5/5 Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

5 years sitting in my bookshelf; 5 wasteful years when I should’ve enjoyed this sooner.

Series: N/A

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (1986), Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1986), Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel (1987), Audie Award for Fiction (2013), Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (1986), Governor General’s Literary Awards / Prix littéraires du Gouverneur général for Fiction (1985), Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Nominee for Best Book in Caribbean and Canada (1987), CBC Canada Reads Nominee (2002)

Rating: 5/5

Recommended for: Dystopian lovers

As I contemplate on which book to review next (there are lots of them, waaa), I decided on The Handmaid’s Tale (THT) just because the hashtag for Women’s March in the US has been consistently appearing in my twitter feed. While I have the faintest idea on what that was really all about, I figured why not? THT is one of my best reads last 2016 (but I failed to include it in my 2016 Best Reads post, I know. Boo!). Might as well try to review a book that consumed my womanly insanity. Haha!

I was a sucker for YA dystopian series a few years ago, and now I am very picky. Finishing THT was a harsh wake up call on what I know of dystopian society portrayed in YA. Atwood’s world in the form of Gilead was rigid, stiff, gritty, terrifying. I will not be an Offred, though. I am a Moira!

This is the worst world a woman can get stuck into. Women are not allowed to learn how to read and write. They can go out of the house to do some shopping in the market; they have pictures of food (meat, bread, vegetables), that they can show to communicate with vendors. They go out in twos (Ofrred is paired with Ofglen), and were not allowed to talk to anyone in the streets, especially men. Handmaids like Offred were taken care of, in the possibility of bearing a child, and so there’s a schedule for her and the Commander for sex. It was a transaction, as tasteless as waiting for your receipt after doing your groceries.

More than these traditional (ridiculous) restrictions set upon women, what burned in my mind the most is Offred’s (reliable? unreliable?) memories of her life before Gilead. She feigns ignorance but she can read and write; she blanks out her face during sex with the Commander, but was constantly reminded of her affair with Luke; she refuses to think that she really had a daughter, for what kind of a mother would subject her daughter to that kind of horrible life with a commander and her unfeeling wife?

This is my first Margaret Atwood book, and I am happy to say that I am looking forward to reading more of her work. The writing was so effective in playing with my emotions – being a woman has never been this hurtful or shameful. The late nights with the Commander added a layer of complication during their sex sessions, because what if Serena Joy notices that she’s liking it, because she knows the Commander more so everyday? Offred’s affair with Nick was the element that I can see that made her pause, and think that maybe, what her situation is right now, she does not want to take it lying down anymore. It was heartbreaking, this affair-turned-escape-from-reality. Let the rebels worry about Gilead’s future, she thought. I cannot go back to Luke and my daughter, I know that. But here with Nick? This might be something, at least. Sigh.

The uncertainty of the ending made me think that whatever happened to Offred, I hope she makes it. I really, really hope she makes it.

Sorrowful at most, The Handmaid’s Tale made me ache. It was beautiful in its tragedy.

 

Paperback Edition, 400 pages

Published by Seal Books

 

maria

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5/5 Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I prefer this series over Throne of Glass… by a mile!

17927395Series: A Court of Thorns & Roses | Book 2

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2016)

Rating: 5/5

Recommended for: Team Rhysand, and those who lost interest in Throne of Glass series after Heir of Fire

If you are Team Tamlin, this sequel is not for you. You are better off not continuing with the series.

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(I have written off SJM’s Throne of Glass series after Queen of Shadows, because she wrote off Chaol brutally, completely. So now she has this new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, still about Fae, and I am guessing still with a love triangle, but I still read it. ACoTaR was okay, but after my experience in loving Crown of Midnight after my lukewarm feelings over Throne of Glass, I decided I can still bet on a good story on ACoTaR’s sequel.

