Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #4

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that fellow book bloggers are eagerly anticipating!

Title: End Of Days (Peryn & The End Of Days #3)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: YA Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published by: Skyscape
Expected publication date: May 12th 2015 

Penryn is trying to survive. Because after the angels came to destroy the modern world there are no rules. Streets are ruled by gangs and angels are hunting for humans. When her sister is kidnapped Penryn will do everything she can to find her even if it means working with the enemy. Everything could happen in this new dangerous world.

I have been waiting for this one for awhile, just so I could marathon the whole series as I am not a fan of reading books of incompleted series (the "waiting for a whole year then forgetting what the previous book was about" thing.. just NOPE) The only other book about angels I've ever read is Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, which I did not like at all. But ANGELS YO. Books with angels as their premise will have so much potential for epicness. They are the most majestic ancient beings, mythical or not. And wings! And halos!

So YES, definitely waiting for End Of Days, which is the third and final conclusion of this series. I will only include the synopsis for the first book, Angelfall, so I don't spoil this for anyone (or myself too) and risk a mob at my doorstep. And fyi, Angelfall has a 4.22 star rating on Goodreads, which is rather high for me honestly.

Anyone else anticipating this book? :)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Book Talk #2: Don't Call Me Asian a.k.a. The Asian Stereotype in Books & Other Things.

     The year 2015 marks new beginnings, but some things (like how *cough* gender equality is still *cough* an issue) still remain the same. And one of the things that I would like address is the inexplicable wrongful use of the word "Asian" in way too many books. I am aware that I am not the first person to have brought this up, but this act of generalising the whole population of the continent of Asia IS DRIVING ME CRAZY is so ignorant that I can ignore it no longer.

Exhibit A
These are the pictures that came up when I googled the term "asian girl":


I am side-eyeing the heck out of you right now Google.

Exhibit B
These are the books that came up when I searched for books with Asian characters on Goodreads:

If you do not see any problem with any of these, I ask you to be patient and stick with me. Just stick  with me a little more while I unleash the rainbow explosion that is going to happen right before your eyes. Kindly view more wonderful pictures below:

Gorgeous, aren't they? And believe it or not, these people are ALL ASIANS (yea, including the Asian dude beside the Asian girl. "Which Asian girl?" you ask? NOW YOU SEE THE PROBLEM?)

      I am personally from Asia, but telling you just that would rob you of so much more of the details of my cultural background. I would give you a better (and more interesting) insight, if I were to let you know that I am Chinese Malaysian. Malaysia is just one of the 50 COUNTRIES that are in the continent of Asia. Asia is the biggest continent in the world, so you gotta have to expect to have more than a few countries tucked somewhere in there. And did you know that in Malaysia there are more than 30 ethnic groups, all of which are actual Malaysian citizens? Growing up, I never had the tendency to only think about people with dark hair, yellowish fair skin and almond eyes whenever "Asians" were mentioned. I think of different people with different skin colours and facial features. So you could put me down as confused that all "Asians" were portrayed as these identical people with the aforementioned identical characteristics when browsing Western media. We are just, not!

      Another error that is still being made repeatedly in Western media or modern society is the usage of the "Asian" term on Americans (or other nationalities of other countries) of Asian descent. If you haven't already know this, I have an obligation to inform you that when a person is a Chinese/Korean/Japanese etc that is born and bred in a country outside of Asia, eg. the US, and is a citizen there, said person is NOT ASIAN. He/she is AMERICAN. This rule applies to every other country that is not located in the Asia continent. Why? Because "Asian" is a GEOGRAPHICAL TERM and it should be used as just that. Please do not call yourself an Asian if you are a US citizen born in the US even if your ancestors may have come from Asia, simply because you are not FROM Asia. I just see so many good books making this mistake and it just baffles me that authors that write crazily awesome are unaware or ignorant of these issues.

     So folks, I'm technically Asian, but I don't really want to be called Asian right off the bat, because it is too generalised and does not tell people anything about my identity. Kind of like calling an Ipad Mini with retina display a computer, but we are dealing with real people here. I don't really want my favourite books doing the same thing to its characters as well. I really hope this clears things up and have in some way shed light to this topic. I shall stop here to not risk confusing my dear kindly readers any further. Feel free to ask me any questions (stupid ones, even, because it's a time to learn!) and talk about this if you were intrigued in any way :)


Disclaimer: I do not own any of the images used in this post. There were taken from various sources to help explain the topic better. If you wish for me to credit or take down these picture, feel free to let me know!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian - Review

Title: Burn For Burn Trilogy
Author: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Genre: YA Contemporary/Paranormal
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books
Published in: 16th September 2014
Content warning: Bullying, suicide, deaths, drug use
Format: E-book
Source: Bought 
My Overall Rating:
Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds.

But bad things can happen, even to good girls, and sometimes the only way to make things right is do something wrong.

Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she'll be damned if she lets the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is through with being called a freak. She's over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person - her ex-best friend - and Kat's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. Now that she's back, he's gonna be in trouble . . . 'cause she's coming for him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they've each had a taste.
     I've never done a series review before, so this one will be the first! I'm not really into multiple POVs in a book. I would get confused of at which point of the plot was I at upon the POV switching. Also, I might get biased, only wanting to read about certain characters. Which is why I wiped the sweat off my forehead when starting the first book, because I did not get the irk I was expecting to get because of its three different POVs, so yes, PHEW. I marathoned these three and finished them within two days (bad, I know, but it was during the weekend!) and felt like I've been stuffed into one of those human bubble balls and pushed down a hill. A slow descending hill of DOOM.

My howl for this trilogy:

Burn For Burn (Burn For Burn #1)
     Burn For Burn is a typical high school revenge story. The three POVs belongs to three girls: Mary, Kat and Lillia, who are completely different and are facing different issues. Somehow the causes for their issues all come from the same group of friends, whom are all high up on the status quo. By fate, the three of them meet and become the unstoppable trio plotting the demise of their high school foes.

     This book was so good. All three characters had a strong introduction and very distinct voices. They had their own strengths and weaknesses, burned with the desire to break free of social chains that bind them, and tie it on the people who antagonised and hurt them. The side characters were also wonderfully written and each of them had a unique dish to bring to the table. The authors did a great job of shaping the revenge targets in a way that made me think they deserve whatever that was going to be done to them, even though revenge is never a good thing. There was definitely foreshadowing of their actions coming back to bite them in their butts as they go deeper and more cruel into their schemes, and like a smack in the face it did. One aspect that was a smack in MY face was a paranormal one that came out of nowhere. It peeked out a couple of times in the book but it went berserk during the ending. Do expect a cliffhanger you'd never dare expect in this book.

Fire With Fire (Burn For Burn #2)
     Honestly, with the atrocity that is the third book, whatever impression I had on Fire With Fire became unimportant and just melted away. Fire With Fire started off right after the events in book one, so I wasn't left hanging too badly as I just dove into it right away. Even though it stuck to its revenge theme, I was left mildly disappointed with the slower pacing and the increased dosage of romance. You would think that this (seemingly) contemporary would contain sugary sweet romance but all I tasted was sour cliche. I just KNEW from book one that one of our main girls would have her lovey-dovey moment with one of their targets and I was hoping I would be hooked from its forbidden feel but NEAH. The couple did not sit right with me and the whole thing was built up solely from uncontrollable teen hormones really.

     I was also distracted by the paranormal element that seems to be a thing now in the book. It kind of helped to stir the suspense a little and I slowly started to empathise more with one of our main protagonists that was tied to this premise but it just did not fit with the theme of the story due to the lack of explanation and background. However, the book did end with a boom with its explosive cliffhanger so hats off to the authors for keeping me interested.

Ashes To Ashes (Burn For Burn #3)
     BIG. UGH. Whatever potential this series had and whatever love I had stopped with this book. (see also: above gif).  Ashes To Ashes took a devastatingly different turn, by unbelievably changing into a paranormal and horror/thriller. The paranormal aspect was mediocre at best and the attempts at putting the plot into gear 5 by a plot twist failed miserably. I really wished the plot twist was not included at all. It ruined everything, making the rest of the book really weird and awkward.

     In the previous two books, Mary, Kat and Lillia shared equal amounts of screentime. The individual situations they were placed in were realistic and their actions while morally ambiguous, were very relatable. Ashes To Ashes turned completely biased on me instead by revolving mostly around Lillia. The favourites-playing the authors did was SO obvious in that she got to keep everything and did not need to suffer through most of the consequences of her actions. On the other hand, our two other main leads were cast away, with Kat being reduced to a plot device and Mary turning batshit crazy. I find myself skipping many of its 500+ pages because EVERYTHING JUST DID NOT MAKE SENSE!!! The book spent about 95% building up to its climax that ended up being absolutely disappointing and offered no closure to so many of the events that happened in the book. The epilogue after that did not redeem the horrible cut-off ANTICLIMAX and instead only provided us with surprise surprise, superstar Lillia's POV again for the upteenth time that tried to teach the readers about some "eye-opening" lesson which proves that her character did not experience any meaningful development at all. UGHH.

