Review: What Things Mean by Sophia N. Lee

What Things Mean

What Things Mean
Author: Sophia N. Lee
Publisher: Scholastic
Published: May 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating:

4

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Synopsis new

FOR OLIVE GUERRERO, DIFFERENT IS MORE THAN JUST A WORD.

What does it mean to be different? 14-year-old Olive is struggling to find out. Everything about her is so different from the rest of her family. She is big-haired, brown skinned, and clumsy in a family of cream-colored beauties who are all popular and Good At Sports. She closely resembles a father she has never known, and about whom her mother never speaks, and no one wants to tell her why. She turns to books and other things in her quest to find answers, and as a way to cope with her loneliness. When she learns the truth about her father, she must decide whether or not she will let the differences in her life define her forever.

A unique coming-of-age story unfolding through dictionary-style chapters, What Things Mean takes a closer look at the things that define a life, and the many ways in which we find meaning.

*Grand Prize Winner, Scholastic Asian Book Award 2014

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“I know now that things are always more than what they mean. Things mean different things to people. People are the ones who give meaning to things.”

For most us, searching for the meaning of a particular word in the dictionary is as easy as looking for a certain thing that is missing in our room. For our 14 year-old heroine Olive Guerrero, however, it’s not about that. Every time she runs into a particular word or thing, she contemplates its meaning on the deeper side and not just on its literal definition.

Olive grew up in a Filipino community, embracing its beautiful tradition and way of living. All throughout her childhood, she didn’t have any knowledge who her father is because every time she asks her mom about him, her mom would just dodge her question and wouldn’t talk about him. At home and in her school, she’s also aware that she’s quite different especially when it comes to her physicality. She often even wonders why she doesn’t share the same traits with her cousins. These things lead to a lot of questions in her mind and bring us to her beautiful perspective.

Reading this book felt like living in a teenager’s foot again. It was simply refreshing. I was once an Olive Guerrero. In my younger years I was so curious about a lot of things. But of course, Olive is a lot more enthusiastic than I am because she focuses on the certain things’ relevance to her life. On what they do to her and what they make her feel. She’s an old soul living in a 14 year-old body and for that, she has my admiration.

What Things Mean was simply a sensible book and I think every teenagers need to read this. It teaches life lessons and more importantly, it tackles the importance of family relationships and ties. I loved that the concept also focuses on the traditional Filipino values which for me is quite comforting.

“Don’t be afraid to fall down. Most of the big things in life are on the other side of hurt.”

I especially loved how Olive learned a lot of things from her relatives. I think she’s lucky more than she’ll ever know because despite the absence of her father, she has a supportive mom, uncle, and grandmother and her relationship with her cousins is great, so it’s not so bad at all. As a whole, I did enjoy this book. It was a quick read with relatable characters. The setting, which is my homeland, also makes me feel proud of this book. I can also say that the author, who is a Fellow Filipina, writes incredibly. Her words are so smooth and so easy to get into. I highly recommend this book to all the youngsters who are looking for a wholesome read!

(Thank you to the author Sophia N. Lee and Scholastic for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!)

Rating:

4

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Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)

Heir of Fire
(Throne of Glass #3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Published: September 11, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
My Rating:

5 stars new

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Synopsis new

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

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“She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.”

I have no words that will serve this book justice. This sequel is spot-on perfection!

We all know Sarah J. Maas’s writing power can’t be debated, so let me just tell you that once again, I was beyond amazed with the way she delivered this sequel using her usual scheme– surprising her readers with a series of twists.

Things got more and more interesting in Heir of Fire. In this sequel we can see Celaena’s different side– her vulnerable and helpless side. She’s now delving into a new world called Wendlyn, the land of the faes. From there she met the ferocious Queen Maeve and her devotee, Prince Rowan Whitethorn who later on trained her to unfold her fire abilities. Meanwhile, Chaol and Dorian are having conflicts in Adarlan. Chaol is trying to protect Dorian from unleashing his magical abilities and exposing himself to the King and at the same time, he’s allying with the King’s General Aedion Ashryver, treading in dangerous waters in order to fight back against Adarlan.

