Book Review: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Published September 18th 2012 by Scholastic Press
Format: Novel
Genre And Themes: Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult, Supernatural
Length: 409 pages, hardcover
Ebook ISBN/ASIN: 545424925 (ISBN13: 9780545424929)
Characters: Blue Sargent, Richard “Dick” Campbell Gansey III, Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, Noah

Blurb: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

I absolutely adore this book! The characters, the plot and everything about it is perfection for me. At first, I thought it was kind of slow but I realized that it’s part of the beauty of the story. The pacing goes with the whole vibe of the setting – the quiet and mysterious town of Henrietta. And the characters – their just so vibrant especially Gansey and Ronan.

Okay, I think I pretty much summed up my review already but let me just add in my own words what the book is basically about – a group of teenagers searching for a magical dead / undead (nope, he’s not a vampire) Welsh king that was supposed to grant them a favor or whoever wakes him, that is.

The story is a fascinating one and I loved the tidbits of history incorporated along with the supernatural.

As for the characters – each boy (Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah) have its own individuality. As I’ve said, I particularly loved Adam and Ronan, then Noah. I don’t know why I didn’t like Adam that much. If you decide to give it a go, help me analyze why. LOL

As I’m writing this review, I’m already halfway thru the second book! I am loving it so far as much as this first book in the series! I cannot believe that it took me forever to read this!!! I highly recommend this amazing, amazing book!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About The Author
New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

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Book Review: Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2) – Victoria Aveyard

Published February 9th 2016 by HarperTeen
Format: Novel
Genre And Themes: Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult, Heroes, Slavery, Rebellion, Superpowers
Length: 464 pages, paperback
Ebook ISBN/ASIN: 1409159353 (ISBN13: 9781409159353)
Characters: Tiberias Calore “Cal” VII, Mare Molly Barrow, Maven Calore

Blurb: If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare’s blood is red – the colour of common folk – but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince and friend who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by the Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red and Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

After the shocking conclusion of the first book where Mare and Cal found themselves betrayed, outcasted and almost dying from the manipulation of the evil Queen Elara and the newly crowned Silver king Maven, the quest to find the “newbloods” became the number one motivation for Mare to become the face of the Scarlet Guard in order to topple the Silver royals and their allies.

I did enjoy the previous book’s intro about the Silvers, Red bloods and the Red bloods with Silver abilities. Here, we get to see more of the newbloods – a number of characters with said enhanced Silver powers. The book focuses mostly on finding these ‘newbloods’ with Mare convincing them to join their cause with the help of the very reluctant Calore.

Although I loved the whole exhibition of each ability from these newbloods, I find the whole narrative of the book a bit repetitive and rather uneventful save for its latter part . We didn’t get any juicy new sub-plots. It’s like more of a set-up for the upcoming events in the series that unfortunately didn’t unfold in this book.

It is still kind of interesting and fascinating discovering the abilities of the new bloods but there was detachment from the main characters.

What saved the whole book from being horrible is the fact that it build up a premise that may or may not break the series in the coming installments.

I don’t mind reading more from this world and these characters. One thing’s for sure, Ms. Aveyard is a very pretty inventive writer. Bravo!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’ve actually finished the second and third book upon writing this review. For the record, I’m not a fan of the brothers. I am 100% #TeamKilorn.

About The Author
Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. RED QUEEN is her first novel. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. You can visit her online at www.victoriaaveyard.com.

Book Review: Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Published May 9th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin (first published October 6th 2015)
Format: Novel
Genre And Themes: LGBTQ, Romance, Young Adult, Highschool, Magic
Length: 522 pages, paperback
Ebook ISBN/ASIN: 1250135028 (ISBN13: 9781250135025)
Characters: Simon Snow, Tyrannus Basilton “Baz” Grimm-Pitch, Penelope Bunce, Agatha Wellbelove

Blurb: Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

From the number of reviews that I’ve read, Harry Potter seems to be the common denominator. Suffice to say that this was almost patterned to Rowling’s wizard boy’s adventure. Almost being the operative word since it’s so similar to Harry Potter but different at the same time.

I’m also aware that Simon Snow’s adventure was heavily featured from the author’s previous book, Fangirl and I guess the clamor was high enough to prompt the author to write a full length book about it. And I’m so glad that she did!

In all honesty, this may just be the cutest full length novel I’ve read in like, forever! I absolutely loved how the author was able to compressed everything in the story – from magic, family, to love and coming-of-age in general.

Simon’s character is freaking adorable and so as his love interest – his nemesis – Baz. I loved their history as mortal enemies from the time they’ve met until one of them figured what they’re feeling towards the other. It was sweet and downright hilarious at the same time.

Then there’s the secondary characters – all so fleshed out and all so very interesting. I especially loved Penelope. What a riot for a BFF! I loved that she’s super game all the time. I was hoping that by the end of the story, there’ll be some sort of big reveal about Simon’s past so I was a bit miffed that it didn’t happen but it doesn’t lessen my enjoyment at all. I’m even hoping for a sequel!

I easily dismissed this as a mere Harry Potter rip off of some sort but truth be told, it was not. The story was very absorbing, characters so enticing and the whole ensemble of characters is a testament on what a great storyteller Rainbow Rowell is.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About the Author
Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.

When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.

She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

More at rainbowrowell.com.

Timothée Chalamet’s Hot Summer Nights First Official Trailer!

Yay! It’s finally here! After his breakthrough performances via Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird last year, Timmy’s upcoming movies are very much anticipated by fans and critics alike (including moi). One of them is Hot Summer Nights that premiered earlier last year at the South by Southwest (SXSW) and will be the first film by Timothée to come out this year. The coming of age film was directed by Elijah Bynum and also stars Maika Munroe (The Guest), Alex Roe (The 5th Wave) and Thomas Jane.

It will have it commercial release in the US on July 27, 2018!

Kyla Coleman Wins America’s Next Top Model Cycle 24 Finale! (Reaction)

Kyla is victorious in blue!

To cap off this very disappointing season, 20-year-old Kyla Coleman edged out returning contestant Jeana Turner and fan favorite Khrystyana Kazakova to win the title of America’s Next Top Model.

Robbed big time.

Never did I expect that Khrystyana will take the third spot. I mean, Kyla’s body of work in the show is mediocre at best compared with Khrystyana who has FOUR First Call outs and FIVE Second Best Photos that she’s literally on top of everyone else.

I am not taking this away from Kyla but Khrystyana’s third place finish is just beyond deplorable!

Jeana settled for a runner-up finish.

I am totally over of this show…at least for this year… *rolls eyes*

Photos courtesy of VH1 / America’s Next Top Model

 

Book Review: Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) – Victoria Aveyard

Published February 10th 2015 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 383 pages
Characters: Kilorn Warren, Gisa Barrow, Tiberias Calore “Cal” VII, Mare Molly Barrow, Maven Calore, Evangeline Samos, Diana Farley, Tiberias Calore VI, Elara Merandus, Julian Jacos, Lucas Samos

Blurb: This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart

I know I’m late at the party but since my schedule wasn’t full last week, I was able to finally get my hands on this mega-hit young adult series. ‘even got me  paper back copy of it.

I’m actually not disappointed. I somehow had this preconceived ideas about it because of all the hype and most of my “reader” friends were raving about so I figured that this would be worth my time and I was fairly surprised that I find myself getting its second and third installments on ebooks after reading this first one.

Red Queen is more like the Divergent series meets The Hunger Games although what separate it from the two is the high element of fantasy the author cleverly incorporated with the story. Plot-wise, it isn’t as original but I loved the development of each characters in it.

The pacing of the story was also something to laud about the book. I loved that Victoria Aveyard didn’t drag any part of the story. She was able to really focus on what’s important in each sub-plot.

The only reason I am not giving this a five-star rating is its predictability. It was actually good-predictable but I was maybe hoping for something more original because from the get-go, I’ve already figured who will turn against our protagonist.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I’ve actually finished the second and third book upon writing this review. For the record, I’m not a fan of the brothers. I am 100% #TeamKilorn.

