Posted in On my shelf

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This is my long overdue review of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I read it November of 2016 and to finally complete my review for it over six months after only tells you how I like (or not) the book. (Sorry, not sorry)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has been advertised as something in the league of the next great contemporary thriller. It’s been hyped up as the next “Gone Girl” so you might understand the kind of expectations I had going into to this book. I started reading the book in October 2016, I was thinking I could finish it in one go or at least in time before the movie was released. Oh, boy was I wrong.

Okay to be fair, I think I shouldn’t have made such high expectations about the book, but cmon! It was being marketed as the next Gone Girl, it should be understandable that I would compare it to just that. But enough about my unavoidable comparisons, and let me go straight to what I liked and didn’t like.

I liked that…

The premise of the story was really promising to me. The first few chapters of the story set the tone of what I can expect from the entire book. I also admire how Hawkins wrote her flawed characters. None of the too perfect, far-fetched or too good to be true personas. She was able to set the precedent that these characters are going to be as real and as human as possible.

But, I didn’t like that…

There seems to be no redeeming quality to the protagonist. At the end of the story, I was waiting for something that might make me like her at least even just one bit. I just didn’t find that thread of connection to her. I found it difficult to immerse myself in the story too and I feel that the switching of POV was not written as seamlessly as it would have. It fails to keep me invested that’s why I found it so easy to postpone finishing the book in favor of another. Portions of the book had me at the edge of my seat, there are some chapters that pushed my anticipation high only to deflate it with another dragging episode of a flashback or unnecessary details.

In the classic whodunit trope, I would say that I was just left wanting when the “big” reveal came to. The ending as much as it wanted to create that open-ended sensation, that Rachel’s story doesn’t really end here, it failed to tickle my fancy. I didn’t want to know more, I was just relieved I finished it.

Maybe I am biased, there’s a big chance that I am, but I feel that the book didn’t even stand a chance to me especially when they market it as the next this or that. I have yet to watch the movie, maybe it might redeem the story or not.

Paula Hawkins has a new book out called Into The Water. I might give it another go but I won’t be rushing to my favorite bookstore anytime soon.

Read: November 28, 2016

The BookNut Verdict: 3 out of 5

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Posted in On my shelf

Settle the Score / Hustle Play by Tara Frejas

Last September during the MIBF, I stumbled upon a local author name Tara Frejas, who immediately made to my list of to look-out for writers. I love her quirky way of romance writing plus she packs all this “kilig” or giddiness in just a short novel which you can consume almost instantaneously. You’ll find yourself binge-reading her works all in one lazy Sunday afternoon.

Since I stalked her on Twitter and Goodreads, it was kinda natural for me to find that I signed-up for the promotional blog tour and launch of her newest work: Settle the Score / Hustle Play, a sports romance that is as exciting and heart-pounding as your favorite collegiate basketball finals match. I kinda wanted to be one of the first to read her latest book and see what other kinds of magic Tara Frejas has under her sleeves.

Here’s an overview of Settle the Score / Hustle Play:

Settle the Score/ Hustle Play

Settle the Score



College senior Garnet Figueroa lives and breathes basketball. A reliable asset to her varsity team, she is equipped with the skills and smarts to get the De La Sierra Lady Hunters closer to this year’s championship title. But Garnet soon finds out that her good friend (and long-time crush), cheer dancer Charles Crisostomo, is being cheated on by his girl, and she lets her emotions get the best of her.

Will she be able to come up with a game plan to save herself from heartbreak before the buzzer signals Game Over?

Hustle Play

Running on pure adrenaline and working with game strategies is something a basketball player like Garnet Figueroa is trained for. On the court, she is unbeatable. Off the court… that’s a completely different story.

Because falling in love is trickier than a ball game, and Garnet finds herself fumbling over her feelings for Charles Crisostomo. The fact that her attention gets divided between him and rival school hard-court hottie Chris Barcelo doesn’t help.

Or does it?

 

I’ve always been intrigued with best friends-turned-lovers stories. I like reading about how a friendship which solidifies into a stronger bond eventually flourishes into a different kind of love. My fascination stems from how writers are able to maneuver these different layers of feelings and complications which constantly arises from such situations. So when I read that Settle the Score / Hustle Play is mainly about that, it really captured my interest.

STS - HP

I really like how Tara Frejas can create colorful backgrounds for her leads, given that her works are short novels. To be able to establish these characters and their values is a tough feat especially if you have a limited number of pages to work with. And just like with her other books she can also write a solid set of secondary characters to add to the dynamics of the story. I love how Charles and Garnet’s friendship was introduced and how it bloomed into a deeper bond. The collegiate athletic backdrop also gives a different layer of drama to the story.

Maybe because I’m still reeling from her other book The “Forget You” Brew, but I felt that Settle the Score / Hustle Play lacked something I just couldn’t put my finger on. There were a couple of unresolved scenes for me which would’ve made the story a bit more seamless. I also wish there were more “kilig” or sweet moments between Garnet and Charles.

Overall, Settle the Score / Hustle Play, is a good take on the friends to lovers trope. I like the modern twists and quirky bits which made each chapter interesting. Though it might not be as bewitching as my first Tara Frejas read, I will still surely keep on ‘stalking’ her for more stories and cute photos of her pet bunny 🙂

One-click Settle the Score / Hustle here: Amazonbit.ly/GarnetLovesCharles

You can also order her books here: Print-on-Demandtarafrejas.com/orderform

Read: November 18, 2016

The BookNut Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

Posted in On my shelf

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing them becomes too high.

I’ve been seeing this book on the shelves for a while now and I’ve always steered away from it. The creepy cover is enough to scare me to not even bother to sneak a glance at the story. I guess that was my mistake then so when I heard it was going to be made into a movie by Tim Burton it piqued my interest. I asked around and got a vote of confidence that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, just enough creepiness. So I bought the entire set and read the first book in time for the movie to be released.

Miss Peregrine

Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children succeeded in telling a curious tale about a home for children with certain abilities. Abilities that if it were seen by common folks would only ensue a never-ending line of questioning and maybe even chaos. It certainly is true that most people are afraid of things that they can’t understand.

The story starts with a young boy named Jacob Portman, he recollects on how his close relationship with his grandfather Abe (Grandpa Portman) started. His grandpa loves reliving his tales about a home with children who are special. These stories were always accompanied by photos of these special children and one which shows the mistress who runs the household, Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine. As a young boy, Jacob had always believed his grandfather, that they were never just bedtime stories but are factual accounts of his grandpa’s life. Until he reached a certain age, where he had to stop believing in these “fairy tales”. Now that Jacob is all grown-up, or at least in his teens, he faces a tragedy that will set his life on a tailspin and start an adventure he never thought he’ll be in.

As he tries to come to terms with the death of his grandfather, Jacob grants his final wish, for him to find the home for peculiar children on a tiny island off the coast of Wales, seek safety there and tell Miss Peregrine of what happened. This wasn’t easy given the state he was in after his grandfather’s attack. He was still trying to wrap his mind around what happened that faithful night, of what really attacked his Grandpa Portman. After proving to his parents that going out to this tiny island will only be beneficial to his recovery and acceptance, he sets off with his father in the hopes to find some form of peace and maybe discover the truth behind his grandfather’s tales.

Miss Peregine Movie

Once Jacob arrives at the island he discovered that the home where his grandfather once sought refuge was already reduced to crumbling ruins. Undeterred, he comes back to discover old mementos of the children who once lived in those hallways. While trying to piece together the puzzle, he stumbles upon a discovery that will soon change his destiny.

The first book in the trilogy was able to meld the suspenseful and thrilling read with those hair-raising photos. It added to the full mysterious and creepy effect. I remember finishing this book just before midnight and I ended up seeing those photos in my sleep. Each of the children’s peculiarity was definite and it added to the dynamics of the characters. It was well thought of and a delight to read.

Miss Peregrine invites

The movie, on the other hand, is a different case. As well as I enjoyed seeing the characters I read about and imagine come to life on the screen, the changes in the movie bothered me a little bit. But then again, movie adaptations will always raise concerns from fans of the book, we will always look for something they missed or things they changed. Overall it was a pleasant film and I’m sure those who haven’t read the books will enjoy it enough to go out and read it. Which is, as I see it a win-win situation.

I’m looking forward finishing Hollow City and Library of Souls soon. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is certainly a good pick for a Halloween read.