The character development of Celaena in this book truly amazed me. It’s nice to know that she isn’t a complete Mary Sue. She is brave yet at the same time she is flawed. In this book, I saw a Celaena who was haunted by her past and was constantly visited by those nightmares that will forever etch her mind. What happened to her when she was a child opened my eyes and made me understand her even more. The moment those flashback scenes were narrated– I died a thousand times. I wasn’t able to help myself but cry and feel so sorry for her. What a cruel, cruel experience it was for Celaena!

What also impressed me was the establishment of the new world, Wendlyn. Wow. It was utterly refreshing. I loved how SJM described this magical land and all those faes and demi-faes that are living there. Not only did the author give us a new setting but she also introduced a bunch of new characters that in a way, changed the entirety of the book– like Rowan, Aedion Ashryver, Manon, Sorscha, and Ren.

I especially loved Rowan. For me, he is character-driven and full of mystery. And I loved the way he’s too brave to protect Celaena and guide her all the way to becoming what she is. He is simply… adorable. 🙂 Aedion, on the other hand, also enthralled me with his masculinity (Am I too shallow? Lol). Actually, I kind of hated him at the start but later on I warmed up to him when I discovered what his true motives are. His dedication towards his people and his queen was truly remarkable.

And Manon. This witch is so kick-ass! I have never fangirled over a female antagonist before but there was something in her fierceness that strangely gave me goosebumps. She’s still a mystery to me, though, and I can’t wait to read more about her character in the next books.

Now on to Chaol and Dorian. Their friendship was tested big time here but I was amazed to find out how deep their bond is and how they’re both willing to give up everything just to save one another. Dorian’s character development was great here. Where’s the weak Dorian we’ve met in the first two books? NON-EXISTENT. I loved how he stood up against his father. I also loved the way he schooled Chaol and said these things to him:

“You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love.”

Oh, Dorian, I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE! Now while I saw a huge development in Dorian’s character, I found it lacking in Chaol. I don’t know but it seemed as though his character only shined in the final chapters.

The action scenes in this book, on the other hand, were too terrifying and so beautiful I can’t help but gasp. I particularly loved those scenes where Rowan trained Celaena. I loved the banters and the way their friendship bloomed.

What I also loved was how secrets were slowly unfolded. Celaena’s past and roots, the missing Wyrdmarks, Maeve and her sister’s history, what really happened before the magic in Erilea was vanished… Wow, there were really lots of things that were unraveled here and I’m so glad. It was definitely a huge improvement.

So I wrap everything up by saying that this sequel lived up to the first and second book. There were so many things that happened here that wowed me. I’m now excited to dive into the fourth book, Queen of Shadows. I know there will be a lot of huge obstacles that need to be overcome by Celaena and the rest of the characters, so I’m crossing fingers that they will get through it and defeat the King.

Rating:

5 stars new

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Review: A Thorne for a Crown by Lorel Clayton

A Thorne for a Crown (Eva Thorne, #2)

A Thorne for a Crown
(Eva Thorne #2)
Author: Lorel Clayton
Publisher: LC Books
Published: December 8, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
My Rating:

4

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Synopsis new

The first real case femme fatale turned private eye, Eva Thorne, has had in months may be more than she can handle. King Rutgard has been kidnapped, only he’s not entirely alive, which makes finding him difficult. What’s more, dwarf men are joining the suffragist movement in droves to win freedom from the matriarchy, and there’s a werewolf terrorist in town causing chaos. Eva needs a case like this to make her reputation, but she has problems of her own. Dark magic is rising in her, the Thorne legacy, and she can’t control it. She has to find a way or risk imprisonment by the jackbooted elf soldiers who are cracking down on illegal necromancy and worship of the Dead God. Worse, the God of Death wants her soul, as does her twin sister, so Eva denies her magic and hides from her family. But some things are impossible to hide from, like the tax collector … and love.

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“You only fear what you do not know.”

My reaction after reading this book:

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After reading Ate Claire’s (I call her Ate Claire, “ate” as big sister in Filipino) review of this book months ago, I felt so giddy to start it because I found the previous book really enjoyable. (Click her name to read her thoughts! :))

A Thorne for a Crown is the second installment of Eva Thorne series. I expected this book to be a lot more action-packed. I was right. It was filled with particularly exciting action scenes and adventures. What I didn’t expect was how it’s going to be better than the first book, Tangle of Thorneswhen it comes to the storyline and the mc’s character development. In this sequel, our heroine Eva Thorne begins her journey as a detective, investigating the reported disappearance of the dwarf king, King Rutgard. She’s now smarter, confident, and independent. More developed compared to her character in the previous book.

