Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Shanna, the Ice Queen, refuses to be forced into marriage, unless it is for true love.  But her father, Lord Orlan Trahern, will not simply bend to her wishes.  Lord Trahern wants his lineage to continue.  He need heirs… soon.  It will take a great scheme to outwit her father.  A scheme that Shanna never knew will catch her heart off-guard.
“I think I’ve loved you forever,” Shanna confessed in wonder. “When the scales of blindness were lifted from my eyes, I saw you not as a dragon, but as the one I would have chosen.”

A prisoner condemned to death, Ruark, crossed the seas to the Caribbean and accepted a life of bondage to collect a bargain not fully met.  He vowed to win his heart’s desire with everything he has.

   “You did choose me, remember?” Ruark grinned.

This is a beautiful story of how fates are intertwined; and how true love can be found in very odd circumstances.  I know… the usual stuff, right?  What makes this different is the mystery and action attached to the whole plot.  I never get tired reading and rereading this story since I was 15.  SHANNA taught me how to be fierce and fight for what I want, not just for love, but for everything I believe in. This book started me into collecting Kathleen E. Woodiwiss works.  She’s a genius.  Her romance and language were never cheap.  She will always be the Queen of Historical Romance for me.

BTW, there'd be pirates.

Book Details:
Title:  SHANNA
Author:  Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
ISBN:  00380385880
Publication: Avon Books, 1977
Pages: 666
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Purchased copy
Review Rating: ★★★★★/ ♥ 

*Originally posted here.

SHANNA by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Monday, November 6, 2017

Autumn by Ali Smith
Pantheon, 07 Feb 2017

AUTUMN begins in a dream-like state. Daniel Gluck is dead. He supposed he is in heaven, because he looks young again and naked. It is as if rebirth took place by the seashore and he is the only one who survived. The truth is, time has finally caught up with Daniel. He is reliving some old memories, and escape is inevitable at this state.
Is there never any escaping the junkshop of the self?
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Demand is experiencing the hard reality of the bureaucratic world. Her passport application was rejected: “Your face is the wrong size… The correct size in the photograph submitted, the man say, is between 29 millimetres and 34 millimetres. Yours falls short by 5 millimetres.” Apparently, there are correct stipulations in life, measurements that we have to abide, like sizes, dates, and time. Very unlike in death.

This is my first Ali Smith, and I find myself in a difficulty here, describing how her writing works, or how this book worked for me. To call her wonderful seems underrated. To pronounce her difficult, on the other hand, seems obtuse. And yet, I find her both wonderful and difficult.

I find her words fluid, yet I don’t know where it will lead me. They seem to make no sense, until it gets me where it needs me to be, where it is profound and unblinking. Smith can move from poetic, to conversational, and matter-of-factly funny. At one point, the book tells about the Brexit and the chaos it brought to the English nation. Still, in a succession of recollections, it tells about life in its minute form. Autumn is the paradoxical view of death and birth, of letting go and seeding. It tells us that time is not really our enemy, but not exactly our friend either.

Autumn is the first book in the Seasonal Quartet, followed by Winter.

About my copy:
Title:  Autumn
Author:  Ali Smith
Publications: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pantheon, 07 Feb 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction / Women's Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

*Thank you, Pantheon and Netgalley for the review copy.

Book Review | Autumn by Ali Smith

Friday, October 13, 2017

     Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
August 29 2017
Penguin Random House
Sincerely sharp!

I won a copy through Goodreads giveaways. I was so excited, because having read the Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, I knew Ms. Zevin will pull off another unconventional structure.

I am getting ahead of myself again, let’s return to the beginning…

Aviva Grossman is on her first internship -had an affair with a politician (very much married), blogged about it, and the netizens made sure that she is never forgotten. A second chance is so bleak. Her relationship with her parents was affected, her studies and career was affected, and even her sex life was affected. Until, she decided to reinvent herself.
“They didn’t put a scarlet letter on her chest, but they didn’t need to. That’s what the Internet is for.”
The book is divided into five parts, told by women from different generations, in honest-to-God details. Women whose resilience was highlighted through their flaws. Their voices have varying levels that strongly speak of distinctiveness and worth. Ms. Zevin made her every character undeniably timely and relevant.

The plot discloses effortlessly, using an unusual book structure. It was refreshing, absorbing the reader from start to finish. It amazes me how the various approaches helped highlight the noteworthy parts further.
"Life unspools more inevitably."
Do not let the book cover deceive you into thinking that this is just another light read. It is funny and entertaining, yes, but it is also thought-provoking, hitting each nail in the head. YOUNG JANE YOUNG is a story of women empowerment, survival, and the biased sexist degradation that still plagues women today.

Author:  Gabrielle Zevin
Publication:  August 29, 2017; Penguin Random House
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

*Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada and Goodreads, for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an unbiased review.

