A #Wikathon Wrap-Up (surprise, surprise I actually read)

Hello! It’s time for Part 2!

Do you know that read-a-thon where Filipinos just get to scream and read books with pride? There’s just this magical moment when it was announced, and I swore the high heavens just opened up on the gloomy day and everything was just rainbow and sparkles. We love to see it.

Anyway, as many of you may already know, especially if you are up to date with the shenanigans of the Filipino bookish community on Twitter, Wikathon is a month long read-a-thon dedicated to Filipino literature hosted by Kate from Your Tita Kate, Gerald from Gerald the Bookworm, Alex from Alex on the Block, Kat from Her Bookish Side, and Julienne from Love, Julienne. It is a read-a-thon that also coincided with what we call “Buwan ng Wika” which roughly translates to “National Language Month”. So put two and two together, it’s a wonderful month that really gives off much pride and joy.

This event actually partially influenced me to get back to writing, as I would have wanted to share my thoughts on the books I read for the event. Aside from that, and truth be told, the events in the past few months have been quite bleak especially here in the Philippines. So this read-a-thon was a wonderful event to participate in, even if it’s held virtually. It’s also the activity that I anticipate after work and the weekends, which made more motivated to finish the tasks I have to do for the day (aside from binging and watching all the movies I listed in a previous post.)

What surprised me the most is that I actually read something to fill in the prompts. I have a history of being really bad at read-a-thons, mostly because the TBR I set doesn’t usually get followed. So for this particular event, I just winged it. I sought out books that might fill a certain prompt, but I did not follow any list whatsoever. I ended up reading four books (technically five, but the book in question doesn’t exactly fit a prompt) and shocking no one, generally liked most of it.

Here’s a wrap on all of the books that I have read:

Book # 1: When Cocoy Became Kikay by C. P. Santi

Synopsis:

Cocoy’s not-so-secret dream is to one day become a gun-toting, ass-kicking secret agent. But she has another dream—and this time, even her best friends don’t have a clue—she dreams of someone.
Problem is, she finds out that Jaime Arguelles—a.k.a. the guy she’d been secretly crushing on for years—likes girls who . . . well . . . likes pink.
To Cocoy’s logical mind, there’s only one solution: it’s time to go girly. After all, how hard can it be?
With the help of her friends, Cocoy embarks on a pink-tinged journey that somehow turns her neat and orderly life upside down. But it’s all good—because in the midst of her blossoming relationship, Cocoy learns a whole lot about life, love, dreams, and friendship . . . and about the healing power of pan de sal, Chippy, and Nutella.

Prompt: The Modern Pinoy – Read a book by a Filipino author set in present-day Philippines

Composed thoughts: When Cocoy Became Kikay is a sweet and cool coming-of-age novel. I loved how it challenged the norm of gender stereotyping by giving us a female lead that discovers her feminine side. Cocoy’s self-discovery throughout the novel was a delight to read, especially with her guy friends and undeniably cool tita who served as constant supports. Overall,I can say that I would recommend it if you’re looking for a short and up-to-the-point young adult romance novella to read.


Book # 2: Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera

Synopsis:

What does it take to come out of the closet?

Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?

In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!

Prompt: New to Me – Read a book by a Filipino author whose books you’ve never read before.

Composed thoughts: I absolutely adored Caleb, the main lead of the story. While he reminded me very much of a dear friend of mine, (Hi Miel.) I loved the dynamics explored in this novella: the friendships that are made; being reminded of the thrill of being a freshman at uni; seeing the first love and heartbreaks in his lens; and most importantly, being able to read about the self-discovery and acceptance that Caleb went through while navigating all of those experiences as a closeted gay new adult in the Philippines.


Book # 3: Hello, Universe by Erin-Entrada Kelly

Synopsis:

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his loud and boisterous family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister Gen is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just act normal so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends — at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find the missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

Prompt: The Filipino Diaspora – Read a book by a diaspora Filipino author

Composed thoughts: Maybe it was the way the story was told, or maybe it was Erin Entrada Kelly’s writing style. Or… I don’t know… Virgil’s lola (because, seriously, she rocks.) and Kaori? But either way, I was really engaged with this wonderful middle grade novel. The audiobook was well-narrated and a breeze to go through, very much supported by the interactions made by the sweet and lovable characters. Seriously, Filipino middle grade is awesome.


Book # 4: Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters

Synopsis:

There’s a first time for everything. Gatecrashing a K-Pop concert with an oppa in a business suit. Taking shelter from the storm with the girl you’ve been meaning to shake off. That kiss that blurs the line between friendship and something more. A one-night stand (or, is it?) with your best friend from across the hallway.

Dive into these 10 stories of first encounters – unapologetically queer, happy endings required, with a smattering of that signature #romanceclass kilig. Whether you’re recalling your own firsts or out there looking for one, there’s a story in here for you.

So, go on.

Turn the page.

Start here.

Prompt: Filipino LGBTQIA+ – Read a book by an LGBTQIA+ Filipino author AND S2pid Love – Read a romance book by a Filipino author

Still incoherent thoughts: I… still don’t know how to unpack this book. In the word of my current favorite reactor, “Na-vertigo ako, friend.” My brain must have forgotten about the heat index level indicated for some of the stories so you can just imagine me reeling over some of the scenes. (Note to self: THIS IS WHY YOUARE SUPPOSED TO FULLY READ BLURBS YOU DUM-DUM.)

But that being said, I would have to say that my personal favorite stories from this anthology are In The Moonlight by Agay Llanera and Shipping Included by Danice Sison. But the stories that really made an impression on me are Come Full Circle by Bobbi Moran and The Other Story by H. Bentham.


And that’s it, friends. It must be said though, that I highly recommend all of these books. My composed (albeit some are just gush) thoughts are not enough to truly encompass the joy that each book has brought to me. If you can, I hope you could also show support to them by giving the work and the authors some love. And while August may have slipped away, it doesn’t mean that we can’t always have Wikathon. Our sense of nationalism towards our language can be expressed all year round. It’s just a matter of picking those books up.

How about you, dear reader? What books have you picked up for Wikathon? What are some of the books by Filipino authors have you read that you enjoyed? Will you be participating for next year?

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#GirlGoneViralTour || Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

Before Reading:

I will never say never to a book that tackles virtual reality. It is a topic that I am particularly fond of and I believe that it is already incorporated in our inevitable future. Plus hello, Arvin Ahmadi? Umm… yes, please! After reading his stellar debut novel, there are no questions asked: I love his writing style, his characters, and his plot. This author writes books that I want to read. I mean, Girl Gone Viral didn’t have a cover yet and I was sold the minute I saw glitches in the pitch. Alright, no pressure on this book but I know there’s a high chance that I will love it either way. Let’s get to it!

Title: Girl Gone Viral

Author: Arvin Ahmadi

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

ISBN: 125014454X

Date Published: 21st of May 2019

Series: None

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | The Book Depository

Add to Goodreads

Summary:

The inventive and hauntingly timely story of a seventeen-year-old coder’s catapult to stardom, reminiscent of The Social Network with a Ready Player One twist.

