2017 Book Blogging Resolutions

Image: Kaboompics

YES, WHY HELLO a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of  you my fellow book wanderers! I can sense those dagger stares from some of you right now, “What is this woman wishing us happy new year for when January is almost over?” So I am cleverly coinciding this long overdue post with the Lunar New Year so it’s still new year though lunar. I hope I am making sense here. Anyway I revisited my 2016 book blogging resolution post to check on how I fared on my previous year’s bookish endeavors. Fair warning: prepare to be extremely disappointed. And then I am also setting my 2017 goals because no matter how hopeless it is to find time to do it all, just keep on trying, right? So here goes:

    2016 Goal #1: Read more books. I set my Goodreads reading challenge to 40 books.
    How did I fare? Abysmal. I’d rather not talk lengthily about this.
    2017 Goal #1: Read as much as I can but no pressure on number of books to finish. So yes, I did not set up my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge.

    Yep. Yikes!

    2016 Goal #2: Do discussion posts.
    How did I fare? Zero thought-provoking posts contributed to the reading community. *cringe*
    2017 Goal #2: I realized that I do not possess enough courage yet to put my ideas out here for all the internet people to see, judge and attack. But yes, I am working on my nerves and would still very much like to write something other than just book reviews. 

    2016 Goal #3: Be organized. Schedule posts, blog hopping and commenting.
    How did I do? I made my own spreadsheet but I was not able to follow my schedule so I felt miserable and inadequate.
    2017 Goal #3: Be not organized? I mean, I think that scheduling things is not my thing. It’s taking away all the fun of book blogging for me. So I will just use my free time reading and blogging and not berating myself for not making a schedule like other proper book bloggers out there.

    2016 Goal #4: Expand my reading horizon.
    How did I do? My goal is not to stick with just YA titles so I did kind of okay with this one. I’ve read/started some classic titles that I’m dreading to read. I’ve finished To Kill a Mockingbird last year! I’ve also started Sophie’s World and still struggling to finish it for months now. For adult titles, I’ve finished Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
    2017 Goal #4: Keep it up!

So as we can see clearly, I set goals in 2016 that I did not quite achieve so I am setting a fairly low (and vague) expectation on myself this year. For 2017, my battlecry is that I’m gonna freestyle the shizz out of this book blogging thing. I have to admit that I almost did not want to do this post because it will remind me how out of control my 2016 was. Truth is, I am a bit resentful with myself because of this, but 2016 is way behind us now. All hope is not lost. What matters to me at the moment is that Rurouni Jenni Reads is still alive and with a bit of luck and a lot of hardwork, it will continue to improve as time goes by. Hello 2017, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us all!!!

Review: All My Lonely Islands by V.J. Campilan

All My Lonely Islands
by V.J. Campilan

One crisp March evening, Crisanta and Ferdinand arrive on the remote Batanes islands for a mission: locate Graciella, whose son, Stevan, they saw die in a tragic accident a decade ago. But they need to confess something to her: Stevan’s death is not all what it seems. Oppressed by a decade of painful memories, Crisanta and Ferdinand must race against time—from the wild swamplands of the Sundarban forest in Bangladesh to the back alleys of Manila to the savage cliffs of Batanes—to offer Graciella the truth that they themselves cannot bear to face.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Anvil Publishing
Publication date:  January 2017
Source/Format: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review / Paperback
Purchase link: Anvil Publishing Online Store | Amazon | Kobo

My Thoughts:

“All My Lonely Islands” won the Grand Prize for the Novel in the 2015 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. How could I even dare to review a novel that won such a prestigious award? It is honestly an intimidating task but I’ll try. One of the Palanca Awards judges blurbed and praised the book for its “sparkling prose” and I agree with it 100%. The plot is pretty much uncomplicated and if I were to write the story, it would be just straightforward and be over by two pages. But Crisanta, the narrator, has an artful way of telling it. I am simply blown away by her beautiful way of expressing things. Crisanta is a self-proclaimed “weaver of words” but the truth of the matter is, she is just stalling. She is about to tell the truth but she is evading it altogether so she took time in telling, careful not to spill everything just yet and used enchanting and flowing words to conjure “ghosts, cobwebs, and sickly metaphors”. She puts up phrases to form “wispy things that can hold up an entire decade of recollection”. It’s like going down on a Pensieve, this magical basin of swirling memories in the Potterverse.

