[Blog Tour: Review] Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? 
Title: Why Not Me
Author: Mindy Kaling
Publisher: Crown Archetype
ISBN: 9781101905579
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Goodreads
Buy from National Bookstore
Buy from Fully Booked

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

I haven't watched a single episode of The Office or The Mindy Project, but I feel like I've kind of always known who Mindy Kaling is. I often see her tweets retweeted on my timeline, and snippets of her interviews shared all over Tumblr, and I find myself saying 'Heck yeah! You got it right, girl!'. I've always found her... well... perfectly imperfect. Relateable. A role model. She knows when to crack jokes, and she knows when to stand up for something important. Also, I've found it extremely difficult to not pay attention to something that comes out of Mindy's mouth - she oozes confidence, and she is just hilarious! It may be weird for some that I consider myself Mindy's fan even though I have never seen her act, but simply put, that's what I am. I couldn't be more excited to read and review Why Not Me (which I finished in one sitting - yes, it's THAT good) and share my thoughts with you all!

Usually, my reviews are pretty straightforward - in paragraph form, I talk about the characters, the plot, what I liked and what I disliked, but for my review of Why Not Me, I'm going to do a little something different. I listed down my favorite quotes from my favorite parts of the book (oh and believe me - there were A LOT, but I managed to pick just a few), and I'll talk about how I was able to relate to Mindy at that point in her life. (I keep fangirling but I adore how relateable Mindy is! Never mind that she's famous and a celebrity and I'm.. well... not... but she gets me! She really does!) So without further ado, here I go!
 "Because talking about looks isn't important. It's just supposed to be fun."
Yes. YES YES YES. I feel like a lot of people have forgotten that fashion is supposed to be FUN, and that it's a way for people to express themselves. It shouldn't be a way for people to sneer at each other; it shouldn't be a means for people to look down on each other... and Mindy GETS that. Fashion is supposed to make you feel better about yourself - it sure as hell should not make you feel horrible about who you are, and how you look.
"Until I realized: this long expanse of free time to rekindle friendships is not real. We will never come home to each other again and we will never have each other's undivided attention. That version of our friendship is over forever."
"It's traumatizing to think that a best friend could become just a friend. That's because there is virtually no difference between an acquaintance and a friend. But the gulf between a friend and a best friend is enormous and profound."
Ahh... now this is something I really can relate to. I graduated from high school six years ago, and back then, I was always so sure that all of my friends then would be the people I'd grow old with. Things got a little bit harder when the day for us to start college arrived - we were all in different schools, studying different things, and we didn't get to see each other everyday. It was so easy to say "Don't worry about it - we'll see each other next weekend!", but next thing I know, 'next weekend' never came. Now, we're all adults out in the real world, and I've come to realize that we will never be the same friends we were in high school. I couldn't help but tear up when I read this bit, because I always thought that I have all the time in the world to rekindle friendships, but I don't. Some of those ships have already sailed, and some people whom I consider really good friends are now just acquaintances. Heartbreaking but true.
"But as any woman reading this will attest to, there are not many relationships more powerful that that of two women who fall fast and deep into a friendship. It was heartbreaking to be loved and left."
Easily one of my favorite parts of Why Not Me is the part where Mindy talks about her friendship with her ex-BFF, Greta. They fall fast and hard into a friendship, and I'm sure so many women will agree with me here, we've all had that friendship before. The one where we thought that we've found that girl who gets the person we are now. The one who introduces us to new things; the one who we are kind of in awe of; the one we couldn't get enough of. And one day... she's gone. She's moved on, and we're left to pick up the pieces.
"Sometimes a story just needs an ending, and I used to not be a creative enough person to think of an ending to a romantic story that isn't a wedding or death. .... I could have made fireworks, but I chose to make a nuanced memory of a person who is neither a hero nor a villain in my life."
Will. WILL WILL WILL. I CANNOT be the only one who googled 'Mindy Kaling White House' after reading Why Not Me because DAMN IT her whole fling with the mysterious Will, a White House aide, is what romantic novels are made of. I was giggling, (even squealing sometimes), and I loved when Mindy talked about how she and the writers of The Mindy Project used to discuss her budding romance. She also talked us through the highs and lows of the pseudo-relationship, and how hot and cold Will was. One minute he seemed really into her... and then poof - looks like he isn't after all. Mindy explores how her own feelings changed as a result (with me furiously nodding in the background and saying 'you go, girl!').
"Confidence is just entitlement. ... But entitlement in and of itself isn't so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you'd better make sure you deserve it."
This is the BEST advice ever. Like if people come up to me asking for advice, THIS is what I will say (I will credit Mindy though, don't worry!). Recently people always associate confidence with arrogance, but sometimes that isn't the case. If you know you've worked your ass off and you produced great results, why on earth won't you be confident about it? I love how Mindy takes care to point out that you HAVE to work hard though - you can't just feel entitled simply because your parents are rich, or whatever. If there's anything I learned about Mindy while reading Why Not Me, it's how ridiculously hard she works. Her schedule is INSANE!
"People do not get scared when you're failing. It calms them. ... But when you're winning, it makes them feel like they're losing, or, worse yet, that maybe they should've tried to do something too, but now it's too late. And since they didn't, they want to stop you. You can't let them."
There are a lot of nuggets of wisdom in Why Not Me, but if you can make yourself remember only one thing about it, make sure it's this one right here. I had to pause for a moment after reading this part because I was blown away by how true it was, and I thus felt immediately saddened after. People are always so eager to criticize the accomplishments of others, and I myself remember how many times I would end up with the wind knocked out of my sails after people around me casually put down what I have achieved. Such a crazy world we live in, isn't it? But true to what Mindy says, we have to stand tall, and continue pushing forward. We can't let these naysayers stop us.

If it's not obvious from the incredibly long essay above, I enjoyed every page of Why Not Me. This is not one of those autobiographies where the author seemingly just preaches and preaches; rather, this is Mindy telling you about her life, what she has learned so far, and what she hopes you can learn from her. She may have been previously obsessed with getting people to like her, but now, she just wants us to know her. The real her. She makes you laugh out loud with her anecdotes, and at the turn of a page, she has you a little melancholy with her realizations about life. I honestly felt like I was chit-chatting with a friend while reading - that's how personal Mindy's writing was!

If I had to pick my favorite parts of Why Not Me, I would have to go with the chapter about Greta, the chapter about Will, the chapter where Mindy explains her relationship with BJ Novak, and finally, the chapter where Mindy imagines what her life would have been like had she not moved to LA and instead become a Latin Studies teacher. (Damn - Mindy is a genius. She even managed to add a little bit of fiction in her autobiography! How cool is that!?) Anyway, again, like it isn't obvious enough, if you're a fan of Mindy's, this book is for you. Heck, even if you're not a fan of Mindy's, this book is still for you!

