Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand

Title: Boundless (Unearthly #3)
Author: Cynthia Hand
Published: January 22nd 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
My rating: 3 stars
The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

Finally, after days undergoing the five stages of loss and grief, (Uhmm, I think I still haven't gotten that close to the fifth step) I'm calm enough to form some coherent thoughts and explanations about what I think of this final book of the Unearthly series. This still has some major ranting but I really did try to be objective here. So here we go. 

Spoilers ahead.

After reading this I have to say that this series will always be one of my most favorite angel books even if it cause quite a major heartache on me (later on that). Each aspects of the story - the character developments, the emotional depths, the plot line and the world-building were just fantastic! I finished this in one day, I couldn't really put it down. I adored almost every part of it. And Hand's writing is definitely exceptional especially since she never failed to reach me in an emotional level that mostly only contemporary books could do. I felt the hurt, the love, the regrets, the happiness, the loss, the acceptance in each of every characters. Despite its paranormal setting the emotional situations were very realistic. The development of the characters and their relationships (especially the parental love) was something I have to give Hand a very great credit for. It was wonderful and full of profound and poignant insights. 

However as much I loved almost everything about it there is this one aspect, a pretty big aspect in this book that I think Hand wasn't able to completely handle very well: the romance. The reason that left me feeling conflicted, unsettled and hurt after finishing the story. 

I am on the other team. Yes, the team whom Clara didn't choose. But I am not complaining because of her choice or more likely, Hand's choice. What made me disappointed and sad was the way it was handled. I have encountered countless stories with love-triangles, may it be a novel, a movie, a tv series, an anime or manga but never did I feel so bitter and broken than I had in Boundless. I could be really accepting and understanding if convinced, if it gave me reasons to believe that it has to be this guy and not the one I want. However that's where the problem in Boundless came. Hand failed to convince me and make me believe that Clara did the right decision by choosing Tucker but successfully and completely sold me to the idea of Clara and Christian together (and it isn't just me but a whole lot of readers too). 

The first question that popped out on my mind after reading this was what was all that about then? Hand took a lot of time polishing, emphasizing and building up Clara and Christian's relationship in this novel. And that's what I wish she never did. 'Cause you see what was the point if in the end it they wouldn't be together? (Unless Hand plans to write something about them like 80 years later). What's worse was that she actually made a great job with it, it was very convincing that personally I think even the Tucker fans could accept the idea of Clara and Christian. And that if she went straight in that direction I can see that she'd be able to pull it off and make a really wonderful conclusion.  

I wish she didn't make Christian a very great guy, always so supportive and understanding. I wish she didn't make Christian say all those wonderful words of adoration and love. I wish she didn't make him the perfect hero for Clara. Because seriously, all of it were pretty pointless when I reached the ending. I don't get why she has to do that. Look, I don't have a problem with Tucker. He was a great and wonderful character too, it was just that I wish Hand put a lot of more effort in him, in making me see that he had greater connection to Clara and that he was indeed her "home" so at least my heart, my poor, fragile heart wouldn't have been too hopeful and confident. 

In the end, more questions just arose in me. More notably is What really is Christian to Clara? Her assistant? Her freaking sidekick? Someone who'd lend her power? Her personal body guard? Well, I sound bitter on that but I just can't help it. Clara and Christian had a really strong and firm connection. Putting everything together from the first book to Boundless, it just didn't make any sense. With the way everything turned out and with that convenient twist in the last part it seems really unfair for Christian. He went from being a very major character, a very essential one to someone who wasn't even present on the supposedly "happy" epilogue. 

While I enjoyed most part of this book I can't say that I was satisfied with how things turned out. At some point, during those days I was processing what I really feel about this book I wanted to shout that this book is a freaking tease! Haha! Or maybe it really is. The ending did blow in my face like a sucker punch. I wish Hand could come up with another novel or even a novella just to explain everything and hopefully could give us our much needed closure. 

