Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ARC Review: The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

The Storyspinner 
by Becky Wallace

Series: The Keepers Chronicles #1
Genre: YA, fantasy, historical
Published March 3rd 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Local order/purchase: Fully Booked * National Bookstore

Blurb (Goodreads):
Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything. 

My Thoughts:

*This review is based on advance reading ecopy. There might be some changes with the finished copies.

When I came across by The Storyspinner a year or less than before the publication, I knew I have to read it. It's one of those books that when you saw it, read the title and blurb, and you just knew it was meant for you and you have to read it. That's why I am very excited and thankful to the publisher that even though in just a week or two before the publication, they still provided a review ecopy when I requested (I was late to request). (However, that doesn't affect my opinions about this book.)

Just like in The Glass Arrow (Kristen Simmons), I judged the title of this book literally. I thought it's about a girl able to spin a story. Like, she can put on a plot twist in stories (like in 2008 film, Bedtime Stories), which is really cool so it looks more appealing for me. Although I was wrong--yet again--about this assumption, this book doesn't disappoint. It was still something I end up liking very much.

The Storyspinner was told in third perspective, but each chapter focused on different characters. Overall, there are seven characters highlighted throughout the course of the book, but the main character was Johanna Von Arlo, a Performer (singer and storyteller). I like her strength and fighter attitude and her love for her siblings, especially the little ones. And since there are so many characters and perspectives, I've only known little about them except their traits and purposes. There's so much going on as the story/focus switches from here to there, but it remained interesting and very promising. And there's also not one, but two (and I guess another one potential for the second book) love stories in it! Both aren't mushy kind, only love-hate, and it that makes them cute and in the end, adorable.

The world building wasn't clear to me at first but when I got to know more about their kingdoms and differences, I must say I'm impressed, and so on the plot. It was well-thought and really a good read. There are mysteries and twists but because of the multiple perspectives, I did not spent thinking and guessing about it. The bad side was I wasn't able to feel the thrill of guessing and shock that I was supposed to get. The good was, despite the little thrill, the story managed to flow excitingly. I cannot imagine this book focused only in one character (because if I think about it, this book would feel like there's hole in it and it will sound a little cliche) so I wouldn't want to change the multiple perspective.

The ending was more like a cliffhanger in a non-cliffhanger way. The kind that you'll beg for the second book because you cannot let it end there, yet it gave a beautiful ending? Yes, that's it. I am very satisfied on reading this book. I think this is the sixth book I've read in a row with originality and freshness in it. Those six books weren't all five-star rating, but they all stood out and I love it. I love that we're still having new stuff to feature regardless of the numerous books being published. The Storyspinner is one of the books that you don't want to miss. The book you should search for and read from the sea of books out there. And to think this is a debut? Brilliant. This book is one of my most anticipated books this year and I am so glad it didn't disappoint.

*Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the review ecopy in exchange of an honest review!


Friday, March 27, 2015

ARC Review: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Finding Mr. Brightside
by Jay Clark

Genre: YA, contemporary, romance
Published March 24th 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Local purchase/order: Fully Booked * National Bookstore

Blurb (Goodreads):
Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.

My Thoughts:

*This review is based on advanced reading ecopy. There might be some changes with the finished copy.

Okay, so I admit that I've been blinded by that sweet and cute cover but don't think of me as shallow already--I did read the blurb and been immensely curious and interested. Though this book interest me that much, I don't have any expectations from it but what I just read was something I did not expect. (Yes, there's actually a difference.)

Finding Mr. Brightside has a tough topic/subject. Abram liked Juliette for quite a long time but here's the deal: Abram's dad and Juliette's mom had an affair. An affair which eventually led them into an accident that killed them. If you would ask me, I could not think of a worse thing that could happen--to find out that your mom/dad had an affair or to lose them--or worst--both. So I understand from where Abram and Juliette was coming from. I understand how broken and messed their lives are after. What's more messed up (and add this: weird)? Is that they actually like each other. I'm like: Awwwkward.

The storytelling was a mixture of heavy and light--heavy topic, light with some cute and funny moments. The characters have something heavy to deal with but the growing romance and caring between them seems to make the atmosphere more lighter. That was one of the things I did not expect. I saw this book as all the way cute and romantic and light, and it was, minus the 'all the way'. The story and the storytelling itself was different as well compared to other YA reads. And like this book, it was a mixture--of good and bad. The lack of excitement while reading this book bothered me. It wasn't bad but there are times that I felt flat. 

