BLACKPLUME

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Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Maybe Someday

“Sometimes in life, we need a few bad days in order to keep the good ones in perspective.”

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her—and she’s forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

A passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance, Maybe Someday will immerse readers in Sydney’s tumultuous world from the very first page.

Personal Thoughts:

I applaud authors who actually exert extra efforts to give readers something new. Who go beyond their comfort zone or in this case collaborate with other artist to accomplish more. And with that, I salute Colleen Hoover as she collaborate with Griffin Peterson in this novel Maybe Someday giving readers a unique reading experience through the music or songs inside this one of a kind novel.

Those songs or novel soundtrack are created specifically for Maybe Someday which makes the book very creative in my opinion. I wonder how long Colleen and Griffin created all those songs? I am no musician or lyricist but I know someone who actually create music and I’ve seen how that someone put his heart and soul through his work. If the songs inside this novel are created with even just a fraction of that process that I have seen, which I believe it is, then I am at awe with the genius of this novel.

“How can two good people both have such good intentions end up with feelings, derived from all the goodness, that are so incredibly bad?”

Maybe Someday shows me not just the power of words but also the brilliant of Colleen Hoover. In this book she makes me experience things from an angle I never thought I will consider understanding. I won’t go into details explaining why is cheating will never be something I will consider as acceptable but in span of hours while reading this novel, Colleen makes me see things from different perspective. She makes me believe that sometimes we just have no control of our heart, and that sometimes doing the right thing isn’t always the best thing.

For a little while Colleen makes me accept her characters situation, understand them and even root for them. I fall for Ridge and Sydney in this book even they do some things I didn’t like. I want them to be together but not hurt anyone in the process. I want everyone to be happy even Warren, Bridgette and Maggie. Especially Maggie.

But that doesn’t mean I agree with all of Maggie’s decision. I think she give up too easily, giving Ridge an easy way out. Which basically show the real status of her relationship with Ridge. As for Ridge, I put most of the blame on him. Also Sydney which I think is too weak to make her own stand. So yeah, the cast or characters are all flawed. But those flaws make them more real to me. Their situation isn’t exactly the best and their choices are not all good either but just like in real life they still have to face the situation and pick their choice.

“However, I’ve learned that the heart can’t be told when and who and how it should love. The heart does whatever the hell it wants to do. The only thing we can control is whether we give our lives and our minds the chance to catch up to our hearts.”

I said before from my review of Slammed that I have higher expectations from novels that has lyrics and rhymes inside it and Maybe Someday is no different. Since I love poetry so much, I tend to delve into each words longer than usual. I savor them while scrabbling the words inside it, searching for deeper meaning behind every letter combined. I try to decipher them while feeling the emotions that each words carry. Those lyrics inside with the actual recording available online offers a unique reading experience for me.

Like most beautifully written novel, Maybe Someday is worthy of its phrases for the lyrics and songs alone, a fantastic effort by Colleen Hoover and Griffin Peterson. Thank you both for giving us a unique reading experience.

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The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

The Game of Love and Death

“Why choose fear over love? In what world does that make sense?”

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now… Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | FullyBooked | Goodreads | Scholastic

Personal Thoughts:

Love versus Death. Who will win? Who will lose?

In this imaginative and beautifully written novel, Martha Brockenbrough tell how Love and Death play a game wherein two people’s lives and hearts are involved.

It started in 1920 when Love and Death choose their players for a game of supremacy. Seventeen years after, the real game begin. Love and Death make their moves into their players lives for a match of life and death.

Henry Thorne a typical white teenager who grow up with an upper class family will play for Love. And Flora Saudade a black African-American, hard working jazz musician with interest on flying planes will play for Death. These two have no idea of the game, no idea of the rules but their lives are at stake.

Will they survive the game?

From the first chapter, I fall in love with Martha Brockenbrough writing. It’s atmospheric and absorbing that I have to savor every words of this beautiful novel. As she introduced Love and Death who are then picking their players, I admire the sophistication of her style and the beauty of her prose. It feels like I am traveling to a different world and era. Like I am standing there during the stormy night as Game and Death put their marks on Henry and Flora.

