• Bookish

    Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

    The first time I saw this book was around the year it was released. Goodreads reviews and book bloggers seem to be raving about how good it is, but I did not read reviews to have an unbiased opinion about this book. It has been in my TBR for the longest time and moved up the list because Michelle Hodkin was coming to Manila for a book signing event at Fully Booked. Due to lack of funds, I had to decide whether or not to spare money for this event, hence reading it ahead and finding out if I would like it.

    Disclaimer: Using links from this post to buy a copy of the book will earn me a small commission that will help with maintaining this blog.

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    Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is the first book in the series. It is a mysterious paranormal fantasy, with a hint of time travel, for young adults. It was published on June 7th 2011 by Quirk and I won a hardbound copy from one of Sporadic Reads‘ giveaways. I read this from April 19 to 30, 2014, hoping I would finish it in time for the book signing. Spoiler: I didn’t.

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children book cover

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1)

    by Ransom Riggs

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    A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

    It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

    A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

    This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

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    Novella Review: Free Four: Tobias Tells The Story

    I was so excited when I found out that there’s a short story on Divergent with Four’s perspective. I thought it was going to be hard to find an ebook of it but I was wrong. I found it as soon as I searched.

    This short story is Four’s point of view in one of the scenes that happened in Divergent.

     

    Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Story

    Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Story

    by Veronica Roth

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    #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth retells a pivotal Divergent scene (chapter 13) from Tobias’s point of view. This thirteen-page scene reveals unknown facts and fascinating details about Four’s character, his past, his own initiation, and his thoughts about new Dauntless initiate Tris Prior.

    I read the reviews of other fans and they were happy with which scene Roth chose to write Four’s story on. There were a lot of scenes I would have loved to get inside his head with, but the knife scene was a great choice. It’s where he admitted to himself that he likes Tris and wanted to protect her, and it’s what stopped him from walking out on Dauntless and become factionless.

    I really liked hearing his reasons, his motivation for doing that to Tris. He told her that in Divergent when she got mad at him for taunting her, but it wasn’t clear to me back then. After reading this, it became clear that what he did was out of love.

    The downside is that this story was too short. I would love to read more about Four’s thoughts, his choices, his feelings for Tris. I’m still intrigued why he likes Tris so much, I could just assume it was love at first sight but still, I want to know.

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    Novella Review: Hana by Lauren Oliver

    Hana is a short story from Lauren Oliver’s Delirium Trilogy. The novella is written in the POV of Lena’s best friend Hana, where we see the story of the last summer before her procedure.

    We find out what her deal was and what she was going through with all that was happening in her life.

     

    Hana cover

    Hana (Delirium #1.5)

    by Lauren Oliver

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    Lauren Oliver’s riveting, original digital story set in the world of her New York Times bestseller Delirium.

    The summer before they’re supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss.

    But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line.

    In this digital story that will appeal to fans of Delirium and welcome new admirers to its world, readers will come to understand scenes from Delirium through Hana’s perspective. Hana is a touching and revealing look at a life-changing and tumultuous summer.

    In Delirium, I was intrigued with Hana because of how Lena described her. There was a clear change in her personality, but I think because of the circumstances, she wasn’t sure if she could trust Lena with her new found secret. But eventually she did and I could assume that a part of her, like Lena, was wondering if she did the right choice of trusting the other with her secrets.

    It was her last summer before her procedure before she gets cured, it’s her last chance at freedom and she wanted to make use of it as best as she could.

    I liked this short story because it gave us fans an access to Hana, the best friend. I feel bad for her because all she wanted was to be loved and cared for, and it seems that she found it with the wrong person. At some point, I think she was jealous of Lena and Alex because what they had was real. But her actions in the end, in my opinion, was made out of her concern for Lena, rather than jealousy.

    This was a good addition to the story so that we would understand her position and not hate her.

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    Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

    Insurgent is the sequel to the action-packed, dystopian Divergent. War is upon them and there’s a conflict between factions. Four and Tris seek refuge in other factions in hopes of gaining allies to defeat the Dauntless. As they run for their lives, they uncover secrets and piece together information about their community’s origin.

