Saturday, June 27, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (STS #2)


Image: Kaboompics

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's all about sharing the books added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

I won a beautiful book in a blog giveaway. Plus I went bookstore hopping with a friend (it's basically our idea of girls-having-fun!) and ended up buying one book.

Here are the books that I got recently (with links to Goodreads):

Won from Dianne of Oops I Read a Book Again

More Happy Than Not  by Adam Silvera

Bought from a local bookstore

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher


So what are the book/s you have acquired this week? Chat with me in the comments section. Or link me up to your STS post, I'd love to stop by and have a peek. :)


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls

Summary:
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before – before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred.

Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren't speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too—nine-year-old Elizabeth Snow—and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.

In this edgy and compelling novel, New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)


Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Format/Source: Paperback / Giveaway won from Fully Booked and Faye of The Social Potato (Big THANKS!)
Purchase linksFully Booked | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Book Depository

My Thoughts:
“Want to play?” This is the introductory sentence of the book. These were the three words that Nick heard often from Dara for most of their lives. My thoughts fly immediately to that “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” song from Disney’s Frozen. I don’t know about anybody else who have read Vanishing Girls but I find Nick to be a little like Elsa (older sister and cautious) and Dara to be a little like Anna (younger sister and spontaneous). The sisters in both stories were also super close and inseparable before an "accident". The story ends quite differently though.

Do you wanna build a snowman?
Let’s discuss the ending first because for me, the unfolding of the ending is vital for suspense-thrillers like Vanishing Girls. I felt a bit betrayed by the ending because I have seen what the real deal is a mile-stretch before the climax, but the author kept on brandishing lots of things to deny it. So I ignored my suspecting instincts and believed on the things brandished on my nose. When all is revealed upon reaching the last pages, I couldn't help but be ashamed of how gullible I am, while flipping back on certain chapters and reading them again on a different light. Honestly, I am utterly torn between loving and hating Vanishing Girls because of the ending.

As you might have guessed already, the central theme of the story is how sibling insecurities affect each other and the family. I can totally relate with this theme and the dynamics between Nick and Dara because I have experienced them first-hand. Like Nick, I also have a younger sister whom I am very much close to. She is also way more free-spirited and interesting than I am. Like Nick and Dara, we were close as kids but there was a time when we had a very serious rift (that started from a very petty thing). It’s just fortunate that we had a chance for a good long talk about it because I had no idea that she felt that I am more favored by our folks than her. Well, it’s a long process but I guess we both realized by now that we are equally loved albeit shown in different ways. Um okay, enough of me divulging family secrets because this might cause another row with my sister if I don’t shut up. For added measure, I’m crossing fingers that she does not get to read this post.

Aside from having being able to relate with the story, a lot of other things that I like about Vanishing Girls are:


  • The parallelisms between the two sets of sisters in the story: Nick and Dara (main plot) and Sarah and Madeline (subplot). One example is, in both set of sisters, one went missing. I am pretty sure this is where the title “Vanishing Girls” came from.



  • Teen romance that is aptly not over-the-top since it’s not the central theme of the story.


  • Grainy black and white pictures like the one below that eerily depicts some aspects of the story. Who doesn't love stories with pictures, right?
  • Awww!


  • Epistolary stuff that really contributed to the “realness” of the narrative: bits and pieces of Dara’s diary; www.TheShorelineBlotter.com which is a fictional online news site, complete with online commenters; www.theRealTeen.com, a fictional online teen mag which featured a tell-all from Madeline Snow’s sister, Sarah; a Tumblr account dedicated for finding Madeline Snow; a bunch of email correspondences from various characters.


  • Angsty quotes
  • 90% of the time, when you fall in love, somebody gets burned p.144
    Sometimes day and night reverse. Sometimes up goes down and down goes up, and love turns into hate, and the things you counted on get washed out from under your feet, leaving you pedaling in the air. p.225

Now before I end this post, I figured that I should give my verdict on whether I love or hate Vanishing Girls. Okay. Wait. Give me a minute. Let me decide. Annnd, I think...I LOVE IT! Forgiveness is the key for me loving it. I forgive you Lauren Oliver for that ending. I am letting go of my grudge for that betrayal because truthfully, aside from making a stupid out of me, the ending was beautifully masked and carefully built up.

So have you read Vanishing Girls yet? Link me up to your review, I'd love to stop by. You might also want to check out Faye's way more awesome review at The Social Potato.

My Rating:





Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (STS #1)


Image: Kaboompics

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's all about sharing the books added to our shelves, may it be physical or virtual.

It's my very first STS post! I just won from two book giveaways (got lucky!) plus I bought a couple of books so I thought I should share them in the blogosphere.

So here are the books that I got recently (with links to Goodreads):

Won from Faye of The Social Potato

Vanishing Girls  by Lauren Oliver

Won from Fay of Bibliophile Soprano

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten; The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie (ARC); Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle; Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (ARC); Starry Night by Isabel Gillies (ARC); Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre (ARC); Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne (ARC)

Bought from a local bookstore

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand




So what are the books stacked in your shelves recently? Post your STS link at the comments section! I’d love to stop by. :)


Friday, June 5, 2015

Review: Believarexic by J.J. Johnson

Believarexic

Summary:
In 1988, when she was fifteen, JJ Johnson was hospitalized for treatment of bulimarexia, a combination of bulimia and anorexia. During her ten-week stay, JJ had to eat everything on her tray, and took classes like "Assertiveness Training," "Depression Management," and "Body Image Workshop." She gained weight, but her path toward health was a constant struggle. In her heart, JJ knew-she knew-that she would be a happy, healthy adult one day.

