Keep Calm Because I’m Back!

I probably should explain myself.

The past few years, I have been inactive in this blog. It is entirely because the password has been changed on both my blog and e-mail and I haven’t been able to retrieve it. Oddly enough, I have tried so hard to claim it back, but, alas, after few years of longing to blog again, I lost interest on creating a new one with the hope of retrieving this one back. Fortunately for me, I happily tried it again just recently and bam! it worked!

I ran through my e-mail as well after retrieving both, and I am disheartened to see that there were book review requests from different authors all around the planet which I was not able to read, reply on and review. Tons, may I just add. And I want to be able to get back to them. I will. One by one, delayed as it may be. I will do everything I can to fulfill the reviews they have long waited for.

I truly am sorry for not being responsive on those emails, you lovely authors. Truthfully, and shamefully as well, I am not a very tech-savvy person. Having my privacy touched by somebody else left me without a choice but to accept my defeat. However, that was all in the past. Suffice to say, I have learned from that mistake and never will I let that happen again.

So, starting today, I will be reviewing all the requests I received and make sure that they will all get the honest reviews these authors wished to get from my blog.

Thank you, whoever you are reading this, for holding on and for keeping updated on this blog.

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Florence by Ciye Cho

I first received the request to review this book back on June 13th, so I would like to apologize first for taking me this long to make a review to this wonderful work of Ciye Cho.

Florence is a YA Fantasy Romance novel published in July 1st of this year. This is the excerpt:

Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and brought down to Niemela–the hidden world of mermaids and mermen–Florence is the ultimate gift for Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of the dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand–and find out where she belongs–Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart… and her very soul.

I think I’ve said it before, but I’ve never really been a fan of mermaid stories. Having said that, it’s still really surprising how these mermaid stories surprise me whenever I read them. Florence, on the other hand, really got my interest the very moment I received the request from Ciye, because: a) I love the characters’ names; b) the synopsis given to me by Ciye is nicely laid out and gives me too much to think of but not really giving anything away; and c) it’s so great I think Ciye will be giving me a hard time to do this review and explain what I love about this book.

First and foremost, I love the individuality of the characters. Or, should I say, distinctiveness. Even the world of Niemela is beyond beautiful yet simple by the way it was described in the story. The words which were used just created their own images in my head, giving me clearer sense about the world Florence wants me to be in.

Also, these mermen/maids have their own lore than what I’ve read (or watched) in any other stories. I’m a big fan of RPG games and this story brings my “gamer” self out. The characters have a road to follow. They’re not just merfolks. Rather, they have tasks to do in Niemela, something which lacks in other mer stories. The clear detailing of the world and the characters which makes reading even more enjoyable.

Character-wise, Florence, if not immediately, almost eventually made me love her. It’s hard to like her at first, but she managed to make me love her gradually. This is how important the world of Niemela, because the only time she became a much more interesting character was when she reached the realm of the merfolks. Florence felt like she’s always hanging by a thread; an insecure girl. I believe that insecurity in a lead character has been used more than enough, and that prevents me from liking her at first. That being said, it is also a factor that I managed to like her, as it really emphasized the huge change in her character from the beginning to the middle, up to the end.

Other characters that I liked were Princess Yolee, Prince Kiren and Prince Yolan. But I think that’s given and a must since they are, along with Florence, the main characters of the book. The introduction of these three sets the bar high, because of having four different characters with different personalities. I think that added up more spices into the story. One was fun yet sweet, and the two men are like day and night. The more you read about them, the more you’ll realize that they are each other’s complete opposite. And the magic in Ciye’s writing came out when you’re expecting something from these two characters, yet they’d give you the unexpected.

I have read this book a month ago, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it up to its last page. I’m not the type who gives spoilers in book reviews, but this one really got me hooked. Even now that a month has passed and I can still remember the scenes in the book, which was made unforgettable by the magical writing of Ciye Cho.

