ARC Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Title: Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley

Publication date: June 6, 2017

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 273 pages

Source: e-ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Penguin Random House!) / Finished copy (purchased from National Book Store)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

 

Synopsis:

Love lives between the lines.

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, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

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.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

A poignant and reflective novel, Words in Deep Blue delves into love, family, friendship, and grief. It contains characters with distinct voices that emanate authenticity throughout the story.

In the early parts of the novel, main character Rachel, is enveloped in sadness because of a tragic event that her family experienced. The loss weighed her down and resulted into a change in her personality. But as the story progressed, the old Rachel slowly resurfaced, transforming her aura into a warm and pleasant one.

Henry, the second main character, is a smart and witty guy whose dynamic energy toned down Rachel’s melancholic vibe. His passion for books is beyond compare! I love how Henry helped Rachel get through her grief, as well as understand her situation completely.

Rachel and Henry’s romance unfolded at the right moment, which makes it so special. It gave both characters ample time to sort out their feelings until they were sure of them. It’s really awesome when romances don’t feel rushed in books.

I appreciate how author Cath Crowley created Howling Books into a character itself. The bookstore is the heart of the story and the binding force of all the characters’ relationships. Cath Crowley’s fluid, lyrical writing has an irresistible charm that will hold your attention for hours. I’ll definitely read more of her books! 🙂 

For someone who has been in love with words since forever, reading Words in Deep Blue is a priceless gift I have given myself. My love for literature grew deeper with every minute I spent reading it. Most importantly, the novel made me believe that words and books have the power to make a great difference in people’s lives.

A heartfelt love letter to all bookworms young and old, Words in Deep Blue is a beautifully crafted story that will illuminate your soul in remarkable ways that words couldn’t explain.

 

Rating:

4.5/5 stars

 

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Double DNF Review

Contemporary is the rhythm of my heart. However, not all stories under this genre make it beat the way it does when I’m happy or excited. Two contemporary books by a well-loved YA author unfortunately made it on my DNF list. Those are P.S. I Like You and Lucky in Love both written by Kasie West.

While a lot of people love Kasie West’s contemporary novels, sad to say, they didn’t work for me. 😦 The story concepts and characters are okay. Even so, it’s the tone I struggled with. I found it too…young. Yes, I know YA’s really supposed to sound young. But both books lack depth and insight that most contemporaries I’ve read and loved have. The characters’ personalities did not shine through, making the stories flat. Believe me, I tried to give the books a chance. I just really couldn’t identify with them. I’m soooo sorry! 😦 

This DNF review is only my personal opinion, okay? If these titles are in your TBR list, please read them! They might be the kind of YA contemporary novels for you. 🙂

 

P.S. I Like YouLucky in Love

Thank you to Scholastic Philippines for providing review copies!

ARC Review: Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi

Title: Autofocus

Author: Lauren Gibaldi

Publication date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 352

Source: ARC from the author (Thank you, Lauren! <3)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis: 

Family.

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review:

In her sophomore novel, author Lauren Gibaldi created an authentic tale of a girl’s quest for answers that will uncover the truth about her birth mother. Compelling and heartfelt,
Autofocus perfectly illustrates the reality of change, moving on, and growing up. I won’t go into detail what the book is all about because I want you to discover it yourself. 🙂  

Autofocus’ characters are beautifully diverse. Each of their unique qualities brought interesting flavors that helped convey the story’s message. Main character Maude’s voice radiated an appealing and profound tone that resonated from beginning to end. I connected with her from the get-go!

The romance is a lovely dance of emotions! With the right combination of cute moments and deep conversations, Maude and Bennett’s love story is a great example of a friends-turned-lovers relationship. I love how they got to know each other first and effortlessly fell in love.        

Autofocus instilled in me the real essence of family. Family doesn’t always have to be the people you share the same blood with. It could also be those who support and love you through thick and thin. Most importantly, Autofocus made me realize that knowing who you are is a continuous process. We discover something new about ourselves every day and eventually become the version of us that we are truly made to be.

