The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

“The right piece of information can be truly devastating if it’s precisely aimed.”

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

The Love Interest is a mix of espionage, dystopia and lgbt story that took a light approach in combining these massive genre without being overwhelming.

Caden and Dylan are love interest, both groomed and trained by the LIC (Love Interest Compound), a secret organization that send out spies to get and sells informations from important people such as celebrities, politicians, scientist, and the likes. Caden is a “nice” while Dylan is a “bad” who both need to act accordingly. They are both assigned to a science prodigy, Juliet. Their mission is to infiltrate Juliet’s life and win her heart. But only one boy will win. The winner gets the girl and spy her by reporting every important details of her life to LIC or whatever the LIC wants. While the loser meets the end of his life. Both Caden and Dylan will do anything to win, but they are not prepared for their feelings to get in between. And in this game of life and death, how will the know what’s real and what is not? Who will survive the game of manipulation?

It only took few chapters for me to realize that The Love Interest is no ordinary spy novel. There still actions, conspiracy and secret organizations, but instead of a serious tone, The Love Interest went to a lighter approach. It even pokes fun at different novel stereotypes particularly in the field of YA, while being one itself.

“No one finds the love of their life while they’re a teenager.”
“You haven’t read any YA novels recently, have you?”

Caden the narrator and protagonist though contemplative like other spies, is not the over observant and skillful guy I expected from a spy. He isn’t few steps ahead like other spies I love, but what I like about Caden is how he questioned things around him. Right from the start he don’t agree on his “nice” boy label. His thoughts shows how much he wants to be free, to just be himself even at times when he doesn’t know what he really is. He wants to write his own story and not just be a tool for the LIC.

“…it irks me that she thinks labeling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I’m suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own.”

Even if things are confusing for Caden, and even if he doesn’t have much choice in everything, he still hope to find his freedom and try to be his own-self.

The only mild complaint is how the ending seems rushed, which in a way makes the conflict too easily resolved. As much as I cheer for the main characters, I also feel like they easily defeat a supposedly powerful organization. Sure they have a genius scientist who can make powerful weapons, but a five teenagers to easily shutdown LIC is not exactly believable. There are reasons why the organization exist for so long, and manage the in and out of their operations without getting caught by the government or other powerful organizations.

On the whole, THE LOVE INTEREST is an intriguing and fun debut novel from Cale Dietrich. It has promising ideas that if explored more would definitely make a very good spy novel.


* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

Perfect (Flawed #2) by Cecelia Ahern

“A weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place.”

Celestine North is Flawed.

Ever since Judge Crevan declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick, the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret—one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or risk her life to save all Flawed people.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | BD | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Perfect, much like its prequel Flawed, is a thrilling and action-packed read that gives readers a view of a plausible vision of a society that is lost in someone else standards.

Celestine North is on the run, hiding from The Guild, more specifically from her ex-boyfriend’s father, Judge Crevan. Crevan will do anything to find Celestine, as he believe that she holds something that will destroy not only his reputation, but also the entire flawed system that his family built. Together with other flawed, Celestine need to outrun and outsmart an entire system to earn not only her freedom but the freedom the whole nation.

What I really like in reading dystopian fiction like this one, is that they make me asked questions about the humanity and the possibilities stored in our future. In this series, Cecelia Ahern create a morality court where authorities use their position and power to control an entire society. They put label on people, branding them as flawed and outcast them for one single mistake they made. And the worst part, sometimes even the right thing is classified as wrong. People are living in the standards of someone else, which reminds me of our current society. We may not have an actual morality court like The Guild in the story, but we are also judged by others’ standards.

Lets take for example the standard created by social medias. Most of us post photos on instagram and facebook that project perfections, happiness, and richness. We edit photos to look beautiful or great. We filter them to be the best, as if they really represent our real lives and real status. As if there is an imaginary law or rules that tell us not to share the raw and unfiltered version of ourselves. It is so easy to fall on these invisible standards without noticing the effect on us – not just as individual but also as society.

Aside from creating standards that brands people, The Guild also shows how people easily put blame to others. They chastised others for their mistake without giving second chances. Where in fact, they also makes mistakes. And mistakes are important to us, without it we won’t learn. Mistakes teach us something, like powerful lessons we can use for future decisions. It makes us better, wiser, and more humble.

“Mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of. Mistakes teach us to take responsibility. They teach us what works and what doesn’t. We learn what we would do differently the next time, how we will be different, better, and wiser in the future. We are not just waking mistakes, we are human.”