For seventeen-year-old Opal Hopper, code is magic. She builds entire worlds from scratch: Mars craters, shimmering lakes, any virtual experience her heart desires.

But she can’t code her dad back into her life. When he disappeared after her tenth birthday, leaving only a cryptic note, Opal tried desperately to find him. And when he never turned up, she enrolled at a boarding school for technical prodigies and tried to forget.

Until now. Because WAVE, the world’s biggest virtual reality platform, has announced a contest where the winner gets to meet its billionaire founder. The same billionaire who worked closely with Opal’s dad. The one she always believed might know where he went. The one who maybe even murdered him.

What begins as a small data hack to win the contest spirals out of control when Opal goes viral, digging her deeper into a hole of lies, hacks, and manipulation. How far will Opal go for the answers–or is it the attention–she’s wanted for years?

After Reading:

OKAY, ARVIN AHMADI. WHO HURT YOU? First of all, HOW DARE YOU? Second, I swear to the virtual gods if this does not have a sequel, I will combine forces with Penguin Teen on Twitter.

As a part of the tour, I received an ARC of this book to borrow. Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for providing copies for the tour. This does not affect my review and all of the opinions and thoughts reflected here are my own.

*cracks knuckles* It’s been a while, huh? To start, let me just say that this book had me in total awe. I could not fully describe how I exactly felt because my emotions were all over the place when I read it. But for the sake of this review, I will try to do my best. Though I have to say something first.

I have been dying to talk to someone about this book FOR MONTHS. It is both a blessing and a curse to be able to read this book so early this year. I swear my head was going to explode only being able to talk about it in code. Like HELLO, a book this good and I can only go “Humina-humina.” Just a few more days, B. The world will eventually know your pain. I wish I could scream but I couldn’t. There is just a lot of ground to cover, but it’s all in a good way. THIS. BOOK. IS. REALLY. SOMETHING. ELSE.

Girl Gone Viral only proves that my love for Arvin Ahmadi soars beyond his debut novel. His gravitating writing style and world-building is remarkable. It is one heck of a ride and it keeps readers guessing, wondering, and questioning about what is real and what isn’t. There is a lot of ground to tackle, but it’s a good thing. There is something in this novel that many can and will find themselves in. I also love how he built the world of Silicon Valley into something eerily familiar yet ridiculously too far to grasp entirely. This book can easily be compared to an underground vault. It has so many floors and layers to uncover that it makes you question the truth of it all.

Another unique concept that I admire and enjoyed reading about this book was WAVE. (Note: if you don’t want to know about it, please skip this section entirely. Not that it’s a spoiler, but having no context about it will help if you want to go into the book blindly.) Imagine Youtube combining forces with all the other social media platforms. It’s like what Google+ wanted to be. Augmented reality combined with Youtube and/or Twitch livestreams, but the host gets to design their stage and is able to completely interact with their audience. The sky’s the limit with what the streamer wants the audience to see, and the most innovative creators compete to see whose show gets to the top. I mean, even late night show hosts knows that WAVE is where it is at. But mind you, Girl Gone Viral does not simply stop there.

The complexity of it all is why it is also easier to imagine this future through the eyes of our heroine Opal Hopper. As the story unfolds, so does she. It is interesting to see how she grows as a person amidst the spotlight that falls on her during her senior year. Imagine being a senior, balancing a scheduled show and her own studies, while trying to navigate university applications, first love, newfound allies and enemies, all while trying to uncover a mystery that has been unresolved for nearly decade. I know. It’s a whole lot but trust me, RIDICULOUS does not cover this book. Surrounding Opal are also some of the most genuine and morally gray characters you could think of. Yet somehow, she has this magnetic attitude, befitting the title that she truly deserves. Opal is the teen that I wish I was, and seeing how she grew in this story made me admire her even more.

That being said, Arvin Ahmadi delivered a fantastic sophomore novel in the form of Girl Gone Viral. The fantastic flow of his writing style will leave readers on the edge of their seats while clutching onto its pages. Its titular character Opal Hopper is strong and will-powered, yet still had the room to grow and challenge her own beliefs. It is a wonderful book filled with the scary possibilities of where the technology of the future can lead us to, but it also delivers to a point where it deeply reflects our current state. I applaud this novel for being audacious and bold for tackling social issues that deeply affect today’s society. If you are looking to start reading science fiction, look no further because this one is here to deliver.

Please do note the following trigger warnings: Death, attempted suicide, and depression

Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia University and has worked in the tech industry. When he’s not reading or writing books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel.

Much love and thanks to Bookworms Unite PH for hosting this amazing tour. Follow the rest of the tour here (will be linking posts once their tour stops are up):

May 16

JM at Book Freak Revelations (Official launch)

May 17

Bianca at The Ultimate Fangirl (hey, you’re here!)

Kate at Your Tita Kate

May 18

Pam at The Girl Who Cried Books

Zia at Accio Blog

May 19

Karina at Afire Pages

May 20

Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books

Alexia at The Bookworm Daydreamer

May 21

JM at Book Freak Revelations

Hazel at Stay Bookish

May 22

Miel at Bookish and Awesome

Salve at Cuckoo for Books

May 23

Inah at The Bibliophile Confessions

Simant at Flipping Thru The Pages

May 24

Kate at Reading Through Infinity

Carmel at Bookish Caramel

Are you excited to read Girl Gone Viral? Are you giddy to experience some virtual reality action? What are some of your favorite science fiction books?

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Enlightenment Blog Tour (Excerpt)

Welcome to another stop for the Enlightenment Blog Tour hosted by Kate at Your Tita Kate. As a giddy fangirl game and all up for Philippine myths and legends, I was beyond excited to participate in this lovely tour. As such, this book promises a whole lot of action and your much needed dose of magical realism. With the modern take added on creatures from our own, it is easy to gravitate and appreciate this story.

While I will not be sharing my full thoughts on this book, I will be sharing an excerpt for you, dear reader. Read on to get a glimpse of the world behind Enlightenment.

Title: Enlightenment

Author: Reno Ursal

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology

ISBN: 098444081X

Date Published: 14th of March 2019

Series: Book One of the Bathala Series

Publisher: Pacific Boulevard

Buy it on: Amazon | Barnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Add to Goodreads

Summary:

“Enlightenment” is the first book in The Bathala Series, inspired by the beautiful folklore of the Philippines. This is the coming of age journey of Filipina-American Dorothy Dizon and transfer student Adrian Rosario, who teeter between friendship and intimacy throughout the novel.

“Enlightenment” introduces Dorothy as an 18 year old high school student in the United States, learning through Adrian about the mysterious folklore that binds them to the obscure history of the Philippines. She realizes that supernatural forces are no defense for a consuming love, a love that has her lean on her best friend for support, the beautiful Stella De Guzman. Adrian is a blood-eating Danag warrior sent to protect Dorothy from unseen enemies of his secret society in the Philippines, a society that changed the course of history prior to Spanish colonization. Adrian’s doubts about Dorothy are put to the test until the final moment when he feels a connection he could never predict. Together, Dorothy and Adrian experience a metamorphosis of historic proportions, a metamorphosis that changes their souls.

