May 31, 2015

Book Review: Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Let me begin this review by saying that…
Amy Harmon is exactly the kind of author that I’ve been searching my whole life.
She is, really. I fell in love with Ms. Harmon’s writing for the first time through A Different Blue. That book is perfection and I know everything she writes will be too. That’s why I didn’t even hesitate to pick up another book from her this time.
Making Faces is the kind of book that will make you think about a lot of thing once you finish it. It is a story about seeing behind the cover, realizing one’s worth is not the one valued by the appearance, acceptance of both bitter and good luck, and especially finding beauty among the ugly.

No one said Fern Taylor was ugly but she was sure she wasn’t pretty either. Fern was not the girl who easily got noticed at school by her look; most people easily overlooked her on the street; and no boys really dreamed about her. And she was fine with all that. She got lovely parents who called her ‘miracle child’, a cousin who’s been her bff ever since they were not even born yet, books and a little gift in writing department. But was it enough for her?
‘If dark chocolate could sing it would sound like Ambrose Young’

(Fern; Chapter I, Making Faces)
No, it wasn’t. After all, Fern was a girl and sooner or later she’d notice a boy around her. She did actually. Saw him for the first time ten years ago, later realized that was when she’d fallen for him. For the first time in her life, Fern wished to be noticed for once by a boy.
Ambrose Young was the boy you call ‘beautiful meet gorgeous wrapped up in perfection’. Despite having incomplete family ―thanks to her model-obsessed mother― he grew up smoothly in comfort of his step-father who loved him as much as his own. Ambrose was loved everywhere he goes. At school boys looked up to him and girls wanted to hook up with him. Ambrose was notable wrestle both at school and in their small town. He started at young age and slowly built up his little career which later led him to a chance of full-ride scholarship to Penn State. People would say Ambrose had perfect look and perfect future so logically he would have no worries left, right?
‘Everybody who is somebody becomes nobody the moment they fail’

(Ambrose; Chapter III, Making Faces)
Except he made a decision to leave the town which led him to an unending regret all his life the day he realized there was actually a hidden diamond just near him.
When God bent ones’ plan, people usually left confuse, worry, and scared about how to start over and where to go from. Ambrose shouldered regret as big as Fuji Mountain when he himself had to pick up the pieces of his remaining life back in his hometown. He found himself directionless, worry about what people reaction about his new look, and scared to face the blame he was sure was addressed to him for the town’s losses. And then he met Fern again. When everything had changed, Fern was the one who remained the same. Fern remained simple, lovely, insecure but sneaky, and above all, she remained beautiful inside out. Ambrose had not courage to continue where they left off last time. No, not in the state he was in now. But of course Fern had a mind of her own and she acted her way. Fern made him believe a lot of thing. That regret was just a little piece of evil that would drag one down to the dark corner if we let it be. That everything had a reason to happen. That miracle did exist if you believed so.
“Maybe everyone represents a piece of the puzzle. We all fit together to create this experience we call life. None of us can see the part we play or the way it all turns out. Maybe miracles that we see are just the tip of iceberg. And maybe we just don’t recognize the blessings that come as a result of terrible things.” 

(Fern; Chapter XIX, Making Faces)
And most important, both Fern and Ambrose had learned together that the most beautiful thing could be hidden behind the ugly.
“You are still beautiful.”

“I think that statement is more a reflection of your beauty than mine.” 

(Chapter XXII, Making Faces)
Oh my God, Making Faces made me feel a thousand kind of feeling all at once.
I smiled, I laughed, I grinned every 10 seconds, I cried and wept every 20 others. Well, not necessary in that order but you know what I mean. It was just so many messages the author delivered at once through the words on the book and I loved it! I loved to read something that could entertain and educate me at the same time. I loved to read a book that I could wave in front of people and said, “Here, folks, is the simplest way to learn about life”. Making Faces is that kind of book. Well, every book of Amy Harmon is that kind of book! This is only my second book of her but I can already say that she writes by heart and that means you get meaningful books in your hand.
Each character she creates has strong characteristics. Fern, Ambrose, and Bailey. Three of them play major roles on the book. From Fern, we learn that sometimes the most beautiful thing is the one that hiding a lot. From Ambrose, we get to learn that life sometimes brings the worst to our plate but it’s all up to us whether to eat it up or throw it away. From Bailey, oh my, Bailey might be a side character but he made me cry as much as Ambrose did. Bailey teaches us that what’s in the outside doesn’t always mirror what’s in the inside. He also gives away one wise saying regarding people’s bad habit of being too self-centered whenever things go too wrong in their life.
“Because terrible things happen to everyone, Brosey. We’re all just so caught up in our own crap that we don’t see the shit everyone else is wading through.”

(Bailey; Chapter XXIII, Making Faces)
Last, let me leave this beautiful line from Fern’s father that I love so much…
‘… sometimes a beautiful face is false advertising too, and too many of us don’t take the time to look beneath the lid’

(Fern’s dad; Chapter XII, Making Faces)
Trust me, you will want to read this book :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: Thomas & January (Sleepless #2) by Fisher Amelie

Thomas & January (Sleepless, #2)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I found myself keep glancing at this book whenever I browsed through the bookshelf on my e-reader. The pretty cover pulled me in every time, add it with how in love I was with the hero from book 1 of Sleepless series that I wished to meet similar character of hero in this book 2. Ms. Amelie still fascinated me with her writing. Actually, she just earned a special spot in my heart with the way she created the hero on her books (I’ll explain in a bit…). I loved that Thomas and January was not as depressing as Callum and Harper. I loved that this book was way more fun and made me laugh more than I did on the previous book. And even though I enjoyed it a lot, this book was not really a great read. It was enjoyable but okay. I liked it but didn’t madly in love with it.

For Thomas Eriksson, New York was representation of his old self that he so wanted to forget. Tie-Dye Tom, the cheerful, easy going, and laid back bassist of The Ventures was replaced by soulless, intimidating, and sensitive Tom after he got his heart broken by a best friend he thought he’d eventually ended up with. That was why the moment he got an offer to work as talent scout for a label in Austin, he didn’t think twice to take it up.

For January MacLochlainn, Austin was home but not where she wanted to stay forever. Her family was a fun big family where she could easily get comforts every time. Her only problem was the parents who seemingly were too excited for her to get a formal education in University. But it was not what she wanted. January dreamed to do music in real life. So when she met someone who offered her a position at a famous label in New York, she didn’t hesitate to take all the risk and nod her head yes.

Thomas and January met for the first time in a local bar in Austin. Their first meeting was unexpected and a little bit of everything. A bit of awkward, a bit of romantic, and a bit of comical. None of them expected a kiss on the first meet. But that was what exactly happened, leading to an awkward and furious moment afterward.

Fate brought them together again when Thomas and January were assigned on the same project in Europe. Thomas needed this project to get a higher position in the label while January needed the experience and some training from Thomas. Several days in Europe was all that needed for some truths to rise up from beneath the layer. The true feelings, true passions, and true colors from two people who seemingly was like enigma to each other.

I laughed a lot, smiled sickeningly a lot as well while reading this. I adored the character January when I first met her. She’s the kind of girl who knew exactly what she wanted to do in life. She was brave, strong-willed, and funny, too. I loved every joke she pulled out. Moreover those that she directed to ‘cold-hearted’ Thomas, it was funny as hell. And for Thomas, even though I didn’t feel anything for him at first, I later liked him when he finally stopped denying his actual feeling for January. I loved that the moment it happened, it happened unexpectedly.
“January, can I be candid with you?

“Hmm? Of course.”

“I find you to be…extraordinary.”

“You do?”
“Hell yes, I do. One of the most.”
“Thank you, Tom. That’s very kind of you to say.”
“It’s not kind, it’s the truth….”
(Chapter VII, Thomas and January)
I loved how he treated her once he confessed the truth. It was very sweet of him for wanting her in the best way, not in a reckless way just like how he’d treated girls before. I loved that their romance was built slowly on one side that eventually melted the other side. Their every moment was sexy and filled with steamy tension without actually presenting sexual scenes at all. This was what I actually want all romance books to be. Just through simple scene of them together, like when they talked or dined and without too much physical contacts involved, we could see their love clearly as bird on a blue sky.
That’s why I hated it that I didn’t love this book.
It was not because this book was written awfully or what. Maybe it was because the concept was not exactly grand. Actually the plot was a little cliché for me. You know, the kind of story where heartbroken guy met a girl, had a little fight at first but couldn’t forget each other, when they finally got to be together some misunderstanding happened, and a little drama afterward, they made up in the end. Unlike on Callum and Harper, the twists weren’t something heartbreaking either. But I did enjoy the romance and the funny parts. Also, I fell in love with Ms. Amelie for creating a very lovable male character on her every book. Callum and Thomas had a similar characteristic where they treated the girl they’re in love with high respect. As much as I love bad boys, I have a very soft spot more for good guys who put heart feeling above lust in his every move.
In the end with a very heavy feeling, I had to give this book three stars. Oh, well… :(

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

ARC Review: The Guardians (Gargoyles Den #1) by Lisa Barry

The Guardians (Book One Gargoyles Den)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

Get a copy here!

This book was definitely beyond my expectation! I read the blurb feeling intrigued by the character’s ability to see color and read mood of everyone. What I didn’t expect was this book would contain such complex story with a lot of strange creatures involved. The Guardians filled with so many mysteries and secrets that were slowly unraveled along the way. I enjoyed discovering each of these revelations so much! I loved the feeling of had to ‘think’ while reading and pulled on the red threads among certain scenes to get the answer of questions I had in my mind.

Contrary to people’s wish to be able to read everyone’s true intentions, Sloane Jacobs thought it was the most stupid wish she’d ever heard of. Not because she thought those people were being ridiculous for wishing that. It was more because she knew exactly what it felt like. Sloane read aura like some ads on billboard: clear and real. Not aura like what witch did, but she could actually see hue of color surrounding them that reflected all their true intentions and just what mood they were on. It was not at all cool or awesome. If any, it totally drove her crazy for years. She felt like she knew too much, especially when one’s intention was a bad one. Sloane wished she was born just normal but she wasn’t and the only way she knew to deal with it was to be a loner and introvert all her life.

