Stacking the Shelves [10]

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's a great way to show other people the books that you've bought or received for the past week.
I've decided to do this meme only at the end of every month, so here you go - here's my haul for the month of January (so many good books came in the mail this week!):
(Thank you to Christine from Harper Collins, TOR Teen, and Nya Jade!)

[Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway] The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

The Peculiar (The Peculiar, #1)

Title: The Peculiar
Author: Stefan Bachmann
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Buy from National Book Store / Goodreads

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

It's been a few hours since I've finished this novel and yet my mind is still positively reeling with images of the world cleverly crafted by Bachmann. Readers of my blog ought to know by know just how much I value good world-building, and I was thrilled to find out that Bachmann took immense care in creating the world of The Peculiar. Every detail was rich; every minute detail was explored thoroughly so as to give readers the best reading experience possible. From the first page alone, I was thrusted deep into this magical world - I could practically see myself ambling along the dark alleys of Bath, truth be told!

I enjoyed reading about the character of Bartholomew. Bartholomew is a Peculiar, a changeling - half-human and half-fay - and he's been hiding all his life. His entire life he has been nothing but wary of those around him, and yet it was clear from the get go just how much he craved friendship and belongingness. I also loved how protective he was of his sister, Hettie, and how he was willing to do anything for her well-being. While reading The Peculiar, I was nothing but heartbroken at all the painful experiences both Bartholomew and Hettie had to go through at such young ages.

Throughout the course of the novel, I couldn't help but notice how parallel Bachmann's world is to the one we currently live in. Just like Bartholomew and Hettie - born half-human and half-fay - people considered 'different' are ostracized and sneered upon. Quite similar to the corrupt politicians rampant in our world today, Bath also had its fair share of so-called leaders who were only looking out for themselves. Poverty was also mentioned a few times in The Peculiar. Lastly, the character of Arthur Jelliby, is someone who I'm sure everyone has encountered in their lives - he started out as quite an apathetic man, preferring not to be in the thick of things, but all that changes when he discovers something evil going on and does all that he can to stop it.

While The Peculiar  may be classified as a novel adhering to the middle-grade genre, I have no qualms in saying that it can be enjoyed by adults as well. As a matter of fact, the plot is a little bit dark with mentions of both kidnapping and murder, so this is definitely not your average, fun-filled read. With that being said, I can't wait for the sequel, and do yourselves and grab a copy! Trust me, you don't want to miss out on the sheer brilliance of Stefan Bachmann!

Rating: 4 Stars

The giveaway:

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[Blog Tour: Review] Persistence of Vision by Liesel K. Hill

Persistence of Vision

Title: Persistence of Vision
Author: Liesel K. Hill
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Published by: Tate Publishing
In a world where collective hives are enslaving the population and individuals have been hunted to the verge of extinction, Maggie Harper, and independent 21st Century woman, must find the strength to preserve the freedom of the future, but without the aid of her memories.

After experiencing a traumatic time loss, Maggie is plagued by a barrage of images she can't explain. When she's attacked by a creep with a spider's web tattoo, she is saved by Marcus, a man she's never met, but somehow remembers. He tells her that both he and her creepy attacker are from a future in which individuals are being murdered by collectives, and Marcus is part of the rebellion. The collectives have acquired time travel and they plan to enslave the human race throughout all of history. The flashes Maggie has been seeing are echoes of lost memories, and the information buried deep within them is instrumental in defeating the collective hives.

In order to preserve the individuality of mankind, Maggie must try to re-discover stolen memories, re-kindle friendships she has no recollection of, and wade through her feelings for the mysterious Marcus, all while dodging the tattooed assassins the collectives keep sending her way.

If Maggie can't fill the holes in her memory and find the answers to stop the collectives, the world both in her time and in all ages past and future will be doomed to enslavement in the grey, mediocre collectives. As the danger swirls around her and the collectives close in, Maggie realizes she must make a choice: stand out or fade away...

I've read my fair share of New Adult novels over the past few months, but this is the first New Adult novel I've come across that doesn't adhere to contemporary sub-genre. Upon reading the blurb, I knew that I had to read this book - I love stories with Sci-Fi aspects, and I felt that the time has come for me to explore other novels under the general umbrella of New Adult. And let me tell you - I don't regret reading this novel one bit!

This is not your average dystopian read - as a matter of fact, I'd have to say that I consider this novel to be more Sci-Fi in nature. Readers are introduced to concepts (some truly exist and while some were invented by Hill) that are very scientific, and I was truly awed at how apparent it was that Hill paid due attention to the most infinitesimal of details while writing this novel. Everything was meticulously researched - no random terms were thrown around haphazardly - and every piece of information had its purpose towards the general plotline. Moreover, I didn't come across any plot holes (and we all know that plot holes are rather difficult to escape in dystopian and Sci-Fi novels), and simply put, I'm impressed at how polished and tightly edited this novel was.