Of course, this one’s not without a flaw. The plot may sound interesting, but there’s something lacking about it. I also felt like the characters could have gone a much more drastic change than what was given to me, and the actions could use just a little bit more of improvement. If ever there will be a sequel, I am all up to read it!

If you are a fan of mermaid stories, or not, I’m pretty sure you’ll absolutely love Florence!

4 out of 5 stars for this book!

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Cover Reveal: Taste by Kate Evangelista

Ms. Kate Evangelista e-mailed me about this cover reveal, asking me to do this favor. But honestly, with this beautiful cover, it feels like I am the one being done a favor. 🙂 Also, the plot seems interesting!

About the Book:
Publication Date: TBA
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Summary | Add to TBR
At Barinkoff Academy, there’s only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Yuri has other plans.
When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Yuri the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.
When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn’t going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master’s courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels. If you want to know more about this quirky writer who loves romance and fantasy and everything in between, click on the links above.


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Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra

Mina V. Esguerra is back, now with her new book, abbr. IGoL, and she is back with a bang. Contrary to her past novels, IGoL is not just a contemporary romance. It is also a YA book (her first! And I’m pretty sure that it’s not gonna be the last as it’s only the first book in the series!)

Here’s the synopsis:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

While she’s learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who’s got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he’s not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after — or at least something that’ll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he’s so, well, hot.)

This book is probably one of my 2012 favorite reads so far. I mean, there’s so much about it that I know I should love, beginning with the little touches of Philippine mythology throughout the series (hello, Ms. Maquiling!), to a set of diverse characters that will not only make you fall for them, but make you want to be like one of them (I mean, seriously. Who doesn’t want to be a God/Goddess in their own right, even if it’s just temporary?)

I’ve read so many books before this, but you will notice that I don’t blog regularly. But as this is the Mina V. Esguerra, of course I have to review this one.

Let’s start with Hannah Maquiling, the series’ heroine. Being a half-blood (or a demigoddess), she was assigned by the Sun of God, Joaquin “Quin” Apolinario, to be the Interim Goddess of Love as the real one has gone missing, and someone has to take over in that position. Even though she’s never been in a relationship herself in the past, she gladly accepts the offer because it’s Quin we’re talking about and she has a huge crush on him. But what kept my interest even longer was reading Kathy’s storyline. If this is a film, Kathy’s role is probably just a small one; a supporting role — which is being used to drive the plot of the story. I’ve always liked character-driven stories, but this one I just couldn’t get myself to care care because I think it works both ways. It elevates the events of the story, and it also gives growth to Hanna’s character as the Goddess of Love. And it’s not just the three of them. This one, unlike Mina’s previous works, consists of many characters — diverse set, actually, that made me love it even more. Moreover, to the girls out there, there are so many guys you can squeal about in this novel. You get to choose. It’s like Team Edward or Team Jacob all over again.

Anyway, before I’d finish this, I’d like to say something else.

In my past book reviews to Mina’s works, I kept saying that I love her writing style because she keeps it really light. I would just like to correct myself. Mina’s writing style is not exactly light. The truth is that there’s magic in her way of writing that even those messages that should give the reader a feeling of heaviness, even by just a little bit, she can make it so light for the readers.

One example of those is this:

I didn’t see her much when I was growing up, so it was easy to forget that she and my mom came from the same place. Of course, they’d have similar habits, share the same vocabulary.

“Why do I remind you of her?” I asked, almost expecting her answer to be similar.

“When we were younger, I was always getting into trouble, and your mom would always try to help me,” Tita Carmen said. “But I wasn’t always happy about it. And she’s ask me why I was so annoyed, when she was only trying to help.”

Yeah, that was my mother. She was always doing right by someone, offering good deeds even if they didn’t want them. There was this one time —

“Wait.You think I turned into my mom?”

Because wait one second! My mom was the ultimate “will martyr myself for friends and family and bitch about it to my daughter when I’m punished for my good deeds.” I love her but it’s true, and I sat through one too many of these conversations. It was exhausting sometimes, getting that peek into my mother’s life.