If you are looking for something to read with romantic fluff, stay away. Okay, I am not exactly warding off fluff readers because I am a fluff reader myself and I unexpectedly came to love the book. What I am really trying to say is if you are picking up this book, get your heart ready because it is a bit heavy. There is teenage romance, maybe even a love triangle, but it is all ambiguous and strange. I like the ambiguity and strangeness of it: no big declaration of feelings whatsoever, only furtive glances, only thoughtful acts. Then the rivalry between Ferdinand and Stevan is so restrained, almost psychological.

"Isn’t it strange? How we could destroy each other for all these things that don’t matter in the end?"

The overall tone of the book is unabashedly somber, the sound of a weary soul looking for forgiveness or redemption. Crisanta is almost always in an introspection. The story cuts between the past and present Crisanta who “hate each other”. She sifts through her memories from her childhood in the streets of Manila to her teenage years in Bangladesh in search for some meaning, for some reason why, after all those years, she is currently in Batanes about to face the mother of her dead bestfriend, Stevan. For an outsider, what really happened was just stuff high school urban legends are made of, but for the ones involved, Crisanta, Ferdinand, and Graciella, it’s a personal tragedy. Their grief and guilt are so palpable that flipping through the pages, the reader is not just an outsider anymore. The reader becomes involved and deeply affected as well. I swear I have this general gloom over me while reading the book even my sister noticed, “Ate, why do you look so sad?” And I sighed, “Well, it’s this book that I’m reading...”

"But there was no one to blame, because everyone was guilty. In the end we simply hurt each other because we can't help it"

It’s not all sadness. The book is interspersed with light, even laughable images, for example, try picturing a teacher riding a unicycle to school with one hand holding a mug of coffee and the other waving to the curious people in the streets. Crisanta’s childhood memories in Manila is a bit of a blissful nostalgia for me because we both grew up playing the same games and hearing the same stories about Filipino monsters or "maligno", as we call them. There are tender, heartwarming moments especially from scenes with Crisanta’s dad in it. I like her dad. He gives this Atticus Finch vibe to me, kind but just. The book sometimes smacks the reader with social commentaries, observations from Crisanta, backdrops for her story. The book even tries to be meta, “All those big words. Polished sentences. Musings about society.”

"Why come back to this empty house, and this Manila with a strange face; the one I never knew? All those lonely islands. They will keep afloat without me."
The ending is bittersweet. I was bawling my eyes out reading the last few pages. My tears are the tears of a sinner newly baptized in the Jordan River. Okay sorry, I’m just attempting to insert a biblical metaphor here because the book is scattered with it. Let me try in layperson feels: it’s being able to find hope in the ruins of a personal tragedy. As a reader, it’s like the book snatched my heart and made it heavy. The book is like, “Here, try carrying this heavy heart.” Then the book snatched my heart again, lifted the weight and finally brought it back to me feeling lighter than it was before. I still have the heart that I had at the start but it does not feel the same after trying on all those heavy weight. “All My Lonely Islands” is brilliant, I can easily declare it as a modern Filipino literary masterpiece. And I think it is very much worth reading, especially for those looking and advocating for #ownvoices books.

My Rating:

Stacking the Shelves (STS #7)

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.

What's up, book wanderers? I hope you are all spending the weekends having a nice and quiet reading time like me. I am currently reading All My Lonely Islands by V.J. Campilan, which is one of the bookmails I received this week, and I am loving it so far.

I am also sharing a haul from a book warehouse sale months ago. These books are actually not quite familiar to me until I bought them. While at the warehouse sale, I just piled all the pretty books, looked them up in Goodreads and decided to keep those with above three stars average rating. Come see and maybe you've read some of them.

