Tag Archives: ARC

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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passengerTitle: Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Expected Publish Date: January 5, 2016

Pages: 464 pages


Henrietta “Etta” Spencer, the lead protagonist of the story, is a violin prodigy who’s raised by Rose (her mother) and practically by Alice (her mentor). She lives her normal life in New York and if she is not in school, she is most likely found at Alice’s place; practicing continuously for hours and hours with her violin.

Etta, even if she’s raised by her mother, feels that something is missing between their relationship. She feels that no matter how hard she tries to receive her mother’s affection, or catch her attention, and earn her appreciation, she is always denied.

What does it take to ignite their relationship and finally bridge the bond between her mother and her? Why does Etta know very little of her family’s past? What secrets lurk in their, her, bloodline that’s keeping her from the truth?


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken was a curious read for me. Now that I thought about it, it sort of follows the footsteps of Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis because they both “travel” through a portal of some sort (though Spinning Starlight travels to different dimension while Passenger travels through time) and both, unfortunately, in some way lost me when they started talking Sci-Fi-ish.

The author knows her words and is capable of using them beautifully like how she can fluidly describe her characters emotions, what’s stimulating their sensations, and with a few words, an intimate love scene between Etta and her love interest, Nicholas. However, there were times when I skimmed through her words due to excessive world building or inner dialogue and there were times when I had to muscle through a chapter because it felt like reading everything was a chore.

I had information overload when the author started talking about music concertos, a pirate’s life, traveling back in time, Etta’s family history, and how to find the passages. Nevertheless, it seemed like she did a great deal of a research regarding the topics (though I never verified that). The plot did make me feel random emotions especially when it started talking about slavery and the ideology behind it, how Nicholas described Etta as a “fierce queen on a battle field,” the secrecy and deception, and most importantly feminism.

Overall, Passenger was a good read. I must say that I LOVE the calligraphic design of the title and if you look closely, you can see Nicholas’ ship capsized beneath the beautiful New York City.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

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flawed

Title: Flawed

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Expected Publish Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 368 pages


Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.


When everybody in a community, in a society, that strives for perfection — perfect grades, perfect demeanor, perfect body, perfect reputation, perfect everything, what does it mean to be Flawed?

Flawed are the citizens who have made moral or ethical mistakes in society. The location on where you get branded with F varies per mistake. On top of that, you have to wear an armband with  a big honking red F to make an example out of you; to remind the good citizens of Highland to never make a mistake.

Flawed is written in a first person point of view by Celestine North. She started by describing her family, her relationship with Art Crevan, and Judge “Bosco” Crevan. She also went in detail how the Guild works, and its “justice” system.

Life seemed perfect for Celestine. . .

However,

Will she stand up for what’s right, or will she lie to keep her perfect life?


 

Flawed was a controversial read for me and its blurb did not do any justice to its content. If the characters weren’t in their teens, this could easily pass as an adult fiction. This book is a mixture of the idea of Divergent (Janine wanting to get rid of Divergents thus keeping society “pure”), a modern version of The Scarlet Letter (the red A and the isolation and ridicule that comes with it), and The Hunger Games (when they want to use her as a symbol for change/rebellion).

The book had more talk than I really wanted, but it certainly kept my pulse up when there’s action. It tackled prejudice, discrimination, segregation, isolation, and bullying. Flawed also has espionage, secrets, lies, and betrayals. Nobody helps a Flawed girl for free. Everybody has a hidden agenda for themselves.

So what makes this book a Young Adult book?

Besides their age, here are a few things that reminded me that Flawed is a YA book.

  1. “Art’s decision to stay away from me. . .hurts more than any branding.” Celestine was branded multiple times with hot cast iron (with anesthetic, the last branding without) and I am sure she was in a lot of pain not to mention the pain while the scars are healing. After being judged as Flawed, she was singled out, hated on, spat at, reputation ruined, future uncertain, and all Celestine could think of is her boyfriend? As a feminist, I would prefer girls portrayed strong and not worrying about any lanky boy for their happiness (no matter how gorgeous their blue eyes are).
  2. “If I have power to bring down Crevan, then I will do it. Then Art and I can be together.” Again, really? Why does the lead female character have to have a boy as a reason to fight? Why not, “Because Crevan is a conniving SOB who used his power for his own gains and literally ruins anybody who goes against him?” or because “He turned against me when I did not allow him to use me for his benefit?”
  3. “Who’s Logan?” After being gone for God knows how long, Art shows up to find Celestine. Instead of asking how she’s holding up, the first thing that came out of his mouth was petty jealousy. I just can’t with this boy.

However, even if the book has some shallow parts, I cannot deny the fact that I LOVE how the author tried to have diversity of the characters.

