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 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: 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.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

“Everybody’s got secrets,” he says. “Right?”

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

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

Personal Thoughts:

One of Us is Lying will surely keep readers turning pages after pages till the end.

Simon is the owner and creator of About That, an application that broadcast the juiciest gossips around Bayview High. When he and other four students end up in the detention, Simon died from severe allergy after drinking a cup of water. The four students – Nate, Bronwyn, Addy, and Cooper are all subjects of About That’s next gossip, making them more suspicious for Simon’s murder. Could any of them plotted Simon’s death, or are they just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

“I know what it’s like to tell yourself a lie so often that it becomes the truth.”

Uncovering Simon’s death for me is not about the whodunnit part, but more on how and why? Not exactly on how it was done, but more on the small details actually. Only few chapters in, right after reading each of the suspects thoughts, I already had my guess on who killed Simon. And as I continue reading, getting to know more of the suspects, I know my guess is right. From then on, it a series of confirmations. As much as I don’t want the fact that I easily guessed the mystery of Simon’s death, I am still so much at awe how the whole story was delivered. Not only it is addictive, but also very engaging.

The whole time I am reading, I am mentally noting the facts and details about the characters – their involvement to Simon, their motives and alibis. Not only because of their connection to the mystery of Simon’s death but most importantly because of their own stories. Their individual secrets and side stories are what really drive the whole plot for me, more than Simon’s death.

These characters though label as stereotypical are not as simple as they appear. They are not just the typical representations of the high-school status quo. Bronwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper are all interesting individual whose stories went to different lows and highs. Their character development is one of the best part of this book.

“She’s a princess and you’re a jock,” he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. “And you’re a brain. And you’re a criminal. You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.”

As for Simon, is it bad I don’t care much that he is dead? Sure, I had fun reading the other characters take on his death, but with my hunch about his death, it just not easy for me to see things the other way around. I wish there’s more details and explanations than just his condition, or at least more about his condition. But even then, I don’t think it will justify everything that went through with him. If only I know what’s in his head. I don’t think it’s all about revenge though. I think he is more clever than that.

“Some people are too toxic to live. They just are.”

One of Us is Lying is a well written, interesting and surprisingly fun read. Karen M. McManus did a very well job with this one. You won’t even noticed that this is her debut novel. I will definitely read whatever her next project is.

Avenged (Ruined #2) by Amy Tintera

“Just because you have the title of King doesn’t mean you have any power.”

In the sequel to Ruined, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn’t as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Avenged is a quick, easy read, and entertaining sequence to Amy Tintera’s young adult fantasy, Ruined.

In this installment, we are reacquainted with Emelina Flores and her sister Olivia. The two are now ruling side by side as Queens of Ruined. They plan to rebuild Ruina but soon they realized that it will take a while to restore their lands to its former glory. While Casimir, now the new King of Lera, is struggling to maintain his position as the new leader. His cousin, Jovita is a huge threat, and not everyone believe that he is fit to rule.

With the ending of the first book, Ruined, I was actually looking forward for Olivia in this second installment. She is the big sign that promised great battle and wars. Which makes me excited to read Avenged. Add the title, I’m positive that the book will be an action-pack read even before I start reading. And true to itself, Avenged is packed with battles and war. Olivia is portrayed as menacing, non-empathetic and cold-blooded, which makes her a terrifying villain. But Olivia doesn’t start as the villain in the story. Though readers will see her true side, for Emelina, Olivia is still her younger sister, her family – the very reason Emelina put herself in danger in Ruined.

But inspite of not seeing ahead what Olivia truly is, Emelina is actually smarter in this installment. Most of her decisions are thoughtful and clever. She don’t make drastic decisions, she ask opinions from others and most importantly she put her people first. She deserves her position as one of the leaders of the Ruined in-spite of her being powerless.

Casimir Gallegos on the other hand started weak. He was poisoned, lost his position as King, and almost give up his entire Kingdom just to be with Emelina. Soon, with the help of Em, he realized what a huge mistake it will be. He then start to claim his throne, and fight for land and his people.

“Maybe ‘coincidence’ is another word for fate.”

Emelina and Casimir are caugth in the middle of political war, revenged, and relationship issues. Which basically makes the plot flowing. With so many things that is happening around these two, there’s no time for boredom. The only mild complaint is that despite of all those things, I still feel like that the story doesn’t contribute much to the whole plot of the series. From book one, we already know that Lera and Ruina are at war with each other, which continue here in this second installment. It’s a never ending war and revenged that started from earlier generations. It’s like they haven’t learn after losing their parents and many of their people. Though we finally seen the land of warriors, Olso, and get glimpse of how their Kingdom operates, that lasted shortly and cramped near the end.

All in all, Avenged is a heart-pounding, addicting, and light-fasting read. Though it offers little resolutions being the middle book that it is, it is still satisfying and enjoyable overall. Followers of the first book, Ruined will surely relish additional time with Emelina and the rest of the characters, while eagerly waiting for the final installment.


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