Book Review: Millennium #2: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Genre: Mystery | Thriller | Crime | Suspense

(Millennium #2)

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past. 

Literary Awards: Dilys Award Nominee (2009), Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery/Thriller (2009)

Book 1: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review     


As if the horror was not enough in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! Why, oh why, did i wait to read this sequel? The Millennium Trilogy is meant to be consumed continuously! Stieg Larsson, I am now a fan! 

Lisbeth Salander is my woman of steel. 😀 what a brilliant character. Here, i got to see how others perceived her. what a sordid past for a girl. =( but she fought back, and she’s still fighting now that she’s been accused of murder. Salander is one tough chick to bring down, that’s for sure.

For a brief time, i saw what a man-wh*re Blomkvist really was. I guess age is just a number to him? LOL. Other than that, Blomkvist is still the smart and relentless journalist who will always be in pursuit of the truth. His shining moment for me was when he discovered Lisbeth’s apartment. He didn’t realized how painful and difficult her life is until that time.

The Girl Who Played with Fire is hardcore. It is ruthless and more brutal than its predecessor. My first 5 stars for 2012. Yay!



Book Review: A Need so Beautiful by Suzanne Young

RATING: StarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Supernatural > Angels

(A Need so Beautiful #1)

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be Forgotten…

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become–her mark on this earth, her very existence–is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny–no matter how dark the consequences.


I’m mesmerized by the premise. the execution was effective at the same time. The only thing that destroyed A Need so Beautiful was the sour-tasting romance. Boo!

“I love you,” I murmur. His hands rest on my hips. “Show me.” he says with a soft smile, and then pulls me inside.

WTF. Seriously?!!! Love equals sex?!!! Ugh. What a disgusting message to send to YA readers.

Sigh. Charlotte is a good girl – she gives in to the Need. But when Harlin’s around, man, she turns into this very horny angel. Eek. Harlin was impressive at first, but when every meetup with Charlotte goes into sex mode… uh, no thanks. Keep your hands to yourself, please.

if it wasn’t for the Need episodes, i would’ve given A Need so Beautiful a 2. I especially liked the scene between Charlotte and the drugged mother with her child. It is the Need that made this angel book worth reading, even for a while.


In My Mailbox [21] – Lauren Oliver (in Manila) Edition

Hosted by The Story Siren



 Before I Fall

 Visits of  YA Authors here in Manila is rare. I think Lauren Kate is the first. I liked her first book, Fallen, but the succeeding books are disappointments. Thus, i did not attend her book signing.

My GR friend Alona told me that Lauren Oliver is coming here. Well, I wasn’t exactly a fan but hey, I loved Delirium. 😀 So she and I (and a couple of other GR friends) planned to be there for Oliver’s book signing in Makati.

Unfortunately, Alona didn’t make it (sorry, girl!). I came with my other GR friends Angus, Kwesi, and Rollie.

Lauren Oliver is so different in real life! She looks young and vibrant. Very accommodating to her Filipino fans. =)

Among her favorite books are To Kill A Mockingbird (which made Angus happy) by Harper Lee and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. There still a lot of books mentioned but these are what i remembered (memory gap, i’m sorry!). Lauren, please feel free to correct me, should I got them wrong. 🙂



The local bookstore which hosted the book signing event didn’t mentioned that you have to buy Pandemonium (did they?). I didn’t bring mine, knowing that I just want Delirium and Before I Fall signed. Sigh. I have no choice but to buy another copy of Pandemonium

When it was my turn to get my books signed (i was no. 79), i was happy. Lauren’s smiling and talking to me like she has all the time in the world. Don’t you just love authors like that? She was so genuine that i can’t helped but be a fan. =)

I told Lauren that i am hoping i won’t get disappointed with the third book, Requiem. I even told her I am Team Alex! LOL But she assured me it won’t have a cliffhanger ending like Pandemonium and that i will like it. I hope so, Lauren. I really, really hope so. 😉


Book signing events are fun! I am praying that local bookstores will invite more YA authors here in Manila.

After the book signing, we watched the Hunger Games movie. 😀


So! Who has read Before I Fall? Will you recommend it?


Leave your IMM links in the comments section!



.: maria :.

“giving up is the ultimate tragedy.”

Book Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

RATING: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary > Mystery | Humor

(Deadly Cool #1)

Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name.