Chapter 6: Adrian

Living among humans wasn’t bad, except for having to protect a girl in Sin City. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

The casinos easy money was impossible to access when pretending to be an eighteen-year-old kid. And since eighteen-year-olds aren’t allowed to gamble in Vegas, I was out of luck. The adrenaline rush came from defeating the odds. My ability to predict the probability of things was considered a subtle intuition for my kind. But in Vegas, I could profit from the casinos and return home with something to talk about. Stupid human laws.

It wasn’t about making money, the most useless invention ever created. The greenback a valuable commodity? Anyone with half a brain knew money was simply pictures and numbers printed on paper! From trees! The real commodities were platinum, gold and silver stored deep in earth’s core. But humans still hadn’t realized the value of utopian wealth. Society’s sense of value was strictly tied to one’s annual gross income.

The row of lockers shook when I slammed my locker door. As the vibration dissipated, a nervous energy resonated behind me. The girl. Dorothy’s crooked smile disappeared as soon as we locked eyes. Based on the extra shine reflecting off her forehead, she looked like she was perspiring. Her hair was in that same ponytail—her bangs now to the side—giving her a different glow than yesterday. She walked past me athletically, her hair bouncing with each step. The smell of artificially flavored berries lingered in the air from her perfume.

Conscious of my strength, I ground my teeth to keep from overwhelming her. Dorothy looked back and our eyes connected again before she entered her first-hour classroom, not bothering to look back at the door.

I stared at the hallway’s linoleum floor, wishing I had the willpower to balance my energy. I hadn’t given her enough space to perceive me without feeling a connection. Yet she smiled at me. Didn’t she? Why did she look away when I smiled at her? My influence over emotions should have affected her, but she had the strength to break free. Maybe I pulled back too much?

And that’s when an staggering frustration overtook me. Humans were emotional, crying and whining over things like money and love. History had proven mortals didn’t know the true significance of their existence. And now, after the nightclub incident, Dorothy had somehow tapped into her ancestry that humans would consider to be a Filipino cultural one, not able to see that race was a facade that hid our truest form. There was no doubt the truth would shock them.

But it wasn’t my place to argue over the human condition. The only thing to worry about was protecting Dorothy Dizon. She had nearly suffocated a guy at the club, which sent signals to us in Mandalagan. Now I had to stay focused in case Sitan had received the same signals.

She glanced into her chemistry book as her teacher closed the classroom door. I went on to my class a few doors down, still wondering how she managed to look away from me in the first place.

Reno Ursal is a Filipino American author who received an English B.A. from The University of Michigan and resides in Northern California. He is the epitome of a familiar U.S. immigrant story when his parents moved to the States from the Philippines (by way of Guyana) in 1974 in search of a better life. He grew up in a small Northern Michigan town as his parents established themselves in their new life. His summer trips to Cebu kept him connected to his Filipino family. The hikes up the mountain from his ancestral home in Catmon had his imagination swirling with ideas, especially with the legends of duwendes and other creatures of Filipino folklore.

Reno was an active reader growing up and started writing during his participation in the Huron Shores Writing Institute in high school. When he took an Asian Pacific American Literature course taught by Dr. Stephen Sumida at University of Michigan, the idea of writing a Filipino American story stuck at the back of his mind. Life moved fast after college. He met a girl named Lynette in California. They married in 2000 and became proud parents of three 2nd generation Filipino American children. He had a full-time job and less time to write, but found time burning the midnight oil. His first novel “The Three Promises” was written when his kids were babies. This novel is currently an unpublished novel, but spawned the hunger to write another novel entitled “The Last Remaining.” Many drafts later, the title changed to “Enlightenment.”

Want to discuss more about Philippine myths and legends? There will be a Twitter chat on March 30, 2019 just for this lovely book. Mark your calendars and join in on the fun!

Have you put Enlightenment on your TBRs yet? What books with rich fantasy settings derived from myths and legends have you read?

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PH Blog Tour: The Gilded Wolves

Before Reading:

Transparency is key to making something work so I have to be fully honest. I wasn’t really fully on board when I heard that The Gilded Wolves is coming out in 2019. I do know for a fact that so many readers love A Star-Touched Queen and Aru Shah. I’m like that one person in a concert who loves the people performing on stage, but is too introverted for the crowd so I stay at the back. Yes, I dare say it. Roshani’s a rockstar in the book community and I am but a humble fangirl admiring and respecting her from a distance. Until I heard that her newest series is set in 1889 during the Exposition Universelle, and features an ilustrado while writing and editing a script for a gosh darn play about our national hero who was physically there while all of it was happening. I swear I never jumped on a bandwagon so fast. LOOK OUT PEOPLE, HISTORY NERD COMING THROUGH. MOVE, OR I’LL LECTURE YOU ABOUT ALL OF RIZAL’S GIRLFRIENDS IN FULL CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER.

*people new to my blog, probably: … wtf??

I swear I’m chill… but I am so hyped. I cannot contain myself. ;u;

39863498Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

ISBN: 125014454X

Date Published: 15th of January 2019

Series: The Gilded Wolves #1

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Buy it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | The Book Depository

Add to Goodreads

Summary:

Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

After Reading:

*releases a breath I did not realize I was holding*

DID I JUST READ A MASTERPIECE?!

As a part of the tour, I received an e-ARC of this book. Huge thanks to Macmillan International for providing copies for the tour. This does not affect my review and all of the opinions and thoughts reflected here are my own.

The bookish gods are really spoiling us in 2019 because this book is starting it with a bang. My love-hate relationship with fantasy books finally blossomed into a wonderful romance, and I have this book to thank forever. The Gilded Wolves solidified my love for history and fantasy, and its compellingly woven plot, writing style, and character development delivers nothing less. I did not know what to expect because I was interested the moment I read “Paris, 1889” in the synopsis. I have no idea what adventure awaits me, but I was so curious that I just let it take me away. After reading this novel, I came back to the real world jumping straight to the bandwagon that is The Gilded Wolves fandom.

Let’s talk about the wonderful plot within this novel first. In my perspective, it’s easy to stay fond of this book if you went into it blindly and you just let it take you on a majestic ride. It is astonishingly fast-paced, much to the delight of its readers, and it has everything that you want for a grand heist. As this is also a historical fantasy novel, I have mad respect for the details that Roshani has included to introduce her readers to the streets of 19th century Paris and introducing us to Forging, the magic of creating. I love how it is tied with the Industrial Revolution, where its power is critical and of major importance. I can sense all the time and effort it took to research about these times, which is why Roshani Chokshi is on her way to becoming one of my favorite authors. To be able to combine both elements and fulfill her reader’s delight with this gem is such a strong feat. Merged with her glamorous, magnetic, and detailed writing style, it is easy to devour this novel like a wolf triumphant in trapping its prey.