What made me appreciate this book more was the thrill it gave me when magical creatures such as werewolves, beasts,and even dragons were highlighted apart from dwarfs. The authors sure did an amazing job in engaging me with its mythical characters, dazzling plotline, and lots of humor. In addition, I appreciate Eva’s romantic involvement with certain characters. I personally ship Eva and Conrad, by the way. I thought they look cute together and the way they work as a team was remarkable. Can they just end up together, please?

I have to give the authors credits for that cliffhanger in the end. That totally stunned me. This book, as a whole, offered a real surprise to me. It was better than what I’ve expected. I’m looking forward to reading the third installment. 🙂

(Thank you to the authors for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!)

Rating:

4

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xo pearl

Review: Questing for a Dream by P.D. Workman

Questing for a Dream

Questing for a Dream
Author: P.D. Workman
Publisher: P.D. Workman
Published: September 25, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating:

4

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Synopsis new

“Brilliant Masterpiece”

Fans of Jodi Picoult and S.E. Hinton will love Questing for a Dream, award-winning author P.D. Workman’s compelling and poignant account of Native teen Nadie Laplante’s quest for meaning and purpose. This thought-provoking and eye-opening story of poverty, prejudice and addiction will inspire readers of all ages and remind them that they are not alone.
Nadie is a bright but rebellious teen growing up Manitoba Cree. Living in abject poverty, she tries to help care for the younger children in the band. Devastated by the drowning death of her little cousin and unable to overcome her grief, Nadie leaves the band.
How can she find her own place in a foreign world where she is abused and discriminated against, and for the first time in her life, completely alone?
By the author of the award-winning Ruby, Between the Cracks, this engaging and unforgettable story of Nadie’s journey to find a place in the world amidst heartache and hopelessness will inspire you to face your challenges with courage and become a happier and stronger person.

Praise for Questing for a Dream
“P.D. Workman’s skilled narrative of Nadie and her poignant journey to wholeness is a thoughtful exposé of shattered dreams and tragic youth sure to resonate with every reader.”
“An inspiring book which can encourage the reader to face the challenges in life’s journey and to accept the lessons that come as a result.”

Praise for P.D. Workman
“Every single one of [P.D. Workman’s] books has spoken to me in ways no one or almost anything else has. And I have found strength in the books I’ve read.”
“The way that P.D. Workman writes just flows amazingly and allows the reader to get really invested in a book.”

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Questing for a Dream is a Young Adult contemporary book about Nadie, a teenage Native American Indian girl who lives in Manitoba Cree and is a member of the group called Nehiyaw. She’s responsible for taking care of the children in the band and she’s happy about it, until her beloved cousin Luyu died. She wasn’t able to move on from her grief which led her to “rebel” and find herself somewhere far away from her native land. When she arrived in Winnepeg, her view towards life changed. She started to dream about enjoying the city lights and the places that are different from her home. However, life wasn’t that good for her when she was away because she met people who took advantage of her vulnerable situation. She experienced abuse and racial discrimination.

This book was such an inspiration. P.D. Workman presented a very compelling and realistic story about how Native American Indians live their simple ways and how they view life in general. In this book I learned a lot about their culture. How they take care of their sick in a form of medicinal plants and herbs. They even have what they call the medicine woman who serves as their adviser and who talks about how spirits affect their health.

I especially loved the plot in this book. Things were very interesting in the beginning and it even became a lot more interesting in the second half of the book when Nadie went to Winnipeg and Calgary where she experienced real life. What happened to her– being abused in a form of drugs and being racially degraded, was cruel and horrible, but it happens in reality.

The author’s writing was so good. At first I thought this book would be a difficult read since I don’t normally read books with cultural substance but the way it was written in an engaging way made the experience enjoyable for me. It was fun to read Nadie’s journey and her self-realizations. I became intimately involved and sympathetic to her as she took decisions after decisions.

This book, in addition, also has its strength in weaving in life lessons. It made me realize that there’s always no place like home. If you live away from your home and your loved ones, one day you will still look back and dream of going back to where your heart belongs. As a whole, this book was a good read. It provides knowledge about other cultures and it’s something that portrays about living, enduring, and moving on. 🙂

(Thank you to the author P.D. Workman for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!)

