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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

Title: The Treachery of Beautiful Things
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: August 16 2012
Publishing House: Dial Books
ISBN: 9780803735804
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: The trees swallowed her brother whole. And Jenny was there to see it. Years later, when she returns to the woods where Tom was taken to say good-bye at last, she finds herself lured into a world where stunning beauty masks the most treacherous of evils, and strange and dangerous creatures await - creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with allegiances that shift as much as his moods. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where nothing is what it seems, no one is who they say and she's faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice - and not just her own.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book) 


This has got to be one of the surprisingly good books of the year. Just looking at the pretty cover made me think that the book may be treacherous as well, but it did keep my attention to the point that I was even trying to read from the passing street lamps when the skies were dark. (It's a bad habit, don't pick it up; even my younger brother told me that I was violating two Don't Dos: Reading in the car, and reading when it's dark.)

Long invites readers to join Jenny in her quest to find her brother Tom and convince him to leave the beautiful, yet hostile world of Titania, Oberon, and Jack. The forest is a beguiling traitor, and every creature it harbors exhibits the same traits. As Jenny stumbles through the enchanted forest, one can't help but continuously root for her as she goes along. It is in this world that Jenny finds courage to fight for those she holds dear, and to secure her own happy ending. Sure, it may sound a bit like something Disney may have had a hand in, but this book was like a breath of fresh air-no dark, mysterious, drop-dead gorgeous guys, and no whiny self-centered female protagonist who would seem to instantly find out that she has hormones as soon as she lays eyes on said guy.

This book is partially influenced by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and even portrays the leading female protagonist as Snow White, and Cinderella at times! I have a feeling that that wasn't all the symbolism Long skillfully weaved in the story (Puck also being Loki, Oberon having other names, etc.). It was wonderfully deceptive, and I would just have to give Long kudos for using such techniques to keep the story interesting and fresh. The timing of the romance felt right, and Jack and Jenny just seemed so right together. Jenny may be somewhat foolish at times, but I may be saying this only because I'm a bit cynical of how the world works. She is headstrong, and loves fiercely, which only endeared me to her-she's refreshing that way! Jack was a bit of a conundrum at first, but even after, I just had to succumb to his charms as well. He has got to be one of the sweetest guys I have ever read about! (I just keep gushing about him, I can't help it.) I loved the cast of characters - even the mischievous Puck who I wanted to smack at some points during the story.

The last few chapters were what propelled me to attempt to finish it quickly, because I seriously could not wait to find out what would happen next. Although the ending was a bit of a cliche, it still had me rooting for true love and the many wonders it beholds. Until now, I still get this weird, tingly feeling when I see my copy of the book. Long's descriptions are so vivid it felt like I was watching a movie inside my head. Pick the book up and be swept away into a lovely realm where fantasy and romance collide splendidly. With that being said, Long surely has just found a smitten fan in me.


Monday, October 29, 2012

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Origin by Jessica Khoury

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 4 2012
Publishing House: Razorbill
ISBN: 9781595145956
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: Pia has always known her destiny. She is meant to start a new race, a line of descendants who will bring an end to death. She has been bred for no other purpose, genetically engineered to be immortal and raised by a team of scientists in a secret compound hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest. Now those scientists have begun to challenge her, with the goal of training her to carry on their dangerous work.

For as long as she can remember, Pia's greatest desire has been to fulfill their expectation. But on the night she turns seventeen, she finds a hole in the seemingly impenetrable fence that surrounds her sterile home. Free in the jungle for the first time in her life, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Unable to resist, she continues sneaking out to see him. As they fall in love, they begin to piece together a truth about Pia's origin - a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book) 

Perfect is as perfect does.

Before I start with the review, I just want to say that I adored the book. I loved it. There are so many things about this book that I loved and I'm happy that it's a stand-alone. Not that I don't love books that are part of a series, but stand-alones are always a welcome change. 

Set in the secret depths of the Amazon, Khoury manages to capture the reclusiveness of the research facility hidden within lush forests and surrounded by different exotic creatures. It's easy to imagine the sights, the smells, and the sounds of the jungle; it's even easier to get sucked into the secrets and danger of men in white coats on a quest for immortality. But despite being of the science fiction genre, the story manages to create an air of magic and mystery that is undoubtedly compelling and intriguing. 

The story is told in Pia's voice. She's an immortal, albeit a very sheltered one. Pia is like a child; she's ignorant, naive, and a bit spoiled. But given the circumstances, I think it's fitting. The scientists, whom she refers to as her Aunts and Uncles, allow nothing from the outside world to enter the facility so she is kept in the dark and lied to-her questions about the outside are either deflected or ignored. Pia's character was very well-developed, her emotions were so realistic, you could actually feel her wonder at meeting Eio and tasting freedom for the first time, as well as her confusion at the way her whole world was starting to unravel, and her discomfort of the choices she had to make. 

