Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

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“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

Holding Up The Universe is the second young adult book written by Jennifer Niven. It’s raw, poignant, inspiring, and well-paced YA contemporary that talks mainly of finding yourself, mental illness . I’ve been seeing this for awhile on Goodreads and Bookstagram. I have a high expectation for this one because I enjoyed reading All The Bright Places. To be honest this lived up to the hype. It’s a light-hearted read compared to the depressing All The Bright Places.

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time judging yourself? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you have insecurities too…”

Libby Strout is known as “America’s Fattest Teen”. Even though she’d been bullied for how she weigh, it didn’t stop her to feel confident about herself. Jack Masselin is suffering from prosopagnosia a rare kind of disease or sometimes called face blindness. He cannot recognize his family, friends even his own self. He has no friends and doesn’t want to get close to anyone. Until he met Libby Strout and everything changed. The story opens up to all bullies and being bullied about how they look and basically about mental health issues.

Even though I’ve never experienced what Libby had been through, I can still relate to her character. She’s inspiring and her character development is too strong. Through Jennifer Niven’s powerful writing style, the story is so real and believable. I’ve heard a mental illness of prosopagnosia from a Kdrama: Girl Who Sees Smell but the character in it is the antagonist. I was hooked when I’ve read the synopsis and knowing it’s about a fat girl  being bullied and falling in love with a guy suffering from prosopagnosia. This was recommended by my friends and I’ve been seeing this on Goodreads and Bookstagram.

Overall, I find the story is quite boring, slow paced at the beginning and lacking sometimes . This lived up to my expectations and to the hype. I recommend reading this to all readers who love reading YA contemporary.

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March Book Haul

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It is difficult for a book hoarder like me to check out online stores on Facebook and Instagram and look for a cheaper price of books. Going to bookstores like Booksale and National Bookstore especially if it is on sale this month is a lot difficult because I couldn’t go out without  buying 1 or 2. Here are the books I’ve hoarder this month of March! I bought some of it  from my friends.

  1. First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

I bought 4 books from my friend for a cheaper price and this is one of it. I only read Time Keeper when I was in High School and I’ve been wanting to read his works especially this one.

2. Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

3.Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen in Vintage Classics

I bought all of the Jane Austen Vintage Classics from a group on Facebook for a cheaper price but the owner hasn’t even read the copy yet. I already read Pride and Prejudice last year and I loved it. I buddy read Persuasion with my friends from Book Club PH this month. We’re hoping to read more classics this month of April

4. Persuasion by Jane Austen in Vintage Classics

5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen in Vintage Classics

6. Emma by Jane Austen in Vintage Classics

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This is my current read and I love the story already! This is my first time reading the works of Charlotte Bronte. I head a lot of great stuffs about this book. I haven’t even read Wuthering Heights yet.

8. All the Lights We Couldn’t See by Anthony Doerr

Ever since I’ve read Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, I’ve been hooked into reading Historical Fictions. I’m looking forward to have a buddy read with a friend from Book Club probably next month. This is one of the books I’ve bought from my friend.

9. City of Lost Souls

This is on sale on Booksale for only 230 pesos! I couldn’t believe that this Hardbound copy is way more cheaper than my Paperback version of COLS. I have a Paperback copy of Lost Souls and read it 2 years ago. Now, I have two copies of it!

10. Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I bought this for a cheaper price on Instagram. Even though it has yellow pages, the seller still haven’t read this one.

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Ebook vs. Traditional Book

The advancement of technology is changing our fast-paced world. We could all use the internet and applications to make out day to day lives more accessible. There are a lot of mediums today that we could use for reading books. All you need is search Google and download e-books. There’s no payment needed. Tablets, smartphones, Kindle, and e-readers has become a trend nowadays. Why not visit the local library or bookstore?

E-books  has also its disadvantages even though it’s     much cheaper, easier to carry on the go, can adjust the brightness and size, read in the dark, and millions of books in one device. It’s also light compared to the huge size Hard bounds. It’s unhealthy way of reading because it can make eyes dry and blurry due to tiredness.