But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim.


Deadly Cool is highly entertaining for me. Although there was a short moment when the atmosphere was stale, overall it is a light and super fun to read!

Hartley is such a likeable character. Even her naivete towards Josh is surprisingly laughable. There is no way I will hate Hartley for being an idiot when this guy is around!

I very much love the scene at Chase‘s bedroom. OMG, i was clutching my tummy to suppress the laugh that is stubbornly bubbling inside me! Hartley spying on a hot guy was so hilarious. =)

This is the perfect read for me after finishing Jane Eyre. It was simply a riot! Funny, crazy, Deadly Cool. 😉


Book Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

RATING: StarStarStar

Genre: Classics | Literature > Romance

Challenge: Goodreads – The Filipino Group 100 Favorite Books (April read)

Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.


I am not a classics reader, but I like Jane Eyre just fine. Brontë’s writing is okay, but there lots of times where she was too descriptive. too long, even. Oh well, at least now i get to bash Mr. Rochester. LOL

Jane is admirable when she was eleven years old. She’s got spunk, to say it so bluntly. i like that she says what she wants to say. When she was already a governess, she’s mindful already of her words and actions. Was it because of her education? Maybe. While i abhor her stoicism during the church scandal, i liked Jane in the end. Strong, stubborn, with principle.

I believe Mr. Rochester has no redeeming qualities. Rude, arrogant, manipulative. Oh, and he’s a liar as well. You’d think for an ugly gentleman, Brontë will make him likeable by writing him with a good and commendable personality. I guess she’s going for unconventional? While i do not like Mr. Rochester (at all), i did not delight in the plight he was in when Jane Eyre sought him at the end of the book.

The story was simple. The ending, too neat.

Jane Eyre tried (and succeeded) in defying the conventions of her time. For that, I applaud her.


Book Review: Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer

Rating: StarStarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary | Romance

Two climbed up. Two fell down.

One woke up.

In the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, Robin Saunders has to relearn who she is and find out what happened the night everything changed.

(An ebook copy was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.)


You know, i always admired people who are picky about their friendships. But now i wonder. i wonder if it’s best to be so choosy. Maybe we need more than just one or two other people to trust.

Notes to Self is surprisingly good. It it well written, you’d think you were reading a seasoned author already. The first few chapters gripped me. It was so easy to read! At the same time it was hard, you know? Because the emotion is very raw, very real.

“I fell,” she whispered.

Robin doesn’t remember anything about the fall. What she and Emily were talking about that night. Why Reno is suddenly absent from her life. It was like, selective memory of sorts. As she waits for Em to wake up, she struggled hard to recalling everything and to living normally as if Em is already gone.

Robin is so easy to connect with. I felt her frustration when she can’t remember how to take a shower. I imagined vividly her resignation when the whole school seemed to hate her. I succumbed to embarassment when her dad was (finally) lost on her. Gosh, what didn’t i feel when i’m reading this book?!!

It terrifies me if i forget someone i love, or something i love doing (like reading books) because of memory loss. But Robin reminded me to just be here in the moment… and be alive. =)

That was what everyone was always saying was the point, right? Find something you love to do and then do it. As if that was such an easy thing.

Many thanks to the author, Avery Sawyer!


COVERed: Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Book Release: 09/04/2012

(Guild Hunter #5)

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.


I am so glad this cover is reminiscent of the first three books. I didn’t like Archangel’s Blade’s – Dimitri came across as fake. This cover is not much, and yet it draws me to stare. Probably because Jason’s character is intriguing (and i like him!). Dark, brooding, mysterious. And. I. want. to. know. more. It’s about time Nalini Singh graces us with Jason’s story!!!

While I wait for my beloved Ilium’s story from Nalini, I will gladly anticipate (and later savor, i hope) Jason’s. 🙂

Haven’t heard of the Guild Hunter series? Better read it now. These are not your typical (arch)angels. *evil grin*






Book Review: The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen

Rating: StarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary | Romance

a long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

Literary Awards: Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Urban Fantasy (2004),South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2007), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2005), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2006)


It saddens me to say that I did not enjoy The Truth About Forever. The sa-woon factor tugged a little smile from me, but the giggle was not there. Sigh. My first Sarah Dessen book is an epic fail. =(

Macy is not my type of a female lead. Timid, depressing, hopeless. Oh yes, i know her dad died. Still, i would’ve liked it if Dessen portrayed Macy a little stronger, a subtle fighter in her own way. Her character was built up way too slow. Wes is likeable enough. I mean i would like him as a best friend, but for a boyfriend? Erm, not really. Wes’ character is a lot more interesting than Macy’s, but it was not enough for me to go gaga over him.

