2013 Must-Have Books

I almost forgot to come up with this list because of my recent sort-of blogging slump. Thank goodness for archives, though, because I checked my posts during January and found my 2012 Books I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands On list. In order to keep up with tradition, I am coming up with a list for 2013 so I can remember which books to pre-order for myself and use laser labels (assuming I have them, that is).

Besides, it’s fun writing this list.

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

And here we go.

Iscariot by Tosca Lee (February 5). I’ve heard of this book around…2009? Early 2010? And finally, it’s coming out. I am so, so excited for this. I loved Demon and Havah, and when I heard that Tosca is writing a book about Judas Iscariot, I knew I had to get it. I actually have a galley of this already, but I am so, so getting a print copy because it’s Tosca. And I’m pretty sure she’s going to tear my heart apart again with this one.

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

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Filipino Friday: ReaderCon Intro

Filipino Friday

It’s not Friday here anymore, but you know that thing where the day is not over until you’ve slept? Yeah, I’m doing that here.

It’s been a crazy couple of days that’s why it’s kind of quiet in the blog, and it will be quiet again soon because I’ll be off to a trip for the next two weeks! I’m breaking the blog silence to join the first Filipino Friday meme in preparation for the first Filipino Reader’s Conference that will be happening next month (more to that in a future post, hopefully this weekend :D).

So, hi! I’m Tina. I’ve been reading since I was a kid and I’d like to believe that my dad’s reading time with me was what made me a reader. I remember the times he’d read this Pepito the Catfish to me when I was younger, and there was this other book that he used to read to me in the province when we were staying there. Anyway, the first time I truly wanted to start collecting and reading books was when a classmate in Grade 3 brought some Sweet Valley Kids books in school. Ever since then, the bookstore has always been my favorite place to go to when I go out.

I wish I could say I read any genre, but I’m really very biased towards YA, especially contemporary. I’ve learned to love fantasy last year, and right now I’m working on getting to know more sci-fi and classics. My favorite a.k.a auto-buy authors are Sarah Dessen, John Green, Frank E. Peretti, Ilona Andrews, Melina Marchetta, Mira Grant, Camy Tang, Patrick Ness, Stephen Emond, and Mina V. Esguerra to name a few. :) I’m pretty sure I missed someone there — there’s just too many good books by good authors out there.

Comfort reads include anything swoony or funny, preferably both — best examples are The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra. I like my books with enough swoon. ;) I also tend to like books with zombies and just recently, superheroes.

Two of the best books I’ve read this year: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. And just because it’s unusual, I think it’s worth a mention that I thought Unearthly by Cynthia Hand is one of those paranormal books that went against the norm. And because they’re from favorite authors, I also thought Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer and Mira Grant’s Deadline are full of awesome. :)

If this post sounds just a teensy bit loopy, I apologize. I’m actually really sleepy right now. :P So, hi! :)

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah DessenWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Number of pages:  416
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents’ bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean’s become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean’s ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

* * *

Sarah Dessen is a comfort read. I learned to love the YA genre through her books, and even if I’ve read other good contemporary YA novels (hello John Green and Melina Marchetta), Sarah Dessen remains as the queen of my YA-novel loving heart. So there was really no question that I’d get her newest book, What Happened to Goodbye, in the blink of an eye. In fact, this is probably the most expensive ebook that I’ve purchased so far (it’s $1 more expensive than the usual ebook price).

Mclean Sweet lived a normal life, until her mother fell in love with the coach of the basketball team that her father loved. After a messy divorce, Mclean joins her dad with his traveling job, jumping from one town to another to improve or close some restaurants. Tired of her old personality, Mclean takes on a different persona and a name for every town she lives in — from a cheerleader, a theater geek to an all around girl, she does it all and disappears without a trace when they need to move. Mclean is prepared to do the same thing when she moves to Lakeview with her dad. That is, until she finds herself not only using her real name, but acting like herself.

Reading a Dessen novel for me is like coming home after a long day’s work and snuggling on my favorite chair with a good, comforting drink. It was so easy to immerse myself in Lakeview, and after reading all her other books, it almost feels like I’m coming home. That’s what reading What Happened to Goodbye feels like, especially for someone who’s loved and read all Sarah Dessen books like me — coming home after a long trip or adventure to faraway lands and finding comfort in all things old and new.

Although, as far as other Sarah Dessen novels are concerned, this book isn’t really all that. While it didn’t really annoy me, there were some things that kind of niggled at me and made this novel less “OMG AWESOME”. For one thing, the premise of this book reminds me of Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott, with the town-jumping and the new personalities but sans the stealing. I think this may be what made it a bit hard for me to accept that Mclean could change personalities like that. I can’t help but think that her dad is a fugitive somewhere and he needs to escape, but he has a good job here, and he obviously cares for his daughter a lot. I just can’t figure out why he just runs off without saying goodbye to people — it’s not like he’s running away from not paying check city payday loans, you know? It seemed a little bit weak for me.

I also echo what other people say about the “swoon” (or “sa-woon”, LOL) in this book — it’s almost non-existent. Not completely, because the build-up between Mclean and Dave is agonizingly slow, and there aren’t much swoon-worthy moments here unlike the ones between Macy and Wes or Remy and Dexter. I understand how some people would be disappointed with that, and I am a little bit disappointed. Just a little, because I actually liked it. Sometimes the agonizingly slow stuff makes for good stories in the end, you know?

But on a more positive note, Sarah Dessen still knows her characters, especially the secondary ones! I loved the staff at Luna Blu, and Mclean’s friends, especially Deb! I also loved that giant Easter Egg there. A part of me wishes that Sarah Dessen would write an entire novel about that guy because he’s been in too many of her novels, and I think he deserves his own story. :D I loved Deb, too, but I think my favorite secondary character for What Happened to Goodbye is Opal, the restaurant owner. I spotted the development with her a mile away, but it was a satisfying reveal. :)

What Happened to Goodbye may not be a favorite Dessen, but I think it’s another solid release. As a longtime Dessen fan, I really enjoyed reading this one. However, if you’re new to Dessen, I’d suggest you pick up her older titles, especially The Truth About Forever, This Lullaby, and Just Listen to be introduced to her contemporary YA writing prowess. :)

So what’s next for Dessen? I truly hope she decides to write a book with a male lead this time, just like John Green is writing a book with a female lead. I think it’s high time we read a story of a Dessen boy from his point of view, right?


Other reviews:
Forever Young Adult

Steph Su Reads


The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever by Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  390
My copy: paperback, bought from Powerbooks

Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.

* * *

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The Truth About Forever did not do it any justice. The thing is, I don’t know how to write a proper review for this book without squealing or “sa-woon”-ing so much. Because believe me, I know I did that so many times when I was rereading this book.

But let me try again. Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s not my first Dessen, but it’s the book that made me love Dessen and made her one of my auto-buy authors. It’s one book I’ve reread multiple times and still get all swoony and happy and wishing for a romance like Macy and Wes did. Yes, even with their drama, because it made the ending so much satisfying in the end.

The Truth About Forever - UK coverThe Truth About Forever is about Macy Queen, whose life spun out of control when her dad died in front of her. Macy tried to hold it together for the sake of her family, hiding her grief and seeking perfection, thinking that this would help her mother who seeks perfection in everything she does as well, her own way of dealing with loss. The story starts with Macy’s boyfriend, Jason, leaving for Brain Camp and Macy facing a long summer with her strict schedule and routine. She’s okay, she always thought. Until one day, she meets the Wish Catering crew. One bad afternoon at her summer job, with a bad email to boot, she joins Wish, makes new friends, and meets Wes — the seemingly perfect guy with his own not-so-clean past, who likes flaws. Things turn interesting for Macy as she gets to know these people, and as she realizes that maybe it’s not so bad if her strictly-scheduled life unravels and she lets chaos in bit by bit.

Ah, this book. I think what makes me love this book more than I loved This Lullaby is how much I could relate to Macy. I’m fortunate enough to have my parents here with me so I can’t relate to Macy at that front, but the schedules? The need to be as perfect as I can be (sometimes, anyway)? Oh, I’ve been there. At the next rereads, I found that I wanted to shake Macy so hard — she needs to cry! She needs to snap out of the illusion that she needs to be perfect to hold things together. She needs to let go and reach for her mom so they could grieve together! Ah Macy, why do you frustrate me so much?

But it served as a good starting point. If there was anything that Sarah Dessen really knows, it’s how to write a story that seeps into you and hooks you, pulling you in up until the last page. There’s no need for magic or any supernatural creatures — just plain everyday things magnified, with added significance. The conversations could be just any normal conversation, but somehow they pack a punch. For example:

“Honestly,” I said.


“Come on. You have to admit it’s sort of ridiculous.”

“What is?”

Now that I had to define it, I found myself struggling for the right words. “You know,” I said, then figured Kristy had really summed it up best. “The sa-woon.”

“The what?”

“Wes, come on,” I said. “Are you seriously not aware of how girls stare at you?”

How cute is that?

There’s really nothing new with the story, but thanks to the writing and the vivid characters, it becomes a little bit extraordinary. This book is one of the reasons I appreciate characters more, why I believe that even the most common storyline can be interesting when the roles are played by strong, well-developed characters.

And then there’s Wes. Dessen boys are well known among readers, and Wes is definitely my favorite. He just seems so…perfect. Strange to see a seemingly perfect guy in a book that tells the main character that perfection isn’t everything, don’t you think? Believe me, I’m still trying to find some kind of flaw in Wes. But I guess that’s what crushes are — it’s so hard to find a flaw in them. I think I’m not that infatuated with Wes that I’d try and look for someone exactly like him (but hey, I wouldn’t mind, haha), but I would like to have the same kind of development that Macy and Wes had. Their relationship is one of the most authentic ones I’ve read — built on shared experiences and conversations. Now where is that guy I could play a game of Truth with?

So yeah, even on my third reread, I still loved The Truth About Forever. It reminds me of why I started reading YA and why I like the contemporary genre. If you’re looking for a good contemporary YA novel you can sink your teeth into, or if you’re looking for a good Sarah Dessen novel to start with, I highly recommend The Truth About Forever. Read it and sa-woon. :)


Other reviews:
Forever Young Adult

In My Mailbox (15): Where I Go “Squee!”

It’s still a pretty slow blog week and reading week, too. No slumps, I hope, just terribly slow reading because I always find something else to do whenever I find some free time. Next week seems to be a very exciting week in the book world (hee, Thursday Next reference!) since it’s time for Book Expo America, and about half of the bloggers I follow are going there. Unfortunately, I’m all the way on the other side of the world, so I can only “watch” people squee for the entire event and all. Don’t worry, one day, I’ll be there, too.

I did have my own squeeing moments the past week because of the good books I got. It’s was very good mailbox week. :)


  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth (Fully Booked). I got this one last week, really, and I know this is a splurge because it’s a debut, but enough good reviews around tell me I may like it. Plus it was sale in Fully Booked Eastwood last week, so I decided to make use of that to get 20% off on a hardcover. I love how fiery the cover is, don’t you think? :)
  2. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta (Book Depository). Okay let me squee! I wasn’t expecting this to arrive until next week, so seeing this package really excited me! I cannot wait to read this.
  3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Book Depository). And another squee! This one I wasn’t expecting to arrive until first week of June, so I was even more surprised when I got it this week. It is very pretty in person, and again, I can’t believe I got this for less than $10. :) I love that the pages are glossy, and you should see the illustrations:
    Now, I should probably read the two other books in the Chaos Walking trilogy soon. Hee.

My Book Depository package also arrived with cute bookmarks! The Piper’s Son came with a music-themed bookmark, one side showing basic piano chords (some I still vaguely remember, LOL) and the other side showing basic guitar chords. A Monster Calls came with a colorful calendar bookmark. I don’t know how that fits the theme of the book, but who cares? A reader can never have too many bookmarks. :)

Bookmarks from Book Depository

I also got some ebooks, which arrived last week:

  • What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah DessenWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (Amazon Kindle store). Apparently, the print copy of this book won’t be here until June, so an ebook sufficed for now. I don’t mind buying a print copy since it is Sarah Dessen anyway. I’ve finished this book last week, but I’m kind of having a hard time writing a review.
  • Love Story by Jennifer Echols(Simon and Schuster Galley Grab). I wouldn’t have seen this if Kai hadn’t tweeted about it. It was hidden in the adult e-galleys in the Galley grab newsletter, so easy to miss. :) I have no idea when I’ll be able to read this, though.

See, pretty squee-worthy, right? I’ll be reserving some of these books for possible slump days — nothing like an awesome book to snap you out of a slump.

Oh, and there should be more posts in this blog next week. I just remembered — I’m participating in Armchair BEA! :) Now I just hope I don’t forget about it…

Have a great Sunday, everyone! :)