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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.



Monday, September 15, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Title: Rites of Passage
Author: Joy N. Hensley
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: September 9 2014
Publishing House:  Harper Teen
ISBN: 0062295195
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


Sam McKenna's never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She's expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility from some of the cadets who don't think girls belong there. What she's not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don't just want her gone - they will stop at nothing to driver her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active...and determined to force her out. At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

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


Normally, I wouldn't even bother to pick a book like this up. The cover wasn't exactly the most appealing and the genre? Contemporary. I rarely read contemporary. So I'm really thankful to whatever force made me download a copy off of Edelweiss because this book was amazing. I couldn't put it down (I tried) and read it late into the night. It was worth the loss of sleep.

Sam McKenna is incapable of turning down a dare. Especially not when it's the last one her brother will ever give her. So she packs up and hauls herself over to a prestigious military school, becoming one of the first girls to join the ranks. She's a military brat so she's expecting long grueling hours of rigorous training. What she didn't expect was the hostility towards her, the brutal hazing and the taunting coming from some of the cadets who think that girls don't belong in military school. Add to that her startling attraction to her drill sergeant and uncovering a secret society determined to force her out, Sam isn't sure who to trust and she's got to make it through the year.

I love this book to bits. Sam and I could not be more different but it was the easiest thing in the world to connect with her character. She's physically and mentally strong with a terribly pragmatic mindset. I loved her tone of voice and the glimpses of femininity that pop up once in a while. She might be in a male-dominated school but Sam can bring it just as much as the boys. When all that hazing started and some idiots started picking one her I just wanted to tell them all to stop. When she was left all alone, wondering just how she was going to push through I wanted to tell her that I was cheering for her. And that she should totally smack those boys around because I was pretty sure she could have taken them. 

Then there's Drill. The totally swoon-worthy drill sergeant whom Sam can not have a relationship with. He's the one person she can truly trust and they're so perfect for each other that sometimes I just wanted to reach in and bump their heads together and scream 'KISS DAMN IT. KISS.' The story isn't romance driven so savor the moments guys. Savor. Them. Also, while Drill may be macho and definitely alpha, he's no douche and he respects Sam's strength and determination and admires her for it. He doesn't treat her any different than the other guys.

You know what else I love about this book? The secret society. It didn't sound like a bunch of utter bull and Hensley managed to seamlessly weave it into the story which made it seem believable and totally creepy. The hazing was brutal too and I'm pretty sure I couldn't have survived that, even if I wanted to. 

So I'm giving this book a 4.5 and I really recommend this to everyone. I'm practically shoving it in people's faces. The book practically oozes tension and suspense, boasts a protagonist who's got a great character arc and the pacing was just perfect. I'm really, really hoping a second book happens because while the book ended well it's just one of those books I wouldn't mind seeing more off. Girl power please. 

Can't wait for my own physical copy of this book and I'm buying anything with this author's name on it, no questions asked. You have totally restored my faith in contemporary. 




Monday, September 8, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Feuds by Avery Hastings

Title: Feuds
Author: Avery Hastings
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: September 2 2014
Publishing House:  St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 9781250057716
Source of Copy: NetGalley


For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Prior's Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or "Imps". A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother's legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he's a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis - her father's campaign hinges on total segregation of the Imps and Priors - but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold - and Davis' friends start dying. When Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her Avery Hasting's Feuds.

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


Davis is a ballerina. Genetically enhanced since birth like all Priors are, she's smarter, stronger and basically just better than the Imperfects. Or Imps as they're called. She's about to qualify for the Olympiads and nothing will stop her from becoming a renowned ballerina like her mother. Until she meets Cole. Unbeknownst to her, Cole has another reason for bumping into her one night at a party - to sabotage her father's campaign through Davis. They never expected to fall for each other. Never expected to unveil secrets that the government is desperate to hide.

I have a bone to pick with this book. Truthfully. It has a gorgeous cover which I love love love but's basically a romance in a dystopian setting. Oh sure, there's a deadly virus sweeping through the Priors and Cole's attempted sabotage of Davis' reputation but it really just focuses on the romance. It's not the swoon-worthy kind of romance too, it's instant love. Th kind where a connection between them is forged through subtle glances and the mystery surrounding Cole's persona and the fact that he's major eye candy. Sometimes I'm okay with instant love. Sometimes. This is not one of them. 

It doesn't help that Davis was a damsel in distress kind of heroine. She has zero self preservation skills. When Davis and Cole first met he was a major creeper. I mean if a guy just so happens to put his had on my bare back at a party I'd run screaming for the other side of the room or maybe just hide behind my friends. Don't get drawn in by a pretty face and a grin. Seriously. Davis' friendships also seem superficial. I couldn't get a feel for the connection between her and the best friend. 

And you know, I might have forgiven the insta-love if the focus of the story wasn't on that. I didn't want to read about Davis wondering about Cole. Didn't want to see her swoon, or look forward to when they were gonna bump into each other. People are dying Davis, people you know. You should be scared.

And if that wasn't enough, the world building for Feuds was just...shoddy. There wasn't enough back story. Not enough details on their society. Like why the divide? Priors and Imps? Technology? Barely there. I want the details, the little things that come together to give me an image of what their society is like. It's supposed to be futuristic but the thing is, aside from the social divide? There's nothing here that really screams that. Aside from genetically modified human beings who are immune to all kinds of sicknesses. 

Half baked world building and forgettable characters? Not my thing. And while I do like my fair share of romance I expected this book to lean towards the sci-fi side more. My mistake. Looking for sci-fi that's actually science-y and believable? Try Insignia by SJ Kincaid or Proxy by Alex London. 



Thursday, September 4, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Madly, Deeply by Erica Crouch

Title: Madly, Deeply
Author: Erica Crouch
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publishing House: Patchwork Press
ISBN: 9781927940051
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher via NetGalley


It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea...

Annaleigh Wells and William Calloway had a love even the angels envied. It was as if the universe spun them toward one another, like the stars crafted their souls to fit perfectly together.

With a wedding on the horizon, fate had a change of heart. Whispered warnings from phantoms and morbid nightmares darkened every night - but even visions of the future couldn't save Annaleigh.

(Image, summary, and information courtesy of GoodReads)


When I saw Madly, Deeply on NetGalley, I didn't know what I was getting into. The cover was lovely, the blurb even more so, and my expectations were spiraling upwards faster than I can scream, "Stop, it could be a TRAP!!!" as lots of books with gorgeous covers and equally arresting blurbs are wont to do. But before I knew it, the green button touted the words PENDING, and my request was sent. Fast forward a few days, and a copy pops up on my dashboard. And because I want to prolong the delicious suspense that is just killing me, I finish off the other new books first. (Yep, selecting which book to read first - and last - is this dramatic for me.) When I finished those, I sprawled on my bed, just because I have had enough of draping myself in my mother's chaise lounge earlier, and read.

And read.

And read, and made pitiful moaning sounds read, and made more wounded, dying animal sounds read.

Until it was The End. 

Ladies and gents, Madly Deeply, is a short book, but it has also got to be the up there with the most gutting, let-me-splash-some-alcohol-on-your-wounds-and-sucker-punch-said-wounds book I've ever read.

My dear Ms Crouch, do you have poetry book-protein shakes for breakfast? Grilled poetry books for lunch? A light poetry book salad for dinner? No? ARE YOU SURE? Everything in this book is just pure poetry - the kind that is just obviously effortless, and sounds like it just comes naturally to the author. The narrative is lush, evocative, and all sorts of wonderful that it just is very fitting for the novel, which is a derivation of Poe's Annabel Lee.

I LOVED it because it has just the right amount of length to it - effectively without overstretching the story and overdramatizing the plot that some books are wont to do. It's short, but it's incredibly bittersweet because you have these two amazing characters who are so in love with each other and who are just about to start an amazing life together, only to have Fate intervene and crush everyone's dreams.

Madly, Deeply inevitably cuts readers where it hurts the most, but it will slowly soothe you, and at the end of the book, the reader will inevitably subconsciously touch the gash, only to find healed, yet puckered skin. 

I cannot recommend Madly, Deeply enough to Poe fans and bittersweet romance aficionados alike.

"'Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all" indeed.


Monday, September 1, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #17: Kiss of Deception by Mary E.Pearson

Title: Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: July 8 2014
Publishing House:  Henry Holt
ISBN: 9780805099232
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan. 

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in traditon and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive - and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets - secrets that may unravel her world - even as she feels herself falling in love.

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


Lia flees on her wedding day with a bundle of stolen documents and her maid. She doesn't want to have any part in the arranged marriage she's forced into and throws duty aside in favor of her freedom. But Lia never really thought of the consequences that would surely follow her shunning of an arranged marriage with a possible political ally and she's going to have to man up and figure out how to fix the mess she's created. Runaway princesses, assassins, princes and a war that's just waiting to happen.

When I first started the book I was like well, okay. I can't begin to understand the pressure that comes along with an arranged marriage so let's give Lia the benefit of the doubt. It's not hard to imagine yearning for a life elsewhere when you're forced into marrying someone you've never met. It was kind of annoying that she'd shirk duty over the chance of finding love but hey, I'm not going to judge. Much. 

Things started to get annoying when the love triangle was introduced. Enter Rafe and Kaden. One's a prince and the other assassin. Lia doesn't know who they are and assumes that one is a merchant and the other a fisherman (if I'm not mistaken). She spends an inordinate amount of time brooding over which boy she wanted and this goes on for around half of the book. Dances, boys, working at the inn, boys, getting attacked by a bounty hunter, more problems with boys. Ugh. She spends a lot of time complaining about being loved and wanting to love and finding love. Please. Stop. 

Also might I add that Lia is kind of an idiot? When she manages to meet up with her brother and he tells her of the trouble brewing between Morrighan and Dalbreck and the marauders who want to conquer the two kingdoms she responds with surprise. SURPRISE. I mean did she not stop and think that maybe there was a reason for the political marriage? That maybe it was a way to get two kingdoms who were at odds with each other to form an alliance against the invaders? I mean Lia! Come on! And all for what? An imagined love? 

Thankfully, somewhere along the latter half of the book Lia grows a spine, realizes that she's a princess and she has duties to her people and her kingdom and finally -FINALLY- gets with the program. Better late than never. This is where things also started to get exciting and it got back to being FANTASY. Because really mooning over boys and watching them wrestle on logs over mud was kind of boring (and stuff like that doesn't only happen in fantasy books). I wanted action and angst and epic battles and magic! Maybe there wasn't exactly much of an epic battle but at least the latter part of the book rekindled my faith in the story with the twists and turns it took and that ending! Mmmmm.

I'd have given this book a higher rating if the first half was as exciting as the second but I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. Hopefully it gets better and Lia puts away boys for a moment and focuses on saving her kingdom first. What's the use of boys if you're all dead.



"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.

Okay so I might not have been that into Kiss of Deception when it started but I'm definitely into it now. I'm not a huge fan of the green tint to the book but hey, it's still a pretty cover. So here's a nail set inspired by the book. Which wasn't the easiest set to paint and involved a lot of blood, sweat and tears. (not really) Enjoy!

If you want to check out more book inspired nail art not featured on the blog, head on over to my TUMBLR or my INSTAGRAM

Nail polish used:
OPI Just Spotted the Lizard

The book.

I tried painting Lia on my middle finger. Not sure if I succeeded but at least my nail polish matches the book.

All five nails. I'm attached to the florals, I love how they turned out.

Sorry, I was trying out different hand positions.

I match with the book. Yes or no?

Anyway, that's all for today. Hope you enjoyed this mani! I need to brush up on my painting skills.