Red Glove

redgloveRed Glove by Holly Black
Curse Workers # 2
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Number of pages: 325
My copy: hardbound, gift from Maria

The cons get craftier and the stakes rise ever higher in the riveting sequel to White Cat.

After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov’s retribution, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life.

That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family that’s tied to one of the big crime families—and whose mother’s cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is coming to terms with what it means to be a worker, and he’s figuring out how to have friends.

Except normal doesn’t last very long. Soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past—a past he remembers only in scattered fragments, and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on, because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive….

I read the first book in the Curse Workers series more than a year ago, so it took me a while to get into Red Glove. I had to resist the urge to browse through the first book because I was under time pressure to read this, and also because I want to see if I would be smart enough to figure out all the cons since the Curse Worker novels are essentially con novels. :P

I’m not going to talk about the story in this review to avoid the spoilers for the first book (and it’s more fun to see it unfold on your own). Red Glove was darker compared to White Cat. It feels less YA than the first book, with all the killing and mystery murder, and death. Cassel is less of an unreliable narrator here, because he has his memory back, but there’s still a lot of confusion with what exactly was happening. Even so, it was fun to read, and I easily got into Cassel and the Curse Worker world despite having read the first novel years back. I enjoyed Cassel and his interaction with his friends, and the FBI agents, and his family – and I felt really sympathetic about the mess that he gets himself into.

The cons here felt more elaborate and as I said, darker, but later we get reminded that Cassel was still a kid, and there’s still a chance for him to be not like the bad guys who desperately try to recruit him. Red Glove is a mafia x urban fantasy x murder mystery x con YA novel all rolled into one, and if you’re a fan of any of these (or if you just want to read something out of your comfort zone) then you will definitely enjoy this. (But read White Cat first. :D)

But of course, since this novel is the second book in a trilogy, the ending left me wanting for more. I really enjoyed Red Glove (despite the time I had to speed-read it! Hihi), and I’m really looking forward to reading Black Heart. :)

Number of dog-eared pages: 5

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Power does not consist in striking hard or often, but striking true.

Life’s full of opportunities to make crappy decisions that feel good. And after the first one, the rest get a whole lot easier.

“No trouble ever got fixed late at night,” he said. “Midnight is for regrets.”

Rating: 

Reviews of other Curse Workers books:
#1 White Cat

Other reviews:
The Readventurer
The Nocturnal Library

Minis: 2015 reads, so far

So in an effort to revive this blog out of silence, here’s another post! I thought I’d write about the books I read in the first months of 2015, just so I could catch up. Consider this a Minis post, although mini-er, because I’m going to try to sum  up my thoughts for each book I’ve read in 5 sentences, or less. :)

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
St. Martin’s Griffin | 320 pages | Ebook

Cute collection of holiday love stories, and it was a very good companion for the Christmas season. Not a super fan of all stories, though,  but I didn’t expect I’ll love all anyway. Favorite stories: Midnights by Rainbow Rowell, Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han, Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White (loved the small town setting), and Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter. :) Best paired with a mug of hot chocolate (as long as the weather is cool enough). :)

I sang because that is what I do when I am happy and when I’m sad. I sang because it is who I am when I am being the best possible version of me. I sang because I wasn’t alone as I held Aunt Mary’s hand. I sang because it was Christmas. (Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter)

Rating:

* * *

Navigating EarlyNavigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
Delacorte Books for Young Readers | 306 pages | Ebook

TFG’s F2F book for the month for January. Lots of suspension of disbelief in this one, with their adventures. It’s a good read about family and grief and friendship, but

“I got lost.”
“I know, but you found your way back. Finding your way back doesn’t mean you always know where you’re going. It’s knowing how to find your way back home that’s important.”

Rating: 

* * *

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
Dutton | 307 pages | Hardbound

A reread of one of my favorites for TFG’s February discussion. I still loved this as much as I did before, even if I knew what was going to happen. The other opinions of my book club friends did remind me of how some things happened conveniently for Cornelia’s sake. But even so, I loved the writing, and I still have a huge crush on Teo Sandoval. I think the sequel, Belong to Me, is still better than this. :)

Watching Teo ahead of her carrying the bag and turning around to smile, she understood what the difference was, such a simple change: She’d been alone for a long time; she wasn’t alone anymore.

