Another Word For Happy by Agay Llanera | Book Review + Discussion

32607764Title: Another Word for Happy

Author/s: Agay Llanera

Publication: Kindle Edition, 140 pages published October 8th 2016

Source: From the Author

Get Your Copy Here:

Amazon (Kindle)

Plot in a Nutshell (from Goodreads):

What does it take to come out of the closet? Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?
In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!

Thoughts in General:

Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera is one of the few LGBTQA+ novels I’ve ever read and I’m happy to say I enjoyed myself with Caleb’s story. It is a novel about coming out and the struggles of being a homosexual in a contemporary Filipino setting. I felt that Agay Llanera tackled the topic with earnestness and class. If you are in the mood for a not so typical Filipino coming of age Young Adult novel, then you should definitely go for this!

Aesthetics

Another Word for Happy‘s cover is really spot on. Although I can only judge the cover image of the book since I only read an e-copy of it, I do believe that it encapsulates the main characteristics of the protagonist. It’s simple and straightforward.

Story

As the tagline of the novel clearly states, it is a coming out story for the protagonist but you should not dismiss it for sounding cliche. It is still a delightful novel to read. I like how the book did not focus on the romance but on the character development of our main protagonist instead. However, I will admit that the love subplot was a bit problematic for my taste, which I will discuss in detail later on.

I also like how music and poetry played a role in the novel. Caleb is piano prodigy, which is why there’s a significant amount of music talk here, but it isn’t overwhelming. The slam poetry included in the prose were written well and it didn’t feel out of place, since one of the major characters is a poet.

Lastly, the novel was written in such an accessible way that you will feel for the main protagonist’s struggles and triumphs.

Characters

Caleb, the MC, was an interesting character. Frankly, I did not like him at the beginning of the book because of how stuck up he sounded.  He eventually had a good character development arc, but to be frank I’m just not 100% enthusiastic about him still.

I love Ginny, Caleb’s best friend, because she was such a colorful character, both figuratively and literally (if you read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about). She was such a good friend to him and I just love her how bubbly she is.

For the rest of the characters, I think I might discuss them in the spoiler section so I could fully express myself, but I did like most of them, except for the romantic interest of Caleb.

I think if you are a fan of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda you might like Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera. This is a wonderfully Filipino take on the coming out story that you should give a chance.

Thoughts in Details (SPOILERS):

I just want to discuss a few things in this section freely without the fear of spoiling anybody. So please only read on if you have finished the novel. Ready? Let’s go!

The reason I was really annoyed with Caleb was the way he treated everyone  when he and Franco started “dating.” God, I really wanted to kick some sense into this dude because clearly, he was just a rebound for Franco and he fell for it. I know that the author might have done this intentionally to get the plot going and, also, to show some sort of a downward spiral for the main character, but Caleb really got on my nerve during this phase. He acted like a lovesick puppy and he actually allowed his so-called infatuation to get the most out of him (he even skipped classes for this dude, like wtf). Sorry I just had to get that out of my system.

As you can tell, I didn’t like Franco. I know that he was just human and he needed somebody to take his mind off of his ex (at that time) Drew, but the way he handled the situation was just infuriating.

However, weirdly enough I like how their “romance” ended because it did not go the traditional route. There wasn’t a clear closure for their relationship, which I’m still fine with that because Caleb deserved someone better.

On a different note, reading the part when Caleb finally confessed his true identity to his mother was nervewracking. Then when she actually called him a “disappointment” that just saddened me because it read so real and true. From there on I think that the story got better because it depicted a sound and rational approach in the situation.

Ginny’s aunts were so cool and so sweet (I love their cheesy wedding speeches). I also loved the fact that they talked to Caleb’s mom and recommended that book. My favorite scenes from Another Word for Happy was where Caleb performed at that gig and he thought his mom wasn’t going to be there but at the end there she was, so proud of her son. Also, that last part when they were both at the beach and Caleb’s mom remarked that the boy her son was eyeing was cute, made me smile. It was so nice to see her grow to accept her son’s identity and it was the perfect way to end the book.

Have you read Another Word for Happy? What are your own thoughts regarding the book? Feel free to discuss them by commenting below (please be mindful of spoilers).