So true! Sometimes, it’s hard for us to accept the fact that we are turning into our parents, because there are things about them we don’t want to be like. That’s the kind of thing about Mina. She can keep you giggling, blushing probably, and smiling or laughing even when you’re alone. But one thing that I really noticed: she can keep you nodding with the use of her words; agreeing to what she was telling you, and letting you see yourself in a way you probably haven’t even noticed — through her characters. Because that’s the kind of writer she is. She narrates the story lightly, but she’s actually, and definitely, heavyweight. 😉

Fearless Forecast: I have this feeling that we will get to meet the real Goddess of Love, and she will be an adversary for Hannah. Also, I think QotC is the next book in this series, and I’m guessing it means “Queen of the Campus.”

Well, those are just my guesses. Don’t take my word for it. I’m really like this when I got hooked to something: I don’t stop thinking about the possibilities of the story and its future.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I’m recommending this one to those of you who wants to see a glimpse of the Philippine mythology. I really believe, wherever you are, whatever kind of mythology you were used to believing at as you were growing up — Interim Goddess of Love has got no way of failing you!

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore

After few months of not being able to blog anything, I finally have returned. And now, I’m back with Kristin Cashore’s Graceling.

Oddly, Kristin Cashore is an author I never really heard of before until I read Chachic’s review of this very book sometime last year that I made it a part of my to-buy list. And I can say that it didn’t let me down.

The summary of the book says:

Graceling is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms, and none moreso than Katsa, who’s expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.

I’ve had this book for, like, three months before I started reading it. I didn’t really have high hopes for this one, especially after watching its book trailer on Youtube that I really had bad impression to it. I am sorry. I know that I should only judge the book by the work itself, but the trailer was so bad I didn’t really think of it as any good.

However, when I finally had the free time (meaning, I can actually commit suicide in these times but I didn’t because my life is too precious), I finally let myself dive into the world of Graceling. And boy, was I so stupid to let that trailer deceive me.

For those of you who haven’t read the book yet, the book is called Graceling because it centers about a girl named Katsa who is one of those people who was born with what-so-called Grace. Each Graceling have dissimilar pair of eyes, and is feared by the people. Especially Katsa who was born with the Grace of Killing.

Katsa makes a great female protagonist, in my opinion. She’s really strong, probably the strongest, but is complicated when it comes to her emotions. But complications are the things that make this story really absorbing. From low expectations, it arouse dramatically that even I couldn’t believe that I waited so long before I finally decided to read it. Having to read Katsa in her maturation process was a real treat for me. And it wasn’t only that. The romance and the action both satisfied my craving in a read, and the magic of their world was not too magical that I was able to connect with it. It was more of an epic adventure novel than a young-adult, fantasy, romance one – which I also love, by the way.

I would recommend this book but not to everyone because the story has a strong message that might freak the conservative ones out.  But this issue really attributed Katsa’s character which made her even more believable.

Graceling was excellently written by Kristin Cashore (and this is your debut novel — way to go, lady!), and will leave you even more thirsty for action and romance even though this book give a lot of them.

Five-out-of-five stars for this one!

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Tower of Parlen Min by Matt Xell

When Matt sent me an e-mail, asking me to make a review for his book, Tower of Parlen Min, I immediately said yes as soon as I saw the book cover. I admit it, I judge a book by its cover, and his book cover really got my attention.

Here’s a synopsis:

Ves Asirin, an orphaned and introverted boy with a complicated memory loss disorder, wins a trip to the TOWER OF PARLEN MIN, the home of the wealthiest inventor of the time, Jacobius Trent. There, with 19 other children, he must compete in the Sword Challenge; a series of intricate puzzles and daring tasks, for a prize of $12 million. As dazzling, glorious and liberating as the Tower seems to be for him, Ves finds that it keeps a dark and secret history that he has been unknowingly connected to for over 150 years, a secret that will define his future and destiny … if he can escape The shadow; a powerful and seemingly unstoppable, supernatural serial killer.