The first few chapters were jam-packed with vital information in regards to the world created by Hill, and I suggest that the readers pace themselves to absorb as much as they can. Through everything is explained in a manner that is easy to understand - we relearn things with Maggie as she struggles to recuperate through her time loss - my brain did end up screaming 'information overload' a few times. It actually took me a while to get through the first few parts of the book because there was just too much to learn! Also, because the first part of the story deals with Hill establishing her world and her characters, the pacing is a little slow, but don't let that discourage you - once Maggie accepted her role in the grand scope of things, the story picks up, and you're in for one heck of a ride.

I do wish we could have had known more about the characters though. Obviously, I ended up knowing quite a lot about Maggie since we're in her head most of the time, but the other characters are all the more intriguing, and I think they haven't been explored enough. While I did appreciate that we relearned things with Maggie, I truly wish we could have had the chance to see the POVs of some of the secondary characters. (Can I just mention how cool some of their abilities are? I don't want to spoil things so I won't state what those abilities are exactly, but they're really amazing!) Moreover, I loved how they cared so much about Maggie, and yet at the same time, it was obvious to me that they were hiding something from her and I have to know what that is!

Plotwise, this novel is wholly original. I haven't read anything that is remotely close to what this book brings to the table, and I honestly found myself agog at some of the things that happened throughout the course of the novel. Moreover, I found it incredible that Hill managed to tie together a multitude of different aspects to create an engrossing read, and I can't wait to see what else Hill has in store for her readers in the succeeding sequels!

Rating: 4 Stars

[Blog Tour: Q&A with the Author and Giveaway] The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Welcome to my stop for Pinoy Book Tours' The Peculiar blog tour, in cooperation with National Book Store and Harper Collins International. Read through the talented Stefan Bachmann's thoughts on writing and music, and do join the giveaways at the end of this post. We will also be holding a twitter party on February 2 (details will be released soon). Lastly, my review will be posted on the 25th, so look out for that post as well!

(Stefan says hi!)

Have you always wanted to be a writer or did the idea just came to you?

Umm, it kind of just came to me. I remember sitting at a restaurant with my family and then randomly announcing to my Mom that I was going to write a book. I have no idea why. This was when I was around 11 so the book that came from the announcement was horrible. But I'm glad I started!

You composed songs to accompany The Peculiar. Wow! Did these songs come first or did you compose them especially for The Peculiar?

Thank you! They were written specially for the book. My editor also let me write the music for the book trailer, which was fun.

So much has been written about fairies. What is your take on the fey and their world?

I wanted to go for the old-fashioned, wild, dark faeries. I haven't read many modern faery books, but I hear the faeries in them tend to be dashing and romanticized. I wanted to use the historical faeries, the one's people were really afraid of, and I wanted to see what would happen when they were put into an industrialized, smoky England and forced to co-exist with Victorians.

You're attending the Zurich Conservatory. What instrument do you play?

Piano and recorders are my main instruments at the moment, and composing is my main subject. I'd really, really, really like to be a film composer one day.

What is your writing style - how do you write a novel?

I try to find out where the book begins and where it ends first. If I know where it ends it makes it much easier to finish it. Then I plot out a few key scenes in the middle and just go from there. Usually. With Book 2, though, I outlined a lot more carefully because I was deathly afraid Second Book Syndrome would set in and I'd just freeze up and have no idea what to write next. Didn't happen luckily, but I do think the detailed outline helped in that case.

Are you interested in writing for a different genre or audience?

YES! After The Whatnot I'm doing something completely new, for me at least. It's partly contemporary with modern day teenagers (so YA this time, not middle grade), and partly historical, set in 18th century France, and it's full of madness and scariness and action. It'll be way different for me, especially after two slightly old-fashioned Victorian-style fantasies. I can't to start work on it.

And now.... for the giveaways!

(PH only)
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(Open to PH and INT)
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The Next Forever by Lisa Burstein

The Next Forever

Title: The Next Forever
Author: Lisa Burstein
Release Date: January 13, 2013
Published by: Entangled Publishing (Ever After)
Source: An e-copy was sent by the publisher in exchange of an honest review
One night in college can change everything…

Away at college, Amy just wants one night alone without her high school sweetheart, Joe. So when he invites her to go to the library, she heads off on her own instead. How she ended up at a house party with the mysterious bad-boy Trevor is another story…

Joe so isn’t going to the library. He needs space from Amy, too, so he’s decided to rush a fraternity, to get back the swagger he had in high school. But it doesn’t take long for the brothers to invite him to the real rush here the beer is flowing and one particular girl has set her eyes on Joe.

Over the course of one wild night, both Amy and Joe will have to decide if their futures belong with two new people, or whether the next forever will have their first loves in it

If you've read Pretty Amy (and I do recommend that you read it before delving into The Next Forever), you might have a slight idea of what to expect from this novella. Don't let the gorgeous cover fool you - just like Pretty Amy, The Next Forever is intense, full of gritty, emotional scenes and stark self-realizations. Burstein's writing is as strong as ever as she explores the next chapter of Amy's life, and Joe's as well. Amy got her happy-ever-after with Joe, but exactly what happens after that?

