Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-offs

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s list is about the things you encounter while reading that totally turns you off.

 

#10 Noble Idiots

I’m not sure who exactly coined the term but I first read it from Javabeans. This is when a character makes a noble but idiotic sacrifice for another character without discussing it first with said character; even when proper communication would have likely resolved the issue.

#9 Underdeveloped characters

I think this is such a tragedy, especially when you have an interesting plot. When the characterization is sub-optimal, my eagerness for the book diminishes. Because I can see the potential but it’s just not being realized.

#8 Helpless heroine/Damsel in distress

I don’t enjoy reading about heroines who treat themselves or let others treat them as doormats. I like them feisty, intelligent, and bad-ass.

#7 Guy falls in love with girl because she’s beautiful?

I’m not discriminating against beauty. I admire beauty. And a lot of characters considered to be a beauty have amazing personalities. What about getting to know her first? I have a hard time buying into the legitimacy of their feelings if they start off from this direction.

#6 Characters who assume the worst

I hate it when characters, especially the main ones, assume the worst of each other. One bad thing happens and they can’t talk to each other about it first, try to get some reason or explanation in there first. Their first thoughts are that they’ve been betrayed. It signals a lack of trust and maybe a bag of insecurity.

#5 Forced conflict

When an author forces a conflict into the story especially in the middle or towards the end, I’m not sure if it’s plot fodder or just that ‘oh-i-have-an-idea-let’s-insert-mother-issues-here-in-the-middle’ moment. It distracts me from the main story and just makes it lose its momentum. If the author’s going to put the conflict in, I hope it’s organic within the story.

#4 Don’t just tell me. Show me.

I love reading and I can say I have a good imagination and I interpret things well enough for myself. And I want to know your characters more so please demonstrate to me the kind of people they are. Don’t just enumerate or list their characteristics.

#3 Love triangles

I can endure them to a certain point. First and foremost, if it does not drag for too long. Second, well, there is no second. I think the longest I had to endure through this one was in the Clockwork Trilogy from Cassandra Clare. I was so eager to just have the OTP already but since the story itself was interesting and exciting enough, I had endured. But it was still such a torture (the love triangle, that is. The rest about the series was great.)

#2 Insta-love

I love myself a good slow-building romance so when the i-love-you’s suddenly come barrelling through the first few pages, I can’t concentrate anymore on the rest of the story. How am I supposed to feel invested in the relationship when the characters have barely begun one and the next moment they’re confessing undying love? Did I miss something? I don’t want to miss anything. So please give me the whole sweet progression.

#1 Cheating / Infidelity

This is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t care if the characters have whatever back stories they have or whatever issues they’re trying to resolve. If you’re in a relationship wherein you want out, have the courage and decency to end it instead of cheating yourself away from the relationship. I always have the feeling that once a cheater, always a cheater so it’s basically a non-redeemable act to me.

 

There you go. My Top Ten Tuesday. I would love to hear about yours?

 

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. It’s a great opportunity for bloggers to post what books they plan to read for the week.

Here’s my list. I’m not sure if I can finish it within this week but I’ll try (*fingers crossed*).

 

The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher

the opportunistHere’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Olivia Kaspen has just discovered that her ex-boyfriend, Caleb Drake, has lost his memory. With an already lousy reputation for taking advantage of situations, Olivia must decide how far she is willing to go to get Caleb back. Wrestling to keep her true identity and their sordid past under wraps, Olivia’s greatest obstacle is Caleb’s wicked, new girlfriend; Leah Smith. It is a race to the finish as these two vipers engage in a vicious tug of war to possess a man who no longer remembers them. But, soon enough Olivia must face the consequences of her lies, and in the process discover that sometimes love falls short of redemption.

I just started this book and I am finding myself quite enjoying it. The thing that drew me first to this book was the interesting premise. Ex-boyfriend has amnesia so girl decides to take advantage. It sounds a little wrong but there’s a lot of potential for plot development and I am curious as to where the author plans to take this story.

 

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

attachmentsHere’s the blurb from Goodreads:

“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

I’ve read Eleanor & Park and Fangirl but sadly I haven’t read Rainbow Rowell’s debut novel yet. I think it’s high-time that I do (I hope).

 

It Happened One Midnight by Julie Anne Long

it happened one midnightHere’s the blurb from Goodreads:

More than one beautiful woman’s hopes have been dashed on the rocky shoals of Jonathan Redmond’s heart. With his riveting good looks and Redmond wealth and power, the world is his oyster—until an ultimatum from his father and a chilling gypsy prophesy send him hurtling headlong toward a fate he’ll do anything to avoid: matrimony.