Rating: 

* * *

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg 
Point | 276 pages | Paperback, borrowed

Read this as a reference for a writing project, borrowed from my friend Kai. This was cute, in so many ways. Slow in some parts, but still rewarding in the end. :)

Rating: 

* * *

painteddesertsThrough Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road by Donald Miller
Thomas Nelson | 272 pages | Ebook/Audio

I’ve had this on hold for a year, and finally read it again this  year because of some life changes that happened to me. In signature Don Miller style, he talked about a road trip and all the little things that he learned from this, and somehow made it relevant to everyone. I really liked this, and while it didn’t make me want to sell everything and pack up to go to a road trip, it made me more excited to set off on little adventures, figuratively and literally. :)

I think we are supposed to stand in deserts and marvel at how the sun rises. I think we are supposed to sleep in meadows and watch stars dart across space and time. I think we are supposed to love our friends and introduce people to the story, to the peaceful, calming why of life. I think life is spirituality.

Rating: 

* * *

Shine by Candy Gourlay
Anvil | 232 pages | Paperback

This was magical and a bit dark, almost like a Tall Story  grew older and tackled a few more issues. I liked how Candy wrote it all, though, and I was truly invested in Rosa and her family, and I wanted to them to get their happy ending. I really liked the setting, too – always raining? That’s us during July to September. ;)

Rating: 

* * *

tgostThe God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Random House | 333 pages | Paperback

This is one of those books that I have on my “I-should-read-this-sometime-in-my-lifetime” list, and I’m glad I finally had the chance to read it. This is a story about a family, and Love Laws, and India. Beautifully written, it examines what happens to families who try not to fall apart but still do. It’s a little bit sad, though, but still beautiful, and it helped that we had a really great discussion about this after in the book club. :)

…the secret of Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen….In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

Rating: 

* * *

Aaand there! Whew. All of them are 4-star books, huh. Interesting. I hope I can write a full review on my next post.  :)

Hello, I’m still alive

Okay, this thing is still on, right?

Yesterday, I went to a video shoot to talk about books (what else) with some fellow book bloggers, carrying the credentials that I am a book blogger and a book club moderator. I felt just a little ashamed that my book blog is hardly alive, and that is why you are now reading this entry. :D

Why have I stopped blogging? Well, the default reason is I just got busy, with the old job and moving to a new job. The other reason is that there was a time I was on/off in the bookish circuit because of some personal things, and I just really enjoyed being with other people and not really getting all stressed out with the blogging responsibilities. Not that I thought it was really stressful; it was more of I just didn’t feel like writing anything here. The last reason is that I liked the freedom of not writing anything after reading a book. You know, just sitting down and reading it and then moving on with the next when I was done.

Except now I kind of miss it.

So here I am! I know I said this several times before, so if I disappear again you know I probably just didn’t feel like writing. But I am going to try, and I am going to think of bookish things to blog about again, if only to not completely lose it. :D

And because this is a book blog, here’s what I have been reading, have read, and will plan on reading/doing:

What I just finished reading:

ifyoufindthisletter weddingnightstand
If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers by Hannah Brencher
Howard Books | 272 pages | Ebook

I bought this because I love Hannah’s blog, and the bloggers I like have non-fiction books out. (Bucket list for me, maybe?) I really enjoyed this one – I read this during March as my birthday read, and I wanted to stop every now and then to savor her words. Hannah has a big, big heart, clearly evident in the pages, and I felt like we were just talking over coffee while I read this. I had a huge, huge desire to go to New York City (more so than usual) after reading this, and also a bigger desire to write letters to strangers and leave them here. This book shows the power of words, and the power of love that shines through the words that we write, even if we do not know who will receive it.

Rating: 

Wedding Night Stand by Mina V. Esguerra (A Chic Manila short story)
Bright Girl Books | 28 pages | Ebook

Hee, Damon. I am still a Lucas Fairy Tale Fail fangirl, but hee, Damon. :”>

Rating:

What I am currently reading:

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – TFG book of the month; still halfway through, need to read faster because discussion is next week. (Except I’m not really liking Rob right now)

The Mysterious Benedict Society  by Trenton Lee Stewart – I needed something fun and light, and this has been in my TBR for aaaages. Really liking it so far. :)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – been stuck on page 100 for the longest time now. Not because it was uninteresting, but because I just didn’t pick it up again. Maybe I should put it on hold for now. Or maybe I should pick it up and read it. Hold on, HM.

What I plan on reading next:

I quit on the Required Reading meme like late last year (but some friends are still doing it, so yay) because I just lost interest. But here are the books lined up as of now (assuming I don’t go all fickle and read something else):

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – book club book for May. (This, I will not fickle out on :D)

Tabi Po 1 & 2 by Mervin Malonzo – because these are graphic novels and should be fast reading. (Also because, haha, best time to read anything remotely scary is during the summer, in broad daylight. :))

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey – Recommended by friends, and it seems right up my alley. :D I read the preview for this and I’m excited to get into this.

#buqoYA books – I joined this writing class but didn’t get to finish, but it doesn’t mean I can’t support my fellow authors. One of the reasons why I am resurrecting this blog is because of the #buqoYA book tours I joined. Watch out for that. :D

Okay I am all blogged out for today. Excuse me while I go blog-hopping because hey, I missed that, too. :)

Cities Blog Tour: Guest Post by Carla De Guzman

Cities.tour.banner.2

So today I break my blogging silence in the middle of all the Papal Visit stuff because I Like It Dog-Eared is one of the stops for the Cities Blog Tour!

Today, author Carla De Guzman is over at the blog to talk about her Top 3 Favorite Cities in the World. Handing you over to Carla, now! :)

* * *
Here we go! My 3 favorite cities in the world, listed in no particular order. I’ve included a photo that I took myself that kind of shows what aspect of that city I love the most.

London

London

My first European city ever, and definitely my top one. It’s so vibrant and busy, you can feel its age and history as you walk their streets. I love the architectural details of almost every place, I love the accents. It’s one of those cities that can be overwhelming, but London was warm and welcome, if a bit rainy. :)

Camiguin

camiguin

Can this island be counted as a city? This was one of those trips that I didn’t expect to go on, and yet loved every minute of. It doesn’t get more beautiful than turquoise seas, white beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and delicious Italian food! Who needs cellphone signal in paradise?

San Francisco

palace

We stayed here for a week when I was fourteen, and we were lucky enough to come back last year for a day trip. The whole city has a chill, artsy vibe that I love so much. The weather is always cool, and there’s always something to see. While walking is a bit of a challenge, it’s a beautiful city to visit. Plus there are so many Filipinos around, it feels like home!

* * *

Thanks, Carla! I haven’t been to any of those places, gasp! Perhaps one day soon? :)

I read Cities last year, and I really, really enjoyed it. If you’re just reading it now, it is confusing at first, but I tell you – hold on, and you will get it. :D  If you want to win a copy, join the giveaway below!

Cities.coverCities by Carla De Guzman
AmazonCreatespace
Author’s Blog | Tumblr | Archive of Our Own | Instagram

Celia has dreams.

She dreams of going to Seoul for a scholarship she never took, of leaving everything behind and moving to New York.

In all those dreams, she finds herself attached to Benedict, the boy she has always loved, but who doesn’t love her back.

Ben believes in parallel worlds.

Worlds where things you didn’t do come true—worlds in which he goes to London and falls in love with Celia, where he shows up on the day she needs him the most. He believes that dreams are glimpses into that parallel world, and it’s not a coincidence that Celia’s been having them too.

But here, now, they’re in Manila. It’s the day of Ben’s wedding, and a typhoon is raging through the city. How will these dreams and unmade decisions change their lives? Will they bring them closer together or drive them farther apart?

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Champions

championsChampions by Karren Renz Sena
The Lost Chronicles of Eden # 1
Publisher: Shepherd’s Voice Publications
Number of pages: 212
My copy: paperback, bought

IN WAR, HEROES ARE MADE. LEGENDS ARE BORN. CHAMPIONS WILL RISE.

