Blog Tour: The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (Review)

I am super excited to be part of the international blog tour for The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk, organized by Penguin Random House International. This is a debut contemporary novel from the author who I must say done a great job for her first novel. Ashley Woodfolk delivered a powerful story in the Beauty that Remains. Check my review below for more of my thoughts about the book and also I’ll be sharing a mood board below.

Personal Thoughts:

The Beauty That Remains tells the story of three teenagers coping with griefs and how music become integral part of their lives.

Autumn’s lost her best friend, Tavia in a car accident; Logan’s ex-boyfriend, Bram has committed suicide; and Shay’s twin sister, Sasha died from leukemia. All three suffered from loss of love ones, and connected through grief and music. Each deals with their own griefs on their own way. Autumn is eaten by guilt for not being there with her best friend blame herself for Tavia’s death; Logan is in denial hiding behind alcohol; while Shay pretends to be fine and put on a brave face despite of all the panic attacks and anxiety. All three have to face their own griefs to fully continue with their lives even at times when they don’t feel okay.

For a debut novel, The Beauty that Remains is well written and surprisingly affecting. Author Ashely Woodfolk successfully delivered a heartwarming tale of griefs in different perspectives. Even if you are not on the stage of grieving someone in your own life, the story still easily resonates. The heartaches and griefs of the main characters feels achingly real that sometimes you will wish for them to find peace and acceptance.

The diverse characters are realistically drawn and explored very well as Ashley write the story in three different points of view. Not only their feelings become easily accessible, but also their griefs more painfully heartbreaking. Ashley also didn’t shy away in adding sensitive topics to make these characters more believable, making the book more of a heavy read. But still, in-spite of all the heartache and loses, The Beauty that Remains also offers hope not only to the characters but also to the readers. As the characters deals with their own grief and eventually find their path to move forward with the help of friends and friends, readers will also be reminded that losing someone we love is not the end and that there are other people left who also love and care for us. We are not alone in loneliness.

The novel theme of grief will also reminds readers that it is normal to undergo heartbreak and loses. That we don’t need to always put up a strong facade in front of others. And sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable and accept defeat. Heartache is part of life.

“There’s no way to measure grief.”

All in all, The Beauty Remains is both heavy and surprisingly hopeful read. A touching and heartwarming story of loss, grief and moving on that will break readers’ heart and put back together. The three protagonist at the heart of the story are all flawed, and believable and through them readers will be reminded that heartache and loses are part of life, but there’s still beauty that remains even after those tragic times.

* This review is based on an eBook I received from the publisher, Penguin Random House International (@prhinternational) via Netgalley.




Book Details:

Title: The Beauty that Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780525578284

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.


Book Links:

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

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) by Tricia Levenseller

“It’s easy to forget danger is near when one cannot see it.”

Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Daughter of the Siren Queen continue Alosa’s adventure with her mostly-lady crew as they voyage to the Isla de Canta with the most cruel pirate on their tail.

After putting herself as a willing-prisoner in Daughter of the Pirate King in order to find a piece of map, Alosa is back to her ship, Ava-Lee. With the help of her crew, she manage to capture Vordan, an enemy pirate who holds another piece of the map that will lead to the vast treasures of the sirens. While captured, Vordan managed to give Alosa information that put doubt to Alosa’s head about her own father, The Pirate King. When Alosa uncover the lies and secrets that her father kept from her, she had no choice but to go against him. By doing so, she not only put herself in front of Pirate King’s wrath but as well as her whole crew who are implicated by her actions. She needs to beat the Pirate King before they all get doomed.

Tricia Levenseller’s debut novel, Daughter of the Pirate King is a surprising fun read for me last year. I enjoyed it so much that I make sure to read this second installment, Daughter of the Siren Queen right after the book become available.

The story mostly focus on Alosa learning about her siren half – her abilities and her family. There are lies, secretes, betrayal and more.

Readers finally get on board to Alosa’s ship, and meet the mostly female crew. With them, the plot carry not only a good cast dynamic but also a new side of adventure. Inside the ship, readers will experience how the crew works, and their pirate lives. Each of them has their own personal stories, even Tricia didn’t get to tell everyone’s story, which is understandably so given that the book is about Alosa. But still, watch out for Roslyn, the youngest pirate aboard Ava-Lee. That girl can easily steal scenes from anyone in the book.

