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Book Review: The Row by J.R. Johansson

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Book Title: The Row
Author: J.R. Johansson
Series: N/A (Standalone)
Publication Date: October 11th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller, Young Adult
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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A death sentence. A family torn apart. One girl’s hunt for the truth.

Seventeen-year-old Riley Beckett is no stranger to prison. Her father is a convicted serial killer on death row who has always maintained that he was falsely accused. Riley has never missed a single visit with her father. She wholeheartedly believes that he is innocent.

Then, a month before the execution date, Riley’s world is rocked when, in an attempt to help her move on, her father secretly confesses to her that he actually did carry out the murders. He takes it back almost immediately, but she cannot forget what he’s told her. Determined to uncover the truth for her own sake, she discovers something that will forever change everything she’s believed about the family she loves.


MY THOUGHTS

Goddamn! This book is amazing. From the moment I read the summary, I knew I would enjoy this but I didn’t expect that I would love this so much. I think I read this book in less than a day, and considering how slow of a reader I’ve become, that just shows how much I’ve enjoyed reading this one.
To start off with this review, let me just say that this is very well-written. The scenes, however intense, are really easy to follow. Also, the way how the author gives  information a bit at a time didn’t irritate me as I thought it would. It just made me want to devour the book more.
Riley’s character, the protagonist, is also very well-written. Her emotions practically seep through the pages which made me empathize for her, and the character development is really evident. The things she was going through were really hard and I think the author did a great job in making Riley’s response to the situation realistic. Also, I like how Riley took it upon herself to find the answers she needs and not try to change her dad’s case because, let’s face it, what difference can a 17 year old make as compared to professionals. Likewise, I also appreciate how the other characters gradually become more open in giving Riley answers instead of thinking of her as a six year-old kid.
Moving on to Jordan, that perfect human being. I love him so much. He is really caring, determined, honest and smart. He also let his emotions take control at times which just shows that he is human too, and I absolutely love him for that. I honestly think that this book could have done with more scenes of Jordan and Riley because the romance here wasn’t really emphasized much. But I also think that the romance was perfect just the way it is. I don’t really understand myself, to be honest.
And can I talk about Matthew for a bit? He is Jordan’s younger brother and he just makes me smile! Scenes with Matthew are just so refreshing from the heavy drama related to the main plot. I miss that little ball of sunshine already. Now I want a younger brother as much as ever!
On the other hand, the mystery aspect in this book is great. I had a few guesses every now and then but I did not anticipate how things would unfold. The ending is amazing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I recommend this to lovers of contemporary thriller. I can’t wait to try Johansson’s other works!
All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.
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Book Review: Summer Constellations by Alisha Sevigny

40014443Book Title: Summer Constellations
Author: Alisha Sevigny
Series: N/A (Standalone)
Publication Date: May 1st 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Julia Ducharme is ready for a fresh start. Her little brother has finally recovered from a serious illness, and now she just wants to enjoy peak season at the campground her family owns. Maybe this will be the year her annual summer fling with Dan Schaeffer becomes something more?

But her summer dreams are quickly shattered. First, Dan arrives for vacation with a new girlfriend in tow, and then Julia discovers this may be her last summer in the only home she’s ever known.

Crushing medical bills have brought her single mom to the brink of bankruptcy, and a wealthy developer is sniffing around the campground. He sees what Julia sees: lush woods, a pristine lake, miles of trails for adventure. Unlike Julia, he thinks this is the perfect spot for a casino resort.

Heartbroken and afraid, Julia looks to the stars for some perspective. Taking her telescope down to the dock one night, she has a chance encounter with a guitar-playing boy who offers some helpful advice. Too bad this handsome stranger is the developer’s son, Nick Constantine.

As plans for a resort move forward, Julia is desperate to find a solution that doesn’t mean leaving the lake. Nick, in turn, is desperate to separate himself from his father’s aggressive business tactics. He promises that, together, they can thwart the sale.

But can Julia trust him to conspire against his own father? And could she ever she trust him with her heart?

SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS is a story of lost summers, hidden treasure and love written in the stars. It is also a thoughtful reflection on what it means to love — and leave — one’s childhood home.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

MY THOUGHTS

When I first saw this on Netgalley, I just knew that I had to request this. The book summary sounded great, and not to mention the gorgeous cover! I knew that I would like this, but I didn’t expect to love Summer Constellations.