Now this book would feel incomplete without its characters. One thing that this book can proudly boast is its cast. Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences, adding height and consequences to what lies ahead for them. While they are all candidates for “book characters you would want to love forever”, I want to speak for one of them. If you will excuse me, let me express my feelings about a certain person.

Mom, do I always have to stay composed in this part of the review? I just want Enrique to talk history to me all day long.

Alright, I don’t want this review to turn into a “Why Enrique Mercado-Lopez is the best character ever” blog post so I guess I will just have to cut to the chase. I fell in love with Enrique the moment I sensed his presence in the book. I know I say this with a lot of characters, but this boy is extra special for me. Not only has Roshani written about a Filipino character, but she did it so bloody well that I want to hug and thank her for making this beautiful man exist. I have fallen full-on head-over-heels for a fictional character again, only worse because I simply cannot get him out of my head. I badly want to tell him he’s pretty. ;u; A humorous historian who just wants to do his best in aiding his fellow countrymen to get their reforms noticed? My inner history nerd is fanning herself and is basically swooning whenever he speaks. I feel like I can listen to him talk about history all day and I would do so with all my heart because I would love to chime in with what I know about what he’s talking about. His inner struggles also give my heartstrings a tug, because it’s true when you’re half-Spanish and historically speaking. There is a line drawn for him when it comes to privilege and finding himself fitting into ones culture. To be able to discover his identity among his comrades amidst the brewing chaos between Spain and the Philippines is a difficult landscape to be in. Seeing his character grow with his found family is why I love him to bits.

Mom help me. I fell in love with a man but he’s fictional, in an alternate timeline, and he’s halfway across the world.

This is why I want to commend Roshani for giving us vigorously dynamic characters that validates experiences and makes readers feel represented. I mean sure Enrique really takes the cake because he is the character I resonate and at least know the most, yet I was fully invested with this story because of the entire crew. I’m sure I am not the only one who will also enjoy reading about Severin, an Algerian-French fallen heir and his quest to regain what once was his; Hypnos, a queer Black heir and his ultra-charming yet dangerously alarming personality; Laila, an Indian young lady finding herself while carrying another persona and being selfless at the same time; Zofia, an autistic Jewish Polish mathematician finding comfort in numbers and willingness to give her sister the comforts of life; and Tristan, a Frenchman and Severin’s brother by all means but blood, who just wants the best for the man he considers his family. All of them have their own personal agenda, and you would think that this crew will never work. Differences aside, each of them are important pieces to a puzzle that makes the flow of the story work like clockwork. Seeing how their heists unfold will bring you so much intensity while reading.

I would gladly say that The Gilded Wolves is a work of art. It is a magnificent and elegant piece, as proven by the intricacy of Roshani’s writing style and undeniably incredible plot. The dynamic cast draws and gives life unto what promises to be a one-of-a-kind heist, making readers fall in love with their magnetic and dimensional characterization. It is easy to fall in love with this book, and it manifests itself as a tour de force of a series, easily placing its readers on the edge of their seats – hungry for more.

13695109

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen and A CROWN OF WISHES. Her middle grade debut, ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME, released April 3, 2018 from Disney/Rick Riordan Presents. Her next young adult novel, THE GILDED WOLVES, is slated for Winter 2019. Chokshi’s work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She was a finalist in the 2016 Andre Norton Award and the Locus Top Ten for Best First Novel. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

Connect with Roshani!

Website || Twitter || Goodreads

Also since this post is going live on the 15th, I would like to say a happy book birthday to this wonderful and luscious novel! It brings me so much joy to have started this year reading this book, and I truly, TRULY hope that the world will enjoy this book. Also, don’t be like me. Read a Roshani Chokshi novel today!

Still not convinced about the awesomeness of The Gilded Wolves? No problem! This particular tour hosted by Rafael at The Royal Polar Bear Reads and Shaine at Wanderer in Neverland promises an array of reviews from various Filipino bloggers. Check out this tour schedule (will be linking to other blogs once their posts are up):

January 14, 2019

Rafael at The Royal Polar Bear Reads

Shaine at Wanderer in Neverland

Jon at Wander with Jon

Karlita at Tale Out Loud

January 15, 2019

Dexter at Dexterous Totalous

Vivian at Vanilla Angel Pages

Bianca at The Ultimate Fangirl (hey, you’re here!)

January 16, 2019

Athena at The Night Faerie

Joel at Descendant of Poseidon Reads

Rain at Book Dragonism

January 17, 2019

Alexia at The Bookworm Daydreamer

Justine at Bookish Wisps

Akisha at Aki Through Books

January 18, 2019

Leslie at Bibliophile Kid

Hanaa at Ramblings of a Bookworm

Rachel at In Between Book Pages

January 19, 2019

Erika at The Nocturnal Fey

Avery at B For Bookslut

Salwa at Reading Solace

Are you excited to read The Gilded Wolves? What are you most eager to read about?

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#Project14Lists: Best Books I Read In 2018

Welcome to another list! Wow, I actually continued posting. Yes, I’m aware that no amount of catching up can change the fact that I am failing this challenge. I’ve been a busy adult (huhu no I am not comfortable saying it) for the past few days. I had a hurricane of a Christmas, and I was basically depended on to do chores the entire weekend. Let me tell you, cleaning up dishes on Christmas is not fun especially when everyone seemed to just want to stuff themselves silly. Then after a long day, you just want to lie down and sleep. I just want to discuss about my favorite books gosh darn it. Where do I get the energy??

Anyways, rant over. It’s time to talk about books again, hooray! Since it’s already the 31st here in the PH, I decided that I will be posting two lists today for Project 14 Lists created by Shealea from That Bookshelf Bitch. The goal is to blog about lists, but I’m kinda failing here haha. Though I digress, I think this project made me think out of the box. Hence, I have a lot prepared for the next year without hopefully burning out and I received a lot of positive feedback with the posts I put up in participation of this event. While I was not able to share the posts I planned to put up, I’m optimistic that those will kickstart 2019 with a bang. Now, where were we? Right, of course it’s going to be all about the books and I am genuinely excited to be talking about my favorites for this year.

Analyzing it real quick, I love that this list is generally diverse and each book is quite unique. According to my stats, I rated 5 books with a will-save-from-a-fire status this year. One of them is a read that I’m not comfortable in sharing my feels on… yet, so I will only be tackling four specific titles today. Also, since I’m so extra, I have some graphics prepared! I thought, “Hey, why not design CD covers inspired by these books?” Because when a book inspires you so much, it’s easy to shower it with love. Plus, it’s cool to think about the possible songs that can be associated with these titles. Here are the best books that I read in 2018:

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

33294200Have you ever read a book so powerful and capable of delivering such a beautiful story in the form most endearing to you? That was The Poet X for me. Not only was it written in verse, but it exuded a driving and riveting story that speaks magnitude. Xiomara’s hauntingly beautiful story about finding her voice amidst the chaos of tradition, rules, and conventions easily made this novel a personal favorite of mine. With the writing bursting with the raw and purest emotions, it’s groundbreaking and deserving of all the awards that it has received. Never have I ever felt so strongly connected to a book like this one. It just spoke to me on a personal level and at the right moment. This book has inspired me so much that I decided to write my review in verse as well. Check out my full raving here.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

What If It's UsI still end up in a puddle of feels whenever I see or hear about this book. I’ve been itching to reread it since I was done reading it. (Count how many times Bianca says read.) That’s how good this book is for me. Nothing like magnetic and unputdownable writing to save me from the abyss of craving for a book I want to save from a fire. 2018 was a better year when it came to reading romance, and I was thankful for the type of relationship that Arrhur and Ben had. For one, it’s not picture perfect with the montage and everything. Two, they leave room to grow for each other. Finally, the ending that made my heart swell. It’s ridiculously rare for me to finish a book in a day – let alone a love story that’s 400+ pages long. Yet here we are and this book definitely surpassed all of my expectations and doubts. Read my full review here, and maybe have some earbuds at hand because this one’s accompanied with actual playlists.

