June 30, 2015

Wicked Photo Diary: June 2015

Hello, everyone! Wicked Photo Diary is a monthly feature where I share what has happened in my life through my Instagram photos. Think of it as an organize photo dump...only wicked!

Can you believe it? We're already six months into 2015. My, my, my. Well, here's what happened to me this June!

June 1, 2015

I was going to meet my good friend and trusty book supplier, Neil, that day and while I waiting I had coffee while reading A Clash of Kings...which until now, I haven't finished yet.

June 2, 2015

First up is, How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr. This book lived up to its name. You can read my review here.

June 6, 2015

June TBR! How To Save A Life, Sweethearts, and Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr, Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas, and Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S King. Glory O'Brien is my first ever A.S King book. The others are from Neil!

June 12, 2015

June 12 is the Philippine Independence Day. It's also the birthday of my late maternal great-grandmother. She's Victoria, victorious in English. Sadly, I'm not in that photo. I just got this photo from my cousin. Well, I miss her dearly. We all do.

June 13, 2015

I'm not really supposed to take a photo inside the bookstore where I frequent to but I can't help it. I mean, it's books!? And plus this day was so memorable for me. I love this day so much. *insert heart eyes and dreamy sighs*

June 14, 2015

Another sneaky photo inside my favorite bookstore. Sweethearts captured my heart like no other. You can read my review here.

June 15, 2015

I just can't help it! *insert really naughty laugh*

June 17, 2015

I started watching SORTED Food on YouTube. They're 4 British guys who are just so funny yet they cook up the best recipes. I tried to make my own version of crisps/chips using a peeler and it turned out quite well!

June 18, 2015

Story of a Girl did not disappoint. It was endearing and real. You can read my review here.

June 21, 2015

This is our ancestral home backyard. Years ago though, the water level is higher and cleaner. I once crossed that river with some of my cousins and tried to catch dragonflies to play with. Those were definitely the days.

June 22, 2015

This is *hopefully* my last semester in school. So I have to do my best so I can graduate! Anyways, this is my favorite place in school, the library.

June 23, 2015

Now, Dangerous Girls is a whole different story. You can my extremely lengthy and rather crazed yet still coherent review here.

June 24, 2015

More food success! Frozen veggies and leftover rice and voila! Food!

June 29, 2015

I expect nothing but the best from A.S King and she delivers very well. I'm not yet done but I can tell that this book is amazing. Beautifully crafted plot plus a rather eccentric main character, how can I not like it?!

So that's it, folks. I bid June goodbye. I can't wait to show you more photos next month. Anything interesting that happened to you this June? I'd like to know so comment below! Oh and do follow me on Instagram!

June 27, 2015

Wicked Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Published: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Acquired: Borrowed Paperback

It's Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. 

As Anna sets out to find her friend's killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge's decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine...

Where do I even start with writing this review? Jeez. For the first time in my absurdly weird life, I am at a loss for words.

All 400 pages of the book is alternating between their before the vacation, during their vacation, that fateful night, Anna's trial, the "now", the waiting, and the after. It's all told in Anna's perspective. There are things in the book that you wouldn't normally see in a book but it all helped in understanding the story. You'll know when you read the book.

You see, Anna Chevalier wasn't overly rich like her friends. She was from a public school. They got rich and she transferred to a prep school where she met Elise Warren. Their friendship is quite typical. High school girls without having a care in the world, sneaking out behind their parent's back, going to college parties, drinking, ditching school, and doing all sorts of crazy stuff really. Elise is more than just Anna's friend. She's her rock, I would say. Elise is everything to Anna and Anna is everything to Elise.

Anna met Tate Dempsey. Tate is everything you want to bring home to Mom. Elise warned Anna about Tate and Anna didn't take it to heart. Anna had everything she could hope for. Then tragedy struck her family. What's admirable about Anna and Elise's friendship is that no matter what happens, Elise is always there for Anna. Just what friends are supposed to be.

Come Spring Break. A week of no rules and no parents. It was perfect until Elise was murdered. This had my heart pumping. Evidences are presented to the court and Anna is accused of murder. I absolutely loved the courtroom drama. I can see it in my head like I'm watching How To Get Away With Murder or Suits. It's dramatic and it left me out of breath really.

So, who killed Elise? You just have to read the book to find out. Personally, I knew who killed her halfway through the book but I was in denial. I need more of this story though. Abigail Haas you blew my mind.

Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.

June 24, 2015

Wicked Review: Story of A Girl by Sara Zarr

Published: January 10, 2007
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Acquired: Borrowed Paperback

When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend—Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

No one really knows what happened to Deanna Lambert during that unfortunate time she was caught in the backseat of Tommy, her brother's best friend, except for her. She was cast as the slut when it fact she was only with Tommy for the rest of her miserable life and her father looks at her as if she's such a disappointment.

