Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Tour: ARC Review: The Hunt by Stacey Kade

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Title: The Hunt (Project Paper Doll #2)
Author: Stacey Kade
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: April 22nd 2014
Source: Received eARC via NetGalley (Thanks, Dianne from PBT and Disney-Hyperion!)
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble



Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life. 

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)

Review:

Picking up immediately where The Rules left off, after Ariane and Zane have successfully escaped from GTX with only the bare necessities, they realize that they are far from being safe. Now exposed to the real world, they find out that Dr. Jacobs and GTX are the least of their worries when other corporations start to arise and plan on eliminating their competition. This tests not only Zane and Ariane's relationship but everything they've ever known as a whole.

As soon as I finished reading The Rules sometime last year, I instantly knew that I needed the sequel. Like, ASAP. I really enjoyed the complexity of Stacey Kade's story and how elaborate she made it. It is so hard to find an alien-themed book that does not feel forced or too creepy, Stacey Kade was definitely able to blend just the right amount of alien into the story that made it so interesting. And let me tell you, Stacey Kade has certainly written a sequel that is worth waiting for.

It never ceases to amaze me whenever I see a heroine grow from a shy girl to this badass rebel. The change in Ariane was very profound and I was thoroughly impressed with the way Stacey Kade developed her as a character. In The Rules, she was this insecure high school girl who never felt like she belonged for obvious reasons but in The Hunt, you see that Ariane has found a sense of purpose that she felt she needed to accomplish. Unfortunately, Ariane is still half-human and is very susceptible to making brash decisions that end up pushing away the people who care *cough* Zane *cough* for her.

I loved Zane in the first book and I still love him in this one, as well. The scenes between him and Ariane range from sweet to steamy to OMG-just-kiss-and-make-up-already. Most the time it's like a battle of wills between him and Ariane, the need to protect and insist that they do whatever that needs to be done together. Zane's tenacity made me adore him even more because it's like he's the one trying to keep the two of them together and even though he could just choose to back out, he still decided to stay no matter how dangerous things could get. We all need a Zane in our lives. Seriously.

Stacey Kade thoroughly impressed me with this one; the steady paced writing, detailed experiences that will make you feel like you're the one going through them and a diverse cast of characters, The Hunt just brims with excitement. This is a worthy addition to a great series. And may I just say? OH MY GOD, THAT ENDING. JUST, OHMYGOD. Somebody, please, hold me.

Rating:
.5

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blog Tour: ARC Review: Stroke of Love by Melissa Foster

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Title: Stroke of Love (Love in Bloom: The Remingtons #2)
Author: Melissa Foster
Publication date: March 3rd 2014
Publisher: World Literary Press
Source: Received copy from tour host (Thanks, Julie from AToMR Book Blog Tours and Melissa!)
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes



Kate Parello runs a volunteer program in Belize for Artists for International Aid, where she deals with self-centered artists who use the program as a means to repair their marred reputations. She loves the country, the people, and what AIA stands for, but too many diva volunteers have turned her off to press-seeking celebrities altogether and left her questioning the value of the volunteer program. When she meets incredibly handsome and charming Sage, he stirs emotions she hasn’t felt for ages, even though he represents the things she despises.

Laid-back artist Sage Remington escapes his wealthy lifestyle in the Big Apple for a two-week journey of self-discovery to figure out how a guy who has so much can feel so empty. When he meets ultra-organized Kate, who lives her life the way he’s always dreamed of living his, the attraction is too hot to ignore, but Sage is there to figure out what’s missing in his life, not to find a woman.

Every look, and every late-night chat in the romantic jungle brings them closer together, but Sage can barely think past stripping away Kate’s misconceptions about him. Kate fights him every step of the way—even though she finds it hard to ignore the strikingly handsome, generous-to-a-fault artist who wants to do nothing more than right the wrongs of the world—and love her to the ends of the earth.

Review:

I read Game in Love (book one of the Remingtons series) and I quite enjoyed it, I liked the general feel and theme of the novel but wow, I absolutely adored Stroke in Love. Melissa Foster was able to create a fairly solid story that stemmed out and managed to elevate it to another level. Sure it was a love story and there were a few mushy and sweet scenes but I felt that Stroke in Love had a depth that its predecessor lacked and I was glad to have seen that substance in her books.

Meeting Sage in the previous book (still love his name) made me feel like I already had a grasp as to what kind of character he was and what he stood for and it was great witnessing him become even more of a man than I already thought he was. He was such a great confidant and friend to his brother Dex in Game in Love and seeing him fly solo made me realize how great of a guy he really was. The fact that he braved living in an area with limited resources and questionable health care while his "companions" bitched and moaned about their accommodations made my respect for him get even higher. His genuine eagerness and joy at seeing the children of Punta Palacia learn and appreciate art made me smile and go "aww". His quest to find that inner peace and a fulfillment that not even his passion for art could fill made his journey to self discovery all the more amazing. Sage was never the type to want to be in the spotlight or exploit the less fortunate for his gain, no, he was the type to try and think of every possible way to help others and to maximize his gifts to give other people better opportunities. Melissa Foster could not have created a better leading man, really.

Kate is a wonderful girl, she really is but there were moments (mostly in the first half of the book) that I wanted to just smack her upside the head. I understand that she has seen and experience first-hand meeting obnoxious and snobbish celebrities but the problem is that she has the stigma stuck inside her head that she never gives anyone the benefit of the doubt. She immediately judges people based on first impressions and never allows others to try and prove to her that they aren't what she thought they were. That was my only peeve regarding Kate but other than that, it was smooth sailing. At the beginning, you could see the attraction between her and Sage but you could also tell that her need to be right prevented her from truly seeing how amazing Sage really was; but it was nice to see that they were able to work through those issues. I really admire Kate as a person, she was just so genuine. Her love for the people of Punta Palacia was so tangible that you could see and feel it flow through the pages. She really does everything she can to help the people there and that was so admirable. Kate is definitely very inspirational and her dedication and love for her calling completely sealed the deal for me.

In terms of the romance aspect of the book, the steam and swoon definitely were not lacking in this book. I felt that the experiences that Kate and Sage went through made their relationship stronger and allowed them to be more open to each other. You will see walls crumbling and when you do, you will breathe a sigh of relief and do a happy dance. I just love them together, seriously.

As I continue to read Melissa Foster's books, I see how diverse of an author she really is because every novels she brings out is unique and different from anything else she has written. Her books are not all completely fluff and happiness, there are still slightly darker themes but that just shows how you can fall in love with her books in different ways. I'm already a fan and I can't wait to see what else Melissa Foster has in store for us!

Rating:

About the author:

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women's fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and the World Literary CafĂ©. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

You can find her here:



Monday, April 7, 2014

ARC Review: Lost in Me by Lexi Ryan

Title: Lost in Me (Here and Now #1)
Author: Lexi Ryan
Publication date: April 5th 2014
Source: Received ARC from the author (Thanks sooo much, Lexi! <3)
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iTunes



The last thing I remember is having drinks at Brady’s and trying to avoid eye-contact with my life-long crush—the gorgeous, unattainable Maximilian Hallowell. They tell me that was a year ago, but I have no memories of anything since then. What I do have is this ring on my finger that Max says he gave me, and this much-thinner body I’ve dreamed of most of my life. Aside from a case of retrograde amnesia, everything seems almost...perfect. 

But the deeper I immerse myself into this new world of mine—planning a wedding to a man I don't remember dating, attempting to run a business I don't remember starting—the clearer it becomes that nothing is as it seems. Do I have the life I’ve always wanted or is it a facade propped up by secrets I don't even know I have? 

I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)

Review:

I'm pretty sure everyone is tired of hearing me gush about how much I absolutely love Lexi Ryan's books but I swear, guys, this one is literally her best one yet. I have always been fascinated with amnesia stories, be it TV shows or books I just generally enjoy them. (I blame Meteor Garden for this.) So when I heard that Lexi Ryan would be writing one, I was immediately ecstatic, add the fact that the story would be about Hanna (who I adored from the previous New Hope books), Max (who I was really unsure of) and a mysterious sexy rocker named, Nate (who I knew I would be rooting for) it got me all kinds of excited. If there's really one thing I know about Lexi Ryan and her MO, it's that she will place the biggest plot twist the world has ever seen in her book and you won't even know that you were heading that direction till you get there. It will literally jump at you, and Lost in Me's twist definitely took me by surprise. I am still trying to decide if I love Lexi Ryan for it or if I want strangle her. Get back to me when book 2 comes out.

After waking up from an accident that left her with a slightly long-term amnesia, Hanna Thompson soon discovers how close to perfect her life is. She was engaged to her long-time crush, Max Hallowell, who never gave her the time of day, she lost a ton of weight that used to make her feel insecure, she owned her very own bakery, and she had a secret affair with the famous rock star, Nate Crane... wait, what? Okay, maybe not so perfect especially when she finds out that not everything is what it seems and that people have been keeping important things from her. BIG things.

Going through the journey of retrieving Hanna's memories was both enjoyable and torturous. Seeing Hanna's memories come back to her was like a slow burn, it took a while to spread but you felt it going through you body. That was what it felt like, seeing Hanna experience those memories again. At first you think that everything is all good and jolly but as things start to unravel and unwind, you will realize that even that smallest detail has a big significance to the story. Having met Hanna in the previous books, I already knew that I liked her. Even though she was the exact opposite of her adventurous sister, Hanna wasn't completely a shut-in or a prude. She was timid but also knew when to say her piece and that made me appreciate her all the more. We frequently see so many powerful and snarky heroines nowadays and it was good to be able to take a break from those kinetic characters and spend some time with the more quiet but still special heroines. If there was one thing I trait I didn't particularly like about Hanna, it's that she was too conscious about her weight to the point that everyone she knew started questioning her health but I can sympathize with her and I was glad that Lexi Ryan remedied that when she started making her eat again after the accident. Haha!

Max Hallowell... Max... Hallowell... I can't say that I've always liked him because even when I first met him, I was unsure as to what to feel about him. Sure he was hot and... that's it. (Sorry I'm not sorry, bro.) Had I not read about how he and Hanna got together, I would not have been able to believe that they were actually together. It kinda annoyed me how he immediately switched from one sister to her twin. *cough*douche*cough* To say that I am not a Max Hallowell fan would be an understatement, I just never clicked with him, you know? I understand that all Hanna wanted to do was to reacquiant herself with her fiance after her accident but it felt that she put him on a too high pedestal just because of her former massive crush on him, I guess love does make you blind. #MaxHater Yup, see what I did there? Trust me, the book will continue to get crazier and crazier as it goes on.

As soon as I read the lines "I need answers before I marry Max, and the only person who seems to have them is the angry, tatted, sexy-as-sin rocker Nate Crane. And Nate wants me for himself." I just knew that I would love Nate and I was glad that Lexi Ryan added him to the mix. Not only did he add more depth to the story but his appearances and interactions with Hanna were what I lived for. There were times when I wanted to shake Hanna and tell her to just go with Nate already but then I realized that her being with Max wasn't what was stopping her, it was something else... If Max played the doting fiance well (almost too well), Nate played the vulnerable other man perfectly. I honestly felt bad for him the entire book because right from the very beginning you already know what he feels for her but you also know that they cannot be. I cry. I am still Team Nate and I hope that Lexi can find it in the goodness of her heart to let him have a HEA... with me, if need be. #TeamNate5ever

The minor characters in this book played key roles in the story as well and it was great that Lexi Ryan was able to give them each an important part in the story. I still love the Hanna and Lizzie dynamic that they had going on and I hope that their relationship only continues to grow. It was also fun seeing Maggie and Asher as well as Cally and William! Loved their cameos (especially my William, hee! <3). I also really liked Nix, Hanna's doctor friend. I look forward to getting to know her better as the series goes on. But if there's one person who I did not appreciate was Meredith coming back. I cannot even express how much I absolutely detest that woman. I just... ARGH. I have to admit (begrudgingly) though, she does bring good drama. Like I said, they all played pretty important parts in the book and some of them were a part of the the bigger picture.

I never considered Lexi Ryan to be evil... until now. I am not even going to mention the ending or what I feel about it because it will just take me back to that state of depression I was in a few weeks ago and I just got over it so no, I really don't want to talk about it. I will say that it was absolutely brilliant and one of the most shocking endings I have read (and I never get shocked) but it was also evil. Pure evil. That is all. Moving on. 

I wasn't kidding when I said that Lost in Me was Lexi Ryan's best book yet, because it is. It's like all her writing and other books have been leading up to this moment wherein she wrote a completely unique and addicting story that will have readers eating out the palm of her hand. That's the truth. But I will say that I was left with quite a number of questions and I am hoping that I will get the answers to them soon before I spontaneously combust. I don't doubt that book 2 will blow me away as well, maybe even more than this one did. I am really looking forward to what else Lexi Ryan has in store for us in her Here and Now series. Also... more Nate, please!

Rating:



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Event Recap: Becca Fitzpatrick Bloggers Forum + Book Signing + Meeting Alethea (Again!!)


Let me just say how much I absolutely love the Hush, Hush series so it was pretty much one of the best days ever when Becca Fitzpatrick announced that she would be coming to the Philippines, to meet her fans, sign some books and maybe even kiss some babies heads. But before we get to the exciting bits, let me start with how the day actually started... I woke up, bathed, buffed, polished, drank obscene amounts of coffee (kidding!) and off to Greenbelt I went. I headed up to PowerBooks and this lovely sight greeted me:

Becca's books looking gorgeous like it's nobody's business.

After looking around, I went and registered for the forum. For the first time in ever, I was the seventh to sign in, I'm normally the first to get in but darn traffic. SMH. But my fellow bloggers were kind enough to reserve the first seat for me because the know how much I loved being number one. Haha, thanks, guys! But I decided to give up my number one seat and let another person use it since I'm a nice person and I'm okay with letting people have their turns.


Then, Kate (from The Bookaholic Blurbs) and Jesselle (from The Lifelong Bookworm) and I crossed over to Glorietta to meet up with Alethea (from Read Now, Sleep Later) an expat who came back to the Philippines to visit her parents. I met Alethea almost two years ago when she visited, no pictures then unfortunately but we were able to snap a few pics this time around. (Still love her name.) Yay!

The three of us bringing sexy back.
Us at the food court. (Left: Kate and Jesselle. Right: Me and Alethea.)
Thanks, Kuya Guard #1!
Just outside NBS, Glorietta. Thanks, Kuya Guard #2!

Kate, Jesselle and I proceeded back to Greenbelt after bidding our farewells to Alethea. We took a couple of selfies and pictures with other bloggers while waiting for Becca to arrive.

Too many bloggers to mention. LOL
Selfie with the awesome, Mr. JB Roperos! (Missed you, Chad!)
Selfie with Leslie (from the bibliophile kid) and Lyra (from Defiantly Deviant)!
Adore these girls!
Hardest Selfie EVER 2.0
The making of the Hardest Selfie EVER 2.0

After our picture taking fun, it was time for us to settle down because Becca Fitzpatrick was in da houz, yo! I absolutely looooved her hair and OMG, guys, she is sooo nice. Like, legit. #Truth

Miguel Ramos aka Chad Dee stand in.
(But no one can replace you, Chad. ;) )
Becca Fitzpatrick answering some questions.
Becca Fitzpatrick listening intently.

Here are a couple of things we learned during the forum:

  • Even though Hush, Hush is a fictional series, Becca still integrated real life experiences into the book. As well as in her up coming book, Black Ice.
  • Black Ice was originally a Paranormal novel until Becca's editor told her that it didn't seem to fit, getting her to change it to a Psychological Thriller.
  • Becca's favorite character is Vee and she based Vee on two of her childhood friends, which is why she has a connection with her.
  • If Patch were to take Becca out on a date, she imagines that even though he may be rough around the edges and is a total badass, he'd keep the date intimate and yes, snuggling/cuddling included.
  • Her upcoming book, Sapphire Skies, is her best one yet (according to her editor and agent) and it is about a girl who is put into the Witness Protection Program after witnessing a horrifying crime and yes, there is a hot cowboy involved. #Rawr
  • Becca was also kind enough to donate copies of her books for the library restoration that is happening in places that were severely affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Well, that's it! Back to the pictures! (Btw, so excited for Sapphire Skies!)

And the highlight of our day... (Besides meeting Becca...) Getting ARCs of Black Ice!! EEEEEP. Becca was kind enough to bring a box of ARCs with her to the Philippines and we all got one!! #BestDayEver At first we were kind of worried because Miguel said that they would be raffling off one copy and I knew that I would have to go Hunger Games on everyone for that book but then he surprised us by saying that it was a good thing they had 25 copies of Black Ice with them and we all pretty much died. Thank you sooo much, Becca! You rock. *hugs Black Ice*

Us with our brand new copies of Black Ice! WHOOT.
The other bloggers with their copies of Black Ice. LOL

Me with my signature Book Licker pose.
But back to the signing...

Becca signing books. Yaaay!

A blurry selfie with Becca. LOL
Me with Becca looking Fab.
OMG. I got to touch her hair. SO NICE.
2/5 of the Active Romance Team with Becca.
In-between signing shenigans!
BOOM. Photobombed Becca like a boss. #Respect
Blogger group shot with Becca!
All of us lovingly holding our copies of Black Ice.
The Best Selfie EVER (eat your heart out, Oscar Selfie)!!
Louisse, the mermaid/blogger/photobombie extraordinaire.
Blogger names! <3
 So after the Blogger Forum fun, we then went to the actual book signing. There was more than 300+ people in attendance and it way craaaaazy.

Becca's stage.
So THAT's what it feels like to sit on THE chair.
(With my bro, Kayla from The Bookish Owl!)
But before the actual event started. I put on my creepy hat and decided to approach fans to ask if I could snap a pic. of them holding their books and here they are:

Whoot! Smiling big for the camera... phone!
Hello, pretty ladies! ;)
Hey, Instagram friends!! :D
More peeps!
Ms. Xandra Ramos interviewing Becca Fitzpatrick.
National Book Store's requisite group selfie. :))
And then I got home with aching legs and a big smile on my face. That was probably one of the best signings I've been to so far. National Book Store really knows how to host an event and I certainly hope that it only gets more exciting from here.

Paloroids with Becca!
Signed books!
Of course, I didn't forget about my lovely Geraldine so I snagged her a copy of Black Ice too!
WHOOT.
(I would just like to send a HUGE thank you to the team from National Book Store, JB, Chad, Miguel, Xandra and co. Y'all never fail to surprise us and you've definitely outdone yourselves. And I'm first naming all of you. Kate, Jesselle, Kayla and Hazel from Stay Bookish for the awesome pictures! Alethea Allarey for going all the way to Glorietta just to meet up with us even though we live really  close to each other. LOL My parents for allowing me to go. :)) Last but definitely not the least, Becca Fitzpatrick for coming to our country and for making her day with us so special.)

Till the next event! ;)