The novella reintroduces us to Amy and Joe, still romantically involved, and currently attending the same college. From the get go, it's rather apparent that their lives now pretty much revolve around each other, which in turn is similar to how Amy's life used to revolve around her high school best friends. Likewise, we also learn that Amy is very strict on herself when it comes to vices, as she is desperate not to revert to the person she once was. This was an interesting change of pace for those who have read Pretty Amy - in the aforementioned book, Amy was rebellious in the sense that she drank and smoked regularly, and this Amy was incredibly different from that Amy. She's not as brash as she once was, and this Amy was very quiet, very timid, even. It also didn't escape my attention that she seems lonelier than ever.

Unlike Pretty Amy, The Next Forever is told in alternating POVs. From the previous novel, readers never really got the chance to know the character of Joe, but this novella remedies that. Joe's POV enriches the novel as we finally get the chance to see what's on his mind, and I love that we are able to view the exact, same scenes from both characters' perspectives. We realize that despite of the fact that Joe loves Amy very much, he needs something for himself - something he can call his own. He misses who he was in high school, and he wants that Joe back. The same goes for Amy - other than Joe, she has no friends, and she's starting to feel like she doesn't know who she is anymore. We then come to the heart of the novel - are Amy and Joe ready to commit themselves to each other without losing who they are in the process? The Next Forever explores the happenings of one night - a night wherein Amy and Joe go off by themselves and see the world of college in a different light.

This is only the second of Lisa Burstein's work that I've read, and I have no qualms in saying that I'm a fan of hers. Her writing completely draws you in and places you deep inside the recesses of the minds of her characters with no problem whatsoever. Moreover, both Amy and Joe achieve so much character growth throughout the novella, and being the emotionally-attached reader that I am, I just felt so proud of them. There aren't a lot of authors who explore just what happens to the characters after riding merrily into the sunset, and I'm ecstatic that Burstein gave her readers this chance to be able to know what happens to Amy and Joe after the events of Pretty Amy.

Rating: 4 Stars

[Cover Reveal] Reclaimed by Sarah Guillory

Hey folks! Here's another cover reveal of a title that I'm particularly excited about. Its release is a long way off, but wow, that blurb is something else!


Title: Reclaimed
Author: Sarah Guillory
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
ISBN: 978-1-937053-88-8
Formats: Paperback, E-book
Jenna Oliver doesn’t have time to get involved with one boy, let alone two.

All Jenna wants is to escape her evaporating small town and her alcoholic mother. She's determined she'll go to college and find a life that is wholly hers—one that isn't tainted by her family's past. But when the McAlister twins move to town and Jenna gets involved with both of them, she learns the life she planned may not be the one she gets.

Ian McAlister doesn't want to start over; he wants to remember.

Ian can’t recall a single thing from the last three months—and he seems to be losing more memories every day. His family knows the truth, but no one will tell him what really happened before he lost his memory. When he meets Jenna, Ian believes that he can be normal again because she makes not remembering something he can handle.

The secret Ian can’t remember is the one Luke McAlister can’t forget.

Luke has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother until Jenna stumbles into his life. She sees past who he’s supposed to be, and her kiss brings back the spark that life stole. Even though Luke feels like his brother deserves her more, Luke can’t resist Jenna—which is the trigger that makes Ian's memory return.

Jenna, Ian, & Luke are about to learn there are only so many secrets you can keep before the truth comes to reclaim you.

One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy

One Week Girlfriend

Title: One Week Girlfriend
Author: Monica Murphy
Release Date: January 11, 2013
Source: An e-copy was sent by the author in exchange of an honest review
Temporary. That one single word best describes my life these last few years. I’m working at a temporary job until I can finally break free. I’m my little brother’s temporary mother since our mom doesn’t give a crap about either of us. And I’m that temporary girl all the guys want to get with because I give it up so easily. According to the rumors, at least.

But now I’m the temporary girlfriend of Drew Callahan, college football legend and all around golden guy. He’s beautiful, sweet—and he’s hiding way more secrets than I am. He’s brought me into this fake life where everyone seems to hate me. And everyone seems to want something from him. The only thing he seems to want though is…


I don’t know what to believe anymore. All I know is, I think Drew needs me. And I want to be there for him.


From the blurb alone, it's rather obvious that the plot of One Week Girlfriend will revolve around a secret. Truth be told, this novel's premise doesn't seem wholly unique either. Within the first few chapters, based from the words and actions of both Drew and another character, I had a pretty solid guess on just what he was hiding, and why he had Fable pretend to be his girlfriend. Moreover, I also had an inkling on what - if there was indeed another one - another plot twist may be. I have no idea if I was simply too perceptive, or maybe there were too many clues for me to put together, but I did guess Drew's secret early on. Irregardless however, I read this novel in one sitting. I didn't come up for air, and I just sat in my chair with my laptop in front of me and read the novel like there was no tomorrow. Why would I do that, you may ask. Why on earth would I still continue reading a novel that pretty much had no surprises left in store for me? Simple. The characters.

Both Fable and Drew left their marks on me. I thought that a novel with a plot we've all seen before wouldn't bring forth gripping characters, but I couldn't be more wrong. Every word, every look, every action - every single thing Fable and Drew do, simply put - served as windows to their souls, windows to their true selves that both of them were just too keen on keeping secret. Every page was filled with their raw emotions - emotions they were too afraid to share; and yet they were practically begging for each other to take notice, and I couldn't find myself looking away. I wanted to know more about them. I had to know how their story ended, I had to know whether or not they can help fix each other.