Liam McDougall was a Guardian. No, not the one who stood protecting a palace. The Guardian protected particular family line and worked together with another special creature including Aspies. When Sloane met Liam, she felt something on him pulling her close. One of them was him being one of the Grays. The type she couldn’t read the color meaning and the mood but strangely gave her the feeling of comfort and being safe. The better part was he was able to put something on the blank space Sloane couldn’t fill in ever since she was a kid. She was not crazy. She was someone. Someone special who’s apparently was not the only one in the world. Sloane was an Aspie. 

After the revelation, everything moved so fast. Sloane soon found herself to be the one who could help Liam and the guardianship to find the suddenly-missing guardians. Along the way, she discovered a lot of surprising facts including revelations from her childhood life, secrets from her present life, that world of fantasy did exist around her, and also that Sloane might not have to be without company all her life after all.

I had to say that I was a bit disappointed when I found the story was told in third person’s perspective. Well, I was not really a fan of this kind of POV. But the more I read the more I realized the reason Ms. Barry wrote it this way. The story had a wide scope and contained different setting which hold the same level of importance. Third person POV made it possible to cover it all without losing the connection between each chapter.
I’d love to say that this book had a rich plot. It was also built very well structurally. It followed particular progression and had a smooth transition between from one scene to the next ones. The Guardians also presented a lot of twists which made its readers wanted to rush to turn the pages to find out what’d happen next. Also this book contained so many mysteries on it. Some was answered along the way or near the end. But some was left unanswered making me a bit of frustrated (ranging from about what actually started Doctor J’s obsessive intention to make people ‘normal’, continuation of the missing Guardians, what ‘rogue’ exactly meant, to Sloane’s childhood experience…I could make a longer list but it would just make me more frustrated in the end). Hell, I wish I could find the missing puzzles on the sequel.
I loved every protagonist character on the book. The Guardians were described very capable. Liam might be a bit like ‘player’ but I loved it whenever he was near Sloane. He might just deny his own feeling as much as he liked but he couldn’t lie to his instinctive move to always protect Sloane. I liked Sloane. She was one confused girl with an insecure feeling covering her soul but she was also strong and dealt her issue very well in her own way. I really really wish to see them having a really good end. The cliffhanger seriously got me pulling on my hair in frustration…
I almost had no complaints regarding the story except that I wish all my left-hanging questions would be answered on the next book. I loved the message that Ms. Barry slipped about the negative side of psychiatry on the story. I read a lot of book that involved psychiatric scene, how the main character despised the pill usually given to them when they came to the shrink in hope to get someone to talk to instead. But this might be the first time I read a book that actually pay more attention at the negative act of easily giving away drug instead of actually doing personal approach to fix the client’s issue. The message in the end of the book made me see this issue in a whole different angle.
My only problem of the book laid on the editing part, though. I found so many sentences lacked of punctuation marks making it sometimes difficult to absorb the information in one reading. I had to reread the said sentences to finally get it. It might be a small issue but it was seriously annoying when happened repeatedly.
I’ll settle with 4 stars for now. Hopefully the next book would be free of punctuation error and also we could see the HEA soon!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

May 28, 2015

Book Review: Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1) by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

So this book was a proof of my sometimes-lameness in reading certain book. I purchased the kindle copy last year, started reading it for the first time around February, and now 3 months later I just finished it after having long battle with side of me that wanted to keep putting it down. I swear this was my first time of needing such a long time to finish a fiction.
I personally was in total awe with this book and Pierce Brown. Red Rising was a debut novel and the author outdid himself with all the rich details and the unthought-of plot, ever. And not to forget his imagination to build up a fantasy of the whole Mars and all its complexity, it was dead awesome. Bloodydamn. Just where did he gather the inspiration to write this trilogy?
‘I was not raised in palaces. I did not ride horses through meadows and eat meals of hummingbird tongues. I was forged in the bowels of this hard world. Sharpened by hate. Strengthened by love.’

(Prologue, Red Rising)
Sixteen years old Darrow was a Red. A Red by all means was meant to be a slave to higher colors, specifically Gold. Sad truth Reds sat on the very bottom of society which made them slaves to every color. Darrow never dreamt of living more than what his current life offered now. He was a helldiver, the youngest in history, the best in history. He married a beautiful brave girl named Eo. He had his family all living together even though his father was long gone when he was still a kid. He thought no more than spending all his life in Lykos as Red Lambda where song and dance was the comforts to their rough life.
But nothing remained forever in life.
“I live for you”

“Then you must live for more.”