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | Book Review + Discussion

THUG Design
Artwork Credit: Kevin Dones / Cover Image Credit: Epic Reads

Title: The Hate U Give

Author/s: Angie Thomas

Publication: Kindle Edition, 464 pages Published February 28, 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Source: Personal Purchase

Get Your Copy Here:

Book Depository | Amazon Kindle

Thoughts in General:

Right off the bat, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was immediately added to my TBR due to the hype it has gotten all over social media (yep I’m a bandwagon kind of reader) and truthfully the premise just sounded so powerful. Upon reading it, I did not expect to love it as much as I do right now. This is such a well-balanced novel that isn’t all about making a political statement. The book tackles important and relevant issues with an entertaining tone.

The Hate U Give is certainly a novel that should be included in every country’s required reading list for schools because of its authentic approach to the topic of unnecessary police violence, dark implications of the illegal drug industry, and the enigmatic contemporary lives of African-Americans. It has been a really long time since I read a book that sparked this kind of reaction in me and I am not ashamed to say that I am truly a THUG trash! In my opinion, Angie Thomas should be included among the ranks of modern classic writers such as Harper Lee and Maya Angelou.

Aesthetics

I LOVE THE COVER of THE HATE U GIVE. If you’ve been reading my blog, you all know how much I love a well-illustrated cover and the simplicity of the whole design is just perfect. I like how she’s holding the sign with the title of the book like she’s protesting, which is reminiscent of some of the scenes in the novel.

Since I only read the e-book edition, I did not get the chance to see the back of the cover that features Khalil. However, I have seen enough images online that urges me to buy a physical copy soon!

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Photo Credit: Teen Vogue Twitter

Story

Since the story was inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I expected it to be chockful of political and social messages, which it delivered gracefully by the way. However, I was pleasantly surprised on how the novel focused on family dynamics, which was the biggest factor that made me love it even more. I also really appreciated how the author went about writing the romantic storyline, which I’ll be discussing in the spoiler section of this review. Angie Thomas was able to successfully craft such a compelling and cute relationship without outshining the entire novel’s theme.

Characters

Starr Carter is one of my favorite fictional characters, ever. Her voice was downright real and relatable. When I was reading the book, I felt like I was witnessing the life of a very close friend. Yes, she was flawed (especially with the way that she treats herself sometimes), but that made her more real to me because I can relate to what she was going through (emotionally speaking).

I freaking love the entire Carter family! The way Angie Thomas wrote their family was so fleshed out, I actually cared about everyone. This is a rare occurrence for me to love, not just the main character but also her Mom, Dad, and two brothers. Again they are not perfect and that was the reason why I was enthralled with each of them.

Starr’s friends were written in such a unique way that I was able to distinguish them easily.

Final Words

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is truly a gem worth reading and sharing. It is the kind of book that could spark empathy from all different cultures and nationalities. Personally, if I had the power to make this book a required reading in the Philippines I will definitely do it in a heartbeat. Despite it being about a young African-American woman’s story of racial injustice, the themes could definitely resonate with people all over the world that are dealing with the same issues Starr Carter had.

Thoughts in Detail (SPOILERS AHEAD):

Now I want to discuss some of my favorite characters and scenes without any limitations. Ready?

Starr was such a great complex character! The way she handled Khalil’s death was admirable, especially when she had that other experience with Natasha. Yes, there were times that she was a bit fragile, but that just showed how human she was. Angie Thomas did a great job of writing her perspective in such a realistic way. Also, this girl was so funny too, which was the winning factor for me. I think I mentioned it before, I never expected this book to be hilarious given the topic it discussed, however, Starr’s snark and sass had me laughing my socks off. What kept me turning the pages was the amazing attributes of Starr that made her real and lovable for me.

The Carter family is just so cool! Her mom and dad’s relationship was just dysfunctionally perfect. What I meant by this is that they were incredibly human and their love wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but they still managed to become this amazing couple that loved each other no matter what. Starr’s brothers, Seven and Sekani, were all cool and hilarious in their own right.

The moments Starr spent with her mom and dad were all golden, especially this deep scene with Maverick (Starr’s dad) and her discussing the deeper meaning of Tupac’s The. Hate. U. Give. Little. Infants. F**ks. Everybody. There were loads of amazing quotes in that scene and my personal favorite was this…

“We’re the ones who get the short end of the stick, but we’re the ones they fear the most.”

Another favorite part of mine was when Maverick wanted to hang out with Starr and watch Harry Potter with her. This particular bit of dialogue just made me laugh so hard:

“Daddy you’re the worst person to watch Harry Potter with. The whole time you’re talking about” – I deepen my voice – “Why don’t they shoot that nigga Voldemort?”

“Ay it don’t make sense that in all them movies and books, nobody thought to shoot him.”