Finding Mr. Brightside has complex story and characters. It's about grief, family, love, moving on, honesty, and doing what your heart wants not what your situation says. I liked how Abram and Juliette cared about each other, how they respect their spaces, and some character improvements as the story goes by. Although I wasn't completely amazed by this book and sometimes I felt dull, this is worth the read. Maybe the entirety didn't worked out for me but it could be for you, since I have many Goodreads friends who loved it.

*Thank you so much Henry Holt and Co. for the review ecopy in exchange of an honest review!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WWW Wednesdays (90) / Waiting on Wednesday (90): Winter

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

Am reading Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark. This one's kinda different from other contemporary reads I had. A mixture of heavy and light.

Finished Reading:

I read another addition on my Best of 2015 list, The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons (review), a nerdy cbyerthriller, Duplicity by N.K Traver (review), and a high fantasy A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab (review / win a copy here).

Read Next:

Next up is The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace. I've been meaning to read this but I've done so many adjustments on my to-review sched so..

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on.

by Marissa Meyer
(The Lunar Chronicles #4)

Expected publication: November 10th 2015 by Feiwel and Friends 

Blurb (Goodreads):
Here is the stunning conclusion to the national bestselling Lunar Chronicles, inspired by Snow White.

When Princess Winter was thirteen, the rumor around the Lunar court was that her glamour would soon be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. In a fit of jealousy, Levana disfigured Winter. Four years later, Winter has sworn off the use of her glamour altogether. Despite her scars, Winter’s natural beauty, her grace, and her gentleness are winning admiration from the Lunar people that no amount of mind-control could achieve.

Winter despises her stepmother, but has never dreamed of standing up to her. That is, until she realizes that she may be the only one with the power to confront the queen. 

Can Cinder, Prince Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne, Princess Winter, and the palace guard Jacin find their happily ever afters? Fans will LOVE this amazing conclusion to the series.

This is it. THIS. IS. REALLY. IS. IT. Winter has finally a cover and a blurb. And now I'm just waiting impatiently for November to arrive. Freaking excited to dive into the 800 magical and phenomenal pages of the last installment of one of my favorite series, The Lunar Chronicles! *MAJOR FANGIRLING*

I reviewed Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest on the blog.


How's your week been so far? Share your bookish cravings on the comments below!

P.S I've extended my giveaway of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab! Enter here.

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic 
by V.E Schwab

Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #1
Genre: YA/NA/adult, fantasy
Published February 24th 2015 by Tor Books
Local purchase/order: Fully Booked * National Bookstore

Blurb (Goodreads):
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped. 

My Thoughts:

First I thought the cover was an upside-down devil but when I took a closer look on the cover, I realized that it's actually a man jumping between two worlds. The red was the coat, brown--which I thought was the horn--was the legs, and the white was the hair. In case you've mistaken the cover to a different one as well. Trust me, I am not the only one. The next thing I noticed was the hype for this book and the author. I've never read any from V.E Schwab--but I'm familiar with her YA series The Archived--so I don't understand the hype yet. I wasn't convinced on reading this book, though, despite the hype. I don't think it's my thing (even though it's fantasy). But there's always a part of the bookish me that even though I am not really interested in a book, I have this inner thing that strongly urges me to read it. I'm holding on to the promise that this book is worth my time.

When I embraced the fact that I'm really going to read this book, I devoured that this book has uniqueness even from reading the blurb alone. It was a good impression to set even before I read it. When I finally got to read A Darker Shade of Magic, I am not surprised with the high and dark fantasy it proposed from the outside and shown on the inside. I admit that it took me long before I catch up on the vibe, tone, and pace of the book. I am the slow one this time. And when I did catch up, I saw the things that I really liked. Kell was a strong and--as I later on found out--protector and soft-hearted, especially when it comes to his 'brother'. I do like his strange magical coat too. I also like Lila. She's an unexpected and surprisingly good character. Stubborn like most female lead/supporting, clever, and witty. I cannot imagine this book without her.

