Review: Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss

Hey guys! Paige here. Today we have a guest reviewer (hi Neil! ) in our blog. Neil and I have been good friends in GR for so long and I trust his tastes and reviews in books.

Yasmin and I thought that having guest reviewers in our blog for awhile is a great idea because 1. We’re too busy to post any good review lately and 2. We want to give a chance to some bookworms who doesn’t have a blog but are great in making book reviews. I know-I know. Yasmin & I should be canonized because of having such a great idea.

Anyway, here’s Neil and his review of Meet me here by Bryan Bliss.


 

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Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: May 31, 2016

Pages: 272 pages

Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis: 

In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: Do what everyone has always expected of him? Or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.

Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to. (From Goodreads)

 

REVIEW:

The nostalgia is strong in this book that reading it makes me miss my childhood days and my childhood friends. In a stressful life I have right now, remembering and reminiscing my days as a child is such a sweet thing; a fulfilling moment that spread a warm feeling in my heart. And I’m thanking Meet Me Here for that.

Bliss’s second YA novel is a remarkably well-written and well – told book. A profound novel with good pacing and realistic characters. Even the story only happens in one night, it conveys a lot of desirable things that made this book a worthy read. It’s absorbing and it’s absolutely heartfelt.

First and foremost, I like how this is nostalgic in a way where Thomas and his long-estranged friend, Mallory, remembers and relives their past. I like the subtlety of it all that I thought Meet Me Here is all about Thomas and Thomas alone. It wasn’t. I like how the characters grow in each chapter of this novel, especially Thomas who comes up on his own term to face the inevitable. I like how the book shares knowledge about the trauma of war. And I like the open-ended ending the book has, justifying that Thomas has lot of choices with his life; his future.

Meet Me Here is all about choices and decision and the struggle with reality and expectation. And it’s relateable.

In this novel, Thomas is to decide whether he will follow the path taken by his father and brother– being an Army (which is expected to him by the people around him, especially by his father). Or to embark a new path for himself especially after his brother came back as a completely different person.

It’s almost the same with everybody, right? That expectations and pressure from the people around you. That feeling of reluctance and confusion whether to follow the current or flow against it. That indecisiveness to push through a concrete plan you made for yourself after witnessing an unexpected turn of events. It’s difficult and exhausting. Fulfilling their expectations, weighing things, deciding and all that.

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Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (more like break my heart and crush my soul)

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

 

Genre: Historical Romance/ YA
Publication Date :  February 09, 2016
Pages: 384
Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

 

Right. This is more like  rambling than a review so I apologize before hand. 🙂

Let me just say that before I read Blackhearts, I thought it will be  fairytale retelling. I was thinking of  Unhooked because that book is also about pirates (plus they both have boats on the cover). Let me just make this clear in case you’re thinking the same thing as I did:

This is not a fairy tale retelling or any retelling of any sort. This is a historical fiction about the life of the infamous Blackbeard. This story is made purely by the author and there was never a proven account about Blackbeard’s life before he became a pirate.

If you were expecting war and piracy on this one, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re expecting romance like a Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn or Eloisa James type of romance, then you’ll also be disappointed.

This is YA. A story about adventure and romance but without piracy and sex. What this book has a hero who I love and a heroine who is brave. Their love story is something that could really happen in that era and it was beautiful in a way that an old faded photograph is beautiful and poetic.

This is a simple book without too much drama and angst. There’s romance but it was innocent in a way that first love/ puppy love is. I love how Castroman wrote Blackbeard’s pre-pirate years and to imagine Blackbeard as a young man who is kind and witty . If you are familiar with the pirate Blackbeard, you;ll know that he is the most feared pirate in history to imagine that he was once a man who is in love is too much for me to handle.

Review: Did You Miss Me by Karen Rose

Did You Miss Me by Karen Rose

Genre: Adult/Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Pages: 544
Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis:

Baltimore prosecutor Daphne Montgomery pulled herself out of a damaged past to build a solid life for herself and her son. But after she helps to convict a killer, her confidence is shattered once again by the news that her son has been kidnapped.

