[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] Shutdown by Heather Anastasiu

Shutdown (Glitch, #3) 
Title: Shutdown
Author: Heather Anastasiu
Release Date: July 2, 2013
The battle is all but over, and hope seems to be lost. Zoe and her fellow Resistance fighters are on the run, having lost their home, their protection, and their leader. They are outnumbered and outmatched by the powerful corporation that controls the world, and the cruel Chancellor is inches away from completing a scheme that would kill most of humanity. Zoe's only remaining option is to chase the impossible dream of upending the Link system, freeing the world from the hardware that controls their thoughts and emotions, and hope it will trigger a revolution.

The plot requires a nearly impossible mission to infiltrate the dangerous Community, and it is a task that Zoe must unfortunately complete alone. With challenges and surprises at every turn, nothing goes according to plan. Adrien's visions of the future now show two possible outcomes: one in which they succeed, and one in which humanity falls. It all lies in Zoe's hands.


Well wow. Just wow. While I didn't exactly dislike Glitch, it certainly left more to be desired. I found it to be an intriguing start to a series, but it wasn't exactly something that made me feel invested. Override, much to my surprise, was leaps and bounds better than the previous book, and set up the final novel of the trilogy perfectly. Shutdown blew me away, and I in now way exaggerate when I say that it is also blew its previous two novels out of the water. Anastasiu ought to pat herself in the back - not only did she give us such fascinating insight to her two main characters (because wow - did she peel off so many layers off both Zoe and Adrien) she also made sure that we'd be rabidly tearing through the pages, eagerly anticipating what else she has in store for us.

I loved Zoe. Though we are in no way similar (come on, she's one of the leaders of a rebellion), I had no problem empathizing with her character. I've come to found out that most authors of dystopian novels have a difficult time making their characters relateable given that they live in a different time and a different world, but I never encountered that problem with Zoe. Anastasiu thoroughly fleshed out her complex character - from her despair of losing the Adrien she knew and loved, to her guilt of inadvertently causing countless deaths, and to her unflinching desire of saving her people and ridding everyone of the controlling government, and as a result, I had no problem connecting with her. I also loved how realistic Zoe's pain was - everything was heartfelt, and it was in no way overdone. Honestly, I actually found it difficult NOT to sympathize with her.

I was also impressed with how Anastasiu explored Adrien's character development after he was unceremoniously lobotomized. The serious conversations between Zoe and Adrien - those concerning past Adrien versus current Adrien - were especially genius. Initially I was just frustrated at how Adrien was all robotic and seemingly had no feelings, but all that changed when he finally had the chance to convey everything that he wanted to say to Zoe. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, and the same time, I found myself being able to relate to him. Just how often is it do we find ourselves being forced to be someone else because that's what other people expect us to be?

I have never been a great fan of any dystopian series (yes, even the Hunger Games lost me as a fan after I read Mockingjay), but the Glitch trilogy is actually something that I will enjoy reading and something that I will recommend to my peers. Yes, it did have its eye-rolling inducing moments; yes, the first novel was pretty meh, but the sheer perfection of both Override and Shutdown allowed me to ignore the fact that I didn't really enjoy Glitch. So if you ever felt like giving up on this series because of Glitch - don't. DON'T. Trust me - you'll regret it.

In summary (if you got tired of my endless gushing in the paragraphs above), I loved Shutdown. Anastasiu impressed me with her descriptive yet straight-to-the-point writing, her brilliant characterization, the action-paced plot, and most especially, I loved the ending. LOVED.

Rating: 5 Stars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Release Day Launch: Giveaway] Subject to Change by Alessandra Thomas


Subject to Change (Picturing Perfect, #2)
Title: Subject to Change
Author: Alessandra Thomas
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Joey made her dad a deathbed promise that she would become a doctor, and dedicate herself to fighting the very cancer that took his life. There’s just one problem -three years into her pre-med classes, she's struggling to stay on top of the curve, let alone prove she's dazzling enough to earn a spot in an Ivy League medical school. In a Hail Mary move, she throws a basic Business 101 class into her semester schedule, banking on a perfect score to boost her GPA.

