Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: June 2012 (first published May 2004)
Publisher: Speak

 Expect the unexpected.

Macy's got her whole summer carefully planned.

But her plants didn't include a job at Wish Catering. And they certainly didn't include Wes.

But Macy soon discovers that the things you expect least are sometimes the things you need most.

There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.

Macy is perfect. She has perfect hair, perfect grades, perfect boyfriend – perfect everything. Maybe her mother works too much, but of course they’re fine, just fine. Her boyfriend, Jason, may seem detached sometimes, but of course they’re fine. It has been one and a half year after her father’s sudden death, and Macy is doing well. She’s fine just fine, thank you.

Is she really?

The Truth About Forever is a book about characters dealing with the sudden death of a loved one, but it is more than that. It is a book about reaching out, accepting mistakes, and following your heart. The Truth About Forever celebrates flaws, and with its lovely storyline, three-dimensional characters, and just the right amount of drama, it’s hard not to love this book.

Truth be told, I think Sarah Dessen follows the same pattern in her stories. Girl having problem – girl meets boy – girl becomes friends with boy – girl runs away – girl having reflection moment – girl confesses to the boy – happily ever after. I might sound a bit snarky here, but really. I love her works. She is a wordsmith and the word she spins turns into gold. Moreover, her characters are so alive I could practically hear their breathing when I was reading her books. I don’t have any problem getting along with any character in this book. The pacing near the ending of the book seems a bit too slow for me, but maybe it’s just me who can’t wait to see Macy and Wes together. The ending is really worth the wait, though. *insert dreamy sigh* Reaching the lovely ending, I feel so rewarded having suffered through all the Macy-Wes misunderstandings.

This is the only YA book I’ve ever read that features characters working in catering business. I like that they’re constantly faced with shrimp chaos or meatball crisis – it gives the story a certain charm. My only complaint about this book might be the slow pacing near the ending and the fact that I was able to predict the story halfway through the ending. But if you’re a fan of Contemporary, or in search of a book with light theme and gorgeous writing to spend your time, The Truth About Forever will be a perfect choice.

We just sat there for a second, none of us talking. In the middle of the clearing, someone was playing with a flashlight, the beam moving across the trees overhead, showing bits and pieces of branches and leaves, a glimpse here and there, then darkness again. I knew that in the last few minutes everything had changed. I'd tried to hold myself apart, showing only what I wanted, doling out bits and pieces of who I was. But that only works for so long. Eventually, even the smallest fragments can't help but make a whole.

4 cups of tea!
Perfect for light reading. ♥

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Title: The Killing Woods
Author: Lucy Christopher
Publication date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Chicken House

From Goodreads:
Fatal attraction, primal fear, survival in the forest: From the author of the Printz Honor Book STOLEN, the highly anticipated thriller about deadly games played in the dark.

Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepherd's dad is accused of the crime. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl's broken body. "Gone," he says, then retreats into silence.

What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent -- isn't he? Before he's convicted, she's got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee's charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her -- the kinds of games that can kill?

I was trapped, held still by his stare. He could have killed me or kissed me then; I would’ve stayed.

The Killing Woods, like it promises, is a book full of thrill, mystery, and secrets in every page. Fleshed out characters and intricately woven storyline, I found myself blown away simply by reading the first chapter.

The story is told from two alternating POVs, Emily and Damon. Emily is the daughter of an ex-army member who is accused of murdering a young girl, while Damon is the boyfriend of the same particular girl. They are the stark opposite; Emily believes that her dad is innocent despite of what everyone tells her while Damon will do anything it takes to prove that his girlfriend, Ashlee, was killed by Emily’s father. However, nobody actually knows what happened that night. Not Emily’s father who is too unstable to tell the truth. Not even Damon who was too drunk and too high to remember anything about the night he last saw Ashlee alive.

In the woods, there is dangerous game played. The woods keep secret. The secrets might not be so pretty when they come out…

Lucy Christopher knows how to write a crooked character, and I give her applause for that. The Killing Woods, while might fall short to me compared to its predecessor Stolen, is still a very entertaining read. As Emily and Damon put the pieces of puzzle and slowly unravel the truth, I felt my heartbeat quickened as well. I warn you not to read this book at night (like I did!) because it would surely make you jumpy at every little sound. The woods in the story feel tangible and the scenes in the book unfolding very smoothly, almost like scenes from a movie.

This book feels more like a mystery-thriller to me and some of the romantic scenes felt out-of-place. Readers who prefer quick pacing in their books may find this book excruciatingly slow. I don’t mind slow pacing in my books, but sometimes I just hoped that things would quicken up a bit. That doesn’t mean I don’t love reading the author’s long passages – she surely knows how to create strange and thrilling atmosphere in her stories.

For those looking for mystery books with a spice of romance, I recommend this book highly. Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would (I blame you skyhigh expectation), The Killing Woods is still a book worth to have in your bookshelf. Intriguing and uncommon, The Killing Woods is a perfect book for fans of contemporary with dark elements tucked inside.

It’s because, whatever I do, I’ll always be Jon Shepherd’s daughter: I’ll always look like Dad. I’m branded for life, can’t wash it away. But what else from Dad am I branded with? What other feelings or parts of his personality have I got?

 4 cups of tea!
Beautiful prose and such thrilling atmosphere.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover reveal: Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver

Hello! Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you a GORGEOUS book cover:

Title: Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper)
Author: Ruth Silver
Expected Publication: Summer 2014
Publisher: Patchwork Press
From Goodreads:
In 1346, Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.
Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

Purple! Purple dresses and purple... galaxy? sky? stars? Whatever, it's beautiful and I know you agreed with me! ;)

Tell me, what do you think of this book? :)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray

From Goodreads:
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

I was raised to marry a monster.

Nyx Triskelion lives in a world under the dome. Her country, Arcadia, is torn apart from the rest of the world, and the people can no longer see the real sky. It has been nine hundred years, and the people are still captivated in the dome. They are ruled by the Gentle Lord, the demon prince whose demons infest every shadow. The Gentle Lord is a cruel being who loves striking bargain to those foolish enough to bargain with him, and today, Nyx will be married to him.

Seventeen years ago, Nyx’s father struck a bargain with the demon prince, and in return, he has to marry his daughter to the Gentle Lord when she reaches the age of seventeen. Now his daughter Nyx, prepared with her knowledge about Hermetic magic and a blade from her twin sister Astraia, is ready to do anything it takes to kill the gentle lord and save Arcadia. But the task turns out to be more complicated than she thinks as she spends more days with the Gentle Lord and learns the truth that the demon prince might be prisoned too with them inside the dome…

Cruel Beauty captivates me right from the beginning. It is a wonderful debut that will resonate well to fans of dark fairytales. Though I went into the book expecting a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I got glimpses of Blue Beard and Rumpelstiltskin tale as well. Thankfully the Blue Beard elements were not as horrifying as I thought or I would have run away in fear. Nyx is a character I will remember dearly. She is not your usual impossibly kind and ready-to-sacrifice-anything-just-ask type of heroine. On the opposite, she is feisty, impatient, and at times too wrapped up in her own problem to care for others. But aren’t we all sometimes? She has poison in her heart and she’s aware of it. Nyx is a dark and flawed character that is just right for the story. The Gentle Lord or simply called Ignifex is a character I warmed up almost instantly. It is just so cute that he falls asleep on the floor besides Nyx while he is waiting for her to wake up. What can I say, really. I’m weak against those playful and dangerous fictional guys. *cough* Adrian Ivashkov *cough*

I think the ending suits the nature of the story, but I think it can be tweaked a bit. I felt like I was furiously trying to grasp the characters I’ve fallen in love with when I reached the ending. Since I don’t see many people complained about the ending, I might be the odd one on this.

All in all, Cruel Beauty is a wonderful read and I was very happy when I picked up this gem. The book reminds me of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwater’s works with the striking characters, lush setting, and easy-to-follow writing. The banter between Nyx and Ignifex also adds a nice touch to the story. I can hardly wait to read more books from this author. Rosamund Hodge is certainly an author I will put into my to-watch list!

I smashed my fist into his face.

The blow was hard enough that he fell over backward. … As he sat back up, I dropped to my knees. There was only one thing to do. I started to undo the top button of my dress, then simply ripped it open.

“I’m sorry,” I said, staring at the floor. “I just, my father made me promise to bring a knife, and—and—” I stuttered, acutely aware that I was half-naked in front of him. “I’m your wife! I burn for your touch! I thirst for your love!” I didn’t know where the terrible words were coming from, but I couldn’t stop them. “I’ll do anything, I’ll—”

I realized he was laughing.

4 cups of tea!
Wonderful characters and stunning storyline. Love it!


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