I don’t support gun violence whatsoever, but this was just too funny!

GUYS THE ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK WAS SO DARN CUTE! I needed to type that all-in-caps because it is nothing short of amazing and sweet. Starr and Chris have become one of my favorite OTPs, period. From the get-go, I love how they bonded over the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I found the things Chris did to get Starr’s attention. It just gets better and better as the novel pushes forward, even their little dramas weren’t excruciating to read.

Then we have the friendships in the book. I honestly felt so bad for Starr because of the realizations and revelations she discovered over Khalil’s death, like he wasn’t really part of the King Lords and that he really did love Starr. I was also glad that Starr and Hailey parted ways in the end, which just shows not all friends are worth keeping in our lives.

Lastly, I love the overall message of the book about injustices. I don’t know about you, but personally, I agree that The Hate U Give is a timely and relevant novel during these times. It really sheds an important light on the lives of the victims of police brutality and, in my honest opinion, it seems to capture a realistic depiction of it.

That’s all of my thoughts and feels regarding the book! If you want to discuss your favorite scene in the book or my thoughts on it, feel free to comment it down below. Please do note if your comments are spoilers, we do not want to unwittingly spoil this magnificent novel for someone else.

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Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo | ARC Review

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Author/s: Leigh Bardugo

Publication: September 29th 2015 by Henry Holt and Company

Format: ARC edition
Source: National Bookstore and Macmillan

(DISCLAIMER: THIS ARC WAS GIVEN TO ME BY THE PUBLISHER AND NATIONAL BOOKSTORE FOR FREE, IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. THIS DID NOT AFFECT MY OPINIONS ON THE BOOK IN ANY WAY.)

Plot in a Nutshell:
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.-Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:
2015 is one rollercoaster ride in terms of my reading and I am really happy to say that Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is part of the “up”. Let me just say that this book made me recall how much of an experience the art of reading is. This fantasy novel took me to the edge of my seat, transported me back into a setting that has been given a lot more depth, gave me characters that were fleshed out and had me caring for them non-stop. These are the elements of a good story and this book has it all and more. 
I was lucky enough to have been given an Advance Readers Copy of this book during Leigh Bardugo’s event here in the Philippines and OH MY GOD I NEED THE FINISHED EDITION IN HARDCOVER! The cover is beautiful and the design of it is really spot on with the overall feel of the novel (the crow sort of like embody these teenage outcasts and the towers represents the Ice Court). The main reason why I really want the finished hardback is because of the beautiful sprayed-on black pages, which I am dying to hold in reality. 

Enough about the cover lust and let’s get on with the review. As I mentioned earlier, Six of Crows is a story that is adrenaline pumping. The premise of six outcasts banding together to perform a deadly heist automatically gave me chills when I heard the author talk about it in person and I am happy to report that Leigh Bardugo definitely delivered. I will admit that the author’s first trilogy (The Grisha Trilogy) was good, but I encountered a few problem with Ruin and Rising, which is why I don’t consider it as one of my favorites. However, Six of Crows was able to top its predecessor by creating a much more exciting plot line while having an awesome blend of wit, romance, and camaraderie.

I’ve got to hand it to Leigh Bardugo for creating such kickass characters. Let’s start of with the leader of the crew, Kaz. He is this enigma in the entire story that you want to unveil and the author did her exposition in such a seamless way. Even though I found his arrogance and brand of self-righteousness annoying, it slowly grew on me and I think that these traits pretty much sums up what Kaz is all about.

Inej’s story arc is one of my personal favorites. The way that Leigh Bardugo wrote her tragic backstory tugged my heartstrings. Although I noticed that there were moments in the novel she was in a damsel-in-distress situation, however, I still got to see her in action and I definitely found her title as The Wraith incredible appropriate.

Then we have another awesome female character and is my favorite among the six, Nina!

She. Is. Fantastic!

Seriously I can’t stop gushing about her. She’s witty, headstrong, powerful, sassy, and ferociously independent. Basically she has every trait that I love in a female lead and I’m not ashamed to admit that I have this huge crush on her. I really can’t say much about the details (because of spoilers), but by the end of this book I LOVE her.

In terms of character growth I think Matthias’s arc is the most complex. At the beginning of the story I was totally apprehensive of him to a point that I distrusted him. This is due to the fact that I couldn’t measure his personality, but then I started to slowly cheer him on, then he slowly crawled under my skin, and I eventually came to accept him as part of the crew.

