seemed like my type of read, but I just really didn't enjoy this one. I also think that it put me in a mini reading slump, which just sucks for me. However, I also think that Mia Garcia is a promising author, but just not with this particular novel. After all, the story in itself is well written for the most part.

1.5 no-no stars