PH Blog Tour: FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS (Giveaway)

Dearest Flamingos,

I hope that you’re all well and reading! I haven’t read anything for two weeks now; I just haven’t found the right book to read next yet. Anyhow, having Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, as the last book I read, this post will be dedicated for it!

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This opportunity would not be possible if it weren’t for Erika, from The Nocturnal Fey ; it’s my first time to be participating in a Blog Tour and to be honest, I didn’t know how I would do. After a successful reading experience, I am looking forward to participate in more Blog Tours in the future. Being a Filipino, I find the experience of reading a book that embraces Asian culture and thematic is priceless.

Forest of A Thousand Lanterns CoverTitle: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Author: Julie C. Dao

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, Young Adult

Publisher: Philomel Books

Release Date: October 10th 2017

Synopsis: 

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | KOBO | iBOOKS | BOOK DEPOSITORY | GOODREADS

You can’t have everything, Xifeng. You can’t have him and still have me too. He doesn’t share and neither do I.

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Below is an excerpt from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns,

The Imperial Palace seemed to Xifeng an earthly rendering of the Dragon Lord’s home in the heavens. It shimmered through the gates, a colossus of gold roofs, pillars and courtyards of stone. She stared at it with the strange sensation that it gazed back — recognized her. Her fate lay here in this vast city of interconnected buildings linked by covered corridors, and in a moment she would enter.

Will I ever come out again?

She squared her shoulders and approached the guards. “The Crown Prince requests my presence,” she told them. They stared as though they had never seen anything like her. One of the had an eye that kept twitching suspiciously. “His Highness said to tell you I seek the Little Fisherman.” She had no idea what that meant, other than it was some sort of password Wei had left for her. But it seemed to work, for they stepped aside to let her through.

“Find Master Kang in the Sunset Pagoda, at the top of the stairs,” the twitching-eye guard said pompously. “His Highness has instructed him to take you to Master Yu and Madam Hong.”

Xifeng held her head high. She would not be intimidated by their scornful appraisal of the important sounding names he had flung at her. At least, she could appear not to be intimidated.

She crossed a courtyard of rocks like gray eggs, and a great emptiness rose up to meet her. A meditative, eerie silence reigned here, though guards in fine armor were stationed everywhere. It made her feel more alone than ever, and she felt Wei’s absence like a phantom limb.

The ache was so sharp she had to pause for breath, his face swimming before her eyes. He had always been there, a thread of joy in her frayed life, and now he was gone, off to begin the life he’d lead without her. Had she done right to push him onto a different path? If only she’d been brave enough to tell him he was far too good for her. She was nothing but a selfish coward who could neither love him nor let him go.

☆☆☆☆

Julie C. Dao

Julie C. Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | GOODREADS 

I created a playlist over at Spotify to enhance the reading experience of Forest of a Thousand LanternsI’m glad to be sharing it all with you; however, it’s my first time to create a playlist for a book — so please do bear with me if you think my song choices could be better or not as fitting to the book as much as I thought. You can go search for it in Spotify, and download the entire playlist so you can enjoy it while reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Don’t forget to visit the other blogs participating in the Tour!

October 27th

The Nocturnal Fey – Erika

The Royal Polar Bear Reads – Rafael

The Ultimate Fangirl – Bianca

October 28th

The Nerdy Side of a Queen – Nicay

dmcireadsblog – Danielle

Camillea Reads – Patricia Camille

October 29th

Bookablereads Book Review – Carmel

Reading Flamingo – Abigail

Amidst the Pages – Imo

October 30th

The Hogsmeade Reader – Danica

The Purple Nightingale – Janella

Descendant of Poseidon Reads – Joel

October 31st

Afire Pages – Karina

The Queen Reads – Elena

the broke biblioPHL – Hana

☆☆☆☆

Last but not the least, don’t forget to join the GIVEAWAY for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! Have a bookish day, Flamingos!

Visit my Instagram and chat with me there!

 

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Abi, the Flamingo.

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Review: Before We Were Strangers

Hi, Flamingos!

I trust that everyone is well and having a great start of the week! Mine pretty much starts out the same, no exciting news or happenings to look forward to. Given that my career is in events, this 9-hour job is just exhausting everything in me.

Honestly, if I didn’t need the money, I would rather just lounge around the house and spend my days reading. But oh well, I’m not privileged with such good life but in the future, I’m sure I’ll have all the time in the world to read ’til my heart’s content! I’m planning to launch my small business soon; it will be a side business until its fully ready to hold up on its own and increase the income to match my basic necessities.

Moving forward, a review is here! I finished Before We Were Strangers by Reneè Carlino, just last night. When I was around 10-years old, my mom didn’t have enough money to buy me brand new books and here in the Philippines, book sales consist mostly of medical and religious books but for fiction–it focuses highly on Adult Fiction. My mom loves to read, and I believe I got that from her; so to satisfy my hungry baby mind then, I dived into the works of fiction. My childhood consisted of Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon, hence the love for crimes and mystery.