Daphne believes it’s connected to the recent high-profile trial, and at first FBI special agent Joseph Carter agrees. But together they find the reality to be even more troubling, and it runs deeper than Daphne fears. With her son’s life in jeopardy, she must unlock a dreadful secret about her past—and confront a truth that will change everything for those closest to her. And, if she survives, threaten the lives of everyone she loves.

 

Short review because I’m lazy.

Karen Rose has always been my to-go-to author when it comes to romantic suspense and as always, she did not disappoint.

I’ve been dying (harhar) to read this book ever since I’ve read about Daphne’s crazy hairdo and the taciturn FBI agent, Joseph.  Karen Rose knows how to put her readers on edge and is a master when it comes to shitting you with gory scenes.

The romance is perfectly balanced with the thrill. It doesn’t steal the limelight for the suspense and at the same time, you can still call this a “romantic suspense” because the romance is just around the corner.

Can be read as a standalone but better if you read book # 10 first to know the characters better. ♥

 

Review: The Bands of Mourning

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn#6) by Brandon Sanderson

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Genre: Adult/Fantasy
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Pages: 336
Rating: ★★★★★

With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

Now, with Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. But now a kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate, and along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his Uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

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You know how hard it is to write a review for a book that you love. I know some of you has experienced this so I’m sorry in advance because this review would be an incoherent rambling of a lunatic.

330 years after that “shit that went down” on the Hero of Ages, Scadrial ( formerly known as the Land of Abundant Ashes) is now teeming with electricity and technology. Technically, just imagine the love child of Victorian Era and Wild Wild West with Allomancy (you get the idea). In this world,we have Waxillium “Wax” Ladrian (Lord of the Ladrian House and is a lawman),  Wayne (who is just pure awesome and is Wax’s BFF) and Marasi (she’s okay.)

This is the third book in the Wax and Wayne’s Adventure in Scadrial (no,this is not the official title) and sooo many things have happened that I can’t talk about unless you’ve already read the books.

I love this series.I know that a lot of people are disappointed that it’s different than the first trilogy but I think it’s good that it was written that way. If “The Wax and Wayne’s Adventure in Scadrial Trilogy”  became exactly like “The Trilogy of So Much Feels” then I would have just compared them and be bitter about it because the 2 trilogies were helluva awesome the same way that pizza and pecan pie are both good but in an entirely different way.

After reading this book, I have to suppress my fangirling because my friends aren’t finished with the book yet. *sideway glare at Mario because he’s not finished yet*

 

The Bromance between Wax and Wayne is one of the best things that Sanderson gave in this book.How many male MCs do you know that has an amazing platonic relationship with each other? Wax and Wayne’s bromance were the best.

“Sure, sure,”Wayne said.”It’s okay,mate. Most folks put on a little weight as they hit their twilight years.’S natural and all.”

“If I shot you,” Wax said,”nobody would blame me.They’d probably just say, “Wow. You lasted that long?I’d have shot him years ago.’ Then they’d buy me a pint.”

Of course, the characters really grow in this book. One example is Steris (Wax’s fiancee).

Yes, I didn’t like her in the first book.I was #teamMarasi at first. Then book two came and she has this wonderful moment with Wax that made me change sides immediately. Then in this book, everyone is gushing about her because SHE’S SO BADASS SHE ROCKS!!

I’m not sure about you guys,  but I’m shipping these two.

Then, how I can forget? Wayne has a potential shipmate in this book!!Gaaaah!

I won’t tell who’s Wayne’s potential girlfriend is, you have to read the book.

Then out of the blue,B.S gave us another shocking revelation.Like “What?What the hell is that?”

The ending killed me.I can’t believe B.S ended the book that way. Oh wait,I can. Now I can’t wait for the next book,damn you Sanderson.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Fun, hilarious, and adorable.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Genre(s):
YA // Contemporary // LGBT
Publication date: April 7th, 2015
Pages: 303
Rating: ★★★★★

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

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In school, I take Spanish as a language. However, when I had to choose in 7th grade between Spanish and French, I really wanted to do French, because all of my friends were doing it. Ever since, my parents have had this mini deal with me that I get a small gift for the 3 Kings Holiday (basically the Spanish Christmas). This year, I planned to get Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, but one day on Goodreads, I came across a status update for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and it was a quote containing Harry Potter reference. So obviously, I ended up getting it instead.

I’m not a huge fan of contemporary or LGBT books for that matter. No, I’m not prejudiced against LGBT people, but I feel that society makes such a big deal about it, and that’s what makes people insecure about themselves. I mean seriously, by making a whole genre about LGBT books, implies that the standard is straight white people. And as Simon discerningly said, there shouldn’t be a standard.

But Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was such a fun, hilarious, and cute book, that somehow was super relatable, even though I’m not gay.

Here are the things that I loved:

Simon. He was literally so adorable and cute and witty, I just loved him. He also loves Harry Potter.

“What’s a dementor?”
I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”
“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.”

The friendship. In the story, excluding Simon’s anonymous lover Blue, his friends are Abby, Leah, and Nick. I really loved how real their relationship with each other was, how they fought and apologized just like real friends. I specifically liked Leah, who reminded me a lot of Hermione. I could relate to a lot of the things she went through throughout the book.

Simon’s family. They played games using their Facebook feeds. Just…my parents would never do that with me…XD Also, I think it was great how they supported his sexuality and made it no big deal – because it isn’t a big deal in my opinion.

The covering of subjects such as bullying and sexuality. As I mentioned earlier, I think the problem is that people make such a big deal about what a person’s sexuality is, and truth be told, it’s just something that makes up you. I think Becky Albertalli really enforced the right message, and did a great job of doing so.

Have you read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? If so, did you guess who Blue was before Simon did? I find it funny, because I guessed who Blue was pretty early on.

Whatever is Lovely – joining the rage for adult coloring books.

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Color your way to peace and worship.

We live in such a busy, hectic world—but what waits for you inside this cover is a way to quiet the noise, express creativity, and spend some sweet time with God. Each page features an original design from one of a dozen different artists, beautifully illustrating a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, a beloved hymn, or Scripture.

When we create, we echo the heart of our Creative God who designed everything and gave us the capacity to recognize beauty.

So go ahead! You have permission to pick up your colored pencil and be reminded of truth in a fresh way.

imageedit_16_8575660977.jpgIf go the bookstore often, you’ll probably know about the newfound trend, adult coloring books. But seriously. They take up the entire entrance of my local Barnes and Nobles. So when I saw the gorgeous cover of Whatever is Lovely, I immediately wanted it.

And I’m happy to join the train, because I had a ton of fun coloring. The book was constructed really nicely: with one picture per page with a religious quote in pretty lettering, and on the backside was a little bit more info about the quote. The pages were thick, and I was able to use watercolor on them, without any damage. The illustrations, which were all made by various artists, were fairly simple, but beautiful nonetheless.

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My only complaint is that quite a few of the pages had pretty lame drawings, ones that I definitely wouldn’t want to color. For example:

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But, in a nutshell, Whatever is Lovely was a stunning adult coloring book – and especially perfect to feed your faith.

I received a copy of Whatever is Lovely from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are all my own.

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– Yasmin Bookunicorn –
(I have yet to make a cool pic like Paige’s. Also, finally, a review!) 

Sour Candy: Perfect for my taste.

Sour Candy by Patrick Kealan Burke

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Synopsis
Genre:
 Horror/Short Stories
Publication Date :  November 13th 2015
Pages: 67
Rating: ★★★★★

 


Synopsis

At first glance, Phil Pendelton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.

What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.

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The Christopher Killer : Boohoo.

The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mysteries #1) by Alane Ferguson

The Christopher Killer (Forensic Mysteries, #1)Synopsis

Genre: Mystery/ YA/Suspense
Publication Date : May 4th 2006
Pages: 288 pages
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 


Synopsis

Fascinated by forensics, seventeen-year-old Cameryn Mahoney persuades her father, the county coroner in sleepy Silverton, CO, to take her on as his assistant. But she never expects her first case to involve the death of a friend! Rachel Geller, a beautiful young waitress, is found strangled in a field with a Christopher medal around her neck—clearly marking her as the fourth victim of a serial killer. Cameryn is determined to help find Rachel’s killer, and attending the autopsy gives her the first clue. But as she follows her instincts and gets closer to the killer, Cameryn suddenly finds herself on the verge of becoming his fifth victim!

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