Intoxicating, elusive Thomasina de Ballesteros has the bloods of London at her feet. But none of them knows the real Tommy—the one with a shocking pedigree, a few too many secrets, and a healthy scorn for rakes like Jonathan.

She is everything Jonathan never wanted. But on one fateful midnight, he’s drawn into Tommy’s world of risk, danger…and a desire he’d never dreamed possible. And suddenly he’s re-thinking everything…including the possibility that succumbing to prophesy might just mean surrendering to love.

I’ve only read three of Julie Anne Long’s books, all from her Pennyroyal Green Series, and so far I’ve enjoyed them. What I Did For a Duke remains one of my favorite historical romances. So I wanted to continue on with the series while waiting for the much-awaited pinnacle of the series which I surmise would be Lyon’s and Olivia’s story. So in the meantime, I’ll read and enjoy Jonathan’s and Tommy’s story.

 

What are you guys reading this week? I would love to hear your selections.

 

 

Super Six Sunday: Books that made me cry

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Super Six Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Bewitched Bookworms. This Sunday’s theme: Books that made me cry.

Although I don’t go about reading books that make me cry, there comes that time when books just do that to you. Sometimes you expect it would, other times it just blindsides you a bit. But what I appreciate is the fact that the authors don’t have it in their minds as an ultimate goal to make the readers cry. It’s just that in-between sort of thing in pursuit of their telling their stories.

Now, without further ado, here’s my list:

297887#6 One Night of Sin by Gaelen Foley

This might seem a little out of place in this list because it’s a historical romance but nevertheless Alec’s back story just grabbed at my heart, squeezed it, and won’t let go until tears were running down my cheeks.

 

 

17411704#5 The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

A person’s dedication to and sacrifice for another person is sometimes a sad but beautiful thing to watch (or read).

 

 

 

15931#4 The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

It wasn’t just the Alzheimer and the power of love to break through this disease. It’s the long, long journey that Allie and Noah went through to be together.

 

 

 

6990472#3 If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The choice between staying and leaving has never been this gut-wrenching. She’s presented with these two choices and while you want her to choose one, it also makes sense that she would want to choose the other.

 

 

15507958#2 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Oh, Jojo Moyes, how you bleed my heart. Learning and wanting to live your life like you want to instead of just going through the motions is at the heart of this novel.

 

 

 

10929#1 For One More Day by Mitch Albom

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.”

What can be more heartbreakingly pure and true than a mother’s love?

 

 

Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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In this companion novel, Gayle Forman continues the story from where If I Stay left off but this time, it’s told from Adam’s POV.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I’ll confess that in the first book, I was not really invested in Adam’s character. Sure, he was Mia’s boyfriend, a close family friend, and in him Mia found a kindred soul as a music lover. But I was so focused on Mia and what she was going through that I was not able to give much attention to Adam. So, in a sense, I never really knew him as I should have, I guess.

But in this second book, my gosh, I’ve turned into a fan, a follower, and a believer. As I read and read more, I learn more about him, not just as an extension of Mia but as his own individual, as a person with his own attitudes, his own beliefs, and his own miseries.

And the beauty of Gayle Forman’s writing really shines through. The way she weaved the flashbacks into the story was seamless and smooth. One moment you’re locked in on the present but then she hits you with these flashbacks, be it a sweet moment or a devastating one, and for a moment you’re flabbergasted with how the past echoes into the present. And You. Get. It.

One of my favourite things in this book are Adam’s songs and the way that Gayle Forman continues to add layers to the complexity of the relationship and everything that had happened through the song lyrics. And I appreciated it so much that they are consonant with the theme of each chapter. It was such a wonderful literary technique. Here’s my favourite from the bunch:

You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow but realized too late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet

“BRIDGE”
COLLATERAL DAMAGE,
Track 4

It just sounded so like Adam. And it squeezes your heart to know the reason why he wrote these words.

At the beginning of the book, I thought I knew how the story would go and how it would end. But towards the end of the book, I slowly lose that certainty. And it was not a bad thing. At all. Because as a reader, I almost devoured the book, wanting to know what ending Gayle Forman has in store for me. And she did not disappoint.

Rating: 4 ½ / 5 stars

Thursday Quotables

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Thursday Quotables is a weekly meme hosted at Bookshelf Fantasies. You choose a quote from your latest book read for the week. It can be a quote that made smile or laugh, had you crying, or just interesting in general.

