November 15, 2016

Review: Brilliant Cut (Diamond in the Rough #3) by Elisa Marie Hopkins

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!
Brilliant Cut (Diamond in the Rough series book 3)

*Digital copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: Romance - Suspense
Pub. Date: November 15, 2016

Get a copy here!

It’s always such a bittersweet moment when you got the last book of a series in your hands. Like you’re dying to devour the book and find out how it’d turn out but you don’t want to touch it, moreover read it, because if you do and you reach the end, then the whole journey would be over. I found it really hard to pick up my Kindle and touch that cover of Brilliant Cut ARC on my shelf. It’s that kind of undeniable moment when you know deeply inside your heart that once you click on it, there’s no coming back to the feeling you had before you read it. You know that you can’t not read it but you resist because you want to prolong the journey with your favorite characters, even if it meant being stuck in the moment. I needed a couple of minute to breathe and made myself swear that I wouldn’t just devour it all recklessly ―that I would savor every pages.

Diamond in the Rough series started with an engaging first book, continued with a complicatedly heartbreaking sequel, and ended up with a brilliant conclusion of the whole series. As a debut author, Elisa really went all out with her debut series, and I’m not just saying it to sweeten my review and all. Elisa did her research, explored with the ideas, and gave her all to these books like, well, a mother to her babies. This series is what I would call the perfect definition of suspense romance. I've said this on my review of the second book, Black Diamond, and at some points I might have said it on my review of the first book. The suspense part and the romance part are pretty well-balanced in a way that won’t make you think certain part is standing out than the other.

This last installment of Diamond in the Rough series started out a little bit different than the first two books. The first page instantly brought me back to the memories of reading Robert Langdon’s adventure. The prolog had a vibe of Dan Brown in it and it made some thriller-maniac neurons inside of me come back to life. I loved it so much that Elisa put such great twist into the story, developing a whole new level of issues as she revealed practically every single mystery we’ve been dying to find the truth ever since she dropped them each for the first time.

Told from third person perspective, Brilliant Cut fast-forwarded to a few years after Black Diamond ended. Or if we’re going to talk from Sophie’s angle: after Oliver. Yes, our favorite couple went separate ways last time we saw them. And while it broke my heart to pieces, there were so many reasons why the ‘calamity’ had to take place on the first place. But it’s for good that I don’t talk about it all here.

Sophie Cavall, an ex-model, now-writer, tried to live a normal life after all the chaos happened in her life two years ago. Apparently, two years was enough for everything to change completely. Like how Sophie now had two parts of herself crawling and screaming around the apartment creating after-disaster-effect every day. And how, instead of having Oliver to keep her from being crazy, Sophie had a pediatrician who sometimes balanced out her craziness with his. It’s totally unthinkable before that there would be a day when Oliver would be just a name in her history book, but it was what had happened. But in all honesty, Sophie could very much moved to Alaska and dated a seal but Oliver would always be her personal sun that keeps her heart warm all these years and her skins tingling just by hearing his name. Some say true love is hard to forget. Some say it would be forever unforgettable. Some say it would be etched in eternity in your mind. Sophie proved them all right when she very much didn’t want them to be. What had happened between her and Oliver was too perfect, too beautiful, that it felt too painful when it’s over. But was it really over? Sophie was in the edge of a cliff of madness, by recalling and pushing the memories of Oliver every day of her life. If not because of her twin boys who needed her concern above everything, she would pretty much end up in an asylum the second Oliver walked out of their flat. And Sophie wanted to believe that she loved Adam. But could one give her heart out to someone when this other person still got a hold on that very heart? Wouldn’t it be ripped out in the process? No. Because the hold was so strong even Sophie felt herself barely living with that empty hole where her heart used to beat.
“Trying to forget you was like trying to forget my way home. I realized you can’t build homes out of people, because then you feel homesick for a place that no longer exists.” ─Chapter XI
Among the three books, Brilliant Cut had the quickest yet the most emotional plot of all. Elisa didn't play around by bringing up a lot of issues like politics, secret order, and some mind-games to bring our couple back together. It might sound too heavy for some but trust me Elisa is a pro in putting complex words together into a bedtime story without leaving the thrilling part. I seriously wanted to blurt out the whole book scene by scene but then I would be thrown away into the sea for being a spoiler brat. This book is that good that you’d feel like holding a presscon to tell the world how the story goes. I loved that nothing’s changed with either Sophie or Oliver. Sophie with her independency and Oliver with his controlled-possessiveness and sexy brain (I never even think about this phrase before meeting Oliver). I felt a lot of things at once reading this book. There was a lot of emotion in two days I finished it. Sophie’s kids got my full attention instantly. Their ‘normality’ was so Oliver, I felt like crying my eyes out that not many people could actually accept them.