But how? Instead of a clear path, there was a black abyss. She needed a guide, a mentor, someone who knew her inside and out.

So, one morning, just before weigh-in, JJ closed her eyes and made a deal with herself:

I promise myself that when I'm grown up, and happy, I will come back here, to these months. Healthy me will guide bulimarexic me through this.

This book is that promise, kept.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)


Series: Standalone
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Expected Publication date: October 1, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss/e-ARC
Pre-order: The Regulator Bookshop

My Thoughts:

This story tells the battle of a weepy fifteen-year old, Jennifer Johnson, against an eating disorder monster with a difficult name: bulimarexia. Jennifer’s battle was fought hard, intense and long because this monster has the ability to cling on to her very core, influencing her thoughts and actions. It made Jennifer think that she’s nothing without it. That the monster is her identity. Our heroine’s first conflict was whether she should seek professional help or not. The monster mocked her, “You are not skinny enough for a hospital.” Jennifer wrestled with her thoughts and finally mustered the courage to tell her parents that she needs help. Jennifer’s quest inside the hospital commenced. There, she hoped she could eradicate the monster completely. But then the help she expected was alas, not handed to her on a silver platter or in this case, on a pop of a pill. She had to go through all sorts of excruciating institution-implemented things. And she was sometimes entangled in other in-patients’ drama. And she had to confront other aspects of her life (family dynamics, for instance) that she did not realize were somewhat related to her disease. It became really hard for Jennifer but there’s hope because in the hospital she has found some new allies like Dr. Prakash and Chuck, among others. Will Jennifer be able to successfully prevail over her monster? You have to read this book to find out. SERIOUSLY, READ IT.


A creepy monster who makes you think you are not thin enough. (Photo: Playbuzz)

I just want to say that while reading, I was eerily reminded of a 1999 movie, Girl Interrupted, starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. In the movie, the main character has to deal also with being institutionalized, cramped with her co-patients and hospital staff, thinking if anything of that would cure her. I love that movie and I also love Believarexic.

My favorite parts were Jennifer’s consultations with her designated psychiatrist, Dr. Prakash. Dr. Prakash is like Gandalf to Jennifer’s Frodo. Or perhaps like Yoda to Jennifer’s Anakin Skywalker, since Jennifer is a huge Star Wars fan. One of their sessions that stood out for me was when Jennifer metaphorically described happiness as balloons on strings where most people’s balloons were plump and bouncy and some people’s balloons were droopy. And then there was also this one particular conversation between them when Jennifer was complaining about a hospital staff:

“Sheryl is human and fallible,” Dr. Prakash says.“She is doing her best”

Jennifer takes a deep, shuddering breath.“Her best is pretty crappy.”

Dr. Prakash laughs. “You are one tough customer, Jennifer.Are you as hard on yourself as you are on other people?”
BAM, THAT LAST LINE! Dr. Prakash is implying that Jennifer’s obsession to become thin to the point of doing harm to herself is partly because she thinks that she is not perfect enough if she is not thin. That statement there by Dr. Prakash SLAPPED Jennifer (and ME) hard in the face. While reading, I realized that sometimes, like Jennifer, I am subconsciously a fault-finder not only to other people but more so and sadly to myself as well. This fault-finding behavior limits my full capacity because of being afraid to make mistakes. It is as if I am “making myself stand on the head of a pin” as what Dr. Prakash would say. Okay, I’ll stop blubbering about my cathartic moment right there. What I’m just trying to say is Jennifer’s story can also be relatable even to readers like me with no eating disorder. There are lots and lots of eye-opening conversations like this throughout the book. So again, read this book people.

If I'm the casting director of the book's hypothetical movie adaptation, I'm going to cast Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project as Dr. Prakash.  (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)
Aside from Dr. Prakash I have yet to express my high regards towards Chuck, Jennifer’s secondary nurse (because her primary nurse is a bit of a b*tch). I will throw again a far-fetched Lord of the Rings reference here but I guess he is Aragorn to Jennifer’s Frodo. He is the kind of nurse who makes Jennifer less of a patient and more of a friend. He is cool, sweet and caring to Jennifer and has also a great taste for retro music! In the book, Chuck gave Jennifer this mixtape (it’s the 80’s people) loaded with dance songs on one side (because Jennifer loves to dance) and with when-you-need-a-friend slow songs on the other. In this website dedicated to all things Believarexic, the author has so kindly shared lots of bonus materials for the book including playlists of Chuck’s mixtape. After finishing the book, I listened to all the songs. It’s a good way to cool down my book hangover.

I'm going to cast Adam DeVine of Pitch Perfect and Modern Family as Nurse Chuck.  (Photo: Jason Meritt/Getty Images)



Lastly, Jennifer, the heroine herself, is a character you can empathize with. She is obviously flawed (her constant weeping annoyed me at times), but I admire her grit and determination to recover and overcome her monster.

And my girl Demi Lovato would be the perfect Jennifer Johnson. (Photo: Seventeen Magazine)
I have a minor issue in the shift of point of view from third POV to first POV on the latter parts of the story. I just could not clearly identify why there has to be a shift of POV. Also, I wish there was a wee bit more of interaction between Jennifer and Kelly. Kelly is Jennifer’s bestfriend in the outside world who did not even get to visit her in the hospital or send her a gift, not even a letter. I love how Jennifer’s relationship with her parents was thoroughly addressed in the book but Jennifer’s concern about her brother, Richard was not completely resolved.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to people who want to be inspired. Also, I may not be armed with facts and figures here but it does not take to be an expert to realize that having an eating disorder imposes serious health hazards. This might be that story which saves lives. Believarexic is a book with a lot of heart and has a relevant message. I cannot stress it enough: Go. Read THIS.


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