*Initial Thoughts After Reading*

I wouldn't question the brilliant level of poignancy and profundity in this book. I was touched and moved in so many ways while reading this. The emotional depth of this story was just plain wonderful and  downright amazing. However, I couldn't help feeling some qualms and apprehensiveness about the authenticity and the naturalness of the things that happened around the last parts of the book (yeah, I'm talking about the romance). It left me conflicted and had me questioning what were the purpose of some things. Like, what were all those build-up and convincing (from a lot of characters actually) for? It makes me think that they were pretty pointless with how things turned out. So you see, I really have this one big question popping out of my head after reading this book. 
So what was all THAT for?
To those who've read this you know what I'm referring to. And I'm being pretty objective here. I really like this story and I consider this one of my most favorite angel-book. It's just hard not to wonder why the sudden left turn when more than half part of the book is pushing and taking us in a straight direction? And because of that the last part kinda felt a little forced for me. *sigh* I really don't know if I'm making sense. But yeah, I guess I need to process thoroughly everything out first.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (#26): Red by Alison Cherry

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" is...

Title: Red
Author: Alison Cherry
Publication Date: October 8th 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?
The idea of hair color as a form of social status? Weird. But very intriguing. I'm curious as how the author of this book will build this world of red heads! Hopefully this will be a very entertaining and great read.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Altered (Altered #1) by Jennifer Rush

Title: Altered (Altered #1)
Author: Jennifer Rush
Published: January 1st 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown, & Co.
My rating: 4 stars
When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.
Altered was definitely a very pleasant surprise for me. It's always such a lovely treat whenever I encounter a paranormal book with a fantastic, unpredictable plot yet with very likable characters. Not to mention, a number of hot, hot, hot boys. Altered was such an amazing and fantastic read. I enjoyed almost every part of it (especially Cas!).

And yes, I do think the Merrick brothers have finally found their competition. I remember Brigid Kemmerer saying something about the boys here too...

And they indeed are!

Anna was a character I appreciated quite a lot. She appears to be a bit vulnerable but she has very real and honest personality. What I admire most about her though was the genuineness of her relationship with the boys. She may not be a very kick-ass heroine and though sometimes, she tends to seem a bit of the damsel in distress, her faults and flaws where overshadowed by how much she treasures and loves Sam, Cas, Trev and even Nick. In the end it was her loyalty and love for the boys that pushed her to be brave and strong and do some pretty kick-ass moves too.

Now the boys. Let's start with Sam. He was aloof, mysterious, a bit standoffish but he was a great leader and friend. It was actually the opposite of what I had imagined of him but I still end up really liking his character. He seems so serious and distant most of the time but he always took great care of everyone. Nick was the gorgeous bad-boy in the group. He was rude to Anna and seems to really dislike her. He had a very bad and awful past that forced him to have that kind of attitude and thinking. Trev was the levelheaded, rational and smart one among the boys. He had a close relationship with Anna and considers him her best friend. He loves to read books and always ready to give advice and quotes for Anna. He was a character that was so easy to like and trust but... And last but not the least, my favorite, CAS! He was an easy-going, laid back kind of guy who never seems to get his stomach full, always demanding for food but he was also very sweet, funny and really really charming. He was the kind of friend that you would need when everything is just too intense and overwhelming. Who would make you laugh and put a smile on your face when thing started to feel too stressful. I remember asking Jennifer if I can have him and she said HE said YES!

So move over girls! Cas is mine. Hahaha! Just kidding. I'm really not that selfish. Contact me and maybe we could make some arrangements. Lol!

As for the plot, I just loved it! I love how it mixes some mysteries and actions.I enjoyed how they try to figure out what really happened through the small clues they had. It was fascinating and what made it more really good was the unpredictability of it. It was hard to guess or calculate what's gonna come out and what's gonna happen next so all you'll be able to do was just to continue reading. I just have some slight issue with the romance although I still enjoyed it and I do think that Anna and Sam were really great couple. However it was just that I wish a few more convictions were added that it was indeed real since it was hard not to worry that it might just have been caused by the alterations. But we're only on the first book so I think I can oversee it and I'm sure more explanations and developments will come of the following books.  