There were so many ups and downs along the way, a lot of mind-blowing revelation that keeps making me question whether this was really Elisa’s first ever series. She wrote cleverly. She explored so many topics, putting a lot of exciting trivia, and the way she wrote Oliver’s character deserved rounds of standing applause. We all know how genius Oliver is. But let’s come to a realization that behind every unique and singular character, there is only one person in charge in creating them: the author, Elisa. I am starting to wonder if Elisa might be an agent or something in real life..

To put it shortly, Brilliant Cut made a fantastic conclusion to the story, thus, making the series a total excellent accomplishment. This series deserves more attention than it’s been getting until today. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND this series to everyone who happened to come across this review of mine. Elisa is a new gem in this writing world that is totally deserving of more recognition. And like a diamond, you might get a little too attached once you get to know her pieces.

September 9, 2016

Review: Lionheart by Fran Seen

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

Lionheart: a Beauty & the Beast Retelling
*Digital copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Genre: New Adult - Contemporary
Pub. Date: August 8, 2016

Get a copy here!

I have a thing for a fairytale retelling lately, ever since I stumbled upon a kind of book which runs on the same genre a while ago. And ‘a Beauty and the Beast’ retelling? Please, I’ll stop anything to read the book. Including my long-hiatus of reading.

”I believed all this time that, when I finally saw your face, all I would be able to see is what you were trying to hide”

“But all I see is a man made of shields. All I see is you.”
I received a copy of the book two days ago and had read a few pages yesterday. I caught a cold today so I had a day off-work and using it to take a break while finishing the rest of the book. And Holy God… I did expect that this book would be a good read. I just didn’t expect it would be this good. I mean, not just good, it’s a very well-written fairytale retelling while at the same time didn’t seem like repeating the tale itself. Fran Seen had polished it somehow to be a whole new story with the same essential message of loving someone unconditionally yet wrapped them up in a modern way with a lot heavier issue in the background. To bring a topic like a war, especially a middle-east war in Iraq, it took a lot of efforts for a writer to deliver it through a story, moreover a romance one, and engage the readers to actually read it. In Lionheart, Fran even put so much detail about the war as to enlighten us about what the hero actually went through for us to be taken with his persona. For me, it didn’t just enlighten us on Alo, but it also got me thinking deeper about the sad truth of how people live in the other side of the world. Some people might skip the part about the war but I personally felt so much about Alo Rahim through the way Fran introduced him to us for the first time. How she didn’t quite tell us right away about the war he had faced, but the way she pictured him interacting with others and with himself was strangely enough for his character to ingrain. I already felt so much for him without knowing the details behind the awful past. What I liked so much about the hero is the fact that he’s broken but not hateful. I dig broken hero but a tiny part of me always bothered by their mean personality. I didn’t see this in Alo. He’s withdrawn with others and that’s it. He’s lonely, angry, disappointed but he got control. Yet basically he was just sad. And also got mean humor and corny jokes.
Meanwhile Lula is the kind of heroine who’s got a special spot in my heart. Determined, positive-thinking, caring, and so selfless it hurts me to see her so. But I’m those kind of people who’s believing in a good things happen to good people, so I could relate with Lula a lot. It was a good thing too that Lula was introduced to us while she’s already on her fight to standing up for herself. I loved her way of thinking and there’s a line in chapter 3 that instantly made me think that I totally liked her.

‘I mean-think about it-telling a perfect stranger to smile was pretty rude, like saying: “I don’t like the way you look right now. You’re ruining my scenery with your frown. Please change your facial expression for my benefit.” The premise was that I existed for him to look at and admire and appearing unhappy ruined his admiration.’ 
I never felt more connected to a character than now.

Fran Seen wrote beautifully, like really beautiful. She didn’t prolong the drama, didn’t write unnecessary angst scenes just to make the readers cry. She made me cry alright but it was because I felt like I was one with the characters. Like I’m Lula, dying to fix the unfixable within ‘my’ family, yet at the same time I’m Alo, fighting the undefeated bad memories. But Fran also got me laughing more than once through the humor slipped within the convos Alo and Lula had every single time. They exchanged banter like some old friends and it was just so heartwarming to see two people scarred by their pasts to be able to laugh together in the mere present of each other.

The writer obviously knew how to write a romance scene and I’m not just talking about one or two scenes but a whole romance scene in the book. There was this scene in chapter 12 that got me biting my nails in jealousy because I swear I’ve never been more jealous than when Lula and Alo sat together exchanging questions and answers over imaginary chocolates. God.

Besides the romance and the lovely characters, I loved the way Fran put everything up in their own places in the end. Like she resolved every problem in the book without making it seemed like it had to be resolved because the story has come to an end. No, she actually thought about it and gave the best resolution for everything and everyone. Really, this book just got better and better the more I thought about it.
Anyway there’s this saying in the end of the book that conclude the ending of how a romance book should end that I loved so much.