  1. Celestine’s dad is black and her mom is white.
  2. Mr. Berry has a husband.
  3. Devon sleeps with boys “even if his parents wished he didn’t.”

Overall, Flawed was a good pick me up from not being able to read for a good four months. Will I buy the printed version? Maybe. Do I recommend this book? Yes, to those who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Scarlet Letter.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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everything everything

Title: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Illustrated: Yes

Publisher: Delacorte Books

Published: September 1, 2015

Pages: 320 pages


“Just because you

can’t experience everything

doesn’t mean

you shouldn’t experience anything.”


Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is about Madeline Whittier’s life. She seems like a normal teenager; loves to read books, runs an online book blog, wants to get a learner’s permit, and maybe visit the beach. Most importantly, she wants to experience her first kiss.

So, what’s stopping her?

Maddy has this disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). I don’t want to bore you with facts so I’ll sum it up for you: Her immune system is compromised. She is basically allergic to the world. She is a bubble girl and she has been for almost eighteen years. She lives in a sterile environment and is being taken cared of by her mom (who, luckily, is a doctor) and her amazing nurse named Carla.

Maddy is content with her life; she has a close relationship with her mom, a huge collection of books specially decontaminated just for her, homeschooled, and she has internet. I mean, life could not get any better, right?

Then one day, her predictable life is turned up side down.

“Maybe we can’t predict everything, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

Olly is the new boy next door. “He’s tall, lean, and wearing all black: black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He’s white with pale honey tan and his face is starkly angular.” Perfect example of a mysterious, good looking guy that piques the interest of a curious girl, right?

Olly seems like a nice guy with good intentions.

He is also curious with the girl next door.

They have to meet each other.

“He’s not safe. He’s not familiar. He’s in constant motion. He’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken.”


Ok. I am not certain if you know how much I DESPISE instalove. Everything, Everything is basically a curious girl who obsessively thinks about the guy next door leading to impulsive, and careless decisions. She fell for the guy, he fell for her. It fits every quality that usually make my eyes roll until I see my brain. Why such a high rating then?

I won’t spill much, but I actually had the feels with this book; it gnawed on my limbic system and left me hollow inside. Bonus: It wasn’t caused by the two sweethearts.

Maddy and Olly are “weird” in their own way. I don’t know how the author did it, but she managed to make their connection click. Was it because I can relate to how their relationship developed? Was it because she defied her mother just for Olly? (Which I did too when I was her age). Did I like it because it was relatable?

One more thing, I really like the diversity in this book; racially and sexually. Thank you, author.

All in all, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was an enjoyable read. Before I end this review, I would like for you to ponder on something.

“Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you could just change one thing?”

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Spinning Starlight by R. C. Lewis

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Before I start my book review, here’s a little information and disclaimer about the book. The hardbound version of Spinning Starlight will be released on October 6th, 2015 at your favorite bookstore. Thanks to Disney Hyperion, I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Let’s talk about the cover. If I am not mistaken, this book has a close resemblance to Stitching Snow; a retelling with a twist of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The sleeves also have the same feel and concept which makes both books a nice collectable. However, these two books are not connected in any way.

I keep on reading reviews stating that this book is a retelling of The Wild Swans. Having no background of the said book, my review is based purely on what I have read and what the author has made me feel with her words.


Have you ever had that feeling when you are not quite sure what you’re reading, but you like it anyway? That’s what I felt when I was reading Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis.

I mean, I had a gist of what the author was trying to do:

  • The main character, Liddi, was born in a big, influential family, with riches poor people only dream about.
  • Someone wanted her out of the way = plot to have main character kidnapped.
  • Missing brothers that need to be saved.
  • You can’t trust anyone.
  • Dead parents, missing brothers, a very young heir who can’t seem to figure out a solid plan to save her brothers until 80%-ish of the story.
  • Tiav, a very nice guy/love interest who is patient, understanding, has good morals, and is very unlike the recent circulating YA male characters who just wants to get laid.
  • A lot of confusing terminologies — or maybe I’m just dim-witted.
  • Sort of happily ever after in the end; main character takes back her company, saves most of her brothers, and she gets to keep her love interest.

At first, I could not seem to put the book down. Then came the different points, sci-fi-ish terminologies, too many names of the brothers that I could not seem to remember, too many races, and very few talking (you’ll get this reference when you start reading the book). These, for me, really slowed the plot down.

I did like a few things about what the author did. I like how the book made me think. I like how it has some gray areas like conspiracies, betrayals, murders, and much needed sarcasm. I love how the author ends every chapter with a short story of Liddi and her brothers. It really gives a characterization behind each brother; giving them life, making them not just another name in the book. I also appreciate how Liddi and Tiav’s story was not an insta-love. I felt that they have a connection and their relationship developed without any rush.

