Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cipher by Aileen Erin: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Cipher (Shadow Ravens #1)
Author: Aileen Erin
Published: October 14, 2014 by Ink Monster, LLC
Copy: e-ARC from NetGalley


In the not-too-distant future, the color of your helix tattoo shows exactly how your DNA was modified—green for super-smart scientists, black for pumped-up warriors, white for the immortal Seligo—but Cipher’s red helix is a death sentence. It’s a sign of unstable DNA, which is probably the reason she can manipulate electricity.

When she was eight years old, Cipher made the mistake of showing her uncle the tattoo. In return, he killed her parents and tried to kidnap her.

She’s been on the run ever since, and twelve long years later, Cipher is tired of hiding. Survival isn’t enough anymore. She wants her life back.

Hacking into the Citadel mainframe is a huge risk, but it pays off when she finds a database on red helixes. Before she can copy it, she loses control of her power, charring her last processor, and the only person in the Arizona Voids that can get her back online is her oldest friend, Knightly. She hasn’t seen him in person since she started running, and Knight 2.0 is fully upgraded with a six-pack and knee-melting smile.

For a girl like Cipher, trust doesn’t come easily, but Knight makes her yearn for a life she knows she can’t have, especially when every secret she reveals endangers them both.

It was a short read but really good. The book started with Cipher, the protagonist, hacking the Citadel's mainframe. With it came a vague introduction about the future world they live in, consequently setting the mood and my curiosity of the plot.

The flow of events was smooth, and it sucked me into the story right away. Cipher was fast-paced and has a right mix of action and romance. From the middle up to end though, it can be a bit predictable. And I saw a lot of similarities with other dystopian/sci-fi novels. But despite the similarities, it's still an enjoyable read. Totally entertaining!

Some characters and elements of the story is not yet fully explained and explored but I'm pretty sure they will be covered in the next books.

Cipher is the first book in The Shadow Ravens Saga. And even though the next book will be featuring another Red, I'm still looking forward to it! Cipher set an introduction to the world of Shadow Ravens and Helixes, and Aileen Erin did a really good job!

-o-

As for the characters, Cipher is very likable. I liked how she's independent and brave but beneath the strong façade is a girl who wants freedom, happiness and satisfaction.

And Knight! You know my collection of fictional boyfriends is growing. His attraction/fascination/love for Cipher may be a bit weird to me but whatever, Knight is so charming. He's not only a very good soldier, but he's also a techie nerd. How awesome is that! Cipher and Knight's chemistry (figuratively and literally) is perfect! :)

-o-

Told in Cipher's and Knight's POVs, the book did not only introduced me to the future world where human DNA can be altered, but also reminded me how gratitude, trust and friendship are important in this life.

I definitely recommend Cipher! It may not be a unique novel but it's really entertaining. And let's not forget Knight! Haha!




from Goodreads
Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican and 100% nerd-from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass (from Goodreads).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Undying by Ethan Reid: Book Review

cover from NetGalley
Title: The Undying
Author: Ethan Reid
Publication details: October 7, 2014 by Simon & Schuster/ Simon451
Copy: e-ARC from NetGalley

THEY HAVE COME FROM THE STARS…

In this riveting apocalyptic thriller for fans of The Passage and The Walking Dead, a mysterious event plunges Paris into darkness and a young American must lead her friends to safety—and escape the ravenous “undying” who now roam the crumbling city.

Jeanie and Ben arrive in Paris just in time for a festive New Year’s Eve celebration with local friends. They eat and drink and carry on until suddenly, at midnight, all the lights go out. Everywhere they look, buildings and streets are dark, as though the legendary Parisian revelry has somehow short circuited the entire city.

By the next morning, all hell has broken loose. Fireballs rain down from the sky, the temperatures are rising, and people run screaming through the streets. Whatever has happened in Paris—rumors are of a comet striking the earth—Jeanie and Ben have no way of knowing how far it has spread, or how much worse it will get. As they attempt to flee the burning Latin Quarter—a harrowing journey that takes them across the city, descending deep into the catacombs, and eventually to a makeshift barracks at the Louvre Museum—Jeanie knows the worst is yet to come. So far, only she has witnessed pale, vampiric survivors who seem to exert a powerful hold on her whenever she catches them in her sights.

These cunning, ravenous beings will come to be known as les moribund—the undying—and their numbers increase by the hour. When fate places a newborn boy in her care, Jeanie will stop at nothing to keep the infant safe and get out of Paris—even if it means facing off against the moribund and leaving Ben—and any hope of rescue—behind.


I have one word to summarize my review for The Undying: Wow!

My dream city, Paris, plus apocalypse and les moribund, now that's something new. (At least for me! Haha!)

If you've read romance, contemporary, or historical fiction novels set in Paris, and through reading, you've toured the city, why not make another tour? But this time with a good supply of adrenaline?

The Undying is fast-paced and action-packed, with the events in the apocalypse happening in one day. If I remember correctly, there were six parts in the apocalypse. Imagine experiencing them in less than 24 hours. For a novel with only ~270 pages, it can be overwhelming but I liked it nonetheless. I was one with the characters, experiencing their confusion and panic.

I just wished there were concrete explanations and reasons as to why and how the horrible events happened. The book gave conjectures but I don't remember reading the real reason. And I think The Undying is a stand-alone novel, so no explanation for me? Haha!

Anyway, the action was also levelled by flashbacks on Jeanie's and Ben's lives. Those scenes made me understand and connect with the characters better. They also served as breaks so as to prevent my adrenaline rush to go berserk. Haha!

The Undying also has an open ending but I'm quite okay with that. Only very slightly okay. A sequel would be really, really nice though. You know just to explain and conclude things? It'd be nice to know what happened to others. Haha!

Characters
Yes, the characters! They're written really well. I felt their emotions like I was with them during the apocalypse. I liked how Jeanie won against her guilt and depression, how she fought and became brave not only for herself but also for the ones she cared about. And dear Ben, I totally felt what Jeanie went through. *sigh*

Writing
I liked the style of writing. It was easy to read and easy to picture the scenarios. I liked that some dialogues were in French, giving me a more 'I'm in Paris' vibe. I also liked the different POVs and the shifting of scenes between the apocalypse and the life before it started. They gave me perspectives on different characters; and I was able to understand them better.
-o-

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I definitely recommend The Undying to those who like/love reading about apocalypse, zombies and Paris! :)


Born in Spokane, Washington, Ethan Reid is a former television news producer with a BA in writing from the University of Washington and an MFA in professional writing from the University of Southern California. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and son.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Imitation (Clone Chronicles #1)
Author: Heather Hildenbrand
Publication details: July 29, 2014 by Alloy
Copy: e-ARC from NetGalley

Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me.

Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rog
en, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face.

Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.

When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?


There were two reasons why I requested Imitation. First, the cover. Just look at it, pretty right? Second reason was the synopsis. I've never read any books about clones before so I was really excited when I was granted access to Imitation.

Unfortunately though, I wasn't too keen on how the story unfolded. Imitation has potential to be a very good sci-fi YA novel. I did enjoy my reading experience; however, I think I expected too much.

As this was my first book about clones, I was really curious on how things will play out. The concept of clones, or the so-called Imitations, replacing the Authentics is a refreshing one. It's interesting how technology can go so far from cloning plants and animals to humans. Well, interesting and scary. Imagine having your clone and replacing you, your life, entirely. Isn't that scary?

The book also showed the usual power play of the government authorities and the rich people, while the middle class try to live, and the poor try to survive. Same old, same old but thankfully, my reading never got dragging despite of some aspects being predictable. I just felt like a lot was going on that the whole book became a one big introduction. If I can put the whole story in a graph, it would look like this:


The ending strengthened my opinion, btw. Refer to the graph. Haha!

It may be that the purpose of Imitation, which is first book in the Clone Chronicles, is to introduce everything. I can understand that. However, it didn't really work out for me. I think a portion or two of the whole problem may have been enough. Also, the characters and scenes did not appeal to me as strongly as I expected. Some characters can be condescending too.

And of course, we have our hot love interest, Linc. Pretty much cliché. I'm not complaining about the love interest though. Haha! He's another fictional boyfriend. Anyway, I'm really hoping there'll be no love triangle. I'm sensing one in the Clone Chronicles. Hoping there'll be none. I don't like love triangles. Haha!
-o-

The style of writing is okay. Smooth flow and easy to read. However, like what I've said, too much going on for a short read. Imitation is only around 270 pages.

Despite my seemingly negative review, I would still read the second book because I want to know what’ll happen- plot wise and character wise. The progress of the story and character development are slow, a la Shatter Me trilogy, so I'm looking forward to how things will turn out.




(source: Goodreads)

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was home-schooled through high school. Since 2011, she’s published more than eight YA & NA novels including the bestselling Dirty Blood series. She splits her time between coastal Virginia and the island of Guam and loves having a mobile career and outrageous lifestyle of living in two places.

Heather is also a publishing and success coach bent on equipping and educating artists who call themselves authors. She loves teaching fellow writers how to create the same freedom-based lifestyle she enjoys. For more information visit www.phoenixauthorink.com and find out how to create your own OutRAGEous Life.

She is represented by Rebecca Friedman. (Source: Author's blog)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Haul #4: 35th Manila International Book Fair Haul

Hi folks!

Long time no book haul post! I'll probably just do a once a month book haul post because, you know, I don't have much money. Haha!

Most of the books I got were from the 35th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). I was really excited for this book fair! However, I was in a very tight budget so I had to limit myself. Nonetheless, I'm very happy with my books!


National Book Store also had a Cut-Off Price Sale the same week as MIBF. I, having the tendency to slip out of control, bought three books. :)


As for the e-ARCS from NetGalley, I got these: (Covers from NetGalley)


I've already read this. My review to follow!


 I've also read this and I loved it! It's very inspiring! Review to follow!





That's all folks for my September Book Haul!

I'm not sure when my next haul will be and if I'll do a lot of reading because I'll be reviewing for my licensure exam! (Hoooo! Pray for me folks!) I'll try to update though. :)

Also, I'm planning to start a booktube channel. Hmmmmm.... What do you think? Haha!

-o-
Have a nice day folks! :)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander: ARC Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Love and Other Unknown Variables
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Publication Details: October 7, 2014 by Entangled: Teen
Copy: eBook (PDF) from Entangled through NetGalley

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

Funny and poignant

Reading the synopsis, I thought it will be just another cliché story. For some aspects that might be the case but folks, I enjoyed reading this book. Really enjoyed it. :)

-o-

First that got me into reading this was the title: Love and Other Unknown Variables. I think it's interesting and catchy. True to what the title says, the book conveyed the interrelationship between rationality and irrationality, love being the irrational part and the mathematical equation being the rational part. The book basically tells how both logic and emotional, IQ and EQ, make a person. How both are necessary to connect to oneself and to others. I don't know why but I love reading stories about logical characters coming in to terms with their emotional side. Haha!

The subjects in the book include cancer, mathematics, literature and art. Completely different subjects, but they were interwoven together to create this beautiful story. A story about life in its final journey, about love blossoming in the final leg of life, a story of opening up and embracing both the logical and emotional part of one's whole being.

Characters
Charlie Hanson reminded me of Dr. Addy in the TV series Bones. Though Charlie is way better. Haha! He's a genius and demands logic and organization in everything. While he is so advanced in the math and science department, he's way behind the social and emotional department. I liked how his character developed as his involvement with Charlotte progressed. I also liked how his relationship with Becca changed, as well as his relationship with Mrs. Dunwitty.

Charlotte Finch. I can see Alaska Young (Looking for Alaska) and Margo (Paper Towns) in her. She brought out the majority of Charlie's development and Becca's. She's smart and talented. And though she has a courageous façade, I liked that her vulnerability can still be seen.

Ms. Jo Finch. I liked how she never gives up, not only to her sister but also to her Brighton students. I loved her dedication and her strength to continue with her life even though she is constantly worrying about her sister.

Becca. Like her brother, she's also a genius but literary-wise. I wish I have her brain. Haha! Anyway, her character development was also evident as Charlotte also touched her life. I liked how Becca came out of her shell, how she let herself be found by Charlotte. I loved her relationship with her brother, Charlie, how they found strengths in each other.

Mrs. Dunwitty. Though a minor character, I believe she also played a big part in Charlie's development. I think she was the one who pushed Charlie to take the big leap towards "emotions".

Greta and James. A very cute couple! They are great friends of Charlie, caring for him and supporting him in his endeavors. I liked that their relationship is deep and really based on love. They may have competitive streaks but friendship and love come first.

Writing
The story was told in Charlie's POV. And while usually I need to know the other's POVs as well, I felt like in this one, Charlie's was enough. My reading never got boring because of the humorous yet thought-provoking way the story was told.

I liked the style of writing because of the balanced play of logic and emotions. Overall the scenes clearly showed Charlie's character development. As I've said before, some aspects may not be really unique but nevertheless LaOUV is an inspiring and humorous read.
-o-

I really enjoyed reading this book. My rating is 0.5 short because I couldn't understand some technical terms (Haha!). But I'd recommend it to anyone wanting a good YA stand-alone about life and love.



photo by Katie Williams
from author's website
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. Math makes her break out in a sweat. Love and Other Unknown Variables is her debut novel. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family (Source: Entangled Publishing).




Saturday, September 13, 2014

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Tag

Hi folks!

Another tag I got from Abbi @ Christian Novels. And this time it's to know more about me. :)

Question 1: How tall are you?
I am 4'11". Yep, I'm small but most Filipinos are. Haha!

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Is cramming a talent? Because I'm very good at it.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
I don't think I have one.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
A lot. When people make unnecessary noises. When people breathe ON me (just like Phoebe of Catcher in the Rye). When people tell me to do things I already know I should do. When people pressure me to do things. When people say bad words/ curse.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Can I just give a genre? Haha! Christian songs! :)

Question 6: What’s your favourite Etsy shop that isn't yours?
Not an Etsy person. =/

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
This is easy- reading, watching TV shows, blogging.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
I don't eat much junk food.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
I'm not a pet person. =/

Question 10: What are your number one favorite non-fiction and fiction books?
You've got to be kidding me?! One? ONE! I don't have one. I have many. Haha! Let's see. For non-fiction, the Bible, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, God Just Tell Me What to Do, Nelson Mandela Biography, Now I See You and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. For Fiction, HP series, TFiOS, The Book Thief, Razorland series, and many more! Haha!

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
Not much into makeup but I can't go out without a foundation or a powder. :)

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
I think it was last week. I was running an errand for work when I slipped. It's embarrassing because I was walking so poised and then oops. Patients and hospital staff may or may not have seen me. Haha!

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Tea or coffee. :)

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
It's impossible to choose one, you know. Uhm I'd say Titanic, The Book Thief, Marvel movies, HP, The Schindler's List, Life is Beautiful, and many more.

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
A nerd perhaps? I don't know. High school is different in the Philippines.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
London, Ireland, Italy and Paris! :)

Question 17: PC or Mac?
PC

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
My love life is non-existent.

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
I don't have one.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?
All of them! :)

-o-

There! :)

I'm tagging:
Kevin @ Tomebound

That's all folks!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins Tag: Book Tag

Hi folks!

Today, I'm going to do a book tag. This is my first tag here on blogger. I normally do tags on my Tumblr account. Haha! Anyway, I was tagged by Aigel Serrano of Mindful Ramblings! Thanks Aigel! :)

Greed
1. What is your most inexpensive book?

I have lots because of National Bookstore Warehouse Sale. Haha! I bought some of my books for only Php 15 ($0.34)! And they're in very good condition. :D

Here's two I can remember buying for only Php 15:



Wrath
2. What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Hmmmm. Hate is a strong word. Let's settle for love/dislike relationship, okay? Haha!

I'd say Lauren Oliver? I've read five of her books and overall they're okay but some elements were a bit off for me. =/



Ooh and also Sophie Kinsella, because while her books made me laugh, some of her minor characters are annoying.

Gluttony
3. What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

I seldom reread. But I'd say A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks. :)

Sloth
4. Which book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

Haha! I have a big TBR pile. So I don't really know how to answer this. Haha!

Pride
5. What books do you most talk about in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

Haha! Biographies, historical fiction, memoirs, classics. :)


Lust
6. What attributes do you find attractive in a male or female character?

If the character is brave, funny and rational.

Envy
7. What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Harry Potter (Hard cover) box set!!!!

-o-

I'm too lazy to tag. If you want to do this tag, then feel free to do so! :)

That's all folks!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Frozen (Heart of Dread #1)
Authors: Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
Publication Details: September 17, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Publication Details (UK Edition): October 2, 2014 by Orchard Books
Copy: eBook (UK edition) from Hachette Children's Book through NetGalley

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Dystopian, fantasy, adventure and romance in one

I did not expect to enjoy this book! I actually had no expectations but man, why didn't I read this sooner?

The Earth finally caved in. The world is covered in ice, freezing, and gray. People are trying their best to live, or rather, survive. Nothing much is left of the world, but there's no other way but to strive.

Others are hopeful to go to a place known as the Blue, a world where trees are green and the sky is still blue. Not only is the place a paradise but it's also where other inhabitants of the earth can live in peace. The journey to the Blue can be dangerous and the place is not really guaranteed to exist. But for someone like Natasha Kestal, risking it is the only way. With the help of a group of runners, her journey to the Blue will not only be an escape but it will also be a way for her to embrace her true identity.

Frozen kind of reminded me of Under the Never Sky and Shatter Me but nevertheless this was one enjoyable read. Reading Frozen was a gripping experience. From the first chapter up to the last, I was never bored. I liked how the scenes built up until its peak, and how no scenes were wasted.

I thought it will be predictable but it wasn't. Well, at least for me. That's why toward the end, my heart and my stomach were having funny feelings. The ending gave many possibilities for the second book. And I can't wait for its release on November!

And the world building! I loved it! Yes, the same elements of dystopian and fantasy genres were present but something in the way they were pieced together made them beautiful and somehow look fresh.

Characters
I don't think I hate a single character. I think they were all well-written , even the minor characters. They all contributed to the plot and the major characters' development. I think everyone represented a part of today's society, of today's humanity. I liked that.

I especially liked Nat, the protagonist. Her first scene reminded me of the first scene in Shatter Me, but Nat's character was really played out well. She believes that she's a monster but she didn't wallow in self- pity. She may have a hard time accepting who she is but she's never stubborn and irrational. She's smart and brave.

Wes. I found another book boyfriend is all. Haha! Wes is also smart and brave. He is calculating and plans really well. I also liked that he believes in Nat even though she doesn't in herself. He may be young but he carries responsibilities like an adult. And most of all, despite the bad things he was and still is exposed to, he has a heart, a good heart.

I also liked Shakes. He's very optimistic and loyal. He's a true friend and a brother to Wes. And like Wes, he also has a good heart.

I can go on with the other minor characters but this post will be very long if I did. Haha! As I've mentioned, I don't think I hate a single character.

Writing
I enjoyed the third person POV. Most of the POVs came from Nat and Wes but the narrator also included those of other characters. It's actually one of the reasons why I love this book because the POVs brought the characters to life. I understood them and I was able to connect with them.

I'm pretty sure I've read other books in the same genre (or genres, as Frozen belongs to many) but I think it still brought a fresh take to the same elements. The book was written by two authors but the flow of the events was smooth, and I think everything was well-connected.

-o-

Frozen is a story about trust- trusting in yourself and in others. Moreover, it's a story about embracing your own identity, about sticking to your true self, and choosing what is good and right.

I definitely recommend this book to fantasy readers out there! It's an enjoyable and gripping read!



(My rating is 0.5 short because I couldn't understand the card and gambling terms.)


Photo by Wendy Werris (Publishers Weekly)
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloodsseries, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boysand the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!) (Reference: Melissa de la Cruz Website).

-o-

After being behind the scene of Melissa de la Cruz's success, Michael Johnston, finally took the time to get off the background and be a co-author with his wife.

"I graduated from Columbia University School of Architecture in 1999, and got a job with a firm in New York right away. But then Mel’s father got sick, and we had to move to L.A. very quickly. I took a job with a good firm here, and we did high-end celebrity homes. I didn’t like that very much. It’s a good, lucrative business, but not as artful as the architecture I did in New York. Then I had my own firm, and some great clients, but I liked it less and less. I didn’t see the creativity and the artistic element that made me love architecture, the crazy avant-garde stuff that’s hard to build. The work in Hollywood feels a bit shallow. So I started working in the background with Mel on the books, still feeling dissatisfied, and then took time to brew Frozen. When we sold it is when I shut down my firm. I love architecture and will come back to it in some way in the future (Reference: Wendy Werris, Publishers Weekly)."


That's all folks!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

BZRK: Reloaded (BZRK #2) by Michael Grant: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: BZRK: Reloaded (BZRK #2)
Author: Michael Grant
Publication details: October 8, 2013 by Egmont USA
Copy: eBook (ePub format)

The entire BZRK cell--including Noah and Sadie--has been left in pieces after the last round of battle with the Armstrong Twins, conjoined brother who plot to rob mankind of its free will. Vincent's mind is shattered, and his memories hold dangerous secrets--secrets that Lear, BZRK's mysterious leader, will stop at nothing to protect.

Meanwhile, Bug Man has taken control of the President's brain, but playing with sanity is a dangerous game. The consequences can spiral way out of control, and the Armstrong Twins are not people Bug Man can afford to disappoint.

The nano is as terrifying, exhilarating, and unpredictable as ever. But the wall of secrets that surrounds it is cracking. What will it reveal? And once the dust has settled, who will be sane enough to find out?

BZRK Reloaded was as amazing as the first book, if not better! It took me a while to finish reading because of other stuff in my life but I would have finished this sooner. It was, as I said, amazing and gripping. I need to read the third book ASAP!

Plot
After what happened in Washington, the New York cell is still in tact, or at least trying to be. It took them a while to get things going, to have a concrete plan. But they're determined to win. On the other hand, AFGC may have taken hold of a powerful person but the war isn't over and no one's winning yet. They are being complacent which might not be a good thing.

Faced with new challenges and goals, both BZRK and AFGC will do anything to get what they want.

Two new sides were introduced to the story giving not only more action but also more questions. Aside from BZRK and the AFGC, the story also revolves around other people outside the two organizations. It's amazing how these people are connected and how they will affect each others' outcome.

The unpredictability of the events is also one of the things I liked in BZRK: Reloaded. I liked how I kept guessing scenarios in my head, only for them to not happen. It was an exhilarating read for me!

I also liked how the book touched the personal love lives of some characters, but just enough so as not to shift the focus from the war between nanos and the biots.

Characters
Some characters were explored deeper- their background, their plans. I was actually surprised by a particular character. I didn't expect that this one is up to something. :)

The (old) characters changed since Washington. Some came in stronger, others somehow lost it but they still stuck to the core of their beings, to their true selves. I liked how I observed them through their actions and decisions. As I read, I began to know them better both the rational and the emotional side of their beings.

There were new characters and of course, losses. I made it a point to not get attached to any characters. I learned my lesson in the first book, you know. Anyway, these new characters were smartly and carefully written. Whether he/she was playing a minor role or a major one, each character was given equal introduction and identity. Though it made the not-trying-to-get-attached even harder.

Writing
I love Michael Grant's writing- the third person perspective, the unpredictability, how things were connected, how this and that affect the situation or a person. Amazing folks! There were biological/ anatomical terms scattered through out the book. So if you want to completely picture the world down the meat, you'll have to Google the terms. (Unless you're already familiar with blood vessels, nasal cavities, mucous membrane, optical nerves, etc.) 😁

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The fast-paced, gripping experience was carried out from the first book and I just can't wait to read the third book, BZRK: Apocalypse! If you're a fan of sci-fi, you should read this! It sure is a great read! :)

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If you want to read my review of the first book. Click here. :)



ph source: guardian.co.uk
Michael Grant has spent much of his life on the move. Raised in a military family in the USA, he attended ten schools in five states, as well as three schools in France. Even as an adult he kept moving, and in fact he became a writer in part because it was one of the few jobs that wouldn't tie him down. His dream is to spend a whole year circumnavigating the globe and visiting every continent. Even Antarctica. He lives in Marin Country, California, with his wife, Katherine Applegate, their two children, and far too many pets (Source: BZRK back cover).