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Sunday, August 30, 2015

[ARC MINI-REVIEW] Hunter by Mercedes Lackey


Author: Mercedes Lackey
Genre: YA Fantasy, Dystopia
Expected Publication: September 1st 2015 by Disney Hyperion
ARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.


My thoughts

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley.*

Goodreads is filled with DNF reviews of Hunter and I can't blame those readers who didn't finish the book. I, myself, was tempted to DNF this one, too. I mean, this could be waaaaay better. You have there an interesting premise, Ms. Lackey. Reality TV in a fantasy dystopian setting? Okay, so maybe it sounds too The Hunger Games, but c'mon, there are a hundred ways this could be unique. I'm not saying it's not. It's just that it lacks something that will make this stand out. So, on with the lists:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

[BOOK TRAILER + GIVEAWAY] Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Guuuuys!!! If you're a fan of YA Horror, you should definitely check out Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett! I'm currently reading it and it's so creepy! Check out below for the equally creeptastic book trailer, which premiered on EW, and enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of the book. Blood and Salt is hitting the shelves on September 22th, but if you can't wait, pre-order it now from Amazon or Book Depository.

Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

Book trailer


Hardcover copy of Blood and Salt
ends Sept. 26th
US only
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

[ARC MINI-REVIEW] A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

A Whole New World

Author: Liz Braswell
Genre: YA Fantasy
Expected Publication: September 1st 2015 by Disney Press
ARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie's lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.


My thoughts

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Disney and Netgalley.*

What I liked:

  • It's dark and twisted. You know me; I'm all for gritty stories as much as I love the fluffy, happy, rainbow-filled reads. A Whole New World is a fairy tale not suited for kids. This book has blood and torture and death and ghouls. 
  • Jafar. The villain Jafar is oh so deliciously evil and insane! This is one character I love to hate. He's potentially more interesting than Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. Sadly though, he's kinda shoved in the backseat.
  • Of course, the genie. The humor and kindness we are familiar with from the Aladdin movie are still there along with a certain sadness that only ten thousand years of being imprisoned in a lamp can do.

What I did not like:

  • First off, that cover! I am not impressed. I wouldn't even pick this book by that cover alone. It actually looks like a cover to a non-fiction book. Maybe a travel guide book.
  • The first part is almost taken directly from Aladdin. It was like I was reading a book version of the Disney movie. And no, I did not appreciate that. It was only when Jafar got the lamp that a semblance of originality appeared.
  • What happened to the carpet. It's just sick and cruel. That's low even for you, Jafar.
  • It just bored the heck out of me. There, I said it. The pacing was slow, I wasn't a fan of the writing and the characters just felt one-dimensional for me. A Whole New World was supposed to be exciting because of the 'what if' twist and the rebellion thing, but everything was anticlimactic. There were no yay! moments. I couldn't root for the characters. I couldn't even care less what happened.

Bottom line:

A Whole New World was, to put it bluntly, disappointing. I was expecting some fresh and unique retelling, but it really fell short. I was actually excited to read this because I loved Aladdin and I couldn't wait to read a retelling of it. But alas, this book failed to keep me interested. Yes, I did like a few parts but my disinterest and disappointment clearly outweighed the few points this book gained.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

[REVIEW] Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra

Interim Goddess of Love

Author: Mina V. Esguerra
Series: Book 1, Interim Goddess of Love trilogy
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy
Published: April 21st 2012
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
Older YA/new adult/sweet romance: College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn't know why everyone tells her their love problems. She's never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn't stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn't be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she's going to have to take on this responsibility -- but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It's a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world's obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

While she's learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who's got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah's mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he's not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after -- or at least something that'll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he's so, well, hot.)


My thoughts

Very light and fluffy. If you're looking for a short and feel-good book, Interim Goddess of Love will definitely satisfy your craving. This is my first Mina Esguerra book, and one thing is for sure: I will definitely be reading more from her.

Interim Goddess of Love is entertaining and filled me with good vibes because it's quite simple and drama-free. The plot is pretty much straightforward and there's not much conflict. The story revolves around Hannah taking on the job as the replacement for the missing goddess of love, and how she works on her first "project" (as she calls people with love problems). And of course, because she's a newbie with this goddess stuff, Quin, the sun god (and her recruiter), needs to train her.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

[REVIEW] The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace

The Storyspinner

Author: Becky Wallace
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Book 1, The Keeper's Chronicles
Published: March 3rd 2015 by Margaret K. McElderry
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.


My thoughts


Oh my, The Storyspinner is just magical. The author weaves a brilliant, complex tale of magic, secrets, murder, and romance. The world-building is excellent, the characters are unique and interesting, and the story is really, really good. I was a bit wary of the multiple third-person POVs at first, but once I got the hang of it, it worked well. The transition is smooth and not confusing. It's an effective storytelling method since there are several crucial characters. The writing is also vivid and I often found myself amazed with Johanna's Storytelling and the Keepers' powers.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

TMI Tag: Blogger Edition (in which I was tagged a million years ago)

So a year ago, the lovely Ailla @ Le Bibliophile tagged me to do the TMI Tag Blogger Edition. BUT I only saw her post today when I was googling 'book tags'. *facepalm* I didn't know I was tagged! LOL ^__^ And although it's one year too late, here's my own TMI Tag post. Thanks, Ailla! <3

1: What are you wearing?

A colorful tank top and an equally colorful shorts. Yes, there are those days.

2: Ever been in love?

Of course. And I am constantly in love with fictional characters.

3: Ever had a terrible breakup?

Aren't all breakups terrible?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Top 5 Best and Worst Things About Being A Writer || [BOOK BLITZ: Guest Post + Giveaway] Scratched by Marie Long

Happy book birthday to Scratched by Marie Long! Today (August 4th) is the release of the second book of her The Anderson Brothers series, although I believe this can be read as a standalone. I reviewed the first book, Scarred, so if you haven't read that yet, you might want to check that one, too. And to celebrate this new release, Xpresso Book Tours has organized a book blitz for Scratched! Yay! ^__^ Marie shared her top 5 best and worst things about being a writer and also graciously offered a giveaway for an iPod Shuffle + $15 iTunes Gift Card. Sweet! Oohh, I'm really jealous of the winner! But hold your horses, dearies, because I'm going to introduce you first to the book. Ready for some romance? ^__^


Author: Marie Long
Genre: New Adult Romance
Series: Book 2, The Anderson Brothers series
Published: August 4th 2015
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Twenty-four year old Kevin Anderson lost the opportunity to end his senior year at the University of Washington as the Huskies’ all-star point guard, and sought out one last opportunity to put his extraordinary basketball skills to use: by training for a chance at the pros.

But when he’s not on the court, Kevin has only two things in his life that gives him happiness: spinning records at the local clubs, and Trinity Brown.

Trinity attends almost every one of Kevin’s deejay gigs, but Kevin is uncertain if her love for him is genuine or a fangirl’s simple admiration. Kevin takes that chance and hopes that she will see beyond the celebrity persona. But when fall classes start up again, their busy schedules press their relationship.

Kevin doesn’t want to give up on her–on them. He hopes the happiness they had will rebound once more.

But when he learns the truth about Trinity, Kevin must decide if it is worth everything–and everyone–he cares about to save her, or forfeit this exhausting game of love.

Guest Post

Top 5 Best and Worst things about being a Writer

Photo credit: Dave Morrison Photography (creative commons by-nc-nd 2.0)


1. Unleashing your creativity
We’re free to write whatever we want, however we want. We rule the worlds in our minds and transfer it on paper to share with others. There’s no greater freedom than that of expression.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

[REVIEW] 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

5 to 1

Author: Holly Bodger
Genre: YA Dystopia
Published: May 12th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa doesn’t want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose—allowing readers to experience both characters’ pain and their brave struggle for hope.


My thoughts

I've never read a novel in verse before so 5 to 1 is a breath of fresh air for me. The half-prose, half-poetry style was definitely unique and the writing is also beautiful. Some lines made my heart ache. I also liked that some words and lines were given emphasis by giving them a different formatting. It made it more interesting. Also, this is a fairly short novel so if you're looking for a quick read, you might want to try this one.

Hello, diversity! This is a dystopian novel set in India, with characters that are trying to break out of social constrictions. Both female and male protagonists are in the minority – Sudasa being in the gender with lesser population and Kiran in the gender that is looked down upon.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Flavor of the Month: August 2015

Flavor of the Month is a monthly feature here at Books and Insomnia that features new book releases this month.
And it's August! ^__^ You have no idea how relieved I am right now because exams week is now finally behind me. *whew* I totally rocked some subjects, others not so much but let's just not talk about that. Haha.. :P Instead, let's talk about the new releases this month! Are you ready for it? :)

August 2015 New Releases

(Book titles are linked to Goodreads)

August 1st

Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

August 4th

Crystal Kingdom (Kanin Chronicles #3) by Amanda Hocking
Daughter of Dusk (Midnight Thief #2) by Livia Blackburne
From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan
Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Not After Everything by Michelle Levy
Of Dreams and Rust (Of Metal and Wishes #2) by Sarah Fine
Scratched (The Anderson Brothers #2) by Marie Long
The Girl at the Center of the World (Islands at the End of the World #2) by Austin Aslan
What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Mugs, T-shirts, Iphone cases, Tote bags, Throw Pillows, etc. available at REDBUBBLE!