I do wish I could have gotten to know Fable better. Readers do get to know her plenty, but this character has so much depth, and I feel that I've barely scratched the surface. She's so strong, being the only one keeping her family intact, yet at the same time it's so obvious that she needs time for herself and that she needs someone to lean on. Fable is a character that I would have no problem reading about again and again - I want to know more about her relationships with those around her, and most especially, I want to see her continued journey of finding herself.

The connection between Drew and Fable was just so apparent - their chemistry was practically palpable! Their relationship may have started as an elaborate charade, but it was obvious early on that nothing about what they felt for each other was fake. For so long, they've been believing that they only had themselves to rely on, and that took its toll on them - on Drew especially - but they were what exactly each other needed. Moreover, I loved that Drew and Fable never judged each other throughout the course of the novel. Fable had this reputation preceding her while Drew was practically bursting from the seams with secrets, but they never let those get in the way of how they treated each other.

Let me just throw it out there - after several revelations, an especially intense scene between Drew and Fable, we get a cliffhanger. And my god, I swear that cliffhanger came out of nowhere! The last few pages had me on the edge of my seat, fervently hoping for a happy ending, but alas, a cliffhanger surprised me instead. After the initial shock, I did come to realize that it simply isn't possible for two characters with so much to tell to get it all done within one novel, so right now, I'm just counting down the days before I finally get my hands on the sequel. Monica Murphy, if by any chance you get to read this, Marshmallow! I need that sequel ASAP!

Rating: 4 Stars

[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] Normalish by Margaret Lesh


Title: Normalish
Author: Margaret Lesh
Release Date: October 5, 2012
Publisher: Musa Publishing Euterpe Young Adult Imprint
Goodreads  / Amazon / Musa Publishing
Fifteen-year-old Stacy questions the strange world of high school, love, her role in a harsh universe, and life, in Normalish.

People tell you high school's so great and wonderful, but they're lying. It's mostly horrible and full of disappointment. It sucks. Your best friend abandons you. The jerk you're in love with pretends to be into you, and then the big dump. The boy you've really clicked with as a friend decides to go all crushy over you, so you break his heart just like yours was -- smashed into little pieces. Your sister goes mental, and you get involved with a guy who’s even crazier than she is (who you know is a very bad idea, but you do it anyway). Math only adds another stink of failure to the whole thing.

High school blows. Just ask freshman Stacy. She’d want you to know.


Judging from the blurb, Normalish seems like your average contemporary read about a girl thrust into the halls of high school for the very first time. Throughout her freshman year, Stacy has to deal with losing her best friend because said best friend is now too popular to be associated with her; she gains a new best friend only to find out that said best friend is nursing a crush on her; she realizes that the boy she has been in love with since seventh grade is a jerk of epic proportions; and her sister has been acting really weird - weirder than usual. See what I mean? However, by subtly yet deftly exploring serious issues usually reserved for YA titles with older MCs, Normalish is nothing short of extraordinary, and believe me, by the end of this book, you be left to ponder about what 'normal' truly means.

I don't usually read YA titles with young MCs, but I have to admit, I took an easy liking to Stacy. She was smart, witty, sarcastic and had no troubles whatsoever expressing her feelings. Moreover, since Normalish was written in a way that had the readers in Stacy's mind 24/7, I have no qualms in saying that it would be rather difficult not to like Stacy since we get everything from the inside - we get everything from the deep recesses of her mind no-holds-barred. I also loved how Mesh had Stacy dealing with the more common problems of a high school freshman (boy, friends, and school troubles) while at the same time exposing her to more serious issues such as death and mental illnesses. By seeing Stacy at both her most mature and her most naive, I definitely got to know and related to her character better.

It's also worth pointing out that Stacy's voice doesn't change throughout the course of the novel. Despite going through hellish experiences - some of which girls her age, and heck, even older girls don't ever encounter in their lives - Lesh managed to keep Stacy's voice constant at fourteen/fifteen-years-old (she celebrates her birthday within the novel). Doing so kept the story very realistic, and allowed it to flow without any problems. Lesh's writing is simply phenomenal - from the very first page, she had me truly believing that I was reading the thoughts of a girl named Stacy, and not words printed on paper by an author.

As I have previously mentioned, Normalish tackles serious issues and takes a darker turn at the last half of the book. We are exposed to people with mental illnesses as Stacy's sister Becca is institutionalized, and it is at this time that we meet a particular character that would leave his mark on Stacy's life. I was pleasantly surprised at how well Lesh had Stacy dealing with such serious issues - none of them were glamorized and looked down upon; instead, readers get to experience just how greatly they impact the lives of those who go through them, as well as the lives of those who have friends and family members going through them.

Normalish surprised me. I expected a light read that would have me good-naturedly rolling my eyes at the young MC's naivety, but instead, it left me thoughtful and fully appreciative of people who have no trouble letting their feelings and emotions be known. It also left me pondering the true meaning of 'normal', and just why so many people are so desperate to adhere to what society decrees as 'normal'. This was a very enlightening read, and I truly enjoyed my part in Stacy's freshman year.