About The Author
Victoria Aveyard graduated from USC, where she majored in screenwriting. RED QUEEN is her first novel. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Los Angeles. You can visit her online at www.victoriaaveyard.com.

My Hot Picks for Movies to Watch Out For!

I’ve been binge-watching film trailers on YouTube the whole day and thought of sharing with you guys my top favorites so far – the interesting ones that got me all excited to go watch them on the big screen! It’s just a shame that most of this films won’t probably be getting any local releases but I’m keeping my fingers crossed right now. Check these trailers out!

1. Krystal
Director: William H. Macy
Cast: Nick Robinson, Grant Gustin, Rosario Dawson, William H. Macy, William Fichtner, Kathy Bates, Felicity Huffman, Rick Fox, Jacob Latimore, T.I., Amy Parrish

Plot: A young man living a sheltered life develops a crush on a stripper and joins her Alcoholics Anonymous group just so he can be in the same room with her. (IMDb)

This kinda reminds me of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha’s The Rebound where the young guy fell for the older girl, they got together but at the end they’d realize their priorities in life. Hah! This looks cute and funny though! Nick Robinson looks absolutely adorable here!

US Release Date: April 13, 2018 (The film had its premier back in November 2017 at the Virgina Film Festival)

2. On Chesil Beach
Director: Dominic Cooke
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff, Samuel West, Adrian Scarborough

Based on Ian McEwan’s novel. In 1962 England, a young couple find their idyllic romance colliding with issues of sexual freedom and societal pressure, leading to an awkward and fateful wedding night. (IMDb)

Now, this looks absolutely fantastic! This is looking to be another Ronan’s possible entries to next year’s Oscars. I haven’t personally read the book but I’ve read a summary of it before and it’s really interesting and uhm, sad.

US Release Date: May 18, 2018 (The film had its premier back in September 2017 at the Toronto International Film Festival)

3. The Seagull
Director: Michael Mayer
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening, Corey Stoll, Billy Howle, Elisabeth Moss, Jon Tenney, Brian Dennehy, Mare Winningham, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Zegen

An aging actress named Irina Arkadina pays summer visits to her brother Pjotr Nikolayevich Sorin and her son Konstantin on a country estate. On one occasion, she brings Boris Trigorin, a successful novelist and her lover. Nina, a free and innocent girl on a neighboring estate who is in a relationship with Konstantin, falls in love with Boris. (IMDb)

Now, this one has Oscars written all over it! Based on Anton Chekhov’s play of the same name, the film doesn’t lack in its star-power with former Academy Award nominees Benning and Winningham providing support for Ronan. Moss looks absolutely brilliant here as well! I hope they’d show this one locally!!!!

US Release Date: May 11, 2018 (The film will premiere on April 21, 2018 at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival)

4. Adrift
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin

Based on the true story of survival, a young couple’s chance encounter leads them first to love, and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. (IMDb)

I loved Shailene! Even the horrendous Divergent film series was made bearable by her. She’s also fantastic in Big Little Lies!  Now, I am hoping that this one will pick up steam and get her the attention leading up to next year’s Awards season. On to the film, I did a bit of a research and it tells me that the guy in the trailer (played by Claflin) was not really discovered along with his wife. Uhm, so there ya go…

***

And of course, I am just waiting for Avengers: Infinity War three weeks from now and Love, Simon (whose books I’ve read but didn’t like) which is getting a late release here but I’m really excited to watch it because it’s gotten tremendous support and good praises from the film community!

 

America’s Next Top Model Cycle 24 Episode 12 Photoshoot – Beauty is a Comeback

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

Not only is Jeana coming back to serve more tea for the other girls, we’re also blessed by Cycle 3 winner Eva Marcille (Gaaahh remember the epic face-off between Yaya and Eva, and Anne almost toppling her in the end?) and also one of the former longest judges of the show, Nigel Barker. They recreated one of the shoots in Cycle 3 that made Eva the one to beat in the competition during her time.

Erin and Khrystyana

Jeana and Rio

Liberty and Kyla

Shanice and Christin

Call Out Order
Kyla
Khrystyana
Shanice
Rio – Eliminated
Comback – Jeana

Photos courtesy of ANTM Facebook Page

America’s Next Top Model Cycle 24 Episode 11 Photoshoot – Beauty is Personality

There are only five girls in the house vying for the title of America’s Next Top Model and at this point, it is pretty clear that season’s favorite Khrystyana is steering away from the rest of the girls. In all seriousness, at this point – I’ll be hella shock if Khrystyana won’t end up winning this. Sorry, boo, I do not read spoilers but seriously – this is Khrystyana’s title to lose.

For their challenge, the girls created personalized avatar for the new ANTM mobile game. Yup = I know what you’re thinking but let’s not go there. Khrystyana won the challenge tho so Yasss! Then they shot a music video with Maejor and Mama TyTy. I’d say I’m pretty happy with the elimination this episode. I mean, Jeana was possessed all throughout this session. Oops!

Anyway, this is all for nothing because Jeana came back in the next episode! BUT – she’s gon steal the place of one girl to be in the final 4!!!!

Jeana and Rio getting the real score from Mama.

Is this too much of a giveaway?

 

Reaching Greater Heights: Mt. Pulag – The Third Highest Peak in the Philippines!

I’m an amateur mountain climber. I’ve climbed a few in the past, yes, but my health and time didn’t allow me to really get into it. This year, as part of my new year’s resolution, I promised to climb more mountains.

I found myself already on my second climb this year at the highest peak in Luzon, the Mount Pulag which also happened to be the third highest peak in the whole archipelago of the Philippines (next to Mt. Apo and Mt. Dulang-Dulang – both situated in Mindanao).

I even trained for this because I was told that it’s going to be strenuous. I’ve tried strengthening my legs for about three weeks since I just started working out around the same time this Mt. Pulag climb came about.

I joined the Bokal Extreme event along with with my officemates – the Kaladkarins – for this little “expedition” lol.

Travel time from Manila to Baguio was very smooth and fast – thank you SCTEX! At least around 5 hours inclusive of a couple of stopovers.

We got picked up at the Baguio Victory Liner terminal by what they call the “Monster Jeep,” I don’t have the foggiest idea why they call it like that since it looks like a regular passenger jeepney to me, though a bit bigger (ding!) . From there, we went to the DENR office for the registration and orientation. The travel time here is about 3 hours. We had a 30-minutes stopover for breakfast and a little photo-ops.

(Side note: You can also buy hiking gears here which I thought are way cheaper! ‘Bought my mess kit here!)

Before you’re allowed to climb Mt. Pulag, you have got to present a “Fit to Climb ” medical certificate and attend the 30-40 minutes orientation regarding Mt. Pulag, a bit of its history and the know-how of climbing it.

After the informative lecture, we went to the jump off site to set up camp for the night.

We woke up at around 130 in the morning and started the trek at 2AM. It was really muddy since it rained the night before and it’s still drizzling throughout our hike.

My number one advise for newbie climbers of this great mountain is to wear appropriate clothing. I was stupid enough to think that I could endure the cold by wearing my favorite football jersey so I was freezing by the time we arrived at the “first summit.” It was such a foolish move on my part so please, just please, wear something warm during your climb here.

For amateurs like myself, Ambangeg is the preferred trail. The hike wasn’t that hard even if it’s all muddy so I think if the weather was real good at the time, I thought it’d be a way easier trekking for us. It’s a good thing we waited for the weather to clear up and saw the beautiful mossy plains at the summit and the sea of clouds which is the summit’s main attraction. Watching it is like being one with nature – just beautiful! I think the whole hike ascending and descending took us close to 12 hours. Yes, it was that long but it was all worth it.

I cannot wait to revisit this majestic mountain in the future!

(This was a long overdue post. Since most of my blog posts are pre-scheduled, I didn’t realize that this one didn’t make it to my published posts. It’s still on my draft folder which I’ve only seen today! Ugh! Anyway – here’s my adventure at Mt. Pulag)