The romance in the story was very sweet and I was actually able to overlook the fact that it involved the dreaded insta-love. The circumstances in which they met and all weren't exactly the breeding grounds for a normal courtship, and I get that. And from the way Eio interacted with Pia, it was obvious that what he felt was genuine. But there is more to Eio than being the beautiful jungle boy who represents all that Pia should not want but does. He has his secrets too and is in some ways connected to the research facility.

I loved the way the secondary characters here play a role, how their actions revolved around Pia and their search for immortality; how they're all part of some bigger deception with Pia in the center of it all. It's also interesting to note the way the author managed to intertwine folklore regarding Elysia and science together. I suppose it's what makes this book so magical. When this book ends and everything falls into place, you're left with a sense of wonder and a smile on your face.

All in all, Origin is a wonderful book. It's got romance, wonderful characters, vivid world-building, mystery and intrigue and it definitely puts a new spin to the age-old quest for immortality. I suggest that this book be picked up at once. This is definitely a must-read.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloween Giveaway Winners

First things first, we want to thank the YA community for accepting us into the fold - a huge, massive, and colossal thanks from the deepest, darkest corners of our hearts. :) All the little things make us hysterical, so you can only imagine how noisy we get over Skype when people re-Tweet, or leave comments. Thank you for the support, and for helping us get on our feet. Seriously, we have no other idea how to express our gratitude. Secondly, we want to thank the readers of this blog. Without you guys, we would never had the energy to continue posting! 

Hence, without further ado, here are the winners of our Halloween giveaways!
Congratulations to the winners and we hope that you guys will enjoy the prizes! Winners will also be notified by e-mail, and have to respond within 48 hours with regards to shipping address.

Don't feel bad for not winning though. We will also have another giveaway in the near future, so keep an eye out for that!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stacking the Shelves Saturday #1

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.


Midnight City (Conquered Earth, #1)
Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell (via NetGalley)
(Image from GoodReads)

Alternity by Mari Mancusi (via NetGalley)
(Image from GoodReads)

Debris Dreams
Debris Dreams by David Colby (via NetGalley)
(Image from GoodReads)

The Summer of Hammers and Angels
(Image from GoodReads)

Purchased Books:

Michelle's Thursday haul from Fully Booked EDSA Shangri-La Hotel 

From upper left to bottom right :

Friday, October 26, 2012

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Title: The Hunt
Author: Andrew Fukuda
Format Acquired: Paperback (UK Version)
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publishing House: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9780857075413
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: Against all odds, 17-year-old Gene has survived in a world where the general population has eaten humans to near extinction. The only remaining humans, or hepers as they are known, are housed in domes on the savannah and studied at the nearby Heper Institute. Every decade there is a government sponsored hunt. When Gene is selected to be one of the combatants, he must learn the art of the hunt - but also elude his fellow competitors as suspicions about his true nature grow...

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book) 


The book description sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, the book summary is all that  was actually interesting for me. In actuality, The Hunt is packed with wrist-scratching, armpit-to-armpit-pressing bloodsucker action and a heper who, by the second half of the book, transforms from some sort of mysterious, survivor guy, into a complete and utter mess.

Gene, our unfortunate heper, was unluckily chosen to take part in the decennial Hunt, a hot ticket to a sumptuous human feast (+100 bonus points if it’s a virgin human, yo!) Unfortunately as he forgot to pack his necessities to make him look less of a heper  needs water and food for actual human consumption tries to stay alive, all he does in the book is try to keep the others from finding out about his secret. He does this all the while pretending not to have emotions, and trying to ignore his uncalled for attraction towards Ashley June. The Ashley June whom he spent seven minutes in a closet with, pressing armpits together and jostling elbows (because apparently, nothing is more romantic and lust-inducing than rubbing sexy, albeit scentless, armpits all over each other). Gene must also decide whether to help his fellow hepers from being consumed by the always ravenous undead, which poses a problem, because he believes that saving the supposedly primitive folk is pointless has a conscience. 

Aside from the lag in pace, however, the book is not entirely without its good points. Fukuda has a good storyline, but a weak execution of his intended output. I'm sure that if he tried to explore the world he has created and explained the circumstances of the situation, readers would actually be immersed in the dark fantasy world he has weaved.

Needless to say, The Hunt is not my cup of tea. If, however, you found yourself interested in the undead's supposedly unusual and peculiar habits, then take this one for a ride. Who knows, maybe you'll take up wrist-scratching as well. We, at The Twins Read, sure have.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Insignia
Author: S. J. Kincaid
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 10 2012
Publication House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062092991
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: More than anything Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom's drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone's been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he's offered the incredible - a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom's instincts for combat will be put to the test and if he passes, he'll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War III. Finally, he'll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with tech skills every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom's always wanted - friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters - but what will it cost him?

           (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; summary lifted from actual book)


Over time, we've been growing quite wary of books that sounded too good to be true, and Insignia fit the bill quite nicely. A fascinating cover, a promising summary, and science fiction-it seemed as if it were a book written with us in mind! But the best part? The book kicked wicked cool butt.

Tom Raines never thought he had a shot at being taken under the Indo-American military, being trained alongside the best and the brightest cadets. Welcome to World War III where lives are spared and properties are unharmed. Sounds too good to be true? It is. Being a member of the Intrasolar Forces means that Tom has to have a chip implanted in his brain. Memories can be extracted, and events can be reviewed. However, he is not without his band of friends who often reminds us that Tom works towards his dreams of being an intergalactic killing machine, he is a teen who is going through the awkward phases of growing up.

The book started slow, but don't worry. Its pace quickens as the story progresses as well.  The story is mainly told from Tom's perspective, which is a refreshing take after all those female protagonists (read: too lusty "I stared at his lips/abs/biceps/triceps/super bulgy muscles." Ick. Or too petty, as in "Oh my god, did he just talk to her? Oh no, that means that kiss meant nothing! I am way too frustrated and angry to function as a supernatural/levelheaded/rational person.) While Tom sometimes has his moments, we must not discount the fact that Tom is only fourteen. 

The concept that companies start taking over the world is not a far-fetched idea and we, at The Twins Read, love conspiracy theories. Kincaid does a good job of making the ideas logical and as realistic as possible. While the connection between gaming and what-if scenarios are not uncommon, Kincaid sure makes the storyline refreshing and appealing. We honestly can't wait for the second book, Vortex, to come out!

We enjoyed Insignia so much we created a playlist inspired by it. If you'd already read the book, do tell us what you thought about it as well.

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Title: Valkyrie Rising
Author: Ingrid Paulson
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 9 2012
Publication House: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062025722
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother  a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she'll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-prefect big brother, Graham, while she's there.

What Ellie doesn't anticipate is Graham's infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect that something powerful and ancient will awaken in her and that strange whispers will urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, suddenly there's a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it's up to Ellie - and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck - to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl in one girl's unexpectedly epic coming-of-age.

         (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; summary lifted from actual book)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually finished it in one sitting. At first, I was a bit worried that the mythology, or maybe the actual plot, would be on the backburner in this book. As with so many books, romance may undoubtedly take up all of the attention. I'm so glad that wasn't the case for this book.

The story is set in beautiful Norway. The Norse mythology woven into it was refreshing and new. For those who aren't familiar with the lore, you won't get lost or confused because enough information is provided to give you an understanding as to what Valkyries are and which Norse gods play what roles without seeming like an info-dump. (Plus points for that!)

I loved the brother-sister relationship in this book. It's always an added bonus, well for me anyway, that a book depicts a strong sibling relationship. Graham is Ellie's too-perfect, overprotective older brother. He sees Ellie as the baby sister he always has to coddle and shelter from the world. Unfortunately for him, she would eventually prove him wrong on that front. Then there's Ellie, she's a strong heroine, a fighter. Her reactions to the events that transpired in the book were realistic, I'd be plenty pissed too if someone abducted my brother. She's not spontaneous like other YA heroines and actually thinks before she acts, which is a plus. She starts out shy, hiding in her brother's shadow but gains confidence in herself as the story progresses. No more sulking in the shadows for our lovely Ellie. 

Tuck is Graham's best friend and, obviously, Ellie's love interest. He's actually a bit like Graham, in the way that he's very protective of Ellie. I'm very pleased to say that there is no insta-lust/love here because Tuck and Ellie have known each other for a long time, so their relationship simply shifts from friendship into something more. He's funny, charming, and sarcastic, and I adored the way he teases and taunts Ellie, in an obvious bid for her attention. It was also interesting to find that Tuck wasn't just a pretty face and had some interesting facets to his personality making him all the more complex and definitely swoon-worthy. 

The secondary characters played significant roles in the story, and were not, in any way, flat and boring. Each had their own distinct traits and personalities that influenced Ellie's reactions to certain situations, which made the story seem all the more believable. Her grandmother, the Valkyries, and even the pretty boy next door, all had a role to play and weren't merely cannon fodder.  

But despite all the things I loved about this book, like the wonderful characters, the pacing, the setting, the mythology, the predictable and unpredictable twists and turns, the budding romance between the characters, I couldn't give this book one last rainbow. I believe that it was resolved well with no cliffhanger in sight but there were a few questions I wanted answered.

This book is altogether a very fun read. For those interested in Nordic mythology, Valkyries, ancient magic, or are just in the mood to try something new, give this book a go. I'm hoping that this turns out to be a series, I need more Elsa and Tuck. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!


Monday, October 22, 2012

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Author: Gena Showalter
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Publication House: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9780373210589
Source of Copy: Purchased from FullyBooked

Summary: Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; summary lifted from actual book)

Off with their heads.

I picked this one up expecting a retelling of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with zombies. Add to that the beautiful dust jacket, which I loved probably due to the white bunnies, and I was sold. I'm biased that way. What's not to love about white bunnies and zombies? But enough about that, let's talk about the book.

The book is actually NOT a retelling. Aside from the rabbit-shaped cloud, the chapter titles and the book title itself, references to the Lewis Carroll classic are minimal. Which is good, since I'm not exactly fond of retellings.

As for the cast of characters, I actually ended up liking them all, no unnecessary hatred here on my end. The story is told from Alice's point of view. Ali is pretty, snarky, feisty and has this sense of humor that had me grinning as I flipped through the pages. Then there's Kat, fabulous, confident and charming - an altogether adorable character, despite having a few secrets of her own. As for Cole, he's the baddest of the bad boys, the so-called leader of their mishmash group of zombie killers. He's sexy and protective and fierce and his scenes with Ali were hot and I so badly wanted to take her place. The chemistry between them was great and their banter was entertaining.  Regardless of the fact that it started with visions and a moment of insta-lust, the relationship between the two was believable, although I'm hoping for an explanation for the visions soon, preferably in the next book.

What intrigued me most was the whole concept revolving the zombies. They exist in the spirit realm and can only be seen/touched by a select group of people which our protagonist is obviously a part of. Does this mean that the rest of us plebes are safe? Not exactly. These zombies can still hurt, maim, and kill regardless of whether you can or cannot see them. Deadly buggers that they are. The only way to kill them is to enter the spirit realm and fight them as, well, a spirit. It's a bit confusing at first but as you go along you start to get a feel for the lore and some questions pretty much get answered. 

So what's stopping me from giving this book a higher rating? The thing is, I'm standing on neutral ground here. It's not the kind of book I would continuously rave about. 

All in all, Alice in Zombieland is a pretty fun and strangely compelling read. If you like books with humorous dialogue, strong heroines, gorgeous boys and an interesting concept involving zombies, spirits, and fire, this one's for you. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the next book. 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

...annnnnd we're LIVE!

Hello there!

Michelle and Nicole of The Twins Read here, and we're excited to finally finally finally FINALLY launch our YA book review blog. We thought of launching our own book review blog not only as a way to curb our boredom, but to encourage people, especially the younger ones, to start taking up reading as a hobby. The Twins Read blog aims to deliver honest-to-goodness reviews of YA (Young Adult) literature.

But enough of that. Everything you're curious about is either available at the About Us, or at the FAQs tabs anyway.

Moving on...
We, at The Twins Read, are fans of Halloween (have you seen our marvelous Halloween banner?), so what better way to kickoff the blog than a giveaway! We're giving away 2 sets of our Halloween loot bag, which contains one copy of Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist, and other Halloween-y goodies.

If you're wondering why we chose The Monstrumologist to give away for our first ever Halloween-themed giveaway, then inquire no further. The first in its series, The Monstrumologist is dark and creepy scary. This book contains as much gore as a Young Adult title could possibly allow, while keeping you fiendishly interested in how the story progresses. When you're all alone late at night and everybody's sleeping, at least keep the lights on. You'll thanks us for the advice later.

Terms and Conditions:

1. You must currently reside in the Philippines to join our giveaway.
2. You must be 12 and above to join. If not, ask a guardian to join for you.
3. Contest starts at 12:01AM EST on October 19, 2012, and ends at 12:01AM EST on October 27, 2012.
4. We are in no way responsible for any loss, or damages with regards to the packages shipped.

Mechanics on claiming your prize:

1. Winners will be notified either by a blogpost from TheTwinsRead or a notification through e-mail/other social media sites.
2. Winners who fail to reply to our e-mail or Facebook message after 48 hours will forfeit their prizes, and another winner/s will be picked.

Here's an idea of what you can win:

So, get moving and join in the fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway