Tuesday, March 14, 2017

[Blog Tour: Review] Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

(Check out the Tour Schedule here!)
Seven Days of You 
Title: Seven Days of You
Author: Cecilia Vinesse
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?
Seven Days of You has a simple premise - Sophia is about to leave Tokyo for good in seven days, and in those seven days, the boy she doesn't like thinking about - the boy she has all these unresolved issues with - will be coming home to Tokyo for good. As much as she would like to avoid Jamie until she leaves, it's clear from the get go that everything she knows will change during these seven days.

This book is such a quick, easy read - I finished it in one sitting, and I don't recall myself being bored at any part of the story. One particular aspect that I loved is that the writing is authentic. Throughout the entire novel, Sophia went through so much emotionally, and the writing reflects that. Her confusion, her elation, her anger, her disappointment - you feel all of them through every word. I really like that this story isn't just about Sophia and Jamie, and not just Sophia and circle of friends. A large part of the story, rather, focuses on Sophia and how her notion of home. For the most part of the book, Sophia considers home to be the permanent place that she lives in. It was engrossing to read how Sophia's perspective slowly but surely changed, and I like how it was her sister who helped her see what's she hasn't been seeing all these years.

The dynamics of Sophia's circle of friends was also interesting - albeit a little frustrating. Both Mika and David see Sophia - or "Sofa" - as a little girl who knows nothing, and while it's only during the events of the novel that all of Sofia's resentment explodes, it clearly has been building for a long time. The friendship between the three is full of tension, secrets, and hidden feelings, and was what made this book a compelling read, and Jamie returning only pushes everyone to his or her tipping point.

A section of the book primarily focused on Jamie and Sophia setting things straight and renewing their friendship, and exploring what might have been... or what was always there, and this was another part of the story that I really liked reading. I liked Jamie's character, and how kind, open and honest he was to Sophia. Sure, there was a bit of push and pull, but he was always there to help Sophia whenever she needed him the most.

I know that the story is set in Tokyo, but I have to say that it didn't feel that way to me. I know that a lot of famous places, buildings and what-nots were mentioned, but I feel like that deterred from the story instead. It really felt like a first-time tourist in Japan was our main character. I never got the feeling that Sophia lived in Tokyo for years - rather, I felt like she was a tourist, ticking places off her check list, and not going to the places that she actually frequents. Tokyo wasn't a convincing setting - take out all the places that Sofia or the people around her name drop, and she could be anywhere else. Moreover, I can't help but be surprised that there aren't a lot of Japanese characters in the story, given that the entire book takes place in Tokyo.

All in all, I enjoyed Seven Days of You and the different relationships that were explored, and I feel that this its strongest asset.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Thursday, February 2, 2017

[Speak Now...] Time to be Brave

I've been meaning to write this post for the last three weeks, and I find myself unable to. Doing so would mean revisiting a period of my life that I don't really want to think about ever again, but I owe you guys an explanation. It's been a long time. A really, really long time. I've posted here in the blog regularly enough the first half of 2016, and poof, I just vanished. Usually, even though I'm in a blogging or reading slump, I'd still be active on twitter, bemoaning my slumps, but that wasn't the case last year. Things just escalated out of control, and it took everything I had in me to hold on. I had to focus solely on holding on - and nothing else - because I felt that the slightest distraction would make me slip and fall.

2016 was a difficult year; a year of extremes. I was hopeful the first half; and I felt like I was drowning the latter half. It wasn't just being physically sick that was the reason - too many things happened, and I had trouble coping. I couldn't even make myself reach out for help, because I felt too... helpless. To be locked inside your mind where there are no good thoughts running through it is a truly terrible thing. To this day, I still have no idea how everything started. Looking back, it was probably a lot of different things at once. The development was subtle, but I didn't notice that right then and there. Next thing I know, I was falling. Drowning. I was in over my head.

To the people who noticed, thank you. Thank you for reaching out. That you for helping me get back up. To the people I had the courage to reach out to, thank you for not pushing me away. I may not have said what exactly was wrong, but thank you for noticing that something was wrong, and doing your best to help me. To the people I talked to after everything, thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for not thinking that I'm exaggerating or making all of this up. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for believing me.

And most of all, to the people above - thank you for believing in me.

Writing all of these makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but also strong. It feels good to finally be able to say all of these; to try to make sense of everything that happened. I feel like I can finally move forward.  I have no idea what is store in me this year, but I already know that I'll be able to face whatever that may be. I'm okay. I'm truly okay now.

What about reading and this blog, you may ask? Over my unplanned hiatus, I realized just how much I love blogging, and just how big a part it is of my life. I think I need to try harder when I work on the things I love, and that's why I plan to invest more time in both blogging and reading. It's going to be tough at first, but I'm confident I'll make it.

So that's it for now, guys. First post of 2017. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for sticking around.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1) 
Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: August 11, 2016
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?
To be perfectly honest, I haven't cracked open a book in months. Nope, I'm not exaggerating. Months. MONTHS. And it's not just your regular slump either. The main reason why I haven't been able to bring myself to read is... well... life (the past two months have just been crazy!)... but there's a also the fact that I haven't been able to find a book that has successfully piqued my interest.

And then enter Nevernight.

You see, I have a lot of friends who adore Jay Kristoff, his Stormdancer series, and EVEN MORE friends who can't get enough of Illuminae. Me? Well... I have yet to read a Jay Kristoff novel. So there was a lot of curiosity with this one - one of the most hyped books of 2016, and an author that so many people are a huge fan of. If you happen to read my blog regularly, you should know by now that I'm one of those reviewers who always, always checks out the hype.

So. What did I think?

Heh. Read on. (You didn't think I was going to summarize what I thought in one sentence, did you??? Come oonnnnn!)

First things first (and I noticed that practically all bloggers say the same) - the writing of Nevernight is a wee bit intense. Intense in the sense that it's just a bit too flowery, a bit too melodramatic, and a tad too wordy. And hey, this is coming from someone who loves Cassandra Clare's writing! I honestly couldn't help but feel overwhelmed at the beginning - there's just too many metaphors! So, was the writing a DNF factor for me? Nope. The writing was indeed jarring at first, but as I read on, I got used to it. It  became part of the magic.

Um and okay how brilliant was the beginning? That whole compare-and-contrast that basically set up the entire book? Amazing, wasn't it? (As much as I would like to talk about it, I can't. Spoilerrrrr!)

Also, Nevernight is one of those YA books that is not quite like the YA that we're used to - this book is DARK. There are a whole bunch of graphic scenes, violent scenes, but don't worry - they're not out of place, and they're not there just to shock you. I do think that the dark overtones worked - I mean come on, how can a book be about an assassin if it's all fun and games?

Mia. Mia Mia Mia. I was prepared not to like our main character just because she clearly has a chip on her shoulder (I mean she did watch her father die in front of her) and because she's a freaking assassin but hey guess what? She's not that different from you and me, and she makes do with what she has. Sooo I did end up liking her, and rooting for her. Also, it took a while for the plot to unfold, but damn - once it did... the twists and turns are enough to take your breath away!

All in all, I do understand why some people didn't like Nevernight, but hey, between you and me, give the book a shot. Read it until you get the writing, and then allow the story to engulf you. You won't regret it.

Rating: 4 Stars