Rating: 5 Stars

[Speak Now...] The Shadowhunters TV Trailer


Speak Now (or forever hold your peace) is a new feature here in Defiantly Deviant. Basically, I'll be talking about absolutely anything book-related... and anything under the sun, really!
 
The Shadowhunters TV Trailer

I'm one of those fans who really enjoyed the City of Bones movie (I know I'm in the minority here, but I really thought that it was really well-done), and my heart just broke when I found out that there was no way that we would be getting a City of Ashes movie. And then cue in the news of the TV series and I just about DIED with excitement! I approve (not that the production staff cares lol) of all casting choices made, and the stills just about had me jumping up with joy. Ohmygod they look like shadowhunters! The sets look GREAT! Kat and Dom have CHEMISTRY! Harry Shum Jr!!!

I was even more pumped up when I heard that the trailer was going to be released. The minute it was up on Facebook, I immediately watched it. A minute and a half later... well... I didn't expect to feel... underwhelmed. (Here's the link if you need it!)

So, in no particular order, here are what I noticed (and my reaction to some of them)
  • The trailer looked rushed and poorly edited. If you're not a TMI fan to begin with, I don't think you would want to watch the series based from the trailer.
  • That magic bit in the beginning with Magnus? It looked REALLY fake. Like cheap fake.
  • Looks like it will be Jocelyn who'll tell Clary about shadowhunters.
  • I think they'll speed up the story a bit - with Magnus and Valentine playing big parts in the plot as soon as possible.
  • From that short clip of Jace, his interest in Clary is SO apparent. Where's the wariness???
  • Much to my delight, I think we'll get a snarkier and wittier Jace here in the TV series than in the movie.
  • Based from what I've seen in this short, short trailer... Kat can't act. At all. But then again, all her scenes that were shown were of her screaming her lungs off, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.
  • They are obviously going to change a lot of things plot-wise, but I'm okay with that.
Oh wait! There's another one minute sneak peek released... this time with Alec, Izzy and Simon! Give me a sec..

Okay, okay - this one's a bit better!
  • Emeraude IS Izzy. Just that one scene with her and her whip and I'm convinced.
  • The special effects look TERRIBLE! The demons and all look kinda okay, but the magic really looks fake!
  • Wait what did they mean with the whole "everyone has a dark side?" and then they show Simon blood with trickling down his mouth?? Will they make Simon EVIL???
  • Kat still can't act. Even the voiceover sounds horrible.
I kind of don't know how to feel. Of course I'm still excited, but I guess I have to tone down my expectations a bit. I just want Dom to get Jace right, and it does look like he will, so I'm happy about that. I'm a bit disappointed with Kat's acting at the moment, but maybe she'll get better after a couple of episodes. I have a feeling that Izzy and Magnus will be my favorite characters and my favorite part of the series. So... I guess I just have to wait until January to see if I'll end up liking the show. *crosses fingers*

What about you? What do you think of the trailer and the sneak peeks released so far?

[Blog Tour: Spotlight] Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Displaying ash&bramble.jpg 
Check out the full tour schedule HERE!

Ash & Bramble

Title: Ash & Bramble
Author: Sarah Prineas
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Goodreads
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.

Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Displaying Sarah.jpg
Author Bio:
Hi there! I'm Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series published in the US by HarperCollins and in 17 other languages around the world, and the Winterling trilogy. I live in rural Iowa with my mad scientist husband, two kids, and two cats. My next book is called Ash & Bramble, and it's a YA. Here's my website: http://www.sarah-prineas.com and here's my book website (with games, wallpaper, and extras!): http://www.magicthief.com Thanks for reading!


[Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway] Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
Title: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Goodreads

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.
EXCERPT:

When Aidan opens the door, Clare rises onto her tiptoes to kiss him, and for a moment, it feels like any other night.

"Hi," she says, once she's stepped back again, and he smiles.

"Hi."

They stare at each other for a few long seconds, neither quite sure how to begin.

"So," Clare says eventually.

Aidan attempts a smile. "So."

"I guess this is it."

He nods. "I guess it is."

"The last night," she says, and he tilts his head at her.

"You know it doesn't have to be."

"Aidan. . ."

"I know, I know," he says, holding up his hands. "But you can't really blame me, right? I've still got a little bit of time to change your mind."

"Only twelve hours," she says, glancing at her watch. "I can't believe that's all we have left."

"And that's only if we don't sleep."

“We're definitely not wasting any time on sleep,” she tells him, pulling a folded piece of notebook paper from the pocket of her dress. “We have way too much to do.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Release Day Blitz] Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas


Read Chapters 1-5 of QUEEN OF SHADOWS HERE! 

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)
Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Instagram
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Goodreads
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Perfect Betrayal by Season Vining

Perfect Betrayal
Title: Perfect Betrayal
Author: Season Vining
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Goodreads


To the outside world, Taylor Hudson has it all: beauty, money and social status. But Taylor’s privileged life is far lonelier than it appears.

Levi is the inside man on a job to steal fifteen million dollars from one of the town’s wealthiest families, putting him on a crash course with Taylor. Neither of them believe in love, but lust. . . that’s undeniable.

Now they’re locked in a wicked game of seduction and it’s unclear who is playing who. But neither of them expected the affair to lead to the deepest connection they’ve ever experienced. Because beneath Taylor’s perfect exterior lies a need for love that mirrors Levi’s own. 

As the heist approaches, how can Levi protect Taylor from the truth?  

Is he willing to give up everything to save the one girl who’s made him want to be a better man?
THOUGHTS:

I know I say this a lot, but I REALLY did not expect like this book so much. But I did. I really did. So... a little back story. I know I've talked about this (a lot) too, but I've come to find out that a huge number of New Adult book follow a formula these days - you know - two ridiculously hot main characters (plus points if the guy is all tattooed and just screams bad boy), lots and lots of sex, off-the-charts chemistry... and an earth-shattering secret that will pull them apart (for a while). I'm sure you guys know what I'm talking about. And sometimes, the predictability of it all gets boring. REALLY boring. Never mind that the writing is sharp or the characters intriguing - sometimes you just want MORE from the story, you know? Well, actually, the main reason why I immediately give Perfect Betrayal a shot is because there seems to be a REAL plot - a real story - in this one, and praise the heavens, there actually IS!

Our main character, Levi, is in on a con to rob one of the wealthiest man in town of fifteen million dollars, and to do just that, he needs to work on the inside. He gets a job working maintainance for the Hudsons, and the (inside) job seemed simple enough - do recon, figure out where the safe is, tell The Boss where it is, get the money, and get out. He however never counted on Taylor Hudson to pose a distraction from what he's really trying to do inside the house. Off the bat, the attraction is palpable between Levi and Taylor. They do eventually give in to it... but they never expected feelings to come into play.

