Sunday, August 13, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (STS#9)

Image: Kaboompics

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's all about sharing the books added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual.


I might have went overboard with book buying because that's what we do, right? In all fairness with me, most of these are e-book deals. Below are my most recent purchases. Clicking the cover images will lead to Goodreads.

Bought:


interim goddess 01

interim goddess 02

interim goddess 03


breakup anniv

hometown hazard

cocoy became kikay


keep the faith

love that split

prob with forever


illuminae

air awakens

alchemists of loom


neverwhere

liars inc


From Netgalley:


So that's my latest bookhaul. I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to read all of these. If you have any of the books above that you want to buddy read with me, I'm game. Just holler at the comments below and I'll get in touch with you. You may also link your latest book haul as well so I may take a peek. Happy reading! :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wandering Thoughts: This Is Me Talking Myself Out of Writing Mean Reviews

Image: Kaboompics

Wandering Thoughts is where I let my mind stray, think and talk about non-routine things. This is an avenue for bookish personal stories, fun posts, musings and discussions.


It’s the end of a long day. You are really looking forward to some nice and quiet reading. You get yourself some snacks and drinks then settle on your favorite reading nook. You pick up a book that you’ve been wanting to check out and expects to have a good time. Plot twist: you did not have a good time. The book is bad, in ways you couldn’t have imagined possible. The plot is slow and the characters are dry. Halfway through, your brain is screaming for you to stop and just drop the book. But you  trudged on thinking that it can get better. Of course the universe is cruel because the book didn’t get better. Upon finishing the whole thing and turning the last page, your initial reaction is mild irritation. And then you remembered how excited you were looking forward to reading it and then it turned out to be garbage. You felt betrayed. You want to cry. And then you realized you lost something you will never get back: precious reading time. Plus the book cost you money. You wanna pull out your hair in frustration. Your blood vessels are bulging and your heart is pounding fast to keep up with the build up of negative emotions inside. Whatever happened to bibliotherapy, right?


This is your fault. Out of all the books in your TBR pile, why did you choose this one in the first place? Then when there is nothing happening on the pages, your brain told you to DNF it but you did not listen. Maybe you are just plain stupid. NO YOU’RE NOT! THAT’S HORRIBLE! How could you say that to yourself? How could you have ever known beforehand that you will not like this book? You love reading this genre. You saw positive reviews of this book in Goodreads. You are not in the wrong from expecting that this book is the bomb. I get it now, yes! Maybe the good reviews you saw are all lies. And the truth is that this thing you are holding is misery incarnated in the form of a book. It ruins every thing. You should burn it and blame its author for the damaged it caused you. This book made you hate reading. You will not recover from this trauma. For sure you will spend all your remaining days in a reading slump.


Someone should take responsibility for this. What’s the best way to take revenge? Ah perfect, you should write the meanest of mean reviews. A mean review that will make them feel your pain and aggravation. Oh good, make it intense and in shouty caps. Tell the author all the hurtful words like “IMBECILE”, “IGNORANT”, and “YOU KNOW NOTHING!” Don’t forget to sprinkle expletives to get your point across. Lash out like your life depended on it. Type all your dissatisfaction away and be the keyboard warrior you are always destined to be.


Congratulations, self! You have launched a personal vendetta on the book and it’s author who cause you pain. Don’t forget to look down on the readers who liked the book because they are tasteless and have no right to their own reading preferences. Go extra and attack the publisher for allowing such a despicable book on the shelves. Maybe you should rally the reading community to boycott the book. Go on social media and propagate hate. Really classy, Regina George of book blogging! Is this what you really want? Why don’t you back up a little bit before hitting that publish button? Would you really feel happy doing all these things in anger? Is the world a better place after you’ve spewed all those mean things in the open? Is there no other way of doing this without being a bully? You know you are better than that. Let your boiling anger simmer. Allow yourself to rein in your emotions. It’s true that this book hurt you but you are in-charge of how you will react. Take deep breaths and just straight-up say what’s wrong with the book then backspace on all the unnecessary sass and snark. Even if your review is negative, you may still say it kindly. Choose to review through constructive criticisms instead of derogatory remarks. Repeat after me: honest but kind. Make this your book reviewing mantra. And from now on, just as how you proofread your reviews for grammar, typo errors and spelling mistakes, make it a point to also weed out the rude words. Remember: HONEST BUT KIND.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck



A Short History of the Girl Next Door
by Jared Reck

Synopsis:
The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him. 