Jesper didn’t rub off of me the right way. I did not gravitate towards his chapters and I honestly wanted to skip his parts. I just didn’t mesh well with his personality (his arrogance was unwarranted unlike Kaz’). Although I do admit that he was the comic relief of the book and I particularly found his banters with Wylan amusing.

Speaking of Wylan, I just wished that I got to know him better but I am guessing he will play a larger role in the sequel and I’ll finally get some backstory (trust me your interest will be piqued as well).

I have seen the immense growth in Leigh Bardugo’s writing style within the pages of Six of Crows. She managed to create compelling characters and adrenaline pumping scenes while giving her characters so much depth. Frankly speaking Six of Crows kinda makes its predecessor look like child’s play.

Brava Miss Bardugo… Brava!

Have you read Six of Crows? What are your thoughts regarding it? Who are your favorite ships? Tell me down below!

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White | Book Review

Title: Illusions of Fate
Author/s: Kiersten White

Publication: September 9th 2014 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 278 pages

Source: Personal Purchase


Plot in A Nutshell:
Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Synopsis from Goodreads


Thoughts in General:
When I first heard about Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White, it kind of had that whimsical feel of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which by the way is my ultimate favorite book. It’s the main reason why I picked it up in the first place and even though it didn’t meet the standards of my aforementioned favorite, I have to hand it to Kiersten White for creating such a fun and magical read.

The cover is really pretty and it suits the overall theme of the book. The teacup design is gorgeous and the way the raven bleeds out is nicely done.  
Illusions of Fate‘s main story line was such an exciting exploration because prior to reading this book, I wasn’t aware of its synopsis. Anyway, the themes about colonialism kind of reminded me of my country’s very own tribulations with the Spaniards. Even though the setting is purely fictional, Kiersten White managed to incorporate real life issues pertaining to this theme authentically. 

The political conflicts between the two battling sides of the setting’s society was the main issue of the book and the romance only accompanied the story in a way that wasn’t annoying, which is refreshing. Speaking of the romance, I felt like the MC and her love interest had that “insta-love” cliche and it did bothered me at the beginning, but I eventually got the hang of it since it wasn’t blown out of proportion.
There weren’t that much details in regards to the magic system of the book and I feel like this was such a missed opportunity. I get that it is a stand-alone and what I’ve gotten out of this book was sufficient enough not to impede with the plot, however, I wished that Kiersten White expanded it a little bit more.

Jessamin is such an enjoyable protagonist to read about it. She is headstrong, sassy, and a true fighter. I love her independence and how true she was with her roots, even though her mother pushed her to learn the Albion ways at an early age. Her spunk was so admirable, especially at that ball scene I rooted for her all the way.  

Finn was such a mysterious and eccentric character. He reminded me so much of Howl in Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle. The beginning of this novel actually threw me back to the very first scene of the movie. It had minor similarities with it that stayed with me while I read the novel and it only added a certain charm for this book. 
I also like the chemistry between Jessamin and Finn because they are a stark contrast from each other. Jessamine’s independence sometimes clashes with Finn’s over-protectiveness, which Kiersten White did justice. 
Eleanor is my favorite character in this book. Her ingenious, vibrant, and cunning personality made me gravitate towards her, whenever she has a part in a particular scene. She’s one of my favorite side characters in literature.
Also, I have never been attached to a fictional pet than Sir Bird. That raven is such a sweetie and I like the bond Jessamine had with him. 
Of course we have the main antagonist Lord Downpike and I have to admit that he was a formidable antagonist. He was such a smooth criminal and I like his brand of cruelty because it had this dark finesse. Personally, I am disappointed with how the resolution was achieved in this book. I wished that the climax had more of an oomph factor to it.

Aside from that issue, I highly recommend you guys to give this book a try! It’s a witty, fast-paced, and magical book that doesn’t have the pressure of an on-going series because it’s a stand-alone (as of the time I posted this review) and an entertaining stand-alone at that.

Have you read Illusions of Fate? What did you think of it? Please do share your thoughts by commenting down below!

     

  

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | Book Review

(TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, Mental Health Disorders, and Abuse)
Title: All The Bright Places
Author/s: Jennifer Niven
Publication: January 6th 2015 by Knopf
Format: Hardcover, 388 pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Plot in a Nutshell:
The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:
I found out about All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven through the hype and buzz the book had in the blogosphere and Booktube community. Truthfully, reading this book was such a mesmerizing and painful experience. The topics that the author tackled were tough, but she was able to execute it in a way that got under my skin. 