The story interchangeably tells Macy’s grief (and guilt) over her father’s death and her growing affection for Wes. The plot was simple; there was nothing new there, thus my boredom in reading it.

I’m not saying that Macy is not allowed to mourn (no matter how long it would be). What I’m saying is that Macy is not the girl I will look up to if ever I will grieve on something (or someone). Why? Because the resolve to move on despite the heartache is hard to find in her.

What is The Truth About Forever? It only means forever is different for each person. Therefore, you cannot compare yours to others, and you cannot deny them theirs. And THAT is the only thing i liked about this novel.

Book Review: Vampire Academy #5: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead

Rating: StarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Paranormal

(Vampire Academy #5)

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa Dragomir. It’s graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives outside of the Academy’s cold iron gates to finally begin. But even with the intrigue and excitement of court life looming, Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri. He’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance, and now her worst fears are about to come true. Dimitri has tasted her blood, and she knows in her heart that he is hunting her. And if Rose won’t join him, he won’t rest until he’s silenced her…forever.

But Rose can’t forget what she learned on her journey—whispers of a magic too impossible and terrifying to comprehend. A magic inextricably tied to Lissa that could hold the answer to all of Rose’s prayers, but not without devastating consequences. Now Rose will have to decide what—and who—matters most to her. In the end, is true love really worth the price?

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Goodreads Author, Nominee for Favorite Heroine, Nominee for Favorite Book (2010), Children’s Choice Book Award Nominee for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2011), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best Series (2010)

Book 1: Vampire Academy review     Book 2: Frostbite review     Book 3: Shadow Kiss review     Book 4: Blood Promise review


What. A. Shame. Spirit Bound officially declared Rose Hathaway as a man-eater. Unfaithful.Unlikeable. No longer credible. Richelle Mead, what have you done with this series?!!! I could not comprehend why things happened the way they did here. Oh, Adrian, you are the one bright spot. But in the end, i even have misgivings on you. 😦 

Rose is so unfair with Adrian, saying she’ll give him a chance now that Dmitri is out of the picture. So now they are dating. But she still thinks of Dmitri. She tries to rescue him without telling Adrian, thus leaving him in the dark. When Dmitri came back and rejected her, she went back to Adrian crying, wanting to be with him now. What an opportunistic b****!

On the other hand, Adrian is too good to be true. I am torn between hugging him (coz he’s sweet) or slapping him at the back of his head (coz he’s an idiot).C’mon man, she’s just using you when you’re convenient! Pathethic.

Okay, enough ranting. What about the story? It felt like a filler, nothing solid going on. The only thing I like is the unexpected demise of one of the characters. never saw that one coming. And I love Eddie. He is the only one who’s thinking straight.

Now I am afraid to read the final book, Last Sacrifice. I loved this series! But i have the feeling that my disappointment is just starting. 😦

The rumor about Rose being a blood whore? The truth is revealed here in Spirit Bound.

Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Rating: StarStarStar

Genre: Young Adult > Historical Fiction > Fantasy

(His Fair Assassin #1)

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. 

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?


Warning: the action-packed scenes is just average in Grave Mercy. Three, four times? I was prepared to be whipped by a butt-kicking heroine but it just didn’t happen. the romance was okay. But the true purpose of Mortain’s Handmaidens of Death is simply… noble. The complete turnaround of Ismae‘s beliefs was surprising.

The premise is unique, i’d tell you that. The characters are alright; in the end, i loved deLornay the most (not because he is pretty) and following him is Beast.

The play for political intrigue is too long, though. Also, I was expecting a lot of fights (battles, even), but i was disappointed.

The paranormal elements of Grave Mercy was enjoyable. I don’t get to read that kind of thing everyday. If you are to pick this up, don’t think too much. Just go with the flow and i’m sure you’ll like it. 

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Imprint: Houghton Mifflin

Pub Date: 04/03/2012

Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for granting my galley request.