Epic Fail

EPIC FAILAuthor: Claire Lazebnik

Genre: Teen, Young Adult, Romance

First Publication: August 2nd 2011 by HarperTeen

“You wouldn’t think the touch of someone’s hand could blow your mind. It’s nothing right? People don’t write songs and poems about holding hands… I mean when you’re a little kid, you hold hands with your parents to cross the street. Who’s going to write an ode to that? But when Derek Edwards took my fingers in his and gently pressed them, first altogether and then one by one, I felt that touch set off a wave of firing nerves that flowed up my arm and across my body.

We we’re alone in the dark, even though the enormous theater was filled with probably a thousand people. We were a tiny island in a sea of other people who didn’t matter, who had no meaning, who were so stupid, so oblivious, so stuck in their own boring lives that they didn’t even notice the huge, momentous, life-shattering even that was taking place right there in row L, between seats 102 and 104.

Derek Edwards was holding my hand.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

– As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school–not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
– As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

MY THOUGHTS

This book started good. It was cute. It reminds me so much of Pride And Prejudice at first because of Elise and her older sister Juliana, who fell in love with Chase, a charming guy (just like Mr. Bingley). Then Chase has a best friend, Derek (teen version of Mr. Darcy), a man of few words, handsome and a son of movie stars. Everyone loves to be close to him but he’s the type of guy who shuts everyone out of his life aside from those very close to him. He and Elise started on a wrong foot but they ended up always together because of Chase and Juliana. I like it that Elise’s rational, normal personality compliments Derek.

Even though I’m no longer a teenager, Epic Fail still made me giddy. Maybe because I can relate to Elise. I believe we have the same personality. She’s not the typical teenager who thinks of sex and boys all the time. She’s conservative and not pretentious. She doesn’t want to conform to the culture of her new school and remained different. She respects her parents. And though she feels frustrated with her very weird family (strict parents and rebellious younger sister) she still loved them.

And Derek is exactly the hero I’m looking for when I attempted to read a teenybopper book. He was not really described in detail but the way he talked and the way he acted gave me a glimpse of how handsome he was. The author didn’t need expletive description to convince me he looks good. And he’s not the bad boy type. So is Chase. They are handsome boys, popular but have morals too. They value the girls they like very much. They don’t have vices and are kind. The type of guys your parents will like and trust.

The book ended nicely. And I was happy that I never once got irritated to either Elise or Derek. It was a first for me when it comes to this book genre. It made my day.

MY RATING

3 stars

Fortunately, The Milk

fortunately the milk

Author: Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young

Genre: Picture Book, Children’s, Time Travel

First Publication: January 1st 2013

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

“I bought the milk,” said my father. “I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road.”

“Hullo,” I said to myself. That’s not something you see every day.” And then something odd happened.

Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.

MY THOUGHTS

I will start my review by saying that I am totally in love with Skottie Young’s illustration of this book. Very Tim Burtonish. Fortunately, The Milk is a very short children’s story that is so hilarious and fun to read. It doesn’t have any dull moment. In fact, I was grinning and laughing all the time. Imagine your father, going out to buy a bottle of milk and then he took a long time to come back, only to tell you that he was late because he was kidnapped by aliens, and then jumped to a time warp where he met a time-traveling dinosaur, and went to different time spaces and met so many weird creatures. That’s what this book is all about. It reminds me of Edward Eager’s Half-magic, because of the time-traveling element. And that both of the story happened in a very usual day and then out nowhere, something extraordinary happens. I just love this kind of children’s story the most. But even if this book reminds me of the other, they are in no way similar story wise. Just the feel.

And then there’s a catch at the end of the book. But you have to read it to find out.

MY RATING

4 stars

In The Forests Of The Night

in the forest of the nightAuthor: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural

First Publication: January 1st 2000

First book of The Den Of Shadows series

“I could have killed Aubrey. I could have used my strength to be like him. But I remember my humanity.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

By day, Risika sleeps in shaded room in Concord, Massachusetts. By night, she hunts the streets of New York City. She is used to being alone.
But someone is following Risika. He has left her a black rose, the same sort of rose that sealed her fate three hundred years ago. Three hundred years ago Risika had a family- a brother and a father who loved her. Three hundred years ago she was human.
Now she is a vampire, a powerful one. But her past has come back to torment her.

MY THOUGHTS

Written at a young age of thirteen, this debut novel brought fame to the author. The story is about Risika, a three hundred year old vampire living a life alone at an old city. The book opens the pages of Risika’s past life, before she was transformed into a vampire and her life at present, when her past continues to haunt her. Be a hunter or be the hunted? That has been the question of her life for three hundred years. The present is the time to find the answer.

Short but eerie and captivating, I was so engrossed with this book that I didn’t put it down unless someone interrupted me. A vampire novel had failed and disappointed me before and I thought maybe vampires are not for me. But this book drew me in. I like how Risika’s character is strong and independent. I was impressed with how the story shifts from the past and the present. I like how the author was able to express Risika’s emotions. Aside from the main character, I was also able to enjoy the other characters in the story even if most of them were villains (I particularly like Aubrey, though he is the cruelest villain. And it seems that there is a separate novel for him entitled Demon In My View, which I am currently looking for). There is just something about her characters that is enthralling. It makes me want to know more of them.