Alosa and Riden chemistry is still there. But the fun banter is less compare from the first book, which for me is where the fun mostly came from. Good thing even without enough banter there’s still the tension between the two to add some thrill on the plot. Also, readers will finally get to know more about Riden and his past.

“There are different kinds of fathers. Those who love unconditionally, those who love on condition, and those who never love at all.”

The villain is another surprise for me. I actually expected Vordan to wear that shoe, but I am glad with Tricia’s option. Not only it is more exciting as it offers different twist, but it also makes the stake a little higher and the actions more daring.

All in all, Daughter of the Siren Queen is a perfect sequel and satisfying conclusion to Daughter of the Pirate King. It offers the same amount of fun and adventures that readers of the first book will surely enjoy.

The Traitor’s Game (The Traitor’s Game #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

“Life doesn’t give us what we want. It gives us what we need and asks what we will do with it.”

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Will you play a game if you know the players consist of traitors?

The Traitor’s Game is a foundation of a new fantasy series from Jennifer A. Nielsen, which follow Kestra and Simon as they both play a game they are not sure how to win or if the sacrifices are worth the prize.

From the title itself, I expected lots of lies, betrayals and scheming from the plot, especially with Nielsen’s behind the writing. For those who have read her previous fantasy series, The Ascendance trilogy, you understand what I’m saying for sure. Nielsen is the master creator of one of the smartest and cunning fictional character in the middle grade fiction, Jaron. Then meeting the main character of The Traitor’s Game for the first time, and knowing her situation and relation to the Kingdom, I imagine Kestra Dallisor to be playing a complicated game of politics and alliances, like Kestrel in Marie Rutkoski’ss The Winner’s trilogy.

Though this new fantasy series is not exactly what I expected, it is still a welcome addition to the genre. In The Traitor’s Game, Jennifer Nielsen use simple yet proven formula in writing fantasy, which somehow make the story of The Traitor’s Game overly familiar, especially since I have read many fantasy books before this one. There’s the tyrant ruler with magical power, unloving father, rising rebellion, classes divisions, and magical dagger. But in-spite of the familiarity, The Traitor’s Game still manage to pull some surprises. And when it does, readers will realized that it is more complex than what they initially thought. So by using the same proven formula, The Traitor’s Game is also a success.

The dual point of view narration between Kestra and Simon is distinctive and engaging. I had no problem distinguishing the voice between the two characters. Even without checking the header, I know right away who is talking. Not only they have different narrative style, but also different way of seeing things and situations.

Kestra is determined, daring and smart. To save those who serves her, she needs to outsmart not only the rebels but also the tyrant and powerful Emperor whom his father serves loyally. She is all-in when it comes to removing the Emperor to his power, but she doesn’t know if the rebels can be trusted. So without knowing who to trust and not to trust, Kestra has to rely on her own self. She needs to be smart in every move she will make and equally cunning.

The characters relationship either between Kestra and Simon, or Kestra and Trina feels a bit underdeveloped, but never the less fun to read. Though I’m not a fun of quick attraction or insta-love as they call it, in this one it’s no big deal for me. Given that Kestra and Simon has previous life together, I’ll forgive the connections that comes few days after meeting again. But the animosity between Trina and Kestra, that’s a different case. Trina’s character sometimes fall messy. The hot-and-cold treatment she give to Kestra is quite confusing. Clearly she’s not someone to trust fully, but still there are times when I find myself hoping she’s one of the good guys, and wish to understand her better.

Centered from a character who is a pawn, a player and a hero, this new fantasy series from Jennifer A. Nielsen will surely enjoy by the author’s followers.

The Traitor’s Game is a tale of courage and a bit of romance, a story of power and those who play the game of power. Will definitely continue reading the next installment.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

“…life was a big thing to live without a map.”

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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

Personal Thoughts:

The Hazel Wood tells a story of a young woman discovering the dark & twisted world from her grandmother’s version of fairy-tale.

