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Monday, December 22, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #20: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

Title: Winterspell
Author: Claire Legrand
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 30 2014
Publishing House:  Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442465985
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


New York City, 1899, Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-perfect daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, and her father is abducted - by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to surive Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets - and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive fairy queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed - if she leaves at all.

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

I know this book got a lot of rather low ratings over on goodreads, and while normally that would dissuade me from buying a book I was feeling rather adventurous and thought why the hell not? Luckily I didn't hate the book and that little issue with the statue that a lot of people commented on? I found that I was oddly okay with it. It was a good looking statue.

It's not easy leading a double life. On one hand Clara is the mayor's daughter; prim, proper and perfect as can be on the other she's training to fight under the odd Drosselmeyer's tutelage. Little does she know that she's going to be putting all the skills she's learned to the test when strange creatures enter her home and abduct her father on Christmas eve forcing her to put her trust in Nicholas as they travel to the lands of Cane to save her father.

Clara starts of a little wimpy but it was great to see her grow as a character as the book progressed. I also liked how Legrand explored Clara's sexuality in the book because while it's obvious that she had a thing for Nicholas I'm also pretty sure she was into Anise which makes her bisexual. I haven't seen a lot of LGBT characters in fantasy so this was a surprise.

Okay, so about that statue issue. Clara might have had a thing going on for a good looking statue and maybe that might be uncomfortable for people because it is an inanimate object, I couldn't blame her. As I said, dude was hunky and turned out to be Nicholas. No big surprise there. His relationship with Clara was kind of rocky at first and he might be a little crazy but thank goodness he managed to fix himself and their relationship.

I also liked how deliciously dark the book actually was. There's a lot of misery and death and depravity and a whole bunch of sick and crazy people in it. Also drugs and a faery war. And the world building was quite detailed and highly imaginative. 

Truthfully, I'm not that familiar with the Nutcracker story so I don't know how true this stayed to the original and what aspects of it Legrand kept in this retelling. What I can say is that I liked the story and I'm glad that this book ended well and is a stand alone.


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

Finally! Another Novel Nails feature. I did this set a few weeks back and you can find it on my Tumblr in case anyone is interested. I'll place the links down below.

The cover was way too pretty to pass so I thought I'd do a set inspired by it. 

Nail polish used:
OPI Haven't the Foggiest
OPI Miss You-niverse

The pretty book.

I made a gradient using the purple and silver on three nails.

Close up of the hand drawn art. A raven, thorns and the gate (I have no idea what it is) on the cover.

Added a few jewels too.

The thumb.

Hope you like this set and if you want to check out my Instagram click HERE. For my Tumble, HERE.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

[BLOG TOUR] Novel Nails #19: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

This week's feature is a nail set I've cooked up for The Young Elites blog tour. Everything hand drawn.

Nail polish used:
NARS Superstar (base)
Orly White Tips
OPI Push and Shove (silver chrome)

The book.

My nails with the book. Hope you can see the sword.

Closer look.

Love how Push and Shove looks. It's a super gorgeous chrome.

Thumb view.

So that's about it. No tutorials this time around. If you want to check out more of my nail art head on over to my nail art blog Novel Nails Designs OR you could just check out my instagram HERE.

Hope you liked this and watch out for my Legend themed nail sets!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Perilous Sea
Author: Sherry Thomas
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: September 16 2014
Publishing House:  Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 0062329383
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny - especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies or forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

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


The Perilous Sea is the sequel to the Burning Sky which I reviewed HERE. I'm going to keep this short to avoid spoilers.

The Perilous Sea begins at the end of summer holidays. Titus and Iolanthe, who thought they would be spending it together, are finally reunited and are more determined to bring down the Bane. Their plans get messed up when Titus makes a surprising discovery in his mother's diary that makes him question her prophesies and drives a wedge between him and Iolanthe. But prophesies are prone to misinterpretation and is Titus willing to deviate from what has been foretold and try to forge his own path?

What's different about this sequel is how Thomas writes two separate timelines at the same time and does it well. It was not confusing and the point where the two timelines converged was surprisingly seamless and natural.