 

Read: September 25, 2016

The BookNut Verdict: 4 out of 5

Posted in On my shelf

The “Forget You” Brew by Tara Frejas

The Forget You Brew

This is the first time I’ll be featuring a book by a Filipino author and I’m so excited about it. The moment I spotted this title on display at this year’s Manila International Book Fair, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. So I grabbed what I think was the last copy and bought it. Unbeknownst to me the author of the book I was eyeing for the last 10 minutes was there, writing my receipt. She asked me if I want her to sign the book, I was so surprised that it took me a while to answer her question and she must have recognized it since she gestured to the name in the book, and pointed to herself with a smile. I must’ve shrieked “yes!” and was suddenly all smiles. I took that as a good sign. 🙂

The “Forget You” Brew by Tara Frejas is a wonderfully fresh and touching love story. For many the title alone will catch your attention and once you read a tiny bit of its summary, I know you’ll be reeled in. For a coffee and romance novel addict like me, it was a done deal.

This short but sweet novel is the story of Kyle and Allison, two friends who fell in love with each other. And as most cases, they did not want to act on their feelings because of the fear of rejection and the possibility of losing their best friend. I know this might sound like an over used trope but believe me, there’s more to their story.

Bunny Boo

As their feelings for each other grew complicated, Allison tries to seek refuge. Here she stumbles upon a little hidden place called Nowheretown. Known only to be discovered by people who needs it the most, as they say, the town can’t be found on any map, Nowheretown finds you. She heads over a tiny cafe called Kaipuhan Kafe where the menu is customized. It shows different drinks depending on what that particular customer seem to need the most at that moment. Here Allison sees the afforgeto – a drink for those who long to forget. Determine to whisk away her feelings she orders a cup. All the while, Kyle is trying to find her, undecided on whether or not he wants to confess his feelings to Allison. When he discovers the small and unique town, he steps into Mama Kata’s bunny house where he finds the Likha, the one person who may be able to help Kyle find Allison before it’s too late and she forgets everything that happened between them, all of it.

The funny thing about memory is — and I realized this on my own — that no matter how strong a potion you use to forget, it seems to weave its way back into your life in the most unexpected, oftentimes simplest ways.

Tara Frejas was able to write something original and wonderful. It was imaginative and I really admire her use of magical realism. She was able to create her own world complete with an array of colorful characters to go with it. These characters add dimension to the story without going overboard and it was so easy to fall in love with them. Of course, the story is not 100% perfect as there were certain holes to Allison and Kyle’s relationship, but for me, it didn’t affect the overall story. I like that there were questions left unanswered and that there might still be a continuation to the magic, to their love story.

The “Forget You” Brew immediately goes to my “quick reco” list. It’s the type of book I’ll recommend to all my friends. I’ll bug them to buy and read it until they get tired of me because I know in the end they will really enjoy reading it as I have. I’m elated to have discovered Tara Frejas as I vow to read more works by local authors. I hope to make more discoveries like this one.

The “Forget You” Brew is available on Amazon for just $ 1.99, just one-click here.

 

Read: September 17, 2016

The BookNut Verdict: 5 out of 5

Posted in What's New?

Giveaway: More Than Forever by Jay McLean

GIVEAWAY!!!

Before the release of the much awaited More Than series spin-off LUCAS, let’s go back to where we first met him.

Discover a love that is eternal, like the rise and fall of the sun. Discover forever. 

Get a chance to win one (1) e-book of MORE THAN FOREVER

-LUCY-
There is a love so fierce it cannot be measured.
A heart so strong it will never slow.
There is a promise so sure it can never lie.
He promised me that love forever.
Even when it wasn’t enough.

-CAMERON-
Forever. Everlasting. Eternal.
There is no measure of time.
No sounds of the ticking of a clock.
Just the rising and falling of the sun.
And our own sense of forever.

But our forever isn’t always.

more-than-forever-giveaway-lucas

Click here to join: The BookNut Giveaway!

The giveaway is open until Sunday, Oct. 23 (EST). The winner will be notified via email or a Facebook message from me 🙂

Goodluck! xoxo

Posted in On my shelf

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover saved my life. That’s a pretty heavy and bold statement to begin with. But I’ve always believed that she has. She really did.

About two or three years ago, I felt like my life was quietly spiraling out of control along with my sanity. My world was falling apart and no one’s there to notice it but me. I was battling depression from a failed relationship. It might sound silly to some and even common to others, but for me, the pain I was going through then was like a living hell. It felt like my life has come undone and all the goals I had for myself shattered. It’s the first time in my entire adult life when I felt completely lost.