First of all, let me say that I’m really honored to be asked to make a review for this one. Until now, I am not sure whether or not my words are that powerful to make readers read somebody else’s work, but here’s to believing to myself. Cheers, Matt!

But, like what I’ve always been telling to everyone, not because I received a free copy of your work means I would say good things about it when there’s none. In Tower of Parlen Min’s case, I don’t have anything against it.

The story contains a lot of characters. From the very beginning, a lot of them had been introduced but don’t look further because Ves Asirin is the guy you’re looking for. What I liked about Ves is that he’s fresh and unique. An orphan and have a memory issue, making him forget everything that has happened after twelve to fifteen hours, Ves isn’t exactly the kind of hero, I think, readers would really be able to relate to, and I was having a hard time relating to what he was going through. And then there was the attitude he had shown. I guess, the only thing that I was able to do while I was reading the novel was putting myself into Ves’ shoes. “What if I am in Ves’ position?” And the answer: I would have showed other people the best I can show them because having self-issues doesn’t make me a more important person than they are.

Having said that, I liked the fact that the book was full of events. It made me want to continue reading because there is a lot of things going on but I am afraid that I was seduced by the words and not by the actions the characters were showing. They were all words, all thoughts, less actions. I mean, I know how I will imagine them but in my head, their actions are jumping from one to the other. There’s no consistency and I was having a hard time making images in my head. Consistent images, I meant.  Like buffing a video on Youtube that annoys you sometimes because of slow internet connection; which also meant slow buffing, and playing of the video.

Also, the number of characters in the book are a lot. Like really, a lot. But I don’t think it would have been such a snag, or would have been a problem. I think the only thing that’s lacking from these characters, including Ves, is that they lacked growth. Like what I’ve said, number of characters wasn’t the problem. But I think it would have been better if all of them, or maybe most of them, were given the right growth at the right time, at the right place. And before I’d forget, the pacing wasn’t consistent. It was quick-paced at the beginning, then it will become slow. And then quick again. And its speed keeps on shifting from time to time.

I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but Matt Xell deserves a 3.5 out of 5 stars for this. For a debut novel, this isn’t really bad. I just hope that it was given more thoughts. There were so many events that I felt gigantic but somehow, I also felt like some of them hadn’t improved that much which could have dragged the readers the way I think the writer wants them to be dragged.

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Between The Land and The Sea by Derrolyn Anderson

Between The Land and The Sea by Derrolyn Anderson

I am the kind of book reviewer who doesn’t really say bad things about stories that I’ve read because I believe that each and every books that we have are all given the right amount of care and time. But Between The Land and The Sea is something that I really don’t have anything to say that can be against it!

I’m not a big fan of mermaids. I’ve never been. Until now, I still don’t know how a fish and a human were able to make this hybrid but that didn’t take away my interest to read this book!  Though started at a slow-paced storytelling, the story progressed immediately.  It just made me want to continue reading, regardless if my stomach was empty, or if my mouth was dry for thirst. And what’s even more fascinating is that there are more stuffs that happened apart from the topic about mermaids.

The story is about Marina — a not-your-typical heroine who moved in with her aunt and cousin Cruz at Aptos, trying to fit in at the new place she was at, and ignoring people who kept thinking and calling her a freak. But life isn’t all sour and bitter for Marina. She met Ethan and everything just became lighter and brighter for her.

But before I could reveal more things about the book (spoilers!), I’d better stop now. I’m pretty sure you will love this book, maybe even more than how I loved it–and it’s a big thing especially if it’s coming from me, someone who never had an appreciation about mermaids until now. You will love the characters (oh-so well developed!), especially Aunt Evie and Cruz! And even though I’m giving those two a special attention, I can assure you that every characters are lovable. None of them are flimsy, and were all explored properly in the story!

If you’re looking for something new, appealing, spine-tingling, and entertaining read, this one’s for you! And, oh! Have I forgotten about the romance? Silly me, but there you have it! It will make you wanna pee on your seat because of too much sweetness!

So there you go people! Read this, you! Read!

Five out of five stars!!!

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