I really liked the slow burn of the whole 'will we? or won't we?' between Levi and Taylor. It was never love at first sight, but little by little, they stop fighting the attraction. While it wasn't long (but longer than two chapters, thank you very much) before they hook up, it took them longer to willingly start to get to know each other... and for there to be something more. Their relationship was a careful mixture of subtle and strong - the physical attraction was always apparent, always there, but the little things - the need to see each other, the need to always be with each other, took a while to play out. For me, this was what made what is going on between Levi and Taylor believable, and part of what had me hooked to the story.

As I've mentioned earlier, Taylor is introduced as your quintessential I-have-it-all rich girl, and she wasn't necessarily the most likeable of characters. I did like that she never pretended to be someone she wasn't though - she had people she liked, and she had people she couldn't care less about. She wasn't going to pretend otherwise. She wasn't your perfect, innocent girl - she has her own problems and issues, and she made it clear countless times that she will do all that she can to get what she wants. I did like that her character development had more to do with her own realizations than with Levi. While it was Levi who made her look at life differently, Taylor was the one who reconstructed herself - the one who put together a Taylor that she herself could wholeheartedly get behind.

From the first page, I was with Levi all the way. Never mind that he's technically about to commit a a crime; never mind that pursuing a relationship with the daughter of the man he's going to rob blind is just a disaster waiting to happen. Most of all... never mind that while he does end up feeling guilty about the heist, it has everything to do with how it will affect Taylor and nothing about the crime itself. There was never any meticulous exploration of Levi's past - we get a little stories here and there about his mother and father, and we gather enough to know that he just wants to be something... more. That's what he'll use the money for. I can't quite explain why (and I won't even try) I ended up liking Levi - all I know is that I want him to succeed. Something about him just tugged at my heartstrings, and that was it for me.

As I've mentioned earlier, I like that Perfect Betrayal has more of a plot in it than just Levi and Taylor's love story. We have the heist and everything that comes with it in every nook and cranny of the story - the careful planning, the fear that everything will all come crashing down over all their heads, the disappointment when not everything goes their way, and of course, the doubts. We were also made privy to so many relationships other than Levi and Taylor's - amongst others, there was the relationship between Taylor and Suzanne, the woman who was practically a mother to Taylor, and the relationship between Levi, Crystal, and Kyle - childhood friends and now (literally) partners-in-crime. I like how every aspect of the story fit so perfectly well with each other - there was no aspect that was glossed over.

I don't read that many New Adult books anymore, but I'm glad I gave this one a shot. I liked how Perfect Betrayal was subtle in some aspects of its storytelling, and how it made you read between the lines. While I do feel that the ending was a little rushed, it made me smile and feel a little wistful... and at the end of it all, satisfied.

Rating: 4 Stars

Under the Spotlight by Angie Stanton

Under the Spotlight (The Jamieson Collection #3)
Title: Under the Spotlight
Author: Angie Stanton
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Goodreads

After an embarrassing stint on a reality-TV music competition years ago, Riley vowed never to sing again. Now she's behind the scenes, working at the prestigious Sound Sync recording studio, and life is looking up. But then Garrett Jamieson, the oldest brother in the famous Jamieson brothers band, crashes into her world.

Garrett has hit rock bottom, and he is desperate to reinvent himself. After calling in a few favors, he ends up working at Sound Sync to learn the ropes of record producing from the industry's best. And he can't believe his luck when he discovers that Riley has been keeping a secret—she is an amazing singer. By producing her album, he's sure to top the record charts again. But Garrett is forced to use every trick in his arsenal to persuade the sassy girl to record.

Riley refuses to sing—or even entertain the thought of it—and sparks fly as Garrett finally meets his match. But in the heat of the moment, one stolen kiss changes everything. Will Riley be the first person to finally rein Garrett in, or will Garrett succeed in getting Riley back under the spotlight?
THOUGHTS:
I can't remember the last time I didn't like a contemporary book this much. I'm usually easy to please - I just need a story that draws me in, and keeps me engaged... and I really thought I was going to get that with this book. I wasn't really expecting a groundbreaking story or anything like that - the blurb sounded fun and cute, and I always like books set in the entertainment world. Why not, right?

A couple of weeks have passed since I read Under the Spotlight, but now that I'm typing up this review, I remember just how disappointed I was in this book. While there was nothing wrong about the general plot line, the actions of the guy MC - Garrett - all throughout the book just left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm flabbergasted at how this particular character didn't grow AT ALL throughout the book - he kept making excuses for his actions (oh poor me I no longer have a career because of my brothers yada yada yada), and he never ever ever listened to the other characters in the book. That's what pissed me off the most.

Okay let me backtrack a bit - Under the Spotlight is the third book in the Jamieson Brothers series (which I had no idea about), and we're introduced (or reintroduced) to Garrett just after his and his brothers' band breaks up due to them (the brothers, not Garrett) realizing that they want other things in life. He's angry, and while he misses his old life, he knows he can't get it back. He's bold enough to acknowledge that he's not vocally strong enough to have a solo career, and decided that he's just going to find music's next big thing and produce the next best record. He pulls some strings (this is so positively irksome, but also a way of life, so let me just go back to my corner), and the best of the best at Sound Sync are eager to show him the ropes and help him learn. Enter Riley - a musical prodigy who refuses to sing again after her disaster of reality music show stint, and Garrett knows that he's found it.

See, in other circumstances, I would have loved Garrett's honesty and his tenacity. He knows he doesn't have the chops to sing solo, but since he wants to remain in the industry, he's open enough to find another door - another career. But I didn't. I really didn't. His attitude grated at me, and everything he did rubbed me the wrong way. I especially hated the way he treated Riley - Riley kept on telling him that no, she DID NOT want to sing again in front of many people, but he REFUSED to listen. He pushed and pushed... and pushed some more. And no, I never got the vibe that he wanted Riley to sing because her voice is the type of voice that should be heard, but rather because Garrett reckons that she is his only shot of making it again in the music industry. He thought about himself, and no one else.

So when he finally convinces Riley to give music another shot, I thought we'd finally start to see Garrett's character grow. He now has someone else to think about, someone who is relying on him, after all... BUT NO. He still continues to manipulate Riley, and he always, always pushes her to do things that she is vocal about not being ready to do. He always says that he knows what he's doing, and that he's only doing all that he is doing for Riley... but come on! He's thinking about no one but himself, and by this time, his character has become unbearable. For lack of a better word, he was a douchebag for three-fourths of the book, and nothing that happened in the end redeemed his character for me.

Riley, the female MC, was an interesting enough character. She has a good head on her shoulders that she's able to fend for herself even with her slacker of a mother, and she's a strong, resilient woman. I really liked the parts wherein she calls out Garrett's lying and manipulating (believe me when I say that Garrett deserves that and SO MUCH MORE), but I have to say that her character was not enough to save the trainwreck that was Garrett Jamieson. Garrett's character swallowed Riley's whole, and right now, I can't even think about what other things about Riley engaged me.