Now that I’m earning my own money, and have a few ones to spare for books, I am finally able to buy more YA. However, my respect and appreciation for Adult Fiction had not faded completely. Earlier this year, I fell in love with Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan –it was a great start to accustom myself with adult fiction again.

I never would have known about Before We Were Strangers if it weren’t for GabbyReads youtube channel. She’d talked about the book constantly and how she loved it so much. I finally gave in, and got an ebook of the novel.

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Title: Before We Were Strangers

Author: Reneè Carlino

Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 320 pages

Format: epub / ebook

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

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Weren’t we though? Timeless? Nothing could change what we’d had all those years before, even the idea of what might’ve been lingered between us.

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Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

You can’t re-create the first time you promised to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice.

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• I loved the backstory of Matt and Grace. It was refreshing and bold, yet it flashes an invisible sign of proceed with caution or love at your own risk.
• ‎Before We Were Strangers is a well-written story about a love once lost, only to be found years later and realize nothing’s changed at all.
• ‎I loved the certainty of Matt towards Grace. His feelings have been direct and simple, no going around the bush. He’s loved her from the start and that was that.
• ‎I loved that it didn’t revolve around why the relationship didn’t work out the first time, or in the reasons why they grew apart in the past. Rather, it focused on the good things, the positive and the negatives of their past.
• ‎I love the simplicity of their relationship. It makes it so natural and relatable.
• ‎The emotions and actions of these characters felt real; they weren’t exaggerated or stretched out too thinly.
• ‎All the characters were memorable, despite having a few of them. They left an impact and a lasting memory in my head.

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• I didn’t so much enjoy too much discussion of their sex life. At some point, it felt as if all they did was that and that the relationship revolved around the excitement of touching and making love to each other. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are couples who see sex as an important component of their relationship. All I’m saying is, I would’ve liked to get more of their mushy couple activities, though there had been a lot of that too–in short I’m just asking for more.

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• I rated the book 4.5 because of some things that didn’t sit comfortably with me. One of them being, the deceit was handled all too easily. It caused strings of events to occur (and almost destroyed your life), and yet the book still managed to give it enough emphasis.
• ‎There were so many overwhelming happenings towards the last five or so chapters, and it felt a bit abrupt. It felt as if the author chose to speed things up, instead of increasing the length of the book at least another two chapters to cover and make the situation more reality-based. I would have loved to see more of their family’s new lives, how the characters adjusted.
• ‎Lastly, what ended the marriage of Matt–the very reason behind this, it makes my blood boil. It’s never okay, and you can never expect anyone to get over or forgive such a serious matter just because they apologized for it. I could just never accept and learn to understand that kind of betrayal and the reasons why some people do it. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand this (I haven’t figured out how to write spoilers, then have them appear as a button for people’s option to read it or not.)

☆☆☆☆

All in all, it was such a great book. I am glad to be able to carry these characters, their experiences and their lives inside my heart for the rest of time.

I related a lot with Grace during their senior year at college. Having first fall in love, dealing with friends and first relationships, the reality of adult life where money is a necessity. Though all these, I’ve not gone through during my college days but just a year ago. It was hard dealing with excitement and moving forward in the relationship with caution, so as not to overdo or smother my partner. I can definitely see mysely recommending this continuously to a lot of people in the future.

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I’m sorry if that was quite long, guess I just have a lot of things to share that occurred over the weekend. Anyway, please don’t forget to visit and support my bookstagram account: @reeyuhbeegale, I will highly appreciate it. Also, I’ll be hosting an international giveaway soon as I reach 300 followers on Instagram!

Don’t hesitate to leave me some comments, I don’t bite! Watch out for an upcoming PH Blog Tour here at Reading Flamingo, for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, towards the end of October.
QOTD: Do you have a “the one that got away” moment in your life? Do you still think about it until today?

With love,

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Abi, the Flamingo

Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Hiya, Flamingos!

I hope you’re all well and feeling the fall vibe! It’s already windy here and somehow the air breeze is cool, symbolizing that December is near. I wasn’t super busy with work today, and powered through a book. Today marks the first review under my new handle, Reading Flamingo, together with new graphics and designs.

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I get all worked up when I have to talk about gender roles, equality and the importance of having your own opinion even if you’re a woman. If you’re interested to know about my thoughts on Moxie, then read on, flamingo!

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Title: MOXIE

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Pages: 330

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Publication: September 19, 2017

Format: EPUB

Goodreads Synopsis:

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution. 

A - Flamingo

Actual rating: 3.50 stars

 

“MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK.”

I personally consider myself as a feminist; I have a lot of opinions and perspective that are not exactly traditionally in-lined. I’ve been raised in a Christian household, my mom and my extended relatives are active in Church; but at an early age, I had this sense and urge to always form my own opinions – not just to follow what others say.