Lauren Gibaldi writes with so much heart! Emotions flow right into the soul of the reader with every turn of the page. That said, I vow to read anything that Lauren writes because her stories never fail to inspire me to become a better person.

A novel that brims with sincerity and hope, Autofocus will take readers on a wonderful journey of self-discovery that will definitely touch their lives to the very core.

Rating:

4.5/5 stars


Note:

I know it took me a year (a YEAR!) to finish reading and writing a review. But it’s not too late to show book love, right? 🙂 I’m eternally grateful to Lauren Gibaldi for her patience and understanding! It was a busy first year at my current job in the publishing industry, hence the delay. Anyway, you guys should read this book! Let it fill your life with light.     

ARC Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Title: Windfall

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publication date: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 432

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Penguin Random House!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis:
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know for sure that I have a fetish for YA contemporary novels. In this post, I’m sharing with you my thoughts on Jennifer E. Smith’s latest book, Windfall.

Written with a voice full of hope, Windfall is a heartfelt tale about love and how luck entirely changes people’s lives. Although it’s romance, this book also accentuated family, friendship, moving on, and choosing happiness, which I absolutely loved. The characters are authentic and very much relatable! They have well-crafted personalities that helped build a unique and diverse setting.

Having known each other since they were kids, Alice, Teddy, and Leo are a picture of true friendship. Readers would feel how deep their bond is as the three characters support one another in good times and in bad. They listen to what each has to say and offer great advice.

I liked how the romance took time to unfold, making Windfall a lovely slow dance that readers wouldn’t want to end. Alice and Teddy are so adorable! ❤

As always, Jennifer E. Smith’s writing is fluid, aesthetic, and soulful. Her stories have the right mix of sad, happy, and swoony feels, which is why it’s impossible not to fall in love with a Jennifer E. Smith book! 🙂

Undeniably charming and sweet, Windfall is an unputdownable novel that sparkles with the magic of true love.

Rating:

4/5 stars

National Book Store Read Out Loud Challenge

Hi, everyone! Here’s my entry for National Book Store’s Read Out Loud Challenge. I’m sorry it took me a while to film this as I’ve been busy with work. Anyway, thank you Kai of Amaterasu Reads for tagging me! Challenge accepted, my friend! 🙂

Here’s the passage I read:

“I don’t care what happens next, but I’m ready for it. If I can face a roller coaster, I can face anything.”

Tagging Sab of Sab The Book Eater, Kristin Rae, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Lauren Gibaldi. 🙂

For more info on the Read Out Loud Challenge, head over to National Book Store’s blog here.

ARC Review: Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Title: Ronit & Jamil

Author: Pamela L. Laskin

Publication date: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 192 pages

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Harper Collins!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

 

Synopsis:

This beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the barrier fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred. Ronit and Jamil fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can be kept secret for only so long. Soon, the teenage lovers must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

A novel written in verse, Ronit & Jamil was a quick read. I’m a fan of modern-day retellings, so when I learned that it’s a reimagining of Romeo & Juliet set in the Middle East, I just had to read it.

I thought I was going to like this book, but unfortunately, I didn’t. The alternate POVs were confusing because the poems sound very much alike. The characters didn’t resonate with me, and I also couldn’t connect with the story. I felt that everything was rushed! It could have been better if the novel were written in prose so readers would extensively feel the thrill of romance. In addition, scenes would be executed vividly, giving readers a thorough understanding of Israeli and Palestinian cultures, as well as experience the intense conflict between the two countries.

If Ronit & Jamil is on your TBR pile, please give it a chance. Like other books, it deserves to be read. Don’t let my review influence your decision in reading the book. This is just my opinion, guys! 🙂

Rating:

1/5 stars

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017, guys! *throws confetti* How are you all doing?

I’m sure you’re wondering where I’ve been these past six months. Let’s say, something wonderful happened. I started working at Summit Media, a magazine publishing company here in the Philippines last June. I’m an Editorial Assistant in the Content Marketing department, which eventually became Content Lab after merging with the Summit Books team.

Working at Summit is a dream come true! I’ve always wanted to work in the publishing industry. After years of trying, I have finally achieved my goal. Every day is a learning experience at work. I get to write lifestyle articles, edit magazine pages, proofread manuscripts, go to shoots, and a lot more. My teammates are awesome! There’s never a dull moment with them! I’m really happy to be part of an incredibly talented and dynamic team. 🙂

img_1977

Everyone, meet the Content Lab team! 🙂

Because of my busy work schedule, I hardly had time to read and blog. That explains my six-month break in the blogosphere. Going on hiatus was a sad decision to make, but it was for the best. And in doing so, I was able to focus on living my dream.

Now that I’m back in the blogosphere, I look forward to blogging about the books I’ll read and all the bookish adventures I’m going to experience this 2017.

Wishing you all a year of beautiful stories! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARC Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

17838528Title: The Unexpected Everything

Author: Morgan Matson

Publication date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 519

Source: ARC from the publisher (Thank you, Simon & Schuster!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

 

Synopsis:

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

It has been four years since I last read a Morgan Matson book. Yeah, it was that long! Second Chance Summer was the last one. I have a copy of Since You’ve Been Gone on my shelf and I hope to read it soon. Anyway, I got to read the author’s latest, The Unexpected Everything and enjoyed it!

Realistic and relatable, The Unexpected Everything is a book that perfectly depicts how the unexpected things in life turn out to be beautiful. People plan how their life would be most of the time, like they should be this and that or something. It’s okay to have goals in life, but sometimes we also have to open ourselves to unexpected things that come our way especially if they are experiences we haven’t come across yet. You know, the unexpected is magical because there are infinite possibilities wedged in it. So live in the moment, and don’t be afraid to embrace the unexpected!

The characters are wonderfully crafted! Each of them possesses unique qualities that spiced up the story. Authentic and solid, the friendship in the book thoroughly mirrors what friendship is like in real life. I also love the father and daughter angle! Andie and her dad’s bonding moments are heartfelt and endearing.

The romance is adorable! With an undeniable chemistry, Andie and Clark are so meant to be! I love the way The Unexpected Everything illustrates how a love story unfolds—the meet-cute, the awkward first date, getting to know each other, and lastly, falling in love! ❤

Morgan Matson is so good in making readers feel that they’re part of the story as well as giving happy feels!

A blissful and charming novel, The Unexpected Everything is a YA contemporary you’d definitely want to add to your TBR pile! 🙂

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

A Bright and Lovely Sunday: Jennifer Niven in Manila!

If there’s one day I’d like to relive, it would be May 29, 2016 — Jennifer Niven’s signing in Manila. It was so colorful and bright and all the lovely things combined! ❤

Q&A with Jennifer

Q&A with Jennifer Niven

My fellow book bloggers and I attended a special Q&A with Jennifer where she talked about writing and her wonderful books. Jennifer’s sincere and soft-spoken nature was very admirable! I loved listening to her speak! ❤

Here are some interesting bits I’ve gathered from the Q&A:

*On adapting All the Bright Places into a screenplay, Jennifer said it was scary at first.

*Jennifer has a graduate degree in screenwriting.

*According to her, film doesn’t have as much space unlike in books.

*Readers are always the important thing for Jennifer.

*The All the Bright Places movie will start shooting in the Fall!

*For Jennifer, it’s important to have balance. When she’s on a writing break, she loves to dance, hike, go outside, read, and binge watch television. It’s recharging for her.

*Jennifer said that every book wants to be written differently.

*Writing Jack and Libby (in Holding Up the Universe) was a challenge.

*She creates a playlist for each of the characters.

*Jennifer kept surprising herself while writing Holding Up the Universe. Both she and her characters try to do the unexpected.

For more fascinating information, you may listen to the audio recording of the Q&A here.

Following the Q&A was the book signing! We all lined up to have our books signed. I felt everybody’s excitement as I waited to reach the front of the line!

Jennifer signing books

When my turn came, Jennifer smiled at me, and I couldn’t believe that I was face to face with THE Jennifer Niven — New York Times Bestselling Author and a friend I made online in 2014 who I’ve wished to meet!

Jen signing my book_01

Jennifer signing my copy of All the Bright Places!

Pictures with Jen

She is all the colors in one, at full brightness. ❤

After I had a picture taken with Jennifer, I hugged her tightly and told her that she’s amazing. Then Jen surprised me with a gift! An ARC of Holding Up the Universe! Squeee!!! *flails* Oh and guess what, I have a cameo in Holding Up the Universe! Thank you, Jen, for making my dream of becoming a character in a book come true! 🙂

Holding Up the Universe

Jen’s gift!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

While our fellow bloggers are still having their books signed, the Hardest Selfie Ever crew grabbed the opportunity to take selfies! These selfies were not really difficult to take as we’ve gotten better at squeezing ourselves into the frame as the years go by. The hardest selfies we’ve ever taken are still at Gayle Forman’s and Jenny Han’s book signings! Haha! 😀

Hardest Selfie Ever 15.0

The Hardest Selfie Ever 15.0 with Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs, Lyra of Defiantly Deviant, and Louisse of The Soul Sisters!

A bookish event wouldn’t be complete without a group picture! So here it is:

PH YA Book Bloggers 02

PH YA Book Bloggers with Jennifer Niven 🙂

After the event, I went up to Jen and thanked her for visiting the Philippines and for being an inspiration to me. I couldn’t stop saying thank you because my heart was overflowing with gratitude, happiness, and all kinds of feels. When I hugged Jennifer, she shared her brightness with me, and infused a sense of hope that the coming days are going to be better and brighter. Jennifer IS all the colors in one, at full brightness. I will never ever forget this day! 🙂

Convo with Jen

Convo with Jen

Jen wearing the bracelet

Jen wearing the bracelets I gave her! 🙂

The public signing was held at the Mega Atrium of SM Megamall at 2PM. From what I’ve seen in pictures, there were so many people who attended! Hooray!!!

 

Thank you National Book Store for bringing Jennifer Niven to the Philippines! You guys are rock stars! So much love for you! 🙂

To Jennifer, thank you very much for visiting the Philippines. You have no idea how happy I am that I got to meet you in person! We became friends on Twitter in late 2014 and after a year, we finally saw each other in real life! This time, I got to really hug you, and not just send you virtual hugs! I am also grateful for your writing advices and for constantly encouraging me to keep on writing. You make me bright and lovely! One day when I finish my book, you’ll be the first to know. ❤ I love you and I hope to see you again in the future! *hugs*

Signed books

Signed books ❤

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Signed chapter sampler

As I have posted on the @JenniferNivenPH Twitter page, I’m giving away a signed Holding Up the Universe chapter sampler to one (1) lucky reader!

Just answer this question on the comment section below:

How did All the Bright Places change your life?

I’ll choose the best answer!!! 🙂

*Giveaway is open to Philippine residents ONLY (I’m sorry, international readers! 😦 )

and will run until Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 5 PM

xoxo,

Jesselle

 

Check out the recaps of my friends!

Kai of Amaterasu Reads

Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again

Salve of Cuckoo for Books

 

 

ARC Review: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

25028285Title: The Square Root of Summer

Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Publication date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Pages: 304

Source: ARC gifted by the author (Thank you, Harriet! 🙂 )

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked /National Book Store

Synopsis:

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

When I heard about The Square Root of Summer, I knew I had to read it! A YA novel on time travel and quantum physics set in a contemporary world? Sold!

Unlike any time travel book, The Square Root of Summer is an eccentric, mind-blowing, and at times mind-bending experience. It makes readers think and question and keep turning the pages to understand everything. An electrifying roller coaster ride, The Square Root of Summer deals with grief over losing someone you love and figuring things out. This made it different from other contemporary with a sci-fi twist books.

The characters are a mix of diverse personalities that brought out the heart of the story in a wondrous way. Main character Gottie Oppenheimer is such a delight. She has an engaging voice that jumps off the pages. The romance of Gottie and Thomas is a flail-inducing kind! Oozing with sweetness and cuteness, readers would always look forward to Gottie and Thomas scenes! 🙂

Riveting and adventure-filled, The Square Root of Summer is an impressive debut that will take you on a thrilling journey through time.

 

Rating:

4/5 stars