I have to admit, when I saw one review saying Rhysand is all over ACoMaF, I perked up. See, there’s this last scene between Feyre and Rhysand in ACoTaR that had me itching, itching to know what the heck Rhys was so freaked about when he saw Feyre. He was a High Lord of the Night Court, so why would he fear a mortal huntress such as Feyre? I want to know about that. So I read ACoMaF.)

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(It’s been a long while since I’ve been consumed day and night by a book.)

Love – love was a balm as much as it was a poison.

I believe that Feyre loved Tamlin, and vice versa. The ending of A Court of Thorns and Roses left Feyre desperate, broken, spent. SJM started A Court of Mist and Fury with a reality check: Tamlin’s love was a promise to protect her, but it only succeeded in isolating her, caging her, leaving her even more vulnerable with her nightmares after her stay Under The Mountain.

I’m thinking that I was a lonely, hopeless person, and I might have fallen in love with the first thing that showed me a hint of kindness and safety.

Tamlin disappearing before I am 20% done is a clear indicator that that ship has sunk. Him entering at the last 1-2 chapters? There’s the nail at Feyre-Tamlin coffin. *fist pump* so I started to hope for Rhysand’s chance. I know it was like Heir of Fire all over again. Fortunately for me, for this series, I was not into Tamlin. SJM veering away from Tam to (maybe) Rhys got my seal of approval. I might even forgive her to what she did to my Captain Chaol.

I was a wolf.

And I bit when cornered.

Feyre‘s road to self-recovery and forgiveness was a harsh terrain. Nightmares, low self-worth, and (the feeling of) betrayal. Not once did I sneer at Feyre, for being weak, or when she let herself be degraded by the Spring Court. It was realistic. When she decided to push back, and shove the darkness that threaten to succumb her, I thought yes, it’s time to be strong now, Feyre. You don’t need another High Lord to protect you. You can protect yourself. and then some.

That I might be a little bit vicious or restless. That I might crave peace, but never a cage of comfort.

(Who run the world? Girls!) Rhys acknowledging a strong woman like Feyre is very crush-worthy.

It’d just been a relief to think that for a moment, he might have been as lonely as me.

Rhysand. He’s climbing up my BBF list way faster than I’d hoped. Sure, I like bad boys, but his back story was so layered, so massively different from what was portrayed in ACoTaR, and yet, it felt justified. It’s like all the hints and misses with Feyre in ACoTaR rightfully led to what was now here, in ACoMaF. And he believes in Feyre. He lets her decide, supports what she wants, and willing to damn himself just to save her. (Unlike *ahem* Tamlin *ahem*)

“Amren and Mor told me that the span of an Illyrian male’s wings says a lot about the size of… other parts.”

“Did they now.”

“They also said Azriel’s wings are the biggest.”

“When we return home, let’s get the measuring stick, shall we?”

The sexy yet purposeful bantering between Feyre and Rhys is a joy to read. Hot and heavy with promise of things to come, it was the chemistry that I was hoping for between Feyre and Tamlin in ACoTaR, but did not happen, that’s why I am Team Rhysand!

Rhys’ inner circle is the next best thing in ACoMaF. My favorite was Amren, she’s an enigma! Mor, Cassian and Azriel are a riot, but knowing the sadistic histories that entangles the three, it’s a surprise that they can even smile and love at all.

The action scenes are even better. The Bone Carver. The Weaver. The watery grave. The Court of Nightmares. The cave attack against the Hybern soldiers. The Attor in Velaris. I was salivating with so much delight on how each of these scenes packed so much punch! I say SJM is a master of writing action-packed scenes.

I waited for the blush, the shyness, to creep in.

But I was beautiful. I was strong.

I cannot remember being hot and bothered with Feyre and Tamlin in ACoTaR. In this sequel, I was anything BUT. Dear me, I think SJM was high when she was writing these, because Feyre and Rhys are consistently setting the pages on fire! Don’t get me wrong. The first half of the book, it was just shameless flirting on Rhys’ part, and Feyre is almost always ready to strangle him. But Rhys staying by Feyre’s side every time she doubts herself, that paved the way for Feyre, that instead of feeling empty, Rhys is making her feel alive… and then hot.. and then really hot and bothered. You’ll probably guess the rest, but isn’t so much better if you read the truth? Haha! (SJM’s repetitive “apex of my thighs” phrase has me rolling my eyes for a bit.)