‘And that was the thing- having a significant other didn’t all of sudden make my life more significant, but he sure as hell made it more enjoyable’
Damn right, girl! It’s not all suddenly rainbows everywhere but at least you got someone to dance under the rain with.

I fully recommend this book to those who enjoy fairytale retelling as much as me, but generally though, to all romance readers, Lionheart is the book worth reading if you’re looking for one to cuddle with.

July 11, 2016

Cover Reveal: Brilliant Cut (Diamond in the Rough #3) by Elisa Marie Hopkins

Let's Say It's a... Book Event! is a feature where I publish book-related events under. Find everything from blog tours, book spotlights to cover reveals here!
It's been a while since I last hosted cover reveal! And now that I have a chance to host one, I'm super excited to be a part of cover-reveal team for the third as well as last installment of my favorite suspense romance series, DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH!

Readers of Elisa's amazing series would be all thrilled about this upcoming book but to those who still new to the series, it's okay, you can check the first book and the second one below:


A Diamond in the Rough

25-year-old model Sophia Cavall has a seemingly nice life walking the runway until she begins to receive death threats through social media and is almost kidnapped by a masked figure. She tries to fight off her assailant, but luckily the attempt ends in failure when mysterious business magnate Oliver Black intervenes.
Sophie doesn’t know it, but the stakes are high: her life and her heart. Desperately needing support, she turns to a few trusted people, and to Oliver most of all. But can he be trusted, who speaks the truth, and the question on everyone’s lips: who is the man in the mask? 
Her checkered past returns to entangle her. She will come to realize that it is not dead after all…it is still very much alive.


Black Diamond

Over the weeks following her disappearance and the discovery of a long-silenced secret, the yellow brick road to Sophia Cavall’s happiness becomes littered with minefields. 
Enter Oliver Black and his irresistible persona. He’s strong, caring, and doesn’t question her need for freedom. Sophie is Oliver’s feminine equal—the lioness in his lion lifestyle. She is his eyes and ears, and has his heart in her pocket. They have enough passion to paint the town red with love and a lurking, dangerous rival fears their union is a problem. 
The price of fame and a high-profile relationship collides as the media spins a yarn to boost their ratings. Before they know it, the romance begins to falter. Can the two reconcile their opposing views before it is too late or will they lose the greatest love they’ve ever known? A devil of a choice is in order. 
The odds are stacked against Sophie and Oliver in this second installment of the Diamond in the Rough series. What is the truth? Who is the real enemy? There’s no two ways about it—ready or not, he will come.

And now... we almost reach the conclusion of the suspenseful series, which would be coming out very soon! Ready to unravel the first mysteries of Brilliant Cut? Here we go!


Desperate for a new beginning, Sophie Cavall trades Manhattan for Brooklyn, where she meets someone new. He's a fun-loving man, hardworking and good with kids, but a run-in with her former flame revives a yearning Sophie thought was long buried. And this time, Oliver Black won’t be giving her up for anyone.

Even if it meant facing death alone, Oliver did the only thing he could think of to keep the woman he loves safe and out of the limelight: break her heart. 

The real enemy is closing in. The last piece of the puzzle may prove to be the most dangerous of all. 

In the third and final installment to the Diamond in the Rough series, Elisa Marie Hopkins explores love, loss, forgiveness, and the perseverance of two characters facing extraordinary challenges. There might just be light at the end of the tunnel…

Get ready this FALL

Pre-order, Release Date, and ARCs TBA soon!


Connect with Elisa Marie Hopkins 

June 29, 2016

Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

Defending TaylorDefending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

*Digital ARC was received from Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley*

Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Pub. Date: July 5, 2016

Get a copy here!

Taylor was an overachiever whose grades were as bright as her coming future. Targeting Yale as her next step, Taylor meant to add up on the supremacy her whole family has worked on for a long time. Her dad was a successful senator while both her siblings enrolled in aforementioned Ivy League school trying to catch up their father's brilliant path. Following her family's grace was all she knows her whole life. Taylor might have worked so hard to be the next valedictorian as well as the best soccer captain in her current private school, but keeping a good image of being a senator's academically-bright daughter is what challenged Taylor to be better ―not that she needed to get any better, anyway.

Taylor was just one step away from reaching all those dreams... if only she's also 'bright' enough to keep herself from playing hero on backstabbing ex-boyfriend.
Covering her less than charming ex-boyfriend for drugs possession resulted in Taylor getting kicked out of school and mentally out of her family. Not only that she tainted her clean sheet for Yale's early submission, she also put her dad’s campaign for coming election into such fatal risk. What Taylor had been working on practically all her life was blown away by a single mistake (or more like ‘unnecessary heroic act’).