Bought from a book warehouse sale:

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper , The Secret River by Kate Grenville, The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer, Secrets of My Suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, and How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward 

For Review:

All My Lonely Islands by by V.J. Campilan and What About Today by Dawn Lanuza

So what are you currently reading? Any new books acquired lately? Share it with me in the comments section. Or link me up to your book haul post, I'd like to take a peek. :)

Review: What About Today by Dawn Lanuza

What About Today
by Dawn Lanuza

Aiden's stuck working for his family's amusement park, Funtastic World, for the whole summer. Nothing amuses him, until he met this terrified girl.

Gemma's stuck in Funtastic World thinking she could handle the park's rides. She couldn't. Good thing she met someone to guide her.

As the day comes to a close, Aiden and Gemma ask themselves if one day is ever enough to decide if they were better off as friends or strangers.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Anvil Publishing
Publication date:  January 2017 (first published April 14th 2015)
Source/Format: Provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review / Paperback
Purchase links: Anvil Publishing Online Store

My Thoughts:

Blame kdrama because my dream first date is in an amusement park. I imagine it going something a bit like this: so at this point in time of our relationship, we don’t know each other much yet but I think taking death defying rides and screaming for our lives together will pretty much bond us forever. We’ll eat ice cream after, then he will play amusement park games and win the biggest plushie they have there for me. I’ll get tired from all the walking around and he’ll offer me his back for a piggy back ride. Yeah, blame kdrama.

“What About Today” is set in an amusement park, my dream first date place! Aiden is spending his summer vacation working there. His family owns the place. I guess even an amusement park is not fun anymore if you’ve been there a bajillion times. For him, it’s just another day at the office. For Gemma, it’s the day she turns seventeen. She decided that it’s time for her to prove that she is capable of doing something on her own. One day, one chance encounter. It’s a picture framed in a span of one whole day. There is an evident connection between them. The question is, could this connection exist beyond “TODAY”? There is this amusing dialogue between them where Aiden asked “Do you think if we met elsewhere, we’d talk?” The always cautious and evasive Gemma, who always answers a question with another question claps back “What about you? Would you talk to me if we met elsewhere?”

"I'm starting to think that we should all just be strangers. People are nicer to people they barely know."

And that’s pretty much what the book is: a conversation as they wander around the park. They talk about parents, school, favorite books, worst birthdays, best birthdays -- basic getting to know each other stuff, sprinkled with philosophical poking about mediocrity and bursts of existential angst about being a minor character in your own life. I LOVE THE SIMPLICITY OF IT. No major drama, no mean girls or jerk jocks to encumber them. It’s just the two of them talking and connecting.

I just don't see the fuss with overachieving. Can't we all just achieve and not be under or over it?

“What about Today is reminiscent of my all-time favorite romantic movie, “Before Sunrise”. I am so in love with this film, I swear I will never get tired of watching it over and over again. I am so glad this book has found me, it’s right up in my alley. What else can I say, my all-time favorite romantic movie set in my dream first date place: it’s darn beautiful! But if you fancy a more delicate description of “What About Today”, well, picture this. Two young people holding hands, high up inside a ferriswheel, with the night sky strewn by fireworks, aaah, it’s  a fantasy parade!!!

My Rating:

Review: Midnights in Bali by Carla De Guzman

Midnights in Bali
by Carla De Guzman

Ava Bonifacio has always been the girl with The Plan —a life plan that would give her everything she’s ever wanted, including becoming a lawyer, a role she was sure she was born into. Sure, her determination may be seen as heartlessness, but Ava doesn’t care. What she does care about is getting into law school —but she doesn’t. She cares about her boyfriend Matteo—who breaks up with her.

In an act of desperation, Ava books herself a ticket to Bali and tries to get over her own failures. In Bali she meets Scott McLeod, a rude and grumpy Scottish traveler who thinks there’s a lot more to Ava than meets the eye.

But as Ava reveals more about herself, she finds Scott slowly pulling away from her. He was never part of The Plan, but Ava is determined to make sure he doesn’t slip away.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Spark Books an imprint of Anvil Publishing
Publication date:  2017
Source/Format: Provided by the author in exchange for an honest review / Paperback
Purchase links: Anvil Publishing Online Store

My Thoughts:

They say bad things happen in threes: first, Ava had a bady day from work; second, her long time boyfriend broke up with her;  and third, she did not get in to her preferred law school. Everything was not going according to plan and Ava is a girl with The Plan. Feeling lost, she impulsively booked a ticket to Bali. There she met Scott, pours her frustrations on him, who in turn helped her nurse her broken heart. But everything that happens in Bali will surely end, including her adventures with Scott, who is altogether not part of The Plan.