Rating: 4 Stars

And now... for the giveaway! 
The winner will get One 25$ Amazon GiftCard, an ebook copy of Normalish, and Normalish bookmarks (Open INT). Also, make sure to check out the other tour stops HERE!

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Play with Me by Piper Shelly

Play with Me

Title: Play with Me
Author: Piper Shelly
Release Date: December 9, 2012
Ryan Hunter's parties are legend. And tonight she's going to be there.

Liza Matthews anticipates the return of her best friend and only love since kindergarten from soccer camp. But when Tony finally shows up, his mind is more focused on another girl. And worse, she's a soccer player. Fighting for the attention Liza craves, she's just a hairbreadth away from making a very stupid decision. But when extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, she's prepared to play ball to get her man.

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter.

Damn it, I can't stop smiling. It's been four days since I finished reading this story and I still can't stop smiling!  I know that Play with Me is rather short, but wow, it sure did hit the mark with only 30,000 words. I finished this novella in one sitting (I did have to pause sometimes to shut my eyes and squeal silently - don't judge!) and I had this huge cheshire cat grin on my face almost all throughout! This book is such an amazing fun read. Read it after you read those heavy Mature YA/ New Adult novels; heck, read it if you want a permanent grin tatooed on your face. Play with Me is the perfect feel-good book! If that's not enough to coax you into giving this one a shot, hey, I don't know what's wrong with you.

As I said before, the plotline's a little overused, but that's somehow part of this novella's charm. I knew from the get go that I would be reading a fun, light (sorry, I just can't use these adjectives enough) story, and that was indeed what I got. Despite this book's length, I found out that I was able to know everything that I needed to know about the characters - I love that Shelly was still able to provide a sufficient background to make everything about this novella enjoyable, and I truly enjoyed Play with Me from start to finish. Moreover, I was pleasantly surprised at how tightly edited the book was. I don't remember finding any grammatical errors; every word in the book contributed to the story - Shelly definitely didn't dilly-dally, and I loved that!

I adored the characters - I liked Liza from the very first page, and I'm pretty sure a lot of girls who have been largely ignored by their guy friends in a romantic sense would have no problem relating to her. And of course, we have Ryan Hunter. Good god how perfect is that name? As much as I liked Liza, what made this book such an amazing read would have to be this guy. He has such a way with words, and I love how he treated Liza. He never took her for granted, and he was always there to make her smile. The chemistry between these two was off-the-charts - their playful banter had me biting my lip while trying my hardest not to smile. (I still ended up grinning though!)

The lemon surprise. Man I've tried making this review as coherent as possible but I think I'm going to give that notion up. This part? Sizzling hot! My breath hitched, my heart started pounding quicker, and I ended up letting out this high-pitched squeal. Just writing about it right now has already caused my heart rate to increase! Also, I loved how Shelly hinted at Hunter's feelings for Liza through some choice words and little but obvious actions and reactions.

I did like Tony and Liza's friendship. How can you not like M&M even just a tiny bit? They've been friends since they were in kindergarten and they were so ridiculously comfortable with each other. I'm actually a bit envious of their friendship! However, while it was blatantly obvious that they adored and cherish each other, it was also apparent that Tony took Liza for granted, and I did kind of hate him for that. Though a part of me is satisfied by how this novella ended, I really wish it could have been just a little longer because I would have loved to see how Tony and Liza's friendship mature.

If it's still not obvious enough, I simply LOVED this book. I loved it so much that I'm actually seriously considering buying a paperback even though I've never bought one from Amazon and even though I already have an ebook copy. Also, I think that my blind adoration for this book is properly represented by all the 'grin', 'fun', 'perfect' and 'love' in this review. Initially, I rated this novella at 3.5 stars but because I've already reread it (after only four days of finishing it!) and because I can't stop thinking about it, I'm bumping up my rating to a well-deserved 5 stars. Seriously - this is the perfect fun, light read that you will love and make you grin non-stop! (Ha, see what I did there?)

Rating: 5 Stars

(Oh, and here's a little extra for those who want to know more about Ryan!)

Feature and Follow Friday [20]

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. This meme is a great way to meet new bloggers, and to likewise know more about them. Follow me and I'll be sure to follow you back! I have added a Linky widget to my blog as well, so feel free to follow me via Linky!
Q: If you could choose one supernatural being/creature to really exists what would it be and why?
I'd have to pick vampires, simply because I have SO many questions for them! I want to ask them if all the myths regarding them are true, and I think it would be fun to talk to beings who have lived for such a long time. I do hope they don't drink my blood though...

V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram

V is for Virgin

Title: V is for Virgin
Author: Kelly Oram
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Published by: Bloomfields
When Val Jensen gets dumped for her decision to stay a virgin until marriage, the nasty breakup goes viral on YouTube, making her the latest internet sensation.

After days of ridicule from her peers, Val starts a school-wide campaign to rally support for her cause. She meant to make a statement, but she never dreamed the entire nation would get caught up in the controversy.

