Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken | Book Review


  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Release date: October 15, 2013
  • Series/stand-alone: The Darkest Minds, Book 2
  • Number of pages: 507
  • Format: Paperback
  • Rating: 4 cookies
  • Swoon spoon: Shovelful after shovelful (75-100%)

  • Summary
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster. 

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her. 

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself? 

  • Thoughts

Holy crap, this book was good.

It might have started off a little confusing but man, did it rocket only upwards. It was kind of a slow ascent for me but it just kept going upwards all the way until the end. 

If you haven't read The Darkest Minds, please turn back and return when you're through with that because there will be some spoilers here!

The first thought I've had when I opened the book was "When is Liam returning?". Oh my goodness, I semi-committed a book reader's mortal sin. I was more than a hundred pages in when I started flipping furiously page after page, scanning for Liam's dialogue or something. I had enough restraint to stop and close the page when my eyes landed on where he's first going to appear again.

Ruby's training from the League only served to make her more badass in my eyes. She already has the power to melt your brain, but then added with ninja training skills and she's a total assassin. In book one, she was this nobody and was just short of being a weakling. Fast-forward to book two's ending and you'd be surprised at how much she's grown and become a leader.

The story plots itself around this flashdrive that holds the key to everything. And Liam has it. Now, isn't that wonderful? Ruby sets out to find him along with Vida and Jude under a certain Cole's confidential op. Vida came off as really mean and snarky and I instantly had this hate for her brewing inside me the moment she stepped off the pages of the book. But then she turned it all around and ended up being one of my favorite characters. Way to go, Alexandra! Raised also under the League's wing is Jude, who I could totally imagine as this gangly not-really-teenager who's trying to be a tough guy. He's the one who brings pure innocence in the book and he'll always have a place in my heart. 

The twists and turns form the from the mission spring out and this leads to them finding out and meeting new people and reuniting with old ones, which both has me gritting my teeth and feeling elated. The way the story has been nailed onto the setting only made the book's winter that much harsher, people willing to survive that much crazier, and the characters' drive much more fueled.

It's no secret that Liam's going to end up back in the story no matter what happened in book one. And there's this one scene that just feels like it's been materilized into this blade that sliced cleanly through my heart. That one cut through deep. Books and moments like these that make you feel something are the best kind of books.

Not only did the installment contain one heart-wrenching scene. The last part just threw a bomb right at my face and I didn't see that coming. Add that to the contents of the flashdrive and Alexandra Bracken just plants a nuclear bomb under your nose.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken | Book Review


  • Publisher: Disney Hyperion
  • Release date: December 18, 2012
  • Series/stand-alone: The Darkest Minds, Book 1
  • Number of pages: 488
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Bought
  • Rating : 4 cookies
  • Swoon spoon: Scoop of I-scream (50-75%)

  • Summary
        When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. 

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

  • Thoughts
This book I think I bought on impulse. It was a few weeks after that I was sifting through my bookshelves when I saw this wrapped in plastic, tucked away in a corner. I actually thought that someone left it for me as a gift because I've forgotten all about it. It didn't even seem like something I'd pick up from the bookstore, much less buy it, because the cover terrifies me. Add the title to that kind of image and you'd think that by touching it, evil spirits would come out of no where. Or am I just that weird?

    But now I believe that fate has brought us together. I've seen a lot of people give this book high ratings and so, I decided to give it a chance of course, because who wouldn't when it seems like your paths have been purposefully twined together by the stars, right? Thank goodness I did. It's true what they say: Never judge a book by it's cover. No matter how creepy it looks.

     The story starts out with the lead, Ruby, imprisoned in a camp along with a chunk of America's surviving children to be "rehabilitated". A disease spread, killing most of the children and leaving those alive with certain abilities. Now, adults believe that they have the power to destroy everything. The story occurs in a time when the world is in chaos--everything's overpriced, schools are shut down, most people ransack stores and steal what they can to live. It's just pure survival. Like the apocalypse type but with children as zombies and instead of running from then, people try to catch them. 

      Soon, Ruby with the help of a certain League, breaks out of camp but then she runs of and meets a group of kids. Together they brave driving around in a beat-up black van and dodging a lot, and I mean a LOT of different groups who are after kids like them for their own purposes--either to exploit their abilities, turn them over for a few dollars, or just shoot them in the head. 

      Every bit of the story is action-packed and fast-paced. The characters were constantly on the run, giving it a survival-of-the-fittest kind of vibe. I couldn't even pinpoint one part where they were just at a stand-still, even when they were standing still. Something seemed to be happening every second and I commend Alexandra Bracken for writing such an addictive story which kept me on edge. I was sucked into the book, almost to the point of slamming it on my face just to get inside it.