Present day, Cielos, the city closest to heaven. The Sword of Sargatanas has been stolen from the most powerful stronghold in Cielterra. When used at a time when the planets align, the sword has the power to open Gate Pandora and unleash unto the Worlds legions upon legions of monsters and beasts from hell.

Present day, location undisclosed. One clueless Human acquaints himself with the barrel of a gun—belonging to the woman he almost fell in love with, no less—and finds himself kidnapped and whisked to a world standing on the brink of war.

The Worlds—both visible and invisible to us—are in danger. The Towers that guard the Flaming Sword of Eden have chosen the heroes. It just so happened that the heroes aren’t really… hero-material. Not at all.

Seven angry, sarcastic, violent, belligerent, uncaring and uncompassionate young men and women were forced to team up to stop a possible apocalypse from happening. As they journey towards the Far West to retrieve the stolen sword, the seven Champions brave one trial after another (including, but not limited to, falling in love with ill-tempered bullies) and ultimately find out what it means to become a true hero.

* * *

(Well, would you look at that, an actual review from me. At the start of the year. Good job, self!)

I heard of Champions by Karren Renz Sena from a fellow book blogger who was tweeting about the book when she was reading it. I noted it, seeing as it was published by Shepherd’s Voice Publications, a local Catholic publishing house that I used to write for, and it was fiction – something new from them. It took me until after Christmas to get myself a copy, and I decided to read it while I was in the jeepney on the way home, and then I couldn’t stop.

Champions is a story of seven men and women who were put together in a team to help retrieve the Sword of Sargatanas, a powerful weapon that is locked up in Cielterra, the stronghold of Cielos, the city closest to Heaven. This sword, when used on the day that the planets aligned, has the capacity to tear open the boundaries between dimensions, and when used on Gate Pandora, will unleash demons  and monsters from Hell. These seven men and women – called Champions – are the only hope for this to be stopped, and to retrieve the Sword. One of these Champions is a Human called Gabriel, kidnapped from his life in Earth and brought to a battle that he didn’t ask for, but even so, he felt that he somehow belonged. Perhaps this was the link to his past that he has been looking for all along?

Champions was fun. This is your good old fantasy novel with Christian references that is so well-written that I think anyone who just likes fantasy and action will just really sink their teeth into this. Though there were times when it felt like there were too many switches in the POVs as I was placed in the heads of almost all the characters, it was still quite fun, and I think the author did that to lay the foundation for the series. It gave me a bit of insight in every character, but I hope the next books in the series will focus on say, one or two instead of all of them so I’ll be able to understand what makes these characters tick. If I were to pick a favorite, I really like the human Gabriel, followed by Solenn who seemed all fire at first but had a big heart inside of her. I would also love to learn more about Matteo, as I always felt affectionate to any group’s tech guy. Oh, and I loved the judges – Samson, Gideon, and Deborah. Their banter was so fun. :D

As I said, the world building here was good, and I really liked the idea of how Eden was set to be the most protected place, and how Cielos being the city closest to Heaven, is the one in charge of its protection. This book makes the Bible seem more alive, and I love how the names used here were from the Bible – Samson, Gideon, Deborah, Memorare, Ark of the Covenant, Passover, etc etc. The names don’t feel out of place, and even the things that they do – rallying aka worship, prayer and meditation – felt like they just fit right into the story, and not a bit preachy.

I wanted more at the end, especially after the revelations about some characters. I am really glad this is a series, so the next question is: when will the next book be out? Please let it be soon!

Number of dog-eared pages: 5

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Someday, you kids will realize that heroes  do not need elaborate costumes or superpowers. Sometimes all it takes is a good heart and a strong faith. (p. 38)

“Samson, you are the murderer of my joy,” Gideon said. “I’m severing our friendship as of this moment. May your heart break at the loss of my friendship, and may you live a sad, lonely life for the rest of your days.”

“You have severed it repeatedly over the years,” Samson said. “Forgive me if my heart is used to the loss of your friendship.” (p. 72)

Rating:

Other reviews:
My Book Musings