“Midnights in Bali” both broke my heart and made me laugh right from the very first chapter and my feels could not stop since then, so I stayed up late and never let go of the pages until I finish. I fell in love with it right away. The first chapter really made a great job on milking my sympathy for Ava. Here is a girl just trying to make it in the world, planning for everything to work out but still falling short, and I’m like, “Hey, I can relate to that!” . So then clouded with emotions and influenced by the power of suggestion (corny airline seat sale promos can be pretty convincing sometimes), she decided to run away from it all, and I’m like, “Okay, if I were in this situation I’d totally do this, too!”.

Ava’s love interest is the right mix of lovable and mysterious. I honestly had an instant crush with Scott. He can get me weak in the knees just by reading about him. I imagine hearing the sound of his sexy accent in his dialogues. Plus he knows how to do hairbraids -- I want my own Scott who will play with my hair and braid it. I guess like Ava, I got affected by the Scottish vacuum of charm. I never for once doubted Ava’s strong attraction to the guy even though he is a stranger and does not reveal much about himself.

"Do not be too hard on yourself. Having a plan is great, but you have to leave a bit of wiggle room for the unknown."

The promise of Bali in the title did not disappoint. The novella transported me to the place with its rich description of its scenery, temples and delicacies. I’ve only seen Bali from watching shows featuring the place, such as The Amazing Race Asia, etc., but the place means nothing to me before. Bali now became some kind of a special place for me even though I’ve never been to, because of the things that happened there in the novella. It’s the same feeling that I have when being moved with a good kdrama set in such a beautiful backdrop.

The novella is not flawless. I noticed a discrepancy on Ava’s age: if she worked for a year after her pre-law course, she must be only be twenty-three years old but the novella mentioned in text that she is twenty-six years old. Also, if Ava is twenty-six years old, her sister Bee who is three years her junior and mentioned to be still in school would be a bit too old for college then. This is just me nitpicking but it did not have a major effect on my reading enjoyment.

“Midnights in Bali” reminds me a little of “That Thing Called Tadhana”, a well-received Filipino film. Both novella and film have women characters feeling lost following a breakup, taking a journey and meeting strangers who help them get over their heartbreak. The novella added a little extra by giving the male lead character more depth and sprinkling a couple of oh so sexy love scenes. Worth mentioning is the ending which is perfect for what everything the novella is trying to say about love: just leap and give in to the thrill of unknown. Read this if you are in search for a quick read and you love some travel and adventure in your romance.

My Rating:

Stacking the Shelves (STS #6)

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.

Hello, it's been a while since I did a book haul post. I mentioned on my The Philippine Readers & Writers Festival 2016 recap that Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs handed me a tote loaded with books and I want to share them here on the blog today. Plus I got a #SparkNA novella for review that I am already currently reading.

From Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs:

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne, The Scorch Trials by James Dashner and Awake by Natasha Preston

For Review:

Midnights in Bali by Carla De Guzman

So, any new books added to your shelf lately? Share it with me in the comments section. Or link me up to your book haul post, I'd be delighted to stop by. :)

Review: The Year We Became Invincible by Mae Coyiuto

The Year We Became Invincible
by Mae Coyiuto

Dear Future Reader,

If you’re reading this book, it’s either:

1. You’re my future partner

2. I’m famous and my writings have been immortalized

3. You’ve violated my privacy and these are not meant for you

Let’s hope it’s not the last one. Before this year, I had my life all planned out. This book contains the story of the year that changed my life (well, my life so far). It’s the year I learned how to be invincible. That wasn’t really specific, but I guess you have to read on to see what I’m talking about.