Check, Please by Ngozi Ukazu

375345772018 really affirmed what I already knew about myself: I’m trash for stories as unique as Check, Please. It’s not common knowledge here on the blog, but I also love reading webcomics. They’re easy to read depending on the flow of the story, and you have a visual representation of what the characters look like. So when I heard that it was available online, I immediately jumped on the chance to read it. Now a public service reminder: Go do yourself a favor and update yourself with Ngozi’s fantastic work. Not only does it tackle hockey, but it also navigates through the topics of friendship, teamwork, and self-acceptance. Bitty’s pie-loving adorable self deserves all that is good in this world, and the slow burn romance makes you wonder if you should have been listening to Beyonce more. You’ll definitely fall in love with these characters faster than you can say “I can see your ha- YAAAAAAS THIS BOOK!” 😍😍😍

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau

29225589Yet another graphic novel about boys falling in love, this one easily got me hooked because of the gorgeous art style and the color scheme. Little did I know that I was breezing through it, and in every turn I fell in love. Honestly, what more can I say? It’s lightheartedly heartbreaking because for me, I felt for Ari as a teen discovering themselves. At the same time, I’m falling for Hector’s charm and perseverance. It’s a one-of-a-kind slowburn summer romance that can make readers giddy with the feels. Not only that, but all the talk about the family working and earning their keep from making bread is both a joy and a treat to read about, and the friendship dynamics ring true. Readers are in for a feast come 2019, because this will definitely be that one graphic novel that will send everyone in a frenzied hook.

There you have it! I had a blast making those covers and it definitely added to the overall feels that I have for these books. 2018, you’ve been a good reading year. The books on this list are definitely for keeps, and I truly hope you’ll have a blast reading should you pick up one of these reads.

What are some of your favorite reads for 2018?

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#Project14Lists: Books I Wish I Read In 2018

Staying strong on Day 4 of Project 14 Lists! This is surprising me more than it should. Where this energy is coming from is beyond me. Anyways, Project 14 Lists was created by Shealea from That Bookshelf Bitch , a blogging event happening from December 18 to 31. It challenges bloggers by coming up with creative bookish/blogging list ideas, and on each day, write a list and post it on their respective blogs.

For today’s list, I want to feature the books that I wish I read in 2018. What a year it has been. A few days away from Christmas, and here I am nonchalant about preparations and instead gearing for what I want to happen next year. As I continuously reflect, it can be reiterated that it is a year full of what if’s. I started the year not knowing what to expect, especially since I tried to be as lowkey as possible with new releases. But then I started to take a direction with the books that I wanted to read and ended up having the best time ever. I want to explain the full details of this ~project~ on a separate post, but this is sort of a preliminary explanation for that. I wanted a majority of the books listed below to be a part of the direction that this reading year took. Unfortunately, being both a slow and a mood reader always has its drawbacks. It was hard to narrow this list down because there’s so much more that I want to read. Realistically speaking however, this is more plausible.

The list is separated into two groups: 1) Books that were highly recommended by bloggers who I trust wholeheartedly with their reviews, and 2) Books that were personally on my radar and / or books that I was planning to read in 2018 but didn’t get to because the life of being a mood reader is hard. Now let’s get on with the books!

Want by Cindy Pon (Recommended by: CW from The Quiet Pond)

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Recommended by: JM from Book Freak Revelations)

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (Recommended by: Shealea from That Bookshelf Bitch)

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi (Recommended by: Marie from Drizzle Hurricane Books)

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan (Recommended by: Cait from Paper Fury)

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Why I wanted to read it: I was drawn to it. I’ve had a copy for over a year now and I was convinced that I wouldn’t get to it until I actually have Muse of Nightmares at hand. Then my moodiness randomly made me pick it up and I had to resist the urge to drop everything after reading a few pages. This one is a classic example of bad timing. I had to prioritize other books over it, so now it will probably stay buried for the meantime until I get my hands on its sequel.

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Why I wanted to read it: Something about the premise of this novel made me fall head-over-heels for it. Maybe it’s the Romeo and Juliet undertones. Maybe it’s the cover (very likely). Or maybe it was the MC’s misfortunes of having relationships that end with the other person finding their perfect half. I didn’t know that I authorized people to publish my biography. Kidding aside, I love a good contemporary read. (But it’s so darn pricey when it’s a new release and my wallet is dying.)

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Why I wanted to read it: Probably a personal preference of mine, but I love it when a main character questions their personal beliefs. It validates the feeling that I believe we all encounter every now and then. So, if you can please direct me to a copy, that would be very helpful. Thank you.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Why I wanted to read it: It’s by the Lady Janies! I could not and would not shut up about My Lady Jane so it’s only natural that I would continue to support their future Jane books. Even though I haven’t read Jane Eyre, I feel severely attached to this book because of the historical undertones. Next to the Tudors, it’s the Georgians who take the cake. Alas, my paperback-loving self needs to appeased. (Which I kinda hate myself for.)

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Why I wanted to read it: Hello?? FELICITY *freakin* MONTAGUE. The lady who basically kicked ass and almost stole the show in the gentleman’s guide? That FELICITY. Not that I’m switching sides because I still absolutely adore the 18th century rascal that is Henry “Monty” Montague. But it’s Felicity we’re talking about.

And that’s about it for today’s list. Another day of wishful thinking and hopefully an ominous foreshadowing for the reading year that I will face in 2019. (Also, how gorgeous are the covers for these books?)

What books did you want to read in 2018 but did not get the chance to do so?

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#Project14Lists: Books I Don’t Want to Read Anymore

It’s Day 3 of Project 14 List and wow, we’re still going strong and I’m still baffled with how I’m managing. Kidding aside, Project 14 Lists is an event created by Shealea from That Bookshelf Bitch. During the event, book bloggers are tasked to come up with creative bookish/blogging list ideas, and on each day, write a list and post it on their respective blogs.

*badly whistles* I didn’t exactly state that all of these lists will be positive. It’s okay to a negative nelly once in a while, and I like to think of this as a cleanse of some sort. A part of ones growth as a reader is having a change in taste or preference. Maybe you like this book one day then you just don’t. There are time where it you have to let go of some of the books that you clearly don’t see yourself reading anymore. I reflect this line of thinking when I update my socials. For 2 years now, I’m on a constant purge on Goodreads because I don’t want to kid myself when it comes to my TBR. With the recent addition of many (AND I MEAN MANY) books by diverse authors on my TBR, I decided to prioritize those and let go of some of the books that have lingered since the dawn of my account. Yes, I meant those some books that I would have loved back in circa 2012, but realized that it’s just not up to my liking anymore. It’s more of a mix, really. Let’s get onto the list.

Disclaimer: If a book you love is listed down below, please know that I don’t hold any grudge against the book itself or the author. I just purely lost any interest in reading these titles. I’m still open to adding these books again, but it will probably take a lot of energy to convince me to do so. I am also still considering some of the other works of the authors mentioned below. Finally, as a respect to the authors and the book itself, I won’t be linking these titles to their respective Goodreads page.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462Why I removed it on my TBR: I tried reading it twice and what I read had me nodding, “Yes, yes, carry on.” But my brain just shut down one day and said, “The writing is a bit too lyrical, right?”. I was little bit concerned when the first line did not manage to hook me in. Petty, I know. It dawned on me that I might have fallen for the hype. Everyone’s always asking who I like best between Gansey, Adam, and oh-for-flip’s sake who knows? Maybe one day I’ll get what all the hype is about with this series, but I’m really not counting on it since I have so many issues with committing myself to a series and this one has 4 under its bracket. (Also no joke and I am generally curious: are there no other ominous birds besides a raven and a crow?)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

11408650Why I removed it on my TBR: The journey with this series is like a love-hate relationship. One minute, I want to go for it. The next minute, I keep on asking myself exactly why do I want to read it. The book itself is genuinely interesting, but it falls on the spectrum of “Yes, I will save this book from a fire” to “Yes, I’m going to throw this book off a cliff.” There’s a lot of back-and-forth happening, but I ultimately decided to let go and focus my energy somewhere else. It also features a trope that I’m not really a fan of (foreshadowing??). Asides that, it’s a series. Hello commitment issues, my old friend.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

9464733Why I removed it on my TBR: A lot of people say this is not your regular book about beauty queens and I agree. I’ve been meaning to dive into a book written by Libba Bray for so long now. My curiosity peaked when I realized that it had footnotes, but I can’t just keep a book just because I want to read the extra details printed at the bottom, right? Right now, it’s wishful thinking that maybe – JUST MAYBE, I can finally understand the dark humor and the satire contained within its pages. It really sounds great and it features a diverse cast as well, but this is tea and I want hot chocolate. (No euphemisms intended, just really craving chocolate.)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

17453983Why I removed it on my TBR: It’s not like I dropped this book like a hot potato or anything, but my suspicions were confirmed when I watched a book review about it by Lily C. Reads on booktube. My mind was already contradicting Anna when I read the first few chapters when she was complaining about moving to Paris. Let’s just say that early on, I wanted to tell Anna to stop with the nonsense and actually think for a second. If she loves film so much, then why on earth was she whining that she’s actually at the birthplace of cinema? People would kill to trade places with her and bask in the glory of the history of where it all started. I’m just… luckily I let this story go before it ended up in some sort of chute. (Semi-kidding.)

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

28260524Why I removed it on my TBR: I was really hyped for this book because I’m a simple girl. I see Frozen in the pitch of a certain retelling and I jump like the trash I am. Throw in a gorgeous cover in the mix, and it’s like I’m being called out. It had so much potential and the hype was real. Unfortunately with the lack of stellar reviews from close friends and fellow bloggers, I had to withdraw myself from attempting to read this and reconsider if I actually want to read it for what it offers. Yes, I have partially read Dorothy Must Die but I purged it from my TBR earlier in the year.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

7664334Why I removed it on my TBR: *gasp* THE HORROR. Before you throw your sticks or deadly weapons at me, let me explain. This had all the boxes for a great contemporary read, and it is uncommon knowledge here on the blog that I am a sucker for it. What’s not to like about this book? Especially if it features road trips, playlists, and a cute guy? It sounds so simple and yes, I might like it and this is the only book on this list that has a 50% chance of getting back into my TBR for the next… well I don’t know but it’s going back and I just don’t know when. However, it’s not the book. It’s me, and I don’t feel like reading it with a mindset bitter with heterosexual relationships. Let’s carry on!

Flame In The Mist by Renee Ahdieh

2017Why I removed it on my TBR: There’s a little bit of conflict with this book. On one hand, I want some feudal Japanese Mulan action. On the other hand, I have the fear of being disappointed. I have zero patience for books that start slow, and it’s that one factor that people don’t seem to like about it. But the main issue that I have with this one is that the common pattern points to a direction where people don’t really see it as a Mulan retelling. I’m conflicted, not to mention wary of any YA book set in Japan because I love it the country too much that I set the bar high. So as to not disappoint myself, I decided to prioritize The Wrath and the Dawn instead to ease myself in Renee Ahdieh’s writing style. Not totally closing the door on this novel, but there’s still a lot to weigh.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824Why I removed it on my TBR: I did my best for this one, but my best was not good enough. I tried getting into it not once, twice, or thrice. I gave this series FOUR chances before finally deciding to remove it completely on my TBR. Sure, the staggering reviews for the sequel momentarily made me keep it for the meantime but I felt like it was holding me back from trying other tomes. Another probable cause, and this is definitely a black sheep moment, I found the writing style and the pacing to be a little bit dragging. Plus, the tale it was loosely based on has already been done SO. MANY. FREAKIN. TIMES. For the meantime, I will respectfully admire people who love stories about fae in a distance. That’s one fandom on the horizon and whose train I may not be able to fully go on board yet.

*cricket noises* That’s about it, friends. Again, no hard feelings if you loved and liked some or most of the books on this list. I think it’s much more painful to hold onto something you can’t commit to rather than something you know you’ll absolutely love. (Eew, was that a cheesy line or something? Ugh, self no.) These are not the only books that I let go of in 2018, but these are definitely the ones with the most ~issue~ behind it. As of the moment, I have 260 books on my Goodreads TBR that I am hoping to narrow down in 2019. Nothing like a book purge towards the end of the year. Hopefully tomorrow’s list is a bit more jolly.

How about you guys? What books have you decided to remove from your TBR? Do you also do an annual book purge when things get too out of hand? How do you sleep at night knowing your towering TBR is looming over your head?

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#Project14Lists: Recommending Movies Like My 2018 Reads

Welcome to Day 2 of Project 14 Lists, created by the one and only Shealea from That Bookshelf Bitch. Project 14 Lists is a 14-day event where the goal is to be as creative as you can be with posting lists. Know more about the details of this event here.