Before I ramble on about the content, can we all just appreciate how beautiful the book design is. I am an adamant user of Post-Its and I really appreciate the clever use of the said product in the cover. Then after reading the book and knowing its significance in the story, it made the whole cover more poignant. However, initially I got the wrong impression that the story is a light and sugary read due to this fantastic cover. I know that it is my own negligence for not reading into the blurb, so it’s all good.

On to the main review! As I mentioned earlier, the gravity of the topics discussed in this book was really heavy and raw. I appreciate how insightful it was about mental health and personality disorders. 
Did it romanticize the said topics? 
In my honest opinion I think it did, in a way. I particularly disliked the instant connection between the two main characters and the how the drama unfolded, which was the result of their suicide attempts in the beginning of the book (it’s not really a huge spoiler so don’t freak out). However, it managed to balance giving out the hard-truths about suicidal tendencies while still humanizing the characters which made them accessible.

Theodore Finch was such an eccentric personality. I know I might be missing the point of the book when I say this, I did find some of his thoughts too uncomfortable to read. There were parts that really affected me so much I stopped reading it because it was like experiencing what Finch felt, which was both scary and enthralling. 
Reading from Violet’s perspective was honestly disappointing. I think she lacked the emotional depth that I wanted from a character and she could have been fleshed out more. The Germ Magazine thing could have been expanded better, because honestly I didn’t grasp the significance of the blog. The rest of the characters were all okay and they all served their function. 

The thing that really bothered me the most with this book was the relationship between the two main characters. I felt like it was rushed and it even bordered on “insta-love”, which is a plot device that rarely works for me. It felt unrealistic and it irked me to read some of the things these two did for the sake of their new-found love (I can be such a bitter a**hole sometimes, but I can’t help my opinion about it). However, I have to admit that I did got attached with their love story in the latter part of the novel. There were some scenes that just made my cold, bitter heart a little twist.

But did it make Finch and Violet a favorite One True Pairing or OTP of mine?

Sadly, no.

Aside from those criticisms, I think this book is still an interesting and powerful debut. It packed quite a punch in the emotion department and the things discussed within its pages still resonated with me until now. It does provide an eye-opening experience in regards to mental health awareness and I feel like it does deserve the attention it has gotten.

The design of this book is simply amazing!

Have you read All the Bright Places yet? What did you think of it? Please do share your thoughts on the book and my review by commenting down below. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire-Sáenz | Book Review

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author/s: Benjamin Alire-Sáenz

Publication: Published February 21st 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Source: Personal Purchase

Plot in a Nutshell:
A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire-Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:

I have never heard so many great things about a book than Benjamin Alire-Sáenz’ YA novel Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe (a.k.a Aristotle and Dante for short)! Aside from the plethora of awards it has gotten, the buzz surrounding this book forced its way into my brain and eventually I was compelled by the hype to get it.

Let’s first discuss the superficial aspect of a book and that is the cover! I commend whoever designed this book. The typography alone is stunning work, but coupled with the doodles carefully laid out, I couldn’t help but be in awe with how intricate it looks. The symbolism within this doodle art really speaks volumes regarding the various themes within the novel.

I went into this book completely blind. Seriously, even if I have said that I have heard and read a lot of things regarding the book I still had no clue what the book was about. I listened to the advice of every blogger and booktuber that I heard talk about this book, which was to dive into the story without any idea what it is about and I concur.

I allowed myself to be carried by the flow of the story and, at first, I wasn’t attached to Aristotle’s voice. It took a few more chapters for me to be emotionally invested on this book. However, do not be alarmed by this fact because it is the aspect that made the book charming. I slowly grew attached to the characters and it made the story more relevant and relatable. The themes of family, acceptance, and love as well as the challenges that the central characters faced were poignant and heart-warming at the same time.

I initially thought that the novel will feature a dual perspective narrative because of the title, however, I soon discovered that it Aristotle (a.k.a Ari) was the only one telling the story. Truthfully I wasn’t completely enamored by Ari’s perspective in the beginning because I felt like he was too pessimistic and dry. Then things began to change when I slowly discovered that his mentality towards certain things (i.e. having minimal friends) actually felt similar to the way I think (which was strange and scary). He wasn’t the type of person who could easily make friends, especially with boys his own age, and that’s the thing that solidified my connection with him and that made me even more engrossed to continue on with the book.

Dante was an interesting character to read about. I can’t pin-point why, but I am not really the biggest fan of him. There were certain things about him that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Truthfully he appeared to be too wishy-washy for my taste, which irked me at a certain degree. I did commend his selflessness and bravery for defending what he believed in and his banters with his parents were funny.