Another thing I like in the story is the family dynamics that the North family showed. There are really some growth in there. From the first book, Flawed, we see Celestine’s Mom as someone who is superficial; her sister, Juniper as someone against on everything and just love to antagonize Celestine. There’s also her brother’s reaction during their dinner after Celestine got branded flawed, which makes me want to smack the kid. But in this installment, those things changed. Celestine’s mother alone plays an important role in the story. She stand firm for her daughter. She fight along with Celestine though and through. And Juniper has her own share of sacrifices too. She not only help Art and Celestine but also fight for what she believe in.

Overall, Perfect is provocative and satisfying conclusion to Cecelia Ahern’s first young adult series, Flawed. She certainly weaved a strong and intriguing post-apocalyptic world that will not only make readers question our own society but also humanity in general. It celebrates imperfections by showing the importance of learning from our own mistakes.

* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Feiwel & Friends an imprint of Macmillan International in exchange of honest opinion.


Blame by Simon Mayo


What happens when society wants you banged up in prison for a crime your parents committed?

That’s the situation in which Ant finds herself – together with her little brother Mattie and their foster-parents, she’s locked up in a new kind of family prison. None of the inmates are themselves criminals, but wider society wants them to do time for the unpunished ‘heritage’ crimes of their parents.

Tensions are bubbling inside the London prison network Ant and Mattie call home – and when things finally erupt, they realize they’ve got one chance to break out. Everyone wants to see them punished for the sins of their mum and dad, but it’s time for Ant to show the world that they’re not to blame.

A new nail-bitingly taught YA suspense thriller, from author of the bestselling ITCH series, Simon Mayo.

Book Links: Amazon | BDGoodreads | Social Book

Personal Thoughts:

Dystopian futures in fictions is a powerful set-up for a story. Since they usually mirror our own world they easily create a sense of reality making them relate-able. Add the sense of broken world or threat to the survival of humanity then they become engaging and thrilling read. And if the story create awareness or raised questions the better. Just like what Simon Mayo did in his latest novel, Blame.

Blame easily a successful dystopian read. It is relate-able, engaging, thrilling, thought-provoking and even horrifying at times. It’s a chilling view a possible future we can have if we are not careful with our choices.

In Blame, heritage crime – a law that allows government to punish the current generation for their parents and grandparents crime is implemented in many parts of the world including United Kingdom where Ant and her brother Mattie lives. They were sent to Spike, a jail reserved for families convicted of heritage crime. Ant and Mattie are serving prison for their birth parents crime. The parents who abandoned them long before the law was implemented in their country. Their poster parents Gina and Dan are also with them at Spike, both serving prison for the unpunished crime of their own parents. Government demands them to pay for past crime committed by their families, blaming them after all the chaos caused by great depression.

The idea of a society too caught up in blaming which resulted to the implementation of “heritage crime” and making the younger generation pay is an interesting and unique concept for a story. Not only it raised questions and thought-provoking ideas about crime and punishment but it also open the mind of readers to future possibilities. Because like it or not, sending entire families to prison is not entirely impossible. Actually if we omit some of the legalities, things like this may be actually happening somewhere. It just so happen that Simon Mayo presented it in this book in a brutal and much larger scale.

Ant’s story laid out real issues that’s possibly facing by some countries. It is an honest representation of few of societies problems that if not handle well can result to what happened in this fictional world. Corruption, red tape, power abuse, propaganda, biased news or media brainwashing are just some of the few things that exist in almost every goverment or society if not all. They are real problems that can cause huge damage like what happen in this fictional version of United Kingdom. A damage we can only hope not to happen in real life.

Right from the start readers will get caught in Ant’s story with her raw and no non-sense voice. Her tough and rough personality makes Blame a thrilling read. Add the danger of prison life, gangs and prisons rivalry, corruptions, politics, and other dirty and gritty things of a world centered in dark times, readers will surely get caught in tangle of all those webs. Simon Mayo hold no bars in shoving readers to Ant’s dangerous world. And by doing so he created a realistic world – one that easily allow readers feels all the dangers and chaos around it.

Simon Mayo even added a language or words used by inmates – slang words to communicate or call someone and something. It’s a simple touch that makes things more believable and reading more engrossing. There’s also Mattie’s notes at the beginning of each chapters which shows how an innocent child like him see a world centered in crime and punishments. While flashbacks inserts which mostly from Dan and Gina’s son Max’s point of view give readers the side of someone who escape the blame and the view of the outside world.

Ant as the main character is easy to root for inspite of all the bad things she had done. She is tough and brave. Hardened by her surroundings and corrupted by bad people and worst conditions, she easily become a victim of drastic life. A child who grew up fast because of all the tough things that life thrown at her. But her love for her younger brother Mattie makes all the difference. She’s a sister who will do anything and give anything for her little brother. Even the impossible things like shielding him in a dark world they are in.