Book Review | Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Monday, July 24, 2017

October 3, 2017
Charlesbridge Teen

“It had always been a fact of life that we were biologically different—better—and that it had to be kept secret.”  
Seventeen-year-old Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. She’s beautiful, freakishly athletic, and extremely smart. That’s because she comes from a race of highly-evolved humans living in the heart of Austin, Texas.  
In order to protect their anonymity and preserve their elite society, Julia’s powerful father forces her to suppress her abilities. When she accidentally demonstrates her super human prowess in public, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. Thrust into the confusion and humiliation of a normal high school, Julia is just trying to keep her head down when John Ford strolls into her life. (Read complete synopsis here.)

This book basically has that Star-Crossed-Lovers trope. Julia Jaynes was born to a billionaire family with genetically superior genes than common humans. For decades, her kind is hiding in plain sight among the populace. And despite their great fortune and efforts, they are close to extinction. Meanwhile, John Ford is your average senior high school guy struggling to get into college through a scholarship.

The book synopsis said it all. Readers don’t have to look very far and grasp that this book has all the trending YA elements:  (1) a certain group of people with inhuman abilities, (2) they need to keep their identity a secret, (3) intermingling is a big no, (4) angsty teenagers, (5) stunning beauty, and (6) a love triangle. If you are into all of that, then, this book is for you. However, I am looking for something… more. I was looking for something outstanding in the story that may trump those previous YA books. Something absolutely exciting or may shock the senses, that will remain with the reader for a long period of time.

Now, I am not saying that there is nothing great about this book. The story is really well-paced. I read the whole book for only a few hours without any back tracking. The general plot is very interesting. Julia came from a group of people who experienced genocide. Their number is small and nearing extinction. Now, that’s a huge topic to explore, given with all the issues in world today. I was actually hoping the story to explore more of this perspective, rather than the love pursuits of the characters.  And speaking of characters, I like them. They need more depth, not just their life grievances. But yes, I do like them.

Overall, this is okay. It has plenty of potentials and hopefully Ms. Weisenberg explores them all.

Book detail:
Title:  Select
Author:  Marit Weisenberg
Publication:  October 3rd 2017 by Charlesbridge Teen
Genre:  YA Fiction
Rating:  ★★★

*Thanks to Charlesbridge Teen and Netgalley for the copy.

Book Review | SELECT by Marit Weisenberg

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Dearest James,

I know that introduction is a must, polite even, but on this one I do suggest that we skip that. It is you who matters, and no one else.

Foremost, how was the end of your motoring trip? Was it pleasant on your return? I do hope that none of the inconveniences you encountered on leaving crossed your path on the way home. It was a good thing Mr. Farraday suggested this motoring trip. You’ve been cooked up in that hall for a very long time. Different scenery gave you a new perspective, indeed. Suddenly you grew up in a span of one week.

Ah, yes, I did read your travelogue and musings. I am quite taken by them. It’s very difficult not to be. Although, I did notice that you often answer your own questions. I boldly assume that those are signs not of confusion but of hesitation to acknowledge the truth. It was a bit alarming -hesitation and an advancing age. Don’t make a good match, do they?

It was not difficult, as well, to notice the ever present topic of greatness and dignity throughout your entries. It is apparent that justification is what you seek. Then, yes James, you are a great and dignified butler. But does that account for all the mistakes you’ve made? No, of course not, old chap. Your dignity lies in your ability not to abandon your professional being (as a butler) during trying times. Always the epitome of restraint, calmness, and placidness. Thus by achieving your goal of greatness, and by withholding your inner feelings and belief, you have forgone a most vital aspect of life –relationships. For you see, dignity and greatness will lose its luster and usefulness, like your father before you. Great butlers will come and go, but a good friend, husband, or father will be cherished for all time.

Oh, but James, if only you had taken the leap… 

Alas and alack, regret is not something we should dwell in. It has already pervaded your thoughts for many years. Bless Ms. Kenton for choosing a different path merely to spite you; but fate has spoken, she’s happily married now. She did say all is well, right? Move on; for her sake, James. As for Lord Darlington, his folly is his; they are not yours to suffer. Loyalty is not measured by how much you've tolerated your employer, but by how well you’ve serve them. You should know that by now. Then let the case rest. Correcting the past is a miserable business, after all. I know you’ve already dwelled along this line for a day, since you made no entry on your fifth day on the road. 

The man at the marina was right, there’s nothing fruitful by dwelling in the past. The day is not yet over. There is much to be gained and done still. You are right, work on your bantering. Make light of life by humor. Women do enjoy men with humor. Well, in any case, humor will make you feel younger.

Farewell, James. Bless you on your new endeavor. Do send news of your improvements, if you can.


PS: Just in case you are wondering, I am not someone older. Just someone who enjoys good bantering.

Book details:
Title:  The Remains of the Day
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publication:  January 1, 2010; Vintage
Genre:  Literary Fiction
Rating:   ★★★★

Originally posted here.

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY by Kazuo Ishiguro

Monday, June 5, 2017

 EVERY LAST LIE by Mary Kubica     
June 27, 2017; Park Row Books

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow's pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 

Grief-stricken and seriously stressed, Clara Solberg is not handling her husband’s death the way she wants to. Too many things are piling up while she is trying to compromise with her current state, along with a four-year old daughter and a new-born son. A few days later, details emerge and Clara starts to question whether Nick really had an accident or was he actually murdered.

EVERY LAST LIE is another suspenseful novel from Mary Kubica, a slow burn that kept me at the edge of my seat. Whenever I thought I had it all figured out, the clues will pull me in a different direction. With her customary technique, the narration is altered between Clara and Nick, giving me a chance to cross out every mistaken conjecture. The characters are all vividly rendered, they readily hooked this reader and before I knew it, I was totally invested on them.

I love how this book explored marriage and trust in the midst of a tragedy, and how these things ultimately affect how we perceive things. I do recommend this book.

Book details:
Author:  Mary Kubica
Publication:  June 27, 2017; Park Row Books
Genre:  Mystery / Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

Book Review | EVERY LAST LIE by Mary Kubica

Monday, May 15, 2017

“When you really want something to happen,
the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.”

El alquimista es una novela optimista; la clase que le dice que toda sea posible si usted trabaja difícilmente para él. Parecido simples, pero como Coelho indica las “cosas simples son más el objeto de valor y solamente la gente sabia las aprecia.”

La novela narra la historia de Santiago, un muchacho pastor que tuvo el coraje de seguir sus sueños. Atrevió el viaje y vio la grandeza del mundo; y conocer personas que ayudaron a moldear sus decisiones.  Entre ellos está el vendedor cristalino que sabe que él puede alcanzar grandeza pero que niega el hacer así pues, y termina encima de vivir una vida vacía. Miedo al fracaso parece ser el mayor obstáculo para la felicidad, pero este condujo Santiago aún más para lograr su objetivo. Al final, Santiago descubrió que “tesoro mentiras donde pertenece tu corazón,” y que el tesoro era el viaje en sí mismo y la sabiduría adquirida a través de él.

Esto es una novela atractiva para todos, porque todos podemos identificar con Santiago: Todos tenemos sueños.

Esta obra maestra de Coelho dice que no debemos evitar nuestro destino para encontrar la felicidad definitiva. Una palabras hábilmente combinado, filosofía y lenguaje hicieron una novela maravillosa fuera Del Alquimista.

Book details:
Title:  The Alchemist
Author:  Paulo Coelho
Publication:   May 1st 1993 by HarperCollins
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

*Originally posted here in English.

THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hello. It’s been a while since my last entry and that got me thinking if any of you are still out there. 😅*crossing fingers The last few weeks had been very busy and, as you may know, moving into another country (another continent, really) is never easy. As of now, it’s acquainting with the new house, the new bed, the climate, and timeline for me. The most challenging, right now, is getting acquainted with the new church. Will I ever be acquainted? That is. I’ve always believed in the fact that to belong to a church I need to have a purpose. So, let’s see if I can identify my purpose here.

Did I say I was busy? Well, I’ve been busy touring around Alberta, Canada. Believe me, it’s not a posh endeavor. Don’t get me wrong, the places we’ve been are absolutely interesting and wonderful, but the drive was long and, well, long. Good thing we have Cindy Lauper to accompany us most of the time. 🎵 I drove all night to get to you.🎶

My hubby, being adorable as he’d always been, drove me to browse around CrossIron Mills Outlets Mall. I unashamedly bought boots, clothes, and food. Go ahead, judge me for being a girl.😜 But, even though, there’s an Indigo outlet, I didn’t get any book. I was busy looking what book people picked up, instead.

There was this one morning when we drove to see the beautiful frozen Lake Louise, which is absolutely pristine, but freakishly cold too. Hubby said that we should go back in the summer, and we really should. We also went to see the Banff Park Museum, which was very educational and startling. Although, it’s a place I’m sure my daughter would never enter by choice, because of the huge collection of taxidermy. She’s an animal person, you see. They have some really interesting shops in that town. Plenty of people, too. The line at Starbucks was ridiculous, I tell you; but it gave me enough time to observe people. I’ve been spending a lot of time observing people lately, hmmm.

We spent one Sunday afternoon walking around downtown Calgary –taking pictures and internalizing how to be tourists. This is followed by an even more interesting Monday, driving around looking into Calgary’s independent bookstores and chatting with their accommodating store clerks. I’m going to write a piece about that on a different post.

On our way to Saskatoon, we drove first into Drumheller. Dinosaurs walk that town. We went to see the Tyrell Museum, Homestead Museum, and the Hoodoos. The whole trip was wonderful. I literally want to take pictures of every hump and rock formations. It’s a warm place, where the sun sets a couple of hours before midnight. And it was funny and cool walking around wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night.😎

Here’s the thing, moving continent, I also need to move my files and whatnot. So I’m doing my best to move my book reviews into one place, where there’s actually a working chronological order. Be forewarned that I’ll be posting pre-Blogger book reviews I wrote in Shelfari, Goodreads, and Tumblr. Hopefully, they will not bore you.  You let me know, okay?

Before I forgot, I’ve been to concerts and had drinks, of course. Thank you to all the wonderful people who provided our tickets. So, yeah, I just want you guys to know that I still have a night life, despite the cold, here in the new continent.

Sorry for not writing sooner. I’ll sit again to write something actually book related, promise.