The throne room scene in Hybern got me cringing, and biting my nails. I have this gut feeling it’s going to end bad, bad, bad. and it did. The ending, though? It promised a completely different story of scheming and plotting. That had me sobbing because I would have to wait a year for Book 3. (I hate you, SJM.)

Should SJM introduce another love interest after Rhysand, I will winnow her into the Court of Nightmares. But until then, I will savor the giddiness of what ACoMaF gave to me: A broken heroine who learned to be a wolf. A love interest who sacrificed his self-worth and happiness to protect what’s his. A fae world so beautifully built, and spectacularly expanded, that for sure, I will be lost in it a few weeks more after I finish (re)reading it.

And then-then I learned your name. Hearing you say it… it was like an answer to a question I’d been asking for five hundred years.

Kindle Edition, 626 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

maria

Official Blog Tour | Book Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

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Young Adult > Paranormal | Horror

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

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All the creeps, man. Horrible, frightening, awesome. 🙂

So I picked up this book from NetGalley out of curiosity. Blurb caught my eye, seemed interesting, so I decided to give it a try. 6 hours later, I was done with The Girl from the Well. I was also done watching horror movies for that month. 😀

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End of Chapter 1 – goosebumps. End of Chapter 2 – double goosebumps.

I closed Illium a couple of times just to pause, you know just like in movies? You cover your eyes when the scare gets too much? Haha, I was horribly scared, but enjoying it the same time. (I’m crazy, aren’t I?)

I love how the story was fast-paced, how the main character has no remorse over her killings, or how detached she was from everything. And it’s how she should be, she’s a vengeful ghost! Then the boy with a dark spirit comes along. And the fun just escalated for me. The scarier, the better. Woohoo!

Ghosts, little girls who can see them, and terrible spirits out for more evil – how can I refuse?

I thought The Girl from the Well was entertaining. There are similarities I saw that are trademarks of some asian horror movies, but I didn’t mind. The serial killers being stalked by this vengeful spirit is too much fun for me.

The climax  was good, although a bit mild. I was expecting more shock or bigger destruction. Still, it was enough for me. But the ending, oh my, I thought it was very well played.

I wish there’s more horror stories like The Girl from the Well out there. Makes me think if I’m missing something worth the scare for a night or two. 🙂

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for granting my galley request.

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THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco

Kindle Edition, 304 pages

Published August 5th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire

5/5 stars

Book Review: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain

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Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

(Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell #4)

Heavy rains have burst the banks of the Willamette River; several people have died in the furiously rising waters…but the latest victim didn’t drown. She was killed before she went into the water. Soon, other victims are found, and Police Detective Archie Sheridan realises that Portland has a new serial killer on its hands.

Reporter Susan Ward is on the story, but she’s got other leads to chase, and some secrets can be frightening for prying eyes. With Archie following a bizarre trail of evidence, and Susan close behind, the pair must unearth the identity of a vicious murderer, and uncover the truth behind a mystery more than sixty years old…

Book 1: Heartsick review     Book 2: Sweetheart review       Book 3: Evil at Heart review

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The flood was more terrifying than the killings.

Gretchen Lowell is nowhere to be found in The Night Season. Well, up until the last minute. And as minute her appearance was, it made me excited for the next installment of this series.

Philippines has always been an ‘unwilling home’ to typhoons, which almost always result in floods. I guess you could say it is nothing but a common occurence to us Filipinos. When the city of Portland was submerged in a flood they haven’t seen in ages, I understood it, how scared they were. And the terror was doubled when Archie Sheridan realized someone is using the deluge to get away with murders.