I give the Burn For Burn Trilogy 3/5 stars. I mourn for the potential lost and for the first two books that had to be paired with its horrible sequel. Even though the first book is great, I really would not recommend the whole series to anyone. (Don't let the pretty covers fool you people!!)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #3 - The Stars Never Rise (Untitled Series #1) by Rachel Vincent

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that fellow book bloggers are eagerly anticipating!

Title: The Stars Never Rise
Author: Rachel Vincent
Genre: YA Paranormal
Published by:Delacorte Press
Expected publication date: June 9th 2015

Sixteen-year-old Nina Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her.
I am actually a fan of CW's Supernatural (though mostly because of Castiel now) and I've been really interested in demon and exorcism lores so this one definitely caught my eye. The cover is really pretty as well having the rainbow typography for the title which helps even more because I do tend to start books based on how pretty their covers are *guilty as charged*.

Though there was this one phrase from the synopsis that made me side-eye the heck out of which is this: "Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already saved her life once..." like, wow, so completely RELEVANT. I swear it was the randomest thing heh.

Has anyone been anticipating this book? Or was lucky enough to get an ARC of it? Let me know! :)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

They All Fall Down by Roxanne St Claire - Review

Title: They All Fall Down
Author: Roxanne St Claire
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Published by: Delacorte Press
Published in: 14th October 2014
Content warning: Deaths
Format: E-book
Source: Bought
My Rating:  
Pretty Little Liars meets Final Destination in this YA psychological thriller that will have readers' hearts racing right till the very end!                                                                        
Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.

All because of the list.

Kenzie Summerall can't imagine how she's been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.

This is the power of the list. If you're on it, your life changes.

If you're on it this year? Your life ends.

The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer?

Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list...before her number’s up.

        It has been a month or so since I have started blogging and I have to say, it has been so rewarding! I'm sure a lot of you have felt the same way because the book-blogging/book-tubing community is so fantastical and mystical that they are just a WORLD on their own :) I am still learning various bookish blog things and trying to settle down into a routine and blogging style that suits me so those who have been reading my blog (yea you! My precious few! haha!), thank you so much for your patience!

Now on to my howl for this book:

 (also, second love interest with the name Levi in about ten books I've read. I mean, I already have my very own Levi-named fictional boyfriend so if I read about another guy named Levi, everything about him in my head would be...)

        They All Fall Down is tells its story from the POV of Mackenzie Summerall, who is a latin geek. She is a pretty average high school student who just wants to get a scholarship to her dream college in order to get away from her mother's obsession of keeping Kenzie safe and her mundane high school life. The mundanity gets thrown out of the window when one day Kenzie finds out that she has been placed FIFTH on the high schools very own "Hottie List", in which the guys in her high school vote for the top 10 hottest girls in school to be on the list. However, the supposedly glamorous benefits of being of on the list quickly turns into a prerequisite to get you killed as the girls on the list start dying one by one, and it might be Kenzie turn soon.

        I absolutely loved the suspense of this book. The author really threw me off into different directions when it came to having me guess the culprit behind the deaths of the girls. There was an "Urban Legend" vibe to the story, as there was speculation among previous members of the list and those who were involved in it that there was a curse revolving around said list, that the deaths may even have supernatural causes. The book also became thrilling towards the climax, when the pacing was at its max and there was a lot of action going on. It allowed me to race through it super fast and to turn each page without hesitation. 

        Kenzie played her main female protagonist role great. She did not really care for popularity in high school and after the initial surprise of finding out that she was fifth on the "Hottie List", her opinion on popularity did not change. Everyone in her school was freaking out over that list, and how if you were a part of it, gateways to elite parties and a membership to the in crowd opens, and that it is a seriously BIG, BIG THING. It was so overhyped in the book that it made me question whether the author wrote it sarcastically, to mirror how superficial popularity actually is. Coming back to Kenzie, she is the only one worth remembering really. She is the most sensible and level-headed one, being aware of how degrading the list is to girls, and freaking out over the thing others should be freaking out on a.k.a. the seemingly coincidental deaths of the girls ON the list and taking actual precautions and actions to investigate the truth. It was also nice to see her being human and taking pleasure of the fact that her long-time crush was now noticing her, but it was still not an excuse to let a boy dictate her (or her name).