    WARNING: Possible Spoilers Ahead.

    Insurgent Cover

    Insurgent (Divergent #2)

    by Veronica Roth

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    One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves – and herself – while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

    Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable – and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

    New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian DIVERGENT series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

    Right after reading Divergent, I opened Insurgent to continue from where the story left off. I was so excited to find out what happens now after the incident between the Dauntless and Abnegation.

    Tris starts calling/referring to Four as Tobias and I don’t know how I feel about it. I have loved him as Four and being referred to as Tobias feels weird.

    I liked how Roth explored all the emotions Tris was having all throughout their journey. She has lost so much but still had the will to fight back and save the people she cared for and loved. She is such a strong female character, but some of the decisions she makes are either very brave or very stupid. Regardless of how irritated I am with her “selflessness”, I still understand why she keeps making such decisions. The problem with Tris and Four’s relationship is they lack communication. Both originally from Abnegation, they are always trying to save the other and would often end up fighting because one made a decision for the other and vice versa, causing their individual plans to fail. I kept thinking if they just told or consulted each other about their plans, they could have avoided fighting. What I do love about them is even though they fight, their love just keeps on growing.

    I’m not sure if it’s just me or it’s really the case, but Four seems to go out of character from time to time. I can’t help but feel like he’s sometimes a lot different from the Four I got to know from the first books. Maybe because he’s Tobias now.

    There was a pattern in the story which I realized after reading. After escaping from one faction HQ, they would seek refuge in another. It’s one of the things that had me at the edge of my seat. The suspense of the chase and what would happen to them kept me intrigued.

    In the end, the factionless played an important role. They held a secret I did not expect and it caught me by surprise. While some of my questions were answered, a lot more popped up. Despite the inconsistencies, I couldn’t put this book down. I wanted to know what’s next, how it will end. I loved the suspense, the love story or lack thereof, and everything else about this series. It could have used more Four though.

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    Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

    In a futuristic world where society is divided into 5 virtue-based factions — Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent), Beatrice Prior must choose between her family and embracing who she is. During the competitive initiation, she has a hard time determining who her real friends are and also finds herself developing a love interest. She also discovers a secret about herself, and as the seemingly perfect society unravels, she realizes that her secret may save her loved ones and everyone else.
    Divergent cover

    Divergent (Divergent #1)

    by Veronica Roth

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    In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

    During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

    Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

    I came across the book Divergent when I was browsing a book blog and saw its image on the sidebar. I checked it out in Goodreads and found out what it was about. Some friends have read it and gave different ratings. I was intrigued and curious that I got myself an ebook and decided to read it right after I finished reading Delirium.

    I was excited to find out what the fuss was about. A lot of people seemed to love this book and I wondered if I would like it too. At first I thought it was a bit lame, factions were made based on one’s character, and surely, we don’t have just one. But I shrugged it off and decided to get it over with.

    There was something off with the construction of this fictional world and I can’t put my finger on it. After choosing a faction, whether they choose to stay or to transfer, they would undergo initiation to show/prove they made the right decision and truly belong in their chosen faction. But if they fail or decide to quit, they would end up factionless which according to the story, is worse than death. The idea of being factionless or how one would end up factionless seems stupid. Death is also taken lightly and a murder wasn’t investigated. The lack of accountability over a life is unsettling.

    Another thing I noticed is some descriptions were not delivered well, I sometimes find it hard to picture a particular place or incident in my head. I don’t know if I just didn’t understand it in the first place or it was really poorly described. Maybe if I read it again I would understand it better.

    Four’s true identity was revealed when he showed Tris his fears. Not only do we find out who he is, but we also learn how he got his nickname. I thought it was lame at the time I was reading that part, but now that I’m writing about it, I don’t remember why I had such thought back then. What I don’t know is who the woman on his 3rd fear was, it seems random, like a filler. ** April 19, 2014 update ** In the movie, Four explained that it is his fear of hurting or killing an innocent. That’s why it seemed random.

    As I kept reading, the more I got invested in the story. I didn’t mind its flaws or plot holes, I didn’t bother focusing on it and just enjoyed the rest of the story. Another thing I liked was the romance angle didn’t involve a third party. Given that the situation was already complicated as it was, they surely did not need another love interest to make things worse. There was clearly a more pressing issue than having to choose between two lovers.

    Initially, it seemed like the story focuses on the need to pass the initiation and belonging in Tris’s chosen faction, but it isn’t that simple. There’s a bigger picture and the things Tris and Four discovered was just the tip of the iceberg.

    It got exciting when secrets unfolded, and it seemed like it was the end. But since I knew there was a sequel, I knew there’s more to the story than what was presented. The story ended with a sad note and I wouldn’t want to imagine myself be in Tris’ position. Despite its flaws and plot hole, I still gave this book a 4 out of 5 because I ended up really liking it.

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    Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

    The story takes place in a world where love is viewed as a disease that has to be eradicated. A cure was developed and the government demanded all citizens get inoculate once they turn eighteen. It’s a scheduled procedure and Lena Holoway has looked forward to it all her life. But days before she got the cure, she falls in love.

     

    Delirium Cover

    Delirium (Delirium #1)

    by Lauren Oliver

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    In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistake.

    But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the “Wilds” who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

    Why I chose Delirium to read next, I do not know. Maybe the idea that love is a disease that needs to be cured caught my interest. I knew this was a love story, but the world where it was set is interesting too. A world without love, where everything is simple and easy, no one would feel the emotional pain of love lost, but it’s not as easy as it seems.

    The love story was okay, like love-at-first-sight, at least for Alex. There’s no third party which made it a little less complicated considering the situation. The story focuses on Lena’s life, her friendship with Hana, her thoughts about the disease amor deliria nervosa and the ‘cure’, thoughts about her mother’s death, and her relationship with Alex.

    It was like reading someone’s personal diary although I didn’t feel like I was invading. I felt like I was invited to see Lena’s life and what she was going through. It was very descriptive. I could imagine myself in Lena’s shoes, walking around their town, spending time with her best friend Hana, meeting Alex. I felt what she felt, her pain, her happiness, and falling in love.

    I got hooked on the story, mostly because I’m a hopeless romantic and that was the focus of the story, but just like every dystopian novel, there is more to it than romance. The bigger picture. The political angle and the mystery behind Lena’s mother’s death.

    It doesn’t have the action-packed storyline of Divergent, but the end of this book had me in tears and left me devastated for days. I couldn’t stop thinking about Alex, like I was Lena in real life, worrying about him, wondering if he was okay. I would say it was a good thing because I would be coming back for more.

    Have you read this book/series? What do you think if this were real? Tell me what you think about it in the comments below. I would love to exchange views about this.

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    Book Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

    A popular children’s book, A Series of Unfortunate Events is about the orphaned Baudelaire children who seem to have the worst luck in the world. They are gifted/talented children, but they often encounter unusual and challenging situations.

    Their story is not for the faint of heart. The dangerous situations they find themselves in is not something you would wish to happen, even to your worst enemies.

    The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

    ASOUE: The Bad Beginning book cover

    by Lemony Snicket

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    Dear Reader,

    I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

    In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

    It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

    With all due respect,
    Lemony Snicket

    It was quite painful to read about the lives of the Baudelaire children because there’s always something bad happening to them. Although good things do happen, the joy you would feel for them would quickly turn to sadness as they would face another misfortune. I admire these children’s outlook on life, as they’re always looking at the silver lining which is a good thing for kids who would read the book to learn. It teaches readers to not be discouraged but instead takes the challenge. In reality, that’s what would help you grow.

    The book was an easy read. I couldn’t help but compare it with the movie, and I now understand why the movie had scenes that would happen in later books. It has a short plot but was described well. Another thing I like with Lemony Snicket is that he explains the meaning of words that kids might find hard to understand. In a way, it helps increase a child’s vocabulary, it sure helped me.

    I’m not sure when I’ll be able to read the rest of the series, but I surely want to finish them all and find out what fortune awaits the Baudelaire children.

    ASOUE: The Bad Beginning pin