Mattie is the exact opposite of his sister. While Ant is hardheaded and always find herself in trouble, Mattie is the reasonable one. He is a smart kid who remain surprisingly sweet and innocent inspite of his surroundings. He is the only person who can tame his sister. The only opinion that matters to Ant is his. Without Mattie Ant will be totally lost for sure. He is the one who keeps Ant grounded and still saveable.

Overall, Blame is pensive, action-packed and tension-filled read. Simon Mayo successfully weaved a dark and disturbingly realistic world that will make readers think and dreaded the possibility of its existence. It will makes you question things, the government, laws, corruptions, or just humanity in general. Let just hope this won’t happen in real life.

*  This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the Social Book in exchange for an honest opinion.

Ruined by Amy Tintera


“Make people fear you… Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do. Make people tremble when they hear your name. Fear is your power.”

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Ruined is a strong start to a new fantasy series by Amy Tintera. It introduces a world where people with especial abilities or power called Ruined are hunted and killed to extinction by neighboring Kingdoms, Lera and Vallos. Emelina Flores is one of the Ruined and she wants revenge.

All Emelina’s loved ones are taken from her – her parents were killed, her sister Olivia was kidnapped and taken as a prisoner, her country is being destroyed, and her people are hunted one by one. She has nothing left but a goal to make her enemies pay. With an elaborate plan of deceit and lies Emelina will do everything to achieve her revenge. Her plan — she will pose as the Prince’s betrothed, while trying to get information about her sister and free her, and then kill the whole Royal family of Lera.

The story is well plotted that ensures readers to keep turning pages after pages. There are more than enough of plot arcs and twists to get lost into. Between waiting for Emelina’s identity to be revealed, her plans of killing the Royal family, her relationship to Cas, saving her sister, helping her people without them knowing, and her alliance to the other Kingdom there’s so many things going on and many are at stakes.

People dies, trust broken, sacrifices are made in this powerful story of revenge.

Amy Tintera introduces Emelina Flores to readers as the cold-blooded heroine. Just few pages from the start readers will find Emelina killing a Princess so she can take the Princess’ place as the Prince’s betrothed. From there Emelina will remove every obstacle on her path to get her revenge and have her sister back. She’s not exactly ruthless but she is non-apologetic. She is very determined and will do anything to survive. For someone who doesn’t have powers like her own people, Emelina is pretty skillful. She does what she can with what she has.

Prince Casimir started as a sheltered and naive Prince. He is unaware of how his father is ruling their Kingdom. But when he met Emelina with her unfiltered opinions and thoughts, Cas then started to see things differently and begin to questioned his father and the way they treat the Ruined.

The ending won’t exactly leave readers hanging over the edge of a steep cliff, but will surely want to know more what’s next to Emelina Flores, her sister Olivia, her people, and her Prince. It actually promise a darker story and leaves a foreboding remarks for readers to eagerly anticipate the next installment.

The only mild complaint with this book is the world building or the lack of it. For fantasy book, I really like when I can easily picture the world or surroundings where the story is set up. I do get that there are four Kingdoms in this book — Ruina, Lera, Vallos and Olso but the relation of these Kingdoms to each other and their actual land positions are pretty vague. Also, the reasons of why Lera and Vallos are targeting Ruina, and the Ruined powers wasn’t explored that much. Let’s just hope that Amy Tintera will tackle all those and more in the next installment.

All in all, Ruined is a fast-paced, thrilling, and riveting story. With lies, secrets, betrayal, murder and well written action scenes this new fantasy series by Amy Tintera will surely keep readers hooked from start to end.

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

End of Days by Susan Ee

End of Days

“Power is best held by the ones who don’t want it.”

End of Days is the explosive conclusion to Susan Ee’s bestselling Penryn & the End of Days trilogy.

After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?

Personal Thoughts:

Finishing Penryn and the End of Days series made me realize that Angel stories are not really for me even this one set in dystopian world.

Angelfall started good with all the thrill and actions. It’s very fast paced and interesting seeing how Susan Ee slowly build this dark and dangerous world. Then the second book failed to continue to hold my interest longer. Nothing much happens in World After, the angel mythology I’m expecting to be developed doesn’t show, the dystopian world set-up is not as original I thought it is. Then in this third installment I expected to have more explanations about angel politics, myhology, and how the world become what it is but I only get bits and pieces. It’s like those important things are gloss over by Penryn and Raffe romance.

As much as I enjoyed reading Penryn and Raffe with their fun banters I am expecting more from End of Days. Though there are lots of things happening from rescuing Penryn’s sister Paige, to looking for a doctor to attached Raffe’s wings, to going to the pit, fighting Beliel and hellions, to protecting the human race, and angel politics, these things just get crowded which somehow resulted to a messy plot.

Penryn and Raffe feels a bit different. While I still enjoyed them very much especially their banters I felt a bit disconnected to them. They are not the same individuals I encountered in the first book of this series. They are more focus on each other than the world around them especially Penryn. There are times that I just want to smack her. While she is having her own version of urge I have the urge to punch her. It’s apocalypse and her life and everyone life is in danger, the world is ending and she had the time to think something like that. And the worst part is, she knows what is right and what is not, she knows what she is not supposed to do and she still do it anyway. She really did changed.

Raffe lost his focus too or shift his focus which is sad. All the things he was fighting for from the start of the series was thrown away for love. I expect more from him being an archangel that he is. I thought Susan can make him better than those other angel characters I encountered from YA fictions but too bad he falls to the same category.

If there is anything I like in this installment is, I guess the appearance of the watchers other than Beliel. We finally meet them. Since Raffe’s real name and rank is revealed from book one, I started wondering where the other angels are, particularly his watchers or friends. For an Archangel like him, isn’t it unusual to not have any of his followers in him? Not even one? For sure someone heard about what happened to him and I don’t get why not even one bother to check on him. To get his side of the story or just checked what really happened to him. He is an archangel for god sake. He holds one of the top position in the line of heaven but not even one angel is curious enough to check him?

We finally know who killed Gabriel but for why he was killed? That’s just one of the unanswered questions I have. There are few excuses but not enough explanations just like with the other unanswered questions.

Overall, End of Days is a fast paced and thrilling read for the most part but unfortunately didn’t give me the fully immersive experience I expected from a final installment of a series.

Angelfall by Susan Ee


“If I was good at marketing, I’d spin you an empty story that sounds profound. But the truth is that we’re all just stumbling around in the dark. Sometimes we hit something terrible.”

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Personal Thoughts:

It’s been awhile since I last read angel stories not because I don’t like these celestial being but because most of fiction stories I have read about them are a let down. I haven’t found something that really stand out or at least leave a long lasting impression. That’s why it took me long while to finally dig in to this series even with so much positive raves from the book blogging community.

With that said, I go into Angelfall with less expectations.

Angelfall as the first installment is pretty entertaining and engaging read. Susan Ee waste no time introducing this dystopian world full of fallen angels battling each others and the human race. Right from the start you will feel the panic, the danger and urgency which basically makes the story engaging and moving.

Penryn Young and her family are on their way to find a safer place when they witness a fight among angels. While the fight is happening a group of fallen angels took her sister Paige. Without much idea how to get Paige back, she help saving one of the dying angel Raffe with the hope that he can lead her to where the other angels took her sister.

Susan Ee’s wordings are simple and a bit repetitive. Coming from a fantasy read wherein the author used lots of metaphors and offers deep philosophies, I can’t help but noticed that Susan Ee’s style is so pale in comparison. But with the simplicity of writing comes an easy flow of reading and well paced plotting. The imagery is quite vivid even with little world building. The world that Susan Ee created is dark and gritty which balance well to her characters and their snarky dialogues.

Penryn and Raffe are both pragmatic individual. They are practical and straight to the point which basically create fun dialogues between them. I enjoy their banter, verbal fights and their overall dynamic. The fact that their relationship is not concentrated in romance but more on survival makes the story more engaging for me. In a bleak world where the earth is almost at its end, it is more realistic to have characters that are busy trying to survive or fights against the enemy than to waste their time finding romance or love interest. I’m really glad that Susan Ee didn’t make this so much of a love story than story of survival.

I also like how gritty and dark this post apocalyptic world that Susan Ee created. Human eating cat food or even human flesh to survive, no shower for days or water to drink – it feels more appropriate and real for a world set in its near end. If only there’s more exposition about how the the world came to its end and more explanation how the angels become ‘harbingers of doom’ who are willing to destroy the entire world I think the world building will be more solid. But since this is only the first installment of a three books series Susan Ee has more room for development. The rebellions, war from different ends, angel politics, and human turned to demons are more than enough to keep this whole series engaging and entertaining.

Overall, Angelfall is a thrilling start to this angel post apocalyptic series. Though nothing really new in terms of the angel mythology and post apocalyptic world, the danger and characters are enough to keep readers on the edge of their seat.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Amazon Children’s Publishing via NetGalley.