I give They All Fall Down 4/5 stars, as there was never a boring moment in the book for me. There were definitely plot holes and suspension of disbelief was required during certain disconnected and far-fetched parts but I was too entertained to meticulously pick on them. The light romance did not made me roll my eyes so that was a plus too! The author wrote her book genre really well and deserves a thumbs up for maintaining a slight level of light-heartedness of this young adult mystery and thriller. Would recommend to YA book lovers who don't like their mysteries/thrillers being overly dismal, dark and gritty.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (The Mara Dyer Series #1) - Review

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkim
Genre: YA Paranormal/Thriller
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books
Published in: 27th September 2011
Content warning: Mild gore, mental illness, deaths
Format: E-book
Source: Bought
My Rating:  
Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.
     Wanted to squeeze in one more review before officially starting my MoI series marathon. Felt like I need the practice and experimenting more with different posting formats. I did not expect to start this book so soon, as it was on my radar just last month. Also, I'm not a huge dark paranormal fan, so I tend to put these kind of books off for a long time. Anyway, I managed to start and even finish it, so am quite glad about the change in my usual reading pattern :)

My howl:

     The first thing I like about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is definitely the synopsis: Vague but with its level of intrigue maintained. (Except that little mentioning of romance, which just TELLS YOU that it is going to be a big thing in the story). This is my favourite type of synopsis. It gives away about 1% of the premise of the book, or about the character that does not ruin anything about the plot and you just have to go into it knowing nothing else (unless if you have spoilt it for yourself of course but WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT D:).

     Mara Dyer, our main protagonist, suffers from the trauma of a tragic accident that killed all of her friends involved, leaving her as the sole survivor. She came out of the hospital still mentally unstable, unable to recall the details of the accident and constantly experiencing hallucinations and nightmares. Even after uprooting and moving to a whole new place together with her family, her condition does not seem to get better.

     The first quarter/half-ish of the book was rather dark and psychological. Mara's hallucinations were creepy and skin-crawling, and it happened so frequently it made me question whether they were indeed just mere hallucinations. It was definitely implied that there was something supernatural going on, or there were unknown forces working around Mara, but it was hard to guess whether these paranormal incidents stemmed from her mind or were they actually happening. Mara's internal monologue was brilliantly haunting and her struggles with her sanity were raw and gritty. She was halso quite willing to get professional help for her seemingly aggravating mental condition, or rather, she was more accepting of it compared to other brooding teenagers whose pituitary glands were made of rebellion and drama. The whole time I was anxiously waiting for the mystery around Mara to unravel, and when it finally did,  I was mouthing "No way's" and "For realsies'" a few times at least.

     After the first one hundred pages, the paranormal storyline gets taken over by the romance. I did not care for it, seeing that it has been done in other books so many times. All teen/ya authors need ban the use of "moving-to-a-new-school-and-hooking-up-with-the-popular-boy-after" trope already. There is only so much of a good thing being used over and over again I can handle, like that Frozen song with a name I refuse to type out. I felt like it did not serve any purpose other than as fillers for the plot and the pacing slowed down drastically because of it. AND THE FUNNIEST AND MOST RANDOM THING OF ALL IS, that the love interest has an all posh and supposedly sexy BRITISH ACCENT. Okay, I understood where the author was coming from. She wanted him to be someone absolutely no one could resist. But he didn't even SOUND British. His English origins were never clearly explained. The whole time I was reading his lines imagining the accent but I couldn't go three words without doubling over with laughter. JUST THE RANDOMNESS OF IT OMG.

     I give The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer 3/5 stars. My initial rating of the book was 4 stars but honestly, I know there are better-written paranormal books with romance subplots out there that deserve it more. The thriller/paranormal aspects had a lot of potential that was unfortunately overlooked and overshadowed by the romance. However, I am still interested in continuing the series because the last section of the book diverged back into the main storyline and salvaged itself with a nice cliff-hanger ending.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Mortal Instruments Series EPIC READ-A-THON

As mentioned above, I am going to MARATHON ALL 6 BOOKS OF THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS SERIES! (oh yeahh *fist pumps myself in the corner of my room* )

This series has been on my TBR list since FOREVER and I've always wanted to get to it. Until the movie came out. Which wasn't very good. Enthusiasm completely wiped off. 

Seeing as that was a long time ago, and the author has written THREE MORE BOOKS which all set in the same universe (which looks really good, unlike said movie), I've decided to get this over and done with. I also blame the immense hype surrounding this series and the TV show that is being made or something so I am praying it's insanely good, or at least I will like it.

I've given myself two months time to finish all six books,April and May, and according to my schedule, I'm supposed to start TOMORROW! (honestly don't know what to feel about this so I'ma just go with excitement because 6 BOOKS PEOPLE).

That's all for my random announcement. 
Feel free to share your thoughts on this series, whether I will able to complete this marathon and even if you would like to join me in this weird adventure (???).

the Book howler