I cannot deny the magnificent idea of multiple Londons. The world-building was the highlight of this book, along with Kell and his coat, and Lila. The way the Londons were described and used was clever and imaginative. I love that Victoria made a world where you can never compare or you've heard/seen before. The originality of this book was amazing. It wasn't a full-packed action novel like I envisioned but the mystery, the multiple Londons, and the eeriness of this book and the way it was written would make you entertained, curious, and devour each page.

A Darker Shade of Magic gave its all but when I closed the book, I knew that the author has more to offer on the next installment. Compelling, dark, and has characters you'd love. I am excited for the next book. I am really, really intrigued what will happen next! I am so glad I gave in from the strong urge to read this book. If I don't, I might not have read one of the most original book out there. Also, this book was categorized as 'adult' but it can also be read by YA/NA readers since the main characters aren't that old and well, I just don't see it as an adult novel alone.

*Thank you so much Tor Books for the review copy in exchange of an honest review! Win a copy here.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

ARC Review: Duplicity by N.K Traver

by N.K Traver

Genre: YA, sci-fi, contemporary-ish
Published March 17th 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Publisher
Local purchase/order: Fully Booked * National Bookstore

Blurb (Goodreads):
A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone.

Huffington Post lists N.K. Traver's Duplicity as part of one of the great YA book trends to look for in 2015!

My Thoughts:

*This review is based on advanced reading ecopy. There might be some changes with the finished copy.

What if you look through the looking-glass and see a different version of you? A version of you who changes the way you are? What if that version of you--that is not really you--wants to trade places "for the better"? In N.K Traver's contemporary sci-fi debut novel, Duplicity, Brandon, a computer-hacking teen meets someone like himself who isn't him in front of a mirror who wants to change his life. But could this be for the better or for the worst? 

The first thing I--anyone would--noticed with Duplicity was the uniqueness of the story/concept. Although the 'bad guy punished by a witch/fairy godmother/someone with powers to become better' was familiar because a local children's fantasy show here in the Philippines called Wansapanataym (Once Upon A Time) caters the same theme, Duplicity has something that stood out, angst, and all the techie nerdy thing. I also like the idea of it and the twists this book had in a nerdy way. Readers would ponder who really the bad guy is and what Brandon really is. Is he the bad guy or the next hero?

The book started like it was already in a middle of a story with some untold background stories, and I've been like left in a middle of an unknown city for a while, but as the pages go by, the characters and their story were introduced one by one flawlessly without having a boring length of paragraphs with explanations of like this and like that. Of course except with the techie details. I'm not techie so I might have read the about it but if you'd ask me now, I have already forgotten what it said. The bad thing was on my side, don't worry.

I'm not sure if this is a series or a standalone. There wasn't any details on Goodreads about it being a series. I mentioned it because the ending seems lacking, like there's something needed to add. Like it shouldn't end that way because you cannot call it an ending, especially if it's a standalone. I suspect my eARC (electronic advance reading copy/proof copy) from Netgalley wasn't a full ARC. Like, a chapter or two is missing, but I'm not sure. I suspected that because my eARC of The Orphan Queen from Edelweiss was also only an excerpt (long length but left the ending), so it might also be the case for this one. Anyway, I will update this review once the author or publisher replied on my tweet. :)

Uniqueness was Duplicity's strongest attribute. Enjoy a past-paced cyberthriller with twists you wouldn't see coming. I really liked Duplicity--it's fun and refreshing and has a main character you'd be pinning for. Definitely a new trend in YA world you must look for!

*Thank you so much St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books for the review ecopy in exchange of an honest review!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

The Glass Arrow 
by Kristen Simmons

Genre: YA, sci-fi, dystopian
Published February 10th 2015 by Tor Teen
Source: Publisher
Local order/purchase: Fully Booked * National Bookstore

Blurb (Goodreads):
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

My Thoughts:

Pre-reading thoughts: It's written by Kristen Simmons! The author of Article 5 trilogy, which I really liked. (Without reading the blurb..) The title alone sounds really good. I'm imagining a fantasy Hunger Games-type or the likes. The cover looks bad-ass and pure angst. I'M VERY EXCITED FOR THE GLASS ARROW! I have no idea, however, about both the The Handmaid’s Tale and Blood Red Road thing so I'm not sure what to expect, I just read it like it was all new to me (well, it was). So I just held myself in a proper reading position and try not to squee so I could understand the story.