 

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When I was still in high school, I thought being a feminist meant that I NEVER have to rely on a man’s effort and strength. I would scream and let the boys have it when they would offer to carry my rock heavy backpack, or when they would let me inside the car first before them – I never accepted any help because I thought I was being looked down as woman, too weak to do anything. Apparently, I wasn’t being feministic, I wasn’t fighting for gender equality – what I was, was being mean. I didn’t realize it until I was in my last year of high school and was choosing which college to go to. Truth be told (and mind you, I never told anyone about this), I went to an exclusive school for girls, partly because I wanted to exercise women empowerment, but half of it was just because I easily get distracted with boys and boy drama.
Okayyy, back to what I was originally saying. I loved college, it was the best years of my life! I didn’t have friends, I gained SISTERS – sisters who share the same advocacy and campaign as mine. We had school campaign movements which heavily focused on women’s rights, two most memorable were:
1. BRING BACK OUR GIRLS – our rally against the group of men who kidnapped 276 Nigerian girls from their boarding school to become sex slaves and wives to Boko Haram’s group. This was done to send a message to the Nigerian government; our school went ahead and spearheaded this “noise barrage” within the vicinity of our school, encouraging civilians and other universities nearby to be aware.
2. One Billion Rising (Annual Dance Mob) – yearly, my school invited and encouraged the student body (from preschool to college) and the faculty / administration to dance. This activity was done to promote women rights; I believe this had been covered by various local newspapers and international ones.
Both events I participated in wholeheartedly, and my four years in college taught me the true meaning behind feminism. It’s not about being the stronger gender or being too independent, but rather, fighting for equality and to abandon the traditional gender roles. Promote that what men can do, women are just as capable and vice-versa.
Men belong to the kitchen as much as women; women has a place in politics as much as men.

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The first ever feminist book I’ve ever read was V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram; and in all honesty, if I am to do a comparison, I say I love Kelly Oram’s duology so much more than Moxie. I enjoyed Moxie, it was definitely feministic and it made me realize a lot more, but it lacked on the angst in my opinion.
Another claimed “feminist” YA novel is Shut Out. It’s not nearly as good as Moxie or V is for Virgin – it was actually a misrepresentation of what it means to be a feminist. Shut Out focuses heavily on how a lot of men are only after sex, and that one of the means to control them is to withhold or deny them of it [despite being in a relationship]. To me that book wants more of women’s control or edge over men; first of it’s not fair to hold a human nature over someone’s head to gain control, and second, that’s not at all feminism.
Moxie, on the other hand, was just about the right mix and start-up to call upon the spark on women to fight when they are in the minority or given unfair treatment.

BA2A6956-922B-46D0-BE95-078DB8A3BF08• I love ALL issues of Moxie! They were so cute and nostalgic, and revolutionary.
• I love the idea that Moxie wasn’t spearheaded by anyone (I honestly thought this would tackle the idea of being nice girl to being bossy). Not having a leader made everything more personal and relatable; the best description for it is one that’s found in the book: Moxie doesn’t belong to just one person. It belongs to every girl who wants to be a part of it.
• It balanced on friendships (sisterhood), family relationships and personal relationships.
• It was feministic because the girls weren’t man-hating, they understood that there are existing guys who don’t act like douches.
• The minority group of guys who have respect for women were represented through Seth, and it’s a good inclusion in a book that claims to be focused on feminism – again, feminism is about equality.
• It was good and clear what the girls of the East Rockport High School were fighting for. The initiatives and the campaigns were simple, yet they were very relatable and valid.
• It didn’t go overboard on showcasing their stand against the school’s rules, just enough to be noticeable and to call out that the girls will no longer turn a blind-eye on the misogynistic traditions within ERHS.

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EC090CC7-8301-42F0-9836-9166FEEEBB8C• The acts of sexual harassment brought up in certain scenes of this book were taken lightly. I understood that it was trying to highlight the lack of fairness within the school system [of a sexist school] but I wasn’t a fan of how the issues were handled in the book. To me, it seemed like they were just dismissed and used as a point of unity for all these girls to fight back.

 

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Honestly, I related to Moxie in such a personal level. Viv and I have a lot in common, we’re both raised by single parents (who, at some point, questioned the new partner of her hardworking and loving mother) – though my mom wasn’t nearly as cool and hip as Viv’s. I’ve had too many encounters with boys whose thoughts swirl into lust and hormones almost 24/7; but eventually, I landed to a sweet simple man, with an ambition and instilled respect to women (or any person for that matter).
Reading this book brought back memories, and looking back to my college days, I wish I could’ve done more. I wish I had enough courage to start a movement as important and direct as Moxie. There are still a lot of misogyny in this world, and I never believe that it will really be gone but I am hoping that in the future, someone will be as brave as Viv and all the girls of ERHS to stand and fight back. I don’t believe that the view in terms of gender and equality will ever be fully different from how it’s been all these centuries, but at least it gives a chance for both men and women to be more open and accepting.