Overall, I like Spinning Starlight. It is one of the anticipated releases this year and I am sure most of the crowd would love it. If you love retellings, Sci-Fi books, and if you don’t mind keeping up with names and terminologies, this book is for you.

PS. I would like to thank my friend Sania for reading this book with me.

Rating: 3/5 stars

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

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a whole new worldA Whole New World by Liz Braswell is a retelling of the classic Disney movie Aladdin, but with a twist.

The beginning of the book was very familiar, because it was exactly how it was in the movie. Aladdin and Abu were busy with their usual shenanigans; stealing food and running away from the palace guards, Al giving his share of bread to the two kids scavenging for food, and meeting Princess Jasmine at the market by saving her from the vendor who wanted to decapitate her. These certain parts of the book made me nostalgic because Disney was my childhood. It gave me comfort that these parts weren’t changed. Though, I should have known better that everything else is bound to altered…

A Whole New World tried to tell a story where Jafar was the person who summoned the Genie. This book unearthed Jafar’s even darker side and his deep-seated hatred. He did not just want the throne — he also wanted to be the most powerful sorcerer, and Princess Jasmine’s love. Did I mention he wanted to expand his reign worldwide with the help of his undead army?

For Jafar’s dictatorship to start, he first wished to be the Sultan. Second, he wished to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Fueled by rage, hatred, and the need to feel loved, it wasn’t enough for Jafar to be Sultan of Agrabah. He pushed Princess Jasmine’s father off the public balcony for everybody to see him die.

COMPLETE CUCKOO RIGHT?

Princess Jasmine witnessed her father fall off to his doom. She watched her father die while every citizen in Agrabah was busy gathering gold coins that was raining from the sky.

JASMINE WANTS REVENGE.

She wants to take back what was rightfully hers. She wants to defeat Jafar and prevent him from raising an army of the undead.

How will Princess Jasmine defeat Jafar, the most powerful sorcerer in the world? What does she have that can triumph over him? Will someone help her overthrow his regime and take back what was rightfully hers?

I am uncertain which one was worse: the retelling, or the way it was written. I never realized that the author did not give a description of the characters because having seen the movie, I automatically assumed their image. If it wasn’t for Bookowly’s Review, I would not have noticed this flaw.

In the movie, I remember Princess Jasmine as a headstrong, and clever princess. Throughout the beginning of the book, I felt like she was portrayed as a naïve, spoiled, pampered princess who craved attention and approval.

Exhibit 1: Jasmine was “seething since the evening before. Since the boy she was just about to kiss was whisked away by the guards. She stalked down the halls, not caring who heard the stomp of her feet in their silk slippers. Seething and trying to track down the boy hadn’t left her a chance to bathe or change since the night before. Her thick black hair was coming out of its bands. Tendrils waved behind her like snake.”

Exhibit 2: Aladdin: “I just thought you were a pretty rich girl slumming it.” Jasmin: “You think I’m pretty?”

Imma let you finish, but this is not how Princess Jasmine should have been portrayed.

One more thing: Is it just me or did Aladdin and Princess Jasmine not have any connection at all? She wanted to do one thing, and he persuaded her to do the other. This did not only happen once, but twice which caused serious consequences and made Princess Jasmine look like a push over.

Though this book has a lot to work on, I did like a few things.

“Don’t let life’s unfairness, don’t let how poor you are decide who you are. You choose who you will be, Aladdin…

…you can choose to be something more.”

  •  I like how I have a background of Aladdin’s mom. I appreciate how the author tried to give us a fanfic of how his mom was and how she raised him the way he is now. I love how strong of a woman she was until the end.
  •  I like how the author built Jafar’s past that caused his demons. I like how she showed his pain, and anger, which caused him to seek power and vengeance.

In conclusion, A Whole New World by Liz Braswell has its ups and downs. I like how she tried to reinvent a Disney classic into something I would have never thought otherwise. With a little spring cleaning and character building, this book could be liked a little more.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Disclaimer: I would like to thank Netgalley, Disney Press, and Disney Book Group for granting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

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A Thousand Nights

Let’s start this review with a little disclaimer, shall we?

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

There we go. Now, to the fun part.

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston has a very promising plot. Lo-Melkiin, rules a prosperous and peaceful qasr. He accomplished this by marrying a girl from each village, and one from every district inside the city walls. And get this, they all die a few days after their marriage.

*insert surprised face here*

I know right?

