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!