Books Read in 2014

In this post I have compiled all the books I read in 2014. This took a while to put together because I’m terrible at summarizing and rating books.

Roomies (Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando) – A story about two girls who was assigned to be roomates in college and how they got to know each other through email.  I couldn’t relate to them that much since I never had the dorm experience, but it was still a nice read. 3.5 out of 5 stars

If You Find Me (Emily Murdoch) – About two girls who grew up in the woods after their mother hid them there.  Their father eventually found them and brought them back to civilization where they struggled to adapt to regular society. 3 out of 5 stars

Some Girls Are (Courtney Summers) – Highschool life and drama. A popular girl loses her popularity and had to turn to the people she used to bully for comfort. 3 out of 5 stars

Falling for the Ghost of You (Nicole Christie) – Generic story of a playboy and an innocent girl who try to fight the odds. 2.8 out of 5 stars

Split (Swati Avasthi) – A story about domestic violence and how two brothers manage to escape their abusive father.  4.3 out of 5 stars

Cruel Beauty (Rosamund Hodge) – Goodreads describes it as “Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast” so I had high hopes for this.  Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped.  I skipped a lot of parts that confused me. 2.6 out of 5 stars.

Better off Friends (Elizabeth Eulberg) – Macallan and Levi became friends instantly when Levi transferred to her school. Everyone knows they should be together, but they’re too scared to ruin their friendship.  A light and fluffy read.  I enjoyed this a lot. 4.5 out of 5 stars

My Favorite Mistake (Chelsea M. Cameron) – This had a high rating on Goodreads but it was just another generic college romance story. 2 out of 5 stars

Wonder (R.J. Palacio) – This is one of my favorite books for 2014.  It took me a while to get through it because it’s not the typical love stories I like to read, but once I got into it I couldn’t put it down.  It’s about a little boy with a disfigured face, and how he touches the lives of people around him.  It was such a heartwarming story and it made me cry more times than I could count. I wrote a short review which you can read HERE. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Making Faces (Amy Harmon) – This is a story about a girl who was in love with the town’s resident pretty boy, but things changed when he left and returned with a different face than what people remembered.  I abandoned this book halfway through – not because it was horrible, but simply because I didn’t enjoy it that much and I didn’t want to waste my time on it.  I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Me Before You (Jojo Moyes) – Lou Clark gets a job taking care of Will Traynor, a cynical paraplegic who lost his desire to live.  It took me a while to get through the first part of this book because it dealt with some heavy issues, but once I reached the halfway point I just couldn’t put it down.  Like Wonder, this book made me shed so many tears.  I had to lock myself in my room to finish the last few chapters in peace, and by the time I came out my eyes were puffy and swollen.  I give this 4.7 out of 5 stars.

We Were Liars (E. Lockhart) – This book was pretty popular on Goodreads and I see it a lot in the Bestsellers section of National Bookstore.  I wasn’t as impressed with it though.  I was bored for the majority of the story and only started to enjoy it towards the end. There was too much mystery and I felt confused for the most part.  Although I gotta say, the last part of the book was pretty interesting.  3.5 out of 5 stars

Playing for Keeps (R.L. Mathewson ) – The ratings for this book on Goodreads is incredibly high, so I was shocked to discover that this book read like a poorly written fanfic.  It was funny, fluffy and (in some parts) ridiculous.  I couldn’t believe that the characters in the story were adults because they behaved like children most of the time.  1.5 out of 5 stars.

Like Gravity (Julie Johnson) – I remember reading this book, but I couldn’t remember what it was about until I read the reviews from other people.  I guess that’s a clear sign of how unmemorable this was.  Considering how much I love NA romance, this didn’t do it for me at all. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

There is No Light in Darkness (Claire Contreras) – Another book that I remember reading but can’t recall the story unless I read  other people’s reviews. But I do remember that this ended on a cliffhanger and I didn’t even bother looking up the next book in the series because I didn’t really care about the story that much.  1.4 out of 5 stars.

Almost Home (Joan Bauer) – I normally really enjoy pre-teen stories because they’re light and fun to read, but this one dealt with some serious issues.  I think the main reason I picked this book up was because of the cute dog on the cover. It’s not something I enjoyed, but I do admire Sugar for her strength and wisdom. 3 out of 5 stars

Divergent Series (Veronica Roth) – I think most people have seen the movie by now and are familiar with the story.  I LOVED the first book (and the movie adaptation).  The idea of the 4 factions and the choosing ceremony was awesome.  I’ve been wondering what faction I’ll be in and I’m guessing it would either be Erudite or Amity.  I give the first book a definite 5 out of 5 stars. But the 2nd and 3rd book wasn’t that great. I give both 3 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review : Black Lies

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I don’t really know if this counts as a review or not because it’s going to be really short.  I’m swamped with deadlines but I just had to tell everyone about this book.  It’s *that* amazing. This is one of those stories that I will remember for a long, long time.

It will be difficult to write this entry without giving out any spoilers, but I promise there won’t be any.  Instead of trying to summarize the story and risk giving anything away, here’s the actual blurb from Goodreads, just so you have an idea what the book is about:

Brant: Became a tech billionaire by his twentieth birthday. Has been in a relationship with me for 3 years. Has proposed 4 times. Been rejected 4 times.

Lee: Cuts grass when he’s not banging housewives. Good with his hands, his mouth, and his cock. Has been pursued relentlessly by me for almost 2 years, whether he knows it or not.

Go ahead. Judge me. You have no idea what my love entails. If you think you’ve heard this story before, trust me – you haven’t.

Honestly, I was very apprehensive after reading the blurb because I don’t condone cheating.  I have no idea why some people find it romantic or thrilling, I just think its despicable. I hate it so much that I’ve actually abandoned books before because the main character was so unfaithful.  But this popped up in my recommendations on Goodreads, and it had incredibly high ratings so I wanted to at least give it a chance before dismissing it.  Words can’t express how glad I am that I did.

This book took me on an emotional rollercoaster.  It was beautifully written and the author did an amazing job telling the story while unraveling its secrets layer by layer.  The characters she created were all incredible too.  I loved Brant.  He was sweet, caring, intelligent, refined, and rich as hell.  I’m talking Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne kind of rich.  Hell, he gave his girlfriend 3 cars as a present and booked a 30 thousand plane ride home just because she wasn’t feeling well.  I don’t think there was a moment in the story when I didn’t love him. With that, you would expect me to despise Lee, the “other guy”.  To be honest, I did hate him for a while, when he first showed up.  How dare he walk in and ruin the beautiful relationship between Brant and Layana.  But, as the story progressed, I grew to love him too.  He was the complete opposite of Brant – rough, crude and a little selfish, but something about him draws you in.  And then there’s Layana, the heroine.  You will love her and you will hate her. You will question her and you may think that she’s the absolute worst.  Personally, I think she’s amazing.  I suggest that you keep an open mind when you read this book.  There were moments when I doubted Layana’s love for Brant and Lee.  After all, why would she do something that would obviously cause them so much pain.  But as the story progressed, I realized how deep her love was for Brant and Lee, and how much pain she was willing to go through for both of them.  I don’t know what I would have done if I was placed her situation.  She is definitely one of my favorite characters of all time.

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Book Review : Veiled Innocence

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I have to say I’m in love with Ella Frank’s writing.   I’ve never read any of her other works before, but now I’m probably going to have to check them out.  Reading Veiled Innocence was like putting together a puzzle in my mind, it was very fascinating.  It alternates from past to present events, therefore readers only get bits and pieces of the story at a time.  The book starts in the present, so you know where Addison has ended up, but you have no idea how she got there, and you just can’t help but read on to find out.  At the same time, the point of view changes between Addison and Mr. McKendrick, so readers get an idea of what goes on in their minds.  I couldn’t put the book down because I couldn’t wait to see how everything unfolded.

I should probably mention that this book belongs to the student-teacher romance genre.  I love reading forbidden romance novels, and although I don’t necessarily gravitate towards student-teacher romance, it seems to be a pretty popular genre and I’ve read several of them already.  I know it’s probably not a good thing for me to admit that I enjoy student-teacher romance novels, considering that I’m a teacher myself.   Believe me when I say that my love for the genre does NOT translate to real life.  I know it’s wrong and definitely unethical.  I have never gotten a desire to be romantically involved with a student, nor do I think it’s okay for other teachers to do so.  I understand that sometimes a teacher will form a special bond with their students and might end up dating one of them.  As a teacher, I think this is only acceptable if (a) the student has passed the class/has graduated, and (b) you are not breaking any laws (example : dating a minor).  If for any reason the teacher and (former) student feels like they have to hide the relationship, then that probably means that they know that they’re doing something wrong and should probably stop.  I believe that true love is beautiful and it should be celebrated and not hidden.  But, this doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy forbidden romance novels 😀

(Technically you could say that I’ve been in a student-teacher relationship before.  My boyfriend and I were batch-mates during college, but I graduated before he did.  I started teaching immediately after that, so for a while, I guess you could say that we were a student-teacher couple.  We were both Applied Physics majors, and after I graduated I taught in the same department he was studying in.  But I don’t think this counts since everyone knew that we were already a couple before I started teaching.  Besides, he was never MY student since he was already finishing up his thesis at the time, and I was a new instructor so I only handled general service courses.)

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Book Review : More Than This

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I rarely do book reviews these days, but I finished this the other day and I still haven’t moved on so I figured I should write a quick entry about it to get it out of my system.

