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Friday, November 30, 2012

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

Title: UnWholly
Author: Neal Shusterman
Format Acquired: Hardcover 
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442423688
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa, and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp, people can no longer turna blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens and, in the same stroke, providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question.

Connor has his hands full running the Graveyard, a safe haven for AWOLs, kids like him who escaped unwinding. Risa, paralyzed from the waist down after the attack on Happy Jack Harvest Camp, is afraid that she may be more of a burden than a help. And Lev finds himself involved in an underground movement to rescue tithes, where he is practically worshiped as a god.

One of them will be betrayed. One of them will go on the run. And one of them will cross paths with Cam, a teen who doesn't exist, and make a startling discovery about the truth behind unwinding.

Neal Shusterman returns to the world of Unwind, which Publishers Weekly acclaimed as a "gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller."

               (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book) 


I remember reading Unwind for the first time. It was during my freshman year in college, and I can still recall my hesitation upon seeing for myself the rather odd cover image of the book. Now I recall telling you guys that covers of books are not to be taken lightly (or something like that), and that I can easily pass over an earth-shattering, award-winning book with the odd cover, for a two-star book with pretty pictures and rendered effects (I've got it more under control now.) Unwind was such a book. I was hesitant about giving it a chance, but man, I'm glad I took the plunge. You know those kinds of books where you literally cannot stop devouring word after word, page after page, but you have to every once in a while, stop, breathe, let out a slow expletive (or two) and wonder how people can go on with their daily lives when your brain has just been blown to smithereens? Yes, it was that kind of book - in fact, it still remains as the only book I have no qualms about giving a five star. The ending left me totally content, and I was glad that I had read a book that good at least once in my life.

You can only imagine my shock when I found out that there was a second book, and that it was now a trilogy. And after my shock? I was scared. I was scared that it may not live up to the sheer awesomeness of the first book. When I picked up the book from our local friendly bookstore, I was so conflicted whether I should dive into it and get the suspense over with, or just read it when I've finished my whole To Be Read pile (Which is never going to happen, such is the life of the book blogger, I found out.). For weeks, UnWholly was squished under other books, but I knew that I had to read it, if only to get it over already.

UnWholly reunited me with characters I loved, and introduced new compelling characters as well. Connor Lassiter, now leader of the Graveyard, is having problems handling his  cohorts. Risa Ward feels insecure about Connor's feelings for her, as she is paralyzed from the waist down. Lev Calder, now Garrity, is helping other tithes escape and make them see that they have a right to life as well.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What is Unwinding? During the Heartland War, people from both the Pro-life and Pro-choice camps have come to an agreement to let parents of teenagers decide whether they would let their teenager go through Unwinding. Unwinding is the process of harvesting the body organs of these teenagers to benefit people who need them more. Good examples would include: the eyes of an Unwound teenager given to a teacher who has gone blind, or the heart of an Unwound teenager given to a military official. A teenager is only saved from this fate until he/she reaches the age of 17, where their parts cannot be legally harvested anymore. Teenagers who are often eligible for Unwinding are the teens who often cause their parents and society problems, or if the parents are in dire need of money. Tithes, on the other hand, are 'offerings' who have been designated as such early on in their life. The reasons vary from either religious practice, or to help aid other weak-bodied family members. All of these teenagers are sent to Harvest Camps, or what they call Chop Shops, so that they can live in a 'divided state'.

The concept is terrible and horrifying, I know, but isn't it beautifully intriguing?

In UnWholly, we also meet Starkey, Miracolina, and Cam. Starkey is a Storked boy (Storked means that he was left on someone's doorstep by presumably his parents, or relatives. If the parent/s or relative/s has not been caught, the person who found the baby is now responsible for the care of the child. If caught, however, the parent/s or relative/s have to take the baby back under their care.) Starkey is bent on taking over Connor's position at the Graveyard by slowly rallying other Storked children to his cause. Miracolina is a tithe who is all too eager to fulfill her supposed destiny - something all too reminiscent of Lev in Unwind. When Lev comes crashing in her life, Miracolina slowly questions her role in life as well. Then there is Cam. Cam who is a patchwork creation grafted from 99 Unwound kids. Cam who has the skill of a musician, a brain comprised of brains of gifted kids - the wunderkind of wunderkinds everywhere. Cam who makes us raise the question of whether a creation like him has a soul at all.