To start off, Julia Ducharme is such an interesting character which I connected to instantly. Julia is witty, sweet, passionate, and I think her love for astronomy kinda rubbed off on me; I learned several cool facts! Aside from that, Julia wants to save their campground not only because it’s the only home she and her family grew up in, but she also wants to preserve the beautiful nature from being turned into a casino.

Nick Constantine, on the other hand, is the epitome of perfection. He is just so charming, gentle, and the best boyfriend anyone can ever ask for. He just knows what to say all the time, and he jumped in front of a freaking skunk for Julia and her little brother! Other than that, I love how Nick and Julia’s conversations are mostly about stuff that matter. Not just banter and small talk.

And don’t forget Caleb, Julia’s little brother. Oh, how I love that nine-year-old kid. He didn’t let his condition hinder him from helping out to save the campground. His passion and bravery is just so amazing to read about.

Furthermore, I love how the book mainly focuses on the relationship between Julia and her family, and Julia and Nick; the fact that Julia’s best friend, Paige, went to Osaka in the first chapter of the book contributed to that hence she wasn’t present in most of the book. I would have like a little bit more depth to Julia and Paige’s friendship, though.

From the way it was described, I think that the campground is breathtaking and the author did a great job in painting a picture of it in the readers’ mind. I actually have the urge to go to a campground as well for the summer.

I definitely recommend this book, especially for fans of contemporary books. This a short but sweet, humorous book perfect for the summer! I will surely be on the look-out for more of Sevigny’s works.

All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.

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Book Review: The Initiation by Chris Babu

38636861Book Title: The Initiation
Author: Chris Babu
Series: The Initiation #1
Publication Date: February 27th 2018
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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As featured on Bloomberg.com!

Everyone is equal. But no one is safe.

In a ruined world, Manhattan is now New America, a walled-in society based on equality. But the perfect facade hides a dark truth.

A timid math geek, sixteen-year-old Drayden watches his life crumble when his beloved mother is exiled. The mystery of her banishment leads him to a sinister secret: New America is in trouble, and every one of its citizens is in jeopardy.

With time running out, he enters the Initiation. It’s a test within the empty subway tunnels—a perilous journey of puzzles and deadly physical trials. Winners join the ruling Bureau and move to its safe haven. But failure means death. Can Drayden conquer the Initiation, or is salvation out of his grasp?


I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

MY THOUGHTS

If I were to describe this book in one word, I would say it is marvelous. I didn’t hesitate to give a 5-star rating because this was just so enthralling. The world building was great and the pacing was pretty fast, with the Initiation starting at 30% into the book, which I appreciated since I was in the mood for a fast-paced read.

Also, the author created such wonderful characters! I instantly loved Drayden, our main character. He started out as a fearful yet intelligent boy who doesn’t have the courage to stand up for himself. But as the book progresses, as Drayden comes face-to-face with losses and challenges, his drive to succeed grew more and more. I saw how his character developed to someone who set aside all fears and hesitations to save his loved ones. He also has a strong sense of morality. But aside from Drayden, another character that I had absolutely loved was Tim, the boy with the heart of gold and the perfect best friend anyone could ever ask for. I adored the friendship between Drayden and Tim, how they rely on one another and fulfill each other’s shortcomings.

The plot is fantastic and it kept me on edge. The challenges in the Initiation were ghastly yet exciting to read about. I liked how Drayden and Catrice explained in detail their solutions and strategies for the challenges, since not all of them in the group excel in intelligence. I also liked Drayden and Catrice’s chemistry from the start, though I’m glad that the romance wasn’t too much.

I highly recommend this one to fans of dystopian books. I’m really excited for the next books in the series!

All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.

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Favorite 2016 Reads & Bookish Resolutions for 2017

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Cue fireworks displays, popping balloons and Fake Love by Drake blaring in the background. (I am in love with that song at the moment, by the way.) I was supposed to post this on New Year’s Day but I didn’t get the chance to, so here it is 4 days later.

So, another year has ended already. It feels like 2016 came by so quick yet took too long to end at the same time. 2016 definitely wasn’t my year, let’s just leave it at that. Anyway, in this post, I will be sharing with you my favorite books I’ve read in 2016 and my Bookish Resolutions for 2017 which you probably already deduced by reading the title.