As if becoming nationally recognized as “Virgin Val” isn’t enough, Val’s already hectic life starts to spin wildly out of control when bad boy Kyle Hamilton, lead singer for the hit rock band Tralse, decides to take her abstinence as a personal challenge.

How can a girl stay true to herself when this year’s Sexiest Man Alive is doing everything in his power to win her over?


I was hooked from the very first page. V is for Virgin had a very strong beginning, and I was alternately cringing, laughing, and moaning in dismay for Val all throughout the first few chapters. From the get go, I loved that Val wasn't afraid to be herself. She knew perfectly well that people would make fun of her desire to remain a virgin before marriage, but she stood strong in her beliefs. She was an amazing character to read and learn about - instead of cowering in shame because for being nicknamed 'Virgin Val', Val held her head high and became a role model for those who wanted to remain virgins and those who wanted to practice abstinence alike. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of her journey as she tried to discern the line between being Val, a normal high school student, and Virgin Val, someone to look up to.

The secondary characters made for an interesting read as well. Kyle, who made it his personal mission to sleep with Val, had me both laughing and shaking my head ruefully at his antics. I love that Oram was able to develop Kyle and Val's relationship through many arrays - whether it be fights, thoughtful conversations, TV interviews, and even through songs, it was adamantly obvious that the two mentioned have undeniable chemistry, and that there was indeed something between them from their initial meeting. I do wish that I could have read more scenes between Val and Kyle though!

I also loved how Oram portrayed Val's friendships with Cara, Stephanie and Robin. Her friendship with Cara showed that while it was possible to maintain a strong connection despite pretty much living separate lives, it was vital that the two in question meet halfway. It takes two to tango, after all. Val's friendships with Stephanie and Robin, meanwhile, depicted that stereotypes are usually false, and that one doesn't really know a person unless you actually make it a point to truly get to know him or her. Ultimately, Oram showed that true friends will truly be by your side through thick and thin, and that one shouldn't let go of these people easily.

The second to the last chapter broke my heart. I was practically dryheaving because I could not believe what was happening. While I had a difficult time in reading the chapter, I did understand why Oram felt that it was important that several important changes occur for Val. Val as a character experienced such growth, and I couldn't be prouder of her for standing so strong amidst so much pressure and adversity. The last chapter, meanwhile, had me tearing up... in a good way. I didn't think it was possible for so much to occur in a span of a few pages, but wow, did many things happen, and I was so happy that they did, especially after that heartbreaker of a previous chapter.

All in all, I expected a fluffy read when I picked up V is for Virgin, but it was more than that. I did get the romance that I expected, but I picked so many lessons from Val, Kyle, Cara, and the other characters along the way, and I truly thank Oram for writing this gem.

Rating: 4 Stars

Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines

Fallen Too Far (Fallen Too Far, #1)

Title: Fallen Too Far
Author: Abbi Glines
Release Date: December 14, 2012
To want what you’re not supposed to have…

She is only nineteen.

She is his new stepfather’s daughter.

She is still naïve and innocent due to spending the last three years taking care of her sick mother.

But for twenty-four year old Rush Finlay, she is the only thing that has ever been off limits. His famous father’s guilt money, his mother’s desperation to win his love, and his charm are the three reasons he has never been told no.

Blaire Wynn left her small farmhouse in Alabama, after her mother passed away, to move in with her father and his new wife in their sprawling beach house along the Florida gulf coast. She isn’t prepared for the lifestyle change and she knows she’ll never fit into this world. Then there is her sexy stepbrother who her father leaves her with for the summer while he runs off to Paris with his wife. Rush is as spoiled as he is gorgeous. He is also getting under her skin. She knows he is anything but good for her and that he’ll never be faithful to anyone. He is jaded and has secrets Blaire knows she may never uncover but even knowing all of that…

Blaire just may have fallen too far.

Honestly, I was very hesitant to read this book. The blurb didn't exactly draw me in, and my past few experiences with Abbi Glines' other novels haven't exactly been pleasant. As a matter of fact, I'm probably the only person in the blogosphere who didn't even remotely like both The Vincent Boys and The Vincent Brothers at the very least, and the same goes for Glines' Sea Breeze series. However, I saw nothing amiss in giving Fallen Too Far a shot - everyone (and I do mean everyone) was raving about it, and besides, the cover is ridiculously gorgeous. What's there to lose (except time), right?

And... Wow. After reading the final page of this novel, my heart was pounding like crazy, and I was pretty much in shambles. Simply put, it blew me away, and I definitely wasn't expecting that. Moreover, I didn't think it was possible, but it did. It truly did. To say that I liked Fallen Too Far is an understatement even, because I honest to God loved it!

What set apart this particular novel of Glines from her others would have to be the characters. It wasn't difficult to like Blaire and to be engrossed in her journey as she picked up the pieces of her life. Blaire was smart, witty, and she knew how to fend for herself, yet somehow, she was also a wee bit innocent and almost naive in other aspects of life. Blaire's been through so much despite being relatively young, and reading her innermost thoughts and feelings allowed me to feel closer to her, and ultimately be invested in her character.