Now despite having a scheduled post for today, I decided to throw caution to the wind and ditch it for the meantime. As I said in my previous post, I want you guys to leave with a smiling face after reading this list. What better way to do that than recommend movies? I know there’s this whole thing with books and movies – the debacle never ends. Yet sometimes it’s nice to just sit down, relax, and enjoy a good movie. Nothing beats an hour or two of anticipation and seeing beauty unveil on your preferred screen. So I thought hey, if I loved a particular book and then I could compare it with this movie, it’s a win-win right? The way this recommendation goes is that I have to have watched the movie and read the book in 2018. Now let’s get onto the list and have some fun!

Also I may have been too relaxed with updating my Letterboxd account with all of the movies that I watched this year. It was a lot. Stats to come.

If you liked Wildcard by Marie Lu but want more of the virtual reality experience, go for Summer Wars (2009).

Wait a minute there B… You didn’t like Wildcard right? Well, yes. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am all about stories that tackles the subject of virtual reality. It’s the real deal nowadays, and both of these stories present societies that incorporated their lives with a virtual world. Both stories also feature a main lead who deliver an impact to the world, causing a string of events to spiral down. Yet in the case of Summer Wars, chaos is unleashed when a virus called Love Machine infiltrates the system because of our main lead named Kenji. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, hijinks ensue with its large cast, it has heart, and it is downright entertaining. Not only that, but the various animation styles mesh well together and it compacts the story further. If you want a piece of virtual reality action, go for Summer Wars because at least this one packs just a little bit more of a punch.

If you were also rendered speechless by the fanaticism of All of This is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor, then you’ll enjoy watching Black Swan (2010)

Both of these stories still gives me the heebie-jeebies when I remember what went down. Though All of This is True is not exactly a psychological thriller, but it delivered a story that rendered me speechless. The same thing can be said with Black Swan and its stunning… everything. The story messes with you – it makes you second guess yourself on where the story wants to go. While I don’t think you should watch Black Swan after reading All of This is True (because why would you want to fry your brain from all that processing??), it is a great movie to watch if you want to see a portrayal driven by being the best. Certain topics such as competition, obsession, and manipulation are both present in these thought-provoking pieces. (Trigger warnings for both the book and the movie: mental illness, self-harm, sexual assault, gore, and suicide.)

If you love the family dynamics and the self-exploration in Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, there’s no doubt that you should go for Lady Bird (2017).

What I loved seeing in both The Poet X and Lady Bird is the way they find themselves and doing what they want to do. Xiomara finds herself in her poems, while Lady Bird wants to be her own person by proving that she can achieve what she envisions. Both stories also explore the protagonist’s sexuality, albeit what it means to become a woman in the environment that they grew up in. Equally powerful stories in their own right, the experience that these stories offer are heartfelt and worth all the great accolades that they rightfully achieved. I cannot stop talking about what a sensation The Poet X is, and I think Lady Bird also encapsulates that same incredible power.

That’s it for now, folks! It dawned on me that I also don’t watch a lot of fantasy movies. Even my movies consist of mostly historical and/or contemporary stories. Some things just never change. I do hope you enjoyed these recommendations of mine, nonetheless. It was fun to compare and contrast stories on both lists, but it also made me realize that I watched way too many movies and read a lot less this year. I hope to make more of these type of lists in the future (and maybe switch it up and insert some anime in there *wink* *wink*) which I hope you guys will also enjoy.

Now the question remains: What movies remind you of a particular book? Any recommendations for my ever-growing TBW pile?

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#Project14Lists: Books I Have Yet to Rave About

Hey, and welcome to Day 1 of your daily Project 14 Lists from your ultra giddy fangirl – who is about to get ultra sappy. I haven’t been the best blogger this year, and there was so much that I wanted to say but didn’t push through in saying so. I also haven’t been the best reader, but I did prioritize the books that I was really genuinely excited for. There are a lot of things that I have overlooked. I’m still hung up with the missed opportunity to share the books that I loved in 2017. Okay, end scene. Let’s stop the sappiness and get on with the positivity.

To start things on a light note and now that we have the luxury, I think it’s about time I share my thoughts on these oh-so lovely books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to individually curate a review for these, (Thanks uni! You’re so stressful!) but I really want to shout to the void that I truly and deeply love these books. Also despite joining a beat-the-backlist challenge for 2018, I ultimately failed it because I solely focused on reviewing new releases. (We’ll get to that. It’s a fangirl issue for another day.) With that in mind, these books in particular withstood the test of time. Remembering these books only reignited the certain feelings that I had whilst reading it, and my take on them definitely got better with time.

Here are some of the books that I absolutely adored, categorized by rating. (Curious about my rating system? Click here.)

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Well first of all, Darius is a big boy. When he felt conscious about eating in front of his dad, it just made me want to hug him tight because I found another teen who understands me. Second, the family dynamics in this story was emotional and raw, especially with Darius, his dad, and him knowing more about his Iranian roots. And third, it was a poignant story of self-discovery that really hits you. Yes, I can honestly say that this book managed to make me cry.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Another family-oriented gem with an amazing MC to boot, the title itself radiates what this book wants to convey. Zuri Benitez is full of pride, and she’s an admirable character because of it. The book explores opening oneself to new things, the beauty of a community, and a slow burn romance (which I am honestly a sucker for). All I can say now is: “I get it now. I GET IT. I get the hype around Pride and Prejudice already.”

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

This was my first read for 2018, and it was an amazing book to set the standard of my reading for the year. I am honestly living for this story of self-exploration and questioning. Plus have I mentioned family dynamics (yet again because I live for it)? I swear if a book delivers more than a cheesy romantic story and tackles pressing issues, it deserves to be listed.

P. S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

You probably: Bianca, are you okay? Honey you read a sequel! Who are you even?

Well technically, it’s because I want some McClaren action. But the reason why I included it in this list is because I often do have a problem with sequels, yet this one was managed to hook me in better than the first one. Granted it didn’t solidify me rooting for Kavinsky because John has my heart over any day, but I truly honestly admire Lara Jean’s character development in this novel. It was definitely the best book in the trilogy.

Little Monsters and The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

Every time Halloween passes and I still cannot pull off my review for these books, I die a little on the inside. Seriously, what better way to get chills than read a mystery thriller written by Kara Thomas? Little Monsters shook me with how things went down, and The Cheerleaders had a different kick to it, tackling deeper issues and delivered a morally gray ending. What more can you ask for with these? Probably why my bar is set so high for YA thrillers… But yes, it’s the reason why you should read it even if it’s not the season to get spooky. Kara’s writing is hands-down magnetic, and it’s basically like a glue that makes you want to keep reading. Just one more page? No, it’s more like you screaming, “I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AGHHHHH!”

Check, Please by Ngozi Ukazu

Sports? Say no more because I’m immediately on board. It’s a no-brainer that this lovely graphic novel received a will-save-from-fire status from me. It was just so darn cute. Anything involving team dynamics, the thrill of winning a game, and maybe some shipping involved is just a whistle away from getting my fangirl seal of approval. So if you want to join me, read this lovely gem (It’s also available online, btw.)