I saw little of Henry Sobol (I actually liked this guy), but got compensated with Susan Ward‘s maturing character, and increasing weirdness (she constantly mouths useless trivia, and I found it entertaining). As for Archie, I am starting to warm to him again. His defiance to not let Gretchen control his life was getting stronger. Just a bit more, and I believe he can defeat The Beauty Killer in her own twisted game.

Looking forward to the next book, Kill You Twice!

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THE NIGHT SEASON by Chelsea Cain

Paperback, 388 pages

Published 2011 by Pan Books

4/5 stars

Book Review: Rogue by Gina Damico

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Young Adult > Paranormal

(Croak #3)

Lex is a teenage Grim Reaper with the power to Damn souls, and it’s getting out of control. Her boyfriend, Driggs, is dead . . . sort of. She’s a fugitive, on the run from the maniacal new mayor of Croak and the townspeople who want to see her pay the price for her misdeeds. Uncle Mort rounds up the Junior Grims to flee Croak once again, but this time they’re joined by Grotton, the most powerful Grim of all time. Their new mission is clear: Fix his mistakes, or the Afterlife will cease to exist, along with all the souls in it.  The gang heads for Necropolis, the labyrinth-like capital city of the Grimsphere. There, they discover that the Grimsphere needs a reboot. To do that, the portals to the Afterlife must be destroyed . . . but even that may not be enough to fix the damage. Things go from bad to worse, and when at last the fate of the Afterlife and all the souls of the Damned hang in the balance, it falls to Lex and her friends to make one final, impossible choice.

Book 1: Croak review       Book 2: Scorch review

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I hate this book. Made me cry twice (or thrice?) while riding the bus, no less.

Uncle Mort!
Lex!
DRIGGS!

Gina Damico you cruel, cruel woman. Give me back my happiness!!!

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Have you read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins? Rogue ended up just like Spell Bound: both finales are heartbreaking, it’s as if all the laughter and humor that launched both series stopped in the middle of their second books. I had high hopes for Rogue! But it gave me more sadness than joy. =(

Lex always feels guilty. Guilty that she cannot save the sister she loves the most, the best (boy)friend she loves the most. Now, she cannot save the future she wants for herself. I love Lex, and I always will. But the heroic acts Gina Damico imposed on her young character is too much for me to bear. I thought that her transition from being a problematic teenager to a world-saving Grimm is too quick to give her due credit.

At the end of Scorch, I was hoping against hope that Lex and Driggs will have a happy ending. If Rogue‘s ending is a happy one based on Gina Damico‘s standards, I don’t think I would want to read any more of her stories. It is just too depressing. *cries again*

It’s times like these when I get too attached to characters that, no matter how unique the world-building was, or how neat the story was wrapped up, the reading just felt heavy for me. And from the (humorous) impression I got from reading the first book, Croak, the morose ending of the series was not palpable for my taste.

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ROGUE by Gina Damico

Ebook, 384 pages

Published September 10th 2013 by Graphia

3/5 stars

Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Genre: Young Adult > Fantasy

(The Grisha #2)

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Book 1: Shadow and Bone review

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“You know, for two people with a love eternal, you’re awfully insecure,” Nikolai said.

I gave this a try. I really did. But nope. Still not working.

How Leigh Bardugo can create an interesting story, yet leave her main characters dismal, dull and altogether annoying, is beyond me.

I just couldn’t get past the irate main characters. No matter how intriguing Darkling was, or how amusing Sturmhond was, Alina and Mal will always be the ugly reasons on why I will never, ever be a fan of this series.

I admit that when I picked up Siege and Storm, I steamrolled the pages. By the time I put it down I was already at 28%. Sadly, the momentum of these first few chapters waned, leaving me struggling to finish the book, one chapter a day. I was having a good time then! Darkling showing up so early, the adventure with the sea whip, Sturmhond! But the relief that this might be a good sequel was short lived.

The story was rich, unique even. The religious-zealots element was a plus for me. But freakin’ Alina and Mal could not straighten their drama so the plot can get moving! Horrible, horrible characters, Leigh Bardugo. An unlikeable heroine (weak weak weak), and an equally dull love interest to save all of Ravka? Puh-lease.

Darkling‘s appearance was just bits and pieces after the sea whip scenes. F*cking unfair.

And Sturmhond (maybe) being another possible leading man just irritates the crap out of me.

Siege & Storm. An intimidating title that did not fit an ineffective, fickle Alina.

(I will not fall again for this kind of ornate trap, Janus! lol)

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SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo

Ebook, 448 pages

Published June 4th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

2/5 stars

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Genre: General Fiction > Mystery & Suspense > Thriller

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.”

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.

Literary Awards: Black Quill Award for Dark Genre Novel of the Year (2010)The Crime Writers’ Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Nominee (2010)

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Trust Gillian Flynn to twist even the most sacred of all relationships. :))

To rank her novels according to my brand of creepy awesomeness:
1. Gone Girl
2. Sharp Objects
3. Dark Places

Paper clips should not be bought, among other things, according to Libby Day (and I love this about her). This kind of quirky thinking only solidify her already hardened character, that can only come from Gillian Flynn!

Add to that, Libby likes to lift things. As mundane as salt & pepper shakers, paperweight. Curious and curiouser, right? The complexity of her personality was amusing to discover. Libby is not likeable as a person, mind you. But she draws me in, with these little knacks that surfaced when reading her POV.

I daydream about dying.

Patty Day has very disturbing thoughts for a mother. Can you see it?! That line alone was so fucked up to think of, when you wake up and start your day, to take care of your four kids (and you can barely get by). Patty’s chapters are the most compelling, it drove me insane! (Could I think like her, if I were in her shoes? That is what I thought while I read her POVs.)

Ben Day‘s state of mind is disturbing, too dark for a fifteen-year-old. Annihilation. The first time that word burst from his mind, I got goosebumps.. it made me ecstatic! Right then and there, I knew it’s going to be a horrifying read for me. I have no love for Ben though. The bastard was spineless and a cowardly schmuck. Libby on her bad days has bigger balls than him.

When that fateful day (the Days were killed) was finally recounted, the tone of the novel went to downright nasty. It was difficult not to get emotionally attached to Patty =( My insides were in turmoil, but at the same time, I was so keyed up, excited to know who the killer was…

And that fucker.

Dark Places. Gory fun. Typical Gillian Flynn insanity.

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DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn

Paperback, 538 pages

Published May 2010 by Crown

4/5 stars

Book Review: Horde by Ann Aguirre

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Young Adult > Science Fiction | Post Apocalyptic

(Razorland #3)

The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

Book 1: Enclave review       Book 2: Outpost review

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Awesome finale, you guys!

*whispers* Thank you, Ann Aguirre. Thank you.

I couldn’t resist pushing, just a little. “So it won’t bother you if I find someone else?”

His jaw clenched, and I saw the muscle move before he got it under control. “I thought you said you’d fight for me.”

“And you said it’s too late.” I offered him a faint smile along with his watch. “So it’s a good thing I don’t intend to listen to you.”

Out all the 2013 final book releases that I’ve read (Reached, Boundless, Champion, Requiem, Allegiant), Horde can actually stake a claim as the best and most amazing finale! It can sing loud and clear: Shine bright like a diamond. This is how a series should be wrapped up, people! The inevitable war (that actually happened!), the bloodshed (of characters I love and hate), and the love that survives (even if one was broken). It is truly an outstanding final book from one of my favorite authors, Ann Aguirre. Woot!

I was hesitant when Deuce was tagged as humanity’s best hope agains the Freaks. I mean, she’s just a teenage girl, a Huntress yes, but still in her teens. But Ann Aguirre laid out the development of her character solidly, that I began to hope. Gone was the Huntress who had nothing but her skills to kill. Now, she is a Huntress who will fight to the death (because of Fade and her new family), and if she was to die, she will take as many Freaks as possible with her. 😉 Deuce was so badass!

Fade is a complicated one, but coming from Outpost, I have to accommodate his insecurities. And here lies Deuce’s strength – for no matter how hard, or how cruel Fade was in pushing her away, she shoves back, with her unrelenting love, unbent faithfulness for him. So many swoon with these two!!! I love how their relationship was built, and forged to withstand the despair of their world. *fist pump*

The war was awful, gory, and with casualties (everything I savor in battles!). My emotions were running high during that part, for fear that Ann Aguirre will break, break my heart. But I approve, Ann Aguirre. What a fantastic way to end Razorland series!

Destruction and desolation, that has always been the theme of Deuce’s world. But amidst the chaos and fear, she learned how to be a friend, a family, a partner. Most of all, she learned to hope.

Deuce and Fade FTW… always. 😀

I get it. You’d rather have him, broken, than me whole. If that didn’t clarify my chances with you, nothing would.

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HORDE by Ann Aguirre

Ebook, 432 pages

Published October 29th 2013 by Feiwel & Friends
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5/5 stars

Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

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Young Adult > Contemporary

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

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Without a doubt, Lauren Oliver is a great writer. But I think she should stick with romance, and stay out of any plot involving action, suspense, and pretty much anything that would suggest there could be an adventure in her book.

Because her weakness is poor execution.

Add to that the characters she wrote here are unlikeable, unrelatable, bordering on despicable. Always a pity-party for Heather, playing both sides for Nat, all puppy-dog eyes for Bishop, and nothing but angst (and endless infatuation) for Dodge.

Heather, Nat, and Dodge have different reasons in joining Panic. Heather’s? Dumb. Nat’s? Money. Dodge’s? Revenge. Heather’s reason was really, really dumb.

The mechanics of the game Panic was absurd. It was being portrayed as something other than what it really was: teenagers who really just had nothing to do, doing stunts, risking their lives for $67,000. And it has been going on for so long, and yet, when the police started interrupting, the game instantly went to a standstill. The structure of the game should be sturdier than that, right? Pathetic.

Terrible characters. Even terrible story plot and execution.

I love Lauren Oliver for Delirium and Before I Fall. It ends there.

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins/HarperTeen for granting my galley request.

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PANIC by Lauren Oliver

Kindle Edition, 416 pages

Published March 4th 2014 by HarperCollins
2/5 stars

Book Review: To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

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General Fiction > Literature | Classics

The novel that established Virginia Woolf as a leading writer of the twentieth century, To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and it greatest triumph–the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.

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Nothing on earth can equal this happiness.


I have to be honest: Reading To the Lighthouse for the first time: I got to 1% before I fell asleep. I have to change tactics if I were to finish it, that’s why I resorted to an audiobook. Thank heavens for it! If I was easily deterred by the boredom I encountered reading the ebook, I would’ve missed one of the most beautifully written novels there is.

…love that never attempted to clutch its object, but like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases.

Mesmerizing, isn’t it? 🙂

To the Lighthouse reminded me of Gilead, with the family theme, questions about life and happiness. Mrs. Ramsay likes to ponder about things, and people. Matchmaking seems a hobby for people in the early times! Her relationship to James early in the novel was stamped on me, searing and immovable.

She transferred to him what she felt for her husband.


James‘ POV was equally powerful, relentlessly brutal for a kid his age. Violent thoughts against his father swirled to his mind. But what pushes him to think the way he did? I found the answer in the end.

Chapter 19 is the core of To the Lighthouse. Its ending, so blindingly heart-clenching.

But then Virginia Woolf breaks my heart in the next part. She depicted life vividly, unconsciously real. And to compare a life in ruins to that of a dilapidating summer house? Dramatic yet effective.

To the Lighthouse is now a favorite.

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TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf

Audiobook

4/5 stars