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places' Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Expected Publication date:  September 26th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon Barnes&Noble | Indiebound


My Thoughts:

Matt Wainwright wants two things more than ever in his life: 1) for Tabby to see her as more than a friend and 2) to play varsity basketball next year. He is a quiet type but beneath the surface is a mind with a lot of things going on. What he can’t express verbally, he makes into small movies in his head. Like instead of telling her life-long and next-door bestfriend, Tabby, that he has a crush on her, Matt simply slips into romantic-movie mode and fantasizes that she is harboring the same feelings for him. Meanwhile in Reality Land, Tabby starts dating Liam: senior, popular, varsity player, all around nice guy. Matt still says nothing about his feelings but adjusts his script and role in his movie as the best friend in an unrequited love. Stupid Matt. At least he thinks he still has his other dream going for him. He trains passionately hard for it: shooting daily hoops in their driveway, practicing with his other bestfriend Trip and diligently attending JV training. All these hard work, with bits of imaginations in his mind on how good he must look sweating, like the athletes in power drink commercials.

The Goodreads blurb does not lie when it says “A Short History of the Girl Next Door” is both humorous and heart-wrenching. Humorous because obviously of how Matt’s mind works: he vaguely gives a vibe of a more tame and pure Greg Gaines from “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”.  Matt has even his own Earl in the form of his other bestfriend, Trip. As for the heart-wrenching bit, I will not tell anything about it to avoid spoiling the book. Just trust me that indeed it is and there were unexpected tears involved on my part.

The book is basically Matt’s coming of age story and that I think is young adult genre in its purest form. I like it when the book depicts Matt in awkward fifteen year old situations because he is definitely not a child anymore but not an adult neither. Like when he can’t drive on his own yet so he has to take the school bus. Or when he was forced to go trick or treating by his mom in full bald eagle mama costume to match his younger brother baby bald eagle chick costume. Matt’s conflict is not really focused on him winning Tabby over (he is too passive for that) but on the general feeling of helplessness when things don’t go as scripted that it doesn’t make sense. The ultimate message of the book warms my heart: Life may seem pointless but the people we love and care about, having met them, being with them or spending time with them, is worth all the life’s meaning we are looking for.

I have one complaint though: the book has misogynistic tendencies which were left with little to no correction. I think the book is aware of the problem and made Matt felt vaguely uncomfortable that Tabby is the subject of a “boys’ locker room talk”. Matt himself was caught by Tabby with a chauvinistic ranking of all the girls in their grade, they fought about it and did not speak to each other for a while. Tabby also apprehended Matt when he made a yo mama banter with a bully but it was not clear if Matt understood why Tabby told her not to do that again. I know that it adds a realistic touch what with it narrated in first person PoV of a fifteen year old boy, but it would have been better if the book also took the opportunity to drive home an unequivocal message that misogyny is wrong and unacceptable.


Diversity Watch:
Tabby is a redhead.
All the other characters are racially indeterminate.


My Rating:





Monday, July 31, 2017

3 YA Heroines Who Are Passionate Readers of Harry Potter

Image: Kaboompics

Wandering Thoughts is where I let my mind stray, think and talk about non-routine things. This is an avenue for bookish personal stories, fun posts, musings and discussions.


As any Potterhead next to you knows by heart, today is the glorious birthday of The Boy Who Lived and his creator, Queen Jo. *virtual toast to all the witches and wizards around the world* Most authors in the scene nowadays belong to this wonderful fandom are Hogwarts alumna and have incorporated a bit of the Potterverse in their works. While others drew subtle inspirations such as those with “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell and “More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera, some have direct references to the beloved book series. As a sort of tribute post for this special day, I will share with you three YA books with heroines who have definitely read the Harry Potter series and are passionate about it.

  1. TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum
    Jessie re-reads Harry Potter on Friday nights in honor of her dead mom.
    Read my review for Tell Me Three Things


  2. WHAT ABOUT TODAY by Dawn Lanuza
    Gemma inserts Harry Potter references to philosophical conversations.
    Read my review for What About Today.


  3. HOW HARD CAN LOVE BE? by Holly Bourne
    Amber has a lot of opinion when her alcoholic mother messed up the Hogwarts Houses.
    Read my review for How Hard Can Love Be?


Have you read any of the three books I listed? I don’t know about you but I am instantly drawn to characters who read the same books as I do. I often catch myself doing suppressed squeals of happy excitement whenever I find out that a character has read/is reading/planning to read Harry Potter. I need to meet more of them fictional Potterheads, so throw your recs to me. Which books do you know of have either subtle inspirations or direct references to the Potterverse? I’m sure there are tons of books that I missed mentioning above, share them with me in the comments!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas


Little Monsters
by Kara Thomas

Synopsis:
For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Expected Publication date:  July 25th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon Barnes&Noble | Indiebound


My Thoughts:

“Little Monsters” is narrated by seventeen-year old Kacey Young. She transferred from the city to a small town in Wisconsin on her junior year in high school. She had since then been close with Bailey and Jade. In the beginning of the book, Kacey’s two friends are picking her up for their usual end-of-the-week night escapades. This time they are planning to perform a seancĂ© in an abandoned barn where a ghost called the Red Woman is said to be lurking around. Just when they are about to sneak out though, Kacey’s sweet younger half-sister Lauren saw them and tagged along. After that night of botched seancĂ©, Kacey thought that everything is still okay among the three of them. To her surprise though the two girls decided to ditch her for a party they all agreed on going to. And worse, Bailey went missing after she left that party and everyone in town starts eyeing Kacey for answers.

The book got me hooked a few pages in. It started with a paranormal vibe stemming from a small-town ghost story. I honestly got the chills in some parts that I did a quick check if I am reading a paranormal YA book. I thought that it’s interesting to have something spooky as a springboard for a mystery thriller. The idea is to have the creeps for the spirits of the dead wear off slowly and replace it with a shattering disbelief on how living little girls can become monsters. The appeal of the theory did not translate well in this book though. The transition from paranormal to mystery thriller is rather clunky.

I partially blame it on the choice of Kacey as a narrator. Do not get me wrong, I like her character just fine. I can relate to how easily she accepted the first offer of friendship that came her way as a transferee student. I can imagine how hard she had tried to reinvent her reputation in her new family and new school. I am beside her when all of those efforts seem pointless because after Bailey’s disappearance, everyone, even people who matter to her, starts becoming a stranger in her eyes. In the end, she will always feel that she’s an outsider. Kacey’s situations are worthy of sympathy from the reader but my problem with her is in the context of the book she is in. She does not possess the shade and nuance that is essential in being the main source of narration of a mystery thriller. Although she was called in the police station a number of times for questioning, she lacks the sinister of being a full-blown suspect. As for the paranormal stuff going on in the book, she does not believe any of it in the first place so eventually the reader will also not take it seriously.

The book’s soft jabs at being suspenseful are interspersed with hit punches in the form of Bailey’s journal entries. Through her writings scattered in-between some chapters, we discover bit by bit this obsession building up inside her. Her character is wrought with intriguing psyche that will send the littlest hair of the reader stand on its end. I would love more of these ominous feels from the book but they were few and far between. When the final reveal came, I did not feel anything. It sort of just passed by me and I thought the book did not quite earn that dark ending. (I love dark endings, BTW!) I guess what the reader eventually needs is more vantage points for all those monstrous things that happened to seep through. Maybe something that will flesh out the other characters as well. I would have liked to know more about Jade who obviously has the least dimension among the three friends. And Lauren’s view on things would be quite valuable too because of her naivety. Plus she seems to really believe in ghosts and evil spirits.

“Little Monsters” is not entirely bad. I enjoyed a few things but also found a few things lacking. The characters are believable but some could use more spotlight. When measured up with the recent popular works of mystery thrillers, the book came a bit underwhelming. Okay just for context, this opinion is coming from someone who was amazed by “Gone Girl” and “The Girl on the Train”. Although the target readers/main characters for those are adults, I see no reason why I cannot compare it with something for young adults. Without the scrutiny of that comparison however, I think this book decently showcased how people are effortlessly manipulated and threatened because of our fear of being friendless and alone. Read this if you seek a chilling thrill on the lengths that young girls will agree to do just to gain approval from their peers.


Diversity Watch:
Kacey, Bailey and Jade are all white. Kacey’s stepbrother, Andrew, is half-Korean. The characters in the periphery are pretty much diverse. Mr. White, an art teacher wears dreadlocks and has brown eyes so I’m assuming he is black. One of the two nameless men mentioned talking about Bailey’s case is black. Other (I am also assuming this based on their surnames) characters who might be Asian are Mike Lin, one of Kacey’s classmates in art class and Mrs. Lao, an elderly neighbor.

A social worker named Dawn is lesbian and has a girlfriend.


My Rating:


 



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Review: What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum




Hello and thanks for joining me on my stop for the PH Blog Tour of WHAT TO SAY NEXT by Julie Buxbaum, hosted by Fay of Bibliophile Soprano. Click the banner above to follow the tour along. We have an ongoing giveaway for three finished copies of the book, open to PH readers, so make sure to keep an eye for that, too.


From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication date:  July 11th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Book Depository


My Thoughts:

I whizzed through the pages of “What to Say Next” and that’s a rare feat for a slow and easily distracted reader as myself. There is only one explanation for this: Julie Buxbaum has done it again. And by “it”, what I mean is that this author has conjured and charmed a yet another great contemporary YA worthy of praises and accolades as her debut, “Tell Me Three Things”. (Maybe Julie is a witch, a good witch.) Not only has she shown her mastery of exploring the intricate dimensions of grief from losing a parent at a young age, she also has a way of creating unforgettable characters.

David is a beautiful boy with a beautiful mind. Although he is diagnosed with high-functioning autism, he resists to confine himself inside the lines drawn by any label. He gets confused with the “normal” world and gets into trouble in lots of situations though, so he keeps this special social navigation notebook with him at all times. It has an index of names of his classmates with extensive descriptions (because he easily forgets faces), a Trust and Don’t Trust List, a Rules section (Do not engage with people on the DNT list.), a list of idioms, etc. He is funny in a pure and candid way but people do not understand him so he always sits alone at lunch.



That’s until Kit decided to ditch her usual lunch table crowd and sit with David. On that fateful day, Kit cannot be bothered to be her old cheerful self. Her world just imploded with the sudden death of his dad from a car accident. People have been tiptoeing on eggshells around her saying incomprehensible death babble like “everything happens for a reason”. She figured that David does not talk much and is the best company for sitting tight and silent. But David talked and said the exact same thing that she is thinking: her dad’s death is really unfair.



So one day of sitting together at lunch became two, then three, and more. Soon they became each other’s sort of confidant. A wonderful friendship blossomed between them.


And the readers are treated with the pleasures of an adorably awkward connection.


But David has to deal with some people in the Do Not Trust List, a.k.a. the meanie bullies.


And Kit has some unresolved issues with her mom. Issues that came crashing after her dad’s car accident.



Will Kit stand by David’s side against the DNT List people even if some of them were in her social circle? Can David help Kit get over her angsty grief or will he mess things up because of his lacking social skills?



These questions are answered best if you will read them yourself. Let me give you a hint, though. I have this face upon reaching the last page of the book.



I had fun meeting both David and Kit and I cannot wait to get the chance to re-read the book again. I guess the core magic of Julie Buxbaum’s books is that they compel you to reading them repeatedly with her effortlessly lovable characters. They have this light and easy air for such characters dealing with deep and heavy stuff, but no, these characters are not cartoonish. What these characters have is balance and believability. They felt real and they invoked feelings from me. In “What to Say Next” David and Kit made me feel that although friendships and relationships are hard, they are not that complicated. Conversations can be easy. You don’t have to impress and overthink what to say next. Just listen to what the other person is saying and be your honest self with your replies.


Diversity Watch:

Kit’s dad is white and her mom is first generation Indian American. Her grandparents moved back in Delhi and they visit them every other year. Though American-born, Kit’s mom raised her so she will not forget her Indian roots.

David’s guitar tutor, Trey, is a quarter Chinese, a quarter Indian, and half African American.

Kit’s mom, who is an advertising executive, spearheaded a campaign ad featuring biracial gay dads.

One girl from the Academic League decathlon team, Chloe, whom David described as may be the second prettiest girl in school is in wheelchair.

Another student from the decathlon team is Asian.


My Rating:

 


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Book Blast + Giveaway: This Is How It Happened by Paula Stokes


Paula Stokes is giving away a copy of her newest contemporary novel, THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED, a story that Kirkus Reviews called “a sobering exploration of absolution.”

Find out more about the book, check out the link of the first four chapters and don't forget to join the giveaway!

Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging. 

Expected publication: July 11th 2017 by HarperTeen

Enter to win a finished copy of THIS IS HOW IT HAPPENED by filling out the Rafflecopter below. The comment question is about the best book you’ve read in 2017, so don’t be shy—share the love :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Paula is also giving away a second finished copy of This is How it Happened with this book blast on Instagram. Check her home feed (@pstokesbooks) for another chance to win. Both contests are international. Both contests end on July 7, 2017.
Want a sneak peek? You can read the first four chapters of the book on Paula’s website here.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley


Words in Deep Blue
by Cath Crowley

Synopsis:
Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.


(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date:  June 6th 2017 (first published August 30th 2016)
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Purchase links: Amazon Barnes&Noble


My Thoughts:

“Words in Deep Blue” is not much about whether Rachel and Henry belong to each other even after years of distance and falling out. The book never puts a doubt to the answer to that. The two of them were close since childhood, bestfriends in fact. Right from the first page we see Rachel’s three-year old love letter to Henry. Rachel’s been away but in the first chapter, she’s about to go back to her childhood town. Then the next chapter began with Henry’s girlfriend, Amy, breaking up with him. It’s perfect timing. The stars have aligned for Rachel and Henry to be together again.

One of the book’s pleasure comes with discovering how Rachel and Henry would finally catch on with their real feelings for each other. The book is in first person dual points of view, alternating between Rachel’s and Henry’s narration. Some same scenes in this book are seen from both their eyes, like when Henry confronted Rachel about her love letter. It’s a nice touch how the same sequences differ depending on who is telling them. The twist and turns of their love story involves the making up of their friendship, comforting each other’s grief and heartbreak, saving Henry from the bullies, an exchange of letters, saving a bookshop from being sold out and a handful of lovable supporting characters.

I love the Joneses, Henry’s family, warmth, complications and all. I want to sit with them in one of their traditional Friday family dinner solely dedicated to dumplings and book discussions. I want to visit and shop at the Howling Books, a secondhand bookstore owned by Henry’s parents. I am partial of course to Henry’s dad, Michael, and his sentimentality towards the bookstore and his favorite book, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. But I also understand Henry’s mom, Sophie, who argues for the practical side of things.  Henry’s younger sister, George, is the source of a few laughs with her snarky comments to Henry’s misery. Plus they have a bookshop cat named after an author, Ray Bradbury! You might already know that I want to be a bookshop cat or a library cat in my next life so yeah, I think I’ve seen a glimpse of my good life ahead, slinking through books and people thru Ray Bradbury. I love Rachel’s and Henry’s third bestfriend, Lola, who makes her own music with bandmate, Hiroko. I love Howling Books’ patrons, especially the sage septuagenarian Frederick. And oddly enough, my favorite character of all is Cal, Rachel’s dead brother. Cal is not just someone mentioned in passing for Rachel to mourn for. He felt so real to me. I got to know him so well – his interest on time theories, his favorite things, his letters, his hopes and dreams for the future – that I can’t help but feel for Rachel’s loss.

“Words in Deep Blue” heavily referenced a lot of books and authors. It covered a wide spectrum of genre from classics to contemporary YA, from John Steinbeck to John Green. I am honestly not familiar with every literary citations but I mildly obsessed about the idea of maybe checking them out later that I took notes and made a list of all the books mentioned in the book. The plot is not that extraordinary but the writing is exquisite. There’s this beautiful mental picture that Rachel thought while lying on the floor next to Henry holding a book over their heads: “The words could rain on us, I think. I have a strange image of us drinking them.” There are many mentions of the color blue all throughout: the blue velvet couch in Howling Books’s fiction section, bluestone walls of the reading garden, Frederick’s deep-blue ties, Rachel’s 1990 dark blue Volvo, George’s dark hair with a blue stripe running down on one side, Rachel’s blue bathing suit, Rachel’s blue eyes, and even Amy wore a blue dress on one occasion. Blue, being the color of sadness maybe? I will not dwell much on the significance of the imagery but still, nice mental pictures. Sandwiched between each chapter are notes and letters in the Letter Library. These extra parts added a whole lot of charm and character to the book. The Letter Library is a special section of Howling Books, where customers are allowed to circle words and highlight the lines that they love. They may write notes in the margins or leave letters between the pages of the books. Patrons may write to anyone (to authors, to their ex-lovers, to strangers) and anyone can also write back.

“Words in Deep Blue” will surely make a bookworm’s heart flutter. The book puts the written words as the central figure that has a great effect on its characters. One character, Frederick, said that books, words, music, and art are lights that reappear in a broken universe. When we come to think of it, these things are artificial. Man-made. Words are only strings of letters. Words are mundane, we use them everyday. They are just that, words. But most times when put together, they become stories or poems or songs. They become magic that conjures feelings and inspirations. They can hurt, but more importantly, can also heal and give us hope. And when written, as Rachel observed, they’ll always exist. With these thoughts in mind, I suddenly feel that we owe a lot of gratitude to all the people who put themselves out there and write. It’s thanks to their writings that words get to be shared or spoken or sung, again and again, across generations, to people who might need it the most at the moment. This is what exactly makes “Words in Deep Blue” beautiful. It’s a book about books and more. It’s a sort of tribute to written words: with all the books in Howling Boooks, to Henry’s favorite poems he recites to Rachel and to the lyrics of Lola’s and Hiroko’s songs.


Diversity Watch:
The existence of this part of my review is thoroughly discussed in this post. The formula is basically this: list of characters + explicit race and gender description in the text = overall look of how diverse the book is.

Those with no mention of race and gender beside their names are racially indeterminate and/or gender non specific characters.
  • Rachel Sweetie – soft dust of freckles, blond that she later bleached, looks like Audrey Hepburn if she’s a surfer
  • Henry Jones – racially indeterminate
  • Cal – Rachel’s brother. Tall, skinny guy with a cloud of brown hair
  • Rose – Rachel’s and Cal’s aunt
  • Tim Hooper  – Cal’s friend in school
  • Amy – long red hair, grren eyes, fair skin
  • Aaliyah – Amy’s friend
  • Ewan – Amy’s ex
  • Lola – Rachel’s and Henry’s third bestfriend, openly gay, short and curvy, long brown hair and olive skin
  • Hiroko – Lola’s bandmate
  • George Jones – (17yo) Henry’s sister long straight black hair w/ a blue stripe down the left side
  • Frank – owner of bakery next door
  • Frederick – 70-yr old customer of Howling Books
  • Frieda – another customer, plays Scrabble w/ Frederick
  • Al, James, Aaron, Inez, Jett – Howling Books customers
  • Gus – Rachel’s grief counselor
  • Joel Winter – Rachel’s ex-boyfriend
  • Greg Smith – resident idiot in Henry’s life, supernaturally white teeth, perfect hair
  • Mai Li – her family owns Shainghai Dumplings, where the Joneses hold their Friday nights family dinner tradition
  • Stacy – George’s classmate who is giving her a hard time at school
  • Katia – Henry’s classmate whom he is tutoring in English
  • Emily, Aziza, and Beth – classmates of Rachel and Henry
  • Sophia and Michael – Henry’s parents
  • Martin Gamble – another part-timer in Howling Books
  • Justin – some guy who threw a party at his house
  • Ray Bradbury – Howling Books’ resident cat
  • Woof – Cal’s black Labrador dog

My Rating:

 



Monday, May 1, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (STS #8)

Image: Kaboompics

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's all about sharing the books added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

Heya! It's been a while since I posted a book haul. Today I share my new eBooks I have obtained from the last few weeks. As I've shared in this post, I recently discovered a way to purchase from Amazon without using a credit card and we all know where that would lead, right? Yes, you guessed it right: adding more books to my TBR.

Also, I won an eBook from the Facebook Launch Party for Promdi Heart, an anthology of Filipino hometown love stories. And downloaded a freebie book from Ines Bautista-Yao.

So see below all my shiny new digital acquisitions! Cover images are linked to Goodreaads.

Bought:


JustKate

TheGirlFromTheWell

SufferLove


GirlInPieces

RedRising



Won:



Freebie:


Ahaha, I am extremely pleased with my haul. What about you, fellow book wanderers? Any new books acquired lately? Share it with me in the comments section. Or link me up to your book haul post, I'd like to go and see your new books. :)


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