It’s kind of ironic and sad, what happened to Taylor and how her family reacted to the case. It’s even sadder because things like that did happen in real life all the time. Miranda accurately portrayed Taylor’s life as a teenager with all the problems within. Her interaction with her friends, her romantic life, her life as both senator’s daughter and that one haven’t-yet-to-be-succeed kid in family which pressure was pretty high either way, and how her life was slowly crumbling down along with her belief on what was supposed to be her master plan all along. The author brought us to the front row to see how it all changed and affected Taylor with her detailed scenes. I’m sure there would be many teens out there who could pretty much relate to Taylor’s life because being a kid, moreover the last kid in the family, you would be expected to do much better than your siblings or at least do as well as them. I personally could relate with her from this angle. Sometimes it could be easy for parents to compare you with your sister or brother and though they mean well with that, it could be a sensitive issue because no one in this world wants to be compared with other people, not even their siblings. Everyone just wants to be seen as themselves, be it good or bad.

I could feel what Taylor had to go through and it sucked that her parents are such hopeless excuse. The only comfort she could get was only from her brother which is sad considering Taylor also got a sister but the said sister was really awful to her. The chemistry in Taylor’s family was almost non-existent and I was hoping that in the end it would be fixed but the author decided to let Tay made peace with her family in her own way. Like it’s not necessarily be a sweet ending where everyone asked for forgiveness from each other, but it’s simply that since Taylor had found her way in life, she could face her family with stronger backbone.

The appearance of Ezra character in the story seemed to be out of nowhere and I kind of missed the background story at first. But along with his continuous appearance, we learned what had happened in the past between him and Taylor. I grew a deep feeling of sympathy for him that soon turned into affection. I felt really bad for him and at the same time felt amazed by how compared to Taylor, Ezra was much braver to go against his family’s conservative wish. Ezra’s relationship with Taylor was pretty sweet and I like its dynamic between them.

I might not have any serious issues with this book but truthfully speaking, Defending Taylor is what I would call as a good yet barely memorable read. It’s not that it’s badly written or what. There were several scenes that fell flat that I wouldn’t mind if it was removed from the book anyway. Like those when Taylor asked for advice from the friend who less and more was in the same circumstance as her. It might be a good and a little touching even, but it was like it’s written half-heartedly that I couldn’t find the emotional connection that likely supposed to be there. Though, honestly the advice was really good!

”Your advice is to just come clean? Let my family know I’m a big ole mess and have no direction?”

… “Yeah, and the sooner the better. Then you can start figuring out what you want to do instead of worrying about what your parents will say and pretending everything is fine. Just come clean.”
Defending Taylor contained a good amount of life lessons, especially for young reader who’s in the middle of figuring things out in their life after high school. Miranda made a clear picture of teen’s life with all the problems that come along within it. Yet me being too old to be a ‘teen’ found this book simply as good read but not the one that would leave marks. But don’t let me discouraged you to pick this book up, though!

May 15, 2016

Review: Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!


*Digital ARC was received from HarperCollins UK through Netgalley*

Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: Feb 2, 2016

Get a copy here!

It surprised me that it took me so long to write down this review when I’ve finished reading the ARC a few weeks ago and had quite interesting reaction upon finishing it.

I walked into this book thinking that it might not meet my cup of tea despite my attempt to request its ARC on the first place. But the mention of a lost baby and a girl who seems to live longer than her age pulled me to a stop… and I knew that I couldn’t skip this one.

I never considered myself as a reader who would enjoy dark and suspense read. So I was literally having a hard time reading this book at first. It didn’t help that not only this book was so intense; it also brought such disturbing topics like drugs and alcohol addiction and murders. Reading this was so out of my comfort zone but I could somehow bear it because of the characters of the aforementioned girl and baby.

Percy James was only sixteen but we could see how life had shaped her into a much older and wiser person than her years living in the world. For the nth time, Percy had to go out to find her mother who’s disappeared along with her booze addiction. It was snowing and probably going to be a bad storm soon but Percy had no other choice but to keep looking for her mom. It’s like a dead-end circle with her mom’s situation. Percy loved her mom, so deeply she could never forget the good times they used to have together when her mom was still fine. But lately things only got worse, moreover when her sister went to live her new life with their little happy family across the state, leaving Percy to take care of her alcoholic mother. Percy was a good girl; so good that she often lied to her sister that their mother was okay, that everything was as fine as a sunny weather. But it’s actually a snowstorm in Michigan; even a worse one in Percy’s household.

