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Sunday, March 31, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Fuse by Julianna Baggott

Title: Fuse
Author: Julianna Baggott
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Publishing House: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 9781455503087
Source of Copy: NetGalley


When the world ended, those who dwelled within the Dome were safe. Inside their glass world the Pures live on unscarred, while those outside - the Wretches - struggle to survive amidst the smoke and ash.

Believing his mother was living among the Wretches, Partridge escaped from the Dome to find her. Determined to regain control over his son, Willux, the leader of the Pures, unleashes a violent new attack on the Wretches. It's up to Pressia Belze, a young woman with her own mysterious past, to decode a set of cryptic clues from the past to set the Wretches free.

An epic quest that sweeps readers into a world of beautiful brutality, Fuse continues the story of two people fighting to save their futures - and change the fate of the world.

                          (Image, summary, and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Holy cow. Whereas I was on the fence about fully recommending Pure to other readers before, Fuse had just made me want to take back all the half-answers I gave, run to the bookstores, and duct tape Pure and Fuse together. (Hehe, "fused" together.)

Fuse reunites us with Pressia, Partridge, and their motley crew. In the midst of all the chaos, Lyda is trying to establish her own identity, but there is one particular person she's   particularly attached to. Partridge thinks that bringing down the Dome will be the perfect revenge for his father, the Dome leader. El Capitan and Helmud want to punish the Dome for all the horrors they've done. Bradwell just wants the truth. As Partridge's father sends people to "persuade" Partridge to come back to the Dome, Pressia and Bradwell are racing against time to unlock the secrets to a black box that may contain a secret that could save them all.

In Pure, I wasn't really sure that I liked any of the characters, save for Bradwell. But in Fuse, I began to appreciate each and every one of them in a new light. I loved them because they have their own clear, and very distinct voices. Before, I couldn't come up with any ounce of feeling for El Capitan and Helmud. Partridge was just a spoiled boy who was looking for trouble. Lyda was just a girl who was foolish enough to lie for a guy who initially didn't seem to be much into her. In Fuse, I adored Helmud. Even when he just echoes El Capitan's words, he times it perfectly and manages to make it sound totally different. You could probably tell by now that my mind is just reeling from the awesomeness that is Helmud. Partridge had already acclimated to the drastic change of scenery, and knows what he has to lose to gain leverage over the Dome. I always knew Lyda had a tough streak in her, but in this one, me-ow! Lyda's claws are out to play and she's not afraid to get some scratches and bruises. Pressia was still as adorable as ever, and her interactions with Bradwell had me either grinning from ear-to-ear or swooning. How could anyone not swoon over Bradwell? Go away, Peeta. Four? Who's that? I'm sorry, but no one could possibly hold a candle to Bradwell. 

"Now I feel like we weren't made for each other. We're making each other... into the people we should become." - Bradwell

Fuse expertly weaves together action scenes and emotions, and I must say that it's definitely what kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. I've read this in one sitting, so you can only imagine how horribly fatigued I was after this. The beauty of Julianna Baggott's writing style is that she somehow gives you the impression that you should pay close attention to each and every word that she puts on paper. Just like its predecessor, Fuse is a heavy read. If you're in the mood for fluffy, irrational dystopian books, this series is not for you. This book only served to remind me of the parallels of our universes. Religion plays a minor role in this book, where we have people who worship the Dome. Otherwise, what else would they have left to believe in? In a world where the completeness of the human body is deemed precious and upper class, the wretches can only hope to see any kind of beauty that even our heroine, Pressia, is affected by it. The obsession with physical perfection will resonate perfectly with today's readers.

Baggott has redefined the dystopian genre by making her readers all the more aware of the issues we're currently dealing with today. I think so many authors keep focusing on what will happen in the worlds they've created instead of carrying over the problems we face now to make the whole ordeal richer and relatable. If like me, you were unsure about your feelings for Pure, I'd say that you should take the plunge and get a copy. Believe me when I say that I am itching to get my own copy to reread it. The characters are wonderfully diverse, the beauty and heaviness brought about by the language is heady, and the conditions are brutal and intense. Baggott has set an impressive standard for dystopian novels, and I will wait with bated breath for the next installment.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #20 + The Sunday Post #15

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This special post will provide a recap for posts that have been written for the week (March 25-30, 2013).