(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Anvil Publishing
Publication date:  August 28th 2015
Source/Format: borrowed from my sister/paperback
Pre-order links: Amazon | Kobo | National Book Store

My Thoughts:

Camille Li is a senior high school who one day decides to write letters to her future partner. She says she does so because she wants her future partner to really know her. From poring over into her letters, we sneaky readers get to know that Camille is a straight as an arrow student who had this whole future fantasy laid out before her. She is going to be a doctor like her dad at the age of twenty-seven, will marry a respectable guy and will have three children of her own. But more often than not, things don’t work as planned. She unexpectedly gained four friends who took her to adventures, made her shift her views about the future and let her feel “invincible” at the present.

"Fear is okay if you don't let it take over. When I did things despite that fear, that's when all these limits didn't matter. For the first time, I actually believe that I can do anything. I'm different when I'm with you guys. I'm...I'm invincible."

I was initially on the fence upon finishing this one. Something in me wants to like it because the main character is a fair representation of Asians like me but there are other particular parts that I didn’t like. And when confused with my feelings with a book, one of the things that I do, albeit ill-advised because they might influence my opinion, is to peek in to Goodreads and see what other readers say about it.

First thing that I noticed among the reviews is that most of them compare “The Year We Became Invincible” to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. Well, aside from both titles being a mouthful, I think the readers can vibe the chase of feeling invincible in this one with that moment of infinity with the other. Also, the main character, Charlie, in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” wrote letters to an imaginary friend just as how Camille here writes to an imaginary future partner. Another likeness is the main characters liking a person, within the clique; but decided to go out with another person that they didn’t like who is also within the clique; and then they both broke up with the person they are dating in the most inappropriate of ways, resulting to the whole clique not talking to the main characters for a while.

Another  review that I saw mentioned a similarity of “The Year We Became Invincible” with the iconic teen film, “The Breakfast Club”. The clique in the novella is an unlikely mix of friends: The It-Girl, The Jock, The Art Freak, The Smart-Ass and The Ballerina. And what do you know, the film also has its own set of five characters who cannot be more different from each other but eventually became friends: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.

I think I am being too far-fetched but I see the love-hate relationship of the siblings from another popular teen film “10 Things I Hate About You” between Camille and her younger sister. Plus there’s this list Camille wrote near the latter part of the novella that bears semblance with the list from the said film. It’s about the things that Camille likes and doesn’t like about her love interest. She listed seven things (seven things, a reference to an old Miley Cyrus song?) that she likes about the guy but can only think of one thing that she doesn’t like about him: he doesn’t love her back.

So you get the point, the novella is a hodgepodge of stuff pulled from here and there, resulting to a watered down impact of its coming of age theme. Do not get me wrong, getting inspiration from other forms of art is not bad at all, but I guess it just did not work for me here. The main character is developed alright but the other characters are paper thin. I find it hard buying the instant closeness and  friendship among the “invincibles”. The romance is ordinary. There are moments that are trying to be big or sweet but I did not feel anything, most probably because I have read or seen those already. There are sudden bursts or display of emotions from characters that seem unnatural because it lacks proper build up. One example is the part where a character is panicking and shouting at the hospital because his girlfriend was in an accident. Another example is when Camille and her sister made up in page 108.

Another problem for me are some plot elements that are not tightly woven. Camille and her childhood bestfriend had a falling out scene and a make up scene a few dialogues later (could have used a few build up also, felt unearned, TBH). The author then suddenly used the bestfriend character as a plot device to reveal a new conflict for Camille so the supposedly sweet making up scene between bestfriends just turned sour. Another instance is when Camille’s adult older sister ran away from home and Camille was like, “Where could she be?” when she could have just texted or called her sister to know what’s really going on. But no, Camille ignored her basic teenager instinct to reach for a smartphone just so the plot can go further.

"When will we stop being too young to know what true love really is?"

To be fair, I checked out the author’s website, read some snippets of her other works and they seem more than decent. Her writing is clear and straightforward, perfect for the voice of a a young person. This novella is surely just not for me, probably because I am too old and have seen too much. I finished it in one sitting though and what kept me engaged and glued to the pages is Camille’s voice. Her naivety and innocence is charming. She shines when she is alone with her thoughts, mulling over teenager things. “The Year We Became Invincible” is an honest attempt to portray a girl’s hopes and fears and I can imagine readers of Camille’s age being able to relate with it and even be impressed by it.