While I didn't exactly know a lot about Rush, I have to admit, he did fascinate me. He was the epitome of hot and cold - it was as if he couldn't make up his mind on how to act around Blaire, and I had no idea why. Initially, I hated how he treated Blaire off the bat, but as the story went on, I did end up liking his character more because there was a reason why he acted the way he did. It was apparent that he was keeping something important from Blaire, and that this secret would ultimately destroy whatever progress they made in their relationship. At the same time, however, it was also clear that what he felt for Blaire was both sincere and true, and that she brought out the best in him.

Plot-wise, I had no problem with this novel. It was fast-paced, but it allowed enough time for character-building. Midway through, I was certain that I would be rating Fallen Too Far 4 stars, but the last few chapters were mind-blowing, to say the least, and that thought was flushed down the drain. I suddenly found myself reading faster and faster, because so much happened near the end. Explosive dialogues and confrontations were aplenty; emotional realizations had by Blaire broke my heart - in fact, her sheer desperation was basically seeping through the pages... Just... Wow. I truly did not expect that this novel would be this much of an emotional read, but hey, I'm not complaining!

Heartbreaking as it was, I'd like to stress that the secret really helped make this novel remarkable. At first I thought it would be another cliche and been-done-so-many-times secret about the hero, but Glines was able to pull off a twist that came out of the left field - I don't think anyone expected it!

All in all, Fallen Too Far merits a 4.5 stars from me.
I know, I know, I usually don't do 4.5, but I really had to take half a star off because this book would benefit a lot from more meticulous editing. The lack of commas drove me insane, and there were even a few misspelled words here and there. Some sentences' structures were also a little off. Grammar inconsistencies aside, however, Abbi Glines clearly knows how to write raw, emotional scenes, and the scenes with sexual tension were also off the charts. I honest to God wish that this book would get a deal so that it can get edited by awesome editors who I haven't really appreciated until now, because editing would make this book so much better! You wouldn't regret reading Fallen Too Far though, so do grab a copy!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Stacking the Shelves [9]

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's a great way to show other people the books that you've bought or received for the past week.

I've decided to do this meme only at the end of every month, so here you go! Here's my haul for the month of December and January. (PS I clearly bought too much books last December. I'm currently on a book-buying ban this month!)

(from Fully Booked and PowerBooks)

(Thank you to Christine of HarperCollins, Rachel Harris, and to my lovely fellow Pinay bloggers!)

 Embedded image permalink

(Thank you to Macmillan and Liesel K. Hill!)


None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing

Title: None of the Regular Rules
Author: Erin Downing
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Source: An e-copy was sent by the author in exchange of an honest review

Sometimes, a few dares can change lives…

The weekend before the start of senior year, Sophie Erickson and her best friends, Ella and Grace, discover a handwritten list of dares tucked away in the glove compartment of Sophie’s beat-up old Toyota. But this isn’t just any list; it’s a dead girl's bucket list.

Sophie's beloved aunt Suzy died as a teenager in a fatal fall, leaving Sophie with an overly cautious family, a few fading photographs, and a bucket of bolts that barely passes for a car. But now, Sophie has Suzy’s list of the things she wanted to do in her last year of high school. Sophie can't help but wonder: What would happen if she tried to fulfill Suzy’s last wishes, to live out the longed-for life of her aunt, her hero?

As Sophie and her friends attempt to knock off the things on Suzy's list of dares, love blossoms in unexpected places and Sophie begins to feel that her life is finally coming together...when in fact, everything is slowly unraveling around her. When the truth about a long-held family secret threatens to shatter everything she believed to be true, Sophie is forced to question everything she knew about the life and people she believed in, and ultimately herself.


Bucket lists. We all have them. Sure, the may not be technically written, but they're there in the backs of our minds. After reading this book's blurb, I knew that I had to read it. I've just started writing a bucket list a few weeks ago, and almost immediately after, I chanced upon this jewel of a novel. It's almost like fate, huh?

Sophie is at a time in her life where every single thing she does had become part of a boring routine, and she can't quite shake the feeling she ought to be doing more in life. She's currently a senior in high school, yet somehow, she feels like she hasn't been able to do anything that would set her apart from her peers - anything that would make her feel that she was able to me something out of herself. When she finds the her dead aunt's list, she finds a purpose, and she embraces it whole-heartedly. Not only did the list serve as a way to both honor and get to know her late aunt better, it also serves as a method for her to step out of her shell.

I enjoyed reading about Sophie's journey - her desire to make something more of her life was palpable, almost tangible even. She was overjoyed at finding her dead aunt's bucket list, because she knew that dares it contained would push her out of her comfort zone, and would ultimately make her final year in high school memorable. Moreover, Sophie knew that she had to fulfill her late aunt's wishes, simply because this was her way to keep her aunt's memory intact, and also at the same time to bring honor to the aunt whom she truly loved. Like Sophie, I'd always found myself wishing for something more, hoping for something more, and truly being joyous whenever I get a little push towards the direction I want to see myself moving towards. We all need a little prodding - a little encouragement - in life sometimes, after all. Downing was able to portray Sophie in a way that readers would see bits of themselves through her, and ultimately connect and relate to the said character.