Shusterman has done a wonderful job creating these new characters, and making the readers get a feel for these newcomers. I was especially feeling for Cam and his dilemma with regards to his identity. (Were the other teens who comprised him made him him, or was Cam someone who had his own identity? Did Cam have a possession of a soul, and how was it possible that a creation of science and technology had one? To what extent was he human or otherwise? Was he in any way human at all, even?) 

In this sequel to Unwind, Shusterman has provided us again not with answers with what is right with regards to the fate of humanity, but he leaves us with these questions for us to ponder and peruse. While the second book may not quite have the addictive, and captivating flavor in comparison to the first of its series, Shusterman's follow-up, UnWholly, is still, nevertheless interesting, despite some slow pacing. If you're contented with how UnWind ended, you can skip on picking this one up. But if you're too much of a fan like me, then we both know that you already have it stashed somewhere in your room.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: Alternity by Mari Mancusi

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Alternity
Author: Mari Mancusi
Format Acquired: eGalley 
Publication Date: October 19, 2012
Publishing House: NLA Digital Liaison Platform LLC
ISBN: 9781620610114

Summary: Imagine waking up in a post-apocalyptic, nightmare world -- and being told your whole life is a but a dream. Skye Brown thought she was your typical teen -- good grades, hot boyfriend, and an afterschool job that pays her to play videogames. But then she started having dreams.

In her dreams, there is no Earth. Only Terra, a bleak, underground wasteland where people live in squalor and oppression. In her dreams, there is no Skye -- only Mariah, a rebel leader fighting against a vile, dystopian regime. And then there's Dawn, a handsome, but haunted soldier who sees her as but an empty shell of the girl he once loved -- a betrayer he vows to hate forever, despite what she sees deep in his eyes.

Now, ripped between Dark Siders and club kids, the mundane and the mystic, Skye finds herself in a fight against time -- to learn who she really is, where she belongs...and why. The shocking truth will have her questioning her own reality...and her heart.

                                        (Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads) 


Due to the slightly shady cover, we were both afraid that Alternity would turn out to be a disappointing read. It had a really interesting summary and a totally unique plot and while this book did not exactly wow us, it really caught us off guard as it was a decent read.

Mancusi's characters, while having good intentions to keep us interested, did not exactly keep us wanting more. While we did find Skye a bit dense sometimes, and Dawn so unlike  other male protagonists out there, we found ourselves quite indifferent to them. Skye had a decent voice, albeit a bit confusing at times. Skye's easy to follow, however, and we think that's a good thing. Dawn on the other hand, was probably the antithesis to the usual brooding, sullen, YA male lead. He was unafraid to show his emotions, and we do think that's a point for him. Duske, the evil-because-he-simply-is-evil guy, was smarmy and detestable at best, but he's not given much character aside from that. It's like he's the ultimate bad guy, and that's it. 

What's keeping us from giving this one a high rating? Well, there was a scene where Skye had to act like she was all for the dark side, and we couldn't help but cringe at how obviously bad at acting she was. But no matter how bad we thought her acting was, Duske still fell for it, which lead us to question Duske's judgment. We found that this scene was too convenient for Skye and the other revolutionaries. 

Another thing we didn't like about this book was the portrayal of romance and relationships, and how the story often focuses on the romance. Sure, Skye resembled Dawn's ex-girlfriend to a T (we won't spoil why) and Dawn is this pretty awesome guy, but that still doesn't give them license to fall in love with each that quickly. Dawn, who has been supposedly pining for Mariah for a long time, has been too hasty in discarding his feelings for Mariah in order to start anew with Skye. Skye also seems to have no remorse about giving in to her fast-growing attachment to Dawn, especially when she keeps pining for her life back in Earth where she has Craig, her boyfriend. The good thing about Mancusi's Alternity is that it's easy to read, and does not attempt to choke the reader with a lot of information. Instead, Mancusi eases the reader, through Skye, to adjust to the different reality that is Terra. The pace is relatively quick, and it gets faster as the book draws to an end. 

All in all, Alternity is a good read if you don't want to get into the heavy stuff. We'd recommend this for people who're after the more romantic aspect when it comes to science fiction, and for people who're trying to ease into reading this kind of genre.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #2: Hysteria by Megan Miranda + The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme first initiated by Jill from Breaking the Spine. However, we've added our own twist to it! Not only will we feature books that will be published in the following months, but we will also feature books that are not available yet locally, and are still unavailable to us.

Title: Hysteria
Author: Megan Miranda
Publication Date: February 5 2013
Publishing House: Walker Children's
ISBN: 9780802723109

Summary: After stabbing and killing her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mallory, who has no memory of the event, is sent away to a boarding school to escape the gossips and threats, but someone or something is following her.

Title: The Summer Prince
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Publication Date: February 5 2013
Publishing House: Walker Children's
ISBN: 9780802723109

Summary: A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that's sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June's best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government's strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.

(Images, summaries, and information courtesy of Goodreads)

Why do we want these books so badly?

For starters, we are fans of storylines with serial killers and gore. I think it's quite evident because of the fact that we love Rick Yancey's The Monstrumologist series (which still never fails to scare us what with all the creeeeepy monsters), and other thriller-suspense books like Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers. Hopefully, Hysteria will not leave us unimpressed, like the overhyped Mara Dyer books.

As for The Summer Prince, it's set in Brazil! How awesome is that? Have you read a lot of books with Brazil as the main setting? We sure haven't! Also, have you read that totally awesome summary? How is anyone supposed to resist that? Rebellion, drama and star-crossed lovers with a doomed romance combine in  futuristic Brazil where technology and tradition are intertwined. The summary paints a pretty picture in our heads and we can't help but want to get our hands on this one.

What books are you guys waiting for?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Tempest by Julie Cross

Title: Tempest
Author: Julie Cross
Format Acquired: Hardcover 
Publication Date: January 17 2012
Publishing House: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9780312568894
Source of Copy: Book Tour hosted by Dianne

Summary: The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is normal guy...he's in college, has a girlfriend...and he can travel back through time. But it's not like the movies - nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there's no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors - it's just harmless fun.

That is...until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he's stuck in 2007 and can't get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it's not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these "Enemies of Time" will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit...or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he's willing to go to save Holly...and possibly the entire world.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads)


I took a chance on Tempest due to its interesting summary. I haven't read much books with time travel in it and thought I'd give this a go. 

I was a bit disappointed. I mean, Tempest wasn't a bad book, it was okay for me, but it wasn't exactly a great one either. For starters, I could not connect with the characters. Jackson was flat, boring and sometimes a bit of a coward, and Holly was uninteresting, bland, and completely ordinary. There was a lot of romance in the book and I have to say that I was not amused; it wasn't even that romantic, and it was only at the latter part of the book when I started feeling that Jackson and Holly had any semblance of a relationship and started liking them a little bit. It's frustrating to read a book where you can't associate with the characters. I actually ended up liking Adam, Jackson's super smart hacker friend better than I did Jackson. And Courtney, Jackson's sister who, might I add, has been deceased for a few years. Also, have I mentioned that Jackson is super rich? Yeah, I'm not exactly surprised.

As for the time travel, it was fairly easy to follow Jackson as he time jumped, although he does it so frequently it gets annoying, especially when his jumps are so short-lived and fleeting. The basic rules for time travel here are quite easy to comprehend although there were a few things open to speculation and questioning. Our protagonist learns a few more things about time travel while stuck in 2007. It's here he learns about two warring factions, the EOTs or Enemies of Time and, of course, a hidden, top-secret branch of the CIA which his dad is incidentally a part of, and let's not forget that he's still trying to figure out why he got stuck in 2007 and then there's that pressing issue about Holly getting shot. The latter part of the book is also where things start to get messy and secrets are unraveled as a myriad of events were tossed into the fray and everything happened so fast that I was left a tad bit confused.

I felt like everything was rushed in the end as Jackson figured out the secrets his father tried to keep from him, learned more about his abilities and clashed with the EOTs. Ultimately all this leads to Jackson making a few decisions, and one of those decisions I could not stomach. I really don't like it when the whole "I'm doing this all for your own good" thing gets thrown into the mix and I'm very touchy about this. I mean I get why Jackson did what he did, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.

Initially, I was planning on giving Tempest a 2.5 rating, but despite everything I stated in my review, Tempest wasn't a bad book. It actually had a decent storyline and I think that a lot of people will enjoy this. I do plan on continuing the series though, hopefully the time travelling will be fleshed out, and more light be shed on the EOTs, more of Adam of course, and well, better character development. Who knows? Maybe I'll end up liking Jackson and Holly more in the second book.



P. S. Other book bloggers based in the Philippines who might be interested in participating in the Vortex (Tempest #2), do head on to Dianne's blog. The link has been posted above for your convenience.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Rebel Heart by Moira Young

Title: Rebel Heart
Author: Moira Young
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 30 2012
Publishing House: Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN: 9781442430006
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary: There is a price on Saba's head. She brought down a ruthless tyrant and saved her kidnapped brother. But winning has come at a terrible cost. Saba is haunted by her past - and a new enemy is on the rise, an enemy who searches for her across the Dust Lands.

Saba needs Jack: his moonlit eyes, his reckless courage, his wild heart. But Jack has left. And her brother is haunted by ghosts of his own. Then news comes that tells her Jack can never be trusted again. Deceived and betrayed, haunted and hunted, Saba will need all of her warrior's strength just to survive. For the enemy has cunning plans of his own...

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book) 


Rebel Heart is the second book in the Dust Lands series, with Blood Red Road being the first. I had no problems getting into the language in this book, unlike Blood Red Road where it took me a while to get used to the dialect.

What I expected from Rebel Heart was action. I expected heaps of it. What I didn't expect was this book focusing on the emotional side of things. It's way more emotionally intense and gritty than the fist. Here, Saba seems more human, more vulnerable as she is allowed to make mistakes - really big mistakes. This doesn't mean that Saba's turned into some kind of a sap, she's still a fighter, still a warrior, still as brash and as bold. Here we see her dealing with the emotional stress and trauma that she would have suffered after the events in the previous book, what with all the deaths and the lives she was forced to take. I totally enjoyed how her character was developed here and I'm glad the author allowed us a glimpse into this side if Saba instead of having her roll her emotions into a ball and toss them into a dark, dank corner.

It's also here that we get a chance to meet Lugh, Saba's beloved brother, but he's broken and messed up because of the time he spent in the Tonton's hands. Lugh and Saba's relationship has been significantly altered, where once they were two halves of a whole, now Saba feels that Lugh is suffocating her. What they once had has been damaged and broken. Admittedly, I'm quite curious about what happened to Lugh and why he seems to hate Jack so much, hopefully the third book will flesh this one out. Also, what I couldn't really get behind though was the whole Lugh and Maev pairing, there's an attraction in the first book and yes, I suppose that it does continue in Rebel Heart but I couldn't get a feel for their relationship, or lack of it.  

Tensions rise and everything goes to hell as Saba hears news about Jack and strives to reach him in time. I liked how Saba, despite the news against Jack that brands him as a traitor and a deceiver, fights for him and pushes aside all her doubts and simply believes that Jack would never betray her. This book is, well for me anyway, mostly about Jack and Saba but it's at the latter part of the book where the pace picked up and I noticed that the secondary characters came into play such as DeMalo, which was a surprise but it really shouldn't have been given the tension between him and Saba in the previous book.

Overall, Rebel Heart is the thrilling sequel to Blood Red Road. The pace was slower and there were less action scenes but that does not make this book any less exciting, or any less intense.  It's a wonderfully gritty and emotionally intense read and I'm way excited for the next book.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #5

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme first initiated by Tynga. This weekly segment will showcase the books/galleys/ARCs we've acquired/purchased/borrowed within the week.

Purchased Books:

Monday Haul from Fully Booked Shang

1. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
2.Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
3. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
4. Possess by Gretchen McNeil
5. A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
6. Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Tuesday Haul from Fully Booked Rockwell

1. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
2. Auracle by Gina Rosati

Friday, November 23, 2012

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Peculiars by Maureen McQuerry

Title: The Peculiars
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publishing House: Amulet Books
ISBN: 1419701789
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore

Summary: On her eighteenth birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to leave her mother and grandmother, and their comfortable home in the City, to search for her father,who disappeared into the northern wilderness known as Scree when she was a child. Scree is an untamed part of the country that is said to be inhabited by Peculiars-people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society-as well as by folks who are "strange", have "unusual talents," or are outlaws. The local authorities and even the family doctor all believe Lena's father to have personality "flaws," which causes Lena to wonder if she is like him. Is he a Peculiar? Is she a Peculiar?

On the train north, Lena meets Jimson Quiggley, a young librarian who's traveling to Knoster, a town on the edge of Scree, to work in the private library of the inventor Tobias Beasley. En route, they cross paths with the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When the marshal follows Lena to Knoster, she is unsure of his true motivations. In town,she l,earns more about the unusual Mr. Beasley; his mysterious home, called Zephyr House; and the strange folk who go there but never come out again.

But Lena still longs to go to Scree and find her father, even if that means confronting her deepest fears. This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk and fantasy.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book) 


There’s a saying that goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” My life pre-GoodReads often entailed that as long as the summary sounded awesome and the cover looked gorgeous, the book/s would end up coming home with me. As a result, the book/s, I eventually will find out, would either be a diamond (my first John Green book was The Abundance of Katherines when I was still in high school, which spurred my obsession with his books after the said book was finished), or a rhinestone (until this very day, I cannot get over Lauren Kate’s Fallen—now that would teach me to reach for books with pretty covers). I really thought that I had kicked the habit to the curb now that I have access to GoodReads, but this book still had me reaching for it when I was browsing my local bookstore. Before I knew it, receipts were signed and the book was already in my possession. On the ride home, I felt quite bad. What if it was a book I ended up hating? And I bought a hardcover too. Upon getting home, I immediately looked for its ratings on GoodReads, and I was horrified. Would this be Fallen Part Two? Over the next few days, I was quite sure I wanted to have it exchanged, but a little part of me was curious about the book as well. I was pretty sure I had to judge it for myself.

I am so glad that I didn't return it.

You have to remember I was approaching the book with bias, but I had to convince myself that I was doing the book a terrible unjustice. When I was about seventy pages in, I was still quite wary. I was waiting for The Part Where It All Goes Horribly Wrong. 

It doesn't come.

Lena was a tad annoying—an unforgettable heroine, indeed—but I had to remind myself that it is precisely because she is impulsive that there is a story at all. Although she was oftentimes impulsive, Lena is a character that readers can relate to, whether it’s her self-consciousness with regards to her long feet and spider-like hands, her insatiable need to reconnect with an absent father, or her insatiable quest for freedom. Even at eighteen, Lena was first introduced as a sheltered young snob because of her lack of contact with the outside world, but readers will connect with Lena as she tries to make sense of possible romances, and her eventual growth into a truly adventurous and accepting spirit. 

The pacing was good, and most of the characters were in their element. Mr. Beasley in the latter part of the book, however, has lost his credibility as a real, functioning character.   Sometimes, his character sounds a bit too mechanical. There were some parts in the book that I also found questionable, although I have filed it away as Mr. Beasley being too much of an easygoing eccentric.

All in all, however, this was a good read and thoroughly enjoying. Until then, I shall remain envious, Lena Mattacascar, of both your personal growth and of your possession of Jimson Quiggley's heart.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Twins on Thursday: Debris Dreams by David Colby

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Debris Dreams
Author: David Colby
Format Acquired: eGalley 
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publishing House: Candlemark & Gleam
ISBN: 9781936460380
Source of Copy: NetGalley

Summary: 2068

1.5 million kilometers above the surface of the Earth.

Drusilla Xao has only seen a tree in movies and vid-games. She has never breathed air that wasn't recycled, re-filtered, and re-used a hundred times over again. She has never set foot on Earth.

And now she never will.

When a terrorist attack by a radical separatist group on Luna destroys the space elevator that had called so many - including her parents - to live permanently in space, Dru is cut off from any hope of ever reaching Earth and her beloved girlfriend, Sarah. The Chinese-American Alliance declares immediate war on the rebels and conscripts everyone they can get their hands on... including Dru.

Cast adrift, forced to become a soldier, trapped in a nightmare of vacuum and loneliness, Dru's training will help her survive, but only Sarah will be able to bring her home.

(Image, information, and summary from GoodReads)


What we expected from Debris Dreams was an action-packed thriller filled with intense combat scenes and a whole lot of emotional trauma, because the setting’s in a warzone and it’s nearly impossible to escape it unscathed without any emotional or psychological repercussions. What we got was a whole lot of information dumps, confusing world building, uninteresting characters, and a rather confusing flow of events.

The story is told in Dru's voice. She's a proclaimed lesbian living in space who has a girlfriend who lives on earth. She's obviously taking the whole long-distance relationship thing to a totally new level. It was hard to get a feel for her character and we initially thought that she was male. We felt that her character was bland and monotonous, that her emotions were unreal and fake. Her character was woefully underdeveloped and the way she adapted to the abrupt change in her lifestyle was unbelievable. Since this is a war, and it's quite sure that Dru will lose friends, where’s the emotional trauma that Dru should have felt with the loss of said friends? The pain? How is it possible that she recovers so easily from the loss of her friends and sometimes seems to forget that she's fighting an actual war and it's not all fun and games now? It was hard to take this character seriously.

Then there's Sarah, Dru's girlfriend, in the summary it is said, and I quote, "...but only Sarah will be able to bring her home." We did not find Sarah's character to be of any significance to this story, we could not understand what she was to Dru, aside from being her girlfriend. What did Sarah do to bring Dru home? Send her e-mails and racy pictures of herself? Sure, Sarah may be the symbolism of Dru's yearning to go to Earth, but we actually expected more from Sarah.

It's hard to get into a story where one cannot connect with the characters. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to us. We were indifferent towards Dru and her friends and whenever one of them is shot, injured or killed we could not muster up any sympathy for them.

A flaw in the story was that readers were not given an insight as to why Luna and Earth are fighting at all. There were only brief mentions of oppression on the side of Luna, and yeah, that's pretty much it.

We had issues with the characters using Mandarin Chinese along with the English command. (Other languages like Cantonese and Swahili were made us of less often, ergo less annoying.) Being Chinese-Filipinos, we pretty much had a gist of what Colby was referencing to, but other readers may not have the same experience. Even we found it annoying that they would speak in this manner. From the eGalley given to us, we didn't find any English translations that would make it convenient for the reader to at least follow on what Colby was trying to come across. There are words in Chinese that don't make much sense given the context, but this (we guess) could be excused as the copy we have did mention that the 'gramatically inaccurate mix of languages reflect the vernacular'. We still found this weird, because these were people who were early on type-casted as being part of the Chinese-American side. So, the characters can fluently cuss in Mandarin, but are kind of off in using actual Mandarin at times? Fair enough. 

Another point against it was the frequent mentions of sex. Bearing in mind that the main protagonist of this book is a lesbian and a self-admitting virgin engaged in an intergalactic war in freaking space where the opponents attack randomly and claim her friends one by one, Dru often thinks about how hot/sexy her seductive captain is, all the while admitting to her girlfriend on Earth that she is feeling hot and bothered - to which Sarah, the all-American saint that she is, has no qualms in giving her the signal to go for it. (Wow, Sarah. Really?Sometimes, Dru was more of a Drew. Monogamy is depicted as backward and prudish. Sex appears to be as trivial as a handshake, or as a high five. We are confused as well as either to allude this rampant obsession with sex to the fact that Dru is a lesbian - which would then trigger more issues as to how people perceive gay people - or because it is a sign of a life where people are in the middle between life and death, emotionless sex is the only equivalent of fun.

There were scenes in the book where Dru is almost automatically promoted, and these usually happened when she was either unconscious, bleeding and hurt, or when she betrayed the entire system she was working for. (What.

Sometimes, we think that Dru even forgets that she's in an actual war, especially when she finds out about the 'new' technology that her side of the army will adapt. Will this 'new' tech  introduce brutal killing? Yeah. Is it merciless? Sure. Are you or are you not engaged in war? Uhh... Yes, we're pretty sure you are.

This book was actually hard to read, given the weird flow of events and the quick dissemination of info-dump after info-dump was too much for us to handle.

We're sorry, Debris Dreams, but we're giving you a flat-out one.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

Title: The Other Normals
Author: Ned Vizzini
Format Acquired: Hardcover 
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Publishing House: Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 9780062079909
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Given the chance, fifteen year-old Peregrine "Perry" Eckert would dedicate every waking moment to Creatures & Caverns, an epic role-playing game rich with magical creatures, spell-casting, and deadly weapons. The world of C&C is where he feels most comfortable in his own skin. But that isn't happening - not if his parents have anything to do with it. Concerned their son lacks social skills, they ship him off to summer camp to become a man. They want him to be outdoors playing with kids his own age and meeting girls - rather than indoors alone, with only his gaming alter ego for company. Perry knows he's in for the worst summer of his life.

Everything changes, however, when Perry gets to camp and stumbles into the World of the Other Normals. There he meets Mortin Enaw, one of the creators of C&C, and other mythical creatures from the game, including the alluring Ada Ember, whom Perry finds more beautiful than any human girl he's ever met. Perry's new otherworldly friends need his help to save their princess and prevent mass violence. As they embark on their quest, Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero. But to save the princess, Perry will have to learn how to make real connections in the human world as well.

Bestselling author Ned Vizzini delivers a compulsively readable and wildly original story about the winding and often hilarious path to manhood.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


This would be my second foray into Ned Vizzini's writing, the first being Be More Chill. What initially drew me into purchasing a copy for myself was the premise of Perry's quest in the alternate world, alongside his ongoing battle with maturity and growing up. I mean, I already know how awkward it is when you're hitting puberty, but when what sounded like a kickbutt epic gamer-style quest gets thrown in the mix, I knew I had to pick it up.

Did I get what I was looking for?

Sadly, no. I ended up reading a story about a fifteen year-old boy whose idea of playing the game Creatures & Caverns is just by creating the characters. (Kinda like playing dress up with Barbies, if you think about it.) If you thought your life was sad, Perry's life is honestly sadder. His older brother's a teenage alcoholic and disturbed faux-rock god, his parents are divorced and are seeing their respective divorce lawyers, and Perry has zilch friends to speak of. When his parents get wind of his role-playing game obsession, they -including the aforementioned lawyers- unanimously agree to send Perry off to camp to be a normal teenager. It is after accidentally hitting, and getting beat up by one of the camp's bullies that Perry sees an actual creature from his game, and is catapulted into an alternate universe, and it is here where Perry learns that he has an actual mission back home, and that is to kiss the most beautiful girl from the camp opposite his, to save the dodgy creatures from the alternate universe he gets transported to by way of a car battery and magic mushrooms.

The best thing about this book would be Perry Eckert's narration. It gave a great insight on the thoughts of pubescent boys, and was actually quite believable. Some of the scenes are honestly quite unexpected; honestly, they're really quite random - so random, in fact, that I can't even determine if it's a good thing or a bad thing. However, I had a hard time thinking of the actual point of the book. I remember one of my college professors addressing those of us in his Filipino literature class, "Maybe there isn't a point. Why must we always look for an objective? Couldn't art just exist for art's sake?" But I don't think he would be referring to the likes of this book. Sure, Perry had a nice, easy transition in the end, but it somehow felt lacking for me. There was no epic quest, and I just really couldn't think of where "Perry realizes that his nerdy childhood has uniquely prepared him to be a great warrior in this world, and maybe even a hero." comes in, which is something that the blurb promises. The scenes were uninspired, and too convenient for the main protagonist to actually spur events to transpire. The contrived humor was off-putting, and oftentimes, Perry would actually make me cringe at how pathetic and hopelessly immature he was coming off as. 

I think I'm just really not part of Vizzini's target audience. I have no idea, however, if this would better appeal to male readers, so if you're into gaming, and ever fancy yourself a little getaway into a fantasy world like Perry's, maybe you'd be the right one to give this book a little whirl.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Twins Read Blog is A Month Old!

It's been a month since the blog finally launched online last October 20, 2012, and it's been an amazing month. As of this time of writing, the site has garnered a total of 4, 278 pageviews and 726 visitors from all over the globe. Our fellow local Filipino book bloggers have been so supportive and accepting as well, and we are really proud to be part of the community. We also want to thank the people who have continuously supported us, and that includes you, the readers.

Our lives pre-TTR didn't have much of a purpose. We'd go about our daily routines like automated robots, and we'd always wonder how people were so perky about stuff, and now we can say that we understand it. Setting up and continuing the blog has, of course, meant more work for us, but with every comment, every Like, every follower, and every Tweet, we don't mind the late nights, and the self-sacrifices we've made and are still making to keep the blog updated. Every seemingly 'little' thing you guys do puts a smile on our faces, and we want to thank each and every one of you for that. 

With that in mind, we are pleased to announce that we will be having a giveaway in a few weeks, and it will be open internationally and locally. In fact, we plan on making ALL future giveaways open to everyone!

We hope that the The Twins Read blog has affected your life in a positive way as much as it has affected ours.

Yours sincerely,
The Twins Read