The romance was rushed and forced, if I do say so myself. I don't understand the attraction (because Garrett treated Riley so horribly), and even when Garrett wanted to do something nice for Riley, he managed to mess things up and make everything worse. And you know why this is? Because HE NEVER LISTENED TO RILEY. Never mind that Riley poured her heart out to him... he just didn't listen.

I have never been so frustrated with a character before as I am with Garrett. No character development whatsoever! I understand that he's angry about his band breaking up and he wants to prove his worth to the industry, but I don't know... nothing about him is likeable. Something happens in the last fourth of the book that is supposed to redeem Garrett in our eyes - something that would make us like him or understand him at the very least... but nope. The execution was sloppy and rushed, and I really think that for all the crap that Garrett pulled, he got off the hook too easily. We're just supposed to believe that Garrett has changed all of a sudden, and sorry, but I just don't buy it.

All in all, this book and I didn't get along. I would however recommend it to fans of the Jamieson brothers - I guess one of the reasons why I wasn't invested enough is because I haven't read the first two books in the series, and maybe you guys would like Under the Spotlight better than I did.

Rating: 2 Stars

[Speak Now...] When Life Gets in the Way of Reading



Speak Now (or forever hold your peace) is a new feature here in Defiantly Deviant. Basically, I'll be talking about absolutely anything book-related... and anything under the sun, really!
 When Life Gets in the Way of Reading

It's 2:11 in the morning in my neck of the woods, and in true fashion for someone who spent the whole day sleeping, I'm wide awake. It's not that I'm not tired (because I AM), but when the mind refuses to calm down and instead yearns to do something, you gotta do what you gotta do.

So here I am.

I'm looking through the blog, and I can't help but cringe at the date the last time I wrote a review. More than a month ago.

That's a long time.

And now that I'm actually sitting here and thinking about all of this, I'm trying to think back to the last time I finished reading a book.

I finished one two nights ago, yes, but before that?

It's been a long time.

Life has been... hell lately. I feel like I can only do so much, and I usually go home too tired to function. I can never manage my time well, and it sucks that it's affecting my reading and my blogging.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say with this post, so let me throw a question your way - how do you guys make time to read? And blog?

I definitely need all the help I can get.

[Review + Giveaway] Rebound by Noelle August

 Rebound (Boomerang, #2)
Title: Rebound
Author: Noelle August
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Goodreads
Hooking up is only the beginning of the fun in this sexy and irresistible second installment of the thrilling New Adult series, Boomerang.

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of the heap in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and knocks the tech wunderkind down, throwing his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.
Three years ago, Adam married his high school love—and then lost her in a tragic accident. Now, the heartbreak and guilt he’s tried to bury with work and women begins to take over his life.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. She’s got one chance to prove to her father that she deserves a place in his empire by grabbing control of Boomerang and taking Adam down.
But as Alison moves in on him, armed with a cadre of lawyers and accountants, she discovers there’s much more to Adam and Boomerang than meets the eye. Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? It appears so, unless Adam can forgive her for wrecking his life and trying to steal his livelihood. But Alison hopes that old adage is right. Maybe love can conquer all.
THOUGHTS:

Boomerang employees sure do have a knack for awkward dating situations. Seriously. In the first book, Boomerang, Mia and Ethan hook up one drunken night only to discover the next morning that they would basically be competing with each other for a job. The same thing pretty much happens to Alison and Adam, our main characters - they meet in a Halloween costume party, are about to hook up... only to discover that they'll be working together for the next few weeks. Here in Rebound, however, the stakes are higher. Alison and Adam, our main characters, are essentially fighting over 20 million dollars - Alison has to find out for her father whether or not Boomerang is a worthwhile investment venture, and Adam has to convince Alison and her father that he and his company deserve the money. Not that complicated, really, but the attraction between Alison and Adam is NOT cooling down any time soon...

I loved Boomerang and its male MC Ethan so much that a part for me didn't really want to read Rebound because of Alison. From what I know of Alison from Boomerang, I did not like her. At all. She treated Ethan so horribly, and she seemed like your quintessential ice queen. She definitely did not seem like a character I can like, and I have no idea how August can make me root for her after everything that she has done. While beginning this book, I was so prepared to continue to dislike her! On the other side of the spectrum, Adam wasn't really a character that I wanted to read about either. I didn't feel that strongly against him just like I did with Alison, but I don't know... nothing about him piqued my interest. I didn't think that there was a story there - he seemed like your typical eccentric genius - not ordinary, but not extraordinary either.

Oh how wrong I was. It turns out that I did not know both Alison and Adam after all. They are so, so different from how I initially perceived them through the little focus they received in Boomerang!

I was so prepared to continue hating Alison, but that did not happen. I didn't think it possible, but August made me adore Alison! Heck, I actually consider Alison's character development the strongest aspect of Rebound. She may have made terrible choices in the past, but she's aware that there are consequences that she has to face, and she's facing them head on. August also carefully explored Alison's character to show us just why she made those choices and those decisions, and while I would never excuse the fact that she cheated on Ethan, I kind of understand why she did. Also, I like how she owned up to it, and made no excuses for what she did. She made mistakes, she's sorry, but she's also ready to move past them. Alison has matured so much from what we know of her from Ethan and the first book, and every single thing I discovered about her (like her affinity for horses, and her friendship with Paolo), I loved.

And now... let's talk about Adam. Adam Adam Adam. Well... one thing is for sure - he is definitely NOT a boring character. There is so much more to him than that eccentric boss we saw in Boomerang, and you would be glad to know that August peels off his layers one by one. Off the bat, I love that he put so much work and effort into Boomerang, and you can see just how much his employees all adore and respect him. I especially love how protective Cookie is of him, and at the same time, just how much Adam value Cookie's opinions. (A little bit off-topic here but can we please have a book about Cookie? PLEASE. She's a STAR!) We may have had only a few Adam-Cookie interactions, but I love that August shone light on such a heartwarming boss-employee relationship. It also shows us a facet of Adam's character that we didn't get to see much in Boomerang - his warm, nurturing, and caring side.

I mentioned earlier that Alison's character development was my favorite part of Rebound, but the development of Alison and Adam's relationship is a close second. It was obvious from the first chapter that there is an intense attraction between the two, and as the story progresses, that there is something more brewing. However, despite this, Alison and Adam don't rush into anything. They take the time to actually get to know each other, and to find out if that something between them can turn into something real. I like that there were more in-depth conversations between the two than quick hook-ups - I don't know about you guys, but this made me believe that they were actually serious about each other. Moreover, I loved that the focus of Rebound was never on Alison and Adam's pasts, but rather how they willed each other to finally stand tall and move on.