“Someday, everyone you love will die. Everything you love will crumble to ruin. This is the price of life. This is the price of love. It is the only ending for every true story.”

Death is my favorite character in this book. I even bet that she will win the game. At first, I was surprised that Martha represent Death as a girl or woman and then glad that she did because not only it is unusual but also it counter balance the gender discrimination in the story. But what I really love about Death as a character is her strong presence. She is confident in winning the game, and she will do anything to win. And it also didn’t hurt that Martha shows a different side of Death. Even Death is made to kill or take lives, she isn’t one of those paper-thin villain that we usually read somewhere. In Martha’s version, Death is more than just a killer.

When Death is using love tactics and Love is using Death tactics to win I find it quite amusing. Just imagined Death as a girl trying to win Henry’s affection so that he won’t fall for Flora. Or love willing to kill just to win the game.

“I, however, have not yet succeeded at love. Henry hardly looks at me. And to think that I’ve made him at least thirty-seven sandwiches.”

Martha Brockenbrough choose her settings well. The time period gives more push to the characters lives and condition. Seattle in 1937 is just after the Great Depression and there are many issues that still going on during that era. Martha uses those issues to clothed Flora and Henry’s life adding more conflict to the plot. One of this issues is racial segregation which basically the central force that dictate Flora and Henry’s lives. Being in different race or color, Flora and Henry are expected to be not together. It easily favor Death but it is also not unknown how love conquer these kinds of problems.

Overall, The Game of Love and Death is a highly imaginative novel that mixed historical fiction and magical realism perfectly. Martha Brockenbrough exquisite writing plus her complex characters both human and unexplained forces makes this novel worthy of praises.

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* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for an honest opinion.

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina“I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.”

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

Personal Thoughts:

Seraphina is one of those books that I am so excited to read but at the same time afraid that it won’t reach my expectations. If not for the second book that recently released I won’t finally pick-up Rachel Hartman’s debut novel. It took me a long while but I’m not exactly sorry for not reading the book sooner.

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.”

Though there are few surprises and expectations hit, Seraphina is not the best book about dragons that I have read. It’s certainly has the potential but it’s not as enjoyable or as action packed as I expected. Since this is not the first book about dragons or dragon that can transformed or disguised themselves as human I have lots of comparison while reading which basically means more expectations.

Story-wise, I like the intricacy of the plot, the avatar-like world, and the conflict between humans and dragons. They are well-realized and well plotted that I am willing to read every little details that Rachel Hartman is throwing. Add the fact that Rachel’s writing style is rich and beautiful. Her elaborate prose and metaphors are gorgeous and insightful. They are elegant if not savorful that I find myself rereading some of the lines along the way. The way she detailed Seraphina’s world and the overall conflict of the story is just amazing.

“Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily.”

So why exactly I am not sorry for not reading the book sooner? Well, one reason is the main character Seraphina. I got a hard time connecting to her. Given the fact that she is a half dragon – half human, I know readers like me should not be concern on how I can relate to her, but if I can’t even care about her that is not a good thing. Then there’s also the dragging part of the novel. As much as I like reading Rachels’ metaphors and wording, I can’t deny the fact that a huge part of the novel is slow, especially the first part. It’s like this first book is a huge build-up. For a fantasy read, I think Seraphina needs more actions and battle scenes or at least a better pacing.

I’m still reading the second book, Shadow Scale with the hopes that there’s more action than telling. I’ll post a review for the second book as soon as I’m done reading.

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Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver

“..things aren’t always fair. You just have to keep moving forward. A step in one direction.”

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

Personal Thoughts:

Have you seen all the YA contemporary books I’ve been reading lately and the other titles waiting in my TBR pile? Well, if you’ll check my previous reviews you will see that most of my contemporary reads deals with heavy themes such as depression, suicide and the likes. With that plus the “kidnapping” plot from the book blurb I go reading Emmy & Oliver ready for another heavy drama or tragic story but surprisingly get a fun, simple and realistic read.

