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Monday, May 25, 2015

[REVIEW] Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars

Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: March 24th 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.


My thoughts

What an amazing debut! Written in the Stars is an important and eye-opening YA novel that should be read by people everywhere. This is easily one of my favorite 2015 reads so far.

Naila is a Pakistani-American girl trying to break out of tradition, not solely because of love but because she genuinely wants to live a life that she chose for herself. That alone won me over to Team Naila. I like how real her character is. She has dreams and ambitions but doesn't have much choice and freedom because of her conservative and controlling parents. I think at some level, a lot of us can relate to that. Maybe it's not our parents but there's almost always something that we struggle against.
"My mother always says when you fight destiny, destiny fights back. Some things, they're just written in the stars. You can try, but you can never escape what's meant to be."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday [#16]: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW pick today is:


Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: November 10th 2015 by Razorbill
Pre-order from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

Why I'm Waiting On It

Richelle Mead? Standalone? Fantasy? Chinese folklore? YESSSSS TO EVERYTHING!! November, please come sooner! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

[REVIEW] Noggin by John Corey Whaley


Author: John Corey Whaley
Genre: YA Contemporary, Sci-fi
Published: April 8th 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.


My thoughts

Equal parts funny and thought-provoking. Noggin will make you think twice about life, death and everything that comes after.

I think this book is absolutely brilliant and unique. I've never read anything like this before. The author delivered an original concept and a story that sneaks its way into the hearts of the readers with its humor and poignancy.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Weekend Rambling [#4]: Replying to Comments on YOUR Blog

Weekend Rambling is where I discuss/rant/ramble about random things, bookish or non-bookish alike. Everyone's welcome to share their thoughts!

It's been a while, you guys! How have you been? Me, I'm just so glad that the heat's finally letting up. It's been raining here in the Philippines these past few days, although it's still fairly hot during the day. But at least it's not as hot as it's been since the beginning of summer. Here comes the rainy season! Yay! And you know what else is new? Today's Weekend Rambling topic!

Replying to Comments on YOUR Blog

Okay, so as bloggers, we looooove getting comments. We live off them. We even bribe our family and friends to leave comments on our blog. Sometimes even random strangers, right? Or not. (Am I the only one doing this? Oops.) But seriously though, it's quite fulfilling to know that people actually read what we post and take the time to leave comments. But do we also take the time to read these comments AND reply to them? I know this topic has been discussed on so many blogs since blogging was invented, but today I'd like to give my opinions both as a blogger and as a commenter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday [#15]: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My WoW pick today is:

The Rose Society

Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Book 2, The Young Elites
Publication date: October 6th 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pre-order from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
From New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu comes the second book in the exhilarating Young Elites series

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers that murdered her love, the Crown Prince Enzo Valenciano.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

Why I'm Waiting On It

Have you read my last year's review of The Young Elites? If that doesn't convince you of TYE's awesomeness, I don't know what will. And I'm pretty sure The Rose Society will be even more bad-ass. There'll be new characters with abso-freaking-lutely amazing powers, and of course, the Young Elites are still there! Gah! I'm so excited for this book!

(I'm not impressed with the cover though; I hope they still change it.)

Monday, May 11, 2015

[REVIEW] Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton


Author: Abbie Rushton
Genre: YA Contemporary, LGBT
Published: February 5th 2015 by Atom
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Megan doesn't speak. She hasn't spoken in months.

Pushing away the people she cares about is just a small price to pay. Because there are things locked inside Megan's head - things that are screaming to be heard - that she cannot, must not, let out.

Then Jasmine starts at school: bubbly, beautiful, talkative Jasmine. And for reasons Megan can't quite understand, life starts to look a bit brighter.

Megan would love to speak again, and it seems like Jasmine might be the answer. But if she finds her voice, will she lose everything else?


My thoughts

Unspeakable has a really interesting blurb that immediately drew me in. A main character that doesn't speak? How is she going to narrate the story? Very intriguing. Also, this is my first book with lesbian main characters so I was really excited to dive in.

I liked the story and the way it was written. The prose is great and it has a smooth-flowing pace that I really enjoyed reading. The words have a dramatic quality to them that are common in contemporary novels with tough issues. The mystery factor also added spice to the story. I wasn't aware there was more to Megan's secret than what she believed, and it was a shocking surprise when the truth was finally revealed.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

[REVIEW] The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

The Glass Arrow

Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre: YA Dystopia
Published: February 10th 2015 by Tor Teen
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Once there was a time when men and women lived as equals, when girl babies were valued, and women could belong only to themselves. But that was ten generations ago. Now women are property, to be sold and owned and bred, while a strict census keeps their numbers manageable and under control. The best any girl can hope for is to end up as some man’s forever wife, but most are simply sold and resold until they’re all used up.

Only in the wilderness, away from the city, can true freedom be found. Aya has spent her whole life in the mountains, looking out for her family and hiding from the world, until the day the Trackers finally catch her.

Stolen from her home, and being groomed for auction, Aya is desperate to escape her fate and return to her family, but her only allies are a loyal wolf she’s raised from a pup and a strange mute boy who may be her best hope for freedom . . . if she can truly trust him.

The Glass Arrow is a haunting, yet hopeful, new novel from Kristen Simmons, the author of the popular Article 5 trilogy.


My thoughts

The Glass Arrow is an excellent read! I've read mixed reviews of this book so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was equal parts excited and worried to start The Glass Arrow because I didn't know if this is a 'me' book. Turns out I don't really have much to worry about.

Aya is a feisty heroine. She’s determined and smart. I think her Garden name, Clover, really suits her because like a weed among flowers, she’s different and wild. She has a strong sense of family even though the twins are not really her blood relations. I found myself rooting for her every step of her journey in the Glasscaster. I also liked that she keeps a level head and is always thinking of her family over herself and the boy she likes.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fabulous Spring Giveaway

Spring is here and it's time for a big giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 11 shops have come together to create one amazing Prize Pack ($280+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Vintage and much more! Many of the shops offer items perfect for any book lover along with lots of other unique, handcrafted and custom designs.

The Fabulous Spring Giveaway is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog and the Main Giveaway Post HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily features during the giveaway.

Since Summer is right around the corner the giveaway theme is Vacation Memories. Each of our participating shops, and many of our blog sponsors, will be sharing some of their favorite vacation photos with you.

Giveaway runs May 4th - 18th.
Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. See full details HERE.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Flavor of the Month: May 2015

Flavor of the Month is a monthly feature here in Books and Insomnia that features new book releases this month.

And it's May! What have you been up to, insomniacs? I wish I could say I've been busy, but I've only read seven books and reviewed three this April. I also got to interview Cindy L. Rodriguez, debut author of When Reason Breaks. (You can read our Q&A here.) And there's still an ongoing giveaway here for a signed hardcover of An Ember in the Ashes. It's open until May 9th so you still have time to enter. ^__^

But enough of this sort of recap. I know you're all excited for the new releases this month so I won't keep you for long. Here they are:

May 2015 New Releases

(Book titles are linked to Goodreads)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

[ARC MINI-REVIEW] The Merit Birds by Kelley Powell

The Merit Birds

Author: Kelley Powell
Genre: YA Contemporary
Expected publication: May 2nd 2015 by Dundurn Group
ARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Pre-order from: Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry. He's angry about his absent dad, he's angry about being angry, and he's angry that he has had to give up his Ottawa basketball team to follow his mom to her new job in Vientiane, Laos. However, Cam's anger begins to melt under the Southeast Asian sun as he finds friendship with his neighbour, Somchai, and gradually falls in love with Nok, who teaches him about building merit, or karma, by doing good deeds, such as purchasing caged "merit birds."

Tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself falsely accused of a crime. His freedom depends on a person he's never met. A person who knows that the only way to restore his merit is to confess. The Merit Birds blends action and suspense and humour in a far-off land where things seem so different, yet deep down are so much the same.


My thoughts

*I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I was just mainly disappointed with this book. The Merit Birds has an interesting premise but sadly, it fell short. I liked that it's culturally diverse; heck, it's even set in Laos! I dived into this book with high expectations because hello?! Diversity right here! I enjoyed the depiction of Laos culture and living in a Southeast Asian country myself, The Merit Birds felt close to home. But halfway through, I was just bored and couldn't care less what would happen. Reading this made me sleepy, nothing much was happening and I couldn't connect with the characters. Cam was so resentful and angry most of the time. Julia was an irresponsible and neglecting mother. Seng was pathetic and selfish. The only ones I liked were Somchai and Nok. They're both friendly and smart and kind. They were the ones who helped Cam adjust to a place he never wanted to be in. Somchai represents all the good traits of the Laos people and for that, he's my favorite character in this book.

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