All in all, Rebound made for a great second book in the Boomerang series. I actually liked this one better than I did Boomerang - I found it easier to connect with the characters, and while Rebound had more angst and the whole 'secret past' plot line, it didn't deter from my enjoyment while reading. It also introduced us to more supporting characters who I would love to read more about in the future, and it allowed us to discover more about the characters whom we already know. If you're looking for a fun NA read with a little bit of angst (but not too much!), Rebound is the book for you!

Rebound is now available in Fully Booked.

Rating: 4 Stars

I'm giving away 2 copies of Rebound, and as long as you live in the Philippines, you're eligible to join. Thank you so much to Fully Booked for sponsoring this giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway] Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)
Title: Jesse's Girl
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Indigo | iTunes
Practice Makes Perfect.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?
EXCERPT:  

As much as I love music, I am generally not a fan of country. I don’t like banjos. I don’t like sappy lyrics about trucks and hauling hay. Dolly Parton is my mortal enemy—my mom plays “Jolene” over and over and over and over, and it makes me want to chop my ears off like van Gogh. Yeah, yeah, I’m from Tennessee, where it’s a crime if you don’t love country, but I like deep, rumbling beats and singing loud and fast and hard. I do not like closing my eyes and crooning to a cow in the pasture. Yet here I am at a Jesse Scott concert, getting ready to meet him and to see if he’ll let me shadow him next Friday.

My school requires every senior to “shadow” a professional for a day. It’s their way of helping us figure out what kind of career we want. Like, if you want to be president when you grow up, you might get to shadow the mayor. Want to be a chef? Have fun kneading dough at the Donut Palace. When I said “I want to be a musician,” I figured they’d send me to work in the electronics section at Walmart.

I certainly never expected to shadow the king of country music.

It turns out that Jesse Scott is my principal’s nephew. Jesse won TV’s Wannabe Rocker when he was ten and has gone on to become very successful. In sixth grade, every girl in class—myself included—took the Teen Beat quiz: “Would Jesse Scott Like Your Kissing Style?” (Obviously the answer was yes.) In middle school, I had a Jesse Scott poster on my ceiling. It’s hard to believe he’s only eighteen, because he’s already won three Grammys. When he was younger, his songs were about family, fishing, and playing baseball, but lately they’re about love and making love and all things sexy.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan anymore, but I would never give up an opportunity to learn from a professional with such a gorgeous, pure voice. I want to learn what it’s like to perform day in and day out. Despite what everyone and their mom says—that I’ll struggle as a musician—all I want is to play guitar in front of a crowd and hear people cheer for me.

I can’t believe I’m backstage at the Grand Ole Opry! I bounce on my toes. Jesus, is that an archtop Super 4, the model Elvis played? I’ve never seen one in real life. It probably cost more than my house. I’m ogling the guitar when Jesse Scott comes out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He pads across the room to the couch, wearing nothing but a pair of rugged jeans with more holes than Swiss cheese. The lighting is dim, and he doesn’t seem to notice I’m here, which is good, because I’ve moved from ogling the guitar to ogling him.

Who wouldn’t? He was one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People,” and it is a truth universally acknowledged that you should stare at people who’ve made that list. The guy’s gorgeous. Like in the boy-next-door way. His wet, wavy, brown hair curls around his ears and nearly hits his shoulders, and while he doesn’t have a six-pack or anything, his body is fit. I wish he’d look my way so I can see his famous brown eyes. They always remind me of those caramel chews Poppy gives me when I visit. Jesse has some sort of Gaelic symbol tattooed on his left shoulder blade. I want to reach out and trace the design. 

God, get ahold of yourself, Maya. Don’t be a horndog. Besides, he’s so not my type. I don’t do pretty boys.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)
Title: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Goodreads
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
THOUGHTS:
 
Okay. Okay. Okay. How do I recover from this book? HOW HOW HOW? Everything - and I do mean EVERY SINGLE THING - about this book got under my skin... and then proceeded to tear me apart from the inside. I can't remember the last time I felt this STRONGLY about a book. I was under the impression that The Winner's Crime wouldn't... I don't know... hurt that much (I have no idea where the hell this thought came from either) and I was WRONG. So so so wrong. It's been one full day since I finished the book and I STILL have this urge to scream and just plain freak out because ARIN. KESTREL.

Damn, a paragraph in and I'm already not making sense. This has to be a record.

One of the many, many things that amazed me about The Winner's Crime is how Rutkoski just upped her game. How the plot coasted along, the character development, even the writing... EVERYTHING. I didn't think that she needed to (because The Winner's Curse is already a pretty damn amazing book all in its own) but she did and WOW - I didn't think it was possible, but The Winner's Crime is a much, much better book than The Winner's Curse. Rutkoski already proved in the first book that she's a master in weaving intricate plots and that she takes such great detail in developing her characters, and she went ahead and continued doing that and MORE in this sequel. You're still at the edge of your seat, tearing through the pages because you just have to know what happens next, but at the same time, her writing this time around just made you FEEL more.

MORE.

My heart was in my throat from the first page to the last, my throat somehow felt scratched and raw from all the pseudoscreaming I was doing in my head, and I was just so engrossed in my reading. Every word in the book resonated within me, and I just felt every single emotion that the characters felt. Rutkoski really makes you care for her characters, her story - you're just rooting for them to survive, to soldier on... to find their happy ending.

From the first book, Arin and Kestrel have always had a complicated relationship. Master and slave, friends, lovers, and yet bitter enemies, nothing was ever going to come easy for them. There has always been a push and pull between the two, and the looming choice that one of them would ultimately have to make. Who will be forced to choose between love and loyalty to his/her people? All this time both Arin and Kestrel have been toeing the line and playing both sides, but the walls are slowly but surely closing in. Moreover, Kestrel knows that the emperor is suspicious of her actions, and the nature of her relationship with Arin... and in order to throw him off, she has to pretend that Arin doesn't matter... that Arin never mattered.

To say that Arin and Kestrel frustrated me would be a massive understatement. There were so many lies, so may instances that logic played second fiddle to the sudden burst of strong emotions, and the lack of trust made me want to tear my hair off. How could Arin believe that Kestrel never cared? Why did Kestrel have to trick Arin? Why not just tell him the truth? I understand their reasons - believe me, I DO, but I just want them to sit down and talk. TALK. (And then maybe run away.) At the same time, however, as much I would have wanted to Arin and Kestrel to just throw the towel and run away and be together somewhere, I know that these characters could never ever do that to their people. That's not who they are. They have to see this through.
 
And essentially... that's why I love them. 
 