Alice Proserpine spent most of her life fleeing bad lucks who according to her mother, have brought to them by Alice’s grandmother. Alice grandmother is an author of a cult-classic book about dark fairy tales called Tales from the Hinterland. When Alice’ grandmother dies at her estate, The Hazel Wood, and her mother mysteriously gone, Alice find herself into the world of her grandmother’s stories.

The Hazel Wood is on top of my most anticipated book of 2018. I’ve been eying to read it since I first saw the cover art late last year. And when I read the blurb, I’m more than intrigued. It cement my curiosity and my will to read the book as soon as copies hit shelves. So obviously I have my expectations.

“Life never turns out how you imagine it will when you’re young. Everything is smaller than you think, or too big.”

So when I get the chance to finally read it, after months of waiting, I end up a bit disappointed. First, the book started slow. The first half feels like the story is not giving the fairy-tale and adventure that the blurb promise me. I waited for it to pick-up some pace, and just give me more adventure than just Alice’s aggressive personality and sometimes infuriating narrations. Clearly, I got a hard time liking Alice as the main character. Which is the second reason why the book become a miss for me. Usually, I don’t mind unlikeable characters, I did enjoyed reading from villains points of view before, and I also encountered pessimistic characters that I end up liking, but Alice is a totally different story. Her aggressive personality is hard for me to swallow, making the story less enjoyable. Maybe it is also my fault, since given Alice’s name and the hints about Hinterland’s world, I can’t help but expect something like an Alice in Wonderland kind of adventure with a dark twist added like Grimms Fairytales. But Alice Proserpine is no like Alice of Alice in Wonderland, which is supposed to be a good thing, since readers don’t want a copy-cat of other literary characters after-all. But Alice Proserpine is still not a likable character for me. So not liking her means not caring about her and her own adventure.

Then we have Ellery Finch, a Hinterland fanatic whom I thought would be a better character than Alice, but unfortunately he wasn’t fully developed. His character actually has a purpose but unfortunately it is only to be a device to serve Alice and nothing more.

“We were each our own island, gathered together into one messed-up archipelago.”

Despite of not-linking much of the characters, there are things that I still like in The Hazel Woods, one of them is the imaginative tale it offers. Melissa Albert did a good job in blending the whimsical world of Hinterland and the real world where Alice lives in. I also appreciate the exploration of fandom, mother-daughter relationship, and reinvention of supposedly innocent fairy-tales. I believe these where Melissa Albert really succeed, which ultimately makes The Hazel Wood a must try read even though it is not all positive for me.

“Books want to be read, and by the right people.”

All in all, The Hazel Wood is an imaginative, dark and mysterious tale. It may not all good and glory but there still something to enjoy and like.

Blog Tour: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (Review & Aesthetics)

“There was always someone with more power.”

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Tempest and Slaughter is a new prequel series from the legendary fantasy writer, Tamora Pierce, that tells the early years of one of the greatest mages of Tortall, Arram Draper or most know from other Tortall books as Numair Salmalin.

Arram Draper is a talented young mage. At the age of ten he went to studies magic at the Imperial University of Carthak. Arram loves to learn new skills and he excel in his studies. When he accidentally flood his classroom during one of his lectures, Arram was given an advanced classes instead of suspension. At a young age his masters saw the great mage that he is. From then on, Arram honed his natural talent in magic, learning from the university masters. Being the only kid in higher classes is not easy for Arram, but he eventually found his closest friends with Verice and the young Prince, Ozorne. The three of them become inseparable since then. Together they start to carve their paths in the world of magic and politics.

“Learn it now or learn it later,..But a wise man does learn it.”

It’s been a while since I last read a novel from Tamora Pierce, and I am gladly surprised that she is finally writing from a point of view of a male character in Tempest and Slaughter. To those who haven’t read Tamora’s other fantasy series, Tamora is known for her kick-ass heroines. She always created a champion in them. Girls who are not only feminine but also warriors. I drew inspirations from her characters and from her as an author. Her books shows girl-power and a lot more. Her male characters, though not the main narrators are also well crafted, and to have one of them tell a new story in this latest fantasy novel, Tempest and Slaughter is surely a welcome experience for Tamora Pierce’s followers like me.