Actually, this could have been easily a tragic story if Robin Benway chose to narrate the story in Oliver’s perspective – a victim of kidnapping. Instead she let her readers experience Oliver’s story through the point of view of one who was left behind – Emmy.

Emmy is Oliver’s best friend. They basically grew up together. They share the same birth date, friends, neighborhood, and school until Oliver disappear one day. Emmy and her family together with Oliver’s mom never stopped looking for Oliver. Since Oliver’s disappearance her life changed but she never lose hope of finding her best friend but when Oliver finally found she realized that things are not gonna back the same way.

“I wanted you to come home so bad that I never thought about what would happen after. I just wanted my friend back.”

Oliver on the other hand feels lost even after returning home. It’s like being kidnapped all over again. For everyone his Dad is the wrongdoer but inspite of that he can’t hate his Dad because he is also the same guy who took care of him for the past ten years. He wasn’t mistreated or abused instead he was loved and nurtured.

“Coming home is like being kidnapped all over again,”

Robin Benway created a witty and hilarious character with Emmy to tell a meaningful story of lost, grief, hope and self-discovery. The dialogues between Emmy and the people around her are both fun and insightful. No lyrical or flowery details but straight and realistic dialogues from realistic characters. As much as I am intruguie to hear Oliver’s point of view, I am glad that Robin choose to tell this story in Emmy’s perceptive not only because Emmy is a witty character but also because it makes the story more rounded and less conflicted.

Without being too serious or boring, Robin Benway managed to show the consequences of Oliver’s disappearance and return. Through Emmy’s eyes she shows how everyone’s life changed from one incident.

As for Oliver, I really feel for him. Imagining myself in his situation, I know I will lose it. That’s why I understand why he is very protective of his father inspite of what his father’s did. In his mind his father took care of him and when he found out that he was actually kidnapped it’s a shattering revelation. It’s not easy to take all those in and know how to feel about it. His struggle to do the right thing and to protect the one he love is very well felt.

On its surface, Emmy & Oliver is a very affecting romance but on the other side is a story of friendship, family and self-discovery. It’s about getting lost and getting yourself into the path of rediscovery, forgiveness, and love. A bittersweet story that is light and surprisingly fun in-spite of the heavy topics it deals with.

*This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg

The Porcupine of Truth

“My religion is my belief system. Yours is about who you … choose to Love.”

The author of OPENLY STRAIGHT returns with an epic road trip involving family history, gay history, the girlfriend our hero can’t have, the grandfather he never knew, and the Porcupine of Truth.

Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn’t really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who’s long held a secret regarding Carson’s grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson’s dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the “Porcupine of Truth” in all of their lives.

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | ChaptersGoodreads

Personal Thoughts:

The Porcupine of Truth is a fully packed read for a three hundred plus pages as it tackles different themes like religion, race, identity, alcoholism, broken family, death and more. The author Bill Konigsberg bring two flawed characters, Carson and Aisha as he explores his themes with wit and humor.

As Carson and Aisha take their journey across different state, readers will ride a journey of exploration and realization.

Carson Smith our main protagonist and narrator is temporary staying in Billings with his parents to help take care of his sick father. During his first day of visit to Billings she met Aisha whom he instantly connect to but unfortunately for him, Aisha is not into boys. But that doesn’t hinder the friendship between Carson and Aisha. These two travel to different states to solve the mystery of Carson’s grandfather disappearance.

My like for Carson can be compared to his journey with Aisha to find his grandfather. The more the two travel and know things about Carson’s grandfather and people they met the more I like Carson better. Because, lets face it, Carson isn’t an easy to like character. His sense of humor is not always a hit but I love that he can make fun of himself. Which in a way why this novel really works for me. Because like Carson, The Porcupine of Truth is not always a smooth read but it dared to touch sensitive topics and never pretend to be more than what it is.

With all the topics inside this novel it so easy for Bill Konigsberg to pick a wrong turn and make a mess of everything. I’ve seen it happen to other books, to the point that I lost interest reading because the author is throwing a lot of things expecting readers to enjoy or accept things as is. That didn’t happen in here. The Porcupine of Truth though deals with a lot of topics still managed to handle things lightly, as well as leave an impact or at least create a point.

Just like how the book presented religion in the story. The constant presence of religion in Carson’s journey may feel contrived or preachy to readers but Bill Konigsberg make his point nevertheless. Through Carson’s hatred for religion and Aisha situation he shows how non-believer see and understand Christianity or “organized religion” (as the book call it) and eventually become more open to it. As Carson and Aisha travel and meet people along the way, they see things in different way. They become more aware of things they used to disregard because of their experiences in life or because of their environment. Eventually things are not just black-and-white anymore for them, though still complicated they are at least become more open and more forgiving.

Bill Konigsberg also show the hypocrisy of people who preach Christianity. How some people use religion as an excuse for things they do or how some people preach things but never actually apply it in their lives. It’s one of the common issue in Christianity or religion in general but Bill explore it in a humorous and realistic way. Just like in Aisha’s case, a lesbian thrown by her dad because unfortunately her sexuality doesn’t fit the Christian standard. Though technically that standard is old-school, it still shows how some people choose to follow the majority than stand for things that really matters.

“My dad was always good to me, great to me. And then this thing. He couldn’t hack it. He saw it as his failure, and he’s not so good with failure. The religion thing, that made it easy for him not to deal with it. The church told him I needed fixing, so instead of working on accepting me as I’ve always been, he gives me an ultimatum. Be someone else, or be gone.”

Overall, The Porcupine of Truth is a quick read that is not only entertaining but also thought-provoking. Carson’s journey to find the truth about his grandfather’s disappearance is also a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and realization.

*This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for an honest opinion.

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KMR Book Signing Tour in PH

Poster - KMR

Katie Cotugno, Melissa Kantor and Robyn Schneider
Book Signing Tour

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where are the book signings?
July 4, 2015, 2 p.m., Northwing Atrium, SM City Cebu
July 5, 2015, 2 p.m., Grand Atrium, Shangri-la Plaza

When will the registration be?
Registration opens at 10:00 am on July 4 at the Northwing Atrium, SM City Cebu, and 10:00 am on July 5 at the Grand Atrium, Shangri-la Plaza. Each guest will be asked to fill out the registration form upon arrival. Separate registrations for each event is required should you wish to attend both events. First come, first served.

Is there a registration fee?
No. There is no registration fee.

How many books can I have signed? Is there a limit as to how many people can have their books signed?
You may have any number of books signed as long as they were purchased from National Book Store, National Book Store Express or Powerbooks, and we do not have any preset limit as to the number of people.

However, although we will take every effort to get as many books signed as possible, depending on the number of attendees, we reserve the right to limit the number of copies per person or limit the number of people in line. First come, first served.

Can I bring old books or other editions of the books?
Yes, as long as the books were purchased from National Book Store, National Book Store Express or Powerbooks.

Do I need to buy on-site?
No. You can buy books before or during the events.

Can I have other items signed?
No. Only books will be allowed to be signed by the authors.

Can we have our photo taken with the authors?
Yes, you can have your photo with each author when they sign your book. However, we strictly allow only one photo per person for each author.

How much are the books?
Katie Cotugno titles:
99 Days (Trade Paperback – P395; Hardcover – P649) How to Love (Trade Paperback – P379; Hardcover – P649)

Melissa Kantor titles:
Better Than Perfect (Trade Paperback – P359; Hardcover – P649) Maybe One Day (Trade Paperback – P359; Hardcover – P649)

Robyn Schneider titles:
Extraordinary Means (will be available on May 29, 2015) The Beginning of Everything (Trade Paperback – P359; Hardcover – P649)

* PR courtesy of National Book Store

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