(Chapter IV, Red Rising)
The day the nightmare happened, all Darrow wanted was to follow the smell of death. And that was what about to happen except a group of rebels wanted a different path for him.
Away from Lykos, family, and all familiar thing back in Red ground, Darrow was shaped to a whole different form. Red Darrow was now a Gold. Well, at least that was what shown on the outside. Darrow was still Red in heart and sure he would never change. Disguised as Gold, Darrow tried a risky step to infiltrate the evil color from the inside. And just like another teenage Gold, he stepped up to join a Gold institution where he could pick a start of revenge. Little did he know that the institution wasn’t at all like its simple name. It was not a school. It was more like a life-and-death battle to be the only one ArchPrimus. Darrow used all his strength to be the said Primus and found along the way how exactly it was to be a real Gold: mean, unforgiving, and unstopped. He began to question himself about all he’d done to get the title, wondered if that would make him no less than an evil Gold. But he did it all for Red, for people back in Lykos, for every Red blood who put their faiths on his shoulder. Surely that would make a different, right? As he questioned himself that, he was faced with another surprising fact that Gold could be a loyal friend if treated right. Struggling with all these complicated dilemmas, Darrow was once again reminded by the fact that in the end, after all the torture, blood, pain, and death, it was only just a beginning.

I remembered became all teary inside once I finished it. Not because the story, though, but because the fact that I was finally able to reach the last page.
My first impression about Red Rising was hardcore dystopian.
But first thing first, let me say something.
I NEVER like dystopian book.
I hate it. I do. Dystopian infuriates and depresses me at the same time. I always avoid this genre at all cost. I believe that reading is a joy where we could fully escape to the story without having to worry about being lost because we can always close the page any moment to come back. But the ‘misery’ from reading this genre seemed to haunt my soul forever no matter just when I decided to stop reading it.
So we could easily conclude that I’d hate this book. What with each violence scene was being described very casually here.
But here I was going to say something that would make my whole speech above pointless: I loved Red Rising.
I know, I was being confusing here but this was what exactly I felt. This book had me at mental battle between loving and hating this book. I hated this book that I couldn’t stop wincing at all those miserable scenes which practically on EVERY page. Yet my mind was in a superb awestruck condition by all the details that I could not forget this book until this very second. Hell, Red Rising might be the first dystopian book that I ever loved.
The author did characterizations to each character very well. Darrow was my top favorite. I loved that Pierce Brown didn’t make him as this flawless hero but simply as human who made mistakes and learned from it to be better. I loved Darrow’s way of thinking despite his young age. He was so much mature, well, being Red it was common though.
The other character, Eo, also took special place in my heart. There was this one particular scene where she did something that later became the turning point of Red Rising. I loved Darrow for loving her so deep. Never once he forgot her while doing his risky mission. After all, what he’d done was all started because of Eo’s move first.
‘And she may be like me— from a clan of Red earth diggers, a clan of song and dance and soil— but she could be made from air, from the ether that binds the stars in a patchwork.’ 

(Chapter I, Red Rising)
I super loved the details about Mars, how separate the life of each colors there. I kept saying about rich details here because that was what the author did. He went all out with details for everything. When devouring all these details, for a second there, I could easily forget my hope to get an HEA from this book. Clearly, the author knew very well what he wrote and what to do to engage readers to stay put until the end of the book.
Anyway, there was one thing that bothered me a lot about the title.
First time I read the title ‘Red Rising’, all I could think of was this book would be about Red people fighting their rights, like they were having actual war of getting justification somewhere in the middle of the book. Instead it was focusing more on the preparation of rising, like how Darrow went through all those awful phases transforming into Gold, then more about how Gold’s world worked. Gold took like 80% of the book. I kept thinking when the rising would occur only to find out on the last page that everything was just a beginning. The actual rising didn’t even really happened here. It annoyed me when the title of the book misleading what I thought about the story inside.
Oh, another complaint: just how many odd terms on this book made it rather difficult sometimes for me to immerse into the story. This might be one of the reasons I kept putting it down. Just put glossary in the end of the book then problem fixed!
So, despite my complaints and my speech about hating dystopian book, here I said that I loved this book, or more like awestricken by this book. I wanted so bad to read the continuation of Red’s rising under Darrow’s command but I still don’t know when I’d read the next book because clearly I needed time to recover from the torture caused by Red Rising before firing it up again with second book. Well, hopefully soon.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: Never Never: Part Two (Never Never #2) by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never: Part Two (Never Never, #2)

Get a copy here!

“Never forget that I was your first real kiss.
Never forget that you’ll be my last.
And never stop loving me between all of them”
(Silas; Chapter II, Never Never: Part Two)
And we’re back with Charlie-Silas on Never Never Part Two!
I was so darn excited for this book I practically ‘screamed’ on my previous review of book one. Both Colleen and Tarryn (or only Tarryn based on Colleen. Lol..) were so cruel to give us such worst cliffhanger in history ever. Now five months later the sequel was finally released!
I’m going to warn you guys who haven’t read this book two of Never Never series. Please DO re-read the first book before picking up the second one. Just do it. Especially to those who had a weak long memory like me. I made a fatal mistake of going straight into Part Two without re-reading the first one and I ended up…

… like all the time.