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It’s not the best YA feminist book written, but it’s definitely something. It will ignite your inner girl power, and soon after reading, you’ll be strutting down your own high school hallway with your sisters for life! Unleash the Moxie living within you!

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Photos are not mine, except for the speech bubbles which separates the ones I loved and disliked about the book. I will be using them from now on, but the feminist stickers are all from Google. Apologies for the pixelated ones, I am currently blogging on my phone.

So any thoughts on the new blog format?

Also, I am one of the hosts for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, for the PH Blog Tour, the book came out this October 10th! It’s my first time to be a host, I’m both nervous and excited. Hopefully, this will be the start of many.

Question of the day: Have you read Moxie? What is your stand regarding feminism? 

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Last reminders, Flamingos, please do follow my bookstagram! I’ve recently poured efforts and transformed my account officially into a bookstagram. Give it some love? @reeyuhbeegale

With love,

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Abi, the Flamingo.

A Book Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

Hello, Cabbages!

I know what you were thinking–that I won’t be writing AGAIN even if I already said I will. Well, I can’t really blame you, I am one to grow lazier by the minute.

Some life update before we proceed with the actual review, first off, I’m writing this via my laptop and I haven’t touched my laptop for almost 3 months now–LOL. I know, who does  that right? Anyway, second, basing from this post, I assume you’ve figured out that I was able to buy a new book because I finished 3 which was my agreement with Pups. This Sunday I got This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I haven’t started that one ’cause I’m really not feeling the story yet, though I hope to read it soon. Please let me know if you’ve read by leaving a comment below.

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As you may have remembered, I joined the Emojiathon and this is my 3rd entry for it! I still haven’t done a post about Emojiathon and the books that I plan on reading for that and I don’t think I’ll ever get around to actually writing one, sorry. I’m still getting back to the feeling of blogging and I don’t want to overwhelm myself and feel like this is a responsibility. So this book falls under the category: “Book You Purchased because of its Cover”

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TITLE: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

AUTHOR: Adele Griffin

DATE PUBLISHED: August 12, 2014

PUBLISHER: Soho Teen

PAGES: 256

Goodreads Summary: Brilliant young artist. Her mysterious death. Fandom that won’t let her go. From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28. Fully illustrated.

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MY RATING: 4.00

Love! It’s like strolling along the milky way!

I am not one for reading non-fiction, I rarely venture out to that genre unless it’s for a school project, but since I’m out of College already, I don’t get to ready anymore of that. I also picked this book up during the MIBF 2016–Manila Book International Fair and I’m not going to lie, I did it because of the cover. I appreciate art and I love the drama vibe that surrounds its cover. I saw it in the shelf and I knew I had to get it!

Getting to reading this book wasn’t hard, mainly because it’s not real–basically it’s a faux biography of a fictional “celebrity-like popular” character, so obviously it’s not heavy on the non-fiction elements we usually see in real biographies. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did, I gave it a solid 4 out of 5 stars because I connected with it and if you’ve known me, you’ll understand that a connection is a stronger pull on me rather than a fluid plot line.

PLOT:

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone was dark and problematic, but at the same way, I was drawn into her. I think the author did such a great job by writing a protagonist who is realistic and full of character. I’ve never read any Adele Griffin book except for this, but I love her writing style. Such a brilliant author for being able to suppress all that emotion in one character and still not bombard or overwhelm the readers at the same time. Her character was written in such a charismatic way and you can’t help but put your attention to her; the entire persona of Addison Stone demands the attention of every reader out there.

This book explores a lot of mental issues and how people don’t necessarily understand them. It made me realize that being mentally unstable or unhealthy can drive you to the brink of exhaustion. It deals heavily on how each and everyone of us have our own battles and monsters to face, and the only we can count on to help us is ourselves. There are haunting points in this book which I felt very appropriate; it was so dark and delicious.

Another aspect I loved about this book is how it was written in a series of interviews with people who have interacted with Addison at some point in her life–both significant and acquaintances were featured. Addison Stone and her different phases in life were narrated through the eyes of these strangers and loved ones, and yet they all have different interpretations on how she was as an individual. It created an impact for me because it’s the truth–no matter how many people we meet in our lives, none of them will know the truth in the core of our individual existence. People form judgments of who we are, both good and bad but we can never trust anyone to tell the truth of our story because that is ours and only us can set the facts straight, unless you are six feet under the ground.

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The beauty in the misery in the death of Addison, is that I only regret not meeting her. Most of the books out there, presents some protagonists in the most awful way. I don’t approve of protagonists getting away with their attitude and flaws, just because I have to sympathize with her situation, like I am expected to root for her because “everybody’s out to get her”. In this case, as a reader I am presented with how problematic Addison is. There’s no hiding her dark and wild spirit; it’s almost like I am made to hate her for all the vile things she’s done but because I am exposed to all this, is what actually allows me to empathize with her. I am brought to understand her for why she is what she is.