Speaking of, the parental units of these boys were refreshing. As I mentioned previously, the book was about family and Benjamin Alire-Sáenz delivered a realistic approach to it. Ari’s mother reminded me a lot of my own mom and their relationship was so sweet. Another thing I found I could relate to this book was Ari’s relationship with his dad (I won’t elaborate on this because I don’t want to spoil things for you), which adds a certain sentimental value to the novel that could translate to different readers. Dante’s parents were also incredible and I liked them more than Dante himself.

I am impressed with how Aristotle and Dante was written. It featured this minimalist approach with description and it focused more on the dialogue between the characters. I did got confused at certain parts because there weren’t many indicators as to who was speaking. Although it did felt refreshing to read a book that wasn’t cluttered with description (which I might try to emulate in my own fiction writing).

I can now honestly say that I get why it won so many awards and why it was hyped up non-stop in the literary world.

Rating:

This is a wonderful story that is meant to be shared!
Have you read Aristotle and Dante? What are your thoughts regarding this book? What were some of your favorite scenes (please no spoilers)? Tell me by commenting down below! 

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider | Book Review

Title: Extraordinary Means
Author/s: Robyn Schneider
Publication: Published May 26th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Plot in a Nutshell:

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

Synopsis from Goodreads


Thoughts in General: 
I have never really been fond of disease stories. I am sorry to admit it, but these books kinda ignite this inner hypochondriac that makes me cringe when I read paragraphs about blood, coughing, and the deteriorating health of a protagonist. That was one of the reasons why I wasn’t really planning to read Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider, however, by a weird twist of fate, I eventually did and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The main characters Lane and Sadie had distinct and powerful voices, but not at first. It was really rough getting into their perspective at the beginning. I was seriously annoyed with Lane for being that over-achieving snob, but when the novel began to unfold, I realized that the author did it on purpose to make him more likeable in the end.

I initially didn’t like Sadie’s behavior because I thought that she was petty and a total cliche. Eventually she grew on me and I realized what a spit-fire she actually was. I liked how Robyn Schneider developed both of their character arcs in a way that made sense and felt authentic.

I also found the minor characters really fleshed out and the camaraderie between them and the protagonists were something to be aspired to (#SquadGoals). There is one among Lane and Sadie’s friends that I think was the best out of the three because he seemed so genuine.

Robyn Schneider also doesn’t shy away from doing certain things to her characters. I seriously felt the emotions when I reached the final page of the book (again I did not cry because I am just a monster).

However, I’ve got to be honest with you, I really anticipated certain things to play out whilst reading this book and that really dampened the reading experience for me. I wasn’t able to feel the full-impact of emotions the author wanted to portray, which still irks me. This is not the fault of the book by any means. I just feel like when I know a book is about a disease I immediately summon up the typical plot twists and wait for it to happen, which kinda waters down the emotions it initially intends to translate.    

The plot of the book was something out of a nightmare. This is where things got uncomfortable for me. The beginning of the book dealt with some of aspects of the disease and I felt weird and oddly disturbed by it (hence the hypochondriac schtick mentioned in my intro). However, I do think the author presented the topic realistically without heavily romanticizing it.

The author managed to make the scenarios the characters faced feel believable. These kids weren’t being heroic about the disease. They actually showed vulnerability and fear, however they did not wallow in their despair. They tried their hardest to still live life to the fullest and I think that is one of the loudest message this novel presents.   

Moving on to the writing style of Extraordinary Means, all I have to say is I am impressed with how quotable Robyn Schneider’s novel was! It wasn’t even written in flowery and sometimes, let’s be honest, pretentious prose. It was simplistic yet it still packed quite a punch (check out the photo of the book with a quote on it that proves my point). 

Extraordinary Means is a good poignant novel that I think fans of TFiOS will totally appreciate. 
Rating:
I rate Extraordinary Means a… 
The feels guys… the feels. 
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts/reactions towards it? Please do comment down below and let’s start a discussion. 

99 Days by Katie Cotugno + #KMRinPH Tour Schedule| Book Review

Title: 99 Days
Author/s: Katie Cotugno
Publication: Published April 21st 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Plot in a Nutshell:
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:
99 Days by Katie Cotugno is a type of contemporary novel that I haven’t read before. As you can tell from the synopsis above, the novel centers around a girl named Molly Barlow who ran away from her hometown because of an indiscretion she did. In all honesty, I didn’t love this nor did I hate it and here’s why…

The plot of the book is different from what I read because we get the side of the girl who cheated on her significant other. Normally in fiction, we always read/see the perspective of the cheated and how they cope up with the problem. I liked this idea of switching it up and the author did a good job of showing what the cheater felt and how they reacted from their wrong-doings. 
Another thing I liked about this book is the fact that it does point out the double standards society puts on women who cheated. It does deal with slut-shaming (sorry for the term) and how the whole town hated Molly so much that it came to a point that she had to ran away, yet Gabe was practically unscathed during the whole ordeal. The novel blatantly shows the injustice of it all and I have to agree that it takes two to tango and people should also make a deal out of a man’s actions and not just the woman’s.

Another aspect of the book that I sorta liked was the ending (I will not spoil it for you, don’t worry.) I am just going to leave it at that. 
Now I want to vaguely mention things I did not like about 99 Days. I’ll just enumerate it down below in single words (hopefully if you read the book you’ll get my drift): 
1) Molly’s mom *ugh*
2) Molly’s decision-making *ugh!*
3) Gabe’s reasoning *ugh!!*
4) Patrick  *ugh!!!*
5) Julia *argh!!!!*

I have to admit there were plenty of…

moments when I read this. Seriously I cringed at certain parts because I can’t handle the ridiculousness of the situations Molly put herself into.

Rating:

I give 99 Days by Katie Cotugno a…
Pushing aside the main character’s flaws, the book was still entertaining nonetheless but it wasn’t spectacular enough to illicit any long lasting emotions within me. Although the over-all book design is 10+ stars for me (bravo book designers… BRAVO).
#KMRinPH Announcement:


Have you read 99 Days? What were your thoughts regarding the book? Please do share them below and please try avoiding spoilers! Thanks!


21 Proms Edited by David Levithan and Daniel Ehrenhaft | Mini Book Review

Title: 21 Proms
Author/s: Edited by David Levithan and Daniel Ehrenhaft and Contributed by Various YA Authors
Publication: Published December 30th 2014 by Push (first published March 1st 2007)
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Plot in a Nutshell: 
From many mega-bestselling authors, including John Green, Libba Bray, Holly Black, and David Levithan, 21 prom stories you’ll never forget.

From an amazing array of authors including John Green, David Levithan, E. Lockhart, Libba Bray, Ned Vizzini, and Holly Black… Prom. It’s supposed to be one of the best nights of your life. Or, at least, you’re supposed to have a good time. But what if you’d rather be going with your best friend’s date than your own? What if a sinister underground society of students has spiked the punch? What if your date turns out to be more of a frog than a prince? Or what if he’s (literally) an ape?

There are ways you can fight it. You can protest the silliness of the regular prom by hosting a backwards prom – also known as a morp. You can throw a prom for fat girls. You can stay at home to watch old teen movies and get your cute neighbor and his cuter brother to join you. You can dance to your own music.
– Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:
Basically, after reading My True Love Gave to Me I was kind of open-minded with anthologies and that is one of the reasons why I picked up 21 Proms. It is a prom-themed anthology which had awesome Young Adult novelists super stars (i.e. John Green, David Levithan, Holly Black, E. Lockhart, Libba Bray etc). To be perfectly honest, I had high expectations with this anthology because of the headlining novelists and sadly it did not live up to it. 
My True Love Gave to Me wasn’t perfect by any means, however, I just loved every story within the pages of that book. 21 Proms on the other hand fell flat and only delivered the goods in small doses. I felt like that most of the stories weren’t 100% unique. The same plot devices were used and re-used and that made it all the more predictable and bland.  
Don’t get me wrong there were some good stories in this anthology. My top five favorites were: 
1) Three Fates by Aimee Friedman – this was the only story in this entire anthology that I could remember a lot of the story’s details. It had such a fun twist and it sums up what a good contemporary story should be. 
2) A Six-pack of Bud, a Fifth of Whiskey, and Me by Melissa de la Cruz – this one is an autobiographical account of Melissa’s experience at her prom and it had a lot of fun and quirky moments to it that made the story charming and funny. 
3) The Question: A Play in One Act by Brent Hartinger – this one was a surprisingly good story with a direct narrative (it is literally a play). I won’t get into the details of it because you wouldn’t want to get spoiled. 
4) The Great American Morp by John Green – this one was such a treat. Again it played on some tropes that are typical, however, I enjoyed how things turned out in this story. Maggie was fun to read about and for the first time in my reading life I did not hear John Green’s voice narrating this one. 
5) In Vodka Veritas by Holly Black – this author really knows how to concoct strange and utterly bizarre stories. Seriously this is probably the craziest and unique story out of all the tales in this anthology. 
Aside from those, majority of what was left were cliches, confusing, and boring. Don’t get discouraged by my thoughts though. If you are genuinely interested in reading 21 Proms, go ahead and read it with an open-mind. 