    What's interesting is that the most powerful ones in the book were the ladies (Girl Power!). Besides Ruby (who is a survivor to the core, if a little too naive), there's Zu. Zu is the most badass little girl I've encountered in any book. I loved the scenes where she was involved. She was descrived to look so small and frail and delicate, but when she lets loose of her ability, it's utterly electrifying. She's got me hooked!

    Speaking of being hooked... Hook, line, and sinker, and Liam. He's so adorable and boyish and awkward in the right moments that I want to squeeze the life out of him because he's just too cute. I love that he's not the kind that's too cool for school because I just want to slap those kinds of characters, unless they are really too cool and  it just comes off as really, really cool without even trying. The way Liam stutters and runs out of things to say makes me want to shake him so hard and scream, "Stop being so adorable!". Seriously, the boy's a valid excuse for anybody to go crazy.

     The excitement in this book is palpable, you could almost taste it. You could smell the smoke drifting out of the book, you could hear cars turning over and screeching in between the pages, you could feel your mind being tampered and messed with, you could feel Alexandra compelling you to read on and on and on.

     Now I just wonder if Alexandra Bracken is an Orange and has found a way to transcribe her abilities on paper to compel every reader. Because for sure, she's got me running to the closest bookstore for the next installment.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Starters by Lissa Price | Book Review

  • Publisher: Ember
  • Release date: July 23, 2013
  • Series/stand-alone: Starters, Book 1
  • Number of pages: 336
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Bought
  • Rating: 2 cookies
  • Swoon spoon: Scoop of i-scream (50-75%)

  • Summary
Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. 

Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter. 

Callie soon discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than she could ever have imagined. . . . 

Includes Portrait of a Spore, a never-before-published short story that takes place in the world of STARTERS.

  • Thoughts
Please let me mention that while I was first reading this book, I was a month or just a few weeks away from taking my board examinations in the Philippines. (Pop the champagne, because I am now entitled to elongating my name by a few very important letters!) I had to stop reading in the middle of it because this little person inside my head kept banging on the walls of my brain to start studying. I've only gotten back to reading the book seven months after I dog-eared the page I was on and put it back on my shelf. 

Why did I take so long in opening the book again? I really want to say that it was because I was so scattered and my responsibilities were flying on little paper airplanes in my room then constantly hitting the middle of my forehead after every five minutes. But that's not the case. I wasn't so eager to pick up where I left off the last time. Don't get me wrong. Price has a good idea of a storyline, but between the spores, the war, being orphaned and having to rent out bodies, I was a bit overwhelmed. Some parts were at a turtle's pace, then when I got to the end, it felt a bit rushed and problems were solved all at once.

Callie is a strong character and I get that she has lots of worries for herself and for her brother. But she's only sixteen! She might have been thrust into being the mother, father, and sister all at the same time at such a tender age but, how she acts in the book was WAY too mature to be realistic. I'm sure there are a lot of brave kids out there but how she handled Every. Single. Thing, I don't know if I should commend her or be at a disbelief. It just doesn't ring teenager to me.

This book though was so full of action-packed like a fat turkey with stuffing at Thanksgiving. That's what kept me reading. And Blake too. But there was Michael. Then came Florina. And the love square/rectangle/parallelogram was born. I have to say though that Michael wasn't really a big part of the book and I was expecting a little more from him rather than just being a baby-sitter the whole time. Probably bigger parts in the next book? I don't know.

That ending, I did not expect. A bit disconcerting because the antagonists were like psychics. They'd know every step you take (every move you make...) before you even had the chance to think about it. 

The thing I was most confused and a little disoriented about was the Spore wars. I could have done without reading the Portrait of a Spore, though it was an interesting take: floating and bouncing like little fluff balls; in my head, I hear them sighing like little minions. The thing is, after I finished Starters and before I read Portrait of a Spore, I felt that the book was properly completed in a sequel kind of way, but when I read that last bit I felt like the story suddenly became incomplete. It's like having two different stories in one book. It felt like the war was different from the body bank story and I was craving for much more information about the war and couldn't get any answers because I think it would have made such a big story but it was fast-forwarded to everything after. 

Enders, the second installment, is tucked away with my other books waiting to be read, and I'm looking forward to how  Price is going to end this.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review


  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
  • Release date: June 17, 2014
  • Series/stand-alone: The Grisha, Book 3
  • Number of pages: 417
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Source: Bought
  • Rating: 4.5 cookies
  • Swoon spoon: Scoop of I-scream (50-75%)

  • Summary
     The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. 

  • Thoughts

The final installment of the Grisha series blew me away! There were a lot of twists and turns and I'm amazed with how Leigh left a lot of clues all throughout the series and then tied it all up at the end. That. Was. Amazing. It's like Harry Potter, only not. The fact that I've been hooked from the start of the series took me by surprise. I usually lean towards the romantic kind of stories. I know. Like herring, vile, as Genya would say. But this. This wasn't just your typical romantic shizz. It focuses more on the story about power-play and the way it's been brought to life, not in the usual modern or dystopian setting that authors seem to lean towards nowadays, is like a breath of fresh air. 

There was a lot of traveling that took place, and some may say that it was a waste of time having the characters move from one place to another so many times in one book. Personally, I think it just lets us know how huge the Grishaverse is. In my mind, big place equates to bigger story.

I've been going on and on about the Darkling since I've first started reading the trilogy. I have never, ever lost my heart to a villain before him. Despite him being a couple--or a few hundred--years older than Alina, I found it incredibly cute that he hasn't mastered hiding what he really thought and felt. He's still human. Just with a lot of power. The little things, the unexpected hints of emotion, the bits of surprise he showed, were what made me fall in love. 
"I took another step. He stilled. Our bodies were almost touching now. I reached up and cupped his cheek with my hand. This time the flash of confusion on his face was impossible to miss. He held himself frozen, his only movement the steady rise and fall of his chest. Then, as if in concession, his eyes close. A line appeared between his brows."
Leigh didn't ever outright slap shipping stickers and stamps on him and Alina, and it's so ingenius how she only worked them with minimal actions. It's just so refreshing to encounter an antagonist who you couldn't really hate. Despite his crimes, he comes across as so boy. My heart cries out to him.

Diversity and character development actually lives! A lot of characters were introduced in the series and it was very refreshing that they weren't like all these robot prototypes with flat personalities. The others actually had LIVES OF THEIR OWN. They weren't superficial characters who were there in one second then gone the next. I'd know who was speaking in a conversation without even having the name mentioned. The dialogues were well-written and Leigh just proves again and again her brilliance in writing.

The struggles of each character were what made the story realistic. Every person had problems of their own. Everybody had to make their own decisions. It shows a sense of independence and responsibility that people should adapt. That no matter what you decide, you should bear whatever consequence or outcome that brings. (Applause for the moral of the story, please).

I would have given this book 5 delicious cookies, but the ending just killed me. There was a moment in the book where I imagined my heart as a piece of paper savagely being torn to shreds. It's worse than being eaten by volcras. I just have one thing to say: Redemption is for everyone. 

Oh, and another thing: Nikolai.



Monday, 16 March 2015

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review


  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
  • Release date: June 4, 2013
  • Series/stand-alone: The Grisha, Book 2
  • Number of pages: 435
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Bought
  • Rating: 4.5 cookies
  • Swoon spoon: Shovelful after shovelful (75-100%)

  • Summary
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. 

  • Thoughts

      I am now in the state of waiting for tomorrow to come so I could run to the bookstore and buy the third book. I am very twitchy. And antsy. And restless. There is an urge to capitalize every word here because I am itching to get my hands on the next installment. But I need to regain my control. I will not capitalize. 


I always expect that the second book of a series would be kind of a let-down compared to the first one. But Leigh Bardugo has proved me wrong. Hallelujah! If I need to spell it out, then let me say that I LOVED THIS BOOK.

See, in my mind, there are categories of Big and Small stories. This book is definitely under the Big ones. I love that the setting extends far beyond Ravka and not just contained into one place ('cause that'll be boring). The expansion of the map on the second book, compared to the first one, gave me a much wider view of the world they live in and that gave a sense of a much bigger adventure. To know that they weren't alone in the world brings the story more alive and more tangible. 

Also, Leigh Bardugo has a knack for introducing readers to really shmexy male characters.

  1. One thing I missed for sure (and still missing) is the Darkling. Oh, please, please, please return to us. I have decided that you will always be my favorite character in this series. Not even Alina could top that. I love that he haunts Alina, though if that would have happened to me, I'd probably pee my pants the first time. 
  2. Mal though, you have become quite the insecure little rabbit and I wish I could shake some sense into you. You annoy me sometimes. Though after all that happened in the book, I can still see why he did what he did and it's probably the most normal and human reaction. So I'll just let that slide since we need a couple of normal humans every book (Though my curiosity is piqued by his tracker brain).
  3. And oh, dear. Sturmhond. You have me in stitches with your wit and I'm dying to have you survive in the last book. He's mostly the one who brings the humor in the book and I absolutely adore him.

The characters in this series are complex and Leigh has done well in depicting their nature. We can see both the yin and yang of every person, making them a little more realistic. None of them are a hundred percent good or bad, and that's why I'm still probably pining for the Darkling. He's never going to be well past redemption in my eyes! 

A ton of action, blood-pumping battle scenes, strong characters with their own internal battles, decisions that cause a chain reaction, choices that affect the entire nation; every one of these are introduced in one book. 

Leigh, you have just created a monster in me.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review


  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
  • Release date: June 5, 2012
  • Series/Stand-alone: The Grisha, Book 1
  • Number of pages: 356
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Bought
  • Rating: 4.5 cookies
  • Swoon spoon: Shovelful after shovelful (75-100%)

  • Summary
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy. 

  • Thoughts
Can we just take a moment and celebrate my very first book review? Cue the confetti! Thank you all for the cyber-pats on the back!

Leigh Bardugo is very cruel. Genius in epic proportions, but cruel all the same. I am head over heels in love with the setting. The Russian feel is so beautifully captured, I can actually imagine myself walking down the streets of Ravka, kvas in hand ('Sup, Darkling?). The culture is absolutely rich and the characters are not one-sided, which I also love. They've become relatable because of a lot of their flaws and ambitions. It makes them much more human.

The story itself has been brilliantly brought to life by Leigh. Though there were many foreign words (which I will obviously, obviously use in my daily life from now on), I am so glad that I didn't get lost. The addition of the map illustrated in the first part of the book was a nice touch. It's a very good way to make the story more tangible even before the storytelling began. High five, Leigh! There was a perfect balance between science and magic, leaving my mind reeling the whole time.

Alina has started from being this timid little girl and was pushed into the world of being a Grisha. Her growth was unfurled before our eyes and, of course this is the part of every book where we draw inspiration from and use it in our lives (because come on, we all need inspiration cupcakes now and then).

I am a sucker for romance and the tearing apart--not tugging--of my heartstrings. At this point, I could not pinpoint who Alina is going to end up with and it's killing me. KILLING ME. Because I'm shipping the Darkling and Alina, and I'm not sorry.

I have fallen in love with the dark and mysterious side of the story that he brings. He is so DELICIOUSLY EVIL. He's got this pull on all the characters, and he certainly has this pull on me too. He's reached into the dark recesses of my heart and stamped his own black brand on it. Sigh. Swoon. Sigh. The Darkling's won me over. 

I'm hoping Mal proves himself a lot more in the second book. He came off as really boyish, though very adorable. Mal seems like the boy-next-door type to me if you'd put him in the present world and I can totally see why Alina has this huge-arse crush on him. But I think his realizations came a little too late and he's just a little to safe for my taste. No worries. You can have him, Alina. 

Honestly, I could not put the book down. I have devoured it like the volcra feasting on the flesh of men. If the second book was in the bottom of the Shadow Fold, there's a huge chance I'd jump in and find it. Hopefully, volcras aren't smart enough to differentiate sunlight from a flashlight.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Taking Root

Hello, from the Pearl of the Orient Seas! 

I'm Samantha Roque and I recently became eligible to drink alcohol but would rather drown in coffee or smoothies instead. My brain is a whirlwind of curlicues of fancy things, lightning bolts of misty objects, and tangled scribbles of things I have yet to put together. I have a sort-of creative mind, though I'm struggling in expressing my thoughts on paper.

So here I am! I'd like to be able to write about books and random stuff and interact with awesome people, especially those with the same awesome interests as me while improving my writing--slash typing--skills.

I'd like to live in Rivendell or the City of Glass but, you know. Can't. And I'd really love to be a Grisha or a Shadowhunter but, y'know. Also can't. It sucks. It really does. So the second-best thing to do is to just channel all the fangirling energy here where, hopefully, a lot of people like me could connect. i want to be able to cyber-squeal/scream/cry about stories and cyber-hug those who feel exactly the same way. And those who feel exactly the opposite because it would be so, so interesting. It would be great to hear different thoughts and perspectives on certain subjects and be able to voice out my own opinions (opinion is such an understatement for how I feel about books).

Occasionally, this blog would probably include some random things from frustrating outfit posts to rare travel blogs. But mainly for now, I just want to have some place where talking too enthusiastically about living, breathing fictional characters and very much real non-existent places will be appreciated. Let's see where this will lead. I'm starting small, but I'm sure as heck dreaming big. HUGE.