Another thing I love about The Winner's Crime is how Rutkoski further humanized her characters. They're so muti-faceted, and complicated, for the lack of a better word. I can't quite recall any other fantasy series having such realistic characterizations! I have never seen Kestrel stronger, more capable, and the same time lonelier, and I have never seen Arin so helpless and at the same time so fiercely determined. One of my favorite parts in The Winner's Curse is where Arin tells Kestrel that he doesn't care what happens to her people as long as he could keep her safe. Why, you may ask? It's because his statement is so refreshingly honest and realistic. Arin may love Kestrel, but that doesn't mean that he's suddenly willing to overlook everything that happened to him and his people. Real life doesn't work like that. Life is again, for the lack of a better word, complicated. Arin and Kestrel were never special snowflakes nor 'the chosen ones', and I think it's this fact about them that makes them enticing to read about.

To wrap this up, if you haven't read The Winner's Crime yet, READ IT. NOW. I mean, why on earth haven't you read it yet? The ending is heartbreaking (and such a cliffhanger) and I think I would gouge my eyes out if The Winner's Kiss doesn't finish on a happy note. Why must 2016 be so far away? I just want Arin and Kestrel to be happy and okay! THEY DESERVE ETERNAL HAPPINESS!

Okay... so before I start writing a novel on why Arin and Kestrel are perfect and should be together (and end up sobbing in a corner somewhere), I should end this review. Just... please... read this series!

(So much for trying to bottle up the feels while I write!)

Rating: 5 Stars

Trouble from the Start by Rachel Hawthorne

Trouble from the Start
Title: Trouble from the Start
Author: Rachel Hawthorne
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Some boys should come with a warning label.

Meet Avery: six-foot-tall college-bound brainiac (just don't call her that to her face), and daughter of a cop—which is not helping her dating life. Currently playing third wheel to Kendall, her best friend, and Kendall's boyfriend.

Meet Fletcher: six-foot-three motorcycle-riding bad boy, who is one class shy of a diploma. He can ruin a girl's reputation just by saying hi, but one flash of his grin and they usually don't mind.

Coming from such different circles, it's no surprise that Avery and Fletcher don't cross paths until the end of senior year. But once they do, neither of them can ignore the tug they feel.

On paper, they make no sense, but sometimes you have to throw out the rule book and let your heart lead the way . . . even if it's flirting with disaster.
THOUGHTS:

It was one of those days - I wanted something fun, something light, more importantly, to read. I've somehow come to the conclusion that I had no such book at home (I'm pretty sure I'm mistaken on this note, though, but I was on A MOOD that day) so I went to the nearest bookstore, browsed around, and found Trouble from the Start. Off the bat, I KNEW that it was just what I was looking for. I mean come on, a nerd and a bad boy falling in love? YES PLEASE. Also... this book is set during the summer before college. Hey, if you've been following my blog, you know how much I love summer-themed books, and that only means one thing...

SIGN ME UP.

So I went ahead and bought the book, rushed home, and quickly prepared to lose myself into Avery and Fletcher's world. I was expecting your age-old cliche bad boy and good girl fall in love story - sweet, entertaining, something that can make me grin uncontrollably, but at the end of day, nothing really mind-blowing. A few chapters in, however, I realized that my expectations were once again exceeded. (This is what happens when I set expectations with regards to books I'm about to read - they're always, always exceeded. There must be some kind of weird voodoo magic going on, but hey, I'm not complaining!) This is NOT your ordinary cliche love story - it has relateable and likeable characters, an interesting storyline, and most importantly, a  remarkable heroine. It still had just the right amount of fluff and lightness, but that was mixed with depth, and as a result, here we have a wonderful story!

And since we're talking about my expectations, let's just make it clear that this wasn't really your typical summer-themed book (the characters stay at home, no jetting off to some summer house)... but I'm surprisingly okay with that.

Yes, that's how much I enjoyed this book.

The story starts pretty simple enough - high school is practically over, and with graduation around the corner, so are parties. Avery decides to attend one with her friends Kendall and Jeremy, and in trying to loosen up and actually have some fun, she ends up drunk. Enter Fletcher, whose reputation is... rough, to say the least. He gets into fights, shows up in school with bruises, sleeps around... you know, the works. Fletcher takes care of Avery and takes her home, and Avery thinks that maybe, just maybe, all the rumors floating around about Fletcher are wrong. Things get even more complicated when Avery's dad announces that Fletcher is this summer's project - the (older) kid from the wrong side of the tracks who will be living with them for the next few months.

What surprised me the most about this book is how involved Avery's parents are throughout the story - this isn't something you see that much in YA. They aren't in the story for conflict or anything like that - rather, they actually care for Avery, her brother Tyler, and even Fletcher, and they love them unconditionally. They're not the central focus of the story, but they're important enough, and Hawthorne managed to effectively show that. This may seem like such a trivial aspect, but I love how realistically portrayed all the family scenes were. There were family dinners, family nights, mother-daughter conversations, father-daughter conversations... I don't know, I just can't remember the last time I read about such a well-rounded and loving family, and I really enjoyed it.

I talked about how a wonderful heroine Avery was early on, and that she really is. She's so open, so so honest, and she always, always speaks what's on her mind. She's not afraid to stand firm about the things she believes in, and she fights for what she wants - she doesn't just give up easily. This is a young woman who knows and loves who she is. I also love she handled the whole do-we-or-we-not with Fletcher - she didn't believe that she should settle for something less than she feels she deserves, and she didn't. Sure, she still had moments wherein she made the wrong decisions, but that just gave more authenticity to her character. Strong and well-developed, Avery is a character that I just loved reading about.

I particularly loved that the concept of reputations had so much to do with the book's plot. And no, it wasn't just a one big plot device -  it was actually meticulously explored. Hawthorne did so carefully and thoroughly - she let us see what happens when a person's reputation is tainted; and alternatively, she also made us privy to how a person can actually fabricate his or her own reputation. I don't think I've yet to read a YA book that candidly discusses reputations and how everyone places so much regard on them, and I'm definitely impressed at how Hawthorne tackled it.

While I did love this book, one thing that didn't really impress me that much was the dual POVs (I have a feeling that I'm in the minority here though...). I usually like dual POVs as I feel that they bring much more to the table, but for don't think that was the case this time around. Don't get me wrong - I liked Fletcher, and did think that his character was wonderfully developed. It's just that I would have preferred to read more about Avery's thoughts, feelings, and perceptions - it's probably because I felt like I really connected with Avery, and I don't know, I guess I just wanted more of her.

All in all, this was a pretty good book that I'll most probably read again sometime soon. I'm ecstatic that I got so much more that what I expected with Trouble from the Start, and I can't wait to read more books from Hawthorne!

Rating: 4 Stars

[Out and About] #LeighBardugoinPH

Out and About is a feature here in Defiantly Deviant where I post about upcoming book signings and the like, and where I recap bookish events I went to!