My only complain about In The Forests Of The Night is that it is too short. I felt as if the end part was too abrupt. There are also some issues that must have been explained more but was left open. Or maybe I just thought that this plot can still be stretched and it will never lose its allure.

This is my first time reading something written by this author. And since I enjoyed it, I will surely add her books to my list of to-buy books now. Atwater-Rhodes’ prose has magic. Indeed, a success of a book not only lies on the plot but also on the ability of the writer. And for a debut novel, this book is very good. I would love to suggest this book to vampire fans. This might not be a love story but it is worth a read.

MY RATING

4 stars

The Housekeeper And The Professor

the housekeeper and the professorAuthor: Yoko Ogawa

Genre: Japanese Literature, Slice of Life

First Publication: January 1st 2003

I had been momentarily mesmerized by the inscription on the thesis – For N, with my eternal love. Never forget. The handwriting definitely belonged to the Professor, for whom “eternal” meant something more than it did to the rest of us. Eternal in the way a mathematical theorem was eternal…

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him. And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities like the Housekeeper’s shoe size and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away. The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.

MY THOUGHTS

This book was beautifully written. I have always wondered how Japanese authors could write like this; lyrical, heart wrenching and emotionally binding. A perfect read for a rainy day. The story centers on the daily life of the housekeeper and her relationship with the Professor who has a memory disorder. At first I wonder how this story will progress. Will someone die? Will something dramatic happen? Will they fall in love with each other? There are so many questions swirling inside my head. But the moment I finished the first chapter, I forgot these questions in my mind and just went with the flow of the story. And it captured me.

To be honest, there is really no climactic event in this book. It was just a simple narration of the characters’ everyday life. But there was really something about it that made me continue reading till the end. There was a certain melancholy about it that gripped my heart and made me sigh when I finished reading it.

However, I don’t really recommend it to those who fear (and/or hate) mathematics. Because this book is all about formulas, prime numbers, theorems and proofs, all written in a way that made math more beautiful to me. I am just not too sure if other people will feel the same way I felt about it.

MY RATING

4 stars

American Gods

american godsAuthor: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural, Adult Fiction

First Publication: 2001

“She had taken the moon down from the sky for him.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what and who it finds there…

MY THOUGHTS

What happens when Gods that were all used to be worshipped by people slowly became forgotten? What happens when you got caught with the storm between the old Gods and the new Gods? A mind boggling, thrilling, mysterious adventure.

Winner of numerous awards namely; Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel (2001), Hugo Award for Best Novel (2002), Nebula Award for Best Novel (2002), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2002), International Horror Guild Award Nominee for Best Novel (2001), World Fantasy Award Nominee for Best Novel (2002), SFX Award for Best Novel (2002), Geffen Award (2003), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Adult Literature (2002), Prix Bob Morane for roman traduit, American Gods is one of the most highly acclaimed Neil Gaiman book.

I was hooked and transported by Gaiman into the world of Gods roaming around America in the present time. It has been a month since I last experienced the same thrill and profound engrossment I felt while reading American Gods (the last was when I read Boy’s Life). This book has the best dose of mystery, historical information, emotional whirlwind, humor and action. Aside from this, I like the unpredictability of the story. It was fun to read something that will make your mind work so hard. Every chapter was a revelation it will stop you from closing the book.

There were also some parts where I cried (but will not mention it here to avoid spoilers). Despite the humorous conversations and metaphors Gaiman used for the characters of the New Gods, I could sense the profound message he wants to partake. One is the result of the fast changes that happens in America and how it affects not only the Gods but also the people living in it. It’s saddening but it was the reality.

Well, I cannot say that this is bad, just an observation. American Gods has too much characters that’s it’s a little difficult to remember all of them (at least in my case). So it’s was difficult for me to connect the past chapters to the present one when the characters are mentioned again.

But disregarding that, I love American Gods. It made me want to read the rest of his books. And I am more than willing to recommend this book to EVERYONE I know.

MY RATING

4 stars

Losing It

losing itAuthor: Cora Carmack

Genre: New Adult, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance

First Publication: ebook format. October 15th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers

“My whole world was expanding in the circle of his arms.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, Bliss Edwards decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible – a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

MY THOUGHTS

This has been a good way to start reading New Adult Contemporary Romance, at least for me. Losing It, despite the fact that it was a self-published book, was beautifully written. Actually, at first I thought it was another erotica novel or something, but I was wrong.

Losing It is about Bliss, who, unlike all her friends in College, was still a virgin. One night, her friend Kelsey practically dragged her into a bar to “get rid” of her virginity. There she met Garrick, a British guy who was reading Shakespeare instead of drinking and partying. They were attracted with each other in an instant. But when they were about to finally do it, she chickened out and made silly lies to make him go away. The next time she came to school, she had the shock of her life to know that Garrick is her new professor. So, began their complicated forbidden love.