I found myself just going through the motions of living life, trying to function normally when the entire time I was just feeling hollow and numb. It was then I rekindled my love for reading. I wanted to escape my reality and get lost in the world of books instead. I wanted to fill my thoughts with happiness and characters who can come and save the day or seize it for themselves. So I read romance books. Quite unnerving to some that I’ll read romance when obviously it’s the ultimate reason for my pain. But for me, it was a quest. I wanted to see that there are still happy endings, even if they only exist in books.

That’s when I stumbled upon Colleen Hoover. A little-known author to me then, a random recommendation from Goodreads. The author who I didn’t know, will make me fall in love with words once again. It was her novel SLAMMED, that made me believe in love again. Not just the romantic kind, but also love for your mother, siblings and family may it be by blood or not. She made me love words and feel life in poetry, it was clear then that she would easily become one of my favorite authors. She saved me from my dark corner and gave me hope. Hope from her stories that I can start over. And that I did.

Fast forward to a couple of years and about 16 or so books, I’ve found that once again Colleen Hoover has changed my life with her latest novel IT ENDS WITH US.

IEWU

I’ve always believed that authors give a little piece of themselves in every book, every plot line, every masterpiece. Big or small, an author always lends a piece of him/herself to the story.

But you’ll definitely recognize it if a book is so deeply personal for an author. You FEEL it with every string of words and in every turn of turn of the page. That’s what It Ends With Us is.

It’s been exactly a week since I read and practically bawled over this book. A week that made me rethink so many things in my life and question what I really know. Let’s just say it’s been a difficult and enlightening week for me. I wanted to write this review when I had the time to sort my feelings out and when I know I’m ready to share a more personal review. Just like Colleen who shared a very personal story, I think this book deserves only that.

So I’m going to start this review with my own naked truths and here’s a warning there will be SPOILERS ahead, so here goes:

Naked Truth: I had absolutely no idea what Lily and Ryle’s story is about when I started to read the book.

As far as I can remember, Colleen wanted it to be that way. We didn’t have any general idea about the story, even come to the week of the book’s release. The lines and the excerpt she shared to her fan group didn’t shed any specifics as to what the story was about. For all we know it might be just another story about a girl and a boy. Except that, it wasn’t that simple.

I even stayed away from her Facebook fan group which I belong to when the book was close to release to avoid reading any giveaways or hints to the story. I found it exciting that I was going to dive in the book blind. Which was scary and refreshing at the same time.

“I feel like everyone fakes who they are, when deep down we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others” – Ryle

Naked Truth: I fell absolutely in love with Ryle’s character.

It was hard not to really. The connection and attraction between Lily and Ryle was hard to ignore. He was intelligent, funny and kind (YES, I know!). It’s hard not to feel anything for him when Colleen translated his character so well in the book.

Naked Truth: I was in denial when the first blow landed.

I was as stunned as Lily. I remember I was yelling ‘NO!’ whilst reading. I kept on chanting ‘This is not happening, this is not happening..’ while re-reading that particular paragraph 2-3 more times, making sure that I wasn’t imagining it. I was as distraught as Lily and just then, I felt my heart breaking for her. All the while I felt Ryle’s sincerity in his apologies, but there was something in my gut too. Something that was hard to ignore. I knew Lily felt it too.

“Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person.” – Lily

Naked Truth: I have no first-hand knowledge of domestic abuse. And back then, I used to think that women who stayed in abusive relationships were too weak to make that decision to leave. But now I know I was terribly wrong.

I’m fortunate enough to grow up in a loving home where my father early on has taught me that a man should never lay a hand to any woman in his life. May it be your mother, sister, wife or daughter. Growing up as an only child, he protected and shielded me as much as he can from all the nasty that the world has to offer. I am eternally grateful to him for that. During my teen years, he would always tell me that if ever I decide to have a boyfriend, I should always make sure he is respectful and kind. But most of all he should never ever lay a hand on me. This thought was ingrained to me ever since. I knew in my head that abuse, whether physical, verbal or emotional was going to be a deal breaker for me. So when I started to date and be in relationships, I was lucky enough not to be in any abusive one. That’s why when I was younger, I used to ask myself why so many women choose to stay in abusive relationships knowing that it might one day end their life.

But as I became an adult I learned more from my own experiences and when I got to meet people with different backgrounds, only then I realized that my initial thoughts about abuse wasn’t right. Leaving is not as easy as it is. That relationships like these can’t be plainly viewed in black and white. That life is complicated and messy at times. And that:

“We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”

As Lily’s story unfolds, it made me understand on a more personal level, what abused women go through everyday. That the decision to leave or stay is a crucial one. I felt Lily’s struggle when she was being torn apart by her love for this man, the man she promised to be with and love, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do they part. I knew the pain of her anger, that she knows well not to be just another statistic. And that she has to consider the future of her family. Colleen Hoover was successful in making feel like Lily. That I was in her place, making the ultimate decision of a lifetime. I felt her love, anger, frustration and confusion. I think this excerpt sums it all up:

“I love so many things about him. I wish cutting my feelings off for the person who hurt me was as easy as I used to think it would be. Preventing your heart from forgiving someone you love is actually a hell lot of harder than simply forgiving them.”

Naked Truth: I don’t think I would personally have the strength that Lily had, to make the decision to walk away. I admire her courage. I admire that she was brave and bold. I’m amazed by all the Lilys who fought and overcame their obstacles.

It Ends With Us made me face a difficult question, one that I didn’t think would be as hard to answer before. “If I was Lily, will I have the courage to leave?” Something in the story unglued me and made me question everything I know so far. Which I think is what books and stories should do, they should challenge your mind and feelings. Face realities and learn from them. I really felt that Lily’s final decision did not come as easy. This book made me realize that you should never be quick to judge the people who are going through abuse. It made me broaden my understanding and really open my eyes to the reality of things. I might have been a little naive all this time, but Lily made me realize what it’s like to fight for yourself.

It’s one of the most difficult but eye-opening book for me. Even writing this review proved to be hard, half of the time I have so many thoughts inside my head. I have so many things that I want to discuss, so many lessons I’ve learned, but ultimately I always come to this thought:

Colleen Hoover may have just saved my life (again)without even knowing it.

Read: August 8, 2016

The BookNut Verdict: 5 out of 5

Posted in On my shelf

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde, 1888

When a book opens up with those words, it’s hard not to expect to be wooed and be swept off your feet. So with so much anticipation, I started my journey with The Night Circus, and let’s just say my expectations were not only met but perhaps it was even surpassed.

“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”

Erin Morgenstern‘s debut novel, The Night Circus offers a story of romance centered in a mysterious traveling circus which arrives from town to town unannounced and is only open at night. The circus is composed of the most colorful and eccentric group of people set to entertain and challenge your sense of reality with their out this world tricks and magical shows. Unknowingly to the public and to certain members of the circus itself, a competition is underway. Between two people who are bounded long ago, raised in an awareness that there will be a time and place where they will meet and participate in a duel. A battle of the best in the manipulation of illusion.

“It’s as if there is love and loss at the same time, together in a kind of beautiful pain.”

The two participants being Marco and Celia, who were raised in completely opposite school of thoughts under two different masters. As the two discover the unwritten rules of engagement in their competition, they found themselves entranced with each other even if they haven’t set eyes on one another. With Le Cirque des Réves in the middle of this, the story sets out starting with building the circus, from the design and infrastructure up to the acts that will perform in each tent. Different lives get entangled with those of Celia and Marco. From the members of the circus, the creative minds behind Le Cirque des Réves, to the die-hard fans of the Night Circus up to a simple boy who dared enter the premises in the morning before its usual operating hours.

The Night Circus 02

I must say that I haven’t been so enthralled with a novel for quite a long time. The Night Circus captivated me from the first few chapters until the very end. It was beautifully written in a way that the romance between Celia and Marco was not instant and that the reader will feel the progression of their relationship. As if you are standing witness to the both of them perform each act of illusion as their manifestation of their feelings for one another. Morgenstern is magnificent in stringing her words to give us an enchanting atmosphere as you dare enter Le Cirque des Réves and discover its mysteries.

The BookNut

The Night Circus is beautifully crafted and worded. It’ll capture your senses and every chapter will leave you feeling the luxurious landscape and bewitching atmosphere. The complex characters will capture your heart and the love story of Marco and Celia will have you hoping for a happy fairytale ending.

“Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book as hard I actually did. I would recommend this easily to those dreamers and believers of all things magical and enchanted.

Read: May 30, 2016

The BookNut Verdict: 5 out of 5