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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

There has been a lot of buzz about I’ll Give You the Sun in the book blogosphere. I’ve seen bloggers who received review copies of this, raving about the book. I read Jandy Nelson’s debut novel The Sky is Everywhere back in 2010 and I have fond memories of it even if I barely remember the details since it’s been so long. I’ve been looking forward to I’ll Give You the Sun and it made me happy that I had an added reason to bump it up when it got chosen for our book club discussion.

I'll Give You the Sun

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways… until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else — an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

I found I’ll Give You the Sun an absorbing read. It was easy to get into and kept me interested until the end. It reminded me of some of the Aussie YA contemps that I’ve loved because it has a similar feel and tone. It’s a novel filled with flawed characters who have experienced difficult situations, who are trying to live life one day at a time. Jude and Noah are teenage twins, both filled with a lot of artistic potential. Noah paints and draws the world as he sees it. Jude creates sand sculptures of women, and also designs and sews dresses, which she learned how to do from their grandmother. The narrative changes from Noah’s point of view when the siblings are 13 years old to Jude’s 16-year-old perspective. These two have such strong personalities and it was fun to read their narration. They’re super close at the start of the story but drift apart later on. I kept reading because I wanted to know the events that led to the emotional distance between two people who were previously inseparable. I also wanted to see them heal their brokenness together. This leads me to one point that kept me from truly loving the book. I felt like there was a lot of grief, hurt and pain in I’ll Give You the Sun and yes, there was also hope, forgiveness and healing but I don’t think there was enough to create a balance. Maybe it would have been better if the ending was extended a bit? I don’t know if that would have worked but I just felt like I wanted more from the story. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed reading I’ll Give You the Sun. There’s a lot to like in this book – such as the complex relationships between family members, the slow burn romance, the quirky narration and all the descriptions of art. I think most readers of contemporary YA would enjoy reading this. I will definitely be watching out for Jandy Nelson’s next book.


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Top Ten Places I Want to Visit Because of Books

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I really like this week’s topic! I love novels that have a strong sense of place because it feels like I get to travel with the characters when the setting is so vivid. I love traveling and exploring new places but I don’t get to experience it as often as I’d like because I’m not a millionaire. Some of the places that I want to visit because of books I’ve read are:

Greece – I’ve been wanting to visit Greece ever since I fell in love with the Greek mythology stories that I used to read back in high school. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series is set in a fictional place reminiscent of Greece and because it’s one of my absolute favorite series, it made me want to visit Greece even more. Photo from Megan Whalen Turner’s Tumblr:

MWT - Greece pic from tumblr

Eddis’s secret temple. (The Erechtheion’s other porch.)

France – Laura Florand sure knows how to describe a place well. Her Amour et Chocolat series made me want to visit Paris and I’m very grateful that I was able to do so. I still want to visit Grasse and the surrounding areas (Nice, Cannes) because of her La Vie en Roses series. I would love to visit perfume manufacturers to make my own personalized perfume. And to see lavender and rose fields in person. Photo taken by Laura Florand and shared for Amour et Florand:

Exploring the streets of the towns around Grasse leads here, in Cagnes (Haut de Cagnes), France.

Exploring the streets of the towns around Grasse leads here, in Cagnes (Haut de Cagnes), France.

 

Australia – ALL of the wonderful Aussie YA novels that I’ve read have made me want to visit Australia. I feel like there’s something in their water that enables their authors to write such amazing books. Some of the Aussie books that I’ve loved are written by Melina Marchetta, Fiona Wood, Cath Crowley, Vikki Wakefield, Kirsty Eagar and Andrea K. Host. Video of Melina Marchetta and Kirsty Eagar hanging out in Sydney, shared for Marchetta Madness back in 2012:

 

Prague, Czech Republic – So many friends who have visited Europe keep saying that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I loved reading about Prague in Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which had such an atmospheric setting. This reminds me that I’ve yet to read the sequels to that book.

Ireland – Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series is my favorite when it comes to historical fantasy. The books are set in an ancient version of Ireland with the added benefit of having magic. The setting is such an important part of the story and it’s described so well that it makes me want to visit the modern, non-magical version of that world.

New York, USA – In Truly by Ruthie Knox, May hates New York at the start of the novel so it becomes Ben’s mission to show her around the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. I love that Ben tries to convince May to like New York by bringing her to restaurants that serve delectable dishes. I would love to try all the delicious food that was featured in that book! Also, New York always seems like a good idea because of Broadway. Musicals galore!

Russia – I loved how Russia was described in A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson and Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, two of my favorite books. It seems like a country rich in culture and filled with beautiful sights. Plus I have a Russian co-worker who constantly talks about his homeland and everything he says just encourages me to visit the country. Also, I’ve tried Russian food and it’s delicious.

Scotland –  I was born and raised in the Philippines so beaches for me have always meant tropical beaches. So I would be very eager to see a different kind of beach like the one described in The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: harsh and cold but it has its own beauty. Scotland was also described with fondness in Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which is another reason why I want to visit the country. Also, EWein lives there! I would love to meet her in person.