The first time Percy met Jenna, the baby was practically halfway to be buried by the snow blowing from the open window in Shelton Potter’s cabin. It’s like a fate. When Percy went there to find her mom (who last she checked with the neighbor, was on a drunk fight with Shelton), she found Jenna instead. The poor freezing baby seemed to alter her priority as its innocent grip brought Percy to her determination to get the baby out of the hell place. Looking at Jenna neglected in the middle of meth-house with no responsible adult to take care of her, tugged a string inside Percy’s heart. The baby was so much like her. Yet again she’s much older than Jenna when her mother had gotten to her worse condition and left her to fend for herself. Suddenly, Jenna became her priority. Even if saving Jenna meant she had the drugged-angry Shelton and his bunch of criminal friends hot on her heels. Even if saving Jenna made her fight her own beloved bad mother.

I felt so much emotion being played while reading this book. It was quite bothering that I had to see half of scenes on the book from Shelton’s perspective. Yet at the same time I was impressed by Mulhauser’s ability to write that perspective with such details. It was oddly fun and certainly dark but it was also quite heart-breaking when Shelton’s actual feeling sometimes was shown during one of his many weak moments. It surprised me that even in the end I felt a piece of my heart had gone along with Shelton’s character.

Seeing things from Percy’s perspective meanwhile was quite an experience. We could literally see her love for Jenna growing stronger. Her struggle, her hopelessness, her determination, and her faith for Jenna’s better future were all pictured in rich details for us to witness. I felt my love for Percy and Jenna grew as well. The appearance of Portis Dale as Percy’s hopeless savior just added another color to their tragically desperate yet endearing journey of escape. Portis was this skeptical figure who’s as close to a family Percy ever had in her life besides her mother and sister. I found it quite amusing how Portis kinda wanted to just leave Jenna behind because he was worried of Percy’s safety yet with Percy’s persistence (or really just stubborn) to keep Jenna, he let Percy had her way. Their banter often sounded intensely scary to others but we could hear in Portis’s harsh tone how much he cared for Percy and how much Percy needed a father figure in him. Completed with Mulhauser’s extremely detailed description of cold weather in Michigan, Sweetgirl would make you curl under your blanket in your reading couch, with heartbeat running and tears ready to flow any moment.

In the end, I had to give in with my emotion as I put aside my Kindle and hid my tears for the world to see. The tears were mixed of happy ones and sad ones but I’d like it to be a happy one because I knew that what the author decided to write in the end was for the best for all. God, even now when I re-read that last chapter I am tearing up again like a newborn baby I am. The author did write such beautifully heartwarming (with little heartbreaking-spice) ending to such a heavy read. It felt like Mulhauser did not just close the curtain after the show but also wipe the stage and cleaned the aisle from the tissues being left behind by people. It was a very neat ending; near perfect even.

I would like to recommend this book to just everyone who loves to read. Even me who prefers to read sweet, light reads than the heavy ones, Sweetgirl just made an exception for me.
‘I’m the one who found her,…. But I’m not the same person I was before. I am different now because of Jenna and Portis Dale and I believe we all tried to save each other in that storm and that mostly we did.’ ―chapter XXIII

May 8, 2016

Review: Anything You Want by Geoff Herbach

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

Anything You WantAnything You Want by Geoff Herbach

*Digital ARC was received from Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley*

Genre: YA (Contemporary)
Pub. Date: May 1, 2016

Get a copy here!

I had such a long complicated journey with this book during the past two weeks.

The blurb promises a story of how a barely-17 years old boy working on to be a bright student, promising drama actor, and… perfect dad, all at once. It does sound totally unlikely. Except this is Taco Keller we’re talking about. Taco―as he earned the nickname ever since forever―might be the most positive human living ever existed in the entire galaxy. And it is supposed to be a very good thing if Taco isn’t also kind of dumb at times because when those two things collided, it creates something called delusional. I don’t know how to best describe what I felt about Taco because I swear during the first half of the book I wanted so much to kick his character out of the book (when clearly he’s the main character…). I just couldn’t connect with his way of thinking. It’s not helping that the author made Taco the only narrator in the story and decided it’s okay for him to sound very immature and irrational most of the time…

Taco had this belief that partly responsible of his overly-positive attitude. His mom once said before she died, “Today is the best day of your life. So is tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next. No matter what happens, every day you have is the best day of your life.” Unlike his brother or even his father, Taco believed in this saying very much. Even when his home life was a mess, with a father (running) away to work in the Mine leaving him with only his brother whose drinking problem was as hopeless as his job to support their little family of two, Taco still believed in the good in everything. Then he fell in love with this girl named Maggie and I had to bear a few pages of Taco telling me that they kept―and I quote― ‘celebrating love’ until we reached the obvious outcome of all that: unexpected teen pregnancy. With a baby on its way, Taco officially added quite a few messed-up things on the list of his family messed-up life because instead of running away from the responsibility, he embraced his upcoming title of becoming a dad. I felt like reading a big joke of a character with a weird nickname and even weirder mind when Taco with all the train-wreck around him still believed in trying his best of doing impossible things with positive attitude because what? Every day is the best day of your life, no matter how ugly things already were. Kill me.