First of all, I think I had already established the fact that I like how this book was written. The prose was beautiful and I like the way Carmack relates Bliss and Garrick’s situation to plays (since they are theatre majors). It’s cute. I also like Garrick. I like his patience and his kindness. I like how he struggled to control his love for Bliss because she was his student.

But even though I love how it was written, I find Bliss unsettling and irritating most of the time. But all in all, this is something nice to read when you just want to relax and feel a little giddy. Losing It is something I will recommend to my co-romance junkies.

MY RATING

3 stars

Ella Enchanted

ella enchantedAuthor: Gail Carson Levine

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale retelling, Children’s book, Middle Grade

First Publication: January 1st 1997 by Scholastic Books

“You like me. You wouldn’t waste time or paper on a being you didn’t like. But I think I’ve loved you since we met at your mother’s funeral. I want to be with you forever and beyond but you write that you are too young to marry or too old or too short or too hungry. Until I crumple your letters up in despair. Only to smooth them out again for a twelfth reading, hunting for hidden meanings.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

MY THOUGHTS

I wished I’ve read this book earlier. This is one of the books that gripped my heart with regret because I haven’t read it yet. Because when I did, I felt giddy even after I’ve finished reading it. Ella Enchanted was a very cute and lovely take on the fairytale Cinderella. Gail Carson Levine had clearly shown his interpretation of the fairytale’s heroine’s obedience. That instead of a gift, it was a curse. To be honest, I don’t read fairytales when I was young. I don’t like reading it because the protagonists are always too kind and obedient that they are always taken advantage of by the evil witches, stepmothers, siblings, etc.

That’s why I love fairytale retelling such as this because it seems as if authors like GCL had also noticed what I find unacceptable from fairytales and they gave it a new interpretation that is to my taste. And he was able to present it subtlety with matching fairies, ogres, elves and other magical creatures. He was able to tell something at the same time made me enjoy the book immensely.

Most of all, I cheer for Ella and Prince Char. I like their relationship. It made me remember the anime series Cinderella Monogatari. I enjoy reading their letters for each other. And even though Prince Char was not really described in detail, I can feel he’s a handsome prince.

And because I’m enjoying fairytale retellings, I have now the courage to read original fairytales. One at a time.

MY RATING

5 stars

My Name Is Memory

my name is memory

Author: Ann Brashares

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

First Publication: June 1st 2010 by Riverhead Hardcover

“You have been with me from the very first life. You are my first memory every time, the single thread in all of my lives. It’s you who makes me a person.”

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel’s unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now “Lucy” in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

MY THOUGHTS

My Name Is Memory is a story of a boy named Daniel who has an unusual memory. He can remember his past lives and recognize reincarnated souls. He has been in love with a woman who he killed on his very first life and continued to love for all his lives and deaths. For his every life he always searches for her, hoping that they could finally be together. Unfortunately, their existence on every life always doesn’t fit together. She also doesn’t remember him. And so he always end up broken-hearted. Dated the present, he met her once again through a girl named Lucy. Through confusions, disbelief and time apart, they fell in love with each other again. Just as they thought they will finally be together, an old enemy came their way to separate them again…

I love this book. I have always been fascinated with stories of reincarnations. Being a romantic as I am, the thought of a love that never faded through many lives touched me immensely. It is not only the story but the way the author wrote it that did me. I liked how heartfelt the author’s words were. It is simple yet emotional and it grasped what the whole story should actually feel. It made me shed tears. My heart also ached most of the times. And even though Daniel and Lucy were not together three fourth of the book, I could feel their love and longing for each other. I also liked the characterizations of the characters. Though in the beginning, Daniel and Lucy both have faults and frustrated me a few times, their characters developed as years gone by on their lives. It made me forgive them with the notion that they were too young at the start of the story. Character development is one of the major factors I look for in a book and Anna Brashares gave me that.

There are things I could think of that might be complained by other readers about this book, though it didn’t really bother me. One is the pacing of the story. There are some who might consider it slow-paced. But I think it is necessary for the story since it tackles their previous lives and the longing Daniel felt for the girl he loves. This book is also one of those open-ended novels that is very popular today. In my opinion, I prefer it to have a continuation since there are still loose ends that need to be tied for me to be satisfied. I love the concept and I really feel for Daniel, that is why I want him to have a happy life with Lucy and much as I love imagining things, I want to read it. I want to see it with my own eyes, every word, and every sentence that will describe him finally being happy with Lucy. I want him to be happy. That is how much I feel connected to Daniel.

Thankfully, I heard that the author is also thinking of writing a sequel for this. I will surely read it too. In fact, I am excited for it to be finished. I am definitely recommending this book to anyone, especially to those who liked young adult books. I am actually not really a YA fan but I do try reading some to avoid bias (and with the hope that I could find something that I will like) and this book makes me see the genre in a different light. My Name Is Memory is a must read.

MY RATING:

3 stars