Why do these girls die after they wed him? Why did the people worship the girls who died and built them altars to remember their deaths? Why did the main character sacrifice herself instead of letting Lo-Melkiin pick her sister? What is the purpose of this book?

It feels ghastly saying this, but I will never know the answers to my questions. I will never know because I DNF’d this book at 50%. I swore I would never DNF a book, yet here we are.

I feel sad that I DNF’d this book because first and foremost, look at the cover! I am a sucker for gorgeous, jaw dropping covers.

Second. It really bothered me that I was already at 50% of the ARC and I still don’t know the name of the main character. It bothered me more because most of the people in the book does not have names. Instead, the author used the following: lady-bless, lady mother, father’s father’s father, mother’s mother’s mother, sister, brother, mother, father, Lo-Melkiin’s mother.

WHY IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF NAMES? I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS!

Third. Because the characters lack names and proper building of their characters, I did not feel attached to them. There wasn’t any connection between the characters. There wasn’t any substance. They were faceless males and females to me. It felt like they exist solely because the author said so. Also, you know how the guy always look hot and have perfect jaws and chiseled abs? Well, I think the author missed this memo. I don’t even know what Lo-Melkiin looks like!

Fourth. I did not get enough description of the setting. I understand it’s in a desert, but where? Middle East? Africa? North America? South America? Vegas? Ok, the author said Lo-Melkiin lives in a qasr and according to Wikipedia, it is in the Middle East. But what does the qasr look like? The feel of the floor? The scent of the food? The curtains? The walls? I was so lost.

Fifth. I read this book after reading The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (which by the way I really LOVED), I was thinking if this book would surpass it, but it fell short.

NEVER, EVER READ THIS BOOK AFTER READING THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. JUST. DON’T. OK?

Enough with my rant. I would like to point out something that I like about this book.

I failed to mention that Lo-Melkiin is possessed by another nameless evil creature. I called it, The Thing. Anyway, The Thing, is the one who is controlling him, keeping his thoughts locked away at the corner of his mind. The Thing is responsible for the deaths and is just using Lo-Melkiin’s body and kingdom.

The Thing and its first kill aka the woman Lo-Melkiin loves: “I took what I required from her, and made Lo-Melkiin watch as she shriveled and wilted under his hands.”

Can you imagine the love of your life dying because of your touch and you can’t do anything about it? Pretty sadist right? This gave the book a sick, much needed horrendous twist, which I really loved.

I genuinely tried to finish A Thousand Nights, and I really wanted to love this book. The author tried, but the story just did not work for me.

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Six by Mark Alpert

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the six

I noticed The Six by Mark Alpert ever since it hit the shelves at Barnes and Noble. However, my copy is an ARC from Netgalley, and my review is purely unbiased even if I received mine for free.

This is my first book from the author and I did not know what to expect. I was hoping that I will not have to struggle and muscle through this read. I am pleased to say that this book is an easy 4 out of 5 stars and I fully recommend this to any Sci Fi lover. Allow me to tell you why…

Let’s start with the protagonist, Adam Armstrong.

Adam is a smart teenage boy with a weird sense of humor. He lived a normal life — played football with his best friends, hosted Super Bowl parties, a big fan of the New York Giants and Kanye West, and programs virtual reality games — until his illness (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) crept upon him leaving him with weak neck muscles, useless thighs, no movement to the left arm, and “an ok” right arm.

He is dying.

Because of Adam’s condition, his mother is neck deep with depression. She barely takes care of herself and the family. His father, Thomas Armstrong, is the one who takes care of Adam. He is a genius that works for Unicorp; a company that is basically government funded to create stuff that is beneficial to them. Did I mention that Adam’s dad is the creator of the Artificial Intelligence called Sigma?

“My name is Sigma. This message is a warning to all government leaders and military commanders.

I have the power to annihilate you.

If you attack me or interfere with my plans in any way, I will exterminate the human race.”

BAM! I read those few lines and I felt my pulse quicken. Sigma, the Artificial Intelligence created by Adam’s dad, is making threats to the government and military?

THIS HAS GOT TO BE GOOD!

But wait a minute. Who’s going to stop Sigma from taking over bases that control the nukes? Who’s going to stop him from erasing the human population from the face of the Earth?

All I’ve got to say is that the author did not disappoint. The book is fast paced and action packed. This is an I-have-to-know-what-happens-next type of read. I flipped through the pages wanting to know more without being overwhelmed by too much action. Most of the characters are well developed which allowed me to feel attached to them. The author also did a great job researching government machineries which helped me understand and visualize what was going on.

And, HOLY ENDING!

IS THERE A BOOK TWO??? YOU CANNOT LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THIS!

Rating: 4/5 stars