CHARACTERS:

There were so many characters involved in Addison’s life, and though most of them were significant, I don’t feel the need to discuss all of them. However, I only loved Lucy–the best friend of Addison Stone. I believe she’s the closest to the truth as I’ll ever get to knowing Addison. She’s seen her demons, her flaws and she’s the same old Lucy you’ll see from start to finish. I love her versions of Addison because I was given the privilege to witness the young Addison up until the time before she drowned.

In a lot of times while reading this book, I’ve happen to remember Alaska from Looking For Alaska of John Green. It was actually my favorite John Green book, I loved the drama in that. However, reading this, Alaska suddenly felt unrealistic. Her character was wild and lost and dark, yet she felt flat in comparison with Addison Stone. Alaska was became shallow for me and that’s sad, I’ve loved her since I read the book back in 2013. It just so happen that I now appreciate more of the darkness that surrounds Addison Stone.

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Like I said, this book was written in such an interactive and realistic way that I barely noticed it was fiction. I can’t describe it or review well for you guys, because just like the synopsis in Goodreads, I don’t think it will give justice why this book is beautiful in all its darkness. You have to read it for yourself; trust me, it will be a shame not to have a glimpse of Addison Stone.

There were such great art, and photos to document the life of Addison and they were just so fun to skim through. Also, the model who they got to portray Addison Stone in the book is so stunning and full of charm.

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So that’s not a good review, but like I said, I don’t trust myself to give justice to how powerful this book felt for me. I wish a lot more people would give it a go, it deserves to be devoured and not left accumulating dusts on the bookshelves.

I’m still thinking about writing a review for Crazy Rich Asians, or if I missed my “hype” for the book already. But I finished it way before this one, and it was part of my entry to Emojiathon as A Book With Marginal Characters–well it was about the life of rich pure Chinese clans.

If you’re wondering, I also didn’t continue on with When Dimple Met Rishi because I’m quite overwhelmed with the Indian language they use there, and unlike the Crazy Rich Asians, ALL unfamiliar words were translated. However, it’s still my most anticipated contemporary read but I’m putting it off for now because I’m craving for some fantasy books which I don’t have much on my shelf.

Please let me know me down below in the comments if you’ve also read this book and your thoughts about it or if you’re participating in the Emojiathon as well! I’d love to hear from all you so do leave me some love! Thank you all for your time and for the support, I know I’m far off from the great reviewers out there, but I’m trying to give my best in discussing the books that I read. It might take some time before I get back to my old blogging style or for me to develop a new one, but I’ll get there. Until my next post, Cabbages!

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Rustic Roots

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portfolio_vengeanceRoadCoverTitle: Vengeance Road

Author: Erin Bowman

Pages: 336

Published Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Format: ebook

Goodreads Synopsis: When her father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, eighteen year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers–and justice. In the spirit of “True Grit”,” “acclaimed young adult novelist Erin Bowman brings to life the unpredictable and cutthroat days of the Wild West.

RATING:

a

3.80 stars

Love! It’s like strolling along the Milky Way!

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I’ve heard a lot of Booktubers talk about this, and when I researched on Goodreads, I loved the every review I read. If you’ve been lurking around Written Constellations, you’d know that I enjoy everything Country – how fitting right? I immediately knew I couldn’t pass it up.

It took me a while to sum up and organize my thoughts coherently; probably because this is the first book I’ve ever read that ventures out to the wild mountains of West. It wasn’t an easy read, especially because the expressions (eg. I’s or if’n)  took a lot of getting used to, but I managed – and this is one of the aspect that made the book seem real.

Setting wise? I LOVED IT. I enjoyed how the entire book focused on their trip up the mountains. Bowman’s narration was excellent! The description made me feel like I was on a horse riding up the uneven ground, sweating remarkably due to the hotness and I can feel the anxiety of getting shot by Apache or any of the Rose Riders any minute.

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Even in just 336 pages, the book managed to make the characters feel more than just paragraphs on a book. Their emotions seep through every line, and I understood each and everyone’s endeavors. Kate’s grief over her father’s death came out naturally that I instantly wanted to avenge him, as if I were his orphan. The characters were diverse in terms of their personality; Kate wasn’t all about taking Rose’s life, Jesse wasn’t all about the promise of gold and riches—even though they were presented for those reasons, they had other things going on for them. An aspect that gave life to these characters was that they weren’t limited to be just one emotion. In some parts, you’ll see how trusting (sometimes gullible) Kate can be, how Liluye wants to be seen like she doesn’t give a single care, and Jesse who appears strong-willed but can be clueless at times.

Word about this book was that it promised romance within the mountains, and I have do have major issues with books or movies that seem to play romance in either a cliché way or an insta-love or something that was either forced or out of place—and sometimes it’s just about these characters taking control of their hormones. I didn’t particularly like the “idea” of reading about gooey eyes and lip-locking (for that matter), while the characters are out being hunted by ruthless men. SUPRISINGLY (in a good way), Bowman wrote the romance in such a smooth-flowing way. It wasn’t quick, and forced—everything that happened was how you’d expect it to in real life. Like example, someone who’s lost a loved-one and is suffering from guilt doesn’t just get over their grief because they had a charming girl or boy to distract them.

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I can’t get over how mind-blowing the plot twist is in this book, the “reveal” came out of nowhere. For me, it’s the most exhilarating part in the book! It was satisfying that I was reading this book for a whole different reason than that of its synopsis.

You’d think this book isn’t complex or brutal, but it honestly showed how cruel and selfish people can be. There’s too much bloodshed, which of course you’d expect in Western stories but at times it can be too gruesome—one thing I’ll say is that, this isn’t something for the meek.  I highly recommend this to everyone who enjoys an real life action-packed plot! Like I’ve said, I haven’t read a lot of books in this genre, so if you have anything for me, please do leave some titles on the comment section below!

Life Corner (Tidbits General Life Update)

 

Some quick updates! MIBF (Manila International Bookfair) is coming up! It’ll be running from September 14-18 at SMX Convention Center! I got some free tickets from a good friend of mine, and I’m so excited! Most of the books will be at 20% off, can you say AWESOME?

Also, I’m enjoying browsing titles around Book Depository, but I have yet to purchase. Do you have any titles for me? I am looking into venturing out to new YA genres, and my heart can’t seem to be set on something. I’ll be ordering by the end of the month [I’m so undecided, but most probably yes], meaning I have a few more weeks to be indecisive of what books to order. I’ve wanted to subscribe to a monthly YA book box but SHIPPING FEE will be the death of me!

Another, I’ve recently taken an online job as a freelance writer. Hopefully this will improve my writing skills some more, with the promise of extra income, which will be for school. Let’s see if this will be a good turnout. I mean, I’ve got nothing to lose anyway.

Oh! And if you’ve been wondering, I didn’t make much progress with the ReadThemAllThon TBR. Vengeance Road didn’t really fall into any category, so that’s sad but I’m all good, there are a lot of other challenging read-a-thons right? By any chance, do you know any?

CABBAGES! We are almost to 60 lovely, healthy [and definitely bookish] cabbages! Thank you all, for your continuous support and patience, cause I upload a lot of late posts—I’m still getting used to keeping a blog again. I am however, a legit office ninja, being able to sneak posts here and there, but too many distractions in the office to formulate a decent post. But again, I appreciate all the love! Let’s keep our family growing, SPREAD THE HYPE!

P.S.  Pictures are from Google

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REVIEW: Milk and Honey

On my way to work this morning [ which, by the way, I was late for the nth time], I continued on the book I started reading at 11 pm last night. It was such a fast read, because it’s a Poetry book.

This is part of the #ReadThemAllThon TBR challenge, under:

Celadon City: Rainbow Badge — Read a diverse book

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31-oDaA7eRL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Title: MILK AND HONEY

Author: Rupi Kaur

Release Date: November 14, 2014

Publisher: Createspace

Page: 204

Goodreads Synopsis: milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

RATING:

B

It’s interesting to pass the time

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When I was younger, my dreams of becoming a writer started out when I got obsessed with both reading and writing poetry. I would submit numerous pieces to my editors in high school and in College, some were good enough to be published. For years, I’ve used poetry and its different formats to express how I feel about a situation or about someone. When I started working, I got sidetracked [even in terms of reading], and somehow I wonder if I still even am capable of writing.

→ I love poetry; words that are arranged to perfection. I used to love Lang Leav’s literary works, especially Love and Misadventure. After re-reading them a few years after the hype has passed, I saw it quite mediocre and uses figures of speech over the top. Her writing became too mainstream for my taste, and its meaning grew less significant. In 2014, a friend of mine suggested I try a different poetry book — “;” by xq.

[front cover | back cover]

TRUST ME, that book right there talks about sensuality in its rawest form. It is what draws me to the book, not that I am lascivious or driven by lust, I just have a high appreciation for anything that tackles sensuality in all forms.

Here’s one of my most favorite piece from ;

Breathless, tell me how you feel. Tell me without any words.”

→ Anyway, back to Milk & Honey. It is a book that consists of poetry that loudly express what goes down on an abusive relationship, non-consensual sex, and degrading of women by merely seeing them as sex objects. The book is divided into four parts, to which I deem as the actual process of what a person goes through as he/she matures in terms of relationships.

I love how Kaur did not hold out on her statements, some of them, even though written using the simplest of words, are cringe-worthy to hear. I refuse to believe that a woman will allow men to feast on her body, without objection or without setting everything straight that it is to be respected as much as she must be.

I remember a statement that used to bug me back in my College Philosophy: I AM MY BODY. I was led to understand that I am one with my body, and that whatever is done with it, is done and does affect me.

Coming from an exclusive school for girls, I have developed a stronger take on feminism. Almost everything I say or do, promotes women empowerment (I try). And that’s what made me like this book, a solid 3.70 stars for inspiring women. At the last part, and not to mention my favorite: THE HEALING, the write encourages the reader to stand up for her rights. This is initially for women, but let’s not keep the other gender out–for they too can be abused and taken advantage of, in any way.

The pieces weren’t written long to convey the story, pieces were concise and direct to the point, but it vividly gives the image to the reader. Most of the time, being trapped in an unpleasant and suffocating relationship or situation starts with a person’s insecurity; one who desperately looks for acceptance and approval from other people. This book teaches us to love ourselves first and most, among everybody else because it is only then that we can give affection to someone. It empowers the reader to be the person he/she wants to be despite what standards or other people say. It encourages the reader to embrace beauty in its rawest form, it abolishes what is seen or known to be ugly that society has taught us.

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If you have any other favorite poetry books, please do leave suggestions! Also, I’d like to know, what you’re currently reading. Answers are to be sent using the comment box below.

Once again, thank you to those who really take the time in reading and sharing their thoughts on Written Constellations! I am lucky and blessed to have such nice Cabbage friends like you! To those who have not yet subscribed, please do, I’ll make sure to keep my posts interesting for you to read.

I have one last post for today, which is the general update for #ReadThemAllThon TBR. If you’re interested to see how I’ve done so far, do stay tuned for that.

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REVIEW: See You at Harry’s

Hello, Cabbages!

A little reminder, today’s a busy day for Written Constellations. As you may have remembered, I participated in #ReadThemAllThon TBR, and finally, I’ve got updates (which will be on a separate post).

One of the books I’ve read for the said read-a-thon, is See You at Harry’s  by Jo Knowles, which will be under the category:

Cerulean City: Cascade Badge–Read a book that might make you cry.

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730639Title: See You at Harry’s

Author: Jo Knowles

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Page: 310

Format: ebook

Goodreads: Starting middle school brings all the usual challenges — until the unthinkable happens, and Fern and her family must find a way to heal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a “surprise” baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, “All will be well,” is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

RATING: 

a

Neatly done, it brought me to tears.

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I already posted a short review on Goodreads. I actually haven’t reviewed a book for quite some time now, and I wasn’t sold on how I was organizing my thoughts in Goodreads, that I’ve decided to make a separate post on my blog.

→ See You at Harry’s wasn’t how I expected it to be. For a middle-grade book, the premise was surprisingly a bit heavy to handle. Indeed, it was an emotional experience for me [and to those who have read this as well]. It focuses on family relationships and individual growth; it teaches acceptance not just of others but of oneself.

In my opinion, the synopsis gives too much away, by stating: But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. 

Upon reading that, I instantly prepared myself, I knew something was about to happen. At first, I patterned my guess to the audience the book was written for, so I thought of possible scenarios that aren’t too hard to digest. I also had close guesses to the actual plot–99%, but I got the character wrong, because I wanted to think of the worst that can happen.

Part of the reason why I can’t come up with a decent review is that, I don’t know how to discuss a book clearly without hinting too much relevant information while doing so.

Character wise, I loved how they were all unique and given life. Each voice were crisp and evident, which made them all stand-out and important. After the life-changing experience, how they adjusted and changed were highlighted; each experienced a different level of impact. The emotions felt by the people within the story made them real, and the story easy to relate with.

One thing I dislike about See You at Harry’s is how the synopsis give too much of the plot away. Like I said, it helps you prepare–to put your emotional pieces in order. It warns you of such unpleasant happenings along the book.

I only gave it 4 stars in Goodreads because it did make me cry–I ugly cried towards the last 20 chapters. However, I am the kind of person who likes being surprised–and as I have said, synopsis was a little too informative and specific than necessary. I haven’t read similar books as much, but if you’re interested with stories that features family relationships, maybe you’d like:

[I haven’t read either of those, but I’m quite familiar with their premise. Hopefully I’ll get to read them soon!]

If you know any other similar book, please do recommend some of your favorites!

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Thank you so much for all the support, Cabbages! Stay tuned for another book review and read-a-thon update within the next hour or two. Keep the hype goin’, tell your friends to subscribe and follow!

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In Dreams We Whisper

Hello, Cabbages! FINALLY! I have finished a book after “n” years. I haven’t done much at work since Thursday, and I had the chance to power through a short novel. If you haven’t been able to tell, this is a book review.

I was surprised to have received such a generous offer from the author, Ms. Calista Lynne, an ARC of We Awaken; in exchange for an honest review. And without further ado, let’s talk about this magical book.
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Title: We Awaken we-awaken

Author: Calista Lynne

Release Date: July 14, 2016

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Pages: 180 

Format Received: PDF

Synopsis (Goodreads): Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

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According to Wikipedia (cause I can’t find one that gave a better & unbiased description):

 ASEXUAL (adj.)  is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity.

I just have to say, that cover is just STUNNING. It’s so beautiful. The instant I saw it, I knew I had to have it on my shelf! It does look fitting for a Graphic Novel more though.

In the easiest of explanations, We Awaken, is a magical-realism that revolves around two asexual girls and fell in love with each other. Actually, I am a bit concerned with the Goodreads synopsis giving 80% of the story already. This being said, it took away the element of surprise and mystery.

Honestly, I’ve always heard of Asexuality and I knew basic details about it but I don’t really fully understand it. I know that this book wanted society to be educated with asexuality, but it just didn’t do that for me. This book provided me with confusing explanations, that forced me to do my own online research. It probed new questions that somehow clashed with the details of asexuality discussed in the book.

Now, this leads us to my first disappointment. Victoria wasn’t happy to have been labeled “lesbian” by her best friend Ellie, when she first confided with her that she’s not keen on having sexual encounters with anyone. Until she met Ashlinn, she began to be enlightened with asexuality; and latter accepted the possibility that she might share the same sexual orientation. Reading the book, I felt like Ashlinn convinced Victoria she wasn’t a lesbian, and Victoria, after analyzing herself finally claimed she wasn’t BUT they ended up in a romantic relationship.

Here’s a question now, Is it possible to be a lesbian and asexual at the same time? Upon thorough research, I found out that YES, it is possible. If this is the case, I don’t see the point of having to defend Victoria’s initial sexual orientation (lesbian), since she can easily be both. It has been explained that an asexual has the possibility to be repulsed by the idea of sex, even if he/she is emotionally attracted to his/her partner.

(My brilliant mind says: since there wasn’t really a confirmation on Victoria’s sexuality, it can be deemed that she may be bisexual and not a lesbian. Possible, but I wonder if Ashlinn happened to be a guy instead of a girl, will she feel the same attraction towards him.)

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When I was younger, I took up ballet lessons because well, like other little girls I wanted to grow up becoming a professional ballerina (with pink shoes!). This one factor as to why I decided to read the book. I enjoy it whenever a character finds solace in something (eg. ballet, art, sports, etc), they feel real, in that sense.

A life-changing tragedy or the death of someone dear, has always been a big factor in the premise of almost everything. In We Awaken, it was the loss of Victoria’s father, and her brother’s comatose state for almost a year, were a struggle. It was the factor as to why she refuse to ride or drive cars. To my dismay, only her relationship with her brother was highlighted, despite claiming that she’s very much close with her father. Of course the novel stated that he drives her to her ballet lessons, and is highly involved in supporting her in pursuit of her dreams but it fell short. I was looking for a deeper connection between father & daughters. There’s nothing wrong with this, I was just hoping for something that will pull out all the emotions out of me in terms of family relationship. My father left me & my mom when I was just three years old, and I’ve always envied little girls who share the love of their dads.

There came a time, when Ashlinn first took a human form. What bothered me is how easy it was for her. No complications, no begging a higher being to grant her an existence on Earth; it was like a normal thing for her to be doing, assuming human form, that is. And then, we reach the “climax”. The dilemma presented in We Awaken, didn’t impress me. It’s like something you pull out from a middle-grade fantasy book. I don’t know what complication might have been better for this novel, but the one used was a bit meh for me.

Should you want to know why I said what I did about the dilemma, click this [spoilers].

The story is too fast-paced. Things and situations weren’t stretched out or discussed thoroughly. It felt like bits and pieces of plots weren’t resolved, but rather set aside. A few weeks ago, I listed down the tropes I love-hate to encounter. And here I have encountered one that I definitely do not like! INSTALOVE. Please. It took them less than 5 dream encounters to have developed romantic feelings for each other. I know this is magical realism, but falling in love with someone doesn’t just happen. It takes months or even years to really get to know each other.

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Please note that I do not all hate this book. I did have a few problems with it, but I gave it 2.5 stars because of its focus on sexual orientations. I came from an exclusive school for girls, and have  friends who are not straight.

I agree on the silent advocacy presented by We Awaken and other novels out there who aren’t afraid to tackle LGBT. We have the right to choose who and what we will become. It’s time for society to erase the norms against people who have different sexual preference, to fully welcome and accept everyone on equal footing.

Asexuality proves that not being fond of sexual intimacies and acts is not to be criticized. It is as normal as having sexual affections for someone. The act of engaging in such is a choice, it is not by any chance, someone else’s decision for a certain individual. We are allowed to do things because that’s what we feel comfortable with, those who are asexual, are not freaks nor queer.

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We Awaken didn’t blow me away, it was simply not for me. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of magical realism, and I thought this was going to create the change for me in terms of exploring that genre.

All in all, it’s a good book if you like magical realism, then I recommend this for you!

If you haven’t followed my blog yet, please do! Subscribe to be updated with Written Constellations! I will be back with a new post next week!

ps. Pictures are from Google

xo,

Spuds.

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