Overall, Jennifer Rush did an amazing job in delivering us a story with such fantastic yet unpredictable plot, awesome action-packed scenes, shocking twists and discoveries and lovely but amazing characters. I enjoyed it very much and I'll be sure to have an eye on this series. I highly recommend this.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: The Proposition (The Proposition #1) by Katie Ashley

Title: The Proposition (The Proposition #1)
Author: Katie Ashley
Published: November 1st 2012
Publisher: Katie Ashley
My rating: 4 stars
With her thirtieth birthday looming, Emma Harrison finds her biological clock clanging and the elusive knight in shining armor yet to appear. She’s running out of options, especially after her gay best friend backs out from being her sperm donor. Of course, there’s always a sperm bank, but Emma fears a donor mix-up might impregnate her with the spawn of Satan.

Resident company womanizer, Aidan Fitzgerald, is used to always getting what he wants, especially in the bedroom. When Emma spurns his advances at the company Christmas party, he's determined to have her no matter what it takes. After Aidan learns of Emma's predicament, he is quick to offer a proposition that will benefit them both. He will father Emma's child, but she must conceive it with him naturally. Not one for hook-ups or casual sex, Emma is reluctant to take him up on his offer, but his charm, coupled with her intense desire for motherhood, wins out.

Soon their baby-making sessions become more than just physical. Aidan can't seem to walk away from her while Emma begins to wonder if Aidan could be the one. But can Aidan leave his past behind to become the man Emma needs him to be?
I was so glad I picked this book up on a whim. I didn't even check out the blurb nor did I find the cover eye-catching, in fact I didn't quite like it. I don't really know what urged me to pick and download this. But for whatever the hell reason, I just did. I started reading this with no idea what this book will be about. So you see, I was surprised, completely surprised to find myself devouring this in one night. And gratefully thanking my instinct for letting me pick this. Because this book is so freaking awesome! I rarely write reviews for adult books but I can't pass up the opportunity to express how thoroughly I enjoyed this book and to convince other readers to have this book. So here we go...

Emma Harrison, like any other normal woman wants to have a family. But she feels like her biological clock is ticking away to fast and a romantic relationship with a guy wouldn't be coming close anytime soon. So she decided to get a sperm donor from her gay best friend. However things turned quite differently when her friend suddenly backed out which left her pretty devastated with almost no options. But then comes Aidan Fitzgerald - the answer to her prayers. He offered to be her sperm donor but in a condition that they would have it in a traditional way - meaning she has to sleep with him until he gets her successfully knocked up.

Upon realizing that this story is going to be that way I had my doubts that this could be any more different than the other books with the same plot. But then the author surprised me by taking things a bit faster and differently than I expected. Only it did really good because it brought me to a place where I wasn't very familiar with how things would go. So I was left really thinking and anticipating everything.

Emma was such a wonderful character. She was smart, adorable and impressive. She seems to be a shy heroine but in fact she was a very dependent and strong woman. She knows what she wants and what she does. She keeps her emotions in check but she doesn't hold them back. I like how she lets herself take a chance for a relationship with Aidan despite the risks behind it. I thought she would start to complicate things but between her and Aidan she was actually the braver and reasonable one.

Aidan on the other hand, I wasn't so sure at first. I didn't like him right away but as the story progressed I was able to see a lot of admirable layers in him. I love how he tends to be so genuinely caring with Emma, how he loved his nephews and how considerate he was with most things. However, he was also a character that has a lot of doubts in him and some secrets that holds him back. The last part had me almost not forgive him but when her sister mentioned that there's something in him can't let on and his tendencies of self-sabotaging himself I realized there's something dark, deep and emotional trauma Aidan was carrying within himself. And I know he deserved a second chance.

Now with the ending. That one caught me really off guard! And I hate cliffhangers! God, I was so caught up with all that's happening that I barely noticed that I only have a page left and when I reached the ending I was utterly, absolutely left shocked and hanging. Although this left me a bit in disarray I was glad that the author decided to have it that way and have things be settled in a second book. This would leave lots of time and space for discussion and exploration between the relationship of Emma and Aidan and their circumstances. And I do really want that.

I could say that this is probably one of my most favorite adult contemporary romance I'v read. I enjoyed it very much. The plot was fantastic, the characters were very lovable, the banters and dialogues were funny and entertaining, and the scenes were absolutely sweet, swoon-worthy and yes, steamy. Overall, this is one hell of a brilliant and stunning read. I can't wait for the next book! :)

*I'd like to recommend this to everyone although I have to say that this is an adult book and contains some explicit and graphic contents. But if you're not that sensitive I would love for you to try this.


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