Midnights in Bali by Carla De Guzman

midnights in baliMidnights in Bali by Carla De Guzman
Source: Review Copy from the Author
Rating:  ★★★
Buy from Anvil Publishing (PH Only)

Synopsis

Ava Bonifacio has always been the girl with The Plan —a life plan that would give her everything she’s ever wanted, including becoming a lawyer, a role she was sure she was born into. Sure, her determination may be seen as heartlessness, but Ava doesn’t care. What she does care about is getting into law school —but she doesn’t. She cares about her boyfriend Matteo—who breaks up with her.

In an act of desperation, Ava books herself a ticket to Bali and tries to get over her own failures. In Bali she meets Scott McLeod, a rude and grumpy Scottish traveler who thinks there’s a lot more to Ava than meets the eye.

But as Ava reveals more about herself, she finds Scott slowly pulling away from her. He was never part of The Plan, but Ava is determined to make sure he doesn’t slip away.

I received an ARC of this book from the Author. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

I read this book in one sitting and I really enjoyed it! It’s such a short but sweet read! Also can I just say that the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

Ava has set her mind on one goal: The Plan, which includes getting into law school, be a senior partner at her target law firm, and of course marry her boyfriend Matteo. Everything was set until Matteo broke up with her all of a sudden. Things started to hit her smack in the head so she decides to book a trip to Bali, where she meets Scott.

I admire Ava’s personality. She’s headstrong, smart, plus she’s on her way to be a lawyer. We have things in common which is why it wasn’t too hard to relate to her character. On the other hand, I’m not too sure how to describe Scott, besides him being a real charmer. He’s Scottish (*cue* Sam Heughan’s face and also because Outlander was mentioned in the book), a bit grumpy but actually fun to hang out with.

“You’ve lived because I’ve seen you live. You matter because you matter to me.”

I love Carla’s writing. It felt so natural to me and it flows, that’s why I didn’t put the book down until I’ve finished it. The plot was a little predictable with respect to the happy ending but the execution really suprised me. The revelation about Scott’s situation was shocking and heartwrenching. I also enjoyed the cultural aspect of the book. It actually felt like I’m having a visual of the place, like I was in Bali!

The only issues I had were character depth and the length of the novel itself. I think the book could do more with the characters depth. I wish I saw more from the secondary characters, although I’m aware of the length of the book, which brings me to my next point. I NEED MORE OF THE STORY!!!!!! I really wish it was longer because I can’t get enough of it!

Overall, this book sort of got me out of a reading slump (Thanks to another #romanceclass book) and I’m thankful. I do recommend this short yet sweet book because it’s really enjoyable, visually and emotionally, also sex-positive, and just awesome!

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions (Talking Nerdy #1) by Six de los Reyes

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions (Talking Nerdy, #1) by Six de los Reyes
Publication Date: April 17th 2016
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon

Synopsis

Falling in love is a chemical reaction.

Just ask Kaya Rubio, twenty-five year-old Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant. Fed up with her spinster aunts’ relentless reminders and unsolicited advice regarding her Single Since Birth status, she designs a scientific, evidence-based methodology to find her a suitable partner in time for her cousin’s wedding. As any good scientist knows, any valid experimental design requires a negative control. Enter the most unsuitable candidate for a potential boyfriend: the messy, easygoing, café owner Nero Sison. Her null hypothesis? Going out with Nero would establish her baseline data without catalyzing the chemical reaction she seeks.

But when Kaya’s recorded results refuse to make sense, she is forced to come to the conclusion that there are some things in life that are simply, by nature, irrational and illogical. And that sometimes, chemistry doesn’t always happen inside a lab.

Hi guys! Long time no see, I guess.😂

I’m writing this while my whole face is still stuck in a smile. I loved this novel for so many reasons, and here are some:

 IT’S SO SCIENTIFIC AND NERDY!

A little side story, I started this book a while ago last year, and yes I enjoyed it then, there were so many parts that were so relateable as a Research Associate, but at that time I was so frustrated with work, my results are erratic, I was working OT everyday, and we had an upcoming deadline for a conference, and reading this book then kinda made me more agitated so I stopped. But this time around, all the science and research-related things worked in favor of me liking this book, because I survived all that last year, and I am at the point were I just feel happy recalling it. As a researcher, I also appreciated that the author tried to make it really scientifically accurate, heck she even described CRISPR. 😂 I also really loved the science puns and hugots.

THE PARTIES ARE VERY PINOY AND LOVELY

The events with Kaya’s family were so familiar because you know these things happen at your reunions and family gatherings, maybe their family is just a bit more grand, but it’s still very Filipino.

YOU JUST WANT TO GET TO KNOW EACH ONE OF THE CHARACTERS MORE

OH GOD. I feel like I just want to hug them all? They are interesting and lovable, and I just want them all for friends.

The father-grandfather-Kaya scenes

These were very sweet and insightful. I enjoyed these moments because these are the moments were Kaya gets her “Eureka! I have found it moments” when it comes to Nero. 😂

Kaya

I kinda identify with her on many levels, and I see my awkward, anxious, emotional mess of a self in her sometimes. Most of the time, I just want to hug her and say, oh you pure being.

Hmm, she’s not very thoughtful of Nero’s feelings sometimes, but I kind of get her reasons. She is very smart and determined, and I really admire her for it. SHE ALSO READS JOURNALS FOR FUN. (That’s gotta count for something!)

NERO

Oh dear, I feel like I just want people to find out how delightful, and hot, and sweet he is, for themselves. He is too precious. 😂

BUDDY READING WITH INAH

Sometimes, when there’s just so much feels, you stop and scream and maybe roll around the carpet, then you tweet it and shout your feels to your buddy, in my case my budi, Inah. It was infinitely better because I read it with her. (Same here, bud! – Inah)

There are many more reasons, but those were the main ones.😂

This novel was really a roller coaster. I almost cried once, my heart almost stopped twice, and my body almost burst out of feels so many times. So I guess, what I’m really trying to say is I love it.

ARC Review || By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie West
Publication Date: January 31st 2017 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC From Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating★★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository

Synopsis

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

I will love everything Kasie West will write. So far, I’ve read three books from her, including this one and I’m really looking forward to reading her other books!

Kasie West writes the best fluffy romances, we all know that and I dove into this book expecting the same level of fluff I got from The Distance Between Us and On The Fence. I didn’t get that here, but I was met with more relevant and important issues. Of course, the romance game was still on track but this book is more serious compared her other books and I love this kind of step-up.

Autumn has been struggling with anxiety and her friends have no idea about it. I don’t blame her, most of my friends does not know about mine either. I really connected with Autumn’s character. She’s so genuine and kind. Dax came off as a little obtuse and crass at first, but his character really grew on me and I really appreciated both characters’ development. Their romance was slow-burn and I loved how it played all throughout the book, plus points for their undeniable chemistry.

“Possibilities don’t hurt as much as realities. Possibilities are exciting and endless. Realities are final.”

I also enjoyed the relationship of Autumn and her family, especially with her brother Owen. The friendships in this book are strong too.

I really loved the whole “being stuck in the library with a cute guy” concept and this book immediately rose to the top of my TBR once I heard about the premise. I also appreciated that this book talked about mental illness and an absent family. See, while Autumn had a healthy relationship with her family, Dax had none. And I wish he had more closure with his family.

Most books deal with this issues too, but Kasie West’s writing made me really enjoy the whole experience because I was crying and laughing all the same throughout the book. There’s just something beautiful about her writing style that’s truly effective.

I just really enjoyed the fact that the conflicts were resolved properly and they weren’t too dragging. This book was crafted perfectly and I really recommend it!

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

tell me three thingsTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Publication Date: April 5th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Source: Purchased Audiobook / E-book
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository 

Synopsis

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

It all started with an email.

So this is actually the first contemporary novel that I listened to as an audiobook because I’m not built for audiobooks but I really really enjoyed listening. And then just a few days earlier, this book went on sale on Amazon so I had to buy it and reread. I’m sure when the time comes, I’ll be buying a hard copy to reread it over again because it’s definitely one of my favorite contemporaries to date.

“One of the worst parts about someone dying is thinking back to all those times you didn’t ask the right questions, all those times you stupidly assumed you’d have all the time in the world. And this too: how all that time feels like not much time at all. What’s left feels like something manufactured. The overexposed ghosts of memories.”

Jessie is the new girl in school. She transferred from Chicago to California with her father to live with her stepmom, Rachel, and stepbrother, Theo. And then, during her first week at school, she received an email from Somebody Nobody (or SN) offering help in navigating Wood Valley High.

I really love Jessie’s character because she’s so genuine. She’s frustrating at times and naive but at the same time, adorable and smart which made her character arc stand out. She loves books too!

“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”

I also enjoyed the other characters like Theo, I just wish we had more Theo in the book. Agnes and Dri too! They’re Jessie’s friends in her new school. Scarlett was Jessie’s best friend back from Chicago and I really loved their funny banter and sweet conversations from time to time. Especially during that time when Jessie went back to Chicago to visit and they had this conflict resolved, it was such a step-up.

Of course, the contenders as to whom SN might be. Liam, Caleb, or Ethan. I quite enjoyed all three of them, each to their own personalities. Liam and Ethan are both musicians and from the same band. Caleb and Liam are close friends, so it was sort of implied that there might be a geometry with love here somewhere but actually there wasn’t. And I’m glad that SN turned out to be who I wanted it to be, although at first, I wasn’t really sure if it was going to be him. The mystery of SN’s true identity was really exciting, especially when it all went down to the moment of truth, where Jessie found out who SN really was. It was super fun to read, and more fun to hear because the emotions were really genuine! Mad props to Jorjeana Marie for her wonderful narration!

“But sometimes a kiss is not a kiss is not a kiss. Sometimes it’s poetry.”

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was not only it celebrated love, it also dealt with friendships, families, and of course grief. Moving on is such an easy concept but it’s definitely hard to do. This concept made the whole book so damn relatable.

This book just hit the homerun with me. It’s utterly impossible not to feel and just explode with emotions with this book. It’s just so real and genuine and the author didn’t even really try. Julie Buxbaum just managed to capture it perfectly. With that said, I’m really looking forward to her future books!

inah