Honestly, however, I wasn't quite fond of Ella's and Grace's characters. I found them stereotypical - Ella was the in-your-face girl who was using her brashness as a means to hide her despair at her filial issues; Grace, meanwhile, was the shy and highly intelligent overachiever who somehow couldn't see that her boyfriend was practically controlling and manhandling her. Also, I felt like their characters were never explored enough - None of the Regular Rules is a rather short novel, and since most parts of it focused on Sophie, Ella and Grace often felt like afterthoughts. I know that they had their own problems, but I couldn't quite shake the feeling that everything about them was forced. I couldn't make myself care about their characters. Ultimately, I saw Ella and Grace as nothing but sidekicks, and I wasn't really able to dispel that notion.

The novel started out innocently enough - three friends find a list of dares and set out to do it, but midway though, Sophie was privy to a revelation that shocked her to her very core. Everything she believed in was a lie, and she had no idea how to go about her life now. She was at the lowest of the lows, and yet she didn't want to claw her way out. She was more than willing to wallow in the sallow depths of her misery. Moreover, at this time, Sophie, Ella and Grace had managed to alienate themselves from each other, and Sophie had no one to rely on. It was during this point that this novel proved to be memorable, and one of those literary works you will think about again some time in the future. Downing's writing - while already smooth, concise and overall good - at this part was phenomenal. You could truly feel Sophie's undoing - her resentment, her despair, her discontentment were like these tangible tendrils that wrapped at your wrists and wouldn't let go.

All in all, None of the Regular Rules surprised me - I delved into it expecting a light read, and it ended up tackling serious issues. While I wasn't particularly enamored with the characters of Ella and Grace, I did like Johnny Rush (what a tool of a name!) and what he brought to the novel. Also, as I've previously said, I also liked how the MC, Sophie, was portrayed. Most importantly, however, I really enjoyed reading about how Sophie tried to tread the line between living someone else's life and having it merely influence her own.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Feature and Follow Friday [19]

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. This meme is a great way to meet new bloggers, and to likewise know more about them. Follow me and I'll be sure to follow you back! I have added a Linky widget to my blog as well, so feel free to follow me via Linky!
Q: What New Years Blogging or Writing resolution have you placed on yourself?
I want to write more reviews. I've had this blog for six months now, and I think it's time that I try to churn out at least three reviews in a week. Also, I need to be really meticulous in scheduling posts, and preparing reviews for blog tours in advance!

Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

Happy 2013, everyone!

Things are bound to get really hectic for me really soon, and I thought I'd go look for a meme that allows me to prepare posts days/weeks in advance. Also, I've become quite a fan of Top Ten Tuesdays over the past year - I often comment on other people's posts despite of the fact that I don't do my own lists - so here I am, giving this meme a shot!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It features different topics each week, and bloggers are then tasked to list down their top tens on the topic at hand. Today's Top Ten Tuesday spotlights the Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013:

1. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - This is a pretty obvious choice. I'm a huge fan of Cassandra Clare's novels, and I couldn't be more excited for the ending she has in store for her Infernal Devices series. I'm already anticipating a lot of heartache-inducing moments, and maybe even a few deaths...

2. Untitled (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth - Here's another final book in a series. I was pleasantly surprised at how engrossing I found the previous books in the series, and I can't wait to find out how Roth wraps everything up!

3. The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead - Whose heart didn't break for Adrian at the end of The Golden Lily? We were privy to some startling discoveries as well from the previous books in the series, and I'm excited to find out what else Mead has in store for Sydney and Adrian!

4. A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris - My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century is one of my favorite reads of 2012, and I'm absolutely stoked to read this companion novel. Besides, I completely adore Alessandra! (And I'm still hoping for a bit more about Cat and Lorenzo...)

5. The Elite by Kiera Cass - The Selection ended in such a cliffhanger - I simply have to know what happens next! Also, I'd love to find out more about the world Cass created, because it wasn't explored enough in the previous novel. Oh, and I have to admit, I kind of have a soft spot for Maxon as well...

6. Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins - Wendy pretty much broke my heart when she revealed that there was no way for Kope and Anna to happen, but I truly love Kopano with all my heart, and I will continue hoping against hope that Anna notices him in some way at least. (Besides, Wendy completely awed me with the world she created - I can't wait to read more about it!)

7. Ink by Amanda Sun - A YA book set in Japan. Need I say more? A fellow Pinoy blogger (Hi Louisse!) raved so much about this book that I just HAVE to read it! Oh, and Amanda is an Arashi fan - if that's not enough reason for me to support her, I don't know what is...

8. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay - I've heard so many good things about this novel, and I can't wait to grab myself a copy. For those who don't know, The Sea of Tranquility was originally self-published, but it garnered enough hype for it to be re-released by Simon&Schuster/Atria.

9. Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett - Rose is one of those characters that I'll remember forever, and I can't wait to find out how she wades through life in this next installment. Also, I can't wait to read more about her and Jamie!

10. Dare You To by Katie McGarry - Who didn't love Pushing the Limits? McGarry has such an amazing way with words, and she truly captivated me with her first novel. Every scene resonated, and every character was unforgettable. Plus, this novel is a companion to Pushing the Limits!