People don’t realize that there’s pleasure in reading physical copies. Reading physical books can let us feel and smell the pages between the book. I know, carrying books is heavy and bulky especially Hard bounds. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see your books pile up on the shelf. Reading books is easier for the eyes and holding it can make you experience the story without distractions. No need to charge it unlike e-readers that uses electricity. Lastly, it relaxes your soul and takes you away from technology and social medias.

The argument between E-book vs Traditional books has been debated on the internet for years already. There are people who are in favor with e-book and other with books. In my case, I read both on e-books and books. I’m in  love with hoarding, collecting physical copies and even write reviews about it. I even go to signing and let the authors sign my books. It depends on the book that I’m reading. If it’s an auto-buy author and worth it, then I’ll buy the physical ones. I only read on e-books if I’m looking for a good book to read and to see if it’s worth it.

In my case, it is a case to case basis. There’s no definite winner between those two. Whether you are a book lover or e-book reader it doesn’t matter what medium you use as long as you’re enjoying the book. What matters is the inside and letting yourself immerse to the world you’re in to.

Top 15 Favorite Books of 2016

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TOP 15 BOOKS THIS 2016
1. Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass Series)
2. It Ends With Us
3. A Court of Thorns and Roses
4. Empire of Storms (TOG series)
5. An Ember In The Ashes
6. The Wrath and The Dawn Duology
7. Cress
8. Mara Dyer Trilogy
9. Lady Midnight
10. Snow Like Ashes
11. Between Shades of Gray
12. Unexpected Everything
13. Everything Everything
14. Northanger Abbey
15. Pictures of Dorian Gray

Least Favorite
1. Something in Between
2. Dreamology
3. The Beautifull Casandra
4. Paper Towns
5. Never Never part 3

These are the books I have read and loved. I’ve set my reading challenge to 50 this year. School will be hectic because of thesis. That’s why I won’t be reading a lot of books this 2017.

Something In Between by Melissa De La Cruz

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It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

The hype was all of Goodreads, Instagram and blogs. The main reason at I read this is because it’s the book of  the month of our Book Club and I was drawn by the cover. The illustrations, typography and even the color scheme is soothing and appealing for a YA contemporary. It looks like a light hearted read and when I read the synopsis, I was highly motivated to know that the main character and author is a Filipino. The concept of immigration is interesting to read knowing it’s from a perspective of a Filipino. Who wouldn’t be interested right? An A+ student who suddenly knew they have no green card for years. Her life, scholarship, and american dream will all be shattered in a blink due to the threat of deportation.

I know this book is a very important story to the author. I understand that it’s a personal life story during her teenage years which is badly written in a 400 + YA fiction.  There wasn’t anything that happened at all. Just cliche romance+ rants about living in America + cheerleading + degrading Philippines.

Reading the chapter 1 was OKAY but going through this excruciating 400 + pages was like going through hell. I cannot comprehend how people LOVED/ENJOYED reading a book wherein Filipinos are obviously degraded. I finished this hoping something turns out well in the end like a major plot twist? maybe? but I was wrong!

The characters especially Jasmine Delos Santos is not a likeable character. A cry baby, immature, annoying, and self centered who makes bad decisions knowing she’s from a prestigious school with an A+ grades. The plot was boring all throughout. I was expecting more from the characters but nah. There’s no character development at all. All I read are the stereotypical portrayal of Filipino’s tradition, custom, and values. The patriotism and nationalism that I was looking for were not there. Instead just rants about being American and living in America.

It’s just too sad that the author is implying as if the Filipinos migrate to America just to be a maid, janitor/janitress or other blue collar jobs. Maria, Royce’s maid Jasmine’s mom graduated in a private school in PH but come to live in America as janitress. The part where they’re nearly deported and her dad told her he’ll just apply as a jeepney driver in PH even though he graduated in a private school. See the difference how Filipinos are seen someone who’ll only work blue collar jobs. Jasmine and her siblings depicts the children who lived in America for years have adapted their set of standards. Living to the so-called American dream, Filipino traditions are lost including learning to speak the language itself. Filipinos who migrate tend to never go back to live in PH because they are blinded by the good life they have while living in another country. It’s like they’re saying Philippines doesn’t offer good education and job.

I thought the romance part will bring justice to the book but It just made things worst. Royce and Jazzy baby’s insta-love has no feels at all. They look like two annoying lovebirds who are so indecisive. They were happy at first then broke up the next day then suddenly make-up. Not to mention the insignificant reasons they argue most of the time.

Overall, the hype doesn’t deserve this book. For some, this might be the YA contemporary for them for me, it’s not. There are a lot of YA contemporaries out there that deserves attention. Too bad this is my first time reading a book from this author. I might not read another book from her again.

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Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

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Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

The bestselling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.

Contains spoilers for Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight

“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

Heir of Fire is the third installment in Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. Although it’s not required to read Assassin’s Blade,  I recommend reading  it before you jump into Heir of Fire. There is so much character development and things you’ll learn from Celaena’s past.

Crown of Midnight ended when Chaol Westfall decided that Celaena Sardothien sails off to Wendelyn to complete the mission on king’s orders. Before leaving, Celaena tells Chaol a secret date and realizing Celaena Sardothien is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Heir and Queen of Terrasen.

Writing a concise and coherent review is really hard. I cannot articulate how I am utterly shocked and blown away with how Maas’ writing evolved. Sarah J Maas thoroughly woven words into perfection. She uses third person point of view which worked out for me because I’m used to reading first person point of view.

The world building is vividly and coherently expressed all throughout the book. SJM brings us into the world of faes, demi faes and witches. I am in love with Wendlyn, a magical fae land. She introduced a whole bunch of characters like Manon, Aedion Ashryver, Emrys, Lucas, Queen Mave- vicious queen, and a swoon worthy character and my new love, Prince Rowan Whitethorn.

Celaena Sardothien has fully grown in this novel as a human. In the first two books, we were introduced to Celaena as a kickass, brave, fearless assassin of Adarlan. In Heir of Fire, we get to see Aelin as a human with scars and flaws. She is hunted by the ghost of her past. There were nightmares in some parts in this book that took place 8 years ago before and during her parents death. I truly admired and empathize what she’s been to as a child and in Endovier. No wonder she became what she is now, a true scarred warrior/assassin/queen.

Prince Rowan Whitethorn is my new ship and hoping he’s endgame. I fell in love with him since he’s introduced at first. He’s a Fae-warrior, gorgeous, tall and mysterious. He’s cold, spiteful and presumptuous at first but as their bond grew, he and aelin became best friends. Compared to the first two books that centers on love triangle, in Heir of Fire it’s more of friendship and using past life’s experiences to grow as a human. Rowan taught Celaena to unleash and control her magical abilities and shape shift. He’s overprotective to Aelin. They’re both perfect match because they have a deep, meaningful past. They both learned to comfort and learn from each other.

“It was a long story, and sometimes she grew quiet and cried – and during those times he leaned over to wipe away her tears.”

“Their hands clasped between them, he whispered into her ear, “I claim you, too, Aelin Galathynius.”

Manon Blackbeak is an Ironteeth witch and heir to Blackbeak witch clan. I found her story a bit boring at first. Maybe because I was too engrossed with what’s happening to Aelin and Rowan. There were some parts I want to skip but in the end I learned to love Manon’s character. I want to know how her character will develop. I hope she’ll join Aelin’s forces and both will save the world!

I found Chaol’s character a bit annoying in this book but I think it’s SJM’s intention. He’s indecisive and cannot choose which side to pick. I’m a Dorian & Celaena shipper before Rowaelin happened. Chaol and Dorian’s frienship were tested here. The weak Dorian I knew from Throne of Glass is finally gone. He learn how to stand up against his father and defend the people he love. I love the part where in he taught Chaol a lesson

“She was not becoming anything different from what she always was and always had the capacity to be. You just finally saw everything. And once you saw that other part of her… You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love. Just as you cannot pick which parts of me you accept.”

Heir of Fire is well paced, thrilling, action packed and full of twists and mysteries. There were still questions left unanswered but hopefully Queen of Shadows will fill it up.

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The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The Wrath & The Dawn is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights and debut novel of Renee Ahdieh. I’ve been meaning to read this because of the hype. This is all over Instagram and Goodreads, I’ve heard a lot of great reviews and ratings about this. Finally I’ve read this and it didn’t disappoint me.

Renee Ahdieh is the weaver of words. It’s poetically written which ebbs and flows freely. Readers are completely immersed and caught up in this mysterious land of Khorosan. I cannot articulate how impressed I am with how Renee managed to evoke nostalgia, sympathy and deep emotions. All of the characters felt so real. I have never read A Thousand and One Night and it makes me want to read it.

Khalid Ibn al-Rashid also known as the monster king is an eighteen year old Caliph of Khorosan. He marries one girl every night only to have her killed before dawn. The story follows the main protagonist, Shahrzad Al-Khayzuran or Shazi. She’s a sixteen year old girl who volunteered to marry the Caliph to revenge the death of her childhood bestfriend, Shiva. Things goes awry when Shazi realized she fell in love with the murderer of Shiva. Will Shazi be able to unveil the enigma behind the truth why the caliph really murders his wives? Will she be able to control her heart’s desire and fell completely in love with Khalid? or Will she seek vengeance and justice to Shiva’s death?

I have just read Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas before jumping into this book. Thinking that I will have a book slump, I tried reading this fantasy novel. Holy crap! I wasn’t disappointed! I finish this the next day and felt so refreshed. This Young Adult fantasy don’t have a lot of action packed scenes like Throne of Glass series. Instead it focuses on romance part which I love.

“We women are a sad lot, aren’t we?”
“What do you mean?”
“Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us.”

 

“Love is a force unto itself, sayyidi. For love, people consider the unthinkable…and often achieve the impossible. I would not sneer at its power.”

“People fall in and out of love with the rising and setting of the sun. Rather like a boy who loves the color green one day, only to discover on the morrow that he truly prefers blue.”

This is the first time I’ve read a book set on Middle East. The world building is intricately well written. The plot is intriguing. I couldn’t put the book down without knowing what’s really happening. There is so much mystery going on in this book. I still want to know more about the magic but I hope it’ll be solved in The Rose & The Daggers. I’ve learned a lot of Arabic words such as Caliph and Calipha (ruler), joonam (my life or dear), Sayyidi (royal highness) and so much more. I was too engrossed with the story that Shazi told to Khalid about Agib and Aladdin. Renee Ahdieh not only focuses on romance but also gives us some life changing lessons.

“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

Shahrzad Al-Khayzuran’s character is brave, strong willed and bold. I admire her conviction and strength to seek for retribution. By her knowledge with poetry and love for reading, we could clearly see how smart and well educated she is. I completely adore her personality.  She has an uncanny way of making readers fall in love with her.

Khalid is a mysterious boy with a cruel past. Since he visited Shazi on their first night, I know there is something going on with him. As we grow to know him, he doesn’t seem awful. He’s sweet, generous and a complete swoon worthy character. I ship Shazi and Khalid. His flaws makes me love him so much. Knowing the truth about his past made me cry and empathize him. I was completely astounded when the mystery was unveiled.

Jalal is my favorite side character. He’s the cousin of Khalid and captain of the royal guards. He’s loyal to Khalid and I love the part wherein he tried to schooled Khalid saying:

“I know love is fragile. And loving someone like you is near impossible. Like holding something shattered through a raging sandstorm. If you want her to love you, shelter her from that storm…And make certain that storm isn’t you.” 

Even though he loves to flirt with women, I know that his love for Despina is genuine. I couldn’t wait to learn more about their budding romance. Tariq, Shazi’s childhood sweetheart infuriated me. He’s so overprotective and possessive over Shazi. He makes decision without even thinking and consulting her first.

Overall, I cannot say how I am grateful to finally read this book. I have no negative words to give but instead I’ll give this a 5 +++++ out of 5 stars. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Rose & The Daggers because I know the finale will be as epic as this one. This book truly deserves the hype. I recommend this to all fans of Fantasy Young Adult novels. You’ll get Aladdin feels all the way!!

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