That is, until she’s paired for a final project with Hawk, the bartending, motorbike-riding, gorgeously bedheaded loser who falls asleep in class and communicates in one-word sentences.

Hawk does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, which sets Joey on edge – in every possible way. As they get to know each other, her urge to scream at him is curbed only by her fantasies of tearing his clothes off. Soon those fantasies become reality, and Joey realizes Hawk makes her feel more fully herself than any of the rich boys her mother and sorority sisters approve of.

But the promise to her father hangs over her head, and the harder Joey tries to succeed in her chosen career, the faster everything falls into a hopeless tailspin of bad grades, broken promises and guilt. It doesn't help to have Hawk sitting like a devil on her shoulder, insisting she should be free to live however she wants to live - like he does.
The only thing Joey knows is that her neatly organized life is crushing her - and Hawk's bad attitude might be the only thing that can save her.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let's Play with @nbsalert - Guess Who!

To all my lovely Filipino followers and readers - it looks like we have another author coming our way in August! How awesome is that, and just how amazing is National Book Store for bringing over so many authors for book signings? So far there aren't that many details available yet, but that doesn't dampen my excitement in any way. Anyway, here are the details that I can actually reveal -

  • The event will be on August 3 (Manila) and August 4 (Cebu). 
  • We will find out who the author is on July 1, 3pm.


Any guesses on who the author is? Let me know!

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

Life After Theft
Title: Life After Theft
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Source: An ARC was sent by the publisher in exchange of an honest review
Published by: HarperTeen
Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto.

No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so--in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history--he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choic


I'm not exactly sure what to make of this book honestly. Everything about it - the characters, the plotlines, the relationships, even - caught me in surprise, and pretty much throughout the novel I had no inkling what was going to happen next. I expected love to blossom between the two main leads, but what I got was the exact opposite - they honestly can barely stand each other! I expected a fun story full of witty and snarky remarks exchanged between Jeff and Kimberlee, and while I did get that, I didn't expect the message that the novel wanted to get across to be poignant and something that you would want to ponder for a while.

This isn't a book that would offer you answers about the afterlife, or why exactly is it that only Jeff could see Kimberlee. Instead, this is a novel that would allow you to linger on the consequences of one's actions, and maybe, just maybe, it isn't too late to do something about what you did wrong in the past. Jeff represents a chance for Kimberlee to right so many wrongs, and I really can't blame Kimberlee for doing absolutely anything she can to have the assurance of Jeff's help, but my perspective definitely shifts as I continued reading the novel.

I love how Pike subtly drilled to her readers just how powerful an emotion sincere remorse and just how much one can achieve through it. I was also particularly impressed with how Pike explored the concepts of doing something you have to do as opposed to doing it because you actually want to through both Jeff and Kimberlee's characters, and how massive the difference is between both notions. Pike ascertained that being forced to do something can only contribute to the failure of your ultimate goal. Jeff never wanted to help Kimberlee out - he was only forced to do so because she threatened to haunt him forever if he didn't; on the flipside, she to return the things she stole simply because she believed there was no other way for her to move on otherwise. The aftermath of Jeff and Kimberlee's choices - choices that were driven by the wrong reasons; the wrong motives - slowly make themselves known throughout the novel.

I love how Pike developed Jeff and Kimberlee's characters through their complicated (and rather difficult to define) relationship. They helped each other grow - through each other, they learned how to see the world with more knowing eyes, and at the same time they finally figured out how to see themselves for who they truly are. Jeff was a bit of a pushover towards the beginning, but the scene wherein he finally tells off Kimberlee (and in the process tells her something that she has needed to hear for a long time) was rather riveting and eye-opening.

Life After Theft was easy to read. It was difficult to put down, and Pike did a great job with the pacing of the novel. It wasn't too fast-paced that I got a whiplash with every turn of a page, and it wasn't too dragging that I had to fight to keep my eyes open. I also liked how Pike addressed Kimberlee's kleptomania - I actually got chills when Kimberlee tried explaining to Jeff how she can't stop stealing, and furthermore, how she describes her feelings when she takes the things other people hold dear was just excellently written. This may not be your usual YA paranormal novel, but it's one that gets the author's message across perfectly.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg


Our Song

Title: Our Song
Author: Jordanna Fraiberg
Release Date: May 2, 2013
Published by: Razorbill
Olive Bell has spent her entire life in the beautiful suburb of Vista Valley, with a picture-perfect home, a loving family, and a seemingly perfect boyfriend. But after a near-fatal car accident, she’s haunted by a broken heart and a melody that she cannot place.

Then Olive meets Nick. He’s dark, handsome, mysterious . . . and Olive feels connected to him in a way she can’t explain. Is there such a thing as fate? The two embark on a whirlwind romance—until Nick makes a troubling confession.

Heartbroken, Olive pieces together what really happened the night of her accident and arrives at a startling revelation. Only by facing the truth can she uncover the mystery behind the song and the power of what it means to love someone.

Honestly, this was a tough book to get through. A part of me was expecting a light, fluffy read despite the delicate subject matter (Come on, the main character meets a guy after her accident. I'm sure some of you felt the same way.) but I didn't get that. At all. This was a serious and somber read through and through, give or take a few chapters in the end. I don't consider Our Song a terrible read or anything like that, but reading this novel had me in a dark mood that I had trouble shaking off, and a lot of this I can attribute to the main character, Olive.

In all my years of reading all kinds of novels under every possible genre you can think of, I have never met a character like Olive. I have never quite encountered a character whose outlook in life is so bleak, and I have never met a character who has such low self-esteem either. This was just painful to read, most especially since I can't help but realize that there exist similar people in our world today. Olive can only begin to treat herself with an iota of respect when other people approve of her, so just imagine what happens when her boyfriend breaks up with her. Everything plummets into nothingness, and Olive's entire persona - her entire being - shatters. Simply put, Olive's self-worth is tied to how other people think of her, and that's just sad, and I really cannot reiterate this enough, jarring to read.

After Olive's accident (which many people think of as a suicide attempt), she has no idea how to pick up the remaining pieces of who she once was. She may have been given a second chance at life, but how exactly does she go from here? She suspects her father is having an affair; her mother is treating her like a child; and her ex-boyfriend has moved on. It's only when Olive meets Nick, another one who had gone through a near-death experience, that Olive begins to finally live. She does things that she has never done before, and she finally, finally, learns to love herself.

I loved how Fraiberg adeptly explored the nooks and crannies of Olive and Nick's relationship. Both of them have their secrets that they are holding on to so desperately, but the connection is definitely there between the two. It wasn't about hooking up much as it was about finding that one person who understands you the most, and this is something I particularly enjoyed reading about. Every time Olive and Nick are together, you see her learn to stand up on her own two feet, one step at a time. You see her learn to treat herself with more respect; you see her learn to think for herself. Most of all, she finally realizes that maybe, just maybe, there are people out there who love her for who she already is. All of this was made possible by the fact that Nick stood by Olive when she most needed someone, and when tides turn and Nick was the one who needed a shoulder to lean on, Olive doesn't hesitate to be that person for him.

Throughout the course of the novel, Olive talks about a certain haunting song stuck on her head. She has no idea where she heard it, but every single time she's on the midst of giving up or making a terrible decision, the song will play inside her head and give her the strength she desperately needs. Initially, I couldn't quite grasp just why this song needed to be present in the novel, but just to let everyone know, everything clears up near the end. I actually love how Fraiberg weaved this concept with all the discussions about near-death experiences throughout the course of the novel.

While not as fast-paced as everyone may like, Our Song is a poignant read all the same. It might take a while before it hooks you in, but once it does, you wouldn't want to let go. While not an easy character to read about, Olive's personal growth throughout the novel is both astounding and inspiring. Initially, you may have perceived her character as frail, annoying and flat-out frustrating, but I assure you - that would change come the final chapters of the novel. The ending is hauntingly beautiful, and would definitely stay with me for a long time to come. Most of all, Fraiberg did a bang-up job in tackling concepts about near-death experiences and its consequences. I can't wait to read more from this author!

Rating: 3.5 Stars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards

Phoenix (Black City, #2)

Title: Phoenix (Black City #2)
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Published by: Putnam Juvenile
Ash and Natalie are just starting to build a life together when things in the United Sentry States go from bad to worse. Ash and Natalie find themselves at the center of turmoil when dictator Purian Rose threatens Natalie’s life unless Ash votes in favor of Rose’s Law—a law that will send Darklings and other dissenters to a deadly concentration camp known as the Tenth.

When Ash can’t bring himself to trade Natalie’s life for those of millions of Darklings, her fate is sealed. Enter Elijah Theroux, the handsome Bastet boy Natalie once saved from her mother’s labs, where he’d been experimented on and tortured. It was his venom the Sentry used to create the lethal Golden Haze, the heart of the government conspiracy that led to Black City’s uprising and Ash’s rebirth as the Phoenix, the face of the rebellion. Elijah is back and Ash doesn’t like him; it’s clear he’s taken with Natalie, and Ash fears she may have feelings for him as well.

But Elijah also may have the answer to taking down Purian Rose for good—a powerful weapon called the Ora. Ash, Natalie and Elijah just have to escape Black City undetected to find it. But fleeing the city and finding this weapon (if it even exists) are easier said than done, and the quest could tear Ash and Natalie apart, even pushing them into the arms of others.

After reading this book, I have a lot of... feelings. Feelings that won't stop haunting me before I go to sleep; feelings that make me want to curl myself up in a fetal position in the corner; and feelings that just make want to... scream. Ash and Natalie haven't had the easiest of relationships, and just when you thought things were finally about to look up for him... they don't.

Phoenix picks up where Black City left off - Ash is now a hero to the rebellion, and there are now more humans and darklings alike who are devoted to the fight for equality between all beings. Purian Rose is frustrated with the rapid growth of the rebellion, and he is willing to do anything to ensure the continuance of his regime. Moreover, he has found a way to hurt Ash where it would devastate him the most, when he makes him choose between Natalie's life or the cause he has dedicated himself to. Ash, of course, is heartbroken, and rightly so. How exactly can he denounce his cause, yet at the same time, how on earth can he just let Natalie die?

Right off the bat, I felt bad for Ash and Natalie. They're supposed to get married, to live happily ever after, but that simply won't happen anytime soon. They just cannot get a break! However, one thing is for certain - I can't help but admire their love for each other. It's just so strong and magnificent, and just apparent throughout the course of the novel. Despite all the nonstop difficulties the two of them encounter - be it about Purian Rose or their relationship - you really cannot deny just how much they care for each other. I truly loved reading about how Natalie and Ash display their deep affections for one another. Some part of me truly believed that their love can trump all. I particularly felt emotional when Natalie herself encouraged Ash to choose the lives of the darklings instead of hers. Not a lot of people can do something that selfless.

I'm going to admit, however, that I did kind of want to smack both Natalie and Ash a few times while reading Phoenix. Though I understand perfectly their reasons for doing so, it pained me to see them not communicating with each other. It hurt to see them think the worst of each other. I'm going to laud Richards' writing on these parts, simply because while I was frustrated with both characters, I still felt for them, and I knew where they were coming from. That's not exactly an easy balance to strike, and Richards did so with no problem whatsoever.

Most sequels usually suffer from the "second book syndrome" (okay I may just have made that term up), but Elizabeth Richards' Phoenix doesn't. The action picked up; the romance sub-plot made for an entertaining read; and both main characters experienced apparent character growth. Natalie's discovery did break my heart, but hey, what's to remember about a book that didn't make you tear up, right?

Rating: 4 Stars
a Rafflecopter giveaway