The day didn't really start out the best of ways (for me, at least!), I woke up late - evidently breaking my streak of showing up to these events on time, and pretty much shooting down my plans of arriving at the venue early enough to catch up with my fellow bloggers. Don't worry, guys, thanks to Uber (I swear this post isn't sponsored or anything like that), I ended up only around 15 minutes late. I missed out on Leigh's big entrance, but thankfully, I managed to catch the bulk of her (meaty) answers to everyone's wonderful questions!

So, without further ado, here are my favorite tidbits from Leigh's Q&A:
  • If Leigh really, really had to choose an amplifier (but she doesn't want to since she loves animals!), she'd choose the firebird.
  • When asked which author she would like to collaborate with, Leigh revealed that she would like to write with Laini Taylor (but then again, they might end up killing each other since they have different writing processes...) She'd also love to write with JK Rowling, but then she'd probably just go 'You write - I'll just watch you.'
  • Leight has a horror story coming out in the book 'Slasher Girls and Monster Boys', which releases in August. She also has another story coming out in Stephanie Perkins' new anthology called Summer Days, Summer Nights which will be released next year.
  • Leigh reckons that everything she'd ever write will have a fantastical element. She enjoys writing stories that our set in our world but have a magical element, and she sees herself writing more stories like this in the future.
  • Leigh rarely cuts scenes since she has a general outline of the books. She does end up writing more scenes while revising though!
  • Leigh is a huge Games of Thrones and Lord of the Rings fan!
  • Most of the fantasy novels Leigh read while growing up were set during the medieval era, but she wanted to do a little something different. Russia felt like the right fit for her books. Meanwhile, Leigh chose the 1800s in general because she wanted to explore the tension between the rise of modern technology and magic.
  • Six of Crows has five POVs, a heist, a prison break, romance - it's essentially six kids trying to pull off a suicide mission. While Shadow and Bone is your 'chosen one' story (girl has powers, ends up leading a revolution), Six of Crows is story about the 'not chosen ones'. They do not have grand destinies, they're not kings, queens, princes or princesses. They're not looking to start a revolution - they just want to survive.
  • Louisse of The Soul Sisters asked Leigh make a haiku on the spot about Six of Crows. Here's what she came up with (not quite 5-7-5 but it was still pretty awesome!):
    Six deadly outcasts
    One impossible heist - yeah!
    You should order it now!
     
  • Leigh might write a book about Sturmhond in the future. She believes that there's a much bigger story that exists for this character. She has always known his story and who he'll end up with.
  • On what inspired her to write the Grisha world, it's basically the realization that our fear of darkness never quite goes away, and the question "What if darkness was a place?"
  • When asked about the character of Darkling, Leigh always felt that the most dangerous people in our lives don't necessarily show they're evil right away. They're beautiful, brooding, charismatic, and incredibly manipulative.
  • Leigh believes that a character can be a love interest, and the antagonist at the same time.
  • Leigh is not a fan of ship wars because of how mean people can be to each other because of them. One thing she appreciates about Filipino readers is that they seem to be #teamBook, and that they're just enthusiastic about the story.
  • Leigh doesn't set out to write love interests - she writes characters. They all have their own agendas and their journey to go on. She believes that if a character is simply a hero, a villain, or a love interest, they get really boring really fast.
  • We might get a novella about Alina's origins!
  • Leigh didn't pull a Tolkien - instead, she created language to suit the moment of the world.
  • I asked Leigh how her life changed after the success of the Grisha trilogy, and talks about how she now has her dream job. Her life is completely different since becoming a published author, and she owes it all to the readers who spread the word about her books.

After the Q&A, we lined up to get our books signed. I usually avoid lining up until the very last minute (hey - books are heavy!), so I took the time to say hi, chat a little with everyone, and take tons of photos. We all haven't seen each other in give or take three months, and for people who usually see each other at least once a month, that's a pretty long time! Basically, add up everyone's excitement to meet Leigh plus everyone's joy in reuniting, and suffice to say that the whole event was A WHOLE LOT OF FUN. Here are some photos:

(Photos are taken from Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs, Kai of Amaterasu Reads, Hazel of Stay Bookish, and Jesselle of The Lifelong Bookworm)

When my turn to meet Leigh finally came up, (as usual) I got a little shy and tongue-tied. (I'm standing in front of a famous author!!!) Leigh is so incredibly nice, and she immediately put me at ease. She's just so warm and friendly, and she really took the time to talk to everyone! We talked a little about my name (Lyra is also the name of the protagonist of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials), and she encouraged me to read more fantasy. (I definitely will, Leigh!) All in all, meeting Leigh is such a beautiful experience that I will never forget. Thank you so much to National Bookstore for bringing Leigh to the Philippines!






Before I wrap up this post, here's Leigh's message to her Filipino readers:

[Blog Tour: Author Interview] Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Today, I have Danielle L. Jensen (author of Stolen Songbird aka the book that made me fall in love with the fantasy genre) on the blog and I am dying of excitement. I am so pumped. (So so so so pumped that I'm actually using the word PUMPED.) And add in the fact that I am halfway through Hidden Huntress (which has been nothing short of spectacular so far!!!) and yeah... I'm just so happy to have had the chance to ask Danielle a few questions! (So many exclamation points, Lyra...)

So, without further delay, go ahead and check out the inteview!

(Oh - and if you haven't checked out The Malediction Trilogy yet... What are you waiting for???)

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy, #2)
 Title: Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Goodreads  |  AmazonBarnes & Noble
Danielle's Twitter | Danielle's Official Site

Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…
INTERVIEW:

1.)    Please describe Hidden Huntress in five words.
Dark, heart breaking, romantic, political, and magical.
2.)    What can fans expect from Hidden Huntress? (Please don't say a cliffhanger...)
Hidden Huntress is darker, broodier novel than Stolen Songbird, and the pacing is quite different. I think those readers who were interested in the world outside of Trollus will get a lot of that, and readers who enjoyed the intrigue of Stolen Songbird will really enjoy the chapters from Tristan’s point of view. As far as romance goes, well… I’m going to play coy on that.
I think the ending will satisfy readers while leaving them full of anticipation for the next book. But I’m a bit biased    
3.)    How have things been different for you since the release and success of Stolen Songbird?
I felt a lot more pressure when I was writing Hidden Huntress, because I really didn’t want to disappoint readers who felt so passionately about Stolen Songbird. I think that when readers really enjoy your first book, their expectations of you increase exponentially, and that was quite intimidating for me.
4.)    One of the aspects I liked the most about Stolen Songbird is how Cécile was portrayed - she was strong and capable, but she also had her moments of weakness. She had depth. What else will can we expect from Cécile in Hidden Huntress?
In Stolen Songbird, Cécile had to be strong and capable in the face of things that scared her. In Hidden Huntress, she has to be strong and capable in the face of extreme frustration, and she really struggles with that. It was one thing for her to be brave when the path she wanted to take was clear, but not knowing what to do undercuts her strengths. I went after her weaknesses in this book, and readers will see her emotionally stumble a lot more than they did in the first installment. But she’s still her tenacious self, so don’t despair!
5.)    Last, but definitely not the least, here's a fun question: let's say you had the chance to invite over someone you personally don't know for dinner. Who would that person be, and why?
I would invite Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), because he seems both delightful and hilarious. However, I saw a description of what he eats in a day, and it included a lot of cod. I hate cod, so we’d have to find a compromise.

[Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway] Mia and the Bad Boy by Lisa Burstein

(Check out the rest of the tour stops HERE!)

Mia and the Bad Boy
Title: Mia and the Bad Boy (Backstage Pass #2)
Author: Lisa Burstein
Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
This good girl’s about to meet her match…

Ryder Brooks is living the dream—he’s famous, loved by millions of girls, and miserable. All he really wants is to write his own music, not Seconds to Juliet’s sugary sweet pop. In order to do that, though, the “bad boy” of the band will have to play by the rules. And that includes behaving with his new—and super cute—über-good-girl tutor.

Mia Reyes is in fangirl heaven. Tutoring her favorite member of her favorite band? It’s a dream come true…until it turns into a complete nightmare. Ryder is nothing like she thought. He’s crude, arrogant, and pretty much a total jerk. And the worst part? She’s roped into pretending to be his girlfriend so that no one finds out he’s being tutored. Fake kisses, plenty of PDA, and even sharing his hotel room…

But sometimes even the baddest of bad boys needs a little redemption.
THOUGHTS:

A bad boy - every band has one. There's that one member brooding in the background of all the videos, and that one member that makes your breath catch whenever he stares straight at you. (Well, he's actually looking at the camera, but you get my drift!) He may or may not be covered in tattoos, but one thing is for sure - he is shrouded in mystery, and every single detail you find about him, you devour. He doesn't even have to be your favorite, you just want to know more about him!

After reading Mia and the Bad Boy's blurb, I knew deep in my heart (whoops who's getting a wee bit dramatic here) that I had to have this book... because I have to find out just who on earth Ryder is. I just have to know who he is beneath that bad boy persona, and I really wanted to see how his story would unfold. It's always interesting to get a behind the scenes look at how famous people act without the cameras shoved in front of their faces, and just who are the people responsible for their very fame.

Also... isn't its premise the cutest thing ever!? Come on - just imagine getting the chance to tutor your favorite member of your favorite band. I would have erupted in squeals... and I would have probably made him fail even more at that subject he's already failing...

And other than that.. a fake relationship. A FAKE RELATIONSHIP. 

MY FAVORITE TROPE OF ALL TIME.

But I digress.

From the first few chapters, we find out straight away that Ryder is not so different from the rest of us. He has big secrets that he's desperate to keep, and he's unable to do that one thing he really loves - he just wants to perform his own music, but he can't really do that when the music that made him a household name is so different from his own. He wants to go to college to learn more about music and writing, and to do that, he needs to graduate high school first. Mia is hired to help him, and the two slowly learn that things are never as simple as they seem...

I liked how the romance between Mia and Ryder player out. It was properly built up but not too drawn out, and the serious conversations and the flirty banter balanced each other out. The dual POVs helped flesh out the development of both Mia and Ryder, as well as how their relationship progressed. We learn so much more about their dreams about the future, and at the same time, we learn about their fears that have stemmed from expectations. Both Mia and Ryder are relateable characters that I had no problem connecting to.

While Mia and the Bad Boy works as a stand alone, I think it would be best that you read the first book in the series. I hadn't had the chance to do so, and as a result, I felt that I was missing out on a few things here and there. There were times wherein something that happened in the first book was touched upon, and while I did understand the general gist of what occurred, I still think that nothing beats actually reading something as it actually transpires. Nothing that vital, let me hasten to add, but ultimately, I feel like reading the previous book would have had me enjoy Mia and the Bad Boy more.

All in all, If you're looking for a cute, fun read with a little drama (AND ONE HOT ROCK STAR), Mia and the Bad Boy is the book for you. It's the perfect book to read after that difficult exam, or even after that long, hard day at work. I had no problem breezing throught it in one sitting, and I can't wait for the rest of this addicting series! 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway] A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

ACOTAR is one of the best YA fantasy books of 2015. Yeah, no, I don't care that it's only May and I rationally shouldn't be make such a bold statement. Please just believe me when I say that it's an amazing book, because it's THAT AWESOME. So... I bet you can just imagine my excitement in being able to say that I have Sarah J. Maas on the blog today. (!!!) Yes guys, I was able to interview SARAH J. MAAS. I'M STILL FREAKING OUT (Thank you to Louisse of Throne of Glass PH for this opportunity!)

Okay, enough of me blabbering - check out the interview and the giveaway below!


A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Goodreads
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
INTERVIEW:

1.) Please describe ACOTAR in 5 words.
Romantic. Dark. Sexy. Brutal. Lush.
2.) Let's say you got shipwrecked in an island, and you get to pick one ACOTAR character to save you. Who will you pick, and why?
Rhysand. One, because he’s yummy, and two, because his power allows him to jump between places. So, he’d literally be able to take me anywhere I wished.
3.) If you were given the chance to collaborate with an author, who would she/he be and why? Also, what series would consider doing a crossover with, if possible (TV series, movies, books, etc.)
My best friend and fellow YA author, Susan Dennard. She and I have already co-written a bunch of stuff, including The Starkillers Cycle, which is a free serialized space opera on tumblr: http://thestarkillerscycle.tumblr.com
As for crossover series…. I’d love to do an Alien franchise crossover. I’m obsessed with those films (my phone case is a meditating xenomorph). Celaena hunting xenomorphs would be the definition of Epic.

4.) If you were to belong is a faerie court, which one would you be in and why?
So hard to answer that question without spoiling future books, since we get to see some of those courts (and the secrets they contain)!

5.) Hi Sarah, Rhys here. Lyra is forcing me to ask... Maybe you could give the readers a hint of what's in store for me in the coming books....?
Many things. Awesome things. Terrible things. But you’re going to start off by calling in that bargain you made. And you’re going to have to fight to keep all your secrets hidden once you do.

6.) Last, but not the least, if you had the chance to cook for someone you don't personally know and invite him/her over dinner, who would that person be, and why?
I love this question! Cooking for someone is so different than going out for dinner, isn’t it? So much more intimate and personal! So, honestly…. Sharon Hinn. She’s perhaps my favorite fantasy author (up there with Megan Whalen Turner, Anne Bishop, and Patricia A. McKillip), and I’d just love to get to tell her how much of an impact her books have had on me, and how much inspiration they’ve given me as a fellow writer of romantic fantasy. I’d also want to learn about how she creates such intricate, unique worlds, compelling and real characters, and how she basically just…does everything. I wish more people knew about her work, because she is second to none.

a Rafflecopter giveaway