I blamed the absence of responsible adult was the main cause of Taco character became somehow ‘uncontrollable’. Because as much as I disliked him, Taco was the most genuine character I ever knew. I suspected that Taco had been raised by his mother’s overflowed love. Seeing how her first son grew into an angry boy, she tried to shower Taco with so much love so he could grow into a loving boy. He did though, but before Taco got a chance to step into a real world with real problems his mother had died first. Taco had his lesson on how to act positive anytime but no one left to teach him how to act rational at times.

The things were just getting messier each page and I almost gave up finishing the book. But then again, I’m all against DNFing books. Nothing personal, but I think it seems unfair to stop reading certain books because of some (or most) part pissed you off causing you to judge the whole story negatively without bothering to finish it to prove it yourself.
‘In retrospect, I believe I was overthinking. This overthinking caused larger crisis.’ ―chapter XI
I literally cheered inside when I read the line above. I was like, ‘God, finally this boy has a connection working on his brain cell’. But it’s not until a character named Nussbaum came out that thing starts looking up.
I started to enjoy Geoff’s humor through Taco. Maybe it’s partly because I finally got it why Taco adopted such unbearably uncommon character like that.
‘Never let anyone tell you your butt is not important. Your butt is very, very important to general motility’ ―chapter XVII
I laughed a lot at that silly yet serious statement of Taco!

I also kind of loved it when Taco worked real hard on his impossible dreams. I even ached witnessing how selfless he was.
“So you want to get a job and work here and go to school and be a musical munchkin and be a dad?”
“Yes,” I said.
―chapter XXII
Yes, Taco was dumb, so dumb even but all he knows is how to do the right thing. Even if it was irrational thing to do. Even if it hurt him.
‘How can your muscles feel sad? They can. That’s why I laid so still after Mom died. Because even though I couldn’t cry, my muscles were so sad, they didn’t want to move. Liquid sadness had pooled in them.’ ―chapter XXVII
I started to feel real bad for Taco. I was so mad at his sorry father and his drunken brother and literally everyone who only knows how to tell him to stop his gut rather than explaining why he should stop in the first place.
“I know I can be a dumb kid. But I’m growing up,” I said. ―chapter XXXII
I liked how Geoff wrapped the story up. I liked that in the end it was Taco himself who came to the final decision on how to fix all his messes. I really didn’t expect for this book to make me cry, yet it did. I was teary-eyed and my heart felt like it was broken into pieces reading the letters Taco wrote to Maggie and their kid. His sincere was crystal clear there; you just want to cry no matter how much you said you hate Taco before.

Anything You Want and me clearly had a rough start but we eventually became buddies in the end. I practically had to put my Kindle down several times during the first half of the book because I barely tolerated Taco’s behavior. I’m glad I didn’t give up halfway or else, I might not be able to write down this review.

Just so you know, this barely is a romance piece. More like a story of how a clueless young boy tries to figure out his life –which is a total bundle of mess- when there’s no one to turn to yet there’s people who depends on you. Hopefully there’s more people who’s on board with me to finish this book till the end because trust me, when you’re patient enough you’ll find out what a gem this book actually is.
‘In the end, maybe that is what a best day looks like? Making hard decisions so that the people you love are okay?’ ―chapter XXXI


April 25, 2016

Review: My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

My Kind of CrazyMy Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

*Digital ARC was received from Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley*

Genre: YA (Contemporary)
Pub. Date: April 5, 2016

Get a copy here!

This is the book that I’ve been looking for my whole life. Hell, I think it’s the strongest candidate of the best book I’ve read in 2016! It has this perfectly balanced combination of happy, sad, and crazy things all at once. The plot is very well-written, well-built, well-… everything! I couldn’t even explain just how happy I am that I am given the opportunity to read the ARC of this book. One thing I am disappointed at myself is the fact that I put this book on hold until a few days ago.

It didn’t take me long to engross myself into the story with unusually captivating opening. Hank Kirby, a 16 years old nerdy teen just found a supposedly-brilliant idea of asking a popular girl to prom from internet: lit prom-spelled sparklers on her lawn. And he did. Except, the plan went up in flames in seconds. Literally. With Amanda’s lawn on fire and his promposal in memory, Hank chose to run for his life as his instinct told him to. He thought he was saved that night, but surely his lucky charm was not that bright. Hank earned himself a witness when he accidentally left an evident in the place of accident. A witness who could very well ruin his life with one tell but instead, she asked for something so different. Something not much girl wanted from a guy like him: to be a friend and maybe more.