Rating:

4

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xo pearl

Review: Demons at Deadnight by A&E Kirk

Demons at Deadnight (Divinicus Nex Chronicles, #1)

Demons at Deadnight
(Divinicus Nex Chronicles #1)
Author: A&E Kirk
Publisher: A&E Kirk
Publication: January 5, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
My Rating:

3 stars new

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Synopsis new

The non-stop action romantic adventure featuring the hextraordinarily sexy HEX BOYS!
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For seventeen-year-old Aurora Lahey, survival is a lifestyle.

DEMONIC DESTINY
Aurora has the crappiest superpower on the planet. And it’s just unleashed a hit squad from hell. Demons are on the hunt, salivating to carve her carcass into confetti. ´

CHARISMATIC KILLERS
The Hex Boys—mysterious, hunky, and notorious for their trails of destruction—have the answers Aurora needs to survive. But their overload of deadly secrets and suspicious motives makes trusting them a potentially fatal move.

LETHAL ALLIES
The battle to save her family, herself, and stop demonic domination may cost Aurora everything worth living for, and force her to reveal her own dark secrets. But no worries. She needs the Hex Boys to pull this off, and, chances are, teaming up with these guys will get her killed anyway.

my thoughts new

I’ve read this book as a birthday gift to one of my sweetest friends on Goodreads, AJ the Ravenous Reader (Click her name to read her awesome review of this book) 🙂 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GORGEOUS!

Demons at Deadnight offered a great introduction to a series, with such an interesting premise– featuring demons and demon hunters. This book started out really, really good. And it has tons of crazy humor that got me really cracking out loud. I love the main character Aurora Lahey who is all kinds of kickass. And ohmygod the boys are extremely cute and hot– and they are 6! Not one, not two, but SIX! Sign me up!

TEAM AYDEN here!

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What made this book a not-so-perfect book for me, however, was the writing of the authors. As an average reader and one that enjoys words that are simplistic and easy to digest, I found the writing of the authors a bit difficult to get into. There were also some descriptions that kinda made me want to repeat it all over again just to get the point. Thankfully, it was mended by the humor which was always present in every line. Another thing was the character development of the mc and the supporting ones. I love how strong they are when they’re introduced during the first parts of the book, but as the story goes, most of them sort of faded out of the picture. Also, I became really exhausted with the plot. I was looking for a mind-blowing twist or some interesting thing that will happen but it wasn’t met.

But as a whole, I have fun in this book. Aurora is such a refreshing heroine and a very different one. I admire her for being such a silly and a funny character and for being independent. While the boys always come to her rescue, she makes it a point that she’s really strong enough to need them. And of course, the involvement of the family was so genuine. I love Aurora’s family and their witty conversations.

Will I recommend this book? YES. It may not be a perfect YA fantasy read for me, but given the fact that it gathers strong ratings on GR, then this might be your next favorite book. 🙂

Rating:
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xo pearl

Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything

Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin
Publication: May 5, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:

five-stars

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

MY THOUGHTS…

Saint Anything

“That’s the thing, though. You always think you want to be noticed. Until you are.”

My first ever Sarah Dessen read and I loved it!

It’s kind of difficult to explain how I feel about this book by just using words. I don’t even think I can give justice to this book through this review, because until now I’m still in a state of an emotional high.

Saint Anything is INCREDIBLY AMAZING!

I’ve just marked it as a new favorite, because it’s hard not to.Sarah Dessen has written something so powerful and heartfelt and a dozen other expressive adjectives that can’t even begin to adequately describe how great this book is.

Saint Anything isn’t a total romance and a common story you often encounter in a Young Adult contemporary book. It’s deeper and a lot more emotional. It basically talks about family relationships, personal growth, tragedy/recovery, true friendship, and love.

What made me admire this book was the writing style. Sarah Dessen has this eloquent, beautiful way with words that flow with enough sensitivity and understanding. All throughout the book, I felt the calming, comforting feels which is a rare thing that happens to me when reading a book.

Everything in Saint Anything is captivating. It showcases real life— the ups and downs, struggles, and joy we feel. It also has a well-plotted ending– which I couldn’t imagine being any more perfect. I have to admit that after experiencing this emotional journey, I had sad and happy tears. This book will stay with me for a very long time!

Rating: 5 Stars

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