December 31, 2015

Mini Review: Critical Eleven by Ika Natassa

Critical ElevenCritical Eleven by Ika Natassa

Get a copy here!

Read it in a day. Might be a record for me, but it's only because I was curious whether their relationship would end up on the dark side or not. The ending turned out to be okay, though I have to admit that I felt like punching someone on the face reading how the FC behaves throughout their problem. I'm still not okay with the way she treats the issue between them. It's like watching five years old getting scolded for the first time in her life. I did try to understand her circumstance; imagining what it feels like to be on her shoes, but even a clearly immature girl like me knows that in love, there's nothing worse than shutting yourself down to your partner when the bumps coming on the way. The MC is super patient; he really deserves a medallion for putting up with a wom- girl like that.

Talking about the writing, I appreciate the effort the author put to write the story in alternating POV. The voice of Ale and Anya could be differentiated clearly. What I did not like is, first, how the author seems to love changing timeline during narration. One second we read about Anya describing her surroundings on the plane, next paragraph we could find a dialogue between her and Ale, only to find out that Anya is actually alone on the plane with Ale is memories away from her. There's no clear slates that differ each scene, whether it's a memory or present events. The transition was done roughly and it's so confusing all the time (it was like that in ALMOST every narration). Second, I have a big issue with the language the author used in this book. I read this book in Bahasa and as much as I love reading books in English, it always annoys me when an author keeps slipping English sentences in between the scenes. I understand that sometimes an author needs to highlight some parts to deepen the message being relayed there by using foreign language. But when it's overdone to the point when even describing the crowd in a restaurant is written in foreign language, it became more annoying than poetic. If it's not for my sister who kept nagging at me to finish the book (because she loved it, that she even cried), I doubted I'd continue reading the book with this second issue I have with the writing.

Despite it all, I liked the dynamic of the romance between Ale and Anya here. How two strangers who met by coincidence would later create such strong romance (though it was a bit spoiled by Anya's unbelievable personality). Also, Ale's tight relationship with his siblings is really something to envy. And oh, the little trivia about Critical Eleven term makes a great point to start a story. It's just so unfortunate that it's not being elaborated further except on the beginning scene of Ale and Anya's first encounter. I was hoping that since it's the title and it's also being highlighted on the blurb, that it'd somehow become an analogy to the whole story. But it's not.

In the end, I have to settle down with three stars for this one. It's all for Ale, though.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

December 30, 2015


2015 is going to end soon!

Who's happy? Who's sad? I'm actually feeling real giddy since next year there would be a lot of new things coming my way (yay!)still, I'm anxious, though.. Anyways, whatever plans you have for next year surelyg you won't forget to put 'reading' on the list, right? :D

In the end of this year (just like any other bloggers) I decide to compile all my top 2015 reads in this post! I'm so excited to share it with you guys and maybe this list will give you an idea or two for your next TBR 'cause I know I have the best list of top reads here! *grinning* 

Originally I wanted to present only 10 books on the list but I'm pretty suck in choosing what best-of-the-best so I think I'll just include ALL 21 of my Top 2015 Readsall genres

Alright guys, no need to wait any longer, here they are...



Author: Jennifer Niven
Pub. Date: January 6, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary) 

This book-to-movie gem is the winner of Goodreads Choice Awards Best Young Adult Fiction 2015! I cried my eyes out for days once I finished it yet I felt like repeating the cycle again the next week... *sending kisses to Finch*

"This book is definitely going to make you cry. Definitely going to rip your heart out and soul, too. Definitely not going to leave your mind for long times. But please don’t make this warn as a reason for you to put this book down. This book is going to change your way to see life. To make a change on your life. To act much better in your life."
Read my full review >>


Author: Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
Pub. Date: January 7, 2015
Genre: YA (paranormal) 

This part I of this Never Never series is going to twist your brain like never before! I remembered how I wish I'd read the book when ALL the books within the series is available 'cause the cliffhanger is so... 
Anyway, part II is also available on the market so let's wait patiently for part III!

"The main characters, Charlie and Silas were so cute!!! Somehow this couple reminded me on Margo and Quentin from Paper Towns. Tough girl and so-damn-caring boy. But in a whole better version!"