Tempest and Slaughter is a character driven novel which may easily feel dragging, especially to readers who are not yet familiar with the Tortall realm. But if you fall into that category, I dare you to continue reading, because not only Arram is really an interesting character but also Tamora Pierce offer a wonderful world of magic and myth in Tempest and Slaughter. Even if you haven’t read her other fantasy books, there are many things to love and to enjoy in this first instalment of a new prequel series from Tamora Pierce.

“If a little power doesn’t do what you want, think of something else before you try using a lot of it.”

Arram’s character development is interesting to follow. From his inner struggles to fit-in with his classmates, the challenges he encounter in learning more about magic, and using what he learned to help people around him. His inner thoughts shows his true character, like how he questioned the life around him, the slavery, and role of mages in politics. He maybe young but he is learning not only about magic but also other important things around him. I look forward reading how he transformed from Arram Draper to the powerful Numair Salmalin in the future.

Tamora Pierce also introduced a rich mythology in this book. The presence of Gods in different forms, like Enzi, the crocodile god of Zekoi, and other powerful beings that shows their interest to Arram are all wonderful addition to the story. Even if you haven’t read the other books of the Tortall world, Tempest and Slaugther will give you enough background to fully grasp the fantasy world of mages.

Overall, followers of Tamora Pierce will surely love this new addition to the world of Tortall, as they read new things about the familiar character, Numair Salmalin. It’s like rediscovering the greatest mage and loving him more than we never thought is possible.

It’s really an interesting read to discover the beginning of many familiar characters in this book. I am looking forward to see more about Arram and his friends, Verice and Ozrone as well as the other mages in the next book of Numair Chronicles.

* This review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher, Penguin Random House International.


Here are some aesthetics for Tempest and Slaughter to entice you more into reading the book.

@credit to owners / artists

Blog Tour: This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (Review)

“Don’t do anything you know you’ll regret. But do enough to know exactly what you’ll regret and learn to regret less.”

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

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

Personal Thoughts:

This Heart of Mine is a genuine portrayal of life of a teengage girl living with chronic illness with a dose of mystery.

Leah McKenzie’s heart failed due to virus that caused Myocarditis, so she has an external mechanical heart to keep her alive while waiting for a heart that will match her. But with her rare blood type, Leah is not very optimistic in getting a transplant soon.

Matt Kenner has lost his twin brother, Eric after declared brain-dead due to the gunshot in the head. Eric’s heart match to Leah’s need, so she received a new heart the same day Eric’s died. Leah knew Matt and Eric, they attend the same school and live in the same town, and after realizing that she has Eric’ heart, she can’t help but think that Eric is gone and she is alive because of it.

The police ruled Eric’s case as suicide, but Matt doesn’t believe it. He knows his twin brother very well, and he can’t accept that Eric will take his own life. When Matt and Leah finally able to catch up with each other, they learned that they’ve been having the same dreams lately, and it’s all about Eric. Like Eric is telling them something about his death. The two then try to find out what actually happened that night Eric died, hoping to bring justice for Eric.

Told in alternating views between Leah’s first person and Matt’s third person narrative, This Heart of Mine offers story of griefs; from Leah and her family who is dealing with Leah’s condition, to Matt and his mother’s grief after losing not only Eric but also Matt’s Dad, and also those friends who are somehow connected to those who are gone like Eric.

Aside from dealing with griefs, and the mystery of Eric’s death, and more than the romance between Eric and Leah, the story also reminds readers how important it is to live in the moment and take chances in life. With Leah’s condition, Leah doesn’t know how long she has to live. Even with the new heart, there’s still the possibility that her body will reject it. And Leah learn to accept that the hard way. She learns to appreciate whatever time she got and try to live her life as normal as possible. She seize the moment, try to be brave and be happy with her life even with her condition.

“Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose. That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.”

C.C. Hunter successfully delivered a heart-warming story with a touch of mystery in this first contemporary novel of her.

A story with a heart.

* This review is based on an eGalley I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan in exchange of honest opinion about the book.