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.


(From left to right)
1. Paper Valentine - Brenna Yovanoff
2. Heart-Shaped Bruise - Tanya Byrne
3. Temptation - Karen Ann Hopkins

The Boyfriend App
The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise (for the upcoming blog tour)
(Thanks to Harper Collins over at Edelweiss and Chyna of Lite-Rate-Ture!)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday #3

Feature and Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Find out more by clicking on the links provided.

Question of the Week: 
Tell us about the most emotional you've ever read in a book - and how did you react?

Michelle: I don't usually cry a lot when it comes to books and movies, but the most emotional reads I have ever read were Second Chance Summer and If I Lie. I read Second Chance Summer in the car on the way back to my house, which was a colossal mistake. You do not read either of these books in public. Do not, do not, do not.

Nicole: I don't usually cry over book or anything - Michelle says I have no feelings. (Michelle: Liar! You were the one who admitted to eating any semblance of feeling you had.) But if I had to choose I would pick the ending of Girl of Nightmares. Anna is one creepy, scary ghost girl but even dangerous spectral beings deserve a happy ending, don't you think?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: Playing Nice by Rebekah Crane

"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: Playing Nice
Author: Rebekah Crane
Format Acquired: PDF
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Publishing House: In This Together Media
ISBN: 9780985895655
Source of Copy: Sent for review by author


Martina "Marty" Hart is really nice. At least, that's what people think.

It's Marty's junior year at Minster High. Minster's a small town where making great grades, smiling pretty, helping old people, running the new-student Welcoming Committee, and putting up decorations for all the dances - including the totally awful Hot Shot fall hunting celebration - gets you... what? Marty's not sure. Instead of dreaming about a sororities-and-frats future at nearby University of Michigan, she's restless, searching for a way out of the box her controlling mother and best frenemy Sarah have locked her in. When Lil - don't call her Lily! - Hatfield transfers to Minster, Marty gets her chance. Lil's different. She smokes, wears black, listens to angry punk records, and lives in a weird trailer with her mother. Lil has secrets - secrets that make her a target for all the gossiping and online bullying Minster can muster. But so does Marty. And Marty sees something different in Lil. Something honest.

Something real.

(Image, summary, and information courtesy of Goodreads)


Playing Nice came as a surprise to us, initially we thought that it would be a bore-fest or maybe a book filled with angsty, angry teens. Turns out we were wrong.

The leading characters in Playing Nice were surprisingly real, Marty is a nice girl confined in the box her parents and everyone else has stuffed her in and it stifles her to no end. She struggles to meet her parents' expectations along with her friends' and schoolmates' but in the process she loses sight of who she is. There were days where she wasn't sure if she liked something because she liked it or if it was forced onto her by her parents. She's a little lost and I think we can all relate to that. Lily Hatfield or Lil is brash and surprisingly honest, being forced to live with the stigma of her mother's reputation has made her secretive and unwilling to trust anyone. As the story progresses we got to know Lil a little better and we ended up liking her all the same. She's just like everyone else despite her unwelcoming exterior - a little lost, a little scared.

This is one of those books where the first half is kind of hard to read and plow through. We thought that Marty has a bit of a scary obsession with sex, boys, and her virginity. We're also pretty sure that a lot of girls don't wear dresses or skirts for easy access to their panties. It was also kind of... unnatural for her parents to be so obsessed with her being a good girl. Parents who practically live for their kids' report cards, we get. Parents who want their kid to be dubbed as The Nicest Girl Within a Thousand Mile Radius? Not really. We really thought we wouldn't get to really like Marty, given that But as the story progressed, things began to surprisingly get better. As it turns out, Marty may learn some things the hard way, and she's found out for herself that she doesn't need to keep forcing herself into an identity that others have boxed her in. The teenage years are the years where you supposedly experiment and try to find yourself, and we couldn't be prouder of Marty.

If you ever find yourself wanting to read book with a heroine that grows on you as she finds out the true meaning of friendship, and all the while dealing with a brand new identity, you might want to check out Playing Nice.  



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: City of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Title: City of A Thousand Dolls
Author: Miriam Forster
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publishing House: Harper Teen
ISBN: 9780062121301
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


The girl with no past and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city's handsome young courier does she she let herself imagine a line outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls' deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls - but also her life.

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


When she was a child, Nisha had been left at the gates of the City of A Thousand Dolls. She doesn't know where her parents are, or why they left them. All she has left is a tiger tattoo at the back of her neck. Now a teenager, Nisha is the eyes and ears of Matron - an important figure in the City. The only expectation she now has is to leave the city to be a bride of the young noble-slash-courier. But everything changes when Nisha chances upon the first dead girl, because as the murders go on, the killer has made no secret of the next victim: her. Protected by an army of wonderfully strange cats, secret houses and teachers, Nisha finds out there's more to the City than she thinks - there's political intrigue, deception, and a betrayal that may cost her her life. 

City of a Thousand Dolls had a premise that was uniquely intriguing, and was one of my most anticipated books for 2013. As there is a policy with regards to the number of children, unwanted girls are most often left for the City. This is something that struck me reminiscent of China, since it has the one birth policy. China has let the situation become so dire that the one birth policy has led to infanticide when the baby turns out to be of the female gender. The horror and abuse that these children undergo through is truly heartbreaking, and to have an entire city of girls who know that they are unwanted? Well, that's just wrong. Unfortunately, I believe that Forster failed to deliver on depth of the storyline. I was left unsatisfied because I thought that the author could have explored the world and inspired something thought-provoking. With the way the story is constructed, you could put Nisha in any environment and still retain the storyline.

Nisha was an okay protagonist, but it wasn't until the last leg of the book that she really shone in my eyes. Reading for me, is like playing a simulated game. As the characters do things, I also think to myself if I would do as the character has done, or if I could solve a bit of the mystery early on. For this book, I didn't feel motivated to feel involved with the story. I think what saved this book for me were the cats. I LOVED the cats, especially Jerrit. (I even kind of hoped that Nisha would get with a cat. Is that weird?) I am not big on cats, but if they were this cute, I would totally be a cat lady. 

Pacing of the story is okay, but some parts were a little humdrum. As I've said earlier, Forster could have explored the premise of the world a bit more. The book had such potential, but the only thing that it made me feel was cheated.

I'm giving this one a generous 3 out of 5 because of the cats and the premise it assumed. I can only hope that things improve with the second book.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Title: Boundless
Author: Cynthia Hand
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 22, 2013
Publishing House: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780061996207
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


The past few years held more surprises that part-angel Clara Gardner ever could have anticipated. Yet through the dizzying high of first love to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she could no longer deny was that she was never meant to have a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her... even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seemed like the best option, so she's headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he's not the only one... With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won't come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the the Unearthly series, Clara must choose her fate once and for all.

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


Okay, I must admit I wasn't really a huge fan of Unearthly. I continued the trilogy with Hallowed because I wanted to know what happens with Clara and Tucker's relationship, so you could only imagine how excited I was for book three (I have a soft spot for cowboys, shh.) And my excitement was justified because Boundless has got to be the best book in the trilogy.

Clara, Christian, and Angela are in Stanford, trying to live their college lives as normally as any teenage angels can. Despite the new environment, classmates, and love-related complications, Clara is trying to figure out the cryptic visions they've been getting ever since they've arrived. When Angela finds herself in a situation that finally enlightens them with regards to their purpose, Clara and her gang will find out that what they're dealing with might not be of a different caliber from what they've expected, even if it takes them to hell and back - literally.

First things first, let me just say that I absolutely love the new setting. Being a college girl myself, I was getting a bit tired of the high school setting and craved for a paranormal situation that I could now easily envision, and Boundless gave me just that. Set against the backdrop of a more relaxed environment, Clara can finally focus more on the visions and deal with the more "normal" college nuances at the same time. But as the visions that Clara piece together only makes her wary of the future, it seems that her past isn't quite done with her yet - she keeps popping up somehow at a particular someone's barn at the oddest times.

Boundless was unexpectedly good. I actually did find myself thumbing through the pages excitedly, and the fact that I was Tucker-hunting couldn't hurt either. The battle scenes were pretty epic, and I did like the fact that the visions had less to do with Clara, and focused more on someone else playing a very important role. This I found to be quite rare with YA and I couldn't help but be impressed. I imagine that juggling the dynamics between the main protagonist and the actual "heroine" was a bit tricky, and Hand sure has kept me interested with this factor. Toss in the fact that some relationships are handled quite delicately and superbly, like Clara's strained relationship with her brother, and you've got a sure crowd-pleaser.

I could not actually divulge more without warranting a spoiler alert, so I just have to say that fans of the series will definitely not be disappointed with Boundless. In fact, it's one of the few series that only got better as the story progressed. 


Monday, March 25, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Title: Etiquette and Espionage
Author: Gail Carriger
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publishing House: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780316190084
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners - and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage - in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail's legions of fans have come to adore.

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


Being a fan of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, I knew I could not miss out on this. Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate books - albeit back a few decades and such - Etiquette and Espionage is a deliciously droll and humorous read with a cast of characters one cannot help but fall in love with. 

Etiquette and Espionage gives to us a historical steampunk setting where werewolves and vampires are integrated into polite society and clockwork machinery is a norm. I'm not as big a fan of Victorian novels like my co-blogger is, but this is one that I found myself getting immersed in. I was lured in by the prospect of a Finishing School that not only transforms young girls into mild-mannered ladies but also into skilled intelligence gatherers and well, assassins. I wouldn't mind attending this finishing school and learning how to subtly stab someone with a dagger or a hairpin but since I can't, I'll have to settle for watching - reading, rather - Sophronia and her friends get into a whole slew of trouble and solve mysteries all  the while learning to dance the quadrille and act like a proper English lady.

The story begins with Sophronia causing trouble and her dear mother sending her off to finishing school with the headmistress who oh-so-conveniently happens to be visiting. On the way to the Academy they get attacked by Skywaymen - think Highwaymen with aerial crafts - looking for the prototype which they believe is in the headmistress' possession. Upon arriving at the school it turns out the woman she traveled with isn't who she seems and Sophronia's curiosity is piqued as the woman is unwilling to disclose the hiding of said prototype. Sophronia then takes it upon herself to solve this mystery accompanied by her mishmash group of friends, of course.

Our wonderful protagonist Sophronia is a lovable heroine; she's spunky and intelligent and wonderfully funny (very much like Alexia really). She constantly finds herself in trouble but has a way about herself that she always manages to get out of it. Her antics were highly entertaining and had me giggling at highly inopportune moments. The friends she gains while attending finishing school were an odd bunch; Dimity who I have to admit is very much like Ivy from the Parasol Protectorate books, there's also Genevieve or Vieve, a young inventor who supplies the technology used in their antics and Soap, a young man of African blood who goes along with her on her crazy schemes.

I can pretty much say that I love this series. It was definitely interesting getting to meet a few familiar characters when they're a few decades younger. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment and in the meanwhile, I think my eyelash fluttering needs practice. For fans of historical novels with paranormal/steampunk aspects I suggest that this book be given a try, I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #19 + The Sunday Post #14

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This special post will provide a recap for posts that have been written for the week (March 18-23, 2013).






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.

Purchased Books:

(From left to right, top to bottom)

1. Scent of Magic by Maria Snyder

2. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
3. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
4. The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe
5. Angelfall by Susan Ee
6. Pivot Point by Kasie West
7. City of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
8. Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

(From left to right)

1. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

2. Prodigy by Marie Lu

(From left to right, top to bottom)

1. Mila 2.0 by Debra Briza

2. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
3. Asunder by Jodi Meadows
4. Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
5. Mind Games by Kiersten White
6. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger
7. Rift by Andrea Cremer
8. Pantomime by Laura Lam


(From left to right, top to bottom)
1. A Dangerous Dress by Julia Holden
2. Angelfall by Susan Ee
3. City of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
4. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
5. Crash by Lisa McMann

(From left to right)
1. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
2. Shadowlands by Kate Brian
3. The Book of Blood and Shadow

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

We're back, yay! :D It's our last summer since we're graduating next year. Nicole is busy with her OJT, and Michelle is stuck with whatever shenanigans she's up to.

We'll be catching up with our blogging schedules, so you may notice more posts.

The Twins on "Thursday": The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

Title: The Nightmare Affair
Author: Mindee Arnett
Format Acquired: PDF
Publication Date: March 5 2013
Publishing House: Tor Teen
ISBN: 9780765333339
Source of Copy: NetGalley


Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she's a criminal. No, she's a nightmare.


Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother's infamy is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker's house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He's hot, which means sitting on his chest and sitting on his chest couldn't get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli's dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues - both within Eli's dream and out of them - to stop the killer before people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she's up to and marks her as the next target.

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


The Nightmare Affair is an easy read - cute, fluffy with a bit of action and mystery thrown in for added fun.

Dusty is the paranormal Nancy Drew, if Nancy were half as cute as her. Dusty's got spunk and her own set of quirks and it's really no wonder why we fell in love with her. Eli is a nice guy, a bit of a jock but genuinely nice. He and Dusty do make a great team and we thought they were cute together. 

What The Nightmare Affair is, is basically a paranormal boarding school kind of thing - magic, superpowers, evil villains and snotty pretty girls who we loved to hate. It's secondary cast of characters were all lovable and it was entertaining to watch them all fumbling around as they tried to uncover the mysteries surrounding the mysterious deaths.

Well, we honestly thought that the summary was a little misleading, because it gave us an idea that the book had a very serious theme to it. Contrary to what the premise offers, The Nightmare Affair is light, but still retains its interesting and unique points. Romance takes a bit of a backseat in this one, although we did wish there were more Eli and Dusty bonding moments. While the book was generally well-paced, it was only in the second half that things began to pick up and focus more on the murder mystery.

If you fancy light paranormal mysteries spearheaded by a cute female protagonist, you might want to check out The Nightmare Affair. You just might want to keep Dusty all to yourself as much as we do.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

[Blog Tour] Michelle's Review: Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Publishing House: Tor Teen
ISBN: 9780765329585
Source of Copy: Amazon


New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police - instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior - instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested don't usually come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

In the three years since the war ended, Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what's worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings... the only boy Ember has ever loved.

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


My copy of Article 5 was really because of a mistake. I was adding books on my cart on Amazon, when my Mom told me she needed me to order a few things for her. I moved my books to "Save for later", bought all her things, and didn't notice that one book had slipped in with my Mom's orders. You can only imagine how surprised I was that a book came in with the fragile items. 

Nonetheless, Article 5 delivers a strong storyline and 

Ember Miller's free-spirited mom has just been arrested right in front of her very eyes for non-compliance to Article 5, all because her mother has had a string of boyfriends. To make it worse, Chase Jennings, the boy-next-door Ember has known practically forever, could only watch it happen helplessly because he's now part of the Federal Bureau of Reformation. Soon, Ember is carted off to reform school where her every action merits a punishment served with a smile. But when Chase "abducts" her, Ember is thrown in for a real loop, because while he might have saved her from that awful place, he might be keeping something from her that may just drive her right into her personal hell. With their fast-spreading infamy marking them as targets, Ember and Chase have to learn to work together to find Ember's mother and get to the safe house quickly, before the FBR takes them down.

I thought Simmons' characters were very well-written. I wouldn't be surprised if Simmons  herself admitted that she had her characters dictate to her their every emotion and choice of words. She is also not above to fleshing out details of the torture her characters went through. Every time there was a mention of pain, even I had to wince at the ordeals every character went through. I had to admit that I was feeling especially tired for Ember and Chase, what with all the emotional and physical trauma they were constantly subjected to.

With all the distresses Ember has had to face, you would think she'd learn to be less empathic to those around her, and would learn to be more cautious of those people she trusts. But even if there were times I was personally groaning for Ember, I couldn't help but love the fact that she's so selfless, even in the face of her and Chase's own danger. As for Chase, well, I'm not really surprised that Ember fell in love with him. There were moments that I just had to jab a finger at my book and tell Chase to just "Shut up and kiss her already, darn you." 

As you guys would have probably guessed, Ember and Chase's journey to find her mother and get to the safe house isn't exactly the smoothest journey ever. With the FBR and other delinquents frequently nipping at their heels, they both have to deal with the tension between them, especially since Chase just seemingly shut Ember out of his life all of a sudden. I thought that the troubles they got in between were a good touch, as it only established the fact that they needed each other, no matter how many times they voiced aloud that they didn't. Goodness knows that I could cut the tension between them with a knife.

I had to admit that the blurb didn't really leave me with enough material to hazard a guess, but when the gears were set in motion, I had a grasp of what Simmons is driving towards. To be honest, I did find some parts boring, but I could attribute this to the fact that I've been needing some fluffy breather to read. The latter parts were very exciting and as I've lamented before, I could only go as fast as to the speed my fingers can flip pages.

Article 5 is Simmons' debut novel, which comes as a surprise to me since Simmons knows how to pack punches with her word. With this in mind, I am undoubtedly looking forward to her other works.

Breaking Point, the sequel to Article 5, is already available.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Prophecy by Ellen Oh

Title: Prophecy
Author: Ellen Oh
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 2 2013
Publishing House: HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780062091093
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked.


The greatest warrior in all of the seven kingdoms... is a girl of yellow eyes.

Kira's the only female in the king's army and she's also the prince's bodyguard. She's a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she's their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King's prophecy, but the legendary lost ruy treasure just might be the true key to victory. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

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


I've always been interested in demons - demon lore, demon hunters and the like, so upon realizing that Prophecy would feature all that plus being set in a Korean-inspired era, then yes, I definitely had to give this one a go. 

Ellen Oh's Prophecy features Kira, the demon slayer who is bodyguard to the prince of Hansong and feared and hated by the people because of her strange yellow eyes. The prince she protects is not only her cousin but also the Dragon Musado - the warrior who will save them all from the horrific onslaught of demons. Thing is, the prince is nothing more but a mere boy and so Kira, being his bodyguard, has to keep a constant watch on the young boy as they go on a journey and battle demons, traitors and enemy soldiers all in their quest to find the Dragon artifacts that will help against this demonic invasion.

Prophecy's cast of characters barely managed to pique my interest. Kira, the protagonist felt underdeveloped, her character falling flat; and then I found the Prince, who admittedly is just a little boy, to be a spoiled little sod and I badly wished for the demons to just capture him and cart him off to be eaten. Jaewon and his sidekick, Seung, were the most interesting of the bunch - but not by much. They were flat, boring and lacking in personality, reasons as to why I could not really connect with them.

The plot is quite ordinary - searching for ancient and powerful artifacts that will unlock powers to tip the war in their favor against seemingly impossible odds with betrayal and conspiracy thrown into the mix. Sounds like something out of the Chinese history lessons I took up in high school minus the demons. I never liked those lessons. The world-building was sadly lacking and the action scenes were boring and uninteresting. There was a lot of blood, yes, and while I do like my fair share of blood and gore the lack of description made it less entertaining. The prose is stiff and stilted. It's a not very good translation of a Chinese (because it's something I can relate to) script into English - the dialogue is lackluster and lame and seemingly off. 

So it seems that Prophecy did not meet my expectations and I am sorely disappointed in this book. It's lack of interesting dialogue, action scenes that weren't just hack-and-slash descriptions and a dynamic cast of characters make me unable to give it a rating higher than 3. Does this mean that I won't be getting the next book? I'm not sure but I think that I'll be willing to give it a try. 



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: If I Lie by Corinne Jackson

Title: If I Lie
Author: Corrine Jackson
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publishing House: Simon Pulse
ISBN: 9781442454132
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Quinn's done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey's not just any guy - he's serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she's vowed to keep - secrets that aren't hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she'll go to protect her boyfriend... and her promise.

                        (Image, information, book summary courtesy of Goodreads)


I could actually count on one hand the books that have made me cry. There was Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie, Morgan Matson's Second Chance Summer, and now this book. Mind you, these are not the kind of tears that just gently rolled down my face. These are the kind of tears that had me wanting to reach into my chest, rip out my heart, and throw it in the trash bin. I am generally not a weepy person, as I do have tear ducts made out of steel, but goodness, did this book have me wishing that I could stuff tissue in my eyes.

With Quinn's ex-boyfriend Carey away in the war, Quinn has to deal with the little military town bearing on her because of the scandal. Her scandal. Before anyone ever knew that they were over, Quinn was caught in a compromising photo with a guy who is obviously not Carey, but nobody knows the truth of that night. Nobody knows that Carey asked Quinn to keep a little secret that could change everything. After all, it's not lying if it's the omission of truth... Or is it?

If I Lie has got to be one of the best contemporary novels I have read - and I have read a lot of them. Quinn lives in a military town. Her father is a military guy himself, and even he can't tolerate her when the scandal erupted. Carey was kind, compassionate, and perfect - the town hero. Everyone in town knew that they were it, the serious couple who will eventually settle down one day. Quinn could walk away from it all, if they only knew the truth, but it's a secret that Quinn will take to her grave if she has to.

Goodness, did I feel Quinn. I felt that she was one of the saddest protagonists I have ever come to know, but did I ever love her. She was rejected by her so-called friends, the guy she was in love with, her father, and even by people who didn't really know her, and the only person who knew the truth was thousands of miles away. At least she had George, the wonderful, wonderful old guy Quinn visits in the Veterans' Center. George was Quinn's pillar of strength, and you could not imagine how pained I was when the realities of life caught up with him. It was one of the hardest scenes I have ever read, and I literally had to stop and bawl my eyes out. (Tear ducts of steel? What tear ducts of steel?!)

There were a lot of times in the book that all I wanted to do was scream at Carey and tell him to tell the whole town what he's been hiding all along, if only to get everyone off of Quinn's back.  I thought that Carey was very selfish in allowing Quinn to take the brunt of the situation, but then, I guess I could imagine all the stigma that Carey was envisioning for himself, especially when a lot of people look up to him. However, it is also in these tough times that Quinn finally does away with her identity as only Carey's girlfriend, and establishes herself as someone who sticks to her guns and has her own principles. It is in this time that relationships have been tested - most have been severed, and only few have stayed true. At the same time, Quinn also reminds us that there is a time to heal, to lick wounds, and a time to finally get on with life. All I thought of in the entirety of the book was that there are people out there who are as misunderstood as Quinn, and that it is very much a human error to immediately judge someone without fully knowing the entire situation. But in the same manner that others have wronged us, Quinn reminds us to be the better man and learn to forgive, in our own time.

I simply could not recommend this book enough. I would strongly urge you to read this when you're sure that you could dedicate your entire time in soaking up all the emotions that this book evokes. Pick up Corinne Jackson's If I Lie with a box of Kleenex and a pint of ice cream, if only to soothe the emotional turmoil Jackson will ultimately put you through.