Favorite Books in 2016

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the books I listed here are published during 2016 only. To be fair, none of these books are published during 2016.

I’ve originally set my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge target to 50 books but as the year went on and as school proved to be more of a problem than I’ve expected, I changed my goal to 40 books. And thank heavens, I achieved it and read 3 extra books!

So among the 43 books I’ve read, here are my favorites:

I won’t waffle on about them anymore because this will get super long and most probably will end up repeating everything I’ve already said in my reviews. But if you do want to know more about these books and why I loved them so much, check out my reviews listed here in no particular order ( I did not write one for Me Before You but the link will direct you to my Goodreads update about it):

  1. The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken
  2. Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken
  3. In The Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
  4. Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins
  5. Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1) by Kasie West
  6. Me Before You (Me Before You #1) by Jojo Moyes

For my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge, I’ve set it to 50 books. This time, I’m more determined to accomplish it!

2017 Reading Challenge

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Bookish Resolutions for 2017

I’m not really the best at resolutions. When it’s December already, I always find myself setting goals I want to achieve the following year but he problem is, I NEVER DO THEM. I somehow always forget along the way. But this year, despite of my rubbish memory and lack of self-discipline, I came up with a list of bookish resolutions and hope that I did not set myself up for yet another disappointment.

  • Buy more physical books

I’m really fond of buying eBooks for the reason that they’re a teeny bit cheaper and are sometimes more convenient compared to physical copies. I’m actually planning on writing a separate post on this so I won’t ramble on much. But basically, I’ve recently just realized that I already spend too much time staring at my phone’s screen and eBooks don’t help when I want to decrease my “screen time”.

  • Blog more

Some might notice my lack of presence recently in my blog. I’ve posted like, what, 4-5 posts the past few months and that’s HORRIBLE. I normally post that many in 2 weeks last summer. WTF is happening to me?

  • Have more creative blog posts

This kinda falls under the previous one. I feel like all I post are book reviews and that gets boring.

  • Read more classics

I have never read a single classic book in my entire life. Why? I’m not exactly sure either. Maybe I’m intimidated by them. But nevertheless, I’m gonna give them a try sometime this year. Hopefully.


And that’s it. I’m kind of thankful for 2016 although it wasn’t really a great year, I learned a lot. But anyway, I’m so excited to see what 2017 has in store for me. Here’s to more memories created and lessons learned!

What are your favorite 2016 reads? Are you as bad as I am when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions? Do you mind sharing a few of your resolutions for this year?

Have a great 2017, everybody! ❤

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Book Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

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Book Title: Pivot Point
Author: Kasie West
Series: Pivot Point #1
Publication Date: February 12th 2013
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Age Range: 13+ years old
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier…

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without.


MY THOUGHTS

THIS BOOK YOU GUYS!!! Definitely a new favorite of mine. Forgive me, I did not put any negative points about the book in this review because I literally can not think of a single one. Now let’s get on to what I loved about this book and hope that I don’t run out of adjectives other than “sooooo good”.

I’m usually a character-driven reader. I bet you’re sick of hearing that if you read my other reviews (or if I comment that a lot on yours). Addie, the main character, is very likable. She loves books, rarely lies to her parents, and her retorts are always hilarious. As if that isn’t enough, her friendship with Laila is so amazing to read about. I absolutely love their personalities and I just can’t get enough of their banter! They can talk about taxes and I would still read it.

But aside from the awesome characters, the book itself is so unique and just mind-blowingly stunning because a) It’s so funny to read about the times when the “Paranormals” can’t work out how to turn a radio on or how to unlock a door or how to close the blinds, b) The romance is just perfect. The skin around my nails are red and raw from me gnawing on it (disgusting habit, I know but don’t worry, I’m working on it) because the story is getting soooo good and thrilling.

I seriously still cannot believe I finished this in one sitting. I rarely do that considering how slow of a reader I am. But this is just so gripping, I could not put it down. It kept me guessing and it kept me wanting more. When I finished reading, I literally said “wow” out loud—probably too loud as I almost woke up my little sister sleeping next to me. Yes, I did read until 1:00 in the morning. No, don’t judge me because I know you do it too.

I 101% recommend you read this one. After having read this, I fell in a reading slump but it was definitely worth it. Pivot Point is just the second book I’ve read from this author but I can assure you that this won’t be my last. Kasie West is now included in my list of favorite and go-to authors.

All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.