This is a story about how a young girl’s entire world shattered in one evening, and how she managed to piece it back together with the help of some amazing people.  It’s a story about fate, destiny, love, friendship and family. It’s about accepting our weaknesses and finding our strengths and moving on.

From the very beginning, I was immediately intrigued because the main character is part Filipino.  It doesn’t really play a huge role in the story but I rarely come across books with Filipino characters.  I think the last one I read with a character who was part Filipino was from the Georgina Kincaid series, and she was just a minor character.  Then I learned that Mikayla’s favorite book is The Sea of Tranquility, which was my favorite book of 2013.  (You can read my review HERE).  I actually had to put the book down when she mentioned this and tell all the people around me that Mikayla Jones loves The Sea of Tranquility and Josh Bennet as much as I do.  Instant connection, right there.  Throw in a hot guy with a sexy accent to the mix and I didn’t stand a chance.  I really enjoyed the writing too.  It was very enchanting and I felt like I was putting together a puzzle in my mind.  Within the first few chapters, I experienced a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.  Anger, happiness, joy, and pain … so much pain.

I loved the characters in this book.  I admire Mikayla for being so strong.  She lost so much in one evening, and at such a young age, but she managed to keep her head up and find a way to move on.  And I love Jake because, seriously, what’s not to love?  Hot guy, sexy accent, athletic discipline, kind, supportive, caring and a family guy.  I respect the fact that he never pushed Mikayla to do something she wasn’t ready for. He always let her know know that he will be there to support her no matter what path she chooses.  It’s kind of unbelievable that a guy she only knew for 24 hours would take her under his wing and help her get through something so horrible.  But then again, there are genuinely nice people out there.  Jay McLean undoubtedly created Jake Andrews to give female readers someone to drool over.

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Book review : Wonder by RJ Palacio

11387515I finally finished reading this book.  It took me a while because halfway through I got distracted by K-dramas.  But I picked it up again the other day and didn’t stop reading until I finished it.

I have two words to describe this book : heart breaking and heartwarming.

This is a story about friendship and family, and just how important those two things are.  I cried so much reading this, especially towards the end.  Sometimes they were tears of anger, sometimes sadness, and sometimes I cried just because there was nothing else I could do.  But by the end, I only had tears of joy running down my face. This book took me on an serious emotional journey.  It’s a very light read, but it’s one of those stories that will touch your heart and stay with you for a long long time.

The story focuses on a 10 year old boy named August Pullman.  He was born with a double dose of mutant gene, which left him with a disfigured face.  I quote:

“My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, its probably worse.”

Because of his condition, he had to undergo numerous reconstructive surgeries at a young age.  This left his parents no choice but to have him home schooled.  But as he grew older, August’s parents decided that it might be time for him to attend a regular school. The first day of school is terrifying for everyone, more so for someone with Auggie’s condition.  Naturally, people are intrigued and he gets a lot of stares on his first few days.  Some people are content with just pointing and whispering about him, but there are those who can’t handle his different appearance and pick on him because of it.  Fortunately, Auggie is a brave kid, and with the support of his family and a few good friends, he is able to face the challenges and obstacles that are thrown at him. The book takes us into the minds of August and his loved ones, and shows us what it was like for them during this time.  The book’s narrator changes a few times, which gives us an idea of what the people around August go through.  Normally I hate it when the POV changes, but it was very interesting in this case.

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Books Read in 2013

I made an entry like this last year, and I enjoyed writing it, so I figured why not do it again 😀

In this post I will list all the book I read (for leisure) in 2013.  I will also post my quick opinions on each book and my rating for each one.

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Sabina Kane series (Jaye Wells) –I started the year off finishing this series.  I read books 1 to 3 towards the end of 2012, and I finished books 4 and 5 in January.  I didn’t really like book 4, but book 5 was alright.  Initially I gave the series 3.5 out of 5 stars, but I think after finishing the last two books I’m taking it down to 3 out of 5 stars

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Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops (Jen Campbell) – A light and quick read (I finished it in one sitting).  It’s a compilation of weird conversations people have in bookstores.  3.5 out of 5 stars

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Single Girl’s To Do List (Lindsey Kelk) – I gave this 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I seriously can’t remember a single thing about this story.  I read the summary and the characters don’t register at all!  I guess that shows how unmemorable this is.  So I’m changing my rating to 1 out of 5 stars

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Girl On The Run (Jane Costello) – Another forgettable chick lit. 2 out of 5 stars

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The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window (Kirsty Moseley) – The premise of the story sounded interesting, but this was so poorly written I gave up after the first few chapters.  It’s like an amateur fanfic for tweens.  0 out of 5 stars.

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Hearts in Darkness (Laura Kaye) – Two strangers gets stuck in an elevator and discover interesting things about each other.  (I swear I didn’t mean for that to sound sexual.)  It’s a very short novella that you can finish in one sitting.  3.5 out of 5 stars.

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The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) – One of my favorite reads for 2013.  I made a book review about it HERE.  And I compiled some of my favorite quotes from the book HERE.  I even shot a self portrait inspired by one of my favorite lines, which you can see HERE.  They’re releasing a movie based on the book this year, and I can only hope that they do it justice.  4.7 out of 5 stars.

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Natural Born Charmer (Susan Elizabeth Phillips) – The last book in the Chicago Stars series (I finished books 1 to 6 in 2012). It was alright. Didn’t enjoy it as much as the others. 3.4 out of 5 stars.

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Fallen (Lauren Falter) – This is the first book in the Guardian Trilogy.  I picked it up because it had high ratings and after reading the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead, I wanted more books about angels.  Unfortunately, this was such a disappointment that I didn’t even bother finishing it.  1 out of 5 stars.

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Forbidden (Tabitha Suzuma) – I don’t know what I was thinking reading this book.  I mean it’s well written and I enjoy forbidden love, but incest just isn’t my thing.  I gave it a try because it had high ratings on Goodreads, and I actually finished it, but I just found it so disturbing.  2 out of 5 stars

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Inescapable (Amy Bartol) – The first book in The Premonition series.  After the major fail that was Fallen, I gave angel stories another try and picked this up.  I saw that some of my friends read it and one of them gave it 5 stars, so I figured it must be good.  Unfortunately this was a miss for me again.  It wasn’t as bad a Fallen because I was able to finish the whole thing, but I didn’t even bother looking for the second book.  2 out of 5 stars

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Beautiful Disaster (Jamie McGuire) – Someone PLEASE tell me why this is one of the highest rated books on Goodreads!!  Because the entire time I was reading it I was rolling my eyes and gagging.  People actually like this crap?  I mean I’ve read some pretty bad books before, but I just don’t understand why this one is so popular.  Travis Maddox clearly has some serious passive-aggressive tendencies, and girls actually find this attractive?  Sure he’s “lean, cut, and covered in tattoos”, and he’s a great fighter, but c’mon!  Girls, please tell me you have higher standards than this.  1 out of 5 stars.

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The Sea of Tranquility (Katja Millay) – Thank goodness I found this book when I did, because I was ready to give up on Goodreads after getting one bad book recommendation after another.  This restored my faith in the site.  Katja Millay is amazing, and this is definitely my favorite book for 2013.  I made a review of it HERE.  I mentioned that the story started off reaaaally slowly, but once it got to the good part, it just took off.  If you’re going to read this, please don’t give up during the first few chapters.  I know it seems boring in the beginning, but I promise it gets better.  I loved it so much I actually read it two more times before moving on to my next Goodreads recommendation.  This is a definite 5 out of 5 stars for me 😀

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Vain (Amelie Fisher) – A beautiful, spoiled, rich girl gets an eye-opening lesson after being forced to do “volunteer” work in Uganda.  3 out of 5 stars

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I Love You To Death (Natalie Ward) – This is the story of the girl who loved everyone to death.  Literally.  I don’t know if she just has terrible luck or what, but seriously?  It’s like she decides she loves someone then BOOM!  That person is dead.  The writing was good, but I just didn’t enjoy the story that much. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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Flipped (Wendelin Van Draanen) – This one comes as a close second as my favorite book of 2013.  This was actually recommended by a student (thanks Kyle).  It’s beautifully written and the story is just adorable~  I watched the movie after reading the book and I loved it as well.  A definite 5 out of 5 stars 😀

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Week 23/52 : Forsaken

I posted this on my Flickr stream way back in July, along with a few other self portraits, but I haven’t been posting them on my blog.  You see, I’m about 5 weeks ahead of Ezra in our 52-week project and initially I wanted to post our portraits here at the same time.  But she’s been having a hard time catching up and my SPs have been piling up on Flickr, so I decided to stop waiting for her.  Towards the end of 2013 you’ll probably be seeing lots of pictures of Ezra as she tries to cram her missing self portraits into the last weeks of the year.

Anyway, back in July, Nochi gave me the honor of choosing the theme for Visual Sanctuary’s collaboration. I decided to go with “NIGHTMARES” since it can be interpreted in so many ways. I was curious to see what the others would do.

I’m not really sure what my inspiration was for this image, but usually I’m influenced by books I’m currently reading.  Back when I made this, I had just recently finished the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (the original trilogy at least), so I suppose that gave me a few ideas. I wasn’t consciously thinking of of the book when I edited this, but I guess looking at it now I could be Jocelyn, stuck in some magical state of slumber at the City of Bones. (There wasn’t an actual scene like that in the book, in case you’re wondering.)

Here are what the others came up with:

Stock credits: