Friday, January 30, 2015

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares (ARC): Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Published: January 1st 2015 by Hachette Children's Books (first published January 1st 2014)
Copy: eARC from NetGalley

The Here and Now follows the life of Prenna James. She was from the future- where a mosquito-borne illness killed millions of people, and the only way to survive is to emigrate to a different time path. Together with others, they time travelled hoping to change the dark future they've lived in.

Upon coming to the present, their so-called leaders imposed a set of rules that Prenna and the others must follow in order to live peacefully. Never reveal where you're from. Never be intimate with a time native. Never interfere with history. Change is not what they are doing after all.

After a series of revelation, she realizes that she can do something to change the course of their future. She might be able to save the world from the pandemic that killed her loved ones but only if she lets go of one thing...

I saw this on NetGalley and I was intrigued by the title and the cover. I've only read My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares, and I was kind of so-so with it. Thus, I didn't know what to expect with The Here and Now.

This book is a short read. Chapter one introduces the 12 rules imposed by the leaders and an overview of what life is like living with them. It tells right away the struggle of Prenna and the whole community- lack of freedom and fear of punishment. The first few events are a bit confusing if one does not know the premise of the book. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear. It can also be a bit slow towards the middle part. And though the book claims to be thrilling and exhilarating, I did not find it either. I guess I expected more action.

There is an element of romance but I was not sure if it's the main focus of the book, although Ethan plays a major part in Prenna's development.

One of the things I liked about the book is Prenna's friendship with Katherine. It wasn't explored well but from what I read, it showed how Prenna loves her friend. It showed how she values her relationship with someone she trusts.

Her relationship with her father... I didn't know Prenna's relationship with Poppy, her father, is important until the latter part. I think Prenna's relationship with Ethan competed with her other relationships, so I wasn't able to tell immediately their impact on Prenna.

Mother... Prenna and her mother are kind of distant to each other, but I guess fear of the leaders will do that. However, I liked her development towards the end.

Ethan... Like I said, he plays a major part in Prenna's life. He's whole reaction to everything was a bit weird for me. But I guess, he is just like that. Haha! Anyway, I liked that though he's a genius, he is still down-to-earth and friendly.

Andres... I don't want to spoil anything but let me just say that I do understand his actions.

The leaders... They're like every antagonists in a dystopian novel. Enough said. :)

Except for the Prologue, the story was written in Prenna's POV. Thankfully, Prenna is not annoying so I was okay with her thoughts. Haha!

I can say that The Here and Now is an easy read despite my little confusions in the beginning. Some scenes can be a bit predictable but I liked how it surprised me towards the end. It has a bittersweet ending. I don't like how it ended but I do understand. Haha! And I remembered having the same feels when I reached the ending of My Name is Memory. So yeah...

This is my second "time travel" read, but I don't think it's unique since most of the elements were like that of a dystopian novel. However, I did enjoy my reading. It wasn't what I expected but it was okay.


The Here and Now is a story about trust- trust in our loved ones and most especially, in ourselves. It is a story of how uncertain things can be, a story of how we can be a part of something. We think we know the future, but not really. Everything is uncertain. Tomorrow is uncertain. But we don't need tomorrow to act on things. We have today to start doing something. Something for ourselves, for our family, for others, for the future.

Source: Goodreads
Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ann and her husband live with their three children in New York (Source: Goodreads).

Feature & Follow #2

Hi folks!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It is where we, book bloggers, can meet new people and gain followers as well!


This week's question is submitted by The Realm of Books.
Hard print (real thing) or Kindle/Nook, which is your favorite?

Hard print! I love the feel and smell of books and the happy feels when I look at them sitting pretty in my bookshelves. :) Although, eBooks are handy and I have a lot of 'em. :)


That's all folks!
Have a nice day!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Haul #5

Hello folks!

I imposed a book buying ban on myself while I was reviewing for my board exam. And I think I was kind of successful?! Haha! Since my last book haul post I got 6 books- 3 physical copies and 3 eBooks. :)

The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson

I bought this at Book Sale before my review period. Haha! It's a short read yet refreshing and inspiring. I'm actually going to reread this soon and apply the Prayer of Jabez.

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

Sent to me by Melissa Jolly of AuthorRx! I loved The Razorland Series of Ann Aguirre so I'm really excited to read this one!

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Okay, this one I bought during my review period. Haha! I couldn't help it! The synopsis sounds really interesting, so don't blame me.

cover from Goodreads
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Got this from NetGalley. I already finished reading this one. It's not my favorite, but I liked it. My review will be up soon! :)

cover from Goodreads
Don't Forget Me Bro by John Michael Cummings

I got a request from the author to review Don't Forget Me Bro. I'm currently reading this one. The book touches topics like mental health and child abuse. It's kind of deep but I find it interesting.

cover from Goodreads
The Labyrinth Wall by Emilyann Girdner

Another request just recently. The synopsis sounds interesting so I accepted the request to review. Haha! It is a YA fantasy novel, so yeah. :)


That's all folks!
Have a nice day!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

God is Amazing by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz: Book Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: God is Amazing: Everything Changes When You See God For Who He Really Is
Authors: Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz
Published: October 1, 2014 by Shiloh Run Press
Copy: e-ARC from NetGalley

Bogged down with the burdens of life? Maybe your God is too small. You may need a newer, bigger view of God—the awesome, powerful, mysterious God, who is, quite frankly, amazing. This brand-new book from Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz—authors of the million-selling God Is in the Small Stuff series—celebrates the majestic, heroic God we serve. God Is Amazing will help you lift your gaze above the complications and concerns of this life, to a place of wonder, incredible beauty, and vast power. . .unlike anything we can experience on our own. In their easy-to-read yet always thought-provoking style, Bruce and Stan call us to something much bigger than ourselves—the amazing God of the universe.

God is Amazing reminded me that God is bigger than anything in this world. Oftentimes, I get scared by the wrong things, worry the wrong things. It's a useless effort, and it shouldn't be the case. This book reminded me who is in charge of everything, who God is.

The book is divided mainly into four parts: (1) Amazing God, (2) Amazing Creator, (3) Amazing Jesus, and (4) Amazing Grave. It discusses not only His characters (from His self-sufficiency to what Jesus did on the cross) but also His amazing grace and what He requires of me.

As I've read this months ago, I was overwhelmed by how great God is, and how small I am in this world. His love is so amazing, and I am so undeserving. But even so, He chose me to be His child. To that, I am more than grateful.

The book was written such that the flow of information made the reading experience easy yet inspiring. I haven't read the authors' other books, especially God is in the Small Stuff, but after reading God is Amazing, I can't wait to read the others too.

I definitely want to read this again to remind me that God is, indeed, amazing! I believe this book is a must-read, especially to those who might be forgetting that God is bigger than any circumstances.

Source: Harvest House Website

Bruce Bickel is an attorney and Chief Operating Officer of His previous books with Stan Jantz include Knowing God 101, Knowing the Bible 101, and God Is in the Small Stuff.

Source: Harvest House Website

Stan Jantz is CEO of He and Bruce Bickel are coauthors of more than 50 books, including I’m Fine with God... It’s Christians I Can’t Stand and the Christianity 101® Bible Studies. As a writing team, their goal is to present God’s truth in a correct, clear, and casual manner.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Feature & Follow #1

Hi folks!

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. It is where we, book bloggers, can meet new people and gain followers as well!

My first FF post! Yey!

This week's question is submitted by A Great Read.
Do you post your reviews anywhere besides your blog? Where else do you post reviews?

I post my full reviews here on my blog. I also post on Goodreads but only short versions and then I just put a link to my blog. If there's a request to post my review on Amazon or Net Galley or anywhere else, I just copy what I wrote here. :)


That's all folks!
Have a nice day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado: ARC Review

cover from Goodreads
Title: Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe
Authors: Max Lucado with Eric Newman and Candace Lee
Expected Publication: February 10, 2015 by Thomas Nelson Publishers

If you could ask God anything, what would you ask?

After her separation with her NFL Superstar husband, Chelsea Chambers is determined to start her life over again. Together with her kids, she moved to her late mother's place to reopen Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop formerly owned by her mother.

Starting over, however, doesn't always come easy- not when the newly reopened shop is in danger of closing due to the unpaid bills left to her. Chelsea may be making fine cupcakes and cappuccinos but what she needs more than anything is a miracle. Enter here her ex-husband claiming to have changed and ready to take his family back together, just when Chelsea made up her mind about him.

Then comes a strange man, who might be the help Chelsea needs. After installing an internet connection, customers come flocking in the Café not only for the cupcakes and coffees but most especially, for a direct connection to heaven and have their life questions answered.

With all the commotion around her, Chelsea is still adamant and unyielding to the miracles she's seeing. Until one day, she finds the courage to ask her own question, and finally have her own miracle.

Whatever it is, God can help. But first, you have to ask Him.

Short yet very inspiring read. When I saw this book on NetGalley, I immediately requested for access because the author is Max Lucado! I've been hearing a lot of good things about his books but never really had the chance to read them. So when this opportunity came, I grabbed it. Haha!

Anyway, the book is only less than 200 pages. But even so, it's full of lessons and reminders especially for people who might be forgetting that God is always present. This book reminded me that God listens. He knows what's going on with our lives, and that He knows our heart's desires. We only need to ask, to pray.

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café is also a book about forgiveness and second chances. It tells how a man can change for love, how God can change our hearts to be able to accept and believe. It tells a story about miracles.

The story was carefully woven to show that we're not alone in our lives, that we have friends and family, and of course, that we have God. Each character plays a part in changing Chelsea's belief, in having her reconnect with what she used to know.

I liked the style of writing- the smooth flow of events and relationship between characters. And it's easy to read and easy to get the message.

I would love to read this again soon and feel the overwhelming flow of God's grace.

I definitely recommend this book especially to those whose hopes are running low. Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café is a very inspiring book everyone should read.

Source: Goodreads
Max Lucado has touched millions with his signature storytelling writing style. Awards and accolades follow Max with each book he writes. Max is the first author to win the Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year three times—1999 for Just Like Jesus, 1997 for In the Grip of Grace and 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name. In 2005, Reader’s Digest dubbed him “America’s Best Preacher.” In addition, he has been an ECPA Gold Medallion finalist with more titles than any other author in the industry.

In 1994, he became the only author to have 11 of his twelve books in print simultaneously appear on paperback, hardcover and children's CBA bestseller lists. Lucado set a new industry record by concurrently placing nine different Word Publishing titles on the CBA Hardcover Bestseller List in both March and April 1997. Max Lucado is a fixture on the national bestseller lists – a Max Lucado title has appeared on the CBA hardcover bestseller list every month for the past dozen years. He has appeared on the Publishers Weekly, USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists. He has won eight ECPA Gold Medallion awards.

In addition to his nonfiction books, Lucado has authored several award-winning children's titles including, Just In Case You Ever Wonder, The Crippled Lamb, Alabaster's Song and the award-winning You Are Special. Max is also the author of Hermie: A Common Caterpillar, and the Max Lucado’s Hermie and Friends collection of books and DVD’s are quickly becoming a fixture on bestseller lists. He also served as the general editor for the best-selling Lucado Study Bible and God's Inspirational Promise Book.

In the Fall of 2006, he released Facing Your Giants, followed by Every Day Deserves a Chance in April of the 2007.

For over twenty years, Max has served as the Senior Pastor of the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. But he says his greatest accomplishment is finding a one-in-a-million wife in Denalyn and having three unbelievable daughters: Jenna, Andrea, and Sara (Source: Goodreads).