In The Glass Arrow, females are scarce and being hunted. The Trackers will send them to a farm, where they'll be groomed and fattened, and sold at auction to any Magnate (a wealthy or influential person) who can pay the price (page 13). This was in the city, while some are free and hiding in the wilderness. Aiyana or Aya is one of them. Being a natural born and raised with the natural environment and food, the price in the head of Aya and her kind is higher than the girls groomed and raised in the city. And that's why Aya and her family is being hunted.

The idea and world-building for this book is obviously sickening. Girls are being used as a toy, a breeding machine. These kind of unfair/inhumane world-building in dystopian world is very common. And though sick, it makes the book stand out and be more interesting. A complicated game a gamer is determined to solve and outwit, and that's how I see dystopian books--this novel.

I didn't know until I was writing this review post that The Glass Arrow is  a standalone. I really thought this was a first in a series. So my thoughts while reading was affected. One of the things affected was my POV about the pacing. I think it was slow in the beginning. BUT the slowness wasn't something annoying or dragging. It was interesting. Like when you're trying to grow a plant. The process was slow but when you had your eyes in it, you're waiting for each step to be done, you're in awe of what you're witnessing. The unraveling of a beautiful plant until you reach the point to witness the main attraction, the flower. It was like that when I was reading The Glass Arrow. I've witnessed the life of Aya the day of her capture until day by day she became stronger and more courageous girl. I've witness the process of the book--the entire story, without getting tired or bored. It was a wonderful experience.

I really like Aya. She's a faithful and loving daughter and member of the family. Although she never really had a blood connection with her "cousins", she remained strong and determined to be free in order to save her "family". She's innocent and fierce at the same time. I also love the love story. Shall I call it a love story? Yes and no. I don't know. The..thing..was new to me and it was like a breath of a fresh air. It [love story] was lovely and different from the ones I've read or watched before. Like Aya's life, the love story was like a process. A beautiful process that is enjoyable to witness. The rest of the story and journey was the same. 

I truly enjoyed The Glass Arrow. It was told in Aya's POV, but the storytelling was wonderful. It was the kind of dystopian novel that is distinct. I agree with Paula of Her Book Thoughts: the world is not ending. Nobody is special. Nobody has a special gift. There's not insta-love or love triangle. The Glass Arrow need not to be grand with superpowers or an ordinary-turned-special/high-ranking main character or a hot love interest. The way the story was told, the characters, and even the love story was the most special element in this book. It may not be a fantasy and a series like I first thought it was, this book still managed to rock its own identity. Emotional and truly beautiful in its own way. Survival + family + friendship + freedom + fierceness = the epic-ness of The Glass Arrow. Thank you, Kristen Simmons, for writing yet another wonderful novel. I do not regret the moment I decided to read any book from you the moment I read your Article 5 trilogy. And this book seals it.

P.S The reason I thought this book was a fantasy because it's called The Glass Arrow. I thought it had something to do with a, well, magical glass arrow. But I was wrong. I took the title literally. I The glass arrow was something more symbolic in the story. Do you want to know what it means? Read it! :D

*Thanks to Tor Teen for the review copy in exchange of an honest review!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WWW Wednesdays (89) / Waiting on Wednesday (89): Firewalker

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

Just started reading The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons. Been waiting to read this one! Finally!

Finished Reading:

I read Vendetta by Catherine Doyle (review) and Dreamfire by Kit Alloway (review).

Read Next:

Reading The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace next. One of the titles I'm most anticipating this year!

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, originally started by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming book releases everyone is waiting on.

by Josephine Angelini
(The Worldwalker Trilogy #2)

Expected publication: September 1st 2015 by Feiwel & Friends 

Blurb (Goodreads):
Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini!

I read the first book, Trial by Fire, last year and I really liked it. I'm excited to dive in to the next installment of the trilogy! I noticed that the cover was different from the first one too. Not that I don't like it, it's just different from the first one. Before I don't mind mismatched covers, but now I do. :(

Check out my review for the book one of The Worldwalker Trilogy, Trial by Fire!


What titles make your Wednesday list? Share them below!

Make sure to enter my giveaway of copy of
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab and a signed poster here!