I remembered where the cliffhanger took place last time but apparently with Silas and Charlie not remembered anything about themselves and people around them, I had a hard time following the story as well. Silas didn’t remember Annika. That’s the plot. But it made two of us because I didn’t remember who she was as well. It happened again and again with the other characters I ended up become all so depressed in less than 10 minutes. Trust me, you’ll need your mind all clear and prepared and full of memory of book one to read this Part Two.
Compared to book 1, this one had a more complicated plot. If in book 1 it still seemed like an introduction of strange experience happened to Silas and Charlie, this time they started to take a forward step to break the mystery. But even though they were able to gather some more important information, there appeared some people who kept blocking their progress. Book two filled with much more twists and also much more of odd things and mysteries as well. I was still figuring things out when I didn’t realize that I hit the last page and there… the cursed three words sitting all neatly there like some innocent puppies. I nearly had a mini heart-attack right that moment I dropped my jaw and my e-reader all at once. Bloodyhell.
What I liked the most about book two was several things finally got explained here revealing true characters of Silas and Charlie.
“I’d rather love you at the bottom than despise you at the top” 

(Silas; Chapter VIII, Never Never: Part Two)
I loved Silas on book 1 but I despised him a bit for being a bit of a jerk. Book two went all out to show just how much Silas loved Charlie.
“If it were possible to hear a smile, hers would be a love song.” 

(Silas; Chapter XVII, Never Never: Part Two)
My heart melted witnessing Silas went from not-remember-anything-including-himself-and-Charlie to still-not-remember-anything-but-cared-so-much-about-Charlie. My heart died a little seeing him fall in love all over again with Charlie. Oh mother father… even in whatever circumstance, his love managed to blossom quickly again for Charlie. It was as if the point of all these odd experiences were to prove again and again that their love would never die no matter just everything that happened to them. Dude, I seriously wanted them to figure things out so they could get their happy ending soon!
“I would give anything to have that memory back –to see what it was like between us when we loved each other enough to believe it was forever.” 

(Silas; Chapter XVII, Never Never: Part Two)
I’m ready to begging on my knees so that Never Never Part Three will be the last book of the series. I’m serious. I hope every mystery would be unraveled on the next book because it started to get creepy here.
Well, hopefully Colleen will understand that but I doubt it with Tarryn. Lol.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

May 26, 2015

Book Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Okay I decided that I was a little disappointed with this book in some ways. I admit that it was quite an entertaining read. I gave a credit to Jenny Han’s writing style on that part. I’d consider this book as a light read but this was actually way too light that it didn’t hold that important message a book usually had. I mean, authors always have this goal in mind when they put their fingers on the keyboard for the first words, like what message they want to deliver to the readers through all the coming words they’re about to type. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before lacked that part making it a casual read to enjoy before you sleep. I didn’t say that this book was awful. It did entertain me and I did not even hate a single character of the book but it just didn’t leave marks both in my heart and in my mind. And it was a little disappointing because I had a high expectation on this one… :(

Lara Jean was the middle child of Song siblings. Her older sister, Margot, was perfect picture of best daughter who took care of their family since her mother passed away years ago. Her younger sister, Kitty, was perfect picture of disaster whose job was to point at her every mistake. Lara Jean never bothered about that anyway. After all, Kitty was just a kid and they always had Margot to put a straight line on every problem. But trouble came when Margot left for college, leaving her in charge at home this time.
Struggling with her own problem taking over Margot’s part, Lara Jean was haunted by constant fear that she was never good enough to play the role. She didn’t have any patience when facing Kitty’s tantrum. She didn’t know how to make a coffee. She didn’t put healthy food for dinner. She didn’t do club activities that would make her looked awesome as Margot. She didn’t know what to do when faced with some incidental events. She didn’t even know how to drive properly. She seemed to always make mistakes in anything she’d done. But sadly, that’s not the only issue Lara Jean got that year. Something bigger did happen. Something worse. Much worse. 

Lara Jean had this habit of writing a boy she loved a letter. It was not a real love letter, though. It was more like a goodbye love letter to her feeling toward the certain boy when she felt the feeling was over. She had them five in total to five different boys she had loved before. It was never meant to be sent. But one day it was. Not by Lara Jean, but somehow each letters made their ways all the way to the addresses on the envelopes. And with that she had to face the confrontation each boy did regarding the said love letters; leading her to some drama involving siblings, friendship, lie, betrayal, trust, and love.