 

For this week, I quote Gayle Forman in her Where She Went novel.

 

My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face. I want to touch her to make sure it’s really her, not one of those dreams I had so often after she left when I’d see her as clear as day, be ready to kiss her or take her to me only to wake up with Mia just beyond reach.

 

8492825Doesn’t that just about kill you? Where She Went is the companion novel to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and it’s told from Adam’s POV. I’m about a third of the novel in and I’ll just say that I love Adam’s voice, that is, his literary voice or whatever you want to call it. Gayle Forman’s writing really evokes that devastating yet poignant feeling that I really, really appreciate.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: My Lady Quicksilver

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

My Lady Quicksilver by Bec McMaster (London Steampunk #3)

 

Publication Date: 1 October 2013 17310126

 

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

 

Determined to destroy the Echelon she despises, Rosalind Fairchild is on seemingly easy mission. Get in. Uncover the secrets of her brother’s disappearance. And get out.

In order to infiltrate the Nighthawks and find their leader, Sir Jasper Lynch, Rosalind will pose as their secretary. But she doesn’t count on Lynch being such a dangerously charismatic man, challenging her at every turn, forcing her to re-evaluate everything she knows about the enemy.

He could be her most dangerous nemesis—or the ally she never dreamed existed.

 

I can’t wait to dive into Bec McMaster’s Steampunk London world again. The third installment of the series brings us outside the main families of the first two books but nevertheless connected characters. There’s a much larger, overarching plot that is building up since the first book and I can’t wait to see what more is revealed in this new release.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Sequels Ever

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s list: Best Sequels Ever. So without further ado, may I present my top ten. Not all the books are strictly the second offerings. I’ve included a couple books down the series line.

Faking It #10 Faking It by Cora Carmack (Losing It #2)
Liked the premise plot than the first book. And the words that Cora Carmack kept producing page after page just took my breath and my heart away. Loved the parallelisms throughout the book.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate touch chocolate kiss#9 The Chocolate Touch & The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand (Amour et Chocolat #4 & #2 respectively)
Much, much better than the first book. Laura Florand’s writing kept getting better and better after each book in this series. More depth for the characters. More emotional tugs to the heart. And the connection between the main couples was more strongly established.

 

devil in winter it happened one autumn#8 Devil in Winter & It Happened in One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas (Wallflowers #3 & #2)
Loved the flow of these two books. The premises were intriguing in themselves but the progression of the romance and the character development were the highs for me.

 

 

lola and the boy next door#7 Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
Liked this one so much better than the first book. And as much as I hate to compare Etienne with Cricket, sometimes it’s hard not to. But I think the plus for me for this sequel was that even though we get everything from Lola’s POV, by the end of the book, I know Cricket. Not the ‘I know of him’ feeling that I sort of got from Etienne but that ‘I truly know this guy and what makes him tick’ sort familiarity with Cricket.

 

 

before now#6 Before Now by Cheryl McIntyre (Sometimes Never #2)
It was such an interesting read from Park’s POV. You get why he’s such a bast*** but you can’t help but root for him to get his own HEA just the same. You go through his ups and downs with him and this guy just about melts your bones, melts your heart.

 

 

 

catching fire#5 Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games #2)
A lot of people said that this sequel was just a recycling of the first book. But I beg to differ. SPOILER ALERT. Sure, Katniss and Peeta find themselves inside the Hunger Games arena yet again after just becoming champions for the previous Hunger Games but that’s about only thing that’s similar between the first and the sequel. This sequel has set up entirely new dynamics among the characters. And of course, Peeta Mellark. Need I say more?

 

 

the viscount who loved me romancing mr bridgerton#4 The Viscount who Loved Me & Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (The Bridgertons #2 & #4)
The Bridgertons. One of the most beloved families in all of Historical Romance world. Daphne and Simon’s story in the first book started the series well. And the succeeding books just built on that great foundation that Julia Quinn had set up. Anthony’s and Colin’s stories will continue to be on my re-read book list.

 

one good earl deserves a lover#3 One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean (Rules of Scoundrels #2)
Oh, Sarah MacLean. This book has found its place in the list of my favorite books of all time. The premise and the trajectory of the story were unique, fresh, and entirely lovable. The main characters, and Penelope were so different and yet so alike and they fit so well together. Their idiosyncrasies made the book work.

 

 

hostage to pleasure#2 Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling #5)
It has been said many times and I will say it again as well. Nalini Singh has created one of, if not the most amazing paranormal series ever. Her world-building is just in a whole other level. Her characters are well fleshed-out, relatable (amid their psy or changeling capabilities), totally intriguing. Her story-telling is superb. And you can guess which of her books in the series is my favorite. Each sequel just builds on the previous book, plot-wise, character-wise, until after 12 books, you’ve got yourself a superb world with no lack for a minefield of mysteries and plot development.

 

queen of attolia the king of attolia a conspiracy of kings

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, & A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (Queen’s Thief #2, #3, & #4)

As far as sequels go, these bunch are by far the best and my most favorite. Talk about building a world. Imagine concentric circles, the innermost being Gen, the main character in the first book. And as you go through the first, second, third, and four installment of the series, you get the succeeding circles, expanding the characters that you know, the goings-on that you are witnessing directly or indirectly, and the mysteries and questions that you want answered. And the circles just keep growing and growing bigger: as big as the love for this series that you would most likely develop in due time.

Review: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

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Courtney Milan has already become an automatic read for me. She’s proven her brilliance with her craft and I always appreciate the unconventionality of her stories. In a genre such as historical romance, which does not experience a dearth in quantity of material, it is such a great feat for a writer to set herself apart from the others and in a good way. Courtney Milan does that with every single one of her books and her latest is yet another example of how good a writer she truly is.

Book Blurb:”Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly—so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don’t get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.But that is precisely what she gets.Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he’s up to, he realizes there is more to her than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he’s determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…”

Let me count the ways I love this book:

As always, the first thing that struck me is the unconventionalities that the story presents the readers, starting from the main characters where you have a heroine who’s smart, street-smart, strategy-smart, and strong-willed, and a hero who’s pretty much the anti-thesis of the conventional brooding and rakish heroes of the genre. In fact, the heroine has a scar on her face and the hero is a romantic at heart. They’re just both strong people in that they have survived the ugliness of their childhood pasts.

I love the running theme of discovering the true character or essence of a person beyond the physical, beyond a title, beyond a name, beyond the past. Minnie, the heroine, assumes another name in order to escape a past and hides behind a quiet demeanor to keep her past from catching up to her. Robert, the hero, is a duke, a member of the realm. But he is also a radical and the change that he wants done, to abolish the peerage. He fully knows the privileges that his title has brought him but at the same time he has this innate belief that such privileges are the causes of abuse and he abhors that impunity does not pay because people are protected by their titles and their wealth. I love that these two people are not who people see them to be and the first one to discover the true person underneath it all, the first one to see through the mist of illusion is each other.

I love Minnie but Robert is really the shining character in this book for me. He defies every conventional trait of the supposed ‘hero’ of a novel: he’s a duke but he’s embarassed by his title and his wealth and he even wants to abolish the institution that has made him such; he’s not a rake, in fact, he’s even (GASP) a virgin; and last but not the least, he’s a romantic. Despite the rejection and disillusionment that his parents’ marriage showed him, he still believes in love. However, he does not believe that he will experience it. Until he met Minnie, that is. The scene where he realizes that he loves Minnie offers one of my favorite lines from Robert and just displays the brilliance of Milan’s writing:

It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in love. The thought of love was like water in the desert. Now there was a stupid cliché, one that made him think of a man in ragged clothing staggering through the Sahara, searching for an oasis among the sand dunes.But the Antarctic was a desert, too—a cold desert, one made dry because water there turned to ice the instant it hit the air.So he believed in love. He’d always believed in love. He’d been surrounded by water all his life; it had simply been frozen solid. He’d loved as hard as he dared and watched it freeze before his face. It was no surprise now when he checked his feelings and discovered that he loved her. The surprise was that this time, when he dared to take a sip, he found water instead of ice.

Her characters, even the secondary ones, are well-fleshed out. They don’t seem like characters in a book; they’re like real people. They make mistakes. They make wrong decisions. They’re flawed, basically. And human. But then you understand them and what they’ve been through and you stand behind them just the same. That’s great writing.

Last but not the least, the story itself was unconventional. What I love about Milan’s writing is that she takes a conventional premise and then somehow manages to transform it into something new, something not cliche. When you think that the story would go this particular way, she surprises you because it takes a detour and goes to an opposite direction. And it works. She doesn’t divide her universe and her characters in blacks and whites; there are always grays and colors. And again, that’s great writing.

All in all, this is another A-grade piece by Courtney Milan. I can’t wait for the next installment in her Brothers Sinister series. And for those who haven’t read her other books, you should try them. They’re good.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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