This book is painful, annoying, and sad. She misses spending time with her father whom she clearly loves so much. She reminisces the times when she was a kid that her father would smile at her and their family was a happy one.  Living in a small town doesn't really help Deanna's case as stories and rumors about her do around, some stories worse than the last. No girl should ever go through that emotional pain. Or better yet, no one should ever be talked about like that, boy or girl.

This book is not for the judgmental and narrow-minded. What happens in the latter part of the book might put some people of but I urge you to go through this book with an opened mind. I swear on all the peanut butter cookies I ate as I wrote this post, this book is well worth the read.

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at www.sarazarr.com

June 17, 2015

Wicked Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Published: February 1, 2008
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Acquired: Borrowed Paperback

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend. 

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

At first I was skeptical when I picked it up after reading How To Save A Life, mainly because it only had 217 pages. I don't really read books with less than 300 pages. But hey, don't judge a book by the number of its pages.

Jennifer was bullied because she was fat. She only had one friend, Cameron Quick. When they were kids, Cameron confessed to Jennifer that he loves her via a note in her lunch box. The day of Jennifer's birthday changed everything for both of them. Jennifer and Cameron carried that horrifying experience as they got older. Cameron left town and disappeared off of the face of the Earth or so Jennifer believed all along.

She branded herself as Jenna. She was happy. She had friends. She had a boyfriend. And then Cameron came back. He wasn't dead after all. The worst part is that Jenna's own mother led her to believe that he really is dead. First off, that was just bad. She grew up having Cameron as her only friend, as the one person that she leaned on. To believe that the person is dead hurts a lot. I kept shaking my head at this because REALLY? Why did you do that?

I wish the book was also told in Cameron's POV because I'd really like to know what he feels or what he's thinking. He's emancipated and he moved back to Utah from California just so he can see Jennifer/Jenna. He wants a better life for his brothers and sisters which I think is a noble effort.

Jenna realizes that she really loves Cameron. Even if they were separated for eight years, she still thought about him, her one true friend. In the end, one thing I learned from this book is that there will always be that person who'll leave mark in your heart and no matter where you are or what you do or who you're with, you'll always think about them.

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at www.sarazarr.com

June 16, 2015

Wicked Review: How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr

Published: October 18, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Acquired: Borrowed Paperback

Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.

Where do I even start with this book? I mean, this is just phenomenal, really! It's written in dual POVs which is good so there's no confusion. It has the right amount of all the emotions known to mankind.

It was hard to believe at first that Jill's mother, Robin, agreed to an open adoption. If I were Jill, I would be skeptical. Here comes a stranger carrying who could be your future sister or brother and she'll be living with you until the baby comes. I mean, that's a big deal! I understood where Jill was coming from and why she was pretty angry at everyone. It's a tragedy in the making.

Mandy, on the other hand, is like a lost puppy. She was at least thirty three weeks into her pregnancy and she's just as skeptical as Jill in this situation. She wanted a good life for her baby. She was confused. One minute, she couldn't be more happier to be living a life that she could've lived if it weren't for her mother and then she's scared that one day, Robin and Jill would just let her go along with the baby and she'll have nowhere to go.

For the most part the book dragged on around Jill and Mandy, enough that it made me tired. I was wondering when this will all end. I wanted to know if both of them have made the right decisions in life and whether those decisions would make them really happy or not. You just have to leave it to the masters of time. Give things ample time to reveal themselves...for lack of a better term.

I understand why this book is called How To Save A Life. You just have to get a copy of this book to fully understand where I am coming from.

Sara Zarr definitely wowed me with this one. I have two more books of hers (courtesy of my really good friend, Neil!) and she already has a special place in my heart.

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at www.sarazarr.com

June 12, 2015

Wicked Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Published: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Acquired: Borrowed Paperback

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

I just remembered now that I should've written this a long time ago. Sorry for that.

You know how there are those stories with two characters that are so broken beyond repair and suddenly fate decides to play with the two of them so that they could survive or at least somehow learn about life. This book did exactly that and more. Aysel and Roman "planned" how they would die together. Planning your death is not such a good idea. For one, it wouldn't work.

It didn't work for both of them. This is where fate played with both of them. Sure, there is the romance bit but it's not over-powering that it draws the reader's attention away from the actual story. Aysel's father is a convicted murderer. Roman is blaming himself for his sister's death. Aysel doesn't want to have her father's sadness that caused him to kill a young boy that shook the entire town. She feels sad and I definitely felt it. Because of what her father did, she was cast aside. No one wanted to befriend the daughter of a murderer. Even at her own house, she's an outcast.

Roman is the complete opposite of Aysel. He lived that life. He was a basketball player. He had a girlfriend. He smiled a lot. Notice how I used that past tense? That's because that's all in Roman's past. His younger sister died and he blames himself for it. Deeply blames himself for it.

Jasmine Warga hit the mark, with the theme and the romance and the life lessons. This is really good. I couldn't say more.

Hi. I'm Jasmine. My first novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, will be published in 2015 by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. I'm currently writing my second book which is tentatively scheduled to be published in 2016.

I like emotive music, animals of all sorts, lemonade, and Swedish Fish. And books.