Rating:
I give 21 Proms a…

It wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
Have you read 21 Proms? What did you think of it? What were your favorite stories in the anthology? 

Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn #3) by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian | Book Review

Title: Ashes to Ashes
Author: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Publication: September 16th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Source: Personal Purchase

Plot in a Nutshell:

Think Mary, Kat, and Lillia have nothing left to lose? Think again. The fiery conclusion to the Burn for Burn trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

They only meant to right the wrongs. It was about getting even. Burn for burn.

But the fire they lit kept raging…Reeve ended up hurt, then Rennie ended up dead.

Everything will turn to ash if they don’t stop what they started. But now that Mary knows the truth about what happened to her, will she want to?

Secrets drew Lillia, Kat, and Mary together. The truth might tear them apart.
-Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:

Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian was a decent finale to the Burn for Burn trilogy. I read the book really fast and the overall plot was enjoyable. I did encounter some problems regarding the slow beginning, unusual character trait changes, and the ending and I will discuss it all later on this post. Putting aside these quirks, I do believe that it was an acceptable end for the entire trilogy. 
Thoughts in Detail (CONTAIN SPOILERS):

~DO NOT CROSS THIS THRESHOLD, IF YOU HAVE NOT READ/FINISHED THIS BOOK! YOU WILL BE SPOILED! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!~

Firstly, I am going to say that I did enjoy reading this book no matter what the following rants point out. 
Okay let’s get down to the dirty business. I want to discuss the challenges I had with the beginning of the novel. Basically the book opened up a few weeks/months after Rennie’s death. To be completely honest, I wasn’t as moved and connected with Kat and Lillia’s grief. I just felt that the hate they had for Rennie tainted my opinion on her, so when the two of them were sad that she was gone I wasn’t fully invested. The first part of the book dealt with the effects of the loss of Rennie and it pretty much centered around that. I would have been good with that but, as I said earlier, I felt Rennie didn’t deserved all of that mopey business and, in my opinion, it totally dragged the novel’s speed.
Second qualm I had was over the unusual changes I encountered with the characters, particularly of Kat. I read Fire with Fire a few months back and I remember loving Kat’s wit and street smarts. However, I didn’t connect with Kat’s sassy remarks in this book. I really enjoyed her POV in the first two books, but in Ashes to Ashes I felt that she didn’t sound like herself at all. She was too sassy and the way she spoke was sometimes overly (and I am sorry if I offend anyone with this term) ghetto. Lillia’s tragic “should I be with him or not” situation wasn’t as believable and authentic, which deterred my opinion on her and Reeve’s relationship. Mary had a 360 degree character change out of the three leads. Seriously, I was scared of her in majority of the book and at the same time, intrigued by her.
The last problem I had with this book was the ending. It was incredibly rushed and it didn’t exactly delivered all of the goods. All of the build-up was there and the showdown was really adrenaline pumping, but the last five pages was just disappointing. I wish it was fleshed out a little more instead of Lillia recounting what happened to everyone in a dull Epilogue. I wished there was a scene where Reeve and Lillia sorted some stuff out before letting each other go or a scene that would convince me that Alex Lind was really deserving of Lillia’s affection. I also wish that Kat’s ending was lighter and was detailed, but what’s done is done. 
As mentioned before, I enjoyed reading this novel and there were some pretty good scenes in Ashes to Ashes. I liked the part where Kat and Lillia tried to bind Mary into her house with a spell from Aunt Bette’s occult books. It was really exhilarating for me because of the witchy stuff they were doing. I also liked the effect of Mary tormenting Reeve because it really did gave me the chills. Finally I was thrilled with the final showdown between Mary, Kat, Lillia, and Reeve. It was still sort of epic, even though the end of the chapter was a tad bit predictable.
Rating:
I give Ashes to Ashes a…
Actual Star Rating: 3.5
Even though I had some problems with it, I still believe that it is a decent end to the trilogy. 
Have you read Ashes to Ashes? If yes, what did you think of it? Do you agree or disagree with the things that I’ve pointed out? Please share your thoughts in the comments section down below.