Author: Mia Sheridan
Pub. Date: January 24, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary) 

Again. Mia Sheridan makes me fall in love with her heroes through her romance series, A Sign of Love. Even though each book on the series could be read as standalones, they are all based on zodiac signs. In which this lovely Kyland book is based on Taurus. And it's going to stab your heart deep with its horn.

"This book talked a lot more than those speeches that sometimes people find boring. And this one effectively kicked right to my heart. Mia did an awesome job there building the characters, plotting the scenes, putting life lessons, hiding mind-blowing secrets under layers, making us cry…"


Author: Cynthia Hand
Pub. Date: February 1, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary)

The title itself already told us how deep this book would be about. The Last Time We Say Goodbye would remind us that every moment we spend with our loved ones could be the last time we see each other. Dealing with suicidal issue, this book tells a realistic story from the perspective of the family who deals with the loss.

"And through this book, she taught us how to peacefully live with a loss feeling, how to never forget to tell our beloved ones our feeling in every chance, and how to treat the mourning family/person in a better way than what people usually do in common."


Author: Seth King
Pub. Date: February 14, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary) 

What started as heartbreaking story ended up with such heartwarming one where we could all see that not everything happened during summer is temporary. This handsome author proves that there would be times when the summer, remains.

"The Summer Remains is simply a story of a girl and a boy both with messed up and seemingly hopeless life sharing one summer together, comparing perspectives, discovering life, battling the limits, exchanging friendship, and finding self-worth under condescending judgment and uncertainty of the future."


Author: Jessica Park
Pub. Date: February 17, 2015
Genre: NA (paranormal)

This favorite author of mine decided to go with paranormal and the result? MIND-BLOWN to the max level! Never I've read a book as mind-twisting as this one and of course, I CRAVE. FOR. MORE. Is there going to be a sequel soon? *puppy eyes*

"Jessica Park brought a whole new fresh theme in paranormal genre that usually went around the same topic. I am completely mesmerized on how Jessica Park could even come up with the idea. And it was so well-built! This is so original and fresh and awesome! BIG TIME!"


Author: Colleen Hoover
Pub. Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary) 

Beautiful story, beautiful art. Loove all the paintings included within the pages! The hero, Owen, would melt your heart the way Will Cooper (Slammed) or Ridge Lawson (Maybe Someday) or Dean Holder (Hopeless) did. Just another favorite book from this amazing author!

"I confess,
‘I buried my face on both of my hands and cried for good ten minutes during last chapter of Confess before continued reading’"

Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Pub. Date: April 8, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary)

I used to think that this book is a fantasy one. With a title like that, I'm sure lots of people would do. But this debut walks in contemporary path and it tells a beautiful story of friendship that even more beautiful than the romance... And this coming from romance lover like me.

"Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti is the book about finding unexpected love and losing unexpected friend in unexpected time and place."

Read my full review >>


Author: Jessi Kirby
Pub. Date: April 21, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary) 

A very unique story where a girlfriend went on a journey to meet the people who received organ donations from her boyfriend. Call it crazy and illegal, but Quinn only need to find the very person who received her most treasured part of Trent: his heart.

"Things We Know by Heart doesn’t just provide sweet love story of young people but it slips another important element to enrich it as well, which is acceptance of loss and letting go of the pasts as part of continuing to live … and to love. With a rare yet brilliant topic and engaging writing style, this book is going to be your next perfect read of poignant romance."

Read my full review >>


Author: Penelope Douglas
Pub. Date: April 21, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary) 

This conclusion of Fall Away series tells a story of the first couple, Jared and Tate. I cried when I finished this one because Fall Away has been one of those series that makes me fall in love with NA genre. There are a lot of NA series out there but Fall Away stands out the most for me for all the imperfect characters that inspire such perfect stories to fall in love with. I would always keep my hope high on Penelope's 'Letter to Readers' about the possibility for this series to continue! *finger-crossed*

"Reading Aflame was like riding a roller-coaster. So many expectation, so many surprises, so many ups and downs but in the end it brought us to an end where we had this huge smile on our face and mind full of memories."


Author: Kim Holden
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary)

After the first book made me cry a river, I don't think I could handle the sequel. Truth is, this sequel would play a role as the 'cure' to your pain and grief over Bright Side. And more story of lovely Gus? I wonder who could say no to that.

"I'm really glad I put up with the heavy part in the beginning because it's really worth it in the end. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who's in search of good quality contemporary book. Because this book isn’t just good… it's EPIC!"


Author: D. Nichole King
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary)

Just like Gus did for Bright Side's readers, Love Always, Damian is the 'healer' to those whose heart got broken during the first book, Love Always, Kate. Surely, with a whole different plot twist. 
In this sequel, King reminds us again the side of Damian that makes us fall in love with Damian for the first time.

"After I finished Love Always, Kate I actually had no idea how things would turn into on the sequel. [...] The person that I kind of disliked in the past turned out not as bad as I had thought. In fact, the characterization in this book changed all my perspective upon characters on book one. Isn’t it amazing when reading the sequel makes you love book one even more? That’s what I feel exactly about Love Always, Damian."


Author: Amy Harmon
Pub. Date: June 13, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary)

I remembered how I used to wait this book to release like waiting for the rain in the mid of summer heat. Having read Law of Moses and met David Taggert for the first time there, I couldn't hide my excitement for Tag to find his own true love. And what a woman he got! Millie, the heroine, practically shot to the top of the list of my best favorite heroine of all time! Their romance is amazing! Seriously, when you're looking for the most poignant and beautiful romance, you could never go wrong with Amy Harmon's! (And what a gorgeous cover it is!)

"I adored their love story so damn much. It basically wasn’t the cheesy kind. Their relationship wasn’t necessarily filled up with rainbows and colorful silhouette in their evening sky. Theirs was realistic kind and the one where both parties could learn the true meaning of loving someone in life."


Pub. Date: June 16, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary) 

A girl with pure-O OCD trying to find a way to fit in with her surroundings. This deep YA contemporary teaches us a lesson about what a true friendship is about. It's certainly 'not about whom you've known the longest, but who came and never left your side' (quote by Mikaela Tiu).

"It’s obvious with the way the author relayed the story that the reason she wrote this book in the first place wasn’t solely to increase awareness of people about this illness. It’s also to encourage them who’s diagnosed with the same illness as Sam to understand that they’re not alone; that there are another ‘Sue’ who will help them going through their situation, that somewhere out there, there will be another ‘poetry’ for them, another ‘Poet’s Corner’, another ‘AJ’ that will support them throughout the way."


Author: Robin Benway
Pub. Date: June 23, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary)

Robin Benway successfully delivered such heavy topic through a casual and easily-relatable approach. I really love the way she portrayed the friendship between Emmy and Oliver here. Emmy's unbelievably comical trait and Oliver's calm-tend-to-shy personality made one cute relationship, moreover when they brought it to the next level: love.

"What I love the most is how the kids ―the ones who become victims of the adult’ irresponsible act― deal with their issue by trying to find a steady ground to stand, together, where trust and honesty are not just camouflaged things. Emmy and Oliver’s relationship is so beautiful. And I’m not even talking about the romance that built up between them here. I’m referring to their friendship that even though there is a big gap of ten years on the span of time they got to know each other, it doesn’t faze them to pick up just where things were cut off last time."


Author: Jeff Bartsch
Pub. Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Fiction 

A quirky story set in 1960 and covers wide timeline of a storyline. I super love the crossword puzzle making things and how it connects both characters. Beautifully written, this debut fiction would make you laugh, make your heart aches and eventually would put a sincere smile on your face witnessing how a real true love established.

"For some story, it might always start and end with love. But Vera and Stanley’s story starts and ends with crossword puzzle."


Author: Leah Scheier
Pub. Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary) 

This book starts with light tone but what would come later is anything but light. Dealing with bipolar issue on teenager, Leah Scheier captured realistic circumstance of the events with far-from-perfect characters and even more realistic ending.

"It would tell you a story about how at fifteen you could be everything not many people could. It would teach you important lessons on how to be socially fair to everyone with no exception. With engaging writing style, this book is recommended to those who want to read a book that could entertain and educate at the same time."


Author: Mia Sheridan
Pub. Date: September 10, 2015
Genre: NA (contemporary) 

Perfect love story, perfect couple, perfect setting, perfect messages, perfect cover. God, I love every part of this book! Still from A Sign of Love series, this time Kira and Grayson's story is written based on the sign Libra. You know, this book kind of makes me wish that zodiac sign is more than just that twelve ones... 

"Grayson’s Vow is the perfect read for those who want to read an epic romance in a beautiful writing. Though I will definitely recommend Mia’s other books with equal intensity, this book is suitable for those who enjoy comical read as much as romantic read. With plus points from some lovely side-characters, wonderful details of the setting, and heartwarming epilogue, this book would make you laugh a lot, cry, breathless, and fall in love from page one to the last."


Pub. Date: October 20, 2015
Genre: Romantic-suspense

In this sequel of Diamond in the Rough series, Elisa delivers the continuation of mystery behind Sophie Cavall's kidnapping. When everyone thought she's already safe that now she's in Oliver's arms, noone really knew that there's more behind the crime. Black Diamond would give you more thrill, more complex twist, more touching romance, and especially, more cliffhanger! 

"Compared to the first book, Black Diamond has a far more complex plot. [...] The plot was very well-thought and even though the complexity might be a little too much for some people, the author made it bearable with her flowing writing style. Not only that she always chose the right words to relay the complex plot in a way that would be easy to digest, she had this style of including subjective opinions on certain things in the book that made the story was not just a plain fiction but also a fiction that has valuable material on some real issues in our life."


Author: Jenn Bennett
Pub. Date: November 3, 2015
Genre: YA (contemporary)

I used to think that this book would be just-another-book-of-gorgeous-flawed-boy-falls-for-a-geek-girl. Yet you have to reconsider your opinion if you think the same way I did. Jenn slipped a very good sex-positive message that I've never found in other YA books. With unique layer of arts and easy-to-like characters, this book is perfectly fit young readers who's in need of sweet-educating read.

"The Anatomical Shape of a Heart brings a cliché theme of young romance into a unique story thrown in tons of positive messages. It’s not just about how two people fall in love but how two people walk together, side by side, facing complexity of circumstances, communicating, understanding, caring, taking care of each other."


Author: Renee Collins
Pub. Date: November 3, 2015
Genre: YA (time-travel) 

Sweet sweet time-travel love story!
This book made me feels sooo much! The beautiful cover, super gorgeous hero, amazing story line, mind-blown plot twist, God... Not to forget all those beautiful poem slipped here and there! Fans of time-travel story should definitely pick this book up!

"Ms. Collins did a nice job portraying the difference between the eras and slipped in little clues here and there to be unwrapped in mind-blowing revelations. The tension was real that I could feel it as if I was the one who’s on the scene battling with time and danger. I really liked it when she did that."
Read my full review >>

Well, that's it! My Top 2015 Reads! I know it's too much since most bloggers only add ten―tops―books on their lists but all those 21 gems above are so awesome I couldn't resist to hug them all tightly on my list. 

So, which one from the books above is your favorite? Or maybe you have your own favorite that you want to share? Let me know below, pals!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

December 24, 2015

Book Review: Five Seven Five (The Boy with Words #1) by C.E. Wilson

Five Seven Five (The Boy with Words #1) by C.E. Wilson
Rating: /5

*I received digital copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review*

Genre: YA (Fantasy)
Pub. Date: November 18th, 2015

Get a copy here!
(click title to add on GR!)

Five Seven Five brought us to meet White Frost, a barely nineteen years old girl who lives in a world where colors is limited. She knew white, as in white hair of hers and her cousin’s, Shade. She knew pink, as in pink curtain that divides inside her room to the quarter hallway outside. She knew blue, as in blue curtain on male quarters. But most of all it’s almost always gray and black that she’d seen all her life. Gray-black wall, gray-black ceiling, gray-black road, all practically created a dull gray black world. It’s not helping that the President seemed intent in spreading fearful speeches about the world outside theirs, making everyone to lead a dire life among the boring colors around them. White was no exception.
Only the Chosen Ones got chances to see The Unknown. They would go once a month to collect supplies for the people and had been told to swear an oath not to reveal what they’d seen in The Unknown to the un-chosen. Lucky for White, Shade was one of them that she would often get ‘illegal’ papers of words―which both satisfied and mostly only deepened her hunger of knowledge―from the Unknown; unlucky for White that she had to bear the risk of losing the only family she had every time Shade’s off to one of their trips to the world beyond red Zone Eleven.
But White was tired of theoretical knowledge. Sure the words were amazing, mysteriously so. And Shade had risked so much to collect them all under tight scrutiny of President’s minions. Yet White realized that there should be more to all these, more to the words, more to what scriptures said about the Creators that everyone was oh-so-afraid so much, more to a bunch of ‘terror’ speeches President Copper delivered every single time. She knew Shade knew about the words and the Unknown―being a Chosen One forbid him to tell her anything. So what a girl like White should do in this complicated circumstance? Trying to escape? Go against all the rules she’d listened to all her life?
White’s age might make her not eligible yet to be the Chosen One, but her passion obviously surpassed the other factors. And that’s exactly what the girl would do: chase after her passion even if it would kill her in the end.