If you've bothered to read my review on the first book you can see that I was generally okay with it - a little slow, way too perfect characters. But things have changed in the second book and Titus and Iolanthe have done a little growing up and their relationship is one I am totally rooting for. (more kissy scenes in this book people)  What I liked about these two characters was their resilience in the face of intense hardship. A lot of things didn't go as planned and they had to find a way to either deal with it or risk getting smothered by defeat.

Thomas also puts more emphasis on the secondary characters and did a really good job with their personalities. Her characters all had roles to play and when unveiled left me rather surprised - in a good way. 

The pacing in the first book was rather slow and only seemed to pick up halfway into the story. The second book is totally different seeing as it offered up plot twist after plot twist tossing Titus and Iolanthe into a variety of difficult situations so much so that defeating the Bane seemed pretty much hopeless at one point.

The ending? Epic. This is one of those rare sequels that manages to outshine it's predecessor and fans of The Burning Sky will be more than pleased with this book. I cannot wait for the next book and I can only hope that it's even better than this. 



Thursday, October 23, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan

Title: The Dolls
Author: Kiki Sullivan
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publishing House: Harper Teen
ISBN: 9780062281487
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


Eveny Cheval just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn't seen her hometown since her mother's suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn't have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies - and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.

Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest boys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything - including an explanation for what's going on in Carrefour. And Eveny doesn't trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she must turn to the Dolls for answers. Something's wrong in paradise, and it's up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


I could never resist a book with a gorgeous cover, much less a cover with a killer (Ha, pun, HA!) shoe. Cover aside though, the synopsis also zeroed in on another perennial favorite of mine: a setting in the South! And then there's voodoo, magic, what everyone and their nana surmises as the uber rich girls' version of Mean Girls, and you got me praying relentlessly to the Edelweiss deities that they have this up for download soon.

Eveny Cheval finds herself back in her mother's hometown, and something is just a teeny bit off. Maybe it's because people need keys to get inside Carrefour, or maybe because everyone creepily knows everything about each other. Well, almost everything. After all, no one can deny that there is something at work in Louisiana just like no one can deny the power of the Dolls, who are in the all too corporeal form of self-entitled teenage fashionista brats. Despite having the Dolls interested in her however, Eveny isn't buying it, but it's only a matter of time before she finds herself just one little lost sheep that's finally come home... and changes everything.

The Dolls kept on losing me because champagne and caviar everyday for lunch sounds terribly boring  I could just not keep up with their "reality". How any authority figure could allow a reptile running amok in the school because chihuahuas and terriers are so Paris Hilton and are "not hot" is beyond me. I can only imagine how the Peregrine vs High School Principal smackdown went down about the snake:

High School Principal (HSP): Peregrine, why is there a snake in your bag? 
Peregrine (P): Don't you like Audowido? I think he adds a certain je ne sais quoi. See, look at this outfit. Then look at my outfit again with my snake wrapped around my neck. Hold on.. 
HSP: *aghast* It's a SNAKE, Peregrine! Get it off before it kills you!!!
P: *winds Audowido around her neck* Nope, because this is not actually a snake. See, it's a gorgeous boa. *snickers* It's actually all the rage in Paris right now.
HSP: *entranced* Of course, you're right. It must have been a trick of the light...
P: *blows HSP a kiss* Merci beacoup! *flounces off to luxurious lunch with entourage of hot boys*
HSP: *snorts* Huh, snake! Maybe I should get one of those myself...
Some books are downright unreal, but then there will always be a voice inside your head - Oh, just me then? - that cannot be reasoned with and will be screaming come hell and high water that, "NO, THIS IS FINE! THIS IS OKAY! COMMENCE READING, HUMAN!" The Dolls just didn't give off that same vibe for me. Neither was it fun as some of the most out there books could be, nor thought-provoking enough to make me scratch my hairless chin.

Moving on: I love fashion, and I devour fashion magazines so getting to read about designer clothes was fun for me. Those Mary Janes? Holler, I was thisclose to Tweeting the author and asking if they were Miu Mius. (Speaking of, anyone here a fan of the abruptly discontinued Poseur books? I LOVED THOSE! They were quelle amusant!And for a town like Carrefour being filled with so many secrets AND being set in Louisiana at the same time, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in whether they do sport the big hair to match as well.