My Rating:

Review: A List of Cages by Robin Roe

A List of Cages
by Robin Roe

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Expected Publication date:  January 10th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon | Barnes &Noble | Indigo | Kepler's Books

My Thoughts:

“A List of Cages” is like a cinnamon bread that the baker forgot to put egg-wash on. It is very tasty, and yes especially if it’s still warm and fresh from the oven, but it lacks the shine to make its appeal long-lasting. The book will leave fuzzy feelings inside right after reading but I doubt if it will ultimately shine when put side by side on the shelves with other egg-washed pieces of cinnamon bread, I mean books.

Julian is a high school freshman who deliberately skips his classes and spends his lunch breaks in a small secret room instead of the cramped school cafeteria. It is interesting to note here that whichever place he goes to for lunch, his space will always be suffocating  and restricted but he chooses to be alone and confined by walls instead of crowded by people. Then here comes darling of the crowd, Adam, who is in his senior year. Adam is always surrounded by friends, and when I say friends, I mean everyone because everyone seems to like him. As it turns out, Julian is Adam’s foster brother a few years back before Julian went under his Uncle Russel’s care. And when they meet again in high school, Adam (and friends) took Julian under his (their) wing and Adam made it his life’s mission to help him break out from the tiny world Julian is caging himself in.

The book’s strength is it’s very likable characters and the bond between them. Adam is popular in school, but not in a handsome jerky jock kind of way. He is like the class clown who also knows how to take in charge of a group. He is kind. He is nice. He is always friendly even with the teachers . He is this ever so happy, hoppity-hop kid who is the bringer of smiles and sweet warm sunbeams to any room he walks into. And of course, he is Julian’s hero. Julian is also kind and nice, even to a fault. For example, he does not fight back to a bullying classmate because he thinks that there is no such thing as a mean child, only an unhappy one. He is curiously timid with a touch of a rebel side because he does not talk back to his frustrated teachers but he continues to skip classes and avoid schoolwork so he could be alone to read his favorite adventure book series.  His reticence and meekness got me flipping through the pages fast because I seriously want to know what’s going on through his precious head.

The book is told though the dual points of view of Adam and Julian. Sometimes it works that the reader knows what they are both thinking and seeing but for the most part, in my opinion, it kind of hurts the flow of the story. There are these tense crucial Julian moments in the book’s second part when I am really anxious to know what’s really going on or what’s coming next but then it will cut off to check in on what’s happening to Adam. But then again this is Adam we are talking about and he is so damn likable that him sneaking through the scenes makes it alright. And I don’t know if the author is deliberately delaying these tight scenes to create tension on the reader or she is trying to ease the reader from the harrowing trauma of these scenes or what because whatever her purposes were between the two, it kind of worked. I have conflicting feelings about this.

As it is with most young adult contemporaries, “A List of Cages” finds a way to insert a romance subplot for our boy Adam. The girl love interest is also a likable character and deeply cares for Julian, too but I find myself always forgetting her name. I guess she is not that memorable to me. The book’s romance is a welcome distraction from the main plot but is hugely underdeveloped. But then again who cares, when I get to have more Adam and see his romantic side. It’s still a win for me. I told you I like Adam so much he can do no wrong in my eyes.

"A List of Cages" is a book with a big heart thanks to its very likable characters.  In some ways, “A List of Cages” is like a good episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” but with lousy police work and minus the courtroom drama. For the record, I don’t care about the lacking police work and courtroom drama in the book because these are the show’s boring parts, TBH.  And I am not a big fan of the show but whenever I come across a good episode, I let myself get caught and finish watching until the end. In another light, “A List of Cages” is somewhat like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, with a bunch of seniors taking under their wing a misfit freshman and bring him in to somewhere he can truly belong. Both books are heartwarming and hopeful but between the two, I like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” much more than I like “A List of Cages” maybe because the first gave me that memorable moment of infinity while the latter did not quite deliver a long-lasting impression of its theme. 

My Rating: