Dark, but not divine

The Dark Divine by Bree DespainThe Dark Divine by Bree Despain

A prodigal son

A dangerous love

A deadly secret . . .

I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel’s dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

I was one of the people who loved Twilight at the start of its hype. I’m not really embarrassed to admit it – curiosity got me to check it out after reading a post by a blogger friend raving about the saga. I found it in a bookstore near where I work, bought it, and devoured it over a weekend. I admit to also falling in love with Edward Cullen and the romance, and then falling for Jacob and all his wolfish charms by the second book. I was never a rabid fan, but I liked the saga up until I read the last book. After Breaking Dawn, I turned my back on Stephenie Meyer for making an ending like that.

I won’t go into detail why I stopped liking the saga, but whenever I run into other supernatural romances, I can’t help but compare them to Twilight. Wait, a correction: whenever I come across any supernatural romances with vampires or werewolves, I can’t help but compare them to Twilight, probably because it’s the first book I read on that genre. I also blame it on all the hype the Twilight Saga gets.

So when I came across Bree Despain’s debut work, The Dark Divine, I wondered if it would be another Twilight-like novelclick here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 29 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 13 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

→ Get The Dark Divine by Bree Despain from Amazon.com
→ Bree Despain’s website

When will you rise?

Feed by Mira GrantFeed by Mira Grant

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

Note: Will you just look at that awesome cover???

It was a normal afternoon at work. My colleagues and I were preparing to attend a required meeting when the boys started discussing their last Left 4 Dead 2 gaming session. I listened to them talk about how hard it was to get through whatever level they were in and how they blasted the zombies in the game, then I interrupted them with a question: “What if a zombie apocalypse actually happens?”

That simple question started a string of discussions about what could happen if zombies actually walk among us, hungry for our brains. We talked about the zombie apocalypse at length and what we would do: where to hide, how to kill zombies effectively, what weapons to use given our location, how to survive, even what to do if one of us were to get infected. Answers drew from sources of zombie wisdom ranging from movies like Zombieland to games like Resident Evil and even Plants vs. Zombies, all discussed with absolute seriousness, as if a zombie invasion was a real possibility.

In Mira Grant’s Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy, zombies have become a part of the normal everyday existence…click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 28 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 12 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

→ Get Feed by Mira Grant on Amazon.com
→ Mira Grant’s website
→ Newsflesh Trilogy website

Waiting on Wednesday: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Here’s me trying to blog here more often. Yay!

Ever since I got a Kindle for my iPod touch, I’ve been sampling like crazy. I have about twenty samples in my iPod, most of it are still unread because I don’t have the time to read them yet. Sampling is awesome because it lets me read the first few pages of the book and from there I can sort of decipher if I want the book or not. No more impulse buys, yes? I hope.

I just kind of wish that we can sample some of the books that are just coming out. But alas, I have to wait.

Waiting on WednesdaySince I can’t sample this one yet, I will just have to satisfy myself with putting it on my Waiting on Wednesday post. “Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. My WoW entry for this week is:

Halo by Alexandra AdornettoHalo by Alexandra Adorneto
Release date: August 31, 2010

Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels, Ivy, Bethany and Gabriel are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings.

But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls for the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him?

Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

The angels and Xavier must work together to overcome the dark forces – but will Beth survive the battle? [source]

Look at that cover. So pretty! I can’t remember where I saw this book, but as I was browsing Amazon today, I saw this one…and I want it. Of course, this is me judging a book by its cover again, but how can you not fall in love with something like that? It looks even prettier than outdoor Christmas decorations. *shiny*

I like the concept of angels, too, and mostly all the angel stories I’ve read were about fallen angels and it’s kind of depressing. Not all angels are dark, you know. Plus why the focus on fallen angels? The idea of a teenage girl/angel who falls in love with a human boy is a new one, instead of a male angel falling in love with a human girl.

And again, that cover. So. Pretty!

ETA: OMG, Alexandra Adornetto is only 18?!?!

Elf Magic

I haven’t been posting a lot of reviews here because of two things: work, and I kind of have a gig.

So about a month ago, I received an email about contributing for The POC. I’ve been a pretty casual blogger, so I don’t really earn a lot on my blogging. Anyway, I was offered a very interesting opportunity that makes me do something I only dreamed of doing: get paid to read and review books.

Of course I said yes! :p

The only thing is, I can only read a certain genre (fantasy, sci-fi, horror and anything related to these genres), and I can’t post the reviews on this blog because they claim first rights. Doesn’t mean I can’t link it, though.

And here we go.

* * *
It’s not often you see an elf in the middle of Brooklyn, let alone a tall, blonde, gorgeous elf in the middle of one of the most prestigious performing arts high schools in the country. And yet, that’s just where Zephyr Addler finds herself: smack dab in the middle of bustling New York City, worlds away from the woodland community she knows so well. But Zephyr knows that if she’s going to make the most of her talent, she has to figure out how to live in the world. And dress in the world. Thanks to a little friendly fashion advice from her new friend Mercedes, Zephyr starts to get the hang of Brooklyn. That is, until Zephyr raises the ire of the most popular girl in school, Bella Dartagnan. Now with Bella and her friends out to get her, can Zephyr out-maneuver the mean girls (and catch the eye of a certain cute boy) without losing herself?

I think the last time I had an encounter with an elf was when I watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy about five years ago. Truth be told, I wasn’t really interested in the movies… I only watched them because everyone else was watching them – I really couldn’t care less about Frodo or the ring or whatever else… well, except maybe for Legolas and Aragorn.

It wasn’t until I picked up Heather Swain’s Me, My Elf and I did I finally meet elves again. It’s one of those books that you can’t help but notice when browsing the bookstore shelves, especially because there’s a gorgeous blonde, green-eyed girl staring at you from the cover…click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 27 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 11 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

→ Get Me, My Elf & I by Heather Swain on Amazon.com
→ Heather Swain’s website

Exes and Fairy Tales

Here’s one thing you should know about me: I can never resist a good chick lit story.

Before I got into YA (contemporary and fantasy), I was all for the pink covered books with glamorous women and all that. Although I don’t really grab every chick lit on the shelf — I’m quite choosy, but that’s for another post — I’d pick a fluffy chick lit read over other books if I was given a choice. The difference with chick lit and fantasy is I know what to expect in chick lit. I know there’s a girl, there’s definitely a guy and some kind of self-actualization problem somewhere there, all wrapped up in fluff, and done in a modern or at least, familiar setting. Fantasy books can surprise me a bit too often, leaving my brain trying to catch up as I try to visualize everything. Chick lit books leave me less mental stress.

I’m glad to say that local chick lit is kind of catching up with foreign ones, and they really are getting better. Ask me for a good local chick lit author? Let me introduce you to Mina V. Esguerra. :)

I “met” Mina when I got her first book, My Imaginary Ex, sometime last year, to pass time while I was at the mall. I had a vague idea of the plot, but I wasn’t really a fan of local chick lit yet, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I got it, read it, liked it and asked Mina to give a pep talk to the Pinoywrimos that November for National Novel Writing Month. I even gave away a copy of her book during the Thank God It’s Over party (and the prize when to a boy, how cute), and I was glad that there’s someone to represent the chick lit writers when it comes to inspirations for the Wrimos.

Fast forward to a couple of months later, I got an email from Mina about her second book, Fairy Tale Fail, which was available in Amazon as an ebook. Because of that, I ended up learning how to buy books from Amazon Kindle to my iPod, and yes, I got her book…and read it in a day because it was so awesome.

Fairy Tale Fail

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 110
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

Of all the twenty-something women who are hopeless romantics, Ellie Manuel is more “hopeless” than “romantic.”

Even after her Prince Charming broke up with her, she just won’t give up … because fairy tale heroines don’t live “happily ever after” right away, silly, they’re tested first!

Determined to pass the test, she spends the next year restoring herself to the girl Prince Charming had fallen in love with in the first place.

Until she discovers that life without him might not be so bad after all: her career is taking off, her confidence is back, and the cute guy at work is no longer a stranger.

So when is it okay to quit on a fairy tale?

* * *

I’m not being biased because I sort of know Mina. Fairy Tale Fail really is a cute book, one that has the right amount of fluff and life lessons for the everyday working girl. It’s very easy to relate to Ellie, the protagonist, with her fairy tale whims and romanticism. While I never had a Prince Charming like her, I knew the feeling of wanting to have a fairy tale romance, one where I have a set guide for who Prince Charming should be. I know about obsessing about a guy, and I sort of know how it feels to restoring yourself when experiencing a loss.

I have to admit that like Ellie, I think I’d also prefer to have a guy like Don, but I would find someone like Lucas intriguing. Out of my league, but very intriguing. Lucas and Ellie’s development was done gradually, and it was nice to see that it wasn’t a rushed romance — nothing is more disappointing than a rushed romance in a chick lit novel, I swear. Lucas seemed sexy, yet he had a good heart, even if he seemed a bit hard to see. I kind of wish I got to know more of him through the story, but since the story was told in Ellie’s point of view, we only know as much as she does.

Here’s my favorite part (a spoiler, so if you’re reading/planning to read this, skip this!):

“You think you’re funny,” I said ruefully. “I have no idea what my life is going to be like now.”

…”You told me that your life wasn’t all about work. That you had a lot of things you looked forward to when you got out of the office…Then that’s exactly what your life is going to be. You’ve still got your family, your hobbies, your friends, and none of that will change…And I’m probably going to, you know, start calling. Driving you home. Taking you to movies you hate…And then you’ll probably want to introduce me to your mom. Your nephew Dylan will love me because kids like me, and I’ll tell him about my brother’s job and our pirate story, and he’ll just be so attached to me. And then you’ll want me to go to church again, and we’ll probably discuss that at length. But I probably will go to church with you at least once, and it will be in your college church, to erase the memory of what that douche did there.”

Ah Lucas. Where can I find someone like you? ♥ Fairy Tale Fail is a fresh and cute story that’s sure to make you sigh and be kilig. :)

I loved Fairy Tale Fail so much, that it made me pick up My Imaginary Ex again, for a re-read. And here’s the requisite book image and blurb!

My Imaginary Ex

My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra
Publisher: Summit Books
Number of pages: 144
My copy: paperback, from National Bookstore

Here’s what happens when you play pretend.

When Zack asks Jasmine to pretend to be his ex-girlfriend, she gamely agrees, thinking it would be fun. A few years later, she still has to keep convincing people that they were never together! Then one day, she finds out he’s getting married—to someone she’d just met once! All of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore. Can Jasmine sort out her feelings (sometimes, she can’t even tell real from pretend when it comes to her and Zack) before it’s too late?

* * *

Now this one is quite different. Just like in Fairy Tale Fail, the characters in this novel were strong and unique, each of them having a different voice, even if it’s just a minor character. The supporting characters, Lena and Marjorie, were fun, and convincing, while Kimmy, the main antagonist, was just as hateful. The story was painted over a setting that was very believable, and I could actually imagine where they went at this party or

I think the strength of My Imaginary Ex is not just in its characters, but in how the story was told. The jumps back in time is enough to show us how Jasmine and Zack’s friendship grew, and how he met his exes and how things changed. The transitions between the past and present were straightforward so it wouldn’t leave you wondering where you are in the novel’s time line. And I absolutely loved it when Jasmine came to an epiphany — I felt like I was with Lena and Marjorie, heaving a sigh of relief when Jasmine finally agreed to their plan.

My Imaginary Ex is the type of story where you’ll find yourself rooting for the characters to get together in the end, because if they don’t…well, what’s the use? While I didn’t really liked a particular scene in the book (sorry, I’m just conservative, I guess), the ending was still very satisfying, and would make you want a Zack of your own. I know I did.

So if you’re ever deciding to pick up some good local chick lit, go look for Mina’s books. I promise you won’t regret it. :)

Rating:
Fairy Tale Fail
My Imaginary Ex