The Dolls kind of reminded me of the Sirens from Amanda Hocking's Watersong books - only that those girls were more interested in which human they were having for dinner, and these ones were much more inclined to have a serious debate whether they were stopping by either Saks or Barney's after school. But my beef with The Dolls is that this isn't a book about girls who needed to shop to induce magic. I felt like the book was taking too much detail with the clothes and their status symbols to truly focus on anything else. I needed less reminders that someone's stunning Dolce and Gabbana brocade t-strap pumps got dirt on them, and more of "I'm in Louisiana and there are terrible things happening and something must be done, but oh no Eveny watch out!" sorts of things.

The Dolls already had the basic components for anyone to devour - a dash of magic, intrigue, suspense, clothes that would make any fashion-loving girl die. Sadly and regretfully, it didn't measure up to its premise.

The Dolls could potentially appeal to reluctant readers who can nonchalantly quote Mean Girls and readers who aren't looking for anything entirely too time-consuming or something to lose sleep over. For the reader who is already heavily invested in YA lit however, I can't imagine this title possibly working out. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

[Blog Tour] NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #18: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: November 4 2014
Publishing House:  HarperTeen
ISBN: 0062278967
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore


As the daughter of two brilliant physicists, Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by wild scientific theories, always encouraged to imagine the improbable or even the impossible. But when her father is murdered, Marguerite's life is turned upside down. All the evidence points to one person - Paul, her parents' handsome, enigmatic protege. Before the law can touch him, though, Paul uses Marguerite's mother's latest invention - a device called the Firebird, which allows people to leap into alternate dimensions - to escape.

With the help of another physics student, Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through various dimensions, determined to avenge her father. Her parents theorized that people who have met in one reality will be likely to meet in another...that key moments will happen over and over, in different ways. But when Marguerite leaps into each new world, she meets another version of Paul that has her doubting his guild and questioning her heart. Before long she realizes that what happened to her father may be more complex, and more sinister, than she ever dreamed.

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


A Thousand Pieces of You was released earlier in the Philippines because of the signing that happened on the 21st of October. 

Marguerite's life has been turned upside down thanks to the murder of her father by the hands of someone she has always trusted - Paul. Before authorities can apprehend him, Paul nabs her mother's latest invention, the Firebird, and leaps to another dimension. When Theo, another of her parents' brilliant students offers Marguerite a chance to chase after Paul she jumps at the idea of vengeance but leaping into different dimensions and meeting different versions of Paul has her doubting his guilt and she's quick to realize that what happened to her father wasn't as clear cut as it seemed.

Before I start the review can I just say that this has to be one of the most beautiful covers out there. And despite giving the book a three rainbows, how could I NOT do nail art for this pretty? Probably one of the most detailed nail art sets I've ever done too. I especially love the watercolor background for the Russian skyline.

Gray managed to make inter-dimension travel easy to understand which is a total relief. No convoluted plot lines and hard to understand talk of equations and math and physics. And it just so happens that those are the subjects I'm really bad at so I feel for Marguerite. Her characters are decently written and I didn't find myself overly irritated by the love triangle plus it helps that the world building was really well done. I love how Gray managed to give each dimension it's own personality and identity despite similarities.

But you see, I expected a chase across dimensions for a killer and I was really into the bok the first hundred pages until I hit page 107. You see that page is when my rating started to slowly decrease. That was when the book asked me to suspend a ridiculous amount of belief because how can she go from suspecting someone from being a killer, even if he was like family, to not? I mean all the evidence was there and Marguerite is refuting that based on the emotions she claims to see in someone else's eyes? I couldn't wrap my mind around that but I suspended belief and went on with the book.

Speaking of hunting killers, the story went from that to a forbidden romance set in Russia. Oh yes and after a few chapters, boy and girl were proclaiming their undying love for each other and it was so weird because it was like a little bit of insta love but at the same time it wasn't since we're dealing with different versions of one character. Leaping across dimensions must be tough on a girl's love life.

Overall I can't say I was impressed. I mean I didn't hate the book but it's not exactly something I'd recommend my friends either. But despite that, having met Claudia during the blogger's forum I can definitely say that she's really nice and super funny. I might pick up the second book because I'm interested to see where the story will go.


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

A Thousand Pieces of You has an amazing cover and I had to do a set inspired by it. This set is more detailed than the previous nail art I've been doing since I tried to get both cityscapes right. I tried. 

Nail polish used:
China Glaze White on White

The book.

I started off with a white base before adding the watercolor detail.

After that came the cityscapes. They were so tiny I had to really bend over and use a super thin brush to do the buildings.

They turned out good enough.

Here they are in another position.

Nails with the book.

Thumb. I like the buildings on my thumb.

If you're up for checking out more bookish manicures you won't find on the blog visit 
Novel Nails Designs or follow my nail art Instagram HERE.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

[BLOG TOUR] NICOLE'S REVIEW: Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Title: Love is the Drug
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Format Acquired: ARC
Publication Date: September 30 2014
Publishing House:  Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN: 0545417813
Source of Copy: Pinoy Book Tours


Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-league future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC's elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus - something about her parents' top secret scientific work - something she shouldn't know.

The only one bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

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


I've been meaning to get into the Summer Prince ever since I purchased a copy last year but I could never bring myself to read it. I don't know why. Lucky for me, PBT was planning on touring Love is the Drug and I thought, why not? 

Emily strives to be the perfect daughter the way her mother raised her. Everything was routinary until she woke up after a party with her memory in fragments and the world in shambles. A deadly virus is spreading and it's all quarantines and curfews and martial law and this creeper named David Roosevelt who insists Bird knows more than she lets on about her parents and their top secret government work. The only one she can trust is Coffee, drug dealer, genius chemist and the guy who calls her out on her bull and rips blinders off her eyes. But as Bird and Coffee try to unravel the events of that fateful night, they both start to realize that those conspiracy theories Coffee believes in might not be theories at all.

Truthfully, Love is the Drug is incredibly hard to rate. I'm fluctuating between a 3 and a 3.5 as I type. I mean I enjoyed this book, seeing as how my co-blogger and I are fans of conspiracy theories. And Johnson wrote this in such a way that it was actually believable and I really wouldn't be surprised if this happens. 

Aside from that, Love is the Drug focuses on Bird and the relationships she has with the people around her. How she's constantly trying to prove herself to her parents, to figure out her way in life. She doesn't want to disappoint them but that means giving up on what she wants because anything worth doing should not be done in half measures. She's trying to make sense of these in between trying to regain her memories and figuring out what the creepy Roosevelt wants from her. 

Bird is a likable heroine. She's not the best and yeah, she let herself get dragged around like a good little girl by her parents and her jerk ex-boyfriend, and she's constantly fighting herself over who she wants to be and who she's supposed to be but when she managed to find her backbone and decided to just be Bird, it was a moment to behold. I mean it's not exactly the easiest thing in the world to navigate through all the angst and drama of high school when the world threatens to crumble around you and succumb to a deadly virus.

The book's overall pacing was good. A little slow and slightly confusing when it started but easily overcome once you've reached the scene where Bird wakes up from her drug-induced coma. Some parts were a little predictable but that didn't take anything away from my enjoyment of the story.

The book is a standalone, the ending was wrapped up a little too nicely. All the T's crossed and the I's dotted but that was okay too. Now I'm off to dust off my copy of The Summer Prince because Johnson's writing has me intrigued.



Friday, October 3, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: One Two Three by Elodie Nowodazkij

Title: One Two Three
Author: Elodie Nowodazkij
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publishing House: Elodie Nowodazkij
ISBN: 9781495319617
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.

But a car crash changed all that - and Natalya can't stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.

However, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell. But when upsetting secrets come to light, Natalya quickly shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him - and destroys herself?

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary courtesy of NetGalley)


Natalya was on the track to becoming a professional ballerina, when a car crash not only affects her career, but also her family. Her full-time mom has become a full-time alcoholic, and Natalya is pretty much left to her own devices most of the time. Now that her leg's busted, Natalya can't dance... but that doesn't mean she can't live.

This book was being promoted as a Perfect Chemistry meets Save the Last Dance book, and because I do so love the Perfect Chemistry series, I had to request it. Only, it's not as Perfect Chemistry-y as I would like.

I desperately tried to get Natalya, because actually liking her was bordering a bit on the difficult side. Her POV was pretty childlike, so just reading through them and getting to understand things from her standpoint was a bit unsettling. I really had a hard time trying to remind myself that this girl was old enough to get a few unsettling kisses of her own.

The secrets that unfolded weren't much to talk about either. It's feasible, sure, but the way the drama unloaded was anti-climatic, and to me, felt more like a cop-out to the readers who are already on to it from the get-go.

One Two Three is one of those books you pick up all the while knowing how it's going to end. I usually pick up these kinds of novels with a tiny, tiny hope that something new and fresh would grip me, or that I might just -fingers crossed! - be helplessly entertained by the story. 

Unfortunately, One Two Three is only one of the many books that offers nothing new to the already standard, generic formula.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

[EVENT] World Dream Day Philippines

Event: Dreambook Project’s World Dream Day Philippines
Date and Time: September 27, 2014 (Saturday) 1-5 pm
Venue: Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4

Event Description: 
World Dream Day (WDD) is an international movement that is actually acknowledged by the United Nations. It seeks to unleash human potential and by doing so transform the world. You can browse <> for more info. The founder of World Dream Day, Ozioma Egwuonwu, has given the go signal for WDD Philippines.

WDD Philippines will use a few pages from our product, Dreambook, to help participants specify, clarify and celebrate their dreams or goals, and plan on how to reach these dreams and move these dreams forward. Life coach Claude Sta. Clara will be the speaker and facilitator for the program. Coach Claude is currently a consultant at Mind Pool, Organizational Change Consultants International, and Fullness of Life Foundation.

Do you need help in reaching your dreams? Do you want to get your goals faster and with more joy? Do you need help in clarifying your goals in the first place? Dreambook can help you with these concerns.

Dreambook is a life coaching journal. It guides people to unearth their dreams and inspires them to make those dreams reality. As a journal, it asks users to write their realizations and resolutions on its pages. And it has words and artworks that invite users to be inspired, take action, and stay true to their dreams.

Dreambook 2013 is inspired by the books "Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential Into Reality" by Gary R. Collins, Ph.D. and "The Dream Giver" series by Bruce Wilkinson. Bruce Wilkinson acknowledges God as "The Dream Giver", and so does the Dreambook. Dreambook is based on the belief that you have God-given passions, talents, skills and other gifts that equip you and guide you towards your dreams. Pursuing your dreams is both a celebration of these gifts and a responsibility. It is connected with your life purpose, molds values into you, and exercises your faith.

World Dream Day

Dreambook Project is participating in World Dream Day, an international movement that is actually acknowledged by the United Nations. It seeks to unleash human potential and by doing so transform the world. The founder of World Dream Day, Ozioma Egwuonwu, has given the go signal for WDD Philippines. World Dream Day Philippines will be celebrated on September 27, 2014 at PowerBooks Greenbelt.

WDD Philippines will use a few pages from Dreambook to help participants specify, clarify and celebrate their dreams or goals, and plan on how to reach these dreams. Life coach Claude Sta. Clara will be the speaker and facilitator for the program. Coach Claude is currently a consultant at coaching companies Mind Pool, Organizational Change Consultants International, and Fullness of Life Foundation. Dreambook Project will get participants to move their dreams forward on World Dream Day Philippines and begin a community of dreamers supporting each other.

Dreambooks are currently available at selected National Bookstore and Powerbooks branches. Please browse for sample pictures and more info.

Monday, September 22, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Blackbird by Anna Carey

Title: Blackbird
Author: Anna Carey
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: September 16 2014
Publishing House: HarperTeen
ISBN: 0062299735
Source of Copy:  Edelweiss


A girl wakes up on train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn't remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

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


A girl wakes up with no memory, watching a train hurdle towards her. She's got a tattoo on her wrist, money in her bag and instructions to call an unknown number while dodging the police. All she knows is that she's being hunted and she'll have to find a way to clear the blocks in her memory if she wants to survive.

This book had such an interesting premise so I thought I'd give it a try. Mind you, I wasn't a fan of Carey's previous series but I thought I'd give her another chance. Well, it obviously wasn't for me seeing as I'm giving this book a really low rating.

First of, I wasn't a fan of the second person point of view. And yes, I did check out Carey's reasons for writing in this POV but I'm sorry because it didn't work for me. It felt stilted and unreal. The atmosphere felt flat for me and the action? I was't amused. A lot of scenes seemed way too fortuitous for the protagonist. And the story basically felt way too unreal. How lucky is she that she has built in survival skills. Pick a lock? No problem! Run from the cops? Easy.

The other annoying thing in this book was the romance. What are the chances that the girl bumps into this dude in a grocery and he ends up being her love interest and the dude who shows interest in her because she's different and not like all the rest? I don't get why he wasn't the least bit cautious. I mean yeah, you bump into a girl who's got a nasty cut on her arm and it's natural to worry about her but to the point of actually slipping her your number "in case of emergency"? For all that idiot knew she could have been a serial killer. An escaped convict and a myriad of other nasty things.

All throughout the story there are snippets of memories and I wasn't surprised when it involved a guy too. I bet there's a love triangle in the works. Which is very, very irritating because she's got no memory, she's being hunted and all she can think about is kissing a boy? How about saving herself first, huh? I mean it's gonna be hard to kiss a guy when she's dead. 

Frankly, I'm not sure how I managed to finish this book but I did and I'm patting myself on the back right now because of  the effort. Just so you guys know, I was as confused as the protag for most of the story and until the end I couldn't even begin to picture her in my head - her personality, her character, nothing. So, even if the story might have picked up towards the latter portion of the book, it wasn't enough to redeem the overall. The ending had me wanting to slap someone.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

Title: Dollhouse
Author: Anya Allyn
Format Acquired: eARC 
Publication Date: September 30, 2012
Publishing House: The Studio
ISBN: 9781629210230
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


When Cassie's best friend, Aisha, disappears during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha's boyfriend Ethan and their best friend Lacey, determined to find her. But the mist-enshrouded mountains hold many secrets, and what the three teens discover is far more disturbing than any of them imagined: beneath a rundown mansion in the woods lies an underground cavern full of life-size toys and kidnapped girls forced to dress as dolls.

Even as Cassie desperately tries to escape the Dollhouse, she finds herself torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, instinctive attraction to The Provider, a man Cassie swears she has known before...

Because Cassie's capture wasn't accidental, and the Dollhouse is more than just a prison where her deepest fears come true - it's a portal for the powers of darkness. And Cassie may be the only one who can stop it.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary courtesy of NetGalley)


What horror movie characters lack for depth and some interesting back stories, the actual psych-you-out stuff more than makes up for it. It is, after all, kind of hard to feel some sort of connection to someone who's either being wigged out by some paranormal, psychological stuff, or who ends up being killed just twenty minutes into the movie.

Dollhouse is like that, given that the creeptastic factor of the actual Dollhouse is actually the kind of flick Hollywood dreams are made of - if only its slew of characters weren't so darned caught up in their teenage drama, despite all the paranormal stuff that's been happening around them. (Come on, you guys. You can resume that catfight when you're outside, and not dead.)

When Cassie's best friend Aisha disappears, all fingers are pointed at Ethan, Aisha's boyfriend. Cassie knows that Ethan can't be involved in her disappearance, juvenile delinquent or no. The only way to clear Ethan's name is to find Aisha, and the only way to do that is to comb the mountains where she disappeared during the school hike. But these teens find more when they bargain for when they stumble across a decrepit house, with a different kind of horror awaiting them inside.

Earlier, I remarked upon the creepiness factor of Dollhouse. It's like this: Think about the last horror movie you watched that involved dolls (Child's Play? Annabelle?) and take note that since this is a book where everything is fleshed out and described in very attentive detail, everything is basically playing out in your mind. Which I think, is just as bad since it amps up the creepiness factor. Live, moving dolls that beat you up when you're misbehaving? Check. A girl who forces every teenager to act like a doll? Got it. Err, ancient Greek paranormal stuff? ...Yup.

While I was morbidly fascinated with how eerie and messed-up this whole scenario was, I was still iffy about the teenagers and their little romantic drama, given that they may not even make it out alive out of that house. The paranormal Greek thing was a bit out of sorts so while it did magnify the creep factor, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Dollhouse is still a bit fresh in my memory simply because I was really surprised at how disturbing the whole shebang was. The actual dollhouse set-up was golden for macabre-fans like me, but the forgettable characters and random plot twists was too much for me.