Can you tell that the higher the rating goes, the more words and rambles come out? Lol

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

It’s a fantasy! Holy smokes who is this woman??? Give me a heist or give me nothing at all. I’ve been hesitant to read this one because I DNF’ed the Grisha trilogy. It was a ride, but the first book in this series had me on my toes the entire time. I swear, with the horror of a movie that is Suicide Squad, the song Heathens fits this crew better. I love it so much that it hurts me to read Crooked Kingdom. The characters are so dynamic, the world building is phenomenal, and the heist! just keeps me on my toes. I just didn’t want it to end. But trust me when I say, you need no convincing to pick this hefty book. It speaks for itself and reading it at your own pace is the best way to enjoy it.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Please do note the following trigger warnings for this book: rape, sexual assault, alcohol abuse, animal violence, graphic contents

Honestly I still have no words for this book despite giving it a must-save-from-a-fire status. But I will keep reiterating that this book needs to be read because it explores heavy topics, and we need books that talk about those particular topics. It left me speechless, yet I couldn’t stop reading because the writing had me hooked in. It’s dark, unsettling at times especially if you are triggered by the following topics I mentioned above, but it is definitely that one book that makes you feel a lot all at once.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Hands down, one of the best historical fiction novels out there. I’m a basic Tudor era history nerd trash, so I am an easy target for this book. Despite that immediate bias however, it was the way the authors rewrote history and added their own fantastical twist that genuinely had me laughing and made me go head over heels love this book wholeheartedly. Guess who falls in love with a freakin’ horse? Me obvi. It’s unique, it’s different, and it easily became one of the best books I have read in 2017 because of the perfect blend of humor, history, and high society. And you thought I can’t shove enough books to your faces. I beg to differ, good friend. This is the historical fiction book that you need to conquer your fears of reading about history, especially if you’re craving for some sass and humor. It’s a darn fact.


Before I end this post, I would just like to give all the biggest virtual hugs to my dear friend Shealea for organizing this lovely event. Go show her some love, since she’s also celebrating her 3rd blogiversary.

And that’s about it for today’s list! Writing this list definitely made me want to read some faves all over again and finally give them the complete stellar review that they truly and utterly deserve. Join me again tomorrow as I share another list that will hopefully bring a smile on your faces.

What are some of the books that you feel like you haven’t raved enough about on the blogosphere or in the community in general?

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Why? Just Why?|| Wildcard by Marie Lu

(Alternative title: You all know that this is way overdue. Oh well, black sheep mode on.)

Before Reading:

Dare I say it, I love Warcross. Sure, I had some issues with the fast-paced romance. But it had the technology that left me in awe. It was so cool to imagine a young adult novel that explores a topic close to my area of “expertise”. I loved it so much that I was close to writing to Marie Lu to pitch it as an anime. Wildcard easily became one of my most anticipated sequels for 2018. Heck, I even drew fanart despite me not liking the book.

Oops, I said too much early on. Oh well, since it’s out there. Wildcard was not for me.

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WildcardTitle: Wildcard

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Date Published: 18th of September 2018

ISBN: 0399548017

Series: Warcross #2

Publisher:G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: AmazonBook Depository | Audible

Summary:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

After Reading:

I tried to lower my expectations for the sequel. I know that nothing good comes out from expecting too much. But even after everything I did to mentally prepare myself for it, I was ultimately let down. At first, I thought “There must be something wrong with me. Why am I not liking this?” I had to keep reminding myself that I love Warcross. That’s the reason why I must love this book. But it was not working. It was really tremendously frustrating to not be liking what I was reading. So I gave up and skimmed its majority. Once I finished it, I was more than thankful that it was finally over and I can finally move on to another book.

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I was originally supposed to be reviewing Wildcard in participation of a tour, but with my low rating, I decided to opt out and post an excerpt instead. Hence, I received an unsolicited advanced reader’s copy of this book. Nonetheless, this did not affect my opinions about the book in any way.

So this is what it feels like to be the black sheep, huh? In all seriousness, I wanted to love Wildcard. I anticipated the technical things that I loved while reading Warcross: the undeniably great page-turning writing style, the delightful twist and turns, Emika Chen being an incredible badass, and me slightly rooting for Zero. But upon reading Wildcard, those elements sort off went off the table.

Let me start with the page-turning writing style: this time around, it’s not. I found myself struggling with the first 10 chapters, and as I previously mentioned, I skimmed a majority of the chapters. In a way it was like reading word vomit. While the span of days in Wildcard were shorter, it felt like prolonged agony. Sure, it got a bit better by the second half, but by then I was just not having it anymore. There was this feeling that there was a lot of unnecessary things being said, and it wasn’t really needed for the time frame. How do I put this lightly? Yes, the writing had essence but the pacing was evidently off.

Then we have the delightful twists and turns. It was not, and I honestly couldn’t care less. “Oh by the way he’s *tooooooooooooooot*”. The general reaction I had was, “Oh okay. What a stretch, by the way.” I wasn’t having it. I mean yes, it tackles the danger of a technology overlord that we might end up encountering in the future, but there is always this mentality in me that kept on screaming, “Humans are more powerful than any machine.” This in turn kind off made Wildcard feel like there is much info-dumping. There are other books in YA that have dealt with artificial intelligence, but the way it was introduced in Wildcard felt like a bit of a stretch.

Now we go to Emika: I have so much respect for my girl. But I did not like how she was basically being played with in this book. If Hideo and Zero wanted to play “Pass the Message”, they could have done it themselves to be honest. She honestly deserves better! What’s worse is that Emika’s hacking prowess was suddenly non-existent for huge chunks of the book? What happened to all of the progress in Warcross? More so, the characters in this novel felt flat. Asides from feeling no engagement with this book, I wasn’t fully invested with its characters. Like they were there to fill a void. Sometimes their voices become so similar that I have to backtrack a little bit to see who was talking.

(Also, I am still not on board (and will never be) with the romance between Hideo and Emika. It still felt forced and undeniably insta-lovey for me to take it seriously. Emika can live her badass life without him in the mix, to be honest.)

On a lighter note, what made me give it at least a 2.5 star equivalent is related to how the book expanded Zero’s personality. We get more depth about what actually happened to him and how he ended up in that sort of situation. That being said, I still have issues with all the things surrounding data and physical shells. Things that surrounded the very core of his existence left me with tons of unanswered questions that had my eyes rolling. I want to keep my review spoiler-free, so I will leave it at that.

Wildcard, like its predecessor, is unpredictable and brimming with the wonders of where technology can go. However, with the missing elements such as the games and the hunt, and a slightly confusing addition of much more complex aspects of science fiction, it was ultimately not for me. With an underwhelming ending that felt a little bit too convenient, it left me with feeling “Yeah, let’s move on to the next book so we can forget this one already.”

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

I mean, sure there are takeaways and it gave a morally important question as a base of its premise. It really sounded like a solid idea. But there are so many factors that I cannot deal with.  *sigh* But I am not giving up on Marie Lu because I know I still have a lot to catch up on her books. And yes, I still love Warcross. I’ll just try to forget that there’s a sequel. That’s my silver lining.

So… Wildcard huh?

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