A New(-to-me) Fantasy Plot
Well, I originally wanted to just insert Goodreads synopsis here but I would want to give a further insight about the book to others. To be honest, though, the blurb didn’t quite intrigue me at first but strangely the cover did. I am just so tired of pictures of swords or girls in heroic costumes on the cover of fantasy books that this simple cover of Five Seven Five gave me a hope of finding a ‘different’ kind of fantasy plot. It did.
I could not really grasp the story from the beginning since my thought was still trapped among stories of dystopian world. Even the first two chapters reminded me of Red Rising that I had to brave myself to meet yet another full-action dystopian (really, it’s just me who’s not into fantasy books so much, though). But keep reading I did. Then the first twist came which made me feels like I had met the intriguing point. When the scene eventually took place in the Unknown, that’s exactly when I was hooked. I was surprised that this book brought a new-to-me concept of fantasy plot here. I’ve never read this kind before and it surprised me that I actually enjoyed it a lot.

Intriguing Writing
Overall, the writing style is both good and intriguing. I loved the simple poems inserted here and there within the pages. But most importantly I loved how the author seemed to give very little clues from the start that I really could not predict what coming before the (first) mystery was unraveled. I loved how she chose her choice of words carefully, misleading the readers to guess an entirely different plot throughout the way only to be proved wrong in the end.

The Characters
The way she described other characters through their movements or words delineates them very well when the book itself was told in first perspective heroine, White. I could feel the emotions expected in every scene. White herself is not an easily-loved heroine. I, myself, thought sometimes her trait was more annoying than curious. Or maybe it was just a problem with how the dialogues went on between her and other characters, because every time she was arguing with Shade or her friends, Pebble, Pepper or Salt (I know, weird names indeed) she would be so demanding and the convos would always end in frustration. It frustrated me too. But there were also parts when I felt bad for her as well. Shade, in the other hand, was pretty likeable. In fact, he’s my most favorite characters in the book. His protectiveness towards White was really sweet. In a very short introduction of him, I could already feel so much about his character.
There would also be a character named Kestrel who’d bring with him all the important twists in this book. I still could not decide where my personal opinion about him stands, except that he’s kind. But there’s a tiny part of me that wishing so much of him and White to get along tight... *hiding* when there’s another boy that I particularly wanted White to be with as well. *cue (impossible) love-triangle*  

Slightly Comical Dystopian
Despite a little sense of dystopia in the beginning; Five Seven Five actually has a quite light tone. I even laughed so much at some point, such as when White started to ‘think’ about her feeling for Kestrel and when clueless White decided to make a ladybug her pet (goodness…) or asked for Kes to pluck a cloud for her (oh God…).

Mild-Cliffhanger Ending
As the first book of two installment of The Boy with Words series, you could expect a mild cliffhanger in the end. I, myself, was super curious about the continuation of the story! There were still so much unanswered questions and unresolved issues. In fact, this book one is only the beginning that I could bet that the ‘actual’ twists would take place on the next book. But of course you should read this book first to get a full back story.

Final Thought(s)
With an intriguing plot, Five Seven Five delivers a story of deception, undiscovered world, and a girl whose hunger for knowledge both baring all hidden truth and trapping her in between a glimpse of untold conspiracy. Readers who enjoy fantasy books would definitely find this one fit to their tastes. Well, even me who not really into fantasy, enjoyed this a lot!

Love, read, and review,

Cynthia D.