World of Harry Potter – It’s not very common for a series that you love to have a theme park dedicated to it. So of course, I would love to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter either in Florida or in Japan. I’m super jealous of friends who have been to those places! I’m pretty sure I’ll have a great time if I ever get to visit either of those theme parks and I would probably be tempted to buy a lot of souvenirs.

New Zealand – I would love to visit the sets created for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Who wouldn’t want to visit The Shire? I’ve always felt like a hobbit because I’m tiny (I’m five feet flat) and I like having several meals a day.

What about you, what are the places that you’ve read about that you want to visit?


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When reading trumps blogging

"There's always time to read." A snippet from The Winter Sea

“There’s always time to read.” A snippet from The Winter Sea

I apologize for the silence on the blog lately. I feel like I should put up a sign saying, “Do Not Disturb. Busy Reading Books” or something like that. It’s not that I don’t want to blog, it’s just that I would much rather read. Some of the books that have kept me occupied the past few days (weeks?) are:

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

I would really like to review all of these but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to. I’ve learned not to put pressure on myself when it comes to blog-related stuff. I’m just thankful that I haven’t experienced a reading slump in ages and that good books have been distracting me lately. If anyone is curious about what I’ve been up to, I keep Goodreads fairly updated on what I’m reading. I also update Instagram quite regularly but most of it is random stuff that I’m doing and not always book-related.

Anyway, just wanted to drop by and say hi to everyone. What has been keeping you all busy recently? Have you guys read some good books that you think I should check out?


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Blogger Meet Up: Liyana of Liyaland

Liyana Meet Up

Liyana of LiyanaLand is a Singaporean book blogger. I met her online when I moved to Singapore about two years ago. We’ve been trying to set up a face to face meeting for a while but our schedules don’t always align. Last Thursday, we finally got to meet when she set up an impromptu dinner. Turns out we both like this Aussie accessories store called Lovisa so we spent some time browsing there before heading off for dinner. We both ended up buying stuff because they were on sale! We decided to have dinner at Fish and Co. and ordered mussels with garlic butter sauce, fried calamari and the New York fish and chips (with parmesan stuffed inside).

Liyana meet up - Fish and Co

The food was yummy and we talked about so many things! Such as reading, book blogging, bookstores, authors jobs, Singaporean culture, the literary scene in Singapore vs. Manila, travel, food, hamsters (Liyana has 30 of them), etc. Really anything and everything that popped into our minds. It was a lot of fun to hang out with Liyana because I feel like we have a lot of things in common so we didn’t run out of things to talk about. I’m sorry that I’m not able to provide a detailed recap of all the topics we discussed. We spent several hours together – from browsing in Lovisa, dinner at Fish and Co. and then lining up for frozen yogurt at Llao Llao. It was a lovely way to spend a Thursday evening and we’ve already promised each other that we would do it again soon. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another two years to see each other again!

Liyana meet up - Llao Llao

Previous meet ups with other bloggers:
Alexa of Alexa Loves Books
Steph and Tarie
Maggie of Young Adult Anonymous
Michelle of See Michelle Read


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How often do you reread?

Son of the Shadows Kindle

I just started rereading one of my favorite fantasy novels, Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier. I decided to reread it because my good friend Maggie started the Sevenwaters series recently and has been raving about the books. It reminded me of how beautiful Marillier’s writing is and I wanted to experience it again. Also, I haven’t reread any of the Sevenwaters novels since I first discovered the series back in 2010. This got me thinking about how seldom I get reread books. I always feel like I want to read ALL THE BOOKS and that I don’t have enough time to read all of the titles in my TBR pile. There’s just something about the potential of discovering a new book to love that draws me in, so I have this tendency of picking up a new book instead of revisiting an old favorite. This is why I don’t get to reread favorite titles even though there are times when I really want to. Another reason that prevents me from rereading is that most of the books that I’ve loved have been reviewed on my blog and when I reread, I wouldn’t have anything new to write about. Although that’s not such a major issue since I don’t want to pressure myself when it comes to blogging.

I’ve been better about rereading books this year because of the no pressure policy. Some of the books that I’ve reread are:

Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore (for YAckers discussions)
The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand (influenced by Amour et Florand)
A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand
Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

I know that still doesn’t seem like  a lot but it’s better than nothing. Some of the titles I want to reread if I find the time for them:

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
The Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Something About You by Julie James and maybe some of the other books in her FBI series
The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, but I’m planning to reread this when the release date of the next book has been announced
Pegasus by Robin McKinley, but closer to the release date of the sequel
The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, in preparation for the next book
The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, in preparation for Clariel

Let’s see if I get to reread any of these titles. I know some people have traditions of rereading certain favorites every year so I’m curious about what the rest of you have to say about your rereading habits. Do you allocate time for it? Are there books that are part of a series that you reread right before the latest installment is released? Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time to read/reread?


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Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

I’ve been meaning to try Linnea Sinclair’s books for a while now and I’m glad I was finally able to do so when I picked up Games of Command. There was a time when I felt that sci-fi isn’t really my thing because the worldbuilding tends to be more complicated that what I usually like. But then I loved Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews and the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host so I’ve been wanting to explore the genre a bit more. Linnea Sinclair has been recommended by blogging buddies Angie and Janice and I’ve had her books on my TBR pile for ages. I was recently in the mood for sci-fi so I ignored the other three books I was in the middle of, bought the Kindle edition of Games of Command and promptly got sucked in by Linnea Sinclair’s writing.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Games of CommandThe universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten – and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart – and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings… for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for – and everything they now have to live for.

I had a lot of fun reading Games of Command and I thought it was a good introduction to Linnea Sinclair’s work. I was so absorbed that I stayed up late to finish it. I have to admit that some of the terms and situations went over my head but I was fine with that, I felt like it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel. I think that will always be the case for me whenever I read certain space opera novels. I would rather go with the flow of the book instead of spend too much time trying to figure out the science and the mechanics of that particular book.

Going into this novel, I knew that it was romantic sci-fi so I was looking forward to the romance and I wasn’t disappointed. The book focused on two couples but I liked the main story arc, between Sass and Branden, more than the secondary one. Admiral Kel-Paten is a biocybe, half-human and half-machine, and he’s not supposed to develop romantic feelings. But due to some quirk, he fell in love with Sass even though they’re on opposite sides of a galactic war. When truce comes in the form of an alliance, Branden fights to have Sass by his side as the captain of his flagship. I liked seeing these two interact with each other and I enjoyed seeing the story unfold from their points of view. Branden is highly competent in his work but he’s pretty clueless when it comes to human emotions. It was interesting to see his vulnerability and how he worked to build a relationship with Sass that goes beyond their professional connection. As for Sass, at first she was just concerned with keeping her secret past from Branden but then she grows to respect him during the months they work together. I found the slow burn romance between these two flawed characters sweet. Here’s a snippet that I really liked:

“When she saw the scars, she understood. They weren’t like Zanorian’s thin affectations. These were knotty, full of pain and bad memories. Unpleasant. Best kept hidden.

She understood that too. She had scars. But hers were inside, while his were on the outside.”

Games of Command is filled with action and adventure. I enjoyed the fast pace of the novel and have no complaints regarding the plot and character development. I just wish that it had an extended ending, I felt like the last scene of the book ended a bit abruptly and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more. I liked that Games of Command is a standalone novel and I feel like it’s a good introduction to Linnea Sinclair’s writing. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from her. Recommended for fans of romantic sci-fi or space opera.

Other reviews:
Angieville
Specfic Romantic


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Chocolate Book Meme

I love love LOVE chocolate. I’ve always been a fan of it. So I thought it was fun when Camille of Girl Meets Books tagged me for the chocolate meme. This meme mixes two of my favorite things: chocolate and books.

Aix-en-Provence - real chocolate

Slabs of chocolate in Real Chocolate, Aix-en-Provence

Dark Chocolate — A book that covers a dark topic (abuse, domestic violence, rape, loneliness, bullying, death, etc):
So many good ones to choose from! For contemporary, I’d go with Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, which is not an easy read because there’s so much pain and suffering for two generations of characters but it’s totally worth reading. For fantasy, I’d go with Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows, both difficult reads but oh so rewarding.

White Chocolate — Your favorite light-hearted/humorous read:
Julie James’ novels are always light and fun reads. I feel like they’re the book version of chick flicks so I always enjoy reading them. My favorite is still Something About You.

Milk Chocolate — A book that has a lot of hype that you’re dying to read:
I’ve seen several bloggers raving about I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson so I’m really curious about it. I’m looking forward to its release day since I remember enjoying her debut novel. It doesn’t hurt that I think the book has a pretty cover.

Chocolate with a caramel center — Name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it:
Books that make me feel all gooey are usually romances. I think Laura Florand’s books are a perfect choice for this category, especially since her Amour et Chocolat series focuses on chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Although I think I would have to change this category to premium chocolate ganache or truffle to satisfy her MCs (who tend to look down on mass-produced chocolate).

Wafer-free Kit-Kat — Name a book that surprised you lately:
I feel like I keep talking about them lately but I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Andrea K. Host’s Touchstone trilogy and Medair duology. I knew I was going to enjoy them but I didn’t expect to get a book hangover after reading them.

Snickers — A book that you are going nuts about:
I think the last book that I loved was Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, which is a fitting choice for this category since I’m crazy about the Kate Daniels series. It’s my favorite urban fantasy series.

Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows — What book would you turn to for a comfort read?
I consider most of the books in my list of favorites as comfort reads. I reread them based on how I’m feeling. Most recently, I’ve reread Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore (for book club discussions) and Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews.

Box of chocolates — What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone
The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner! It has action, adventure, clever writing, wonderful characters and a complex, slow burn romance.

Swiss and Russian chocolates

Swiss and Russian chocolates from co-workers

I’m not going to tag anyone for this meme but share a link of your post if you’re doing this. :)

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