First of all, I loved the character Lara Jean.
At some point I could easily relate to her since I have an older sister who I’m very close with. She’s always the brightest one. The one who always knows what to do in every situation. And when she started to move out, I just knew really well how hard it was for Lara Jean when Margot left. I also knew that feeling like you’re being compared with her when she leave, like everything you’ve done is a failure compared to hers back then. Well, at least that was what I used to think back when I was on Lara Jean age. I actually started to pay more attention at her around 80% when she first spoke out her own opinion in front of Margot.
Since Margot has left home, Lara Jean always tried her best to play her role as big sister and the one who’s in charge with everything happened in their family. I liked it when she realized her role as big sister and wanted Kitty to treat her as one. It was a bit funny actually. As for the other character, I didn’t say I hate them but I didn’t particularly like them either. I personally thought Margot was a bit self-centered. Even when it reached the end of the book, I still thought that of her. It’s just sad that Lara Jean looked up too much at her that she ended up burying herself behind Margot’s shadow. Both male characters, Josh and Peter didn’t attract me much (I even forgot their names when writing these I had to check out with the book…). Josh, because he’s simply too weak about Margot and seriously too confuse with his own feeling. Peter, because in last minute he just showed what kind of boy he was: a boy with a serious issue of dignity.
I truthfully loved the concept of the story. What happened when your never-meant-to-be-sent love letter got sent to the very person you wrote it for? It’s fun to see the different reactions each boy threw out about the letter. Some would confront her while some was so laid back. Moreover Lara Jean apparently didn’t really know much about some of the guys back then making it even more interesting how they reacted years later.
Seriously I don’t have much hope for the next book. I don’t want Lara Jean to end up with any boys on the book. It was only one boy who had a possibility to be with her anyway, but if ‘he’ is not doing something about his own issue then I guess he’s just not cut out to be with her.
The end of the twist was predictable from the start but I liked how Lara Jean reacted to that. It seemed like our heroine grew more mature somehow in the end of the book. The ending was a bit hanging and in the end, again, I wondered: what was the exact message this book wanted to deliver to the readers. Well, yes it did have snippets of some good lessons here and there but I’m talking about the main purpose of the book ever written.
It’s hard sometimes to really love a book when you’ve read several other books who gave you so much from enjoyableness, great message, and good writing style that when you only got one or two of them, you could not really consider yourself to love it as much.
My opinion, though.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

May 21, 2015

Book Review: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

The first time I laid my eyes on These Broken Stars' cover, I was instantly in love with it. Scratch that. I AM SO FREAKING CRAZY IN LOVE WITH IT. The cover was so darn beautiful and intriguing and amazing and made me want to wear it as a top every day...
I then dived in the book with a hope to find some amazing story inside. Um, I gotta be honest; I seriously don't know what to feel about this book. This book falls into sci-fi category and God knows how much my love for sci-fi grew even stronger since my last encounter with amazing sci-fi trilogy months ago. That trilogy was the picture perfect of what kind of sci-fi I'd no doubt love with all my heart (i.e. strong sci-fi with good mixed amounts of everything). But this book lacked of parts where sci-fi usually focused on. What does it even mean? Come read more below ;)
Lilac Laroux was always famous. The beautiful, breathtaking, untouchable Miss Laroux. She was the only heiress to the LaRoux Industries empire. Not only she was known as the richest girl in the galaxy, Lilac was also known as the most off-limit girl ever existed. Her father made sure everyone see the fact. It left Lilac with a personal guard and an overprotective friend to accompany her everywhere. That way, a lot of guys knew better than made a move to her. 

Tarver Merendsen was just recently being famous. The war hero, best soldier, precise in every action Major Merendsen. His heroic acts during the war earned him Medal of Honor that brought his image from lowborn boy to respectable hero. But still some people didn't bother to point his background out for others to see. After all, he was just a teacher's son who made it all the way to the top by working hard under the help of scholarship. 

The first time they met, they made a little effort to pretend that everything was normal between them. Tarver saw her the first time as a girl covered in gracefulness who had a tolerant heart. Lilac saw him the first time as a man of action who wore confidences fitly on his sleeves. Little did they know that Tarver knew nothing about Lilac's true self at the time. And for a brief time there, Lilac was happy to be able to interact with someone who saw her for who she was, not for whose kid she was; knowing it was a very wrong thing to do.
The second time they met, Lilac finally did one thing that she was supposed to do from the beginning: to steer clear of Major Merendsen. But something died a little inside her when she did that common act she used to perform every time someone showed interests for her. Because he was unlike any other guys she'd ever known. Because he was so sincere it reflected in his eyes. Because she felt very comfortable around him. Because she knew what her father could do to someone like him. Because... she cared for him. 
But it was funny how everything could happen in a span of a day. One minute she disdained him with a quite hurtful words, the next one she found herself huddling together with him on the same survival pod to save their lives from the accident happened with Icarus, the ship they were on at the moment. From there on ward, they took turns saving each other's life after their pod crashed into a nowhere planet that hid mystery on its every corner. When they finally learned heart-slicing truth of their landing on strange planet, they were faced with countless hurdles and unexpected turn of events to survive there physically and how to keep their insanities intact. When they thought what they went through was already bad, they met worse things, and even the worst hadn't all come out. On that strange planet where Tarver and Lilac learned a lot of things: loss, survival, loyalty, trust, love, betrayal, sacrifices, and most important, nothing was ever as it seemed.

For the truth, this book didn’t strike me as intriguing on the first chapter. I didn’t read the blurb at all so I wasn’t sure of what I’d expect from the book anyway. On chapter two I officially disliked Lilac. From chapter three onward, I took turns disliking Lilac and Tarver until their survival pod crashed into nowhere planet. They were attracted to each other since the beginning; it’s obvious. But one rejection led them into childish words fights every time they’re having conversations. Well, yes it’s quite mean on Lilac’s part but if only Tarver was gentle enough in reacting to that… Somewhere in the middle of their journey to reach the shipwreck though, when their first twist of their stay at the strange planet happened, I started to like them. They started to respond rationally to each other as the only survivors on some never land. Then somewhere around 50%, I was truly in awe with Lilac. It’s amazing how the authors did the characterization with such progress; that Ms. Kaufman and Ms. Spooner could make hard-to-like characters to slowly become lovable by making use of the situations to help shaping their characteristics.
These Broken Stars didn’t actually have a fresh plot but it had a real interesting way of telling. Mystery and suspenseful were the keywords for These Broken Stars. I must admit that when it came to the thrilling part, it was freaking intense and the authors did an awesome job building the suspenseful feeling. They successfully made me shiver in the middle of the night all alone in my dimly lit bedroom with the only light was from my e-reader (yes, I know, I had a real bad reading habit). I had a hard time keeping control over my mind to wreck somewhere in the middle of the book. The tension was built very well and I found myself gasping for air of reality to hit my breathless lungs that was drained by mind-boggling fantasy. So where did my complaint about the lacking lie?
It lied on the place setting.
So, their unexpected journey began with a sci-fi-y Titanic famous scene (read: wrecked ship and all) which still took place on space. After it crashed into a strange mysterious planet somehow I felt that the place setting wasn’t quite concerned the authors any longer. They went on and on exploring the mystery and thrilling parts while they simply put description of the planet as simple as it could be. I was expecting more mind-blowing place setting than just forest, plain, and mountain. This is a sci-fi after all where extraterrestrial things happened in some mind-boggling places outside the Earth. I wanted more description of outer space and foreign planets vividly. It’s sad that even the planet they lived in were not even described at all even though Lilac mentioned once in the beginning; something about brightest light called Corinth. I wanted to know more of these parts. It would actually complete the point of great sci-fi read for me.
My other complaint (this is even worse, I guess) was the ending.
Dearest God. Why such mind-boggling story should ended up like that???
It was so abrupt and left too much unanswered questions in the back of my mind. I actually thought the second book would be the continuation of Lilac and Tarver’s future where things would be completely resolved. But no, people, the second book was a whole different story and there would be NO perfect wrap-up whatsoever for Lilac and Tarver’s story (I haven’t read the book but this is what I get from its blurb). It seriously made me want to cry in frustration. This book should’ve ended in much better ending, seriously. Oh why…
I wanted so damn bad to give this book five stars. I even agreed to come to terms with my complaint about lack of place setting. But I couldn’t come to terms with the ending. So, after contemplating about the rating of These Broken Stars real hard…

Oh hell, 4.5 stars just earned!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

May 9, 2015

[Throwback] Book Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I feel like sharing some of my old reviews here today!
So I take some of those of my best favorite books from Goodreads and post it up here. You might find this review a bit awkward because this came from that days when I first started reviewing. But I do some 'polishing' so I guess it looks less like crap now... ;)

Okay, before I start, I'd like to say that:
This Is Not A Lustful Incest Book.

And please keep it in mind.

Oh. My. Goodness.
Those three words were my first reaction when I read the blurb of this book. Well, the topic incest is actually pretty familiar for me since I used to read fanfictions back then and most of the authors there pick those topic for their story. But they were all oftenly so straightforward (to the intimate scenes) and lack of the romance feels. But somehow I know this book wouldn't be like that. That this book had something different that would turned me upside down.
As the title said, Forbidden is a book about forbidden love between Lochan Whitely and Maya Whitely. Yes, obviously, they are siblings with one year difference of ages. Lochan and Maya had spent most of the time of their lives taking over the role of parents for their other three younger siblings after the separation of their mom and dad. Rough and frustrating days had made them growing closer. Even they were already close ever since they were still kids. Lochan and Maya were more like best friends than siblings. While taking care of their little brothers and sister and bunches of their baggage, Lochan and Maya had come to realization that they were also taking care of each other as well as leaning on each other's shoulders. The never-ending list of chores and problems had shaped their mind into a belief that as long as they're both together and never separate, everything will be ㅡnot okay, but at leastㅡ more bearable and easier.
And as things went even crazier, their closeness finally reaches the strange level that frightens yet excites them both. Lochan would always denied the feeling in the beginning. But when one day Maya felt enough of denying and pushing away the forbidden feeling, together they gave in as the first kiss happened. And as one thing led to another along with the push-and-pull dramas, Lochan and Maya reached an agreement to ignore the illegal label in their love and just love.
Seriously, I was such a total-broken-hearted-tears-streaked-messed-hog once I finished this book (well, I still am now...). When I first read this, I was damn curious of what kind of ending that the author would choose to make this book acceptable. Surely, I know, Ms. Tabitha wouldn't cross the illegal line (even though this tiny ㅡokay, halfㅡ part of my heart wanted them to selfishly forget who they are and just fiercely love each other ㅠㅠㅠㅠ what should I do? I couldn't help myself, I've fallen in love with this couple...)
But heck...... 
Okay, enough fangirling.
I don't know what kind of message the author would like to deliver by writing this book. Surely not to make people 'accept' an incest relationship because I surely did not get any feeling that this book imply any indication of incest acceptance. Like I said in the beginning of the review, this is NOT a lustful incest book
This is more like a story about two people who helplessly fall in love with each other, purely, sweetly, based on the constant understanding between them and growing feeling of protecting each other. And... 
they happened to be brother and sister.
Well, indeed you can't choose who you fall in love with.

But generally, I loved this book. Like REALLY LOVED this book that I categorized Forbidden on my 'favorite-ever-after' shelf. I loved the details of Whitely family insight. How the author described each members of family. How the author created those little gesture and conversation of each characters and made them so alive and natural. Actually, I felt really really depressed on the first three chapters that I almost left it unfinished. But I kept going because of Lochan. And when I came to the last page of chapter 26.... I cried violently that I had to bury my face on the pillow to ease some of my loud wail until I was breathless it's not even funny!

I couldn't help it, it was so sad and heartbreaking and slicing-heart-kind-of-sad. But, well, it was fine enough even though.. *cue voice fading away*

So despite all the frustrated and heartbreaking feeling I got in the end by reading this book, I feel glad I came across this book and found such a lovely couple with their beautiful love story. Even though I must say that the sex scene was way too bold for a young-adult read (that I had a moment of confusion whether I had to put it in a ya shelf or adult-read shelf). It was not just hot and intense but surprisingly sweet and not weird (well, you know, because after all they're brother and sister....).

Finally, I gotta say that I always fall in love with books that could make me laugh like five-years-old, grin like an idiot, and wail like a walrus. I got the list all checked for this book :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

[Throwback] Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I feel like sharing some of my old reviews here today!
So I take some of those of my best favorite books from Goodreads and post it up here. You might find this review a bit awkward because this came from that days when I first started reviewing. But I do some 'polishing' so I guess it looks less like crap now... ;)

Fangirl is a young adult read by Rainbow Rowell. The story is about an insecure girl named Cath who's just entered a university life. She has a twin sister, Wren, who went to the same uni but apparently wanted to go separate ways once they're out of their home. But Cath always be the girl who never wanted any changes in her life. She wants things to stay the same just as how they were back then in Omaha. She wants to live in the same dorm room with Wren, she wants her and Wren to still write fanfiction together about Simon Snow, to fangirling over the popular magicians every single day, to support and take care of each other when they're away from their dad. She wants to meet no people in campus. She wants to stay in her comfort zone and wants noone to ever intrude. But campus is the opposite of everything she wants. And so are Wren. She is all about a freshman year: exploring, trying new things, networking, drinking... partying. Cath feel like staying on cocoon because nobody really talk about Simon Snow except when they say, 'Oh yeah, I remembered watching the movie when I was a kid'. Noone read (or even write) fanfictions like her.
And to her nightmare, she got 'that' roommate a girl never dream of, Reagan. And along with Reagan, there's a boy named Levi who constantly hanging out in their dorm room, like every single day. Cath thinks she has to spend all her first year of university dodging intruder and building up the wall around her comfort zone. But the intruders keep coming around and she never get a chance to finish building up the wall.
Levi is like the bright side of Cath. He loves people, like really love meeting them, smiling at them, befriending with all of them. When he meets Cath, it's like meeting a girl who's been living in the other side of his world and he couldn't help but attracted by her everything.
Cath thinks Levi is wasting his life going around flashing smile at strangers. She thinks Levi is taking on easy of his life like there's nothing wrong ever happened. 
But behind the smiling Levi, there's just a normal boy who can be nervous and hurt. And Cath happened to be the reason for him feeling that way.

“If you smile at everyone,” she said, “how am I supposed to feel when you smile at me?”
“How do you feel when I smile at you?” he asked—and then he did smile at her, just a little.
Not like myself, Cath thought.
“Like an idiot,” she said softly. “And like I never want it to stop.”
“I’d give you the moon right now,” she said.
Levi’s eyes flashed happily, and he hitched up an eyebrow. “Yeah, but would you slay it for me?”
“You’re beautiful,”
“That’s you.”
“Don’t argue with me. You’re beautiful.”
I personally really liked this book because it tells so much about a fangirl's life. I, myself, is a fangirl and I do write fanfiction. So I know what I feel about fanfiction, obsession over idols, know what it feels when there's really noone to talk to about it in real life except your sister. (Oh believe me, I am just like Cath in this). I love how the author put a non-fangirl's perspective about fanfiction. So I know where to stand in this. And I really love it that she create the character of Levi who's so understanding and sincere about all this thing that other people would call 'weird' instead of 'cute'. (Makes me want to have one like him...). Reading this book is like reading my whole habits written on a book.
But there's one thing off for me. I couldnt get those pieces of Simon Snow's story either from the books or the fanfictions. I couldn't wrap my mind around them and I felt like skipping them all the time but held myself because the sake of Cath and Levi's convo in between. I don't know why the author should put the Simon Snow's pieces of story on the book, maybe somebody could explain...
Well despite the thing I mentioned above, I love this book generally. I like the topic about fangirl and I like every characters in this book. I was hoping more about the ending (More about clear glimpse about Levi and Cath's future after Levi graduated and more about Laura, but it's okay, I definitely agree that Cath and Wren better off without her), but I'm satisfied enough because in the end things were put in the right places.
I would like to recommend this book for all fangirls out there. And yes, four stars for this book! :)
P.S. And there's sooo many lines that I love from this book! •^^•

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.