Peyton Breedlove is always that one unique girl who’s both intriguing and creepy at the same time. Or so people thought. The truth is Peyton had her own share of bad histories that had shaped herself into who she was now. Pyromaniac isn’t exactly a favorite kind of personality to most people, especially to those who don’t get where she came from. But seeing―or more accurately―witnessing Hank set her neighbor’s lawn on fire was like finding a long lost other-half. That night, Peyton knew that Hank would be the one who would understand her like no others. Except, he might not be in board with her one-sided feeling. Because after all what he did that night was to impress another girl. A normal girl who gets her things together, whose family life is perfect, and surely who doesn’t play with matches as an escape. A girl who’s not her.
“Everybody needs somebody who gets their kind of crazy, right?” ―chapter XVIII
But what is normal exactly? Hank really thought that Peyton had a serious baggage that he was sure don’t want to get involved with. Everything about her screamed enigma. Strangeness. You name it. But spending a day without seeing Peyton around felt so much like staring on a puzzle board with a piece missing. It might be just one piece, yet you can’t stop glancing at the empty space. You can’t overlook it once you notice it. And for Hank, if normal means pursuing a popular girl like most guys at school, he much preferred stepping outside the line. Peyton might love to do a lot of crazy things unlike others, but sometimes people only need to be understood rather than being judged for their actions. Peyton was no exception. And Hank might be the one who did understand her… if only there were not so much things she hid behind the curtain.
‘Everyone is hiding something though. There’s the story we tell ourselves and the story we tell everyone else’ ―chapter VII
I had soooo much fun reading this. Every emotion all mixed into one, I finished the book in one sitting. It’s been a while since I feel this so much ‘hooked’. With me being busy and all, it was so hard to be engrossed so deeply into a book nowadays. And this book came to me and broke the spell.

My Kind of Crazy is what I’d call a neat read. It has a clear plot, uniquely-made characters, enough issues to be pulled up as leading points, perfect ending, all wrapped up in a very casual yet captivating writing told from a boy’s POV. Robin did a stellar job voicing a teen, slightly nerdy, boy through Hank Kirby. I liked that little natural touch when Hank’s mind was all over the place and unfocused sometimes because that’s how guy’s mind exactly is. And I super loved that the romance was built slowly yet it felt like a very romantic journey every time with them.

And God… Peyton! She’s my best favorite character through and through! I swear, I already fell for her since the first time she was introduced into the story. I loved her bluntness, her ignorance, her unselfish bit, her cheerful and innocent beauty. Simply put, I loved everything about her.
What’s better is how much I laughed reading this book. Robin’s writing is exactly what I needed in this phase of my life when reading is such a luxury for me and she made my moment worth it with such brilliant piece. I’m seriously craving for more Robin’s writing in the future.

I recommend this book to those who’s in need of funny, special, and sweet read to enjoy in such a short time. It’s a quick read and I have no doubt you’ll want a re-run once you reach the last page.

April 11, 2016

Review: Did I Mention I Need You (DIMILY #2) by Estelle Maskame

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

Did I Mention I Need You? (DIMILY, #2)Did I Mention I Need You? by Estelle Maskame

*Digital ARC was received from Sourcebooks Fire through Netgalley*

Genre: YA (Contemporary)
Pub. Date: April 1, 2016

Get a copy here!

When book one didn’t quite satisfy me, book two somehow managed to steal a bit of my attention. I had so many issues with DIMILY and I was highly hoping on DIMINY to fix it for me. Well, it did but unfortunately not much.
It’s kind of a relief that the current situation didn’t include much of the group of reckless teenagers back in California. I also liked that DIMINY focused more on Tyler and Eden even if I personally thought that the beginning of the book was a bit rushed. Book two started with Eden choosing to spend her summer in New York based on Tyler’s invitation. Pardon me but I already smelled ‘wrong’ and ‘cheat’ here. Just like how Eden’s choice irritated me during the ending of book one, I still couldn’t accept her action in book two. It just got worse when Eden went to New York to see Tyler again after one long year, I just couldn’t see what she was actually up to with all of her doings. Dating Dean, yet not even once she forgot memories with Tyler. Dating Dean, yet she chose to stay with Tyler on summer which clearly was a straight way to make a fatal mistake. I felt like I was seeing a girl with a serious problem of playing with others’ hearts. While I admit that moments with Tyler was sometimes sweet, I couldn’t overlook that what they’ve been doing in New York was far from acceptable. It’s not helping that the author seemed to really enjoy writing about Tyler and Eden’s forbidden moments than dwelling with factors that might make readers to really understand where they come from. In book 1 Estelle succeeded in making me ‘get’ their situation. There were layers of shared pain and insecurities between them before. But it all seemed to be forgotten in this continuation of the story. Seeing Eden and Tyler now and before was like seeing two different couples. Before, I saw them as two people who helplessly fall for wrong people; and it was actually quite sad for me. Now, I saw them as two people who shared no more than meaningless fling in the past, who then was met again and couldn’t ignore the sexual tension surrounding them.
It might sound ironic but I started to enjoy it a bit when people from their past coming to a not-so-ideal reunion in New York. How it became the start of a big revelation. And how everyone reacted to it. I’ve been waiting for this moment to happen.
The ending was another cliffhanger which I warmly welcomed because I sensed a more mature story to come next. Again, I was hoping for more ideal parental role in this series. Because after all the case of falling-for-your-stepbrother couldn’t just be a teens’ problem which could be solved by the teens themselves. It’s a crucial problem which indeed needs the role of much older and experienced people to meet the best way to solve it.

I’m really counting on to the last book of the series to present a real story of this forbidden love.

March 31, 2016

Review: Any Other Girl by Rebecca Phillips

Book and ARC reviews are posted under this feature!

Any Other GirlAny Other Girl by Rebecca Phillips

*Digital ARC was received from Kensington Publishing through Netgalley*

Genre: YA (Contemporary)
Pub. Date: January 26, 2016

Get a copy here!

I read this sometime back in January and honestly it took me almost two weeks to finish it because partly I was so busy that I kept putting it off. And partly, maybe it’s because I didn’t really find any part of the book that made me want to sit down for hours, ignoring the world and keep reading non-stop till the last page.

Any Other Girl told a story of a girl who’s raised in a family a little different than others. It’s not that Kat doesn’t have such happy family because she did; it’s just that instead of having mom and dad, Kat was gifted with two dads and that’s okay for her. More than okay actually because her dads were both amazing, caring, and clearly dream parents. What’s not okay was how some people tended to judge her as a maladjusted girl just because Kat loved to play soccer and happened to be raised by men. This was a quite fresh theme for me and I was eager to find out how the issue would be resolved. Unfortunately this part that I thought was the main issue of the book was apparently not the main issue. People’s judgment of gay parents was apparently just a layer of background story of Kat’s personality while the rest of the story would mostly focused on Kat’s personal problem with her best friends and the boys.

I tried to understand where Kat’s coming from, why she’s so flirty and doesn’t even think the side-effect of her acts, and maybe at some point I think I did get it. I even felt sorry for her especially during that apology-scene with her bestfriend. But it’s her ignorant that I couldn’t quite tolerate. Kat did realize that she’s flirty, or at least that’s what I got from her narration, yet just because she didn’t have any hidden meaning besides casual flirts, she thought it was okay to do so to any boys―bestfriend’s boyfriend no exception. It’s a little selfish for her I think to ask people to understand her actions all the time. Also, when there’s an explanation telling the reason Kat loved to flirt and being the center of attention among the crowd was because she wanted to show that she was also like any other girl who’s raised in general family. I sensed a little of unfairness judgment here for teen girls. Does every girl love to flirt that much that you should be all flirty and attention-seeker to be considered as a ‘normal’ girl? I really don’t think so. But it might just be my opinion or I might misinterpret what the author actually meant so feel free to correct me.

I actually did enjoy some parts of the story. Like how I loved the side of Kat who could ask for an apology so sincerely, like how she apologized not because she wished for the forgiveness, it’s because she wanted the peace of letting the other knows that they could label her anything when she’s really not and that’s okay because she somehow was the one who plays the wrong move at first. I loved her friendship with her best friend slash cousin. I loved how sweet the romance scene could be. Also I loved how Rebecca summed up the story in the end that life goes changing every minute and that’s fine because after all what’s not? That you might got into a fight with your best friend and it changes your friendship that it’s impossible to go back to the ‘before’ state but at least you go forward to the ‘after’ state with new perspectives, new level of maturity, and new ways to solve any upcoming bumps together. It’s just too unfortunate that the story was actually very simple, with an even simpler ending and issues-solving, yet it’s all those dramas that stretched the story out to be that long.

The plot of the story might not what I would remember for a long time but the moral lessons I got from this book would definitely be something that I would keep in mind. There’s these words Rebecca wrote about family that was so beautifully true that I really loved.
‘Like any other family, we fought and scratched and drew blood and then kept on loving each other in spite of it all. The bonds we shared were strong yet elastic, like ligaments connecting bone―easy to injure and difficult to heal, but ultimately resilient.’
This is one of those books that you might enjoy to read in a lazy Sunday afternoon when you don’t feel like heavy-thinking or getting your emotion so worked up. It’s not really a bad book because